It’s hard to grasp and hold in my mind that distant, ancient land, to feel the great weight of the sun baking the earth and pressing against my flesh. Hard to comprehend the grandeur of tombs and statues, the wealth of gold on wrist and collarbone, the richness of celebration and worship beneath ever-present gods, so foreign is it to my own experience. I know this place existed once as more than sand and ruin, and exists forever at its most fantastic within Her memory, but it is not my memory and not my place. I am not a sun-browned child of burning sands and fertile deltas, of golden temples and gleaming hieroglyphs. I am a pale child of cedar and mountains, of white fog and rocky Pacific shores. The arid land of lion and cheetah is not my land; my land is the forested land of cougar and bobcat. I feel this land in my heart and soul, and struggle to imagine myself in the first. But why does this make me feel unworthy or disloyal? This is Her land too, isn’t it? Wherever Her children walk, She is there. Wherever Her followers exalt Her name, She is there. The same sun and moon and stars rotate over this land as over that of Her first cult, so why should She eschew it because no formal temple has stood on this ground? She is a goddess of fire and freedom, instinct and survival. The wilderness is Her temple. The shadows and lurking places are Her temple. Any place touched by a silent paw or fleeting form is Her temple. Seeking adherence to desert tradition, I forgot She has always been with me here in this land, in this time. I can sit among damp lavender and pine branches and speak to Her just as easily, and with as much approval, as I could were I able to find my way to Her first place of worship. Silly devotee, to have thought She could watch me grow up in this place and not call it Hers as well!