I was born into the arms of a goddess, and it’s taken me nearly thirty years to realize that.
In October, I stood on the front porch of the house I grew up in, where my mom and her love now live, and looked out at the night. It was cool and crisp and damp, just like every autumn I’ve ever known at home, and brilliantly colorful where the porch light touched the turning leaves.
I don’t know why it hit me in that precise moment. Something about the shape of the yard, curling upwards towards the dirt road; something about the darkness and the trees and the stars overhead, outnumbering any city sky’s view.
But my first home, where I was born and raised, where I make my faithful yearly pilgrimage, is a goddess in and of Herself.
Her name is West Virginia.
I find it relatively easy to describe how I perceive and relate to Kemetic deities—even more experiential and less intellectual Celtic gods don’t tangle my typing fingers too badly. But trying to describe West Virginia as a goddess stymies me.
The endless rolling mountains with their soft curves and bald patches where tumbled rocks jut sharply outwards, the riotous green forests with their undercoat of briars and brush, the vibrant colors of autumn countered by the chill of grey rain, the enormous sacred silence when two feet of unpolluted snow fills the yard and hides half the cars, the abundance of running water in all directions and in all sizes of earthy beds, the white-tailed deer and squirrels and rabbits and black bears, the smell of honeysuckle in the evening and fog in the morning, the winding roads that crawl up and down the knuckles of the hills.
That is the body of my goddess, and Her heart holds the first twenty years of my life safe within it.
Making my adoration of Her a formal thing seems contrived. I will not have an altar or a shrine; what does such a thing serve when She is a place far greater than my paid patch of land outside Her borders? I don’t know how to connect my sense of Her with how I honor and interact with my other, more humanized gods.
But I have always felt it in my bones when I go home, when I stop being too far away to feel Her, and now I understand why I will always belong in the Appalachian mountains, regardless of how many other heart-felt homes I may have, regardless of the fact that I will probably never live within Her again.
To West Virginia, my goddess, my first home, I send all the love I have in me.