On a cold and rainy morning in Lesbos, I ponder the advice of my intuitive friend Cristina to reflect on the spiritual dimensions of my decision to move to Crete. When asked why I am moving from Lesbos to Crete, I tend focus on the negative: I am lonely in my small village; and I am disheartened by my neighbors’ lack of compassion for the refugees who come to our island from Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan.
As I begin to think again, I recall the many wonderful things I have experienced in Lesbos. This is the island where Sappho sang, and I too have been inspired by the muses who arise from the land. It is here that I first felt Greece calling me to leave my home. It is here that I learned to speak Greek. It is here that I listened to the stories of the old people who remembered a time when everyone lived closer to each other and the land. It is here that I learned to dance the traditional dances of Greece. It is here that I learned to identify over 300 species of birds that visit the wetlands on spring migration or are year-around or summer and winter residents. It is here that I dedicated a decade of my life to the effort to protect the wetland home of the birds I came to love. It is here that I was asked to run for regional and national office by the Green Party Greece. It is here that I met green friends I will always hold in my heart. It is here that I became an amateur geologist, learning the volcanic history of an island that has been declared a UNESCO Geopark. It is here that I imagined the time before 1922 when Turks, Armenians, and Greeks lived together in my village. It is here that I renovated a small Turkish house in a neighborhood that once had a mosque and later, a Neoclassical “mansion” (not particularly large by American standards) built by a Greek shipowner who transported goods brought by camels along the silk road from China. It is here that I learned to drink retsina and to relish food drenched in olive oil. I will carry all of this with me, for it is in my blood and in my bones.
A pilgrim leaves home and sets off on a journey, seeking healing, revelation, and direction in her life. She finds companions along the way whose stories reflect her own, validating her quest and shedding light on her journey. According to anthropologists Victor Turner and Edith Turner, pilgrimages have common structural elements. A pilgrim separates from family and friends, work and obligations. She steps across a threshold into “liminal space” in which daily routines are suspended, opening herself to discovering new ways of being and living.
For spiritual pilgrims, the goal is a place or places said by others to be a “sacred” because healing or revelation have occurred there through the intervention of a deity, a saint, or spirits. The place is often on a mountain, in a cave, or near a spring. Along the way, pilgrims meet and share stories as in the Canterbury Tales. Some pilgrims say that the experience of sharing community with other seekers is as important as the revelation gained at the destination. When the pilgrim returns home, she must re-integrate into the community she left behind or find a new one. Continue reading “Goddess Pilgrimage: A Sacred Journey for Women by Carol P. Christ”
This “Mountain Mother” painting is an ode to women’s earth wisdom and is my prayer for reclaiming of that wisdom to heal the earth and all her beings.
When I am inspired to paint I can think of nothing else, the desire to put brush to canvas takes over every ounce of my being, and it is difficult to be present in everyday life. There are other times where I’ve wanted to create but inspiration was lacking: I would start a painting and have no desire to finish it. I would often get quite frustrated at myself. It’s only recently that I’ve had the realisation that down time is just as significant as the up time. Rather than get anxious about not creating a masterpiece, I have learnt to go with the flow, take pleasure in the time of rest, because I know it’s all part of the cycle. My inspiration always returns with abundance. Presently I am bursting at the seams with creativity, and I can’t find enough hours in the day to let all this inspired energy out. I am overcome with a sense of urgency I can’t explain. I am committed to paint and write with the intention that my personal message becomes part of the global message for change as our sacred feminine wisdom is being called forth. I am determined and full of courage to be part of the movement that brings about a shift in all aspects of life.
My present state of inspiration can be attributed to my recent Goddess pilgrimage to Crete with Carol Christ. I am sure that anybody who has attended such pilgrimages will attest that these experiences are life-changing. Travel alone is profound, but to share the experience in a circle of twenty amazing women is even more so. We sang, danced, trekked through the Cretan countryside, delved deep into caves; the womb of our great mother, climbed mountains and cleansed in the sea. We prayed and communed with the goddess daily, participating in rituals that were meaningful, un-contrived and safe. While I have always known that the goddess is everywhere, within and without–encountering her ancient past in a present day context is a feeling I’m not sure I can adequately describe with words, hence my desire to express some of these feelings through my art.
What is a Goddess Pilgrimage and why are so many US, Canadian, and Australian women making pilgrimages to ancient holy places in Europe and Asia?The simple answer is that women are seeking to connect themselves to sources of female spiritual power that they do not find at home.
Traditionally pilgrims leave home in order to journey to a place associated with spiritual power. “Leaving home” means leaving familiar physical spaces, interrupting the routines of work and daily life, and leaving friends and family behind. For the pilgrim, “home” is a place that has provided both comfort and a degree of discomfort that provokes the desire to embark on a journey. The space of pilgrimage is a “liminal” or threshold space in which the supports systems of ordinary life are suspended, as Victor Turner said. A pilgrim chooses to leave the familiar behind in order to open herself to the unfamiliar—in hopes that she will return with new insight into the meaning of her life. Continue reading “Why a Goddess Pilgrimage? by Carol P. Christ”