Saturday, August 13, 2005

My Quarters in The Cave of Enchantress - Heather Blakey

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Inside the Cave of the Enchantress

I stand looking tentatively at the sealed cellar door that leads deep within, to a place I have been reluctant to enter alone. Others have bravely opened their tailor made doors, but this one has been haunting me for many years. I have seen it in there, amid the parched arid terrain, tightly, heavily closed and I have felt an overpowering apprehension. The fate of Pandora and her box has been well and truly etched into my psyche and I have dreaded the thought of opening it, only to release winged terrors.

Right at this moment something is very different. As I stand looking I can hear sounds that I have never heard before, soft voices calling me to explore the expansive chamber below. Intuitively I know that this will not be the last seal to break but I have been released from a stressful work-place and feel a little stronger, more able to cope and those voices are haunting me.

It has been a long day and I am weary. I am standing in harsh, flat, scrubby plains that have little appeal. I am confused! The Sibyl's Grotto is supposed to be in Umbria, Italy and this landscape most certainly is not Umbrian. The enchantress is not going to be impressed when she cannot find me at the appointed spot.

The voices become louder, urging me to lift open this door, at the bottom of stone steps. The steps remind me of an abandoned factory where I played, alone, as a child. At the end of those stairs there was a sealed door and I spent hours imagining what lay beyond. Curious!

With a strident, unfamiliar self confidence I grab the steel handle and pull it towards me. The hinges had appeared to be rusted but the door opens without so much as a creak. Relief washes over me as I pass through the doorway into refreshingly cool darkness. I lightly touch the chilled, stone ledge and make my way down into what feels like a vast chamber. It is the sounds, the smell that reveal the dimension of this place that I have entered. I sense that this is an enchanted, mystical , spiritual place that I have stumbled upon and stand quite still, adjusting my eyes to the light.

A warm hand grabs mine and as my guides flashlight hits the walls I gasp. All around us is exquisite, sacred art, art that is calling up my past. The rocky overhangs have been transformed into magnificent galleries, adorned with hand stencilled images, painted with striking red ochres and yellow clay paint. A thousand eyes turn to look at me, eyes that had been motionless until I made my entrance. Figures turned in recognition, figures longing for life to be infused into them.

What artist painted these halls; carved these figures, shaped the towering rocky overhangs?

My guide turns, looks at me and smiles. I know her immediately to be the Enchantress that had said we were going to Umbria. "This has been a place of celebration and ceremony for thousands of years. These are to be your quarters for the coming months!" she tells me and before I can respond she has vanished.

Still holding my empty suitcase I look around. No longer dark or gloomy the cavern is filtered with a radiant luminosity. This hauntingly sacred place, so full of atmospheric secrecy, has no sign of permanent occupation. It is pristine, the ultimate refuge. Nearby are deep, dark, still pools, filled with reflections and memories by Mnemosyne, Goddess of Memory.

I put my suitcase on a ledge, leaving it open, ready to store the stories, images, artefacts and look for a place to rest. I am suddenly beyond weary. I yearn to sleep. The Enchantress is gone, riding, galloping towards the Lemurian Hermitage. A night rider, dressed in black she is sure to return, eventually. I have faith that she will return.


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