Today I’m writing from the island of Naxos, in the Aegean Sea, in the country of Greece. I’m with a group of friends, mostly people in the same Wiccan tradition with me, touring sites sacred to the Old Gods.
Temple of Dimitra
We climb the long hill to the Temple of Dimitra (built more than 2500 years ago to honor the Goddess Demeter), which is partly restored and which we are asked not to enter. On the way up I let myself be distracted by thoughts and judgments, the ordinary chatter of this hyper-verbal mind.
But then, we go through a stone gate in a mortarless wall that was clearly laid more than a few decades ago. The air shimmers in the heat – but also, somehow the air is different here. Sound is different, pressure is different.
The chatter in my head quiets.
Our guide speaks briefly, giving us a few details about the reconstruction in progress, about the history of the temple, which was built in 530 BC and destroyed a thousand years later, to be replaced by a church to the Christian God. She answers our few questions, which are not about archeology. Then we separate, each of us walking into our own experience.
One person goes at once into the tiny grove of trees at the edge of the hilltop. Two of us walk the perimeter of the temple, quite near the ropes showing us where we must not go. Curiously, one walks widdershins and one walks deosil, both choosing unconsciously.
Some of us have deep relationships with Demeter, and with Apollo whose energy is also strongly present. Several received messages and had experiences that we had not expected.
There you go, talking ‘about’ it instead of telling. Is it that there are things you are not ready to share?
Deity was so present. There were questions and answers in my inner listening. A conversation with Demeter in my head, and apparently several other conversations She held with my friends.
One of us in happy tears. One of us in sober reflection. For my part, I asked if there was something I should do here, ‘for’ Her or ‘to commune with’ Her, and Demeter answered me clearly, “No, you did a good job; we’re done.” I’ve been pondering that, without coming to a conclusion yet. I’ve served as her voice, on one important occasion, but have never been her devotee. What does it mean for her to say ‘we’re done’ ?
Temple of Dionysus at YriaYesterday we also visited the Temple of Dionysus at Yria, where the temple was repeatedly destroyed by flooding from a nearby river which is no longer evident. Next to the broad footprint of the Temple is a well, about 3 meters deep, lined with marble blocks cut to conform to its circular shape.
I have seen this well in dreams and visions, beginning in about 1998, when I thought it was entirely a product of my imagination (since in those days I thought dreams and visions had no ‘reality’). I had been asked to dive into the well of my own fertile creativity … and had seen this well, exactly, with its beautifully regular walls except for a small stone filling an unexpected space.
When I saw this well twenty years later, standing in the hot sun of another country, I felt reality shifting under my feet. What does it mean, that I visited this well before I knew it existed?
“What would you like it to mean?” asks the Witch. “Is there some agenda you need this knowledge to fulfill?”
Today we visited the island of Delos, the Birth of Light, the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis, where today the only human activity is archeology and the whole island feels like a sacred site. I had a long conversation with Apollo at what turns out to be the oldest temple extant that is associated with him. I don’t know what to say about this.
The Witch stops me. “What is it that gives you uncertainty?”
I don’t really know. I just know that I’ve tried twice to journal on what he said, and have felt “stopped” as though someone had grabbed my wrist. I tried earlier tonight to tell one of our number about that conversation, but the words just plain dried up.
Clearly my spiritual practice in the next few days will center on these experiences. I wish I had something more clear, and perhaps more UU, to report.