In 2012, encouraged by a friend, I ordered the book Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd. As if sent by the ghosts of Amazon sisters of years past, the book arrived within a day of purchasing without any addition of rush ordering by me.
I read that book in about five subway rides between Atlantic Terminal and the S79 bus stop in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. I felt like someone had finally put a language to the questions and longings I had been entertaining since I was a little girl about God, spirituality, and being a woman under the patriarchy.
Yes, the book is written by the same white woman who wrote the Secret Life of Bees. Yes, this book completely changed the trajectory of how I viewed the world and my place in it.
Yes, I love it.
I never felt like a good patriarchal daughter completely. I was forever uneasy about all the Hims and Hes in the Bible and I have had some sort of feminist bend since I was around nine years old. But, I did fall in line in many ways. I eschewed bell hooks for Cornel West in college and spent way too many hours agonizing over food choices and how my body appealed.
But, I think there comes a time in almost every woman’s life where she wonders who she truly is. When she peels back the layers of who she has been told to be and starts to ask her own questions and make her way along a path that she makes her self. She gathers “sisters” along for the ride and may even become a leader.
Sometimes this inquiry starts in the rebellious teenage years or within the illumination of the post-college era. Sometimes it happens after a major life change like when the kids leave the house (finally), or the partner wanders away, or she births a new life of her own.
My “goddess journey” started when I was 23 and fresh out of the US Merchant Marine Academy. Without the constant structure of the school around me and my peers and living in a new place, I found myself on a zig-zagging labyrinthine path toward true self-knowledge.
And not just self-knowledge and embodiment that would solely serve my own inner questions. I really honestly wanted to know how I could most be of help to others.
For awhile, I tried aping other women’s goddess journeys. I contemplated visiting distant lands and completing my own eat-pray-love jaunts. I wondered if I should seek out certain gurus or invest in a bounty of white robes.
It all felt sort of disingenuous and weird. Most of the women who were writing most prominently about goddess journeys were worlds away from my experience. They were white, older, usually departing a Christian faith, married, and subscribed primarily to the Greek/Roman pantheon of goddesses. Or sometimes they were of color but their definintions of “feminine” felt so stringent and a little retroactive.
And sometimes it all seemed way too surface to me. “Goddess” has become a sort of marquee word in the last couple of years and is reaching Instagram ubiquity but quickly being washed out and turned into yet another commodity.
While, I learned much from these women and am grateful for their truths, I really wanted to see my own experience reflected. The answer was simple and but difficult:
I had to be share my own experiences, own my truths, and be honest about what I have found. I had to start where I was with what I had. I had to blunder ahead and create my own goddess path.
My goddess journey has been made up with re-writing the story of my body, of questioning the ways in which I have been taught to see and relate to other women, learning what sensuality and sexuality mean to me, of embracing pleasure and bliss and other feminine principles of being, and of looking at the patriarchal wounds that have occurred within my own family system.
It has been that and so much more.
I have had weird fucking Jungian style dreams and cried while staring into a woman’s eyes and lit a candle to the Black Maria in Spain and have been blessed by Osun priestesses.
I am still on my journey and as such, don’t have some neat, coherent storyline to pass along. I just have my truths.
I will use this space to speak the multi-farious levels of what I have learned and am still learning.
I hope you like.
*All artwork by Adefolake