An American devi journey to Hinduism by Stephanie Celeste Chateau who is a great
devotee of Shri Hari
I am one of many Americans who was raised Christian. At first I wanted very badly to feel a connection with the God of the Bible to make my mother proud. However, deep down I knew this was not the right path for me. The more I studied the bible the more I would worry.

It didn’t make sense to me. I thought to myself “If all of this is true I will have to stand up to God. It’s not right to torture my non-believing friends for eternity. I can’t enjoy heaven knowing they will burn in hell.” I would pray every night like someone leaving a message on a voice mail machine waiting for God to answer.

Then one night at the height of my despair over wanting to understand “God” I had a dream that calmed me down. In the dream I was leaning up against a big tree sleeping. Suddenly I felt something crawling all over me and I could see I was covered in yellow ants. I was so scared but I was afraid to scream out of fear they would crawl in my mouth. Then I felt something touch my forehead and they all dissolved in a flash of light. I looked to see who’s hand it was and was in awe of who I saw smiling back at me.

I thought he was a ghost at first because of how he glowed a blue grey color against the night sky. His eyes were big and beautiful, his hair silky and dark, and he had the most beautiful smile. It was unforgettable. Every so often I’d sit and ponder who it was I had seen and then forget again.

Then one day when visiting family we went to an art museum where they had a Hindu Art Exhibit. I was looking at the paintings and was stunned at how much the man in one of the paintings looked like the man I had seen in my dream. I asked the curator about the painting and she said it was Shiva and waved me off. When I got home from the museum I put Shiva in google search and seeing the image results thought “No. This doesn’t look right. The similarity in the one painting at the museum must have just been a coincidence.” and forgot about it for awhile.

A few weeks later I started a job as a tarot reader at Universal Studios for an area in the Lost Continent made to look like a fantasy Romani/Gypsy camp. I didn’t understand at the time why there was so much Indian themed décor and merchandise (I was one of many who just assumed Romani meant from Romania, only recently have I been educated otherwise) although I look back at the series of events now and wonder how it I managed to ignore this call to study the Hindu path for so long.

As I was helping with the display for new products I picked up one picture I was asked to hang up and there he was again staring back at me holding a flute. The same man I had seen at the museum and in my dream. I asked who it was and this time I was told it was Krishna.

I got very excited and told my co-worker about the dream I had, the painting I saw at an art museum a few weeks later, and how I had brushed it off as coincidence because I was told it was Shiva in the painting and Shiva didn’t quite look like who I saw in my dream. However, the man in the print I was holding she said was Krishna looked just like him. She told me she had a book about him called

The Bhagavad Gita she would bring to work and let me borrow. When I got ahold of it I was very eager to learn about Krishna, but at the time it was way over my head. I became frustrated and gave the book back saying there was a lot going on in my life and I didn’t have time for it.

I was constantly working either at my job, on side projects, or at conventions until one day ten years later I realized I was burnt out on everything and just had a complete melt down. I quit my job at the Studios and moved from tourist heavy Orlando, FL. to the more relaxed pace of life in Birmingham, AL. As soon as I arrived some old friends invited me to a Halloween Party that happens there every year called “The Witches Ball”.

When I arrived at the party there standing at the entrance was a guy dressed up as Vishnu surrounded by a few people trying to take pictures of him. I didn’t think much of it at first. I was just excited to approach him and let him know I knew who he was dressed as.

The next day when I decided to explore the town I stopped at the nearest cafe to rest and get something to eat. I remember after catching my breath from running around I decided to take a look around the room and saw on one wall a giant relief of Shiva in meditation and on the other side a painting of Radha and Krishna. It could have been just a series of coincidences but to me it felt like good omens. I decided I wasn’t going to just take a break in Birmingham but get a job and stay for awhile.

I applied for a variety of jobs I felt I was qualified for but became slightly dismayed when none of them called me back. I complained to a friend about it and he suggested I take my mind off of it, enjoy a walk in the forest on Vulcan Trail and afterwards check out a shop next to it he thought I would like called Books, Beans, and Candles Metaphysical Shoppe. I ignored his advice for about a week but a reoccurring dream of wandering through a forest looking for something and finding an old hermit made me think maybe my subconscious was wanting some fresh air.

After getting terribly lost around town and on the trail I was exhausted and just wanted to go home. I had forgotten all about the advice to stop by the shoppe. All I wanted was to sit down and have some water. Just as I was thinking that I saw a girl walk out of what I thought was just somebody’s house talking to her friend about how she loves “the drinks they serve here”. I squinted and realized there was an “open” sign and a bulletin board and it clicked.

This was the place my friend had recommended I stop by. Curious and thirsty I walked in and looked around. The first thing that caught my eye was a beautiful bronze statue of Ganesh dancing. The second thing that caught my eyes was the guy at the register who asked me if I needed help with anything. I asked if they had bottled water and he pointed to the fridge and said I could help myself. There was something about his voice and his mannerisms that was familiar but I couldn’t pin point it so I just shrugged it off and started looking around.

I noticed that upstairs there was a room for doing tarot readings and I flashed back to my first job at Universal as a tarot reader before I switched over to working in Jurassic Park. I remembered the strange dreams I had about Krishna and as I walked back downstairs and looked to my left I saw a picture of Vishnu laying on his serpent couch on display.

Suddenly it occurred to me that the guy downstairs at the register sounded alot like the guy at the party from a few weeks ago that was dressed as Vishnu. When I went back downstairs he introduced himself as Chris and asked if we had met somewhere before and if by chance I was at the Witches Ball party.

Then I said yes and asked if he was the guy dressed as Vishnu and then we both threw our hands up in the air like little kids when we realized we had already met before in disguise at the party. We talked and I told him the whole story of how I ended up at the shoppe and used to read cards and how funny it all was. He let me know the owner looking for a reader to work on the weekends and to talk to him.

Since I started working there a number of other amusing things have happened that to some may just seem like a series of coincidences but to me have special meaning. One example being that one day a young man came in to the shoppe asking if it was Krishna’s Temple while I was at a table drawing a picture of Krishna.

I was bewildered until he told me he had put in “Krishna Temple” and “Birmingham, AL.” in search engine and he came to the address that was posted on the web site.

I tried it myself and sure enough I got the same result. It seemed ISKCON had listed where I work as the Krishna Temple for Birmingham, AL.

I’ve also had a number of vivid dreams since my move and have met a number of other interesting artists online who also have a fascination with the Hindu gods and philosophy that have made it so much easier to understand the Hindu teachings.

The more I study with them now the more I realize it’s the perfect path for me and it’s what I’ve been searching for all along even though it was right there under my nose for the longest time and I just wasn’t paying attention.

I am so amazed at what learning about Sanatan Dharma has done for me already. I no longer worry about appearing a certain way to others. My physical and mental health have both improved. The “empty” feeling I used to get has pretty much disappeared. I no longer feel fixated on how long it will take me to get somewhere. I am finally able to just enjoy the journey itself and I am very excited to realize the journey hasn’t finished but just begun.

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