Immersed in Wholeness

  My experience in Crete has had a huge impact on me. Back in 1976, in her book Of Woman Born, Motherhood as Experience and Institution, Adrienne Rich discusses the radical sense of self that is conveyed to a woman who views the sacred art called “prehistoric figurines”, so much of which was found on Crete. As a young lesbian feminist, I read Rich’s book avidly and I was even honored to have an essay of mine quoted in it, but it is only now that I understand what she meant about the profound effect of the sacred art on a modern woman.

One of the rituals we enacted on our Goddess Pilgrimage on Crete was a Labyrinth walk. When the attendant at the center of the Labyrinth (Hello Lyn!) greeted each participant as we arrived, she spoke the words to us, “You have found the Way, You have Come Home.” This coming home to myself as a sacred and powerful being is exactly the cumulative sense I received from our viewing of female figures on Crete.

Let me back up. Before arriving on the island of Crete, I had spent two weeks on the Greek island of Lesbos. One night in Eressos, Sappho’s birthplace, I dreamed of walking to the top of Sappho Hill and through a trap door to Sappho’s time. My poet ancestor could glimpse me and sense me. I wore the toga dress like hers. She was alone, composing, working; concentrating her being into a song, in what would come to be called Sapphic stanzas. I told her I was a future one, a descendant. She laughed in glee, saying she too was a descendant, of the Minoans who honored the Mother on Crete.

I completed my solo two and a half month ancestor pilgrimage in Italy and Greece with Carol Christ’s two week Goddess Tour on Crete. Our tour group became a wonderful circle of Ariadne sisters. We saw the sacred statues, vases and vessels in female shapes, first in the museums; then we explored, on foot, many of the archeological sites all over the island where the figures had been discovered; and third, we revisited the main (Heraklion) museum where we again saw the original figures. On the final museum visit, with Carol Christ’s  lectures filling in what the archeologists did not say, we remembered with our whole bodies exactly where the Goddess figures  had once been placed, and we could imagine them in their original settings. Perhaps you can guess how much fuller an experience this gave, an experience of egalitarian female power, and a reflection of our own.

Some of the sacred places are hidden now, the Eilitheian Cave behind a tree, the Villa of the Lilies behind a parking lot and a barbed wire fence. Now the archeological sites forbid rituals of any kind. We could not raise our arms as we traced the steps of the processional path at the popular archeological site of Knossos. But we performed our ceremonies where and when we could, and I came away from Crete sensing how it might have felt to be immersed in wholeness, to live in harmony, and to be honored for my femaleness.photography by Susa Silvermarie

Here is how my ancestor Adrienne Rich described her impression of the prehistoric figurines:…they express an attitude toward the female charged with awareness of her intrinsic importance, her depth of meaning, her existence at the very center of what is necessary and sacred. She is beautiful in ways we have almost forgotten, or which have become defined as ugliness. Her body possesses mass, interior depth, interior rest, and balance. She is not smiling, her expression is inward-looking or ecstatic… Let us try to imagine for a moment what sense of herself it gave a woman to be in the presence of such images…they told women that power, awesomeness, and centrality were theirs by nature, not by privilege or miracle; the female was primary.

2 Responses to “Immersed in Wholeness

  • Thank you so much Susa This trip has opened my eyes so much and now reading your stories are very exciting.
    Keep up the good work, as i look forward to future writings.

    Your Adrienne sister
    Ellie Lu

  • Lyn Galbreth
    6 months ago

    Hello Susa! This is a lovely article; how blessed I feel to now know you and to be able to hear and read your eloquent truths in poetry you’ve shared and now your blog. Abundant blessings to you on this Solstice day and every day that follows.
    Hugs.
    Lyn

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