Oh My!!

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Stormy Grand Canyon Day…

We bought a house WAAAAAAAY out in the middle of somewhere, but not too many other folks live out here so…  I can only get satellite internet. If you’ve never used that, it’s exactly how it was described to me by the guy I ordered it from.

He said, “Well, if you’re used to normal internet connection having satellite is kinda like this; You’re in the desert, pretty lost and you’re thirsty and starving. I’m the guy you run into who’s got a moldy cracker and some brown water for you with lousy directions.”

“oh” (that was me)

Still, I did appreciate his candor and it was a totally accurate description. Additionally, where I usually get cell reception here, these past two days I haven’t. We’ve had a big storm and loads of wind, which generally takes the signal with it… somewhere.

Being here is such a change from being in Santa Cruz. Some things I love, some things I don’t love. But isn’t that how it is with change? On the one hand, I know that I’m here for a reason because it was so miraculous and clear (the guidance I got was very clear – “house and land – house and land”). On the other hand – it’s a BIG change.

So far, this seems to be my method… Jump in with both feet and start swimming. Later, I figure out the physical dynamics… like where’s the grocery store, the post office, what about the garbage; do I haul it out or is there a service, is there water, electricity… how about the internet… (to be fair, I did ask about the phone/internet and was told that it’s great, but I didn’t actually talk to any of the companies until I’d bought the house).

Typically, I’m not all that thorough.  My husband calls me an elegant train wreck… but I do have tremendous faith in how I’m guided and just do it.

There’s another thing I realized… It is that I have never lived in one place as long as I lived in Santa Cruz! Seventeen years in one area… that’s my new record!! Even with a posse of kids, I managed to live all over the place! This time, I have no kids to help me meet new people. No job to do that. No community to lean on…

For the first time in my life it’s just me (my husband is currently gone for 5 weeks, climbing in Yosemite). What’s amazing is I enjoy being alone, even though I do miss some people I used to see all the time – especially my family. Not a bone aching sort of ‘missing’, but it’s there.

At the very same time, I’m full and excited about this new place. The sound of the Universe is loud here, so most of my days are spent listening. It’s like having all my energy used for things that are entirely clear and purposeful. Not that I didn’t have that before, but I wasn’t as present for how remarkable it feels to be open to myself.

People inspect the damage of the collapsed landmark Dharahara, also called Bhimsen Tower, after an earthquake caused serious damage in Kathmandu, Nepal, 25 April 2015. At least around 600 people have been killed and hundreds of others injured in a 7.9-magnitude earthquake in Nepal, according to the country's Interior Ministry. People were being rescued from the rubble of collapsed buildings. Temples have crumbled all over the city, and houses and walls have collapsed. EPA/NARENDRA SHRESTHA

People inspect the damage of the collapsed landmark Dharahara, also called Bhimsen Tower, after an earthquake caused serious damage in Kathmandu, Nepal, 25 April 2015. At least around 600 people have been killed and hundreds of others injured in a 7.9-magnitude earthquake in Nepal, according to the country’s Interior Ministry. People were being rescued from the rubble of collapsed buildings. Temples have crumbled all over the city, and houses and walls have collapsed. EPA/NARENDRA SHRESTHA

This morning I heard about the devastating earthquake in Nepal and yesterday I was feeling something strange, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Because I was feeling “off”, I was more mindful and clear that I ought to be focused on love. Today, I prayed a lot and found a place to hang our Green Tara in the house… It’s like my days are more directed and not quite so busy.

Because of the tragedy in Nepal, I thought I’d put a few links here so you can help out if you feel to.

First, you can text GIVE NEPAL to 80088 to donate $10 to Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund. Message and data rates may apply. Only works for US mobile phones.

UNICEF – http://blogs.unicef.org.uk/…/earthquake-nepal-unicef-ground/

Oxfam Australia – https://www.oxfam.org.au/…/oxfam-on-standby-to-respond-to-…/

Karuna Shechen – http://karuna-shechen.org/how-to-help/

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) (they are sending eight teams to assist those affected by the earthquake today) – http://doctorswithoutborders.org

Also… please subscribe to my mailing list to stay up with what’s up here in the back of beyond… (it’s on the right side of this page – and I never give up your email)… and if you feel to – share this with your friends.

Sending love… k

My New Life

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Thirty four years ago (give or take) I started on a path that was all encompassing, paid nothing monetarily, was physically painful, made me sleepless (for literally YEARS), was terribly expensive, confined my movement in the world, forced me to stretch beyond what I thought I could ever manage in all ways … and did not garner me any real obvious “success” or cultural stability. In fact, the only way to know if I’ve done a good job is if the objects of my focus all left me and didn’t really turn back.

My career – my life path (one that I didn’t consciously choose, but something that “happened” to me) was Motherhood.

2015 will be the first year that I do not have a child living with me since 1980 and the first year  where how I conduct my life is up to me alone. Not my children or a man; just myself. Staggering feelings accompany this freedom and I’m finding myself at times elated, then in tears.

What I know is that everything that’s occurred to me has led me here and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t afraid. Sometimes I am scared but because I know that nothing happens that I can’t deal with, I just shake in my knees while I continue to move in the direction that I feel guided to go.

In 2008 I lost just about everything; the mortgage on the home where I raised my children was almost upside down, my career as a business consultant & coach suddenly ended and my lover left me – all in a four month period of time. I knew that I had asked for it, but that didn’t make it any easier.

My relationship with Source has always been strong and when things were rough, I would turn there for comfort, companionship and directions. That year I sensed that things were changing, but my resistance was strong and that seemed like a major issue. One night, during my quiet time I said a powerful prayer to release all resistance.

Um… I don’t recommend that prayer, unless you are ready for a lot of change all at once. On the other hand, my relationship with Source ultimately became bullet proof.

The home got sold, thank the Goddess… my career changed, the man I loved returned (and I took him back) and my children still loved me. But I was completely different, even though the most important parts of my life were still intact. My sense of purpose shifted, as all that difficulty showed me exactly what my gifts really were.

The last part of all this change was the niggling “knowing” that I needed to leave California and start over. Again. But not until my youngest son found his way out out to the wider world. Some 6 years later, everything fell into place for a major move to occur… and “here me are”!

blue_sky_mountains The San Francisco Peaks… Sacred to the Hopi and one of my views from our home now.

Many years ago, some intuitive woman said to me (she was a Native American shaman) that for all my gifts to be realized, I would one day live under the San Francisco Peaks in Arizona. At the time I thought she was bonkers, as I couldn’t imagine that ever happening. At the time I was married to my first husband and we lived in Pennsylvania. Arizona was “so” not in the plan of our lives. But, obviously that part of my life changed and we all ended up in California.

Last year, during the holidays, we took a trip to Flagstaff. First Rob left the coast and went winter climbing with Mahina, then I caught up with him in Flagstaff.

Winter, really cold and thoroughly perfect! We both fell in love with this little mountain town.

Then, a series of events happened, that all coalesced into the ability to finally live under these sacred mountains. First, I learned that my job of 6 years was going to be “eliminated”. Second, we lost the lease on the rental we’d lived in for 3 years. Third, my youngest son decided to leave California and start his life up on Maui.

Again in a period of a few months, the stabilizing elements of my physical life were all thrown into complete disarray. It crossed my mind that I couldn’t bear to leave my children, those still in Santa Cruz and my beloved community of friends, who are my extended family. But the call to come to this place was so strong, it couldn’t be ignored…

Now, I keep hearing my little children’s voices saying, “HERE ME ARE”.  Basking in the sense of “all is well” even though everything is so new and different… I’m constantly lost when in town, rarely can find the post office and unsure of how to get most places… but it does feel like home.

There’s that old saying, “home is where the heart is” so I have to surmise that my heart is vast. At the very least it lives in California, Hawaii and Pennsylvania with all my children and their families… and now in Flagstaff with my lover and our animals.

My new life is calling me… out into the tall, tall sky where I will listen and continue to act as a resource to Source… one of many who are here to be love, share love, know love.

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Hypogeum & Tarxien Temple

Tarxien Temple stone

Tarxien Temple stone

Sublime… certainly the best word to describe this day on Malta.

Some years ago I did a bunch of research on the Amazons; warrior women from Anatolia. From that research, I wrote a workbook and intended to help women that way… which I did to a degree, but my long term difficulty with expressing my gifts, combined with the 2008 recession put a damper on that whole idea.

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During those years and because of my research, I developed a fascination with a place called the Hypogeum, so much so that I called my blog “The Hypogeum”.  It literally means “underground”, from Greek hypo (under) and gaia (mother earth or goddess of earth) and I had gobbled up all kinds of “info” about it, but it was somewhat elusive to me in that I couldn’t imagine what it actually looked like or more importantly, how it felt. All my knowing of it was through reading about it or listening to my friends talk about it.

Today I actually went into it with a group of women and we all sang…

I heard my own voice in this incredible, underground and very ancient temple.

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The Sleeping Lady, found inside the Hypogeum

 

My own life flashed before my eyes, or I felt it all in quick succession. All the things that I’ve experienced seemed to flash quickly and I felt my connection to now and whatever was before. It was as though we were all simply dressed differently, but engaged in actions that were familiar. Have you ever been overwhelmed with reverence? That’s what happened for me. I felt the eternity of being and now know how vast that is!

Another thing that folded into this time in the Hypogeum was a memory. At some point, I buried a baby daughter there… I know, that’s totally weird, but I did. I felt her little body in my arms and I felt the heartache at her loss… but there was another emotion too. A deep sense of peace was remembered. Peace that I could lay her perfect self inside this womb of the earth and I KNEW that she was well. I was simply missing her. So different that the rituals we have here for our beloved ones who pass away.

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Most of the women I have traveled here with I didn’t now before this trip. Now, I feel like we have shared something so timeless, we could remain close and always be able to relate as sisters.

Logistically, Jennifer and Joan had a lot of navigating to do to get us to both the Hal Saflieni Hypogem and the Tarxien Temple today. Both sites are right in the middle of Paola, Malta… a busy little town. We got dropped off by the bus and escorted from one place to the other by Joan and/or Jennifer. Traffic, shops, homes, cemeteries, churches… Paola is a busy town, too.

Underneath all that are these places, although Tarxien Temple is above ground. Where the Hypogeum was discovered at the turn of the century (1902) because of an apartment building being built. Tarxien was discovered because a farmer was bugged by the big stones that were messing up his plowing activity around the same time! Progress obviously continued, but these two sites were protected and excavated.

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hypogeum_tourAt the Hypogeum, normally you go down with 10 people who you probably don’t know, and listen to the descriptions or commentary the museum offers. This is certainly not as amazing as what we got to experience.

Jennifer arranged for us to go – just our group in groups of 10 – AND she also got permission for her to jump over a barrier and sing inside one of the chambers. She has a remarkable voice to begin with, but that mixed with the sound of the silence (which is audible) made me cry.

Jennifer escorting us down into the Hypogeum, with Vicki

Lots of tears for me; something I’m not prone to but had been doing almost daily on those islands. Again, it was meaningful, but also so “everyday” in a way. We remained ourselves, while we were all transported into the wonder of the ancients. Such difficult transitions that day for us, but so beautiful, none the less.

Vicki commented how she felt like she’d just had a full blown hallucination while deep in the earth, but was forced to get her shit together quickly as we walked back up through the watery steps to the entrance. She failed miserably and ended up weeping in the bathroom for a bit before we made our way back to the buses.

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There are experiences that we have which can redefine us, mold us anew. Going to the Hypogeum was one such experience that changed me. How it changed me is a bit elusive, other than I know that my life is richer now.

As we left the site, there were people gathering to take their tour after we left. The sense of being held in a state of grace left me and I immediately knew that our journey down into this place was very special and unusual. Clearly, they were not companions in any way, yet they were going into the sacred place together and would most likely, have a bit different experience than we had been given. I doubt they raised their voices in song together, or had a sense of the place as we had.

My thoughts didn’t take away anything from my moments there, but I did have a deep sense of gratitude that I had gone there with these women.

Cliffs, Lace and Maenads Dancing

Vicki and Jennifer in front of Ggantija Temple 20 years later....

Vicki and Jennifer in front of Ggantija Temple 20 years later….

The rest of my posts about my pilgrimage are being written from a distance, meaning a bit after the time I was graced with being in these magical places. I long for those days with my sisters; singing, laughing and returning to our collective roots of being truth.

We knew all along that we would construct a sunset ritual at the Ggantija Temple and I feel as though many of us on this journey were excited about this. Given that I’m unsure how many of my new sisters’ backgrounds included doing formal ritual, what we created was as though we were all seasoned professionals.

Settling into TaCenc was not difficult. Luxury and history (herstory) were all there for us. The grounds were rustic, while groomed. Bougainvillea, aloe, ginger and oleander made for lush visuals… and the numerous pools and shady havens to settle were abundant.. My days of luxury travel, I had thought, were a thing of my past. Within an hour of arriving at TaCenc, I settled into my room and deep peace.

Our first afternoon there, we met in a spacious and tremendously beautiful room in the Palazzo Palino, a renovated medieval castle complete with arched stone ceilings and luscious gardens outside the side doors. The goal was for us to gather in groups and create a portion of the ritual, but first we sang each other’s names and released the tension of the hot day. Once refreshed through song, all of our respective groups moved into different places to hash out our parts.

Women can be great planners, but we are also prone to all having great ideas, that we share all at the same time! Through patience and consensus, everyone had their part, then things flowed and our group hummed along. We laughed and were happy with what we would share that night.

Just a few days into being a group, I could feel all of us becoming dear friends. This wasn’t because we were all cut from the same cloth or even similarly focused in our lives elsewhere. It seemed magical how easy our relating was with one and other, something I found myself feeling tremendously grateful for. It’s rare to gather with strangers and have such a peaceful becoming into a tribe, but this is certainly what occurred.

Elizabeth, Lisa, Barbara, Marilyn, Martha, Beth, Jan and Andrea hamming it up at Ta Cenc.

Elizabeth, Lisa, Barbara, Marilyn, Martha, Beth, Jan and Andrea hamming it up at Ta Cenc.

Once we got our part clear, I had some time to relax alone and went to one of the many pools for a swim. The temperature during our whole trip was HOT… but it was also muggy. Sinking into the pool and being weightless for a few minutes did much to restore my energy. Once rinsed and cleaned, I dressed myself in a white skirt and bright red shirt – perfect for a ritual in a ancient temple on a tiny island… Then I slipped on my shoes and took a walk to see if I could find the famed cliffs of TaCenc.

The wind was fantastic and in mere moments of heading out, I felt I was in a state of prayer; like my feet were taking me automatically somewhere. It was rather like already knowing where to go. The plain of earth seemed to go on forever, much like in the desert and my sight offered the expanse of the sea which contradicted things . My mind knew that there was certainly an end (this was an island, after all), but the sense of being suspended in the place, as well as in time… this was strong.

Jennifer had mentioned to us that the cliffs were there and formidable – “do take a flash light if you go in the dark…” – but that knowledge was abstract until I found myself on the edge of them. Now this will sound a bit macabre, but I “knew” I’d been there before at some point in my eternal life and I didn’t get a sense of it being the happiest of lives… There was a feeling of foreboding that I thought, initially, was stimulated by the scary drop of at least 500 feet from where I was standing into the Mediterranean. Heights like that can make one feel a tad uncomfortable, yet (and I will never know for sure) between you and me, I do feel like that cliff or some cliff like it was a scene where I ended a life I lived. (I told you it was macabre)… 

When I have those kinds of moments, I do my best to be present and refrain from listening to my monkey mind too much. This was a great idea, as I enjoyed my visit to the cliffs that night and didn’t get all weird or new-agey in my head about it. At least I know that I wasn’t some famous heroine from history; just a simple priestess living (and dying) on an island. The why or how of that life is not all that important, but I do feel that I’ve been on this plane of existence mostly in the position of seer, or priestess and it generally isn’t the easiest of lives. That life was just one of that sort.

Cliffs at TaCenc...

Cliffs at TaCenc…

There wasn’t a lot of time to linger here, but it did set me up for the sunset ritual nicely. Something about walking into a timeless place makes the transition into a ceremony of spirit quite simple. We were asked to remain silent on our bus ride back to the Ggantija Temple from our hotel and my little walk along the cliffs was a perfect precursor to our evening’s journey.

Oh my… it was amazing being at this temple, just us… and offering our contemporary ceremony to the goddess of these ancient islands. Clearly, this was not the first ritual conducted there and hopefully wouldn’t be the last, but it was OUR ceremony; woman from many places all over the world, on a pilgrimage to ourselves. Women who easily settled into being priestesses worshiping our ancient mother as we snaked our way through the ruins of the temples, singing and praying for each other, ourselves and the earth…

To me, these temples hold the secrets of our ancestors, time and presence. The people had a deep regard for the spiritual – mystical – natural presence of Source and I felt it. We all did, that was clear and another thing I have noticed over the many years of my life, women ALWAYS pray for everyone. We tend to be concerned for the planet and her many inhabitants; animals, plants, children, lovers… not just themselves.

This ritual was powerful and moving and a ton of fun! I’m an advocate of irreverence, rather than sticking to the mindset of the the serious, pious and apparently all important ritual. If Source (Goddess, God, Allah, whoever) doesn’t have a sense of humor, how to you explain half the shit that happens to us?! This ritual was incredibly spiritual, powerful and to me, huge fun. We all had our parts, which were conducted with the normal “what’s next??!!” looks from each other, as we bumbled through some of it … sang and danced through others…

It was just amazing!

As with all great women’s ritual, we ended this one with a huge feast back at TaCenc – complete with drink, delicious food, music and DANCING…

The Isle of Gozo – the Black Madonna and Ggantija Temple

These are the infamous cliffs of TaCenc, Gozo… We just got our rooms in a resort right here on the property where these cliffs live! Even though I thought I’d researched this trip fairly well, I still didn’t have an inkling of where this resort actually was. Clearly my research was not so thorough! I had no Idea that I was staying on such a gorgeous stretch of land…

We left Malta fairly early to jump on a short ferry ride from the island of Malta to her sister island, Gozo. Many people go the short distance for a simple day trip. Our plans were to stay here for a few nights and visit some amazing sites, have a sunset ceremony at the Ggantija Temple as well as some time for us to just relax.

Laurelin, Diana and Erin on the Ferry to Gozo...

Laurelin, Diana and Erin on the Ferry to Gozo…

Rather than go directly to our hotel, we all were taken to a beautiful church in Loreto where one of the approximately 500 Black Madonnas found in Europe resides. She and her infant child are at the main altar of the church, serenely gazing on those of us who come to see her. The Black Madonna is the patron saint of migrants, travelers and expectant mothers, who visit the shrine to pray for protection and blessings. We did just a bit more, in that we sang to her. 

Our Lady of Loreto Black Madonna

Our Lady of Loreto Black Madonna

Singing to her...

Singing to her…

Not being a Christian at all, I am still in awe of the faith that people follow and share in the reverence found in places of worship. When religion starts being a part of politics or the dogma of it takes precedence over individual knowing, this is where I step aside. Spirit lives in these places because faithful people bring their hearts there, not because there is some authority that says it is so. This lovely church was one such place and we brought our hearts there to share in the sweetness of it all.

Treva in the foreground...

Treva in the foreground…

After a nice long time to sing and pray in this beautiful church, we got back in our little buses and headed to Joe Xuereb’s home and studio in Ghajnsielem, Gozo, where he and his family welcomed all of us into their home. Joe shared his process as an artist and his inspiration to create sculptures reminiscent of the megalith statues of the Neolithic era found on his island. The stone on Gozo and Malta is soft and pliable, as stone goes but the process of sculpting it was fascinating to see. The cool gardens and generosity of Joe and his family was lovely for us, who were mostly just plain hot and already a bit tired.

Joe Xuereb with one of his sculptures

Joe Xuereb with one of his sculptures

Gardens, peace and art

Gardens, peace and art

After some time listening to Joe’s process of sculpting, shopping for our own statues and enjoying some Maltese snacks, we said our goodbyes and made our way to the Ggantija Temples in Xaghra. One of the two temples are the oldest known stone structures in the world, predating the famous Stonehenge in the UK, by 1000 years!

For me, I was a bit giddy about this part of our trip. Unlike my previous pilgrimages to sacred sites dedicated to the Great Mother, the temples on these arid islands requires no imagination. Some of them are a mere a rubble of stone, many are largely intact… but these sites are not covered up with subsequent invading cultures’ temples or cities. Nothing is blocking the imagery or presence of the goddess here and I was excited to be able to go.

This day was exhausting, hot and long. First the ferry to Gozo, then Joe’s studio… finally we made our way to the temple and regardless of my tired, hot body protestations, I was blown away.

It’s perched on Xagħra plateau, facing towards the south-east like many of the temples of Malta and apparently one of the older Megalithic temples on these islands (circa 3600 B.C.E.). There are two temples here, both built in the shape of a woman (as far as I’m concerned).

A model of the shape of the Ggantija temples found at the museum

A model of the shape of the Ggantija temples found at the museum

Once you go through the area’s entrance, you have to walk a long path that snakes down and around the temples, bringing you to the forecourt of them. It overlooks the island and all the homes and buildings of our contemporary world.. fitting nicely next to a sports field, among other things. Frankly, all the temples are in and amongst Malta and Gozo’s numerous communities and simply a part of their daily lives.

To help keep the structures intact, there are a number of scaffold supports inside and outside the ancient structure. Many areas are mostly blocked off, as well. They are very fragile, but after all these years, the fact that they remain standing at all is remarkable.

The size of the rocks is breathtaking, especially since when they were built the builders didn’t have even the technology of the wheel to help them move these huge stone to the site! Tools were not made of metal, but bone, antler and obsidian rock. Truly an amazing feat of engineering, as well as ingenuity.

The huge size is hard to picture here... but trust me, these are impressive stones!

The huge size is hard to picture here… but trust me, these are impressive stones!

Vicki Noble and Jennifer Berezan seen here in front the the 2nd temple, 20 years after their first visit here together!

Vicki Noble and Jennifer Berezan seen here in front the the 2nd temple, 20 years after their first visit here together!

We stayed for a nice long time, moving in and out of the ruins and just feeling the sensation of it’s buzzing power. This was, for me, a tremendously soothing sensation. The sense of reverence was strong as well as something I would akin to familiar holiness. When I visit contemporary shrines and temples, churches or “man made” places of worship, there is a feeling of preciousness and spirit, but nothing tremendous. Nature is where I receive the depth of spirit and vast presence of Source. In this temple I felt that and was moved greatly.

Our day ended up driving to our resort lodging at Ta Cenc. A long time coming and a tiring but wonderful day spent with my new and amazing friends. 

More on that in my next post.

Valletta & the National Archaeological Museum

Sunday September 14th, 2014

Valletta is the capital of Malta and bustling with people… and it is also a city that has survived siege after siege over it’s 500 year history, from outside invading forces including persistent and terrible bombing by the Russians during World War II.

Before all that happened and for many thousands of years different people lived here on these island and most of them suffered a similar fate, other than the Neolithic people. They lived here on these islands peacefully for several thousand years.

The ancient history is why I visited Malta … and to be really truthful, I am sick and tired of history being about who conquered who. Because of the great span of time since the peaceful communities of the Neolithic lived, little has survived or what has survived is very different from our current way of living, so we may not know exactly what we are looking at. The language they used has not been deciphered yet, either. If there are any messages in place on the artistic pottery, or numerous icons conventional scholars don’t understand it.

Now and then, something will emerge from a very long time ago and the artifact or frozen mummy will get all kinds of media attention, but the scholars who “decipher” these relics from human history are biased and controlled through their own personal views of how cultures must have operated. Also, I imagine the funding for their research would dry up fairly quickly if they proposed something radical like the possibility that women led nations! It’s for this reason that my curiosity led me away from typical scholars and towards those who were framing what was being looked at with a lot more imagination.

Today in Valetta, we went to see a short film about the history of Malta. There was a  bit about the early history of the island archipelago but it moved quickly into the numerous and terrible invasions this country has suffered.

The last “invader” was England, who colonized Malta for a long time, but 50 years ago in September, the Maltese gained their independence and have been on their own for ½ a century now!

The islands are tiny, yet they boast 44 ancient temples and now 365 Catholic Churches! Even though the religion may be different, this archipelago is a place where people depend on their  faith and have that as a center focus in their community.

Valetta is a beautiful city, replete with churches on every block, museums, forts and street after street of buildings that are all the same limestone color of the earth here. After we watched the movie we were cut loose to get some lunch in the courtyard high above the bay in a semi-breezy park… The architecture is this mix of Baroque architecture, replete with elaborate windows and filigreed doors and the plain stark limestone blocks set together to make a box like structure.

The gardens were lovely and a little breezy, making it a nice place to enjoy a bit of food and conversation.  I sat with my dear friend and teacher, Vicki Noble and 2 new friends Sondra and Maggie from Italy and Switzerland, respectively sharing stories about our lives and getting to know each other more… In our group, we had met everyone during our opening circle with Jennifer Berezan & Joan Marler who are leading this pilgrimage on the night we arrived, but slowly I’m certain that we will visit more with each other like during this luncheon.

After lunch, we trundled off to the National Archeological Museum to see the amazing ancient artifacts from many of the temples we are going to visit in these 12 days of touring we’ve planned.

 

Rather than a bunch of narrative, I’ll just share some of my favorite images from this tour in a photo site… stay tuned for that.

In the Presence of Giant Women

Over the years, the few trips I’ve taken have been to areas that have evidence of when the world was different – matrifocal. Those trips didn’t include Malta. I knew about it and the incredible temples that were here, but I genuinely had NO idea how incredible this place is. Not just because of the female history, but the people and the environment here.

This place is quite different than where I live, with regard to the environment, but you know… people everywhere are much the same. They have struggles, they laugh, they work and play… and I’m just watching all that, inside of my deliberate focus on the heritage here that many Maltese aren’t that interested in. Makes me wonder what I don’t know regarding the places I’ve landed on this planet!

What I recalled before coming here was that Malta had some mystery to it. The size of the megaliths that make up many of these temples was one, but also… why all the statues of huge women, the spiral motifs, the intricate painting on the limestone walls in some places and what happened to the people who lived here? After thousands of years of being here, whether they lived here or simply worshiped here, where did they go?

Yet another mystery…  I believe it was simply the relatively sudden and global change from peaceful communities to warlike ones emerged. Much less reverence for life and focused on war.

What’s startling and clear is that these islands were mecca for these ancient people’s spiritual life. All throughout both Malta and Gozo there are numerous temple sites which were built, the first of these dating back to around 3500 BCE. That’s over 5000 years ago! Just for some context, these temples were built (some of them) about 1000 years before the famous Stonehenge in the UK!

At most of these sites, a good deal of the artifacts & megalith stones were stolen, moved or used to build later buildings making scientific interpretation incomplete, but the lack of obvious settlement around the sites creates further confusion for contemporary scholars to interpret what occurred here. My personal sense is that this was a place to go to for renewal, burial or pilgrimage.

The people who have inhabited these islands since those far away times, didn’t realize the ancient and valuable nature of things and didn’t preserve them or care for them until more recently. Now, of course, their value has been identified with UNESCO (click here for more http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/132) and there has been a change in that local mindset to a degree. The people of Malta and Gozo are proud of these places, but few may understand the significance of them. Even with the current change in mindset, interpretation of this is left to scholars who struggle with the idea that women were leaders & priestesses, or that the female form and her nature, was worshiped. Always unfortunate that we collectively can’t imagine a peaceful world or a world where women were valued and respected. The imagery is still referred to mostly as “fertility” images, rather than the culture’s deity or a priestess.

My own personal view is this magical place was a destination for many people in the surrounding areas, to come to worship and to bury their ancestors. In my own quest for understanding, rather than merely read a bunch of scholarly descriptions on it all, I’ve simply allowed my inner knowing to play a part in what this place was.

It is mystical and rich in it’s peaceful offerings to my heart are filling it up nicely. That much is evident.

The sense of awe and respect for all life is obvious and therefore a great example for our world communities to adapt.

What we are doing, in between visiting the temples and museums, swimming in the salty Mediterranean, eating lavish meals and dancing our heart out, is offering peace and happiness to others. In our ceremonies, we are sending everyone prayers for peace, for comfort, for happiness. Simple prayers, but meaningful ones.

Let’s hope you are feeling that!

The Meat of It…

Today started the meat of this trip, where we began our adventures out into the landscape of Malta, visiting the ancient cave, Ghar Dalam. The Maltese language is primarily Arabic, with overtones of Italian, or Sicilian words mixed in, so the pronunciation of the words is strange and not really consistent with the letters themselves. For instance the name of this cave is pronounced “Ar Dalam”… The magic of this part of the day was not all the talking that the Maltese woman, Marie offered but the singing we did inside the cave. 

Our day began in a room in the hotel where we are staying and everyone gave a short explanation of what brought them to this journey; this pilgrimage. I was struck with how soulful and present everyone is and heartened by this fact. In my previous experiences traveling in groups, it wasn’t always so easy… so I was glad of that and said as much in my sharing. 

Why I am here is not entirely clear to me, other than I was definitely called – urged – coerced, albeit gently, to make this trip. Finding my voice feels true. Healing through sound, being connected to the deep seated knowing that exists inside me a strong possibility. Reclaiming something lost to me, but available if I seek it.

This is what a pilgrimage is all about, which wasn’t how I approached it, but certainly where I feel it will be. Most certainly recovering my sense of the power we all can access, but there are few rituals left to do so. It’s likely that I will come back to home and start something powerful that relates to this – and a culmination of my many years of seeking the divine feminine in everyday culture.

This cave is the site of the earliest people to settle here, whose descendants created the many (33 or so) temples. Many were hewed out of the limestone and built from megalithic stone with nothing more than antlers for tools. No metal was used for these people, as it was before the  era where that technology was invented.

Clearly, they were a peaceful bunch and all the imagery, art, pottery, icons were centered on the feminine. This story is the hidden one, the time where people on the earth worshiped and respected life & the regenerative power of women. Now, we live in a crazy time, where fighting and judgement is the primary method of relating…

These standing stones mark the outlines of the temple called BORĠ IN-NADUR… I did, irreverently, call this place “rubble” as that is what it looks like, but even though it looks like a pile of old stones and is adjacent to 21st century busy ness, it holds a peace that was palpable. We simply wandered and quietly sat, listening to our inner voice and what she had to say… Mine was simply peaceful and gentle. 

After a really short day of touring, which including a visit from the worst (ever) waiter I have ever had, I just had to take a nap. A Nap!? That was another kind of bliss for me… I don’t take naps! Today I did and it was luscious…

Tomorrow is a full day, but I have this one thing to say before I go to sleep… Here in this hotel, the only way anywhere outside is from floor 0 (zero). Makes me think that no matter what the “new” endeavor is, you have to got all the way down to zero to get going.

 

Day 2

Sleeping Lady – by Marlene Saliba

 

The Sleeping Lady will one day awake

after such hard, dismal patriarchal eras.

Her mind shall know

how to relate all cultures

and every genuine spiritual value.

Her sensitive hands shall find the balance,

the unity between the veins of the earth

and the veins of the stars.

 

With care and wisdom this woman will heal

our pains, discords, griefs.

All types of pollution shall cease.

The environment will regain its strength.

Through her, gathering, spinning, weaving

the tales and truth of the centuries,

one cell after another is being formed.

Our revered and perennial ideals

will one Spring take flower.

 

The Sleeping Lady is inside every one of us.

We are all a part of her.

When we let her awake softly… surely…

this race shall reap unending joy, harmony,

unending peace.

 

Dedicated to the terracotta “Sleeping Lady” found in the prehistoric Hypogeum of Hal-Salflieni, Malta. And to that sacred unconscious part that lies within us all, women and men.

 

Day 1

This isn’t the best photo I’ve ever taken, but it does reflect my state of mind last night. Blurry.

After traveling for many hours and getting absolutely no sleep, I got settled in my room at the hotel here on Malta and wandered out to see where I had landed. There were so many people taking in the sights along the Mediterranean; old boats, clear water, restaurants and the normal sights you find in any tourist destination. 

I stopped at a place for a glass of wine, where the bartender asked where I was from. When I said the states, he said “oh, too bad. We don’t like people from the states” and then smiled an apologetic smile… Then he said he had thought I must be from Bali or someplace peaceful like that, but I’ll do even though I’m American.

Usually I would ask more questions, like “why don’t you like Americans?”, but I really didn’t need to. Our reputation is one of aggression I suppose so I guess it makes sense, but I did feel taken aback. It was one of those times where becoming defensive would not have been a good idea and being embarrassed about my heritage equally ridiculous. I’m me, not a person who agrees with everything our country does but I’m also not someone who feels my country is bad, either.  Sure didn’t take long for me to have to navigate perceptions though.

As for being from some island country… it must be the hair, or possibly because I do look fairly easy going. Still, I find that wherever I go, people think I live there already or I’m from someplace different than where I actually live. 

While I ate dinner and struggled to stay awake, I felt like I could be anywhere. People are the same no matter where we go even if we all feel like we’re different.

One family of humans… yet, we struggle with each other and draw lines in the sand about who’s “right” and who’s “wrong”…

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