SageWoman Blogs

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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Mary, Mary: Florence is Divine

Ten years ago, I traveled to Italy. I was a newly-minted Goddess girl, plus I’d just read The Da Vinci Code, so I spent the trip searching for the divine feminine hidden in plain sight. In Italy, I didn’t have to look very far; Mother Mary is, quite literally, represented on every street corner throughout Italy.

I spent the majority of my trip in Florence (I was there for a month), but I never got tired of coming face to face with Mary as I meandered around the city. Like the benign mother she’s revered as, Mary still looks down on the Tuscan countryside with quiet patience.

b2ap3_thumbnail_100_1039.JPGLife in Italy in the summer is slow, but I wouldn’t call it lazy. Everything is a busy bustle, the tourists mixing with the street performers, gypsies, and local businessmen and women to create a beautiful madness. It’s like the world’s coolest family reunion,  where everyone has a seat at the table and the octogenarians preside in splendor.  And, like so many families, it’s the powerful, often behind-the-scenes presence of the women that keep the party going.

I was expecting Italy to feel unsafe as young female traveler; the stereotype of the flirty, forceful Italian man dominated my worries as I prepared for the trip, and the warnings my school offered about gypsies and pick-pockets made me clutch my purse close whenever I walked alone.

 Thankfully, Florence surprised me.

I felt equally safe wandering around the city alone as I did when I was with a fortified group of other study abroad participants. Whether we were partying, shopping, walking home after a late dinner, or simply running down to the grocer on the corner, I felt totally at ease in Florence. This hasn’t often been my response when I’m traveling alone, but looking back, I have to wonder if my security was due to Mary’s dominant presence in Florence.


My month in Florence felt more like living than traveling, and as such, I missed a number of touristy spots while I was there (and I didn't take nearly as many pictures as I meant to). I’ve loved other places I’ve visited, but I’ve never felt so quickly comfortable as I did in Italy. I’m sure a number of factors contributed to my experience, but I think Mary deserves quite a bit of the credit for making me feel so welcome.


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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.


  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham Monday, 24 February 2014

    Sigh, I so love Florence, thanks for reminding me!

  • Jen McConnel
    Jen McConnel Monday, 24 February 2014

    Of course! :) Thanks for commenting.

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