healing haven

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)

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May 31, 2008

Tunnel of History – 2

Filed under: fiction,Pythian Games — by thalia @ 8:30 am
Tags: ,

 

I reach for a stone to drop down the well to check where the water level is.  The one I pick up is covered with seashell fossils from when these Ozark Mountains were under oceans millennium ago.  I place it in my satchel to add to the others I’ve collected.  It always amazes me that here, in the middle of the United States, there was once ocean.  Finding another plain stone, I drop it and listen.  No ‘splash’ of stone hitting water, but instead, the sound of ‘plop’ onto dirt.  OK, not a well but a tunnel as the stair-ladder indicates.  What else will I find?

  

Fixing the flashlight to attach to the side of my neck with the bandana I always carry and have used in this manner before, I free my hands for going down the narrow pieces of wood.  Turning around, I gingerly step backwards and down the first rung, using my arms to balance and thinking perhaps, I should get down on all fours and ease down.  I am no longer as agile as I once was.  I decide to use an overhanging branch as leverage to step down the second rung, then the third and fourth as I check for dry rot on each.  At last my hands can grab the wooden steps, trying to avoid splinters.  Finally my head drops below the level of the surface.  The flashlight shines brightly on the close earthen walls.

 

Ouch! What’s that?  My right hand gets cut as it moved to gain another purchase on the ladder.  An arrowhead!  When is this from?  I pry it out of the earth and examine at it.  As common as they are around here, I still thrill to unearth one.  Is it Osage, Caddo or Cherokee?  Hard to tell.  Could be from the very early days when many of the American Indian tribes criss-crossed this area either for hunting grounds or summer camps in the hills.  Or maybe from the Trail of Tears, or “the trail where they cried”, which passed through this area as over 1,000 Cherokees led by John Benge trudged through here in January of 1839.  I’ll put this into my satchel to check out later when I get back.

  

Finally I reach bottom.  I detach my flashlight from its cloth holder so I can maneuver the light better.  I fold up and place the bandana back into the satchel, then look around.  I’m standing in a dead-end of a tunnel that appears to slant downward from here.   

 

Do I dare go further?  I’m intrigued by all the recent TV programs on the Manhattan underground and London underground, and all the various tunnels for systems under cities for pipes, electric, water, sewer and subway systems.  Even underground cisterns as in Masada and New York City, and underground shelters in Roman times and in London in World War II – all fascinating!  Yet this is creepy, too.  Where does this lead?  What else is down here?  I think of all the stuff nightmares are made of: darkness, bugs, spiders, monsters, the unknown.  I think I should go back.

 

But what if it’s part of the Underground Railroad?  Or an escape route during the Civil War when the North/South line moved back and forth across this area?  I decide I’ll walk just a little further.

 

Cautious steps, one after the other, all going down a slight slope.  Something skitters nearby, causing me to stop as my heart pounds and I move my flashlight towards the sound.  It’s only a salamander.  How pretty!  It looks like a clown with those black polka dots on a bright orange smooth body.

  

A few more steps and I stop again as I hear another noise, but this sounds like water lapping softly onto the shore.  This intensifies as I continue along. 

 

Then I step into what appears to be a large cave with a rock ledge running along one side and expanding past a pool of water that is mostly calm but with just enough motion to create the lapping sound.  Is water flowing in?  I watch, but the water isn’t rising.  Maybe it is flowing in and out? 

 

Aiming the light so it follows the ledge out over the pool, I see some things piled there.  I climb up and walk out further a bit on the solid ledge.  An old bashed-in tin cup, maybe for getting pool water to drink?  Someone hiding out waiting to connect up with the Butterfield Stagecoach, which passed nearby?  Back here, near the rock wall, a pile of feathers interspersed with bits of disintegrating cloth… no, it’s burlap sacking.  Maybe this had been someone’s sleeping pallet… for a slave dreaming of freedom?  for a soldier dreaming of peace?  for a settler dreaming of escape?   

 

And of what do I dream as I stand here in this tunnel of history?  Of the interconnectiveness of all things, the ebb and flow of life, the weaving of patterns, the wonder of it all.  But mostly, of the even bigger Wonder beyond it all!

 

My reverie finally breaks.  A little further along the ledge, I see a pile of charred wood and something half buried in the ashes.  How long ago was this fire snapping and crackling?  What’s this?  A partially burned wooden carved fish!  Symbol of Christians being here?  Fisherman?  Fish in the water? 

 

I go to the edge and peer into the deeper part of the pool.  Yes, I see fish swimming, but they seem to be moving with a purpose, as a school of fish, from left to right.  Is that how the current flows?  I watch closely.  Yes, it is.  Yet I don’t see an opening into the cave.  Must be underwater.  I’m not a very good swimmer.  I think I’ll turn back.  This has been adventure enough and gives me plenty to write about.

 

But where are these fish going?

 

(see also http://pythiangames.wordpress.com/2008/05/31/tunnel-of-history/#comments)

 

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