healing haven

August 1, 2008

Hall of Remembrances: Divided Identities

 

She found herself walking back to the entrance to the catacombs, taking a torch, going past the statues of Jesus, the angels and the gargoyles, wondering if she would be able to find her way back to the Hall of Remembrances.  Walking down one tunnel, Thalia came across a statue of a regal-looking cat on a tombstone. 

 

 

Oh, oh.  I didn’t come this way before.  Must have taken the wrong tunnel.  I would have remembered seeing this sleek cat.  What does it say?

 

BAST–MET

GENTLE FRIEND

FIERCE PROTECTOR

 

No date.  Wonder when this is from?  Wonder about the name—seems like an obvious combining of Bast and Sekhmet, both goddesses in Egyptian mythology, but is it?  Was Bast the name in itself or short for Bastet?  That would say a lot about the date right there.  And both gentle and fierce—how intriguing.  Well, the solid black statue doesn’t tell me why this cat was named a composite name of two Egyptian goddesses generally depicted as lionesses.

 

A faint noise coming from behind the tombstone caught her attention.  She listened, heard it again, and cautiously moved around in that direction.  She almost didn’t spot the kitten curled up on the floor, pressed against the tombstone. 

 

“Oh, how sweet.  How did you get in here?  Are you okay?”  Thalia squatted down and extended out her hand to stroke the kitten… and her hand passed tight through.  The kitten looked up at her and edged closer, obviously wanting contact.  “Why are you still here?  Did you know the cat…Bast-met?”

 

The kitten’s thoughts came throughThat is me.  I’m Bast-Met.  I’m actually the kitten who became Bast-Met.  But I’m still confused.

 

Why are you confused?  You were obviously loved by your owner.

 

Yes, I was.  But people don’t realize how important a name is.  I was confused because I was named after two different aspects of goddesses, even though both were lionesses at one time—Best and Sekhmet.

 

Lions?  I thought they were cats.

 

No.  Bast was the ancient Lower Egypt solar and war goddess and protector.  She was depicted as a fierce lioness while also associated with the sunlight so was called ‘Goddess of Fire’ or ‘Lady of the Flame.’  Later she became Bastet, her role diminishing as Sekhmet , a similar deity in Upper Egypt when Lower Egypt lost dominance in the unification of the Upper and Lower sections.  The feminine suffix of ‘et’ is the diminutive name that applies as she receded and Sekhmet rose to power.  Her gentler aspect as protector of the home and pregnant women changed as her appearance changed to a domestic cat.  Then during the times when the Greek occupied Egypt, she changed again to a goddess of the moon.

 

So Bast become Bastet and took the appearance of a domestic cat.  Why would a cat still be important?

 

Cats were revered highly because they could catch and kill threats to the fragile food supply like rats and mice and snakes.  So much so they were mummified before burial.  More than 300,000 mummified cats were discovered when Basts’ temple at Per-Bast was excavated.

 

What about Sekhmet?  Was she also a lion who changed to a cat?

 

Sekhmet was a warrior lioness goddess of Upper Egypt, the lioness being the fiercest hunter the Egyptians knew.  They thought her breath created the desert and so she was a protector of the pharaohs.  She was also a solar deity and became more powerful than Bast, so was seen as ‘The Avenger of Wrongs.’  Sekhmet was also seen as a bringer of disease as well as a healer of those diseases, with her worship centered in Memphis.  ‘She Who Is Powerful’ was depicted as a woman with the head of a lioness.  Pyramid texts themselves say the Pharaoh was conceived by Sekhmet who was the wife of Ptah, ‘The Creator.’ Other myths say she was created by the fire of Ra’s eye to use her as a weapon of vengeance to destroy men because of their wicked ways.  Sekhmet is the Goddess of the West and Bastet is the Goddess of the East.  Both are shown with heads of lionesses with Bastet wearing green and Sekhmet wearing red. 

 

So that’s why this statue has a jeweled collar of red and green gems.  A while back I even saw a refrigerator magnet with a picture like this statue on it.  Quite a contrast between being considered goddesses and being on a fridge magnet.  But why are you still here?

 

I was always confused as to who I really was and my mistress expected two different behaviors—sometimes I should be like a lioness, the aggressive war goddess, and other times I should be gentle like a healer and docile protector of pregnant women.  Mistress would encourage me to be ‘Avenger of Wrongs’ and ‘Lady of Slaughter,’ both titles of my suffix namesake.  But then would be upset when I caught a rat and brought it home to her to show I was the ‘Lady of Slaughter.’  No, now she preferred for me to be tame like the mummified cats.   

 

And all I wanted was to be me—a kitten needing to be petted and loved and let to develop naturally, not forced into predetermined roles.

 

Would you mind if I write your story down?  Because this also applies to modern day parents and children.

 

It does?  How?  I thought it was because I couldn’t talk to my mistress.

 

No.  Even when children are all grown up and can discuss issues like this with their parents, it usually doesn’t help.  Because parents who try to force children into a mold they want usually aren’t able to truly listen and understand what is being said.  Parents who listen and understand from the beginning usually tend not to force anything on anyone.  They realize each has their own way to grow into their adult selves. 

 

 

By this time the kitten was curled up in Thalia’s lap, purring as she was stroked.  She stretched out, putting her front paws on Thalia’s shoulders.  Thank you for listening and helping me to understand I was not alone in dealing with the expectations of others.  I would be verrrrry happppy for you to wrrrrite my storrrry.  I just wwwwanted to be mmmmme and not torrrrn in two diffferrrrent dirrrrections.  Can you call mmmmme Kitty?

 

 “My pleasure, Kitty.  You’re such a sweet kitten.  And your fur is so silky, Kitty.”

 

The purring increased in volume as Kitty’s substance solidified and matured.  Thalia and Kitty rubbed noses.  Then both Kitty’s purring and her body faded and disappeared as Thalia continued to stroke the empty air while thinking of an anonymous quote she had seen: “Thousands of years ago, cats were worshipped as gods.  Cats have never forgotten this.”  One more contrast.  Treated as goddesses and important enough to be preserved as mummies but now the likeness is on refrigerator magnets.  She said ‘NO’ to both aspects—she just wanted to be Kitty.

(see also http://cityofladies.wordpress.com/2008/08/02/hall-of-remembrances-divided-identities/#comments)

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July 18, 2008

Tholos Forgiveness

 

The sounds of bubbling water enhanced her awareness.  She felt serene in all aspects of herself.  This is a good space in which to live, where one is totally at peace.  And what a wonderful place in which to die—in a hammock in water—not drowning, but just floating in water in the ocean or a lake or, even a pool such as this.  She lay still, attempting to remember her dream, or was it an experience?  So wonderful, but what was wonderful?  Oh, yes.  I was told to prepare to leave at any moment.  Made total sense at the time, but what did it really mean?  That I’ll die so I need to be unattached to the world and centered, or a crisis is coming and so I’ll need to be prepared to leave the house?  The water sounds so happy…bubbling and frolicking in the pool.  Does the water carry the fumes of the oracle to me?

 

I remember reading in the American Book of Dying: Lesson in Healing Spiritual Pain where the authors Gross and Klauser talked of a medieval l’Hotel-Dieu–God’s Hotel–in Burgundy, France.  In the 15th century A.D., this hospice served the social outcasts and was built over a river with a glass floor underneath the beds of the patients.  This way they could hear the soothing sounds of the moving water, as I am now.   I can tell this must be a special place, because I’m not aching from lying on the mossy ground.  This hospice had clean linens, also, almost unheard of in that time, even for the wealthy. 

 

Now I remember, another dream or experience, where someone in high authority asked if I wanted to go back and redo or eliminate some difficult times in my past. My parents were there, too, even though both are deceased for many years.  No, I said to all of them.  I wouldn’t change anything, as difficult as some things were at the time.  For then I wouldn’t be who I am today.  I wouldn’t have grown into the life I have, but still be stuck in the mundane, never having to be forced to have the opportunity to forgive both myself and another I deeply trusted, never having understood the great gift it is to be placed in a situation where one had to learn to forgive a deep wound.

 

The deeper the bond of trust with the person,

 the deeper the hurt and wounding,

the harder it is  to forgive,

 the more precious the gift of forgiveness

for oneself and for the other.

 

 May all  people who have been so hurt

 come to this gift of forgiveness

in the time that is right for them.

 

 

 

 (see also http://cityofladies.wordpress.com/2008/07/18/tholos-forgiveness/#comments)

 

July 12, 2008

Rainbow from Tholos (12)

 

Thalia followed the guidebook and signs to the Tholos.  As she climbed upward, she smelled the pine trees before she eventually arrived at a grove of the trees.  On either side of the entrance path leading into the grove were snakes on the trees.  Their serpentine motions reminded her of the medical caduceus and of the chakra-energy swirls ascending from root to head, weaving in the familiar sine-wave pattern. 

 

When she thought of this energy, and how we are all energy, she became aware of her third chakra starting to knot, quickly slipping into the total wounding of the fourth chakra—the heart.  She remembered her recent flash of anger, quickly turning to hurt and disappointment, and in turn, feeling the tears catch at the fifth chakra—the throat—as the pressure built up before tumbling out yesterday.  For the moment, it didn’t seem fair.  

 

Right now I feel some anger and, by hook or by crook, these snakes won’t keep me from entering the grove.  I stride in, with no fear even as I don’t want to become a woman as obnoxious as many I’ve known as they claimed their power and were determined not to allow a man to control them.   No, I don’t want to be like that even though it seems they get what they want because of their sometimes arrogant, demanding ways.  Maybe I need to change what I want, or better yet, allow for the real things I desire and release the old wants and needs.

 

She approached a clear pool.  I would love to sink into the soothing water.  She hesitated, then slipped off her clothes and melted into the warm water.  So clear… so wonderful…  Finding a comfortable, sloping ledge just perfect for reclining and being mostly submerged, she found, as always, in a warm bath, concerns and heartbreak wash away.  I always feel better in the water.  I really wish I could be gently floating in a hammock in the ocean, or even in a lake, able to view the beautiful surroundings, as I am dying.  Would be easy to drift away with awareness and gratitude for my lives as I leave it all behind and transform higher.  As she floated and closed her eyes, she relaxed easily into a place of peace, of the Oneness of All things.  She breathed deeply, releasing her inner toxins carried on air currents as well as those toxins carried on energy waves.  

 

She lost track of the time.

 

With a start, she climbed out, noticing her discarded clothing had been somehow replaced without her being aware.  Her satchel was gone, too.  Not that I’ve needed anything in it recently.  But it is was a leftover from the “be prepared” days, and frequently something within was helpful.  How much makes sense to be prepared and how much is trying to stay in control?  Always a thought.  As she slipped into the long flowing white gauzy dress—flowing and free—she was aware of a voice nearby saying her clothes and bag would be returned afterwards and to please follow.  The hazy outline of a woman led her into the Tholos. The music is so faint I am not sure if it is coming from within or without.  An altar!  I don’t have anything to leave on the altar, for even my concerns and questions are gone, so I’ll offer my gratitude such places even exist.

 

In respect, she nodded at the altar as she passed and continued to follow the misty outline down the tight, circular stairs, which reminded her of the winding stairs at the satsanghar at Dera.  This memory further centered her as it re-set her priorities.

 

Moving towards a labyrinth, she entered it, walking slowly and mindfully.  Such a serpentine way to walk—with folds undulating this way and then, that.  Perhaps that is why snakes guard the entrance.  This labyrinth reminds me of the first time I walked one—the huge canvas one at the Hospice Volunteer Inservice, so large I had a hard time finding a room large enough to hold it.  Needed to use the auditorium at the Health Department.  That kernel blossomed into the outdoor one at the new hospital built from our prompting.  To walk the labyrinth, tucked down low among the trees and near the fountain, between the overwhelming emotions emanating from the hospital on the hill and the overwhelming frantic-ness of the nearby traffic, seemed surreal.  The hollow the labyrinth was in was outside it all, in its own space and time.  As I am now…     

 

She weaved in and out the folds of the labyrinth, getting ever closer to the center and finally reaching a small pool where water bubbled up.  She realized she was alone, but wasn’t sure when the wraith had disappeared.  Reaching down into the water, she let the bubbles play with her hands.  She drank from cupped hands, then allowing the water to pour over her head and onto her heart.

 

A mossy area on the side of the pool formed by the underground springs looked so inviting.  How comfy looking!  Maybe I’ll just lie down here, I feel so dreamy.  Eyes closed, she listened to the murmuring, bubbling spring, and inhaled a sweet smell.  Is this the effects of the ethylene vapors the oracles used?  Plutarch said it was as if “the adyton was sending forth the essences of the sweetest and most expensive perfumes from a spring.”  Or is this from my being relaxed and un-anxious, everything harmonious… peaceful… our natural way of being…

       

Floating… drifting… She watched facets of her life as if she were in a boat with the people and events lined up along the banks in vignettes of moments.  This isn’t exactly my life flashing before my eyes so I guess I’m not dying.  More like a leisurely stroll through my life.  Maybe I can discern patterns better this way.  Yes, I was such a serious child… don’t make noise… don’t run in the apartment… everything will be better.  Mostly a serious child with bursts of fun. Mostly vigilant with moments of trust… look at the lilies of the field… quietly reading and writing… processing my life, processing me.  The woman over there  looks like Thalia, Muse of Comedy, from the Mouseion.  What is she saying to me?  Oh, “Lighten up.  Ride the rainbow.”  What rainbow?  I don’t see a rainbow.

 

She was floating in the sky now, amidst the stars as comets whizzed by, way above any river of events.  That comet seems close, and it’s coming closer.  I thought the tails of comets contained ice and rock, but this one seemed to sparkle.  Maybe the limited light is reflecting on the ice.  One particularly interesting piece drifted close, so she grabbed onto a natural outcropping on it and rode the comet.  I guess this is what Muse Thalia meant.  What an exhilarating feeling!  Like a roller coaster, but way higher.  What was it that Aristotle called a comet?  Oh yes, a star with hair – kometes – hair of the head.

 

The comet plunged on in the dark sky.  In the distance was a smudge of something. She and the comet drew ever nearer.  It was revealing itself to be a planet, growing ever larger as they approached.  Down they flew.  Are we going to crash?  Maybe I should get off?  Maybe I should wake up from this dream.  an I wake up?

 

Moving through a layer of clouds, she recognized they were going to crash into a rainbow—a huge rainbow.  Before she could duck or hop off—or wake up—she was immersed in the rainbow.

 

Ohhh! So many colors… so beautiful.  Droplets of mist of all colors.  Looks like a box of crayons.  Her ice chunk was melting as comet and rainbow merged.  She was on her own—flying downwards with the rainbow.  As it approached the ground, she could see this part of the rainbow wasn’t made up of mist or water droplets, but what appeared to be, shavings of crayons and colored pencils, of pastel chalk and paints.  Bits of the alphabet were interspersed: letters, words, phrases.  Even snatches of music notes and chords played. 

 

 

This is the rainbow my Muse Thalia meant.  The Rainbow of Creativity—lighten up—ride the rainbow—be creative.  Ram Das said, “Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly.”  Lighten up!   Laughing, giggling, enjoying the blend of color and words and music—she couldn’t help but to dance amidst it all.  Swirling, twirling, as the rainbow eased her down to the ocean and the beach.  She saw people on the sand, arms upraised, reveling and dancing in the creativity rainbow, as she gently landed. 

 

What a ride!  The Creativity Rainbow from Tholos.  What beauty!  Do I wake up now or am I already awake?

(see also http://enchanteur.wordpress.com/2008/07/12/rainbow-from-tholos/#comments   and http://cityofladies.wordpress.com/2008/07/12/rainbow-from-tholos/#comments)

(came across this quote by Robert Fulghum weeks after writing this post: “Maybe we should develop a Crayola bomb as our next secret weapon.  A happiness weapon.  A beauty bomb.  And every time a crisis developed, we would launch one.  It would explode high in the air – explode softly – and send thousands, millions, of little parachutes into the air.  Floating down to earth – boxes of Crayolas.  And we wouldn’t go cheap, either – not little boxes of eight.  Boxes of sixty-four, with the sharpener built right in.  With silver and gold and copper, magenta and peach and lime, amber and umber and all the rest.  And people would smile and get a little funny look on their faces and cover the world with imagination.” )

 

July 2, 2008

Where the Clouds are Hung for the Poet’s Eye (11)

 

Emerging from the Mouseium into the bright sunlight, Thalia noticed not many people were around.  Maybe they take siestas here.  I’m exhausted and need to mull over all I’ve experienced so far on this walking tour.  It’s not only hard on my aging body and feet but also on my emotions. Time to mull this over and rest.

 

She ambled over to where a great oak shadowed a bench next to an abundantly flowering garden with a spring-fed bubbling pool.  Happy to rest her feet by sitting and her emotions by zoning out to allow for mulling as she enjoyed the lovely flowers and ferns, she plopped down.  Need to get these shoes off.  They’re great for walking but don’t let your toes move.   She leaned back, wiggled her toes and breathed deeply.  Looking at the cotton candy white clouds against the azure sky, she watched a bird far away dance among the fluff.  Hard to tell what kind of a bird.  Is that a seagull?  Maybe Jonathan Livingston Seagull?   Neil Diamond sang some great songs with fantastic words in his album recorded years ago.  “Where the clouds are hung for the poet’s eye.”  Anything to do with Thalia—muse of pastoral poetry?  And “I sleep, and I may dream…”  Maybe it’s an eagle?  An eagle’s eye view…up among the clouds…I sleep…I dream…

 

Rising on strong wings, she felt transformed once again.  The air felt invigorating as it raced against her face-that-wasn’t-her-face because what she saw and the way she saw was very different from usual.  Moving, free, light, ever upwards into and through the misty clouds… hung in the sky for the poet’s eye.  More like a bird’s eye view here.  How incredibly beautiful!  She had a sense of purpose, of having been set on a mission to travel.  She couldn’t remember what but just followed what seemed to be right, or maybe instinct.   She rose above the level where some other sea-birds were flying and thought again of the book she read back in the early 1970’s, Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach where Jonathan learns everything he can about flying, but his lack of conformity distances himself from the other seagulls.  He then meets two gulls who escort him to a place way beyond where all the others are flying in conformity.  He meets the wisest gull who teaches him that to move instantaneously anywhere, he needs to begin by knowing that you have already arrived.  We are already where we want to be.  Perhaps that is how I can change forms so easily—just by knowing where I want to be or rather, who I want to be.  And Jonathan learned that in order to be really free one must learn how to forgive. 

 

She seemed to have been released by something? someone? to take this form at ocean’s edge and now flew over mountains and rivers and valleys.

 

            

So exhilarating!  To be able to view so well at a great distance, without glasses, much better than glasses could ever be.  The details… the distance…  What’s that in the distance?  It looks like a classical temple but it’s all hazy.  I sort of see it, but sort of don’t.  Maybe when I get closer.

 

She finally approached right near the beam of haze, like a cloud extending down to the ground, encompassing what she thought was a temple.  Should I enter the haze?  Why not?  Just like the gar in the tunnel, this eagle needs to enter the unknown ahead.  Here goes…

 

 It was like she was standing still, the view around here didn’t change, just the view directly below her.  Like she was treading water somehow, but this was air.  And here was another eagle who came in from the opposite side.  A voice boomed:  Well done, my two eagles.  I, Zeus, released you so where you came together, one from the East and one from the West, there would be the omphalos, the navel of the world. The lines of force all come together here at the cleft from which emerges the sacred pneuma.  Watch and see what I, Zeus, foretell as the future of this sacred place. 

 

Caught in the vortex of time and space, she could only watch and wonder as the images flew by: chasm in earth with vapors escaping; sacred space for Gaia with goddesses Themis and Phoebe as the oracles; then sacred to Poseidon “Earth shaker,” the god of earthquakes and later-child of Gaia; Apollo arrives around 8th century BC and expels the snake god Pytho, the serpent of Gaia, but Apollo honors him by maintaining his name for his priestess (Pythia) and for his games (Pythian); as Apollo is god of music and arts, the games held every 4 years incorporate music and the arts along with athletics; presiding Pythia priestess delivers oracles; fire destroys temple during First Sacred War about 590 BC; landslide saves Delphi from Persians about 490 BC; other Sacred Wars where control is taken by various Greek city states; 4th century BC the  Macedonians seize it and save from Gaul invasion; Romans conquer in 189 BC; Sulla sacks site in 86 BC; Nero carts off statues in 51 AD; then the site sits neglected for many, many years after treasures and stonework are pillaged; earthquakes, dust and time cover the site; people build over and make a more modern village; French begin to dig in 1861 and find artifacts; the Greek Department of Antiquities move the village in 1891 to allow excavation; the French continue to dig and reconstruct buildings and a few columns as they unearth remains; studies show evidence of the presence of ethylene, a potential hallucinogen found at the temple location emanating from the chasm and fissures leading into the adyton (“do not enter”) sacred space where oracles were transmitted, as well as other surrounding areas.

 

 

But at the same time, she could also see nearby areas undergoing similar change: an amphitheater, seating 5000, being built in the 4th century BC, restored in 159AD and later by the Romans; a stadium, seating 7000, well above the theater built in 5th century BC with the four Roman pillars of the Triumphal Arch remaining; the comings and goings at the Castalia Springs tucked into a ravine, first a simple spring then a Roman fountain house then ruins; the Gymnasium built in the Greek classical period, rebuilt in Roman times, then a monastery; then ruins.

 

Also the Athena Pronoia Temple, “the Marmaria,” with earliest occupation as a Mycean cult center; then Temple Athena destroyed by a landslide 5th century BC, replaced along with other structures; the circular, marble Thalos with 20 slender Doric columns built between 380 and 360 BC, falls to ruins before three columns are reconstructed in 1938; many tourists come.

 

Finally a modern museum built in 1902 where many of the ancient artifacts and statues are on display including the bronze Charioteer…oh!…I’ve seen that…spinning, stopping…haze lifting to show the way Delphi looks now from an eagle’s view… head spinning… clouds floating by… close eyes…

 

She woke with a start.  That dream?  Was it a dream?  It was from my world.  My world’s history.  My feet feel rested even if my head still is spinning with all the images and history in the passing of time.  But here I am in the Lemurian City of Ladies. What is the connection to the Delphi of my world?  Only way to find out is to follow the guide book and walk there.  Great scenery being an eagle, but now I have to rely on these two feet to move.

 

She looked at the clouds drifting by a moment with affection and nostalgia, pushed herself up from the bench.  A small sign next to the bench caught her eye:  “THIS AREA CONTAINS NUMEROUS SMALL FISSURES LEADING UP THROUGH THE LIMESTONE OF THE LOCAL GEOLOGY.  VAPORS POSSIBLE.” 

 

She smiled, and followed the path.

(see also http://cityofladies.wordpress.com/2008/07/04/where-the-clouds-are-hung-for-the-poets-eye/#comments)

June 28, 2008

A-mus-ing (10)

 

Still pondering the reason why Apollo and Thalia would be depicted on the same coin the ghost in the Hall of Remembrances gave her, she entered the Lemurian Mouseion in the City of Ladies.  Entering between huge columns, she thought of the many museums she had visited in her life, all with columns, within and without: Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Cloisters in New York City, the University of Pennsylvania Museum in Philadelphia, the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh, PA., the British Museum, etc. 

 

She moved into the coolness of the House of Muse and was intrigued by the richly detailed mosaic floor, which the sign said was Roman and exhibiting the nine Muses.   

 

 

And here was a sarcophagus, the “Muses Sarcophagus” representing the nine Muses and their attributes.  Made of marble in the first half of the second century AD, it had been seized by Napoleon and then exchanged in 1815.  What does that mean? 

 

 

She wondered which one was her adopted namesake.  There’s Thalia or Thaleia, according to the sign, holding the comic mask—second from the left.  Funny, how it all developed.

 

Years ago she had come across a medium-sized box turtle while both were walking in the Ozark woods.  This turtle didn’t draw in its head or extremities like most she had come across.  Its head stayed out and slowly looked up at her eyes.  Whoa!  What is this?  Not afraid and not looking at my feet, but directly into my eyes.  And what beautiful eyes it has—soft and warm.  How can a turtle have warm eyes?  They’re cold-blooded reptiles.

 

She reached down and slowly picked up the turtle who kept looking at her.  For some reason, unknown to her consciously, the name “Thalia” came to mind, so that’s what she called the sweet turtle.  She built Thalia a three-level habitat and kept Thalia for a number of years.

 

Remembering Thalia-turtle, she adopted the nickname at various times, liking the sound of it.  Previously, she had known Thalia was one of the Greek Muses but didn’t know anything beyond that.

 

She moved around the room, reading about each of the Muses.  Fascinating!  Where’s Thalia?  Oh, here she is.  Thalia is Latin whereas Thaleia is Greek.  What a lovely statue. Maybe I can get a picture of this and make a collage from it.   This is from the Vatican Museum in Rome from the second century C.E.  And this one is from the Heritage Museum in St. Petersburg, a Roman copy of the original from the second century AD earlier in Greek.  Hmmm, some say C.E. and others say A.D.  Wonder what’s the difference? 

 

Let’s see what this says: she was the muse of pastoral poetry and comedy and is usually seen with a shepherd’s crook and a mask of comedy.  She was either one of the nine Muses (the eighth daughter of Zeus and Mnemosyne) or one of the three Graces born of Zeus and Euryrome, daughter of Oceanus.  Some even speculate they are one and the same.

 

Ah!  Here it is—Thaleia becomes mother of the Corybentes (or Korybentes) by Apollo.  That’s why they are together on the coin.  She reached into her pocket for the coin, brought it out and moved it back and forth so it caught the light, and from one side to the other.  Then she looked back to the caption which stated there had been a coin made, a denarius, with the head of Apollo and the reverse had Thalia, Muse of Comedy, holding an actor’s mask.  This was a rare depiction of a Muse on a coin.

 

Wow!  And now I have one.  It’s beautiful!  How did that ghost have one?  And a real one at that?  I’ll have to go back to the Hall of Remembrances and get his story.

 

She held onto it, looking at it occasionally as she continued around the room, looking at statues and reading the information.  She moved to the center of the circular room where there was an elaborate, large urn with a sign saying anyone making an offering or a hymn to the Muses, or of one in particular receives the honor-offering back three-fold.

 

There was some blank notepaper and pencils there if anyone needed it.  Quite a few folded papers were in the urn along with some coins and paper money, what looked to be a necklace and even a ring.  A lovely silk scarf was half in and half out of the urn.  A few pages had obviously been prepared at home and brought here since the paper was decorative.  And someone placed some fresh flowers in an ivy wreath.  A pretty, lacy embroidered handkerchief peeked out of the pile of offerings.

 

What can I offer at this altar?  I could do a quick poem, or maybe tell a story about who my muse might be… but wait a minute… I think Thalia is my muse.  What could I leave for her?

 

She suddenly realized her fingers had been unconsciously playing with the coin she had returned to her pocket for safe keeping.  She brought it out and looked at the smooth edges where many fingers had worn them down over time. 

 

I don’t need the coin to remember to go back to the Hall of Remembrances.  I love it, and it feels right to be touching it, but really… I guess I’ve had Thalia as my muse for many years without realizing it.  What better place could there be, for this coin?  But not as an offering, but a gift in gratitude.  My life is already flourishing and flowering (what they say is the meaning of the name ‘Thalia’).  Perhaps that has been my muse’s influence already combined with Grace from beyond the realm of muses.  What more do I need?  My life overflows with love and support and gratitude.  The choosing of the name Thalia years ago for the turtle was either from the deep unconscious or the higher consciousness.  In either case, it has worked.  My muse found me.

 

She lovingly rubbed the coin and looked at both sides to engrave the images into her mind’s eye for future reference.  Then gently and reverently placed the coin on top of all the other offerings in the urn with a reverent Thank you

 

 

She then turned and walked outside.

 

When I finish this walking tour and return home, I think I’ll make a collage card using pictures of these statues and the sarcophagus and, maybe even a turtle, to represent this part of the tour.  And if I answer the Soul College questions, I will learn even more about this aspect of myself that is Thalia.

 

As she walked, she mulled over how she might arrange the pictures on her Thalia/Thaleia collage card.

 

 

Maybe I’ll even post the completed card and related answers on my blog when I get it finished.  What an adventure this walking tour has been.  And there’s still more to go. Hope my feet hold out.  I wonder how far it is to the Labyrinth and the Tholos.  This older body and weary feet need a rest.

(see also http://cityofladies.wordpress.com/2008/06/28/a-mus-ing/#comments)

June 24, 2008

The Hall of Remembrances (9)

 

Come, m’lady.  The child took a step, pulling on Thalia’s hand as the others started moving further within the catacombs.  Thalia stood up, grasped the torch and followed, being led by the child who pulled ahead yet glanced back at her shyly.

 

She sent out her thought to the child.  What is your name?  A mumbled something touched her awareness.  The woman’s thought was clearer:  Later.  Just come.  We’ve waited a long time.

 

They walked in physical and mental silence, turning down one tunnel after another.  After a while, as the darkness deepened, she couldn’t help but wonder how she would return to the entrance, but figured it would happen naturally.  She thought of the stories she encouraged from hospice patients, volunteers and staff.  Of how patient memoirs were so treasured by their loved ones after the patient died, sometimes even revealing stories the loved ones didn’t know about.  She thought of how her own memoir process unearthed the web of patterns that helped clear misconceptions and resentments she had carried. 

 

Yes, we saw that in you, that which Is what we need done for us.  The man’s thought broke through her own.  Some of us have been waiting a long time to understand what happened in our lives and sometimes even in our dying.

 

Thalia felt momentarily confused.  But I record their stories before they die, not after. 

 

The woman stopped and turned around.  But you told the stories of your ancestors after they were dead.  And you’ve written poems and stories about when your loved ones appeared in a so-called “dream” and shared with you.  What is so different? 

 

Nothing, I guess.  I just never thought of this aspect until now that you mentioned it.  And never thought a walking tour in the City of Ladies would lead to this deep part of the catacombs.   I remember being intrigued by Orson Scott Card’s book Speaker for the Dead.  What a great book.

 

The woman resumed walking forward.  Just come.  You’ll see.

 

After a few more twists and turns they entered a large cavern with many, mostly marble, sarcophagus’ and statues along the walls and throughout the room.  Marble benches were scattered around.  No one else was in the place.  The trio escorted her to a bench in front of a large, ornate statue of a weeping angel. 

 

 

The little girl’s hand started trembling.  Thalia looked from the statue to the child still clinging to her hand.  Looking back at the engraving, she read: 

                                       MARIA ESTAL…   (part was missing) 

                                            9 YEARS OLD  

                                 MUCH BELOVED DAUGHTER

 

Is this your tombstone?

 

The child bobbed her head.  She seemed small for her age.  Thalia sat down on the bench and drew Maria close.  What would you like to share with me?

 

With tears running down her face, Maria’s thoughts gushed forth.  It says my papa loved me but how could that be?  When he did those things to me?  The priest said it was wrong and papa was bad.  He couldn’t have loved me.  Her weeping escalated into sobbing, so holding her and waiting was appropriate.  Finally the sobs subsided.  Then the sickness came for mamma and me.  They all said it was because papa was bad but he cried when we were sick on the bed.  Then mamma died of fever and I got worse.  Papa said he loved me but the priest said he was bad and didn’t love me.  Was I bad?  Is that why papa did bad things to me?  Is that why I died?

 

No, you were good.  Your papa did things he shouldn’t have but you were good.  It wasn’t your fault he did those things to you or that you and your mama died.  Tell me more about your papa.

 

Maria wiped her sleeve across her nose and continued.  Mama said papa had been in a war, fighting far away.  When he came home he was different.  Then there was another baby coming and papa started touching me.  Mama was busy with the baby and didn’t see.  They argued about things that happened during the war, but I didn’t understand.  There was a long pause.  Are you sure I am good and not bad?

 

Yes, I am sure.  And even though your father did some bad things doesn’t make him all bad.  His actions were bad but he could have also loved you.  And sometimes war changes people and makes them act bad.  After being away in a war you might have looked so clean and fresh that he just was glad to be home, and he wanted to be part of your innocence and freshness.  What he did was very bad, but he could still love you.  Maybe he was sorry about what he did.  Look at the weeping angel—maybe he picked it out because  it represents him weeping for what he had done.  Can you understand that?  Thalia thought of all the adults who could only see the world in black or white, and couldn’t understand shades of gray in people or allow for forgiveness.  Their anger festered for years, or even for their whole lifetime, and made their lives bitter and the lives of the people around them miserable.  They couldn’t separate the action from the person.  If adults couldn’t understand, how could a child?

 

I think so… maybe.  I’ll try.  I always thought the angel was weeping because I was so bad. 

 

No, that’s not why the angel is weeping.  We grow when we can learn to forgive.  It’s hard, but important.  Forgiveness heals us and is more important for us than for the person we forgive, but both are important.

 

Maria moved to gently touch the weeping angel and the engraving of her name and where it said she was the beloved daughter.  As she sighed, she smiled.  Thank you, m’lady.

 

No, I am not a “m’lady.”  I am just a woman on a walking tour of the City of Ladies.  Now I am not sure where I am.

 

A new-energy thought chimed in.  We will call this place the Hall of Remembrances.  Will you come back and help us tell our stories?  There are many stories here needing to be told.

 

She looked up to see many other pale figures emerging from the walls and statues, clustering around this latest thought-speaker.   He appeared to be the one with authority.  In his outstretched hand was a coin that seemed to have real substance.   Remember us! 

 

The coin was suddenly in her hand, solid and heavy.   A male head on one side and a woman standing on the other side. 

 

 

She looked at him, as he stood there with more physical essence than the others.  That’s Apollo on the one side; the muse Thaleia, as I know her, on the other.  Take this coin and remember us.  We await your return.  Others like yourself are welcome, also.       

 

I will return now and again, and perhaps others will also come to help you.  Thank you all for sharing with me and inviting me.  For now I need to return and continue the tour.  But I will be back to the Hall of Remembrances for more of your stories. 

 

And suddenly she was back at the entrance to the catacombs, coin in hand, ready for the next adventure, even as she wondered why Apollo and Thalia were on the same coin.

 

 

 

(see also http://cityofladies.wordpress.com/2008/06/25/the-hall-of-remembrances/#comments)

June 22, 2008

Voices from the Past (8)

 

Feeling cleansed of both physical and emotional “stuff” from Dame Washalot’s Bath House, she followed the walking tour map to the Catacombs.  Most of her knowledge about catacombs was derived from movies of the 1950’s like The Robe, Quo Vadis, and Ben Hur which all portrayed early Christians hiding out and having services there.  Later, she was surprised to learn catacombs were actually pre-Christian and even pre-Roman, and were used for burials and as hiding places from persecution.  The Sumerians, Egyptians and Greeks all utilized catacombs.

  

More recently she read Internet articles about supposed inner-Earth races living underground in catacombs, caverns and tunnels.  And a Hope Indian legend speaks of a very ancient complex beneath the surface occupied by a lizard-race 5000 years ago. 

 

It didn’t help her to recall these interesting but potentially frightening ideas as she moved further into the catacombs.  Even holding the torch she had been given at the entrance near the statue of Jesus at Gethsemane didn’t help—it just cast odd shadows.    At first the walls were smooth so it wasn’t bad, but now there were cubby-holes and recesses with statues or sculptures within, to which the flickering light added a macabre element.  As she approached each item, she thought they were moving.  As she peered closer, she could then discern they were just statues of angels and people. 

 

I guess there are people buried here or maybe just their ashes are buried here.  Reminds me of that Reader’s Digest article speaking of how the carbon can be extracted from the cremated remains of a loved one, and with heat and pressure, can be made into a real diamond.   What an odd line from the CEO of that company: ‘It isn’t in memory of a loved one, it is the loved one.’ 

 

Oh, what’s that?  Looks like it’s moving.  She crept closer.  It’s a gargoyle, and here’s another.  Why would they be in here?  Maybe to protect the remains, as they usually are supposed to be ugly to scare anyone unwanted away.

 

Something flew at her out of the dark; she ducked as another something flew past.  Bats! Ugh! They must be roosting further within since I haven’t seen any guano so far.   

 

 

Now it was totally dark, except for the sputtering torch.  She approached a marble bench in front of a sarcophagus within a recessed part of the wall.  Tired, she placed the torch into a holder and sat down.  I can’t walk all day the way I used to.  Probably not too many years before my ashes will be placed somewhere.  Would like for them to be scattered in various places but what if they were in a place like this?  Maybe I’m passing or looking at my own burial from another time—the circle of time.

 

She felt very much at peace here, surrounded by the remains of many people, deep within the earth—no noises of cars, power tools, construction, cell phones going off annoyingly or people having to talk all the time.  Silence—stillness…  She closed her eyes and meditated, sinking further into her center.  First the pinprick of light in the darkness, then the starburst.  She drifted out of her body, moved through the packed earth, into the air, above the city.  She could see-sense for miles.

 

peaceful… but not the time to continue…time to return

 

With that thought she moved back into her body, but aware her physical body was now surrounded by other bodies.  Keeping her eyes closed, she reached out her awareness to assess who was there.  Feels fine.  Good energy.

 

She opened her eyes.  A child was standing in front of her, looking at her.  A woman on one side, an elderly man on the other.  She nodded in respect to each translucent person—each smiled in return.  She knew words were unnecessary.

 

Hello.  Who are you?  How can I help?

 

The woman’s thoughts were clear: Please, help us.  We stay here now, close to what had been our bodies.   But we need to have our stories told.

 

The elderly man nodded as the little girl stroked her hand.  He then thought: There are others, too, needing to find the meaning in the lives they lived.  By telling their stories you will discover the underlying pattern and meaning, and reveal it to each of us.  We can sense you’ve done it for others, could you do it for us?

 

I would be honored to tell your stories.  I’m sure each one would be as interesting and meaningful as each person is unique, no matter how boring they think their life is.  I’m Thalia.  Glad to meet you…

(see also http://cityofladies.wordpress.com/2008/06/22/voices-from-the-past/#comments)

 

June 19, 2008

Different Scrubs in Different Tubs (7)

 

Unnoticed

     as she looked down and watched

     as people came to the big tub

            for the scrub

 

Scrubbed

     of dirt from the here and now

     of all identity in life

            from strife

 

Scrubbed

     of preconceived notions

     of the dying process way

            identity new each day

 

Changes

     occur every day we live

     some visible rocks, some dust

            shape-shifters each of us

 

Wow, quite a difference from the Roman baths in Bath, England.  Those were for soldiers and aristocrats mostly.  Dame Washalot’s Bath House seems to cater to a full range of people and washes off more than just physical dirt and sweat.  From the sounds of it, the Dame scrubs deep to wash off self-doubt, inhibitions and preconceived notions.  What a delightful difference!

 

 

She flew out the window and returned for her satchel before changing back into herself.  Remembering her spa massage six years ago, about 8 months after her hysterectomy where the woman seemed to be trying to scrub out her scar and her surgery, she was ready for another massage, this one from the Dame.  With head held high, she walked to Dame Washalot’s Bath House and entered.

(see also http://cityofladies.wordpress.com/2008/04/20/different-scrubs-for-different-tubs/#comments)

June 18, 2008

Arriving at the Villa (6)

“Lemuria”     Thank goodness she saw that sign posted on the tree before shape shifting into a young girl and blundering into the circus world.  If she hadn’t, she might not have been so open to listening to the bearded lady when she relayed a story she once heard of a special city in Lemuria.

 

At first, everything was going well with her circus adventure.  Getting a job as a stand-in horseback rider, she was able to ride every day on different horses and ponies.  And she got to know many new people, finding them to be quite a diverse group, as one would expect. 

 

 

Ranging from the ringmaster, who thought himself ‘high class’ and ‘hot stuff,’ to the men setting up the tents and caring for the animals, to the performers who had the necessary skills of juggling, tight-rope walking, lion taming, etc.  And the lowest on the social order—the ‘freaks’ or ‘strange’ folk that the others looked down on and avoided.

 

 

But her time in hospice had further shown her the importance of accepting each person right where they are and who they are—accepting unconditionally—and being compassionate and supportive since they, too, are doing the best they could on their journey.  As her teacher said, “We are all struggling souls.”

 

Hospice also addressed the whole person, not just the physical.  So one went beyond appearance to the inner being.  To look at what was beyond a wasted body due to cancer eating it away; to a tube-filled body as muscles lose control of bladder and bowel; to a body with radiation burns or surgery scars or chemo baldness; to a body with no seeming memory so it wanders off and repeats stories incessantly; to a body literally rotting from wounds needing chlorophyll dressings to tamp down the odors?  She had found so much is underneath all that: a real life filled with joy and love, magic and disappointments, all the things that make up the lives of all seemingly healthy people.  A beautiful person within struggling to get through life and to do it well, to pass on to the children his or her values and legacies.  A beautiful soul…

 

There was no doubt the appearances of these circus folk could put one off… But what was underneath?  Nothing worth investigating, according to the general circus population.  But she had found much to admire: courage in the face of ridicule, honor even as they were treated dishonorably, and marvelous stories.    What a wealth of stories she heard. 

 

It was only after being backed into a corner by the so-called ‘high class’ ringmaster that she realized it was time to leave.  He threatened her against telling anyone and even that he would prevent her leaving.

 

It was only after he was distracted by an accident with the flame-thrower that she could grab her satchel, change into a black circus-show panther and escape.  As she slipped into the forest and wondered where to go, she thought back to the story told by Quinda, the bearded woman.

 

“Many years ago, when I was a child traveling with my mother and the circus, I remember being asleep and waking up to see a beautiful lady in our tent talking to my mother.  I moved close to lean into Mamam’s skirt, smelling the familiar lavender herbs she stored her clothes in.  The Lady took my hand and looked directly into my eyes, not at my chin.  She said she had seen me with my family and wanted me to know of possibilities other than being with the circus.  I was young enough then that my beard was just starting to show.  Mamam had always told me that one day I could be in the sideshow with her when my beard was full and thick like hers.  I couldn’t wait to earn my own money!  Now here was someone talking of how I could leave the circus and find the Lemurian City of Ladies where I wouldn’t have people staring at me and calling me ‘strange.’  I had heard folk say those things to my mother, but never, so far, to me.

 

“My mother put her arm around me and drew me away from the Lady as she said, ‘Family stays together—no matter what!  Thank you, kind Lady, but my daughter stays with me.’

 

“The Lady sighed.  ‘I understand,’ she said to Mamam.  Then she looked at me again—directly—and said, ‘’There is a home for anyone at the City of Ladies, where you will be respected and allowed to follow your creativity and educational dreams.  Don’t forget the Lemurian City of Ladies.  Go to le Enchanteur’s Villa where you will find refuge.’”     

 

She thought of those words of Quinda’s as the she-as-panther streaked through the forest with her satchel bouncing along her side.  After much traveling, she came to the crest of a cleared hill and could see into the distance.  A beautiful city shimmered in the mist.  Could that be the City of Ladies?  She headed in that direction.

 

When she finally came to a road, she changed into her normal body.  What is normal?  I guess most would consider me  one of the ‘strange’ folk.  She found a branched twig and sort-of combed her hair.  She got our her alcohol-gel from her satchel and cleansed her hands.  Feeling better, she stepped onto the road.

 

She approached the city and caught up to a group of women, and after asking if anyone knew where le Enchanteur’s villa was.  She was bombarded with an outburst of replies: “Oh, another one.”  “Yeh, you can’t miss it.”  Are you sure you really want to go there?”  There’s talk of odd things happening in that place.”  And each one quickly turned into one of the shops and disappeared before she could question them further.

 

Slinking into an alley, she hid her satchel behind some broken pottery.  Maybe she should see what was there first.  Who were these people at the Villa?  She shifted into a moth since dusk was approaching—no one noticed a moth—and flitted along looking for the Villa.  There was the sign.

 

She waited until another woman entered and flew in with her.  Quickly finding a spot with good vantage view on a wall shelf in the foyer, she landed and looked around.  She would stay like this until she knew more.  No one notices a moth.

(see also http://cityofladies.wordpress.com/2008/06/18/arriving-at-the-villa/#comments)

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