|This is from April 28th, 2017
It was early evening. I walked out of the yellow trailer that served as a guest house on the temple grounds. I stood on the deck. The sun had already set over the mountains to the west. There was still an orange glow in the Nevada sky. The crescent moon hung low in the sky. To the left of it I could just make out the faint stars in Orion. Above Orion I could see the shape of Leo. I stared at sky for a while to take it all in.
The temperature was dropping rapidly. I was glad that I wore my sweater. Dim landscape lights marked the edges of the footpaths that snaked through the temple area. I followed one of the paths to a shed that was also painted yellow. On one side of the shed was a mural depicting the goddess Sekhmet. It was illuminated by a flood light. Sekhmet is an Egyptian deity with the a lion’s head and a woman’s body. In Egyptian mythology Sekhmet was a warrior goddess as well as a source of fertility.The eyes of the goddess stared straight into mine. I moved on.
The official name of the place is “The Temple of Goddess Spirituality”. Everybody at the desert campsite just referred to it as the “Goddess Temple”. The temple is about three miles west of Creech AFB on US 95. It is set back somewhat from the highway, and has the feel of a retreat center. The grounds are covered with the usual desert flora, flowering creosote bushes and bursage. There are also rose bushes blooming in pink and red, grape vines on a trellis, some hardy pines, a couple mimosa, and two massive poplar trees whose trunks are as thick as my waist. Tall mountains loom to the north, still covered with snow at the high elevations. There is a constant wind. Sometimes a person can see a dust devil whirl across a distant plain.
The guest house is cozy. There a three bedrooms and a kitchen/dining room area. It’s a trailer that has been enlarged over time. Everything is painted in pastel colors. Lots of paintings and books. The reading selection is eclectic. There are Buddhist texts, a biography of Thomas Merton, Native American studies, Wiccan literature, and a guide called Pagan Parenting.
In a soft and gentle way, the whole setting screamed feminine. It’s not that I felt unwelcome there. Quite the opposite. People there made me feel very much at ease. However, deep inside I knew that I didn’t belong there. This was sacred ground for women. I was poaching on their turf. This was not, and could never be my home.
I had wandered the temple grounds earlier in the day. It was well laid out. The trails consisted of the dusty tan soil that is omnipresent in the Mojave. The paths took me to odd places. I stopped at a labyrinth outlined with white stones, I found a Zen garden with a bench, a fairy shrine, and a statue of Kwan Yin. There was a circle with benches all around and a fire pit in the center. Peace flags flew in the breeze. The whole meandering set of walkways seemed to encourage meditation.
At night much of the grounds was hidden from view. This was all right. When sight fails the other senses take over. The desert sounds became clear. The crunch of the soil underfoot seemed much louder. Not everything was lost in the darkness. Up on the hill I could still make out the outline of the temple. I walked up to it.
The temple itself is a small adobe structure, open on all four sides. There is no roof. Instead it has metal latticework on top in the shape of a dome. Inside the shrine is a fire pit. There are four alcoves in the corners of the building. In one corner is a statue of Sekhmet, surrounded by small offerings. In other space is a statue of Kwan Yin, along with images of other Asian goddesses. A third alcove has a mother image, a statue called “Madre del Mundo”. In the last corner are image of Mary, the Mother of God, Our Lady of Guadalupe.
In the dark I could no longer see these figures. I looked up at the dome. I saw starlight filtering through the steel frame. The stars provided the faintest of light in the temple. I felt something, and I am still unsure what it was. It was something good, but alien in a way. I stood for a while. Then I made my way back down the hill.