Friday, December 20, 2013

Sacred Places

One of the things that made my recent tour of Crete ( so powerful was the fact that at each place held sacred by the ancient Minoan culture, we performed a ceremony or ritual acknowledging the sacredness.

Many of the sacred places were in caves (most of which I was physically unable to navigate). The one cave I managed was Elitheia outside Amnisos. A rock formation at the mouth of the cave looks like a woman giving birth. Further back in the cave, stalactites and stalagmites evoked images of maternity. As we entered, someone placed an egg in the ‘navel’ and each of us poured libations on the formation before proceeding further into this homage to womanhood – accompanying each stop with poetry. I could not help but note that others had been there before us. Fresh flowers surrounded the birth rock.

Later, we went to Gournia, a completely excavated Minoan town.

  Like all Minoan settlements, it had a sacred center, a stone in a courtyard where the holy was acknowledged. There, we placed fruits on the perimeter of the sacred stone and, after readings, fed the fruit to each other.

On another day our bus stopped outside the Aphrodite Tavern in Kato Symi. It could not take us the rest of the way up the mountain. We transferred into two pickups and went vertically to a mountain peak shrine where a sacred spring watered a magnificent tree (and goats literally gamboled on the surrounding rocks). We gathered in a circle, taking turns reading Saphho poetry. It was magic. Then we clambered back into the pickups and descended. The afternoon was crowned by a feast at the tavern.

Each site, each ceremony connected me with a civilization that honored women and the earth. And with the rich heritage each human holds within her DNA and psyche.

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