As a Goddess-centric Witch, I am always looking for new ways to connect with the myriad of global goddesses. Even though I know that I can have powerful relationships with different goddesses from the comfort of my home, I’ve also got a bit of a travel bug, so when I am wandering in new places, I try to hold myself open to spiritual experience and divine intervention. Sometimes, though, I only realize how magical the experience was after the fact. I'll be exploring these different experiences and goddesses on this blog.
Athena's American City
I haven’t made it to Greece yet to pay my respects to Athena and the rest of the pantheon, but this summer I did have the opportunity to travel to Nashville, Tennessee. Although a city of art and music seems like an unlikely home for Athena, there’s more to Nashville than meets the eye. A reconstructed Parthenon stands in the center of a city park in Music City, complete with a replica of the famous Athena statue which is no longer existent. When I realized that a writing conference would give me the chance to see Nashville, I was certain that Athena would welcome me with open arms.
Athena is one of the first goddesses I connected with, probably since she was one of the first I encountered. Greek and Roman mythology is still taught in Social Studies classrooms, and as a pre-teen, I felt drawn to this warrior goddess because of her book smarts and her continued insistence that she didn’t need a man to be whole.
When I landed in Nashville, I was pulsing with anticipation. I asked the folks at my hotel if the Parthenon was in walking distance as soon as I checked in, and they shrugged and handed me a map. The city grid was laid out in fairly orderly blocks, and I estimated that a long walk would bring me face to face with the goddess, but night had already crept over the streets by the time I got settled in my hotel room. I may be impulsive, but I’m not completely foolish, so I decided to forgo a dark walk around an unfamiliar city alone, telling myself that I would wait to visit the goddess until I’d found friends at the conference the next day.
Athena would understand, I was sure.
The conference was packed with passionate writers, industry experts, and more information than I could hope to absorb, and I was soon plunged into a whirlwind of intellectual fun. Day turned to night, and I followed a group of wonderful authors out for a fabulous meal. The conversation was sparkling, the food was delicious, and the wine was good, but by the time we were done, everyone was too exhausted to make the pilgrimage across town with me. Still, the architecture in Nashville is great eye candy, and I knew I'd make it to the Parthenon eventually.
Undeterred, I geared up for the second stimulating day of the conference. After the last session ended, I managed to round up a group of other authors and find someone with a rental car. The bunch of us set off before dinner, eager to see Athena in all her glory.
When we got to Centennial Park, I led the way along twisting paths to the towering Greek-inspired structure. It was massive, and even knowing it wasn’t ancient, the site still took my breath away. We climbed the stone steps expectantly, but as we neared the great doors a harried looking woman glared at us and told us that the Parthenon was closed for a wedding. I pleaded with her, begging to be allowed in to sneak a peak of the sculpture, but she adamantly guarded her post. Crushed, I snapped a few shots and circled the exterior, but the rest of my evening was marred by gloom. I’d come all this way to see Athena, but she’d turned me away.
It wasn’t until I was back home after the conference that I realized how silly I’d been. Just because I hadn’t had the chance to gaze upon a modern statue didn’t mean that the goddess of wisdom hadn’t been a vital presence during my time in Nashville. Remembering all the conference sessions, the great conversations, the elegant city, and the tight bonds that had formed between myself and the other female authors I’d met, I realized that Athena had been a part of my trip, after all.
(And one of those amazing writers would later email me with a host of photos of the goddess; she’d gone back to the Parthenon after I left!)
Athena photo by Amanda DeWees
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