I first met Nadine Skye at Zia Traders Flea Market, just outside Santa Fe. She was selling handmade jewelry and stuffed plushy goddesses off of an old folding card table. I had spotted her long, fiery red locks like a beacon, beckoning me down the crowded aisle. She was showing a necklace to a potential customer. It was strung with a generous bouquet of colorful stone beads that sparkled in the sunshine like ardor’s own reflection. Then I saw the goddesses arranged on her table. Polytheistic fuzzy perfection. They were silky, soft stuffed representations of the Earth Mother, any of which seemed perfect for Paula. We had gone out a couple times, Paula and I, and I wanted to take it to the next level. Once I saw the goddesses I knew she would enjoy their cuddly, feminine divinity, due to her being a practicing Pagan and all.
I walked over to the booth and it wasn’t too long before I picked out a stuffed Freya of aqua blue fleece. I was told that Freya was a Nordic Goddess of love, beauty, and magic by the stunning ginger, witchy trader. I chose Freya after an in-depth and serious discussion with Nadine about my intention for giving the gift. I had never spent so much time talking with a flea market seller over a silly item before. She truly wanted to be sure that I ended up with the right one.
It was three weeks later that I spotted Nadine Skye at Cloud Cliff Bakery. I was there with Paula, sipping coffee while waiting for scones. We were definitely cruising at the next level and I was pretty happy with that. I noticed her blazing mane at the next table. “Nadine, right?” I inquired. She looked my way and immediately smiled, sort of recognizing me. “I bought one of your goddesses a few weeks ago.” I added.
“Oh, yeah, Peterson right? You bought a Freya.” She said it like she was authentically happy to see me, which warmed me somehow.
“This is Paula, who I bought it for.” I gestured towards Paula like I was pointing at a first place trophy.
“I love my Freya,” Paula beamed.
“Thanks. Given what Peterson told me, I thought you might.”
I looked at Paula and noted the recognition of a kindred spirit in her eyes. I decided to be bold. “Would you like to join us?”
“Well, I’m meeting my wife here, but she’s not due for another few minutes, so sure, that would be great.” She brought her muffin and coffee to our table and right off the bat she and Paula began a lively conversation about goddesses, spiritual energy and alignment with the Flow of Life, whatever that meant. They both attempted to include me but the subject matter was a bit over my head. Though it was fascinating to just listen.
At one point Nadine pulled what she called a medicine wheel from her canvas shoulder bag. It was a circular shape with a cross breaking it up in perfect quarters, a little larger than a silver dollar. “I’m learning how to make these from a Lakota friend of mine. It’s made of wound porcupine quills if you can believe it. He’s also been teaching me his understanding of the four directions, which are represented by each quartered section of this small hoop,” she said. Then she began explaining what she called “the aspect of energy” of each of the directions. It was a different take on the cardinal points for sure.
“Our death, the biggest mystery, comes from the East. It is only discovered through the direct experience. No one still living really knows what it’s truly about. The ones that say they came back from death weren’t dead . . . they were something else. Only the dead are dead.” She giggled a bit. “We just know to expect the poke and tickle of death sooner or later. But not to worry, for the East is also the direction of rebirth,” she giggled again.
“The greatest loves of our life will come from the South.” She moved her finger around the medicine wheel to the south. “It’s the direction of warmth, comfort and the light of connection.
“Our most potent visions and inspirations come from the West. There is something about the easing of the day, the descending sun melting into changing light that sets the spacious and still tone required for realizations.
“And the instincts of survival that keep us out of the bigger types of trouble come from the North. That unyielding feeling, the still small voice that will guide us if we let it is carried on the North Winds. Or at least thats how my friend understands the gift of each direction. He gained his insights on his own and admits they are different from other teachers presentations of the directions. But I guess it’s good to have reference points for these powerful energies that make up our life, however they are understood. They’re just pointers and not any type of absolute truth,” she said.
“I guess I found you in the south,” I said to Paula, grinning like a kid.
“You’re such a putz,” Paula said with real affection.
“You guys are sweet,” Nadine said. Then she took my hand and placed the small medicine wheel in it. “Understanding the four directions can be helpful for navigating the wondrous splendor and tragic silliness of the world. But choosing to actually awaken the awareness of those energies is where real power lies.”
“How do you awaken awareness of an energy?” I asked, looking down at the beautiful craftsmanship of the medicine wheel.
“Cultivating an inner quiet, making the space within yourself for that energy to rise.” She could tell I wasn’t following her. “Sit in stillness with that small hoop for awhile and see if it starts speaking.”
My fingers tightened on the circle. “That’s really generous. Thank you,” I said.
“It’s awesome,” Paula added.
Nadine looked up. “I see my honey. Time to go.” She got to her feet and put a few bills on the table, refusing my offer to pay for her simple meal. “You just come and see me again at the market, both of you.” Then she walked towards the entrance and kissed a stunning woman with raven black curly hair. I noticed that she met her wife to the south of us. And at the same instant I noticed that the medicine wheel began vibrating in my hand.