In the autumn of 2005 I was able to spend two weeks exploring the Goddess sites of eastern Crete from a base in Makriyalos. I have very fond memories of that precious time. So many places evocative of the Goddess, such beauty in the landscape, peace and quiet to meditate and make offerings of devotion and thanksgiving.
One day I drove to Knossos the extraordinarily beautiful capital of Minoan Crete controversially restored by Arthur Evans. One of the rooms at Knossos is now called The Shrine of the Double Axes. In this room, as at other shrines in Crete, a number of bell skirted clay Goddesses were discovered. These are sadly identified at Knossos as 'votive clay idols'. Many of these bell skirted Goddesses have raised arms and birds or poppies or horns of consecration on their heads.
The road to Knossos is inevitably lined with souvenir shops and I idly spent a little time browsing. It was in one such shop that a reproduction of one of the bell skirted Goddesses very literally caught my eye. Her painted eyes met mine and there was this overwhelming sense of presence, real, raw, strong, vital, beyond words.
The bell skirted Goddess came home with me. I hope She is not homesick for Her beloved Crete. Since then She has had a permanent place on the hearth at the very core of home. That overwhelming presence has never left Her. It is impossible to look at Her without feeling drawn to Her, without holding Her gaze.
It is hard to know what these Goddesses meant to the Minoans. I look at Her oversized, strong, raised arms and long thick neck and wonder whether these represent the abundance of the Cretan earth? Crops growing tall and strong, rooted in fertile soil, warmed by the Mediterranean sun. Does the bird on Her head mean She is Lady of the Birds gazing to the freedom of the sky? Is She a messenger? Does the bird represent gifts beyond human capability? Does She guide us through birth, life and death with the clear sight and sure flight of a bird? Are we all born from Her skirts, held in Her arms before Her breasts, beautiful, strong and free? Is She calling us to an understanding and appreciation of mystery and magic? Is She asking us to weave stories that link us to our true humanity, to each other, to co-operation?
I am slowly recovering from my accident which has forced me to spend a lot of time at home. The bell skirted Goddess has caught my eye a lot. She has brought me to silence and in the silence tears of joy and of love. Her strong arms are a constant reminder of the wonder of friends who have sent cards, lit candles, waves of healing energy, phone calls, visits - the web of love that is woven around me. Once again my fingers have not touched the keyboard for many minutes as I am held in Her gaze, touching what it means to be alive, giving thanks for all that is. No wonder the Minoans could produce such wonderful art, spontaneous, fluid, full of joy, energy, self respect and a oneness with the natural world.