page24 (40K)Artemis, Aphrodite, Persephone
the archetypal journey of diana stone
by belinda dunn
photo by michael d'elia

Diana Stone moved to these beautiful mountains in 1987. Over the years, she has made friends with just about everyone. Maybe you learned the ancient art of belly dancing from her or had the immeasurable treat of seeing her perform. Perhaps she is your psychologist - kind, gentle, wise sincerely interested in your unique human drama. She may be your neighbor, sharing the bounty of her most delectable garden. Others of you may know Diana as an Open Heart Workshop instructor. And, if this is your first chance to meet Diana, you're in for a surprise. Her life journey touches each of us, offering insight and healing, a rare glimpse into the very nature of what it means to be human.

Belinda - Let's begin with your experience of growing up around the world.

Diana - I had the blessing of growing up around the world because my lather was a diplomat and US. ambassador. When I was sixteen years old, my family went to India. In those days, the poverty was shocking, hungry masses sleeping on the streets with virtually no middle class. I experienced total culture shock, a reorganization of my world view that triggered me to look at human life in a deep way.

Belinda - How did you integrate this experience?

Diana - After that summer. I went back to my little boarding school in Maryland with its sixty students, and I could riot relate. I began to feel isolated. A part of me felt a longing that started with a deep calling to serve humanity and to work internationally. But. I did not know what it meant. I was only sixteen.

Belinda - How did this experience determine your education?

Diana - I decided to study psychology in college as a way to gain skills to help others, and because I have always been fascinated with human beings. At a very young age, I would find older people, and literally sit at their feet. I would find the happy ones, and ask them, "Tell me about your life, what made you happy, what worked?' Interestingly, most of the joyful, calm and happy people had some kind of spiritual practice. So. between this and my experience in India. I slowly began to realize it was something internal. This was a big step, but I still had no personal sense of an inner world. In fact, I experienced severe anxiety during college. If I was going to be any help. I had to get myself together. For awhile, I set aside the focus on helping others to do my on healing.

Belinda - What happened next?

Diana - During another trip to India to visit my family, who was Irving there at the time, I was introduced to meditation by an Indian friend. The idea that we could have an inner world was unfamiliar to me, that you could close your eyes and something would happen other then a whole lot of thoughts or emotions. Once back in the U.S.. I found a Transcendental Meditation center. Daily meditation began to Calm my brain which previously had been so active that I could hardly make a shopping list. This was 1972 and I was still wound up in the American culture. My fall, fly is a wonderful but powerful family. I was blessed with being financially comfortable and being exposed to wealthy people. I am grateful that I learned at an early age that wealth is not a source of happiness. At the same time, there was a lot of pressure on me to be successful.

Belinda - How did you reconcile your spiritual longing and experiences in India with these pressures?

Diana - I returned to India on my own and found my way to a town in the lower slopes of the Himalayas, Mossuri. I spent four months walking up and down the mountains to unwind. I kept walking and walking, realizing I had to let go of the pressures I had been brought up with, to Succeed according to our cultural Standards of success. It was time to focus on the spiritual path. Nothing else mattered. I joined an ashram. and essentially became a monk. living a vegetarian, celibate lifestyle. As my commitment deepened, I became a meditation teacher traveling and initiating others for the teacher I was with. All my possessions fit in two suitcases. From the ages of 30 to 35, I traveled throughout the U.S., Canada and France as an ascetic renunciate.

Belinda - What happened to change your course?

Diana - During the years of traveling, I became severely anorexic. went down to 86 pounds, and had to be taken 'off the road' for over a year to get better. I was so weak that it hurl to sit. and I could barely walk. It took many years to completely heal. Since then, I have had very little illness, because I learned about honoring the body, its needs and rhythms. I realized that I became sick because my life was not in balance. I had only been living as my spiritual self. My meditation teacher told me it was time to go out and live as a normal person.

Belinda - That sounds like a difficult transition. Tell us more about that.

Diana - In a way I never came back fully. I miss the simplicity and joy of living as a monk. Four years later, while working on my Ph.D. thesis. I came across the work of Jennifer and Roger Woolger. and their hook. "The Goddess Within: It hypothesizes various archetypes of the feminine self beyond socially conditioned roles. Understanding the goddess archetypes has helped me bring balance into my life and accept myself as I am. in all my aspects, so I am no longer denying one part or another aphrodite
For example, my mother says that even as a baby when she put m on a maws knee, I would immediately flutter my eyelashes at him I had boyfriends from when could crawl. This is the godde s Aphrodite. She loves dance, beauty, sensuality, and men. Growing up, dance was my love. a Id I studied ballet, jazz and moder n dance, but did not find my dance home until I studied belly dancing in my 40's. I also loved clothes. and decorating the body. In the summer of my junior year, I was able to get a dream lob, designing a line of clothes for a shop in India. artemis
Another very strong archetype for me is the goddess Artemis (Diana in the Roman pantheon). She loves to be in woods, interacting with plants and animals her hands in the dirt … forget the gloves. This aspect brought me to my farm in North Carolina. Artemis is self-empowered, earthy, and loves to be alone in nature. persephone
The spiritual life I had been living for years, relates to the archetype Of Persephone, goddess of the inner and under worlds. Regularly, good old Persephone would kick in and say 'no, no, no. I don't want this sex thing, I don't want this nature thing. I just want to go completely inside and discover my deeper being:

Belinda - These three archetypical pulls. eem contradictory.

Diana - Yes, it was very frustrating. For many years. I had only been my spiritual self, I had only been Persephone. When I left the monastic life, I did not remember how to drive a car. I had not read a book in twelve years, watched a movie or done a math problem. I had to relearn everything.

Belinda - So, you really had to start all over. What did you do next?

Diana - I ended up in Miami. I had a close friend, a man, and we decided to live together. We had our first kiss when we went to look for an apartment. We married, and he is still a very close friend, although we are divorced now. Given the chance, Aphrodite and Artemis came flamboyantly out, because they had been so suppressed. When I learned belly dancing, my Aphrodite went nuts, she was totally at home in that modality allowing me to reclaim that part of me.

Belinda - How did you get from Miami to Asheville?

Diana - My husband loved nature. We were very compatible in that. We purchased the farm west of Asheville that I still live on. We had animals: a hundred geese. other birds … guinea fowl, quail and pheasant and two pigs. We dove into nature, a connection I missed so much while touring and living in cities, and the Artemis in me was fulfilled. I also returned to school for a PhD.

Belinda - What did you study?

Diana - My interests brought me back to psychology and human Consciousness, the exploration of the paradigms of human experience. As I was doing my thesis, I became aware of how far our culture has departed from nature. So unhealthy. We cannot even figure out what or how In eat. Any animal knows what to eat, how much to sleep, when to have sex. Basic basic things. I was trying to understand the view of native people, how we strayed from our roots. I was constantly looking, reading, listening. watching nature, and comparing nature to human beings. I aimed to know the natural state for human beings, literally'what works.' After graduation,' opened a counseling practice in Asheville and taught psychology at AR Tech.



Belinda - It sounds like you have been able to bring the three goddess archetypes together in your life expression.

Diana - Yes. But, in the midst of developing and enjoying my Aphrodite and Artemis, Persephone was calling and calling. Then, through a friend, I found out about a very natural way to connect with my inner world that did not involve my brain focusing on something inside of me or outside of me. This natural way enabled me to conned with my heart.

Belinda - Tell us more about this natural way.

Diana - Throughout the years of meditation. I was looking for a way to feel love, being loved and loving others, and most importantly; love with our Source. But it never dawned on me that the key might have something to do with the heart. I went to a class on opening the heart and learned how to connect with and feel my non-physical heart. What I had been searching for was right under my nose the whole time.

Belinda - So you really felt changes this first class?

Diana - Not just changes, I felt the beginning of fulfillment of my whole life. During my years of meditation. I would 'look up,' inwardly; and feel something Divine, way off somewhere very far away. After the first morning of Class. when I looked tip inside, the connection was right there. The feeling of the Divine was right there, and we were directly connected. I realized this is our human design. We are designed to directly connect with the Divine through our heart, not through our head. The connection cannot happen through emotion, thoughts or focus, but simply connecting with our heart. So. in a matter of minutes, I experienced a fulfillment of all those years of seeking.

Belinda - What year was that?

Diana - The spring of 2003. In connecting with my heart, I felt a lot of sadness for about three months. Sad not because of what I found, but a residual sadness. Then one day I had a good boo hoc, and the sadness Cleared. It has never been back. Under it I found boundless joy, the joy of Low.

Belinda - And now you are guiding others to connect with their hearts?

Diana - Yes. I realized how easy and natural it was to have this connection with the qualities of the Divine in my heart: peace. joy; love and knowingness. These wonderful feelings in the heart grew and strengthened every time I connected with my heart. I began to teach the heart practice in 2005, and this has been incredibly beautiful, not only to experience what happens in me, but to watch the transformation, in very short periods Of time, for many other people. We have been trying to guide ourselves and find happiness through our head, using our intellect as a steering mechanism to decide what is good, right, how to be happy, and using our emotions to try to find lasting happiness.