“Love is all you need…”
As I mentioned before, my devotion to the Goddess during my first year of knowing Her – when I was still serving Her as a priest – became so intense that I seriously considered becoming a kind of “Ishtarian monk.” Well, the Goddess made it clear that She didn’t really expect me to do this when She led me to start dating my first girlfriend in November 2000. For the next three months, I experienced what I thought was heaven on Earth; I was so stupidly in love that I even considered proposing to this girl as soon as we graduated from high school. Well needless to say, that didn’t happen; she broke up with me on Valentine’s Day of all days…and then I learned that she had been dating my best friend at the time for at least a month before that (if not longer). My brain had a lot of trouble computing the apparent reality that (a) the “love of my life” didn’t want me anymore and (b) my “best friend” wasn’t my friend anymore, so it short-circuited. I was diagnosed with brief psychotic disorder and had to be put on suicide watch at my local psych ward for about a week. Even after it was deemed safe for me to return home, I had to stay on a steady diet of Zoloft and Risperdal and then attend weekly therapy sessions for about a year and a half.
I’ve known quite a few atheists who think religious people are basically suffering from a mild case of schizophrenia. There are many people who are religious and who also suffer from mental illness, but I completely disagree with the notion that religiosity and psychiatric health are always inversely correlated. I didn’t have any spiritual experiences at all while I was still suffering from brief psychotic disorder. If my paranormal experiences were simply the result of mental illness, I would expect them to become even more vivid and potent when I completely lost all sense of reality. Yet this wasn’t the case for me at all; in fact, my interactions with Deities and spirits have always been stronger and more frequent when I’m mentally healthy and well-balanced. Mind you, I accept the possibility that these experiences may not be what I think they are, and that they might not mean what I think they mean; I choose to interpret them the way I do because it makes me happy (and no one has ever been able to prove to me that I shouldn’t). But the point here is that I wasn’t having any gnostic experiences at all when I was still mixed up (even prior to taking psychiatric medication).
Anyway…I was in a very bad head space by the time Spring 2001 rolled around, and I just couldn’t deal with religion for a while after that. I couldn’t handle the idea of walking with a Goddess anymore, either. I was no longer sure I believed that Ishtar (or even Seth) really existed; but just the same, I decided to invoke the Goddess one last time and give Her a proper explanation of how I felt. It seemed rude to just stop talking to Her without any sort of goodbye. So one day, I went out in the empty fields just outside my neighborhood and told Ishtar that I’d been hurt pretty bad and that I no longer felt I could walk with Her, but that I also still respected Her and wanted nothing but good things for Her. (Only now does it occur to me that I lost my girlfriend, my best friend and my Goddess all at the same time.) I didn’t feel anything from Ishtar at the time; but in retrospect, I think She understood and was touched by this respectful gesture.
I spent the next several years in a kind of spiritual limbo, sometimes feeling the presence of Gods and spirits…and sometimes not. But after I eventually became a “born again” Typhonian in 2007, I even made peace with my ex-girlfriend. (It actually felt pretty good to do that.) Not too long afterwards, I met the woman who would later become my wife…and imagine how shocked I was to learn that she’s a priestess of Ishtar! What were the chances of that happening?! (Talk about full circle!) In fact, the adult life that I now enjoy has helped me to put my life from 1999 to 2001 into perspective. I’ve come to realize that my walk with Ishtar during that period was actually planned from the start, and that She and Seth always intended for my wife and I to meet and get married someday. But Ishtar wanted to put me through a “trial period” first so that She could determine if I deserved to be with this particular priestess of Hers. I’m not sure the immediate results of this trial were really anything for me to boast about, but it would seem that I passed Ishtar’s test. She has since become my #2 Deity, and I’m proud to call myself one of Her laypeople.
Sure, the experience with my ex-girlfriend was extremely traumatic…but considering how good my life is now, I don’t think I’d be doing so well today if that stuff had never happened.