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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.

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Traveling with the Maid of Orleans

    Sometimes, I wonder if my mother regrets raising me to believe that all things would be possible for me, because when I was a sophomore in college, I bought a plane ticket and went to Paris by myself on my way to a summer study abroad program in Italy.  It was an amazing experience: I spent three days desperately trying to blend in and not appear to be an obnoxious traveler, while at the same time I kept sneaking glances at my guide book as I soaked up the City of Lights. 
    I fell in love with the cathedral of Notre Dame, and I made a point to visit there each day before I began my wanderings. In three full days, I crammed in visits to classical and modern museums, cafes and bookstores, snapping photos and wandering beneath the changing clouds that hang over Paris.  To this day, I have never seen a sky that is quite like the one over this French city.

    Traveling alone is an interesting experience.  There is no one to cooperate with, no concessions to be made.  Any kind of travel is transformative, but without the voices of others to cloud your mind, I believe that a person will undergo deep psychic and mental changes if she takes the risk to venture out into the world alone. 
    And a risk it is, although at the time I don’t think I was consciously aware of that fact.  I stayed in a hostel, sleeping in a co-ed dormitory with five other travelers.  My first night in the city, I realized that two of my roommates were male, and I felt a bit unsettled.  I slept in my clothes behind a barricade that I constructed using my backpack, waking up at every sound and breath.  It was a miserable night, but thankfully, my fears came to nothing.
    Even so, I haven’t traveled alone since that trip. My husband has as bad a case of wanderlust as I have, and we’ve been lucky enough to travel together, even returning to Paris a few years ago; the city still enamors me, even after all this time.

    But now that I have a companion, travel has changed for me.  I can no longer make my own itinerary and spend hours staring at the things that call out to me, but on the other side of the coin, I now feel able to venture out after dark while abroad, something I never allowed myself to do as a woman alone.  It is a sad truth when a woman still cannot be her own master in all things, but even within the so-called modern world, there are those who do not look kindly on women who dare to walk unafraid through the streets at night.
    There are a multitude of virgin goddesses in the world, goddesses who regardless of their sexual status are virgin because they are complete within themselves.  Such a goddess requires no male counterpart to make her whole, and frequently dares to go where other unmarried, unprotected women will not. These figures fill a deep need for women, offering security and freedom to those who would choose to live without the bonds that patriarchal culture expects.
    Of these maidens, one that I look to often is the Maid of Orleans.  I met her everywhere I walked in Paris: she is even enshrined in Notre Dame in an alcove not far from the Queen of Heaven.  Joan of Arc may not be a goddess in the traditional sense, but to me, she embodies the idea of a women complete unto herself.
    Like so many other maiden goddess, Joan stepped into a role commonly held by men: that of a soldier.  She proved herself to be skilled in the arts of diplomacy and war, and she died in the service of a cause which she found holy.  If ever a goddess should be invoked when women travel alone into the unknown, the Maid of Orleans is a lovely choice.
    I will not bow my head and hide at home, but neither will I take unnecessary risks.  If I intend to sample the banquet of experiences that the Goddess has laid before me, I must learn when to be a woman unto myself and when to accept the companionship of the man I love.  There are a million places waiting to be seen, and a million faces of the goddess waiting for us if we are brave enough to venture into the unknown. 


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Jen McConnel first began writing poetry as a child. Since then, her words have appeared in a variety of magazines and journals, including Sagewoman, PanGaia, and The Storyteller (where she won the people’s choice 3rd place award for her poem, “Luna”). She is a poet, a novelist, and a goddess-centric witch with a love of all things magical. Her first nonfiction book, Goddess Spells for Busy Girls: Get Rich, Get Happy, Get Lucky, is out now from Weiser Books. A Michigander by birth, Jen now lives and writes in the beautiful state of North Carolina. When she isn’t writing, she teaches writing composition at a community college. Once upon a time, she was a middle school teacher, a librarian, and a bookseller, but those are stories for another time.


  • Sable Aradia
    Sable Aradia Friday, 30 January 2015

    Joan of Arc is a personal heroine of mine too. I can't wait to hear your tale.

  • Jen McConnel
    Jen McConnel Sunday, 01 February 2015

    Thank you, Sable! She's such an inspiring heroine!

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