Thursday, May 29, 2014

Pilgrimage to Crete with Layne Redmond

May 19 to June 2, 2004

In addition to our classes with Layne (read 'more' below), the museum in Heraklion and visiting the sites of the ancient Minoan temple community centers, for me, the trip's highlights included the comraderie of the participants, the charm of the small fishing village of Mochlos, the yummy lunch in Kandanos en route to Paleochora, the outstanding dinner in Agia Galini at Taverna Kosmas and the bright sparkling afternoon in Zokros where we brought a smile to many faces when our drumming and dance spontaneously combusted into a celebration of good will! Our group was snapping photos as were the many tourists from throughout the world who were drawn to our galvanizing energy.

One of the most lasting impressions for me was setting foot on the processional walkways preserved throughout time. Each temple community center we visited was arranged with a long processional path leading to a grand stairway which led to a lustral basin where the populace was anointed before entering the temple.
This was an enriching experience continuing to unfold
in waves rippling through my life....


On my return flight(s) from the island of Crete on the way back to the U.S., I began writing in my journal wondering what revelations, if any, would unfold… *MOST* of all, overall, I must say it was an *extraordinary blessing* to have traversed the hills of Crete with Layne Redmond (author of the book WHEN THE DRUMMERS WERE WOMEN*) and the flock of sojourners Layne attracted, each with a unique gift to bring to our group energy.

The first three days of our pilgrimage found us sequestered in the beautiful and charming little fishing village of Mochlos on the eastern shores of the island. A quiet locale suddenly stirred by our presence. From our classes with Layne eminated the sounds of drumming and chanting, overtone singing, and humming practices ~ the practices of the drumming bee priestesses who served the Bee Goddesses: Aphrodite, Artemis, Demeter, Rhea, Cybele, Ariadne and Neith.
  • We learned a synthesis of drumming techniques from India, the Middle East, and North Africa on the Middle Eastern Style tambourine.
  • We invoked the elemental energies of earth, water, fire and air and the four directions through the drum.
  • Minoan Sistrum @ Heraklion museum
  • We worked with sistrums, the percussion instruments depicted in the ancient Minoan frescos and looked at the prevalence of the archetypal concept of the seven chakras from all over the world with an emphasis on the ancient Mediterranean cultures of Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece, Rome and Catal Huyuk, Turkey.
We created sacred space through ritual with the frame drum and sacred sounds, and focused on the heart chakra to help bring balance to ourselves, our culture and the world. We were introduced to the yogic practices of the Bee Goddess from India ~ mudra and mantra for the bee goddess, several forms of pranayama practices derived from the buzzing of bees which vibrates and realigns the entire nervous system, brain and body by buzzing the vocal chords.

I was uplifted making acquaintance with new dear hearts and delving into the Minoan culture. Furthermore, each ritual conducted was a blessing connecting us not only to the potential for realizing the unfolding of our higher self but also re-connecting us to antiquity, re-connecting us to a time when temple communities celebrated with ritual and feasting... And as I wrote these words I realized our pilgrimage was mirroring this culture... We were a travelling caravan conducting ritual seaside in Mochlos, hillside in the olive groves, and inside the island's sacred caves, and at least once daily gathering together for communal feasts. [The food was not gourmet per set but more often than not it was quite good, simply prepared with the "freshest" ingredients providing sustenance for the next "leg" of our pilgrimage.]

Our final dinner harborside in Hania at sunset was delightful with photos being taken left and right, smiles, toasts, and offerings shared, and then farewell hugs exchanged. On our way back to the hotel Maria, Layne and I "stumbled" upon two musicians (one on oud, the other on a lyra) playing to an empty house. We strolled in to the café and Layne inquired if they had a tar or tamborine. They didn't but they had a dumbec. She professed this was not her instrument of choice but went about playing quite nicely indeed! Yours truly regretted she didn't have her finger cymbals at hand. Nevertheless I sat down and started clapping in a flemenco style ~ inspired by the moment and a muse who sprang from somewhere deep inside. We shared a lovely magical musical moment before deciding we needed exit to return to our respective hotel rooms to pack for journeys homeward.

This 'pilgrimage' proved a unique experience with many lasting magical moments for yours truly ~ again, not the least of which were the practices Layne shared compiled from her life's work of research. I was impressed with the love and concern Layne exuded in caring for each and every participant's satisfaction. Layne was fully present, visible and always available.

One other thing I carry with me is the impression from our travels on the bus ride through Crete was the site in one small village after another of folks sitting watching the day/world go by. It reminded me of a page I ripped from a Sark calendar a friend gifted to me a few years ago and that I have taped to the side of my desk: "Stop doing. Just for right now." The folks of Crete personified that message for me. They were NOT in a hurry rushing to their next appointment, they weren't plugged into a cell phone or computer, they weren't updating their website or answering e-mail and/or maybe doing all three at once. No. They were quietly sitting. Just sitting. No book, newspaper, or magazine on the table by their side. Not even a coffee cup or glass of water. No journal. JUST sitting. Simply sitting ~ just for now. Can I sit quietly, sit in meditation? Sit in stillness. Just sit. Can I do that? I don't know, but it sure gave me pause to witness that serenity. My conclusion may be as Ross Daly so eloquently articulated:

Tradition is to take something from the past, 
do the best we can with it in the present and 
make an offering to the future.

Ross Daly playing a composition of his own on a new Nak Tarhu
built by resident instrument maker 
Mazdak Fereydooniat the Musical Workshop Labyrinth, Crete 

For further information:

Last, but not least, my itinerary permitted my spending an afternoon and evening in Athens. After a delicious meal at a rooftop restaurant I watched the full moon rise and the walk back to my hotel provided a spectacular, breathtaking view of the magnificent Acropolis under the light of a brilliant full moon. Auspicious!

1 comment:

  1. "Analysis of DNA from ancient remains on the Greek island of Crete suggests the Minoans were indigenous ....


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