Wednesday 25 May – Today we started our programme. We don’t know what to call it. It’s not training, workshop, retreat or seminar. It’s that ineffable Aquarian affair, collective inquiry, co-creation, hosted by this beautiful, magical land and learning together to listen deeply to what she has to tell us.
We walked the land before lunch, and heard the story of the well and the clear-cutting of the trees in this part of the valley. Apparently, the trees had been cut down for some easy cash in 2001, and much of the debris, along with all sorts of other junk, had been thrown down into the well. When Axladitsa came to Maria and Sarah, they emptied and cleaned the well, together with their friend, neighbour and mentor Panayotis. Now Penny – a real songstress, among her many gifts – instigated us into singing down the well. Our voices echoed in that cavernous space, with beautiful, spontaneous harmony. As a choral entity, we ROCK!
Just behind the well is a place that has been christened ‘the cradle’. Maria and Sarah sense that it is another gathering place, with a different function to the parea of the kitchen or the circle of the sky space. It’s a clearing with a deep energy that invites stillness. We must have spent almost an hour in that space. There was so much to sense there. It is guardianed by a huge old plane tree that just called out to me to approach as soon as I set eyes on it, and invited me to sit safe among its shaded roots, that crouch over the dried stream bed (the ‘rema’) that travels past, slowed and directed by a rocky bend just at that place, like a natural crossroad.
There is so much subtlety to sense in these spaces, and each of us gathered there could bring in another perspective, another piece of the whole. As we spoke our sensing around the circle, one of the cats was happily making itself sick on the grasses in the undergrowth, while Freddy nosed ecstatically about, thrusting through the dense foliage. Then Nici spoke up, smiling radiatly, excited as a child, holding out her hand heaped with light brown earth: “Freddy just showed me a really good place for digging – just smell this aromatic, aerated earth!” And Oh My God, the smell of that earth! Like lightly toasted cocoa-cinammon. Eau de Terre. I had no idea that soil could smell so good.
And so much was present in our circle… The cradle space itself reminded me of the vortex that you find in the centre of a crop circle. Only the little tuft left standing in the middle was, in this case, a dandelion – old and complex, tall and leggy, with a taproot snaking down deep, deep to loosen the tightness in the earth, the stiffness in the energy of this old, forsaken place, with its primal energy, now called into activation by the questing, subtle ears of the community of humans coming supplicant to beg for revelation. To listen to the whispering of secrets, content to behold the mystery. No need for explanations. There is so much to learn from just staying in the space of not knowing.
As I attend more and more of these Aquarian gatherings – each one unique and yet so strikingly similar – I am struck by how quickly we can weave an intricate field of shared meaning out of our diversity – a field that absorbs all that we voice into its thick, velvety silence. A field that is held, thrumming and sparking, in the wordless meeting of eyes, the gentle weight of a hand on an arm. A witnessing gaze on the face of a friend who is processing some reclaimed shard of healing or grief on behalf of us all.
Meanwhile, at the cradle, Maria spoke us back through time, to the ancestors of the ancestors, who had once lived in peaceful and yet complex matriarchal rhythms on these shores, there to be slaughtered and reduced by the proud, conquering Hellene tribes. The land still remembers the blood that was spilled, and some among us could hear the cry, echoing up through the millenia to the present day, where blood is still spilled in that way – but not here. Not now. How little those of us living in Europe know of the history of our own places, back beyond the latest ‘civilised’ layer of the past few hundred years. What stories would the ghosts of our ancestors speak, if we thought to ask them.
This place, this cradle spot, is a portal, it seems, to different times. Another whisper came through from the days when the wise women, rich in the lore of plants and seasons, were burned in an attempt to extirpate all knowledge of nature as a sapient, sentient matrix for a life of reverent connection to our Mother, whose air we breathe, whose plants and creatures feed us, whose fibres clothe us, whose wood and stone shelter us. All in the name of scripture that tells us to steward the earth and all that dwells in it – how did that word ‘steward’ come to mean ‘dominate, control and fear’?
This land is richly storied. I sense the stories hanging like cobwebs in the trees and shrubs, each bearing silent witness to some tale that no one left alive will ever tell. It calls me to walk the land with the ears of a child about to hear a bedtime story: full of wonder and anticipation, empty and open to a garden of delights.