Goddess Travel: Where in the World?

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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Jen McConnel

Jen McConnel

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.

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As winter has firmly wrapped around us here (at least as much as it ever does in the South), I’d been planning to write about the beautiful Mexican Riviera, a crystal coastline dotted with ancient temples and pulsing with power and healing. However, when I sat down to my trusty computer this morning, it wouldn’t turn on…and all the pictures from all my trips are safely locked in the hard drive. I’ve got my fingers crossed that it will be an easy fix, once my hubby or I venture out to a computer store, but right now, with another round of snow covering the roads, technology repair has suddenly fallen to the bottom of my priorities list.


Winter tends to rearrange things for me, and whenever I don’t take the necessary time for rest and healing that the season affords, I’ve discovered that the Goddess has a way of enforcing quiet down time for me, forcing me to slow down and just breathe.

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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.

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    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.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Sable Aradia
    Sable Aradia says #
    Joan of Arc is a personal heroine of mine too. I can't wait to hear your tale.
  • Jen McConnel
    Jen McConnel says #
    Thank you, Sable! She's such an inspiring heroine!

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Our Lady of Blue Glass

A few winters ago, I was lucky enough to spend the end of December in Europe, and one of the most beautiful, sacred sites of my trip was the Chartres Cathedral in France, outside of Paris. I’d long been fascinated with this spot, since it turns up again and again in Grail lore and stories of the Magdalene heresy, but what I  didn’t know before making this pilgrimage was that the cathedral stands over a holy well, and before the current stone structure was built, the site was possible a Druidic grove or Celtic holy site.  Wherever the magic comes from that infuses Chartres, it’s tangible, and the visit lingers with me as one of profound peace and personal exploration.

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With gas prices lower than we’ve seen in a long time, lots of people are taking to the road and the air to travel for the upcoming holidays. It’s a time of gratitude and love, whether you’re flying solo, headed back to visit your blood family, or carving out time for the friends you hold dear, but when so many people hit the roads, tensions can rise and safety can feel tenuous.

I wanted to share a quick spell for safe travels with y’all before I head off for Thanksgiving. Take your time, be courteous to other drivers, and consider asking Isis for a little extra protection before you leave your house.

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Seeking Sekhmet

Sekhmet is an interesting goddess; long before I traveled to Egypt, I’d begun to feel pulses of magic from the lioness-headed statues I encountered in various museums, and even in the land of the Nile, it was in a museum that I first felt a pull toward her. At the time, it struck me as a bit strange that I’d feel resonance not with the sand beneath my feet, but with the massive black granite statues of the goddess, but it makes a certain amount of sense. It’s widely believed that tremendous statues of Sekhmet guarded Egypt’s ancient borders, and some even say that in times of invasion, the statues were brushed with poisonous spores to infect the would-be invaders as they crossed into Egypt. It’s no wonder that the statues of the Lady of Pestilence pack a punch; these icons are loaded with power!


I hadn’t expected to feel so strongly drawn to this goddess during my pilgrimage to Egypt; I’m an Isis girl all the way, and while I’ve always enjoyed the other Egyptian gods, I’ve never felt pulled to work with them. But Sekhmet was insistent, from the first time I faced her in the beautiful museum in Luxor, and by the time I ventured south to the Temple of Kom Ombo, I couldn’t ignore the intense emotions her image stirred in me.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Jamie Rae
    Jamie Rae says #
    ive read a few of your post and was wondering if you could help me. i am new to paganism and wiccan so i do not know too much. ive
  • Jen McConnel
    Jen McConnel says #
    Thanks for commenting, and welcome to the site! Personally, I don't believe there's a "wrong" way to worship as a Pagan. Honoring
Resource Review: Patricia Monaghan's ENCYCLOPEDIA OF GODDESSESS AND HEROINES

My initial entry to the goddess path began with a deep intellectual bent; I soaked up myths and studied archetypes like crazy, waiting until the day when I was ready to talk to goddesses on a more tangible, personal level. Because I’ve always been a bit of a myth junkie, and because I’m a scholar at heart, I jumped at the chance to read the late Patricia Monaghan’s revised and re-released Encyclopedia of Goddesses and Heroines, published by New World Library. The book didn’t disappoint my thirst for information.

This large tome differs from Monaghan’s out of print title The New Book of Goddesses & Heroines in both its structure and its scope. Echoing Merlin Stone’s Ancient Mirrors of Womanhood, the Encyclopedia is arranged by continental region, with sections on Africa, Eastern Mediterranean, Asia and Oceania, Europe, and the Americas. Each section begins with a brief overview of cultural and historical information about the region in question, and as can be imagined, the regional sections are subdivided for clarity (and to offer more specific information about, say the Egyptian tradition within the African context).

In addition to the cultural context, Monaghan provides an extensive bibliography, plus a detailed description of how and why she chose to include the sources she did. Despite acknowledging the cultural limitations, Monaghan opted to draw her information only from works available in English, but the bibliography includes information about translations for the serious goddess scholar to track down on her own.

Chock full of information about both goddesses and heroines (historical female figures, or those with supernatural powers that don’t quite elevate them to goddess status), this is an excellent resource for anyone with an interest in goddess lore and the divine feminine. Scholars and casual browsers will both find something to appeal to them, since, as Monaghan notes in her introduction, the faces of goddesses around the globe are incredibly diverse; they “can appear as young nymphs, self-reliant workers, aged sages. They can be athletes or huntresses, dancers or acrobats, herbalists or midwives. We find goddesses as teachers, inventors, bartenders, potters, surfers, magicians, warriors, and queens. Virtually any social role women have played or are capable of playing appears in a goddess myth.” The vastness of goddesses, and, in truth, women, is represented in this volume, and it’s a resource I’m sure I’ll return to again and again.

Image retrieved from New World Library, http://www.newworldlibrary.com/BooksProducts/ProductDetails/tabid/64/SKU/82171/Default.aspx#

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Meeting the Muses

One of my favorite places on earth has long been Stratford, Ontario. I first visited this magical haven when I was very young; my mom was taking a Shakespeare class, and she decided to introduce me to The Tempest. We read it and discussed it together every night leading up to our trip, and then I had the spellbinding experience of seeing the words come to life in the Festival Theater, a beautiful space boasting the first thrust stage constructed in the world since the days of Shakespeare himself. There were trap doors and magical things, and I walked away completely captivated.

b2ap3_thumbnail_IMG_1970.JPGIn the years that have passed, I’ve been fortunate enough to sneak away to Stratford regularly; it was easy enough, since I lived in Michigan for the first twenty-four years of my life, and the drive was under five hours (provided everything went smoothly at the border). It has become harder to make the pilgrimage since I moved to North Carolina, but Stratford has now become a special spot for my husband and me, since we spent our short honeymoon there six years ago, and just returned again this summer for another amazing artistic experience.

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