Touted in the press as ‘An Irish Eat, Pray, Love’ meets ‘Sex and the City’.
One woman, One myth, Three Goddesses
A woman’s voyage of self discovery begins on the internet leading all the way to Brazil and onto the Andean highlands of Peru. Devastated from her relationship break- up, Kate Canavan is at a loss until she rediscovers a hidden painting of the triple Goddess from Greek mythology. Her interest in mythology and spirituality is re-ignited. A voyage of self discovery begins with internet dating using the names of each of the Goddesses in the triple myth.
When a health scare intervenes Kate and her friends go together to visit a famous healer in Brazil and a spiritual guru in Peru, where all three friends begin spiritual journeys of forgiveness, gratitude and learning to live in the now.
Ferdia Mac Anna (author of cult book to movie Last of the high Kings) says:-
"Funny, informative heart-warming and wildly entertaining. This novel takes the reader on an exhilarating roller-coaster ride though modern romance, internet dating, Peruvian Gurus, wannabes, has-beens and lotharios and brings them home safe and almost sound. This book rocks!'
It was with great reluctance that I got ready to go out that evening, since I would have preferred to spend time writing in my journal before taking an early night. But there was no dissuading Ella, who called for me at eight to tell me our black cab was waiting. The driver took off at speed up the main street before turning down a side road with high white walls on either side.
“It seems very quiet for a party. Are you sure you have the right night?” I asked as Ella paid the taxi driver and we got out on the silent street in front of what appeared to be a plain pebble-dash house. With its continuous high wall running along the side, it was difficult to make out its exact size or shape.
“I fibbed. It’s a double date. Oh don’t be mad, Kate. Nothing serious – just a bit of male company. They’re fine. Virtual monks, if you ask me. Hey, you can even team up with the good-looking guy.”
“Are you mad? They could be crazies!” I was about to turn away when the wrought-iron door opened wide.
“Hello, ladies,” said one of the most fascinating-looking men I had ever met. Of indeterminable age, anywhere between thirty five and fifty, his facial features were so strong and outrageously unusual; he qualified as both ugly and beautiful. Ebony black skin, wide nose, wide lips, cheekbones so sharp they could slice cheese. With huge expressive eyes and a charming smile, the effect was totally disarming. “We’ve been expecting you. Adolfo’s inside. I’m Nat.”
Ella smiled at me and I felt as if I was compelled by a supernatural force to go along with whatever was about to unfold, despite wondering had I taken leave of my senses. As we followed Nat through the house, Ella nudged me, nodding at his trim torso visible through a black t-shirt over denim-clad snake hips. With his graceful, animal-like stride, he led us down the cool white stucco-plastered corridor into a large villa-style living room. There he introduced me to Adolfo, a short, stocky man in his early fifties with an air of business and a whiff of Cuban cigars about him. Ella had told me on the way there that Adolfo was originally from Rio de Janiero, but she hadn’t told me anything about this other man.
“Where are you from Nat?” I asked, after we got over the initial pleasantries.
“I grew up in LA with a Jamaican mother and a father who was half-Brazilian and half-American.”
“And where did you two meet each other?”
“I worked in LA for a while,” said Adolfo. “Our wives became best friends. I’m divorced now and back in Rio, and Nat’s lovely wife passed on two years ago. But we still get together, and I keep this place here for whenever I come to see the Healer, maybe twice a year. Would you like some wine, ladies, or something non-alcoholic?”
Judging by the elaborate mosaic tiles on the floor, I guessed Adolfo was wealthy to afford a place like this merely for the odd visit. Not having started my herbs yet, I agreed to one glass of wine as I sank into the squishy tan leather sofa beside Nat. I wished Ella would stop winking. It was becoming very obvious. Soon the conversation was flowing along with the wine. I was on my second glass. The two men were interesting, both mellow and gentle in the way people who meditate regularly appear to be. Adolfo said he had become less hung up on making lots of money after he underwent a two-year battle with cancer, which had now been in remission for over seven years. Nat’s wife had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and Adolfo had suggested she visit the Healer, and stay in his house.
Nat took up the story: “Lexie didn’t recover but she lived a year longer than any doctor predicted and she gained a great acceptance of death, for which we were both grateful. While she was ill, we visited the Healer four times and Lexie found an inner peace she’d never had in her life before. She was so devoted to him; she used to kiss his feet each time she came. She really loved the energy in the ashram and the village.”
“This place is very peaceful and so is this house. The view is amazing.” Outside the window, a gentle breeze nudged graceful hibiscus trees to salsa in and out towards each other while displaying their dark green leaves and trumpet-shaped pink and purple flowers, as if intentionally attracting the large bumble bees that clustered around them.
“You need to see the view from the balcony upstairs,” Nat said.
“I’d love to. I could do with a bit of air.” Following Nat upstairs, I wondered why Ella and Adolfo hadn’t joined us. At the top of the stairs, Nat turned right into an open space, at the end of which stood a set of double French doors. These he slid sideways, before waving his hand for me to step through before him. I gasped as the most spectacular view stretched before my eyes. The chirping of crickets filled the air, scented with bougainvillea and pine. Tall trees forested the slopes of the untamed valley, while yuccas, cacti and vines flooded the garden below. As we stood there a flock of yellow butterflies fluttered within arm’s reach. “It’s wonderful,” I said. There was a long silence. Eventually, I dared ask, “Why do you come back here, now that your wife has passed on?”
He said, picking a leaf from a mint plant on a tall wrought iron stand, “I have problems with addiction. That’s why I’ve come to see the Healer.”
“Addiction to what?” it just slipped out before I realized how intrusive the question was. “I’m sorry, if you don’t want to tell me…” Hiding my confusion, I raised my glass to my mouth.
Nat didn’t look like I was intruding. He turned, smiling softly. “I am a sex addict.”
I swallowed my wine in a gulp, hastily averting my eyes to study a nearby jacaranda blossom. I could feel a hot blush turning my face bright red.
He said, “It sounds worse than it is, Kate. I’m not a sexual deviant. I became very promiscuous after Lexie died and I used sex as a drug. Believe me, a lot of people have this addiction and will never own up to it. Someone addicted to porn, even if he or she has never had sex, could be classified as a sex addict. If you understand the nature of addiction you will know that addicts cannot bear to feel their feelings, finding emotions too raw, and their wounds too deep to touch. Instead they act out with inappropriate behavior to dull the pain, but their lives eventually spiral out of control.”
“Sorry. It sounds so...” I couldn’t finish the sentence. I wanted to say perverted and realized how judgmental that would sound. After all, I didn’t really know anything about the nature of addictions.
“Dangerous? No don’t worry. I assure you I’m not a rapist. And I try hard to practice celibacy because it’s essential for me. I’ve started a new relationship with a lovely girl. We’ve been dating for three months now and our relationship is celibate because I know now that if a relationship starts out being sexual, then my judgment gets clouded. I need it to work on the friendship and trust level first, which is difficult.”
I was humbled by Nat’s frank admission and felt a surge of admiration for him as I watched him pick another leaf from the mint plant to chew in absent-minded fashion. “That’s what I always thought, partly because I was brought up as a Catholic, but also because it felt safe. Then what do I do? At an age when I should know better, I go to bed with a bollocks on the second date.” I winced. “Excuse me, that’s my new word for someone despicable.”
“We all have to learn our own way of being in the world, Kate, and sometimes it’s through our mistakes we learn most of all.”
“So… Meeting me tonight? Why did you agree to it?”
“I love the company of women. That doesn’t mean I need to seduce every woman I meet. Don’t get me wrong. I’d still like to, but I’m learning restraint.”
Listening to him talk like that, I was reminded of being told inappropriately at fourteen years of age by a woman I baby-sat for, that the reason she had had five children in six years was because “My husband, like all men, is sex mad.” Since then, throughout my teens, I’d feared the sexual urge was similar to the opening of Pandora’s box. It was easier for a virgin to be chaste but once tasted, sexual desire would be more difficult for either gender to control. “Good for you, Nat. I think I may be addicted to sleeping pills. I’ve been taking one every night for almost eighteen years. It doesn’t always manage to conk me out, but I haven’t been able to give them up.” I fell silent, taken aback my own admission, and then turned to look at his face for a reaction.
“Balancing your chakras is important for handling addictions. You can meditate better once your chakras are open.” His tone was soft, the expression on his face kind.
“How does that work?”
“I can show you how, if you’d like to sit with me in the meditation room next door.”
Glancing at my watch, I asked “How long will it take?”
“Oh, just fifteen minutes.” He walked across the landing towards a door on the left and opened it, gesturing for me to enter. It was an unfurnished room, oak floor covered with two large intarsia patterned rugs and a scattering of large square cushions in shades of orange and green. Unlit candles were placed at intervals in front of the skirting board. Nat walked over to a docking system and turned on some relaxing music. Next I joined him in sitting down as he demonstrated the correct posture for sitting in half lotus with the help of a tiny cushion called a zafu. I copied his posture, sitting with my spine straight.
“Now, relax your shoulders. Inhale slowly and deeply. Visualize a white light coming through your crown chakra. Relax and exhale.”
After a few breaths I could feel myself melting into an easy peaceful bliss. Then Nat spoke softly. “Kate, your heart chakra is very blocked. May I adjust it for you? Just nod if you agree.” I nodded. Then I felt Nat’s firm hand resting flat on my upper back while his other hand seemed to make a small clockwise motion between my breasts. I told myself not to react even though my personal space was now being invaded and I could feel and smell Nat’s warm minted breath on my face. I’d read about healers and gurus adjusting people’s chakras, especially the heart chakra which is supposedly concerned with allowing in the emotions of love, forgiveness and compassion. Then a flush of heat swept over me and I gasped in horror. Nat had begun massaging my left breast in a manner more octopus than spiritual. Opening my mouth to protest, I was suddenly silenced by Nat’s mouth on top of mine as he tried thrusting his tongue between my teeth. I bit hard. He gasped. Shoving him away, I jumped up. “Some reformed sex addict, you are!”
“I’m sorry, Kate. I truly am. Please forgive me.”
“Save your wretched apologies. They’re wasted on me.” I ran out of the room and down the stairs. I stormed into the open- plan living area where Ella and Adolfo were deep in discussion, examining packets of coffee spread out on the table in front of them. “C’mon Ella! I need to get out of here as fast as possible.”
“What happened?” Adolfo took in my shocked expression, and then clapped his two hands over his head in exasperation. “Don’t tell me Nat lost control. Oh my dear Kate, I have to tell you he has been so good for so long but this new girlfriend is driving him crazy. Celibacy has never been more difficult for him. Let me call you a taxi.”
“It had better come quickly,” I said breathlessly.
“Five minutes, ladies! You have to understand that celibacy is much more difficult for a man. I too practice. But Nat has a girlfriend he loves yet she keeps him waiting. FBS is a terrible affliction!”
“Irritable Bowel Syndrome?” asked Ella, confused.
“FBS! Full Balls Syndrome. It drives a man wild. We feel better with EBS; Empty Balls Syndrome. Nat is so desperate from waiting; he would nearly ride a sheep!”
“Great, that’s really great!” I stormed. “I’m practically assaulted and now you tell me he’s so desperate I could have been a sheep. That’s just lovely.”
Adolfo looked pleadingly at Ella. “I’m sorry I said the wrong thing to your friend… sometimes things get lost in translation. Really, Nat is not a bad guy and he will beat up on himself so much for this. We are all here for healing. Nat is here to cure his sex addiction.”
Nat was creeping down the stairs, shoulders hunched, his hands together in a pleading manner. I wasn’t going to hang around to absolve him for his wrong doings. “Ella, I’m waiting outside. I don’t want to hear anymore.”
Ella kissed Adolfo on the cheek and they muttered something about meeting again to discuss importing coffee. I hardly heard, I was already on my way to the front door. After waiting a few minutes in the chilly night air, the taxi arrived, bringing us back to our accommodation. “Are you really mad with me?” Ella inquired sheepishly after we’d sat into the taxi.
“No I’m not, Ella. Funny thing is, I find myself believing Adolfo, despite the bull – or the sheep, for that matter. I don’t think Nat’s a bad guy and he probably is trying hard to battle an addiction. On the other hand, he could be a pure chancer.” I laughed. “But now I’m more damaged than ever. Apparently I’m as sexy as any old sheep. I mean seriously how do I recover from that bitter blow to my ego?”
Author bio – Mary Elizabeth Coen
Living in Ireland, Mary Elizabeth Coen is a former Home Economics teacher and lifestyle journalist. Mary E. runs a website called Goddess MECA which stands for Mary Elizabeth Coen Assists the Goddess in everywoman through sharing her love of cookery fashion and mythology. The url is www.goddessmeca.com
Mary says “Though I always dreamed of being a writer, I took a rather circuitous route getting here. You could say I have had several incarnations in this lifetime from Home Economics teacher to Fashion Editor of a magazine, along with being mother
to my three wonderful children, Mark, Janet and Emily. Due to demand from clients I opened my own pr consultancy firm specializing in fashion; - the dream job for a fashionista, availing of great discounts on wonderful shoes and vintage clothing!
Sadly it was not meant to last as in 2004 my health deteriorated and as a result, work had to take a back seat. I became interested in holistic medicine, personal development and writing in an attempt to cope with my diagnosis of fibromyalgia. In the process, I developed a passion for mythology, philosophy and the study of ancient spiritual traditions. As a spiritual seeker, I’ve travelled to Mayan sites in Mexico,
visited a famous healer’s ashram in Brazil and undertook a shamanic journey through
Love & the Goddess is closely based on memoir.