Inner and Outer Darkness in the Skoteino Cave by Coleen Clare

Coleen ClaireLast fall I undertook the Ariadne Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete and saw many wonders. Foremost for me was our descent into the Skoteino Cave, following in the footsteps of ancient Cretans who understood the cave to be the Source of Life, the womb of the Goddess, and a place of transformation. I ventured down tentatively taking very wary steps, protecting my two new hip replacements, determined to join our sacred ritual in the cave with my sisters. My hips called a stop to my descent half-way down. I perched perilously on a small rock ledge and there I confronted inner and outer darkness. It was indeed a profound transformation.

Skoteino Cave

(for Margaret, Jenny, Chris, Maria, Alana and our fearless Adriadne leader)

Tough to reach
Hard to climb
Skoteino Cave
Sisters at the top
Sisters at the bottom
I go down

skoteino jenny 5

I go down
I go down
I go down
I stop here

Candle lit
Ready for ritual
My sisters go down
Headlight wavers on walls
Fingers grab a ledge
back against an edge

Candles flicker
I hear them sing
Light and darkness
Light and darkness
High above ancient place
I sit Guardian Angel

skoteino jenny2

Statuesque Ariadnian
leads my sisters on
They go down
I can only journey in
Inner darkness
Outer darkness

Maria is above me
I think I hear her
As I move – as she moves
Little stones clatter down
Followed by bouncing rocks
My toes begin to cramp

Four young fit strangers
come climbing down
One of them is freaking out!
He got down
but can’t get up!
I let them pass

Knees are cramping
Hands are clammy
Cold sweat down my back
Tears drench my face

I am afraid.

I must not scare the bats!
Will I die if I fall?
Or simply crack?
‘Can you hear me?
I’ve got cramp’
No answer

I breathe deep and slow
Rub my arms
Rub my legs
Try to meditate
Find an inner light
To warm me

A perky figure emerges-
‘I’ve got cramp-
Chris can you help me?’
‘I can’t get to you-
I’ll go up and get some help.’
I sit very still and breathe

All the sisters come up
They can’t get here.
Alana is last and I beg
‘Please come back.’
‘Of course’ she says ‘we will’.
I fear they won’t.

Margaret appears above
‘What do you need?’
‘I need someone behind me.’
On this tiny ledge
I balance against her foot-
I feel a push
I’m on my way.

Jenny towers above me.
‘What do you need?’
Such faith in frozen me
do I have an inner resource?
I say ‘I’ll crawl’
up and up I do.

Chris calls down
‘Do you need a rope?’
Alana says
‘Are you alright now?’
I answer ‘I am whole.’
No rope needed.

Like a fresco
on some Church wall
my image is etched
in this cave for ever.
Darkness left down there.
Light found within.

skoteino jenny 3

Crete, October 2013

photos by Jenny Cameron

Coleen Clare revels in being a great-grandmother to twin girls and sharing in a fourth generation of life. As a teacher and psychologist, she works in the post-adoption community. She was born in Aotearoa and now lives at Gaia’s Garden in Melbourne, Australia. Her connection with our beautiful troubled world comes through womyn’s herstory and the spirit of Goddess. My 2013 Ariadne pilgrimage to Crete with Carol Christ and 15 pilgrims inspired and strengthened me and released a flood of new poetry.

3 thoughts on “Inner and Outer Darkness in the Skoteino Cave by Coleen Clare”

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