I thought I was too old for romance. I thought the place of passion within me had died. After all, it’d been over a decade since my last lover and I parted, and several years since my first social security check arrived in the mail. I was deeply engrossed in my career as an author, mostly happy in my own being, enjoying a life rich in friends, travel and inner inspiration.
I admit I’d fantasized about being with a younger man. Is there any woman over 50 who hasn’t? There’s nothing like the consistent view of sags and wrinkles in the morning mirror to deliver an appreciation for taut, unblemished masculinity jogging down the road as you drive past—a vision in the rear view mirror that holds your gaze riveted as, for a few brief seconds you imagine . . .
Then you realize looking in a rearview mirror at a rapidly disappearing vision of desire is an all-too-apt metaphor for your life, and you sigh, readjust the mirror and drive on.
I’d driven on and was fine with it. Well, relatively fine. Oh hell. Not fine at all.
And then came that spring day in 2015.
I was on deadline writing a book about the ego and enlightenment for Enliven Books. A friend invited me to stay at her house on the island of Paros in Greece for three months to finish it, and because I’d always had a “thing” for Apollo, the Greek god of wisdom, light and healing, I took a brief two-day jaunt to revisit his temple complex at Delphi on the mainland before catching the ferry to the island at the port of Piraeus.
The second morning I was there, I hiked up the old E4 trail above the temple to get away from the tourists. Taking a break, sitting high on a cliff overlooking the ancient stadium below, all of a sudden this hunky guy bounds over the rocks toward me wearing ripped jeans and ripped everything else plus a brilliant smile. Before I could even move he sat down next to me and blurted, “Hi! I’m Apollo. I have things to tell humanity. Let’s talk.”
And then he was gone.
What had happened? Was it was a vision? A caffeine-induced mirage from all the Greek coffee I’d drunk at breakfast? Or . . .? For god’s sake it was broad daylight. I was a perfectly sane American author out for a morning hike. Had it really happened? Delphi was famous back in the day for visions and strange prophesies. But, come on.
Freaked out, I headed back down the mountain, went straight to my hotel room and hauled out my computer. I had to get the details down! And oh my, the details! Apollo was gorgeous in a classic Greek sense. Straight nose, dark golden brown skin, curly shoulder length, dark red-brown hair shot through with gold, mid-thirties, a body to carve statues after and shocking copper-colored eyes that had looked straight through me.
I sat down, conjured his face, imagined those strange eyes and, still fluttery with shock, began to write.
I really got to know Apollo post book deadline while staying at a friend’s castle in Austria. It was an enormous fortress of a place, with 10th century foundations and dungeons, thick moss-covered stone walls and echoing, barely-furnished rooms and chambers. I was assigned a small bedroom above the kitchens overlooking what had been the moat. As best I could tell there were no ghosts lurking about my quarters. But I awoke one night in the wee hours feeling the darkness and oppression of centuries looming close, and called the Bringer of Light to me for comfort and company.
I’d already gotten a sense of some of the things Apollo wanted to talk about—and of all the things I didn’t expect, it was gender equality and the importance of resuscitating the Goddess. Well, not the Goddess so much as the energies of what he called the feminine aspect of God, the divine feminine.
“You know what I’m talking about, Ekateríni.” (Apollo insisted on calling me the Greek version of my formal name, Catherine.) “You have lived your life trying to prove yourself as good as a man. And you have done it by unconsciously adopting the energy and attitudes of the male of your species. All the women in your culture had to do this when you entered man’s domain. But now? The world is about to capsize because most of the men and now most of the women are sitting on only one side of the life raft—the side of aggression, exploitation, competition and greed. Everyone is playing . . . what do you call it? Ah, yes, King of the Mountain.”
He shook his head, copper eyes intense. “Soon there will be no mountain left.” Then he turned the conversation to me. “Don’t you know I have watched you for centuries, waiting to come back into your life? Waiting for a time when you could see me, hear me and receive what I have to give you?”
“B-back into my life?” I stuttered. “What do you mean?”
“Surely you have sensed that you have lived before?” He smiled. “It is no coincidence you keep coming back to Delphi. You were one of my priestesses, a long time ago. And most beloved.”
“And what do you want to give me?” I quaked.
“I am here to love you and bring you back to your feminine soul.”
Apollo kept me company that night and many more to come in that eerie chill castle. Strangely, the more he shared about himself and his life as a forgotten god who was once the object of worship by millions, the more I came to see him as a man. He was strong in his opinions, but they were neither arbitrary nor shallow, based in centuries of experience and wisdom. His kindness to me was unflagging, as was his solicitousness. He saw the pain I experienced at getting older, saw how much I was beginning to hate my body for losing its youthful perky appearance and comforted me.
“You perceive physical aging as ugly. But it is not ugly, Ekateríni. It is simply a part of life and therefore beautiful.” He leaned closer, his warm breath caressing my cheek. “Do you not see when I look into your eyes that your beautiful soul, rich in years, is laid bare before me and that that is what rouses me most? How can you fail to realize this?”
There were a lot of reasons I could fail to see this, starting with the youth-crazed culture I lived in. And what man had ever wanted me for my soul? For that matter, when had I ever cared about it? I’d happily kept myself occupied, trading on my sexual attractiveness for decades, confident I could have pretty much any man I set my cap for. And isn’t that what mattered?
And yet, over the years, there were nights when I was alone and after several glasses of wine I would wildly dance for the sheer joy of it in my bedroom, on fire, kindled by what I can only describe as my inner light. I would dance and then I would look in the bathroom mirror and see such a glorious beauty present before me—could feel it radiating and pulsing within me. And the sight and the feeling would take my breath away.
I’m not talking pretty. I am not now, nor have I ever been, a pretty woman. But in those alone moments, the glory and intoxication of my womanhood would spill out and take me over—all my hidden ecstasy and freedom of spirit would pour forth through my fluid panting body . . . and I could see my godliness at last—plain as day—right there reflected in the mirror.
And in those exalted moments I would mourn the fact that no man had ever ever seen me this way. No man had ever seen me. The real me. The me that mattered.
Men had only seen and loved parts of me . . . my breasts and my laughter, my vagina and my willingness, my educated opinions, my driven personality, my intelligence, my accomplishments, my potential as a mate, a lover, a business partner, friend. Never had a man recognized my light and the very real power of my very human divinity. Never had a man seen beneath the obvious to the depths of my triumphantly dazzling yet deeply insecure feminine soul.
That’s all he ever saw. And setting my psyche free of lifetimes of sexual baggage and gender wounding, making me aware of it so that that sublime, womanly essence could shine full time at last was all that interested him.
Needless to say, I fell in love with him. What woman still breathing would not?
I finished writing his personal story—the tale he told of intrigue, betrayal and diabolical plots by some of his fellow gods—on the overnight train from Johannesburg to Cape Town. (Very Ian Flemingish and romantic.) He kept me company in my tent at night as I journeyed across the plains of South Africa. And we finally consummated our love for one another at the elegant home of a famous South African sculptor friend of mine, curtains discreetly pulled against the harsh afternoon sun and any possibility of prying eyes.
Was it all a fantasy? Was any part of this strange cross-time tryst true?
Did it make any difference?
Science has proved that the brain cannot tell the difference, ultimately, between fantasy and reality. The physiological response to both is the same. All I know is that meeting Apollo changed my life. Under his fiercely honoring and admiring, mature male gaze, I flowered.
I no longer hate my body. I no longer despair over aging. And I no longer mourn over not being seen by mortal men. I have finally seen and acknowledged my inner beauty and feminine worth beyond all physical diminishment.
And that is all that matters.
Cate Montana has a master’s degree in psychology and has just about given up writing non-fiction articles and books about consciousness, quantum physics, and evolution. She is now a romance writer, blending head and heart in her first spiritual romance novel Apollo & Me, now available at Amazon.com!
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