31 October 2011

Travelogue: Searching for Las Diosas de Espana (y France)

"She'll find you."

Over the last two weeks, I’ve been more purposely exploring the cities and churches and caminos of Western Spain and Eastern France (around the Pyrenees). I’ve been a bit frustrated because what and who I seek has been hidden and/or forgotten, and I’ve had to look hard. I’ve had to learn and still am learning to see more clearly Her signs.

She’s there and everywhere, and as my friend Barbara reminded me, She's looking for me too.

At Lourdes

Lourdes took my breath away. “Que soy era Immaculada Conceptiou” said the Lady of Lourdes to Bernadette. Bernadette said she saw a small woman, and when Bernadette asked Her who She was, She said She was the immaculate conception. She is parthenogenisis! Bernadette had 18 visions in total, and at the site of the visions – a Cave in Lourdes, France – healing happens. I came with a strong intention to heal my/our/women’s bodies from the violence we’ve survived. As I walked into the Cathedral to see Bernadette’s relic and then into the Grotto to touch the sacred stones there, I heard “healing generations.” My traveling companion Lisa heard, “replenish the spring of your soul.” We cried and sang and washed ourselves in the miraculous spring water. I sent out all the love and healing to my family and communities, especially the women – my mothers, sisters, and daughters – and to the pain that has been caused by patriarchy, hierarchy, and domination ways of being. I paused to cleanse my body and the scars I carry in my shoulders, womb, vulva...everything.

We stopped for a local beer (canya) in St Jean de la luz (French side of the Basque country), and then headed to San Sebastian. There in the old town, I ventured into the oldest churches, one of them dedicated to the Black Madonna (o Maria Escura) Herself. All around the town too, I saw Her presence with “Mari” written on the walls, and with the Ocean everywhere, I sensed too She was near.
Mari's Island near Bermeo

Driving through Viscaya, we made our way to the mountains near the seas, the places where Mari spent some of Her time. Basque mythology (my friend Liana sent me her paper on this!) says that Mari went to these caves during certain times of the year.  I've seen images of Her red hair and the moon and moonlight weaving together. It seems to me that caves and Mari go together like Persephone and the underworld, like sweatlodges and women, like wombs and birth and rebirth. As I climbed to a little church on an island in Viscaya, I felt the wind and heard the crashing waves and touched the sacred Earth. I felt the fire in me stir up (and I once again wanted to dye my hair flaming red). And, before we drove back to Bilbao, I left a prayer for clear vision, for Mari eyes.
In San Sebastian, Basilica

These places I’ve been traveling and exploring as I search for my Dark Mothers have been overwhelmingly beautiful. Sometimes, I simply feel delightful; other times, I feel the growing pains.


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