Thea didn’t know if Athena was inside her or she was inside Athena. She’d come to this spot, this moment intentionally. This was not a take over or a walk in…. at least it wasn’t meant to be. Thea had been hearing Owl’s call to go deeper ever since her soul retrieval and her conversations with Owen, Molly and the others.
She’d been lying in bed at 4 am going over and over the psychic openings that were continuing to escalate. Thanks to help from her new friends, she was increasingly at ease with this opening up to a world that had at first seemed so alien. Literally. At the same time she was pondering all that she could be releasing that her protective, egoic side had in place to protect herself from just these openings. Her belly, the extra weight she’d been putting on ever since consciously beginning this journey. Well, and since menopause. She was never sure how much the two were inter-related but certainly the timing was synchronous. It was during “The Change” that she’d begun to put on padding. Shields. Shields against getting hurt…..
“Gonna lay down my sword and shield.” She heard the song beginning in her head. “Down by the Riverside.” Black history come to haunt. Generations of soulful singers. She’d heard the kids at Illahee sing it too. “Down by the Riverside….” Who carried a sword and shield?
A picture of the Greek warrior goddess popped into her mind’s eye. Athena. Thea’s mother’s family was from Greece so she had always been drawn to those stories and Athena in particular. Her long elegant neck. Her head capped by a helmet pushed back off her forehead such that it seemed like she had eyes on top of her head. Her shield that carried the image of Medusa’s head. Medusa, ancient Gorgon and crone, slain by Athena herself in a fury. Afterwards Athena had regretted her rashness so much that she vowed to carry Medusa’s image with its snaky hair on her shield. Thea had been revisiting this pair of goddesses lately, not the least because she was so drawn to snakes. The snake that turned up in her soul retrieval and a recent dream of snakes crawling over her shoe. She was actually thinking of letting her hair grow into dreads – those snakey locks that reminded her of her power to be whoever she wanted to be. Maybe they’d be a kind of antenna into other realms….
There were also indications that in pre-history Athena had originally been one of the black goddesses whose story had wandered north from Africa…. This, of course, appealed to Thea, poly-racial as she was. And the similarity of her name, as the women the other day had pointed out….
Suddenly Thea knew she needed to get up and go down to the stream flowing past the corner of her lot. Drizzly rain or no. A little trickle most of the year, yesterday afternoon it had been in full flood, about 2 feet wide and lapping at the stepping stones placed there once upon a time.
She pulled on sweats and her warm orange “power” ruana. As she stepped into her rubber boots, she spied a flat clay disc on the windowsill with a bas-relief of Medusa on it. Thea had fashioned it several weeks ago at the Full Moon. Now it seemed appropriate at the new moon for it to go to ground. “Down by the Riverside….” The song still floated in her head so she began to hum it.
She made her way along the path, flashlight in hand. “I suppose if I were a real outdoor girl, I wouldn’t need a flashlight.” She could hear the Goddess laugh in her head. “I don’t want to have to go pickin’ you up off them roots. I’m not responsible for your lack of night eyes or knowledge of the woods. You make full use of your flashlight, Girl. No heroics here. Or should that be heroine-ics?”
“I’ll be as heroic as I want to be, damn it. I’m out here aren’t I? And I’m happy to be a hero thank you. Heroine sounds too much like a love-sick maiden.”
“Good for you,” Athena intoned. “You’re ready for me then. I like that spunk!”
Soon standing by the water, she felt the Goddess come more deeply into her. Or herself go into the Goddess. Kneeling, she set an imaginary sword by the bank. She could see it glowing there for a moment before she nudged it into the stream and watched it out of sight on its short path to the ocean.
Next she buried the disc. Earthy and real. “It’s here at my boundaries if I need it. But it’s out of sight and hopefully out of body and mind. No more need for shields.”
Thea wondered what Athena would give her in return for the disposal of the protective albatross she’d been lugging around for so long. Like Athena and many women of this time, Thea had thought she needed to compete with men at their own game, and she did well at that, jock and smarty-pants that she was. But now she could take off the shoulder pads donned only slightly more gracefully than protection at a Powder Puff football game. She’d been good at that sort of warrior play but there was no need any longer. She could shed her disguise and come out into the light of day. Wise Woman, Artist. Witch. The artist part she was comfortable with, of course. The other two she wasn’t so sure of…. “Uh oh. What have I let myself in for now?”
She listened for some sort of confirmation from the Universe. Athena herself… or at least the woods around her. But it remained quiet. And peaceful now. “Guess that has to be confirmation in itself,” she muttered as she headed back to the house and her warm bed.