I’ve not been on an airplane for 24 years. I flew over 5 million miles during my 16 years working from 1969 to 1985 as a flight attendant for TWA. I’m quite comfortable on planes. For financial and environmental reasons I have avoided airplanes. I have deep roots on this land we call Cedar Hill located in Madison County, Arkansas. Jeanne and I built our own house here in the mid 1980s and have surrounded it with several gardens which help feed us. We are the caretakers of many acres of hardwood forest.
Perhaps this journey actually began in 1978 when I was one of the five hundred women who attended the Great Goddess Re-Emerging Conference in Santa Cruz, CA. Carol Christ, feminist author and scholar, was the keynote speaker. Ever since that conference, I’ve been quoting the section of her keynote address about how we cannot simply reject a symbol system, but must replace it with a new symbol system! Women need positive images of the female divine to counteract the misogyny of the patriarchy we all swim in every day. Women are hungry for a women honoring society instead of the misogyny and casual daily degradations women and girls experience.
I celebrated my 72nd birthday on August 28th and I’m feeling good. In January, 2017 I was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer and began treatment. I believe I am feeling good because of good support from those close to me and because I found a hands-on healer who is part of my team of caregivers. A week before my birthday I learned about this Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete where an ancient culture of women honoring, peaceful, artistic people thrived. A place I would have like to have lived!
I discovereed that the keynote speaker I’d been quoting, Carol Christ, was one of the Co-Directors of this goddess tour. After I studied the packed two-week itinerary, I knew I want to experience the pilgrimage while I felt this good. Jeanne opted to not go at this time. The small group of women would explore the archeological remains of the ancient woman-centered world, visit museums, explore caves, climb to hilltop shrines, perform rituals, and swim in the Mediterranean. This sounded like a trip of a lifetime for me!
I had seven weeks to get my passport and to prepare. I pulled money from my retirement fund to afford to go to Crete—a big decision. Jeanne jokes that it became a full-time job to get ready. From acquiring the Greek currency of Euros to choosing the perfect sun hat, I was busy. Learning about the complicated TSA airport regulations was stressful. Packing clothes for hot sunny days and cool mountain evenings within my limit of 50 pounds of luggage was an ongoing challenge. I’ve never been one to pack light and I was certain I’d find things to bring home with me as mementos.
Discovering the right hat was the fun part. We went to a fancy hat shop in Eureka Springs to see what they offered. I tried on at least twenty-five hats before I found the perfect companion to see me through those hot sunny days. I fell in love with the hat you will see me wearing in many of the photos. I was able to fold it flat for packing and it still looked good. And it had a strong chin strap to keep it on my head on windy mountain tops. With my hair thinning hair (chemo induced?), my hat has been a welcome security blanket.
I managed to transport myself from my everyday world that day in late August. My wish to explore the ancient goddess civilization which flourished on Crete was deep and strong. This dream was not a new dream, but it was a bold adventure. Flying on my own to a country where I would be illiterate (since I spoke no Greek) required a stubborn desire. My belief in my creative self and my trust in traveling with feminist women convinced me I could do this. I do want to acknowledge how important the support I received from Jeanne and our friend Martha was in making this journey.
Do you have a wish? Or a dream? What is preventing you from doing it? Life is short!
I’ll continue to share my explorations on Crete here–including many photos of people, places, animals and things like our modified recipe for Greek fish soup, also called psarosoupa