The clerk on the other side of the United Airlines check-in counter registered a look of horrified disbelief as I hefted my first suitcase onto the weighing platform.

“This bag is 30lbs overweight”, she says in a strangled voice. The queue is rather long this morning.

“Ah..these are the trials and tribulations of being a travelling Priestess of the Goddess” I say with a perfectly straight face. Adding a little strain around the eyes I add “ It’s the robes, the cloaks, the head gear, the travelling altar and all the other accoutrements that a decent Priestess must have.”

“But…..”, she begins

“And then the CDs, the costumes, the song books etc….for the sacred singing you know”, I continue with a plaintive note creeping into my voice, as I silently beseech the Goddess to come on in and do Her thing here!

She stops her tapping on the keyboard and looks me straight in the eye…

“Are you serious?” she asks a little uncertainly.

“Oh yes”, I say, bringing my hands together in the prayer position, “I have been travelling for 2 months and now I’m on my way home, exhausted, but deeply satisfied with my work for the Goddess”.

She pauses, and I can almost see the wheels turning as she considers the situation. Either she has a nut case on her hands, and as she glances behind me at the long queue, she realises that she just does not have the time to deal with a “situation” - or she has a genuine member of the “clergy” on her hands. She decides.

She turns to me and tells me “Well, as you are clergy, we will overlook it this time, how many other bags do you want to check?”

“Two” I reply “but they are only small”.

She throws me a look of utter disgust as I load the other two bags on the block, hits the keyboard with her long, perfectly manicured nails a few times and hands me my boarding pass.

“Gate 6 madam, and do have a good flight, won't you?” she adds with a look of pure superiority as she lets me know that she really does not believe me for one minute.

“Thank you and may the Goddess be smiling on you”, I respond with angelic charm, clutching my ill-gotten boarding pass and scooting away towards the gates as fast as my weary feet can move me.

Of course, any of you who follow a similar vocation will know exactly what I’m talking about. Attending one conference as a Priestess is challenging enough baggage-wise, but I had been to 3 conferences, 2 gatherings, had performed 3 concerts and presented 6 workshops. The Glastonbury Goddess Conference alone had yielded at least 10 lbs of brochures, books and CDs, both purchased and presented to me as gifts, so you can imagine how much extra goodies I had by the time I was travelling home!!

But you know, all these mementos, gifts, sacred tools found in magical places, figurines bought at sacred sites, art made by extraordinary women, programs from plays starring sacred sons, are secondary really to the central, most profound gift of such a pilgrimage…..the connection to women who stand in their sacred power.

It’s a rarefied atmosphere really, this travelling to Goddess gatherings, because every woman I meet is already “there”, already on the path, or is seeking Her in some way. It’s a blissful atmosphere because I get to spark with my peers, to observe them as they perform the magical transformational rites, often bringing tears of joy and deep appreciation as I see my own power and beauty reflected in their graceful execution of our ancient heritage.

And it makes no difference where I go, the resonance is the same. The resonance of connection to the magical land, connection to a power that we, as women, understand in a way that our brothers do not, and the love and co-operation that women share and have practised for eons….no wars for 30 thousand years Marija Gimbutas has written of the ancient matriarchies.

So as I journey I think about this. I think about what it is I love about the women I admire. What makes some women “stand out” for me. What makes my heart expand to the very ends of the Universe when I hear some women speak, or sing, or invoke the Goddess. Why does this happen with some and not with others? Because I love all my sisters, I can honestly say that there are very very very few women I meet and get to know that I do not love. My life is totally dedicated to my women’s community and I revel in my place within it.

It became clear for me at the Orange County Goddess Temple.

Ava, the amazing and beautiful High Priestess of this totally gorgeous Temple, had organised a special celebration for my 59th birthday, to honour my “Queen” self. Many Goddess women are now celebrating a phase which follows the “Mother” phase on the wheel of life and precedes the “Crone” phase. It makes sense –we are living longer and have better health as we reach our late fifties and early sixties. I was totally open to it. Why not? I love being the centre of attention and I love the women at the Orange County Goddess Temple – a perfect fit!!

The ceremony was wonderful….a whole other article in itself…but one part of it is relevant to this story. At a certain point, I had to step forward and speak my intention for the next phase of my life to the congregation, and they would witness and affirm my choices. I had thought about this quite a bit and had formulated some ideas around commitment to action in the world, as a reflection of inner dedication to the Goddess. So I sat calmly as the ceremony unfolded, spilling a grateful tear or two as the beauty of my sisters and the process unfolded. Then it was time for me to speak my intention. I stood and stepped up to the microphone and began to speak.

Suddenly I felt that familiar burning in my solar plexus and I knew that the Goddess was about to transmit directly through my mouth. This is the feeling I get when I sit in meditation and a song is about to come through. “Here we go”, I thought in that split second, “just open wide Anique…let it happen.” And what came out was pure gold. I found myself vowing to live in my truth. To live and speak my truth no matter what happened. To be my most authentic self always…with no hedging or apology. To do so even at the risk of losing friends, or loved ones. Even at the risk of hurting others (in the most loving way) to always speak my truth. To be authentic and visible, to reveal myself and demand the same of those who wished to relate to me at whatever level.

Even as I spoke I understood the power of taking this vow. In revealing ourselves, we attract those that are our equals, our peers, our heart's reflection and our Spirit’s food. In being our authentic selves, we create an authentic world around us, where negativity and fraud cannot exist. When we speak the truth, we give others the permission to do the same. And when we tell the truth, always with love in our hearts, we reveal the lies of others. This is so important my sisters, because we have lived with so many lies in patriarchy, and these lies have been inculcated in our hearts and spirits for so long that some of us have forgotten the truth.

So I vowed in the presence of my sister priestesses, my sisters in the congregation, in the presence of my blood sister Dani, and in the presence of She, in whose home we were all standing, to live and speak my truth always.

Something inside me has shifted, my sisters. Something old and rich and profound. Something has been born which is new and rich and profound. Something which moves me to create sacred space everywhere I go for the Goddess to step in and speak. And this same thing is what draws me to certain women.

Before I hurriedly moved away from the counter at the United Airlines check-in, I dropped one of my cards on the keyboard and called over my shoulder “Check it out… can't hurt can it?” I did not stop to gauge her reaction. I assumed that was that and I would never hear from her.

Not so my sisters, yesterday, when I downloaded my emails, one week after I had returned home, I found an email from Didi Foster, United Airlines Officer, telling me she had been to my web site and was “intrigued” and would I explain to her what being a priestess was all about, and what and who is the Goddess?

Aint truth grand?

©2006, Anique Radiant Heart