12 October 2011

Travelogue: Skotino Cave and Lesvos and Delphi

Our last day in Crete we drove a little east of Heraklion to the Skotino cave. There we found a massive opening in the Earth that goes down four levels. There was also an altar with images of Mary, and so I added Tonantzin (the Virgin of Guadalupe). I had kept an image of her in my journal since the Women’s Spirituality Retreat at CIIS some months back. It felt fitting.

We walked down into the cave and started singing, “Ancient Mother, I hear you calling.” In the darkness, the face of a woman appeared on the formation in the middle of the cave. I imagined people of the past singing and dancing in this cave. It would have been an epic place for it.

Next day found me in Lesvos. On the ferry ride over (12 hours), I met another Thodoros, a computer scientist, and we talked at length about the addiction of virtual reality, facebook, marketing, and cia knowledge. As I slept on the floor of the ferry, my dreams dwelt on the need of privacy as well as living in the present reality all around me. Sunrise that day was on the island of Chios (a stop on the way to Lesvos), and sunset was in Molivos.

Exiting the ferry, I met Matina, a beautiful Greek woman and fellow traveler. She showed me around Mitilini (the port city) and then in Molivos (a less than 2 hour bus ride from Mitilini). We spent time lingering in the sea (Aegean), Turkey right there across the way. She also took me to the hot springs, and I felt my well-traveled body relaxing. Her friend in Molivos owns a beautiful shop in the main market area, selling Indian and natural, colorful clothes and jewelry. The center piece was a gorgeous pregnant figure, and from her window and balcony, we watched the sunset on the water. Breathtaking.

In Molivos, I stayed at the quaint Greek home of Bianca, a German tour guide of sorts living in Molivos since April. She took me to some quaint bars as well! Altogether, she was invaluable, helping me figure out where and how I wanted to go, showing me how to hitchhike (on motos and in cars!), giving me her bed, feeding me Greek breakfasts, and letting me do a tasting of her Ouzo collection.

One of my main purposes in going to Molivos and Lesvos in general was of course, Sappho. I read the fragment of her poem,“Because I prayed the words: I want” throughout my stay. I also traveled to Lesvos to meet up with my professor, Carol Christ. Carol showed me her home in Molivos, her two little dogs, a Taverna in Petra (the neighboring village), a good Aegean sea swim, and a lovely place called Octopus on the water. We spoke about my program at CIIS, the issues at the school, and the joys of our studies and lives.

Delphi: I left Molivos so satisfied, and I arrived the next day in Delphi very ready to ask the Oracle a question. I felt like the whole lot of time in Greece was leading up to Delphi, a little mini pilgrimage. And despite the fact that I prepped nearly 3 weeks for Delphi, I still needed to pause and “go down” into Athena’s temple to clarify my question. Sitting at the foot of the temple, I found myself connecting with Athena’s birth. Her mother is often missing from her story, and instead we read that she came from Zeus’ head. There is more to this story of course, and yet in this oppressive mythology, I relate to Athena. I too feel like my Mother has been missing because patriarchy replaced her with a Father that I must be reborn through. But, now I say, “No. I don’t need a rebirthing through a man or men. The womb of my mother (literal and figurative) is more than good enough. And, so, I asked Athena, “Who is (y)our mother?”

Walking from her temple to the museum (to delay my Oracle visit) to the (finally) Oracle in Apollo’s temple, I formed my question. I approached the Oracle, and asked, “How am I a mother?” The change in words was so simple but so profound for me, and the response I heard was simultaneously “You are”/ “I am.” I am my mother; you are my mother; we are mothers.

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