My Near-Death Experience, Or How I Met the Goddess Face to Face By Barbara Ardinger

Oh boy oh boy oh boy—another June 17 has passed (I’m writing this on June 18) and I’m still here. Every year, this is my day to be careful. And to keep breathing. I have two specific associations with June 17. The first, and lesser, is that it is (or was) the birthday of my last serious boyfriend. I really thought we were going to get married. That didn’t happen, and as we were breaking up, he gave me a (probably expensive) bottle of My Sin perfume. I hurled it against the wall behind the dumpster. So much for that. And him.

The real story: I began having asthma attacks in the late 80s. Nearly every night. A friend took me to every doctor we could think of, but none of them helped me. (At the time, my asthma was acute; now it’s merely chronic and under control.) In June 1992, I was very busy doing freelance writing when I could find an assignment, looking for a real job, serving as vice president of the Orange County chapter of Women In Management (which meant I booked the speaker every month)…and breathing. My second book, A Woman’s Book of Rituals and Celebrations, was being published, and I was teaching a weekly class called Practicing the Presence of the Goddess in my living room.

On June 17, I was especially busy. I was having an all-day asthma attack, but I was so busy, all I did was just keep sucking on my inhaler. I had a meeting with my tax preparer. Suck, suck, breathe. I had to turn in an article I’d written for a magazine. Suck, suck, breathe. When I started for home, the freeway was crazier than usual. Suck, suck, breathe. As soon as I got in my door, I had to run for the bathroom. Suck, suck, breathe. I was still in there when I heard the phone ringing in the living room. I couldn’t get to it in time to answer, but I listened to the message. My publisher wanted to send me to the Bay Area to do book talks and signings in San Jose, Berkeley, Oakland, and a few other cities. Breathe!

And I had a class to teach that night. Normally, I had a dozen students, all of them women who were just beginning to know about the Goddess. On June 17, only two showed up. One was Rose, who had also lived in Ferguson, Missouri, when she was a new bride and I was a teenager, but we didn’t meet until we were both in Southern California. The other was Louise, a visiting nurse one of whose patients was the woman who was my current AIDS buddy. (I was an AIDS emotional support volunteer, too.) I was so breathless that night, I could barely whisper.

“We think you need to go to the ER,” they said.

“Can you guys drive me there?”

So we got into Rose’s car and drove a mile to the Garden Grove Hospital. The last thing I saw was the glass doors of the Emergency Room. The next thing I remember…I was zooming around the ER, right under the ceiling, and watching the hands of the clock moving really slow. Next thing, I was lying on a gurney. A nurse was attaching me to a nebulizer, and Louise was sitting beside the gurney. She said Rose was settling my ER bill. I didn’t have insurance at the time, and Rose never, ever mentioned that she’d paid for my time in the hospital. She was a human goddess on earth.

And then it was suddenly dark all around me. That’s when I saw Her. The Goddess was standing beyond the foot of the gurney. At first, She seemed far away, and She was huge and black, so black I could see stars and comets and planets, the whole universe, in Her body. A minute later, She was people-size and close enough that I could see Her face. She smiled at me. I guess I blinked, because when I looked again, She was standing beside the gurney, near my right shoulder. I remember feeling a hand on my heart.

They admitted me to the hospital, and when the respiratory therapist found out I had two published books, all he wanted to talk about was how to get published. He also made sure I kept breathing, of course, and the next day we laughed together when I told him about some adventure I’d recently had with my publisher. (BTW, I called them back and they flew me up to the Bay Area, but that was a couple months later. I led rituals in Berkeley and Oakland.)

I stayed in the hospital for three days, and the Goddess seemed to be in the room with me. Every time I thought to look, there She was, still standing near my right shoulder. She never spoke, and I’ve never known Her name, but I felt some kind of teaching coming into my head. Into my whole body. I understood that the lost boyfriend was unimportant, that my rebellious son just needed less smother-mothering, that I could call my aunt and ask to borrow some money, and that, if nothing else, I should try temp office work for a while. The Goddess fed me some common sense. And I began to breathe regularly again.

Rose and Louise came back on Friday to take me home. Louise had also fed my cat while I was in the hospital. When I told them that I’d met the Goddess, they both totally believed me. Then they asked me if I’d be all right by myself. Before they left, we held a little spontaneous ritual in which we thanked Her for standing with me.

This is a true story.


Barbara Ardinger, Ph.D. (, is a published author and freelance editor. Her newest book is Secret Lives, a novel about grandmothers who do magic.  Her earlier nonfiction books include the daybook Pagan Every DayFinding New Goddesses (a pun-filled parody of goddess encyclopedias), and Goddess Meditations.  When she can get away from the computer, she goes to the theater as often as possible—she loves musical theater and movies in which people sing and dance. She is also an active CERT (Community Emergency Rescue Team) volunteer and a member (and occasional secretary pro-tem) of a neighborhood organization that focuses on code enforcement and safety for citizens. She has been an AIDS emotional support volunteer and a literacy volunteer. She is an active member of the Neopagan community and is well known for the rituals she creates and leads.

Categories: Death and Dying, Divine Feminine, Goddess, Goddess Spirituality


29 replies

  1. This is a lovely, albeit a little scary, story. Thank the Goddess you pulled through!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. So beautiful, Barbara. The way you describe her, I can see Her, too, and am grateful. Love how She is both cosmic and practical. Thank you for sharing your true story.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. Oh, such a powerful and moving story – your courage, commitment, and caring come forth like a beacon. And yes, this is also a very scary story. But the presence of the Goddess through your ordeal made me so happy for you and brought me to the edge of my own longing – how wondrous to have had such an experience. Thank you Barbara for sharing!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Wow. What an incredible encounter.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Glad Barbara, you worked through the problems, hand in hand, with the great Goddess!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m so glad for both your students, who did the Goddess’ practical, hands-on work — getting you to the hospital — and the Goddess who supported you while there.


  7. I’m so glad for both your students, who did the Goddess’ hands-on, practical work — getting you to the hospital — and for the Goddess who supported you while there.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Oh Barbara, I’m so glad the Goddess was there with you and you had students who recognized you needed the ER!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Awesome true story!
    Thank the Goddess those two woman were there with you that night. Of course, She put them there…but anyway…Think of all the wonderfulness we’d be missing if they hadn’t.
    I too have had some run ins with asthma, very scary stuff. Glad you’re ok now.
    Take care.


    • And the irony is that I have outlived both of my friends, though I was with Rose till very near the end. It’s true of course that our female friends enrich our lives and become our heras. I’ve been blessed that way my whole life. Bright blessings to all our friends!

      Liked by 3 people

  10. So glad she was with you.
    So glad for the women with you that day.
    Blessed be for our sisterhood.


  11. What a moving and powerful story, Barbara! I’m so glad you met the Goddess, but sorry you had to go through that. I’m glad your friends recognized that you needed to go to the ER, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Barbara, your account is absolutely amazing, wonderful, and frightening, all at once! Thank Goddess you were spared! Thank Goddess She showed up in the operating room, and thank Goddess again that you had such loving, caring friends.

    It seems there is a time to go, but this wasn’t your time. You still have work to do in this world.

    I feel awed. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Wow! Makes total sense to me. When I was in a desparate place for 3 years, I could feel my guides around me so often, and they helped me change my thinking, literally.

    I’ve been asthmatic for about 50 years now, and ended up in the ER more than once. It is scary! Now I work with my plant allies and rarely have to use an inhaler.

    Thank you for sharing your experience with us.


    • Asthma can be so much fun. Hah! In the late 80s, I was having asthma attacks almost every night…..but I didn’t know it was asthma. I found that out about 1990. Thank Goddess, it’s chronic but under control now, though I still get breathless pretty easily. I’m glad you have plant allies. You can borrow one of my mantras: Breathing Is Good. Cheers!


      • As I remarked to you, Barbara, I think asthma is one of those conditions whose seriousness people often don’t understand. Yours was a very scary story — representative of many others — in which you fortunately had a powerful ally, and good friends. Thank you for sharing it with us.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Actually, I don’t remember being scared that night like I was during all the asthma attacks I had earlier. When I was looking at the universe in the Goddess, I was both curious and amazed. Afterward, I was grateful to my friends. But I don’t remember being scared.


  14. I believe you, Barbara Although you were teaching others, you remained teachable and not smug. This attitude appears welcoming to the Goddess.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Barbara, I so can relate to your experience, as I am having asthma since my younger years. Wow , you live in Orange County, I live there too, I live in San Clemente, where do you live? Would be great if we could meet each other sometime? Let me know.


  16. Wow! I concur! Thanks for posting!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. … love it Barbara: the whole story … xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Anyone who has faced the GODDESS is all right with me.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. WOW…. what a life tranceforming experience this was for you. Your story was a great reminder for me that “we are never alone” and that we have soul contracts with people to help us in our time of need.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Prayers for your radiant health, Barbara. May every hand that touches you be a healing hand, Love, Ellen Greenlaw


  21. Prayers for your radiant health, Barbara. may every hand that touches you be a healing hand. Love, Ellen Greenlaw

    Liked by 1 person

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