Athenapallas's Blog

May 15, 2016

HOW THE PARTHENON MADE ME CRY

The following post was published five years ago and now at last I have finished my novel:  

DIGGING UP THE DEAD

 Greek Mythology Meets Coal Mining

by Narelle Scotford  With Art by Selina McGrath

It  has been a long journey but the experience recorded in this post has become part of this extraordinary novel…. to learn more follow the link at the end of the post… now read on…

I arrived in Athens  accompanied by a flight full of Greeks from Melbourne making their annual pilgrimage to the islands of their youth. After listening to conversations that criss-crossed the plane in that peculiar antipodean version of Australian Greek, peppered with Ozzie slang and words in English with the Greek endings, I was in a state of exhausted anticipation. However I managed to find my way via the Metro to my Hotel in Plaka and somehow my energy returned.

I needed to seek out my temple, the PARTHENON. Walking through Plaka’s seedy but somehow charming streets, passed hawkers and markets full of trashy goods and hopeful shopkeepers I abandoned the map and chose one of the many marble-paved lanes that headed upward to the Acropolis.                

Here the seediness disappeared as I passed  quaint tavernas

with smiling owners touting for business,

Athenians in intense conversation,

with only a few tourists in sight.

Then looking up to see what appeared to be a giant wall, columns peaking over it, what is that? Many steep steps in narrow lanes all leading up, following  a wider path not wanting to look up to my left, that must be it, it’s so large,steep, high, a mountain of a rock but where is the PARTHENON?

The  Acropolis, the Uluru of Western Culture, and I felt like I was an ant, my cloak of knowledge abandoned, falling off. I tried not to look at it, maybe this was not it,  and maybe the PARTHENON doesn’t even exist except in my imagination.

I stopped to listen to a lone Greek player of a kind of medieval lute or sitar, soft sounds in a minor key as I sat beside him on the pavement. I hummed the chords quietly, we talked slowly with him respecting my meditative state as he waved away people who tried to take his photo. I felt my heart opening, breaking at the same time, saying at last I’m Home. I said goodbye to the slim fine-boned intelligent man whom later I would call Dimitri as he became my friend and guide. He stood and shook my hand, thanking me for stopping and sitting beside him. No-one ever does that, he said in perfect English. Was he Hermes the Divine Messenger?

The smog was lifting and the sun shining more than I expected, the pink white rows of houses and small apartment blocks sparkled from this distance, their shabbiness turned into jeweled boxes as I looked across the plains of Attica. I realised as I looked up again at the rock, it felt like the backside of the Acropolis with just a hint of columns above what appeared to be giant city walls. No wonder Pericles chose this place on which to build his monument to the glory of  the Athenian Empire!

As I reached the car park and tourist office I could see the magnitude of the rock, it truly was a fortress. I bought a 4 day ticket and withdrew as  tourists swarmed, not wanting to join them. I wandered into the Pnyx, hurried off the wider path into narrow tracks in the bush, surrounded by ancient debris, feeling the presence of the past, still hardly daring to look up to my left towards the PARTHENON. Seeking shade and solitude. Found the prison of Socrates, caves in a rocky outcrop  with bars across the interior,wondering how it was for him as he waited to take his poison receiving his students and friends all of whom were offering him escape in exile which he refused. I wanted to climb up the rock to get  a better view but could not, I crouched behind a bush to have a pee hoping the cops on motorbikes don’t see me. At last I lay down exhausted, my view of the Acropolis and its elusive temple obscured by the fir trees scattered among the pine cones. I sat down with my back to a tree and then I saw framed in its branches the unmistakable PARTHENON, hardly daring to look at it as if its shining might blind me like Tiresias. I had no camera with me to capture this first image, the photo below was taken at 8am the next day when I was alone on the Acropolis except for a few workers.

Now the sun was at its zenith, no clouds, bright bright blue sky and here I am, am, am. Tears coursed down my face, my whole body shook with joy, relief, pneuma, knowing, gratitude and awe. I lay there and the only words that came to me were, now I can die. I’ve seen all I want to see, if I die now it doesn’t matter. Transcendent  was the word that came to me later as I encircled this experience and found more and more places to catch this image and blend it into my psyche forever. I sat upon  a rock nearby while my image of the corner of the PARTHENON grew and grew, shone and shone, two long thin cranes appeared like beacons above this wounded cultural icon of the West, here at last we were restoring Pericles’ vision of the embodiment of sophrusune/balance after centuries of pillage,theft, misuse, war and pollution – or was it just as it should be with its complex history still present?

I hoped the restoration would not result in it becoming a plastic caricature of itself. I tried not to load it up with concepts and kept coming back to my body, exhausted, tingling, awake, aware, feeling ‘zoie’ divine breath, everything in my life that had led to this moment , an older woman, ‘xseni’ foreigner, from 9000 kilometres away, guardian of the temple, Athena inside me, calling to passers-by ‘Ela etho’, look up, stand here, they obeyed and thanked the strange woman lying on the ground as if I must somehow belong here.

I can still feel that moment within me, it is enshrined forever no matter what ugly and sad realities I must inevitably encounter here and elsewhere on my journey.

 

http://www.scotford.com.au

 

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July 18, 2011

WITNESSING THE ATHENS UPRISING May/June 2011

Narelle Scotford, the writer of this blog, visited Greece in May and June this year. Although of course her alter ego has resided for 2500 years in Greece, this was Narelle’s first trip. Long long ago she was a Greek bride and learnt to speak, read and write the language of her beloved Greek Gods and Heroes. In preparation for her trip she studied Greek language, mythology and history again as well as re-learning how to make Greek coffee and sampling the culinary delights of the great cooks in her Modern Greek class at Sydney University.

Narelle arrived in Athens at the beginning of the recent unrest finding a small hotel half a block from Syntagma Square. She  wandered around the square on her first day where only a handful of students were gathered and after this she was there every day until she left Athens for Delphi and for her attendance at a  Buddhist  retreat north of Athens in the company of other Athenians.

The following photos and comments are her personal record of her time in Athens. She left Athens a few days before the Parliament passed the Austerity Measures Bill when TV screens around the world showed over and over again violent images of what was happening on the streets. More about that later in the post……

Greek Cops Waiting

 
 
 
 
 
 
It was a common sight to see groups of cops (police) on bikes or foot around the square and gradually as the week  progressed their presence became more obvious particularly towards evening when the people were starting to gather in Syntagma Square for the evening discussions, speeches and songs.
 
 
 

Beginning of the Tent City in the Square

 
 
 
 
At this stage there were just a few tents and people were busy talking as usual and some were creating makeshift signs.
 
It looked more like a scout camp than a revolution.
 
Most of the young people I met spoke good English but appreciated my attempts to converse in my faltering Greek.
 
They were pleased I could read their signs some of which I will show and translate below.

Greek Parliament

 

Fancy Dress Soldiers on their way to guard the Parliament

 
 
 
 
 
 
           

What We Need!

                                                                                                   

 This is the first sign I saw after I started going to the Square, as you can see it
is Texta on Cardboard, hardly high-tech. Before I had a chance to translate it (always tricky as Greek Capital letters are often different to their lower case equivalents) I thought it must be a kind of  Bill of Rights or List of Political demands but no, it is nothing of the sort. Ever practical they were asking for:
 
CLOTH,CARDBOARD,PAINT,TEXTA PENS, SELLOTAPE,ROPE, BRUSHES,
TABLES,CHAIRS,TENTS,PORTABLE LAMPS, MICROPHONES,WATER, RUBBISH BAGS, NOTICE BOARDS, MORE TENTS, FLOODLIGHTS.
 
When I asked where these would come from they told me ‘the people’ and they were right, as the days went by all this as well as food and drink and sleeping bags, linen, clothes etc were donated by ‘the people’.
 
 
  

Love this tent!

              

More and More Tents

                                                                                              

 

REAL DEMOCRACY like we had 2500 years ago!

 
 
 The young Greek students who painted this sign and set up their website were well aware of the sorry history of their failed political process where cronyism, elitism and bureaucratic feather bedding had eaten away not only at their democracy but also their economic and  civic resolve. 
They all knew how Western Democracy and its many imitations around the world started here, when each of the 12 tribes of what was then Greece or Attica sent a representative to live and work  for one month in what was then their National Assembly returning home afterwards to allow another member of their community or group take their place.
 
 
 

In the name of Melina Mercouri

          
A visit to the New Acropolis Museum is a must for any traveller to Greece if only to realise how much has been stolen from  the birthplace of democracy by many of the countries whose citizens make their pilgrimage here.
The new Museum stands out for its modern architecture which aligns itself with the Parthenon way above  on the Holy Rock called the Acropolis.  What made the most impact inside the museum  for me was not the few marvellous sculptures that have managed to survive, but all the gaps left in the Museum’s mockup of the Parthenon where images of the Gods and mighty heroes of our shared mythology and history have been hacked away and taken to museums and private collections all over the world. If all these stolen artifacts and works of art could be valued and Greece compensated for them imagine how their economy might be!
                                                                                                             

Global Stooges

     

No word needed here

Individual citizens express their anger and frustration at what feels to them to be a return to a kind of dictatorship with the ordinary people having no say in  their future.

 
 

Man with a Mission

                    at first I did not realise what this man’s mission was until I saw the reference to the Bible, John 14:14. Standing at the top of the steps with the Parliament as his backdrop and looking down on all the activity in the Square,  seemed oddly appropriate when I translated his biblical quote: If you ask for something in My Name I will do it’.
 
 

Message from France

     

Riot Police Relaxing outside the Parliament

         

Syntagma Square Filling Up

Every night more and more people would gather in the Square I would walk there for a while and then go into nearby Plaka the old area of Athens to my favourite tavernaki to eat and listen and talk with other people working or dining there. Most of them depended on tourism and were worried on the effect of all this activity, noise and crowds on the tourists. Many were sanguine about it saying nothing will change, it never does.  ‘We have been living in a dream and now it will become a nightmare,’ one philosopher told me.
 
I came back to Athens on the night of the  biggest demonstration ever(over 200,000 people) travelling on the metro which was packed with well dressed well spoken people all heading for the Square. They advised me to take the back exit from Syntagma station which I did but the crowds were just as thick and it took me a long  time to find my way through them to my friends.
Back on my hotel balcony late at night I could still hear and see the crowds singing, shouting and blowing whistles and banging drums. I fell asleep to this cacophony wondering about the clash of pragmatism and idealism,the need for economic independence, civic responsibility, true democracy, the battle of the Titans, Heracles 12 Labours, Odysseus’ 20 year journey home to his faithful wife Penelope, and the mighty Achilles defeating Hector on the plains of Troyzzzzz zzzzzzzz.
 
Later at home in Australia watching the violent images from the Square where I had spent so much time, I was at first sad and then angry particularly when I had a message  from a friend in Athens I trusted who told me the rioters were paid provocateurs who had nothing to do with the People’s Movement I had been privileged to witness during my time in Athens.
                                                                

April 7, 2011

THE LEGACY OF OLYMPIA AND HOW TO SURVIVE THE OLYMPIC DREAM

 

'Ancient Olympia

The start of the first official OLYMPIC GAMES was declared in 776 BC by King Ephitus at a time when there were many Hellenic states.    The games were held   what is now the prefecture of Elia in Greece 24ks from the modern  town of Pyrgos at the site of Ancient Olympia.

The Games were  to honour of Zeus the King of the Olympian Gods, father of Athena, whose gigantic temple at Olympia was one of the wonders of the ancient world. Little remains of the temple but it might have looked something like this:

The Ancient Games took place around the first full moon in August and consisted of merely a foot race of about 500 metres. Gradually longer races were introduced as well as the pentathlon (a contest of running, leaping, wrestling, discus and spear-throwing), with chariot races as well as the pancration, a vicious combination of boxing and wrestling.

The early competitors were naked and were required to undergo a training of ten months, to make sacrifices to the Gods and to vow that they would compete fairly. There were official trainers as well as the judges who awarded the prizes─wreaths cut with a golden knife from the sacred olive tree in honour of Heracles, the mighty but disgraced son of Zeus who defeated monsters and man-eating animals in his famous 12 labours.

Marvellous stories were told of the feats of the victors at these ancient games. In a single leap they would cover a distance of nearly 17 metres, and one year the winner of the nine mile race kept running past the finishing line before he stopped at Argos, fifty miles away, the same evening.                    

The Games were held every four years and vast crowds camped

on the slopes of Mount Cronos or in the dry river beds.

Dense throngs stood around the racecourse and

must have suffered in the heat as water was scarce and often polluted.

A holy truce was declared for a whole month during which

all warfare was forbidden and the land of Ellas was considered sacred.

These ancient games were exclusive to male athletes and spectators

and the story goes that if any women were caught within the precincts

they would be thrown from a nearby rock!

There is one story however, of a Spartan woman being detected in male attire

but as her son was the victor of the Games she was forgiven.

Writers, poets and historians also read their works to large audiences,

and the citizens of the various city states of the ancient world got together in a way that happened nowhere else.

 The Modern Olympic Games were instituted in 1896 and except during the first and second world wars were held every four years in various cities around the world including Sydney in 2000 and Athens in 2004 where thousands of athletes compete in hundreds of events and sporting activities.

                                                                                                                                

The Olympic Flame is lit at the ancient site in Greece and

carried by runners to the city where the games are held.

In modern times the good will and good fortune

generated by the games rivals the work of the United Nations

in trying to bring the nations of the world together.

So into this rich history comes the story of one of our own Olympians,

Nadine Neumann, a young woman who would not even have  even

a spectator let alone competitor in the ancient games.

Wobbles an Olympic Story written by Nadine is her story,

the story of a young girl who became one of the fastest and

most versatile swimmers of her generation in the world,

who was part of the world of elite sport in Australia in the 1990’s,

and who by the time she was 20 had experienced more physical and

mental suffering than most of us ever have.

This book was written during her painful journey of finding a new life

after the cruel, triumphant, gloriously crazy Olympic dream.

Frighteningly real, insightful and compassionate,

 Nadine reveals what it was like inside the Olympic swimming family in Australia.

Nadine’s story will make you angry and sad and affect you so deeply you will start to question things about your own life, your obsessions and the culture that carries them.

 A beautifully constructed book, showing all the skills Nadine learnt in her University English teaching degree.

 Cleverly she starts the story at the end of her Olympic dream, about to dive into the water at the 2000 Olympics Sydney Trials and then takes you back to where it all began for her at her local swimming pool in Ryde.

She tells her story through her own child’s voice and as the story progresses we see her change, but once she has decided that she will go to the Olympics there is no way she can be diverted, and her family become her ally in this dream. She is Herculean in the pursuit of her dream.

Nothing will stop her: not the punishing training regimes and internal politics of the day,

the undiagnosed Chronic Fatigue Syndrome triggered by glandular fever,

the broken neck and major depression,

the social isolation and fractured relationships

and the family hardships related to supporting her and her quest.

There is some wonderful writing in this book which make you realise what a multi-talented woman she has become. She uses short sentences, sometimes even single words like Euphoria, to great effect, showing the ability of a novelist to build tension, suspense and the desire to keep reading.

Even though sometimes you want to shake her and say, please stop, no more, she carries you on her journey, willing you to be on her side and to understand what it was like for her, and she succeeds.

There are many extracts which I have noted but this is one of my favourites.

To me the sound of water is the sound of heaven the tinkle of bubbles as the surface breaks and swirls around your ears, the rhythmic bass-drum of your breath, the roaring cymbals of your feet agitating the waves of your body curves, the melodious movement of an element that supports you, surrounds you, becomes part of you completely. And the symphony plays through a silence that makes you feel the song is yours alone….’

If you have ever marvelled at the Olympic swimming,

or swum yourself and felt the water element embracing you,

had an extraordinary dream in your ordinary life, overcome suffering with not too much grace,

felt like curling up and dying when it all gets too much,

you will find much in this book to illuminate your way.

It should be compulsory reading for all young would-be athletes and their families

 but it is much more than that– it speaks to all of us and

we should thank Nadine for her courage in telling it so well and using her natural writing talent to such great effect.

Photos of Ancient Olympia courtesy of T.Palimperis

Other Photos courtesy of Nadine Neumann

December 20, 2010

WHAT DOES CHRISTMAS MEAN IN 2010?

Filed under: Athena's musings,Modern Athenas,Who am I? — athenapallas @ 8:47 am
Tags: , , , ,

Our Lucky Land

How can I write anything meaningful about Christmas when thirty desperate people have lost their lives trying to come to our  so-called lucky  land.

A land that unlike most places that these people have escaped from is peaceful, prosperous and supposedly welcoming and inclusive.

How have we so easily forgotten that we all came to this country as refugees or even prisoners and occasionally free settlers but usually escaping from persecution, or class hatred or poverty or the harsh winters of Britain or Europe in which our babies died.

As I walk along my street in Leichhardt I often pass a woman on her way back from  the shops. She walks lopsided, gripping plastic shopping bags and I notice her unsuitable shoes, her sad eyes, her dropped face and her thinning dyed black hair, and I wonder about her.

I usually try to make eye contact and say Hello, but mostly she does not see me, or if she does she gives a hardly perceptible nod of her head.

A part of my professional mind thinks she must be depressed, another part of me gets annoyed at her avoidance and concerned that she doesn’t seem to know how to look after herself, or as I think she should, by using a trolley, or wearing a hat and more suitable shoes for her shopping trip.

Last week I looked towards her house to see if she was coming down the street.

I could see her outside her gate because she was wearing a bright orange pants suit so different from her usual dark attire. As I approached her, I smiled and said, ‘I love your orange pants suit, the colour really suits you.’

Her face lit up like she was a young woman again, standing in the moonlight with her sweetheart, and she smiled at me.

 ‘I bought it at Millers. I buy all my clothes there..so cheap.. my daughter buys me other things not necessary…

And so she started to talk and tell me her story.                                         

‘ We came here from Italy in the 50’s,  a village north of  Roma,                        

my husband he was a good man, he worked for the big builders

in the city, he built Australia Square, we had a good life here,

then he has the head thing and he nearly died, he was only 45,

I nursed him for ten years but he was good man,

and the neighbours here very kind people, I have lived here 50 years, 

I have two daughters they work in the city they do well,

we very lucky, I have been robbed three times in this street,

once they knocked me down and took my bag,

and I fell on my leg, I’m ok now, I have a 26 year old grandson,                                                      Village in Italy

I say to him you can put me in the place in Marion St but he says no,

you don’t need that, Nona, I’m lucky I know people here,

the woman in your house was my friend she died of  cancer long time ago….’

 The rain is starting to spot her lovely orange jacket but still she continues to talk.

So much history and so much to be thankful for despite all she has gone through.

No wonder some days she looks grim and does not see me. Now, however she will see me, I know her name and I  have welcomed her into my world without judgment.  And we can at last be true neighbours.

What a pity we don’t do this more often.

My Bella in Tuscan Village

October 3, 2010

ATHENA CONSULTS THE ORACLE OF LEICHHARDT AUSTRALIA

Filed under: Athena's musings — athenapallas @ 10:48 am
Tags: , , ,

 A new Athena is emerging from the rubble of her former persona. Leaving justice and the arts behind she is  experiencing  the arts of witty discourse, sensuality, healing, and JOY

Aphrodite eat your heart out.  

And as for Odysseus she is sick of trying to guide him on  his tiresome journey home to Ithaca. 

‘Why don’t you just stay another seven years with that vacuous bloody goddess Circe,’ she yells at him. 

She wants to leave dark Greek tragedies behind and  hone her comic skills by reading the black humour of Ronald Dahl and Aristophanes (an ancient Greek poet and playwrite). 

And how did she leave all this behind her?                          

The Oracle of Delphi Sat Here

She consulted not the Oracle of Delphi  

but a modern Healer and Oracle 

located in the heart of Italian Leichhardt. 

Deep into her obsessions and tragedies she woke one morning hardly able to move. Should she consult one of her learned psychics or medics? They were too far away and she was bored with their endless dancing around her, too afraid to offend the mighty Athena. 

She had the card of a massage therapist, an expert in some sort of esoteric Tibetan Reiki, 

no doubt preceding the era when she reigned supreme. 

She struggled down the street and demanded an audience. 

He emerged from his cave with the deep ringing of Tibetan bells following him. 

She looked up from the seat she had managed to fall into, her eyes lifting from his strong legs to his crotch, torso and noble head to make eye contact. He looked deep into her psyche, commanded her to stand, took her by the hand and led her into his cave. 

As she sat on the bench he still held her hands and her gaze. She looked back without averting her eyes- after all she was the Warrior Goddess of Ancient Greece

‘You are a powerful woman but your grief and fears are splitting you apart. Your body can’t support you and is as twisted as your mind.’ 

She nodded. Why had no-one said this to her before? She told him her body story but he saw into her soul and her ancestry. 

Lying on the bench his skilful strong hands untwisted her  as the aromatic perfumes and the resonant sounds of  his bells cleared her mind of all the mean-spirited, fearful and doubting self talk that was consuming her. 

She floated somewhere between Elysium and Hades 

Santorini Greece

her powers becoming concentrated into the gift 

this beautiful Apollo was bestowing upon her. 

No-one had dared to touch her or speak to her like this before. 

She would have cut them down with her sword or

thumped them with her aegis if they had.

She bravely submitted to the pain of the untwisting as she told him of her great rage that had entered some large black and white birds attacking a man and his son in a nearby park, but sparing her and her female descendants. 

He did not think this strange and understood her panic. She wept and wept  her fears and griefs away. 

She returned to him later in the week laughing, muscles sore, but untwisted in both body and mind. 

He greeted her as he greeted all came into his cave, regardless of gender, race, age, sexual orientation or physical condition, with the  respectful affection of his warm embrace. He is able to contact each person’s fears and self-loathing and convert it into joy as they lie suspended from their woes, learning to become free and fully alive again. His wicked sense of humour is unleashed if you are up for it or he is as gentle as a lamb. When Athena thanked him for his help he told her it was she who had done the healing.

His cave is dark, warm and safe full of the most gorgeous smells and sounds but it is Apollo himself, the proud joyous Oracle of Leichhardt who heals all who enter there in with the spirit of healing in their hearts.

Athens Greece

September 28, 2010

Melting Aphrodite, Eros and Growing Old Disgracefully.

Filed under: Athena's musings,Modern Athenas — athenapallas @ 10:02 pm
Tags: , , ,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Athena stared at  the  melting statue of Aphrodite in horror 

 Only half of her face remained intact an arched brow,

a high forehead and the end of a once handsome nose.

 Her mouth sank into oblivion as did her chin,

and rough tears scarred her cheeks.

The drape of her gown covered fallen breasts

which had once been proud and firm.

Her waist was no more and her hips slid down to her legs

hardly more than a fusion of whatever material the sculptor had used to fashion his creation,

a cruel mirror image of what happens to  even the most perfect female body. 

When this excerpt  was read to a group of older women writers it provoked a discussion

which revealed the full extent of the grief and anger women can  feel as they age.

 It is not simply the grief of vain frustrated women  but of  intelligent vibrant older women living in a society

that puts so much store by how women must look to be attractive and successful.  

As a result older women walk along the street like invisible ghosts.

If a male is coming towards you they do not make eye contact unless they are under six years of age and mostly they do not move over to their side of the pavement, so you do, lest there is a collision.

Older women flock to book clubs, singing groups and ballroom dancing where even an ordinary boring little man can be feted as a hero. In the choir if a male turns up, even if he has curly nose hairs the ladies clap him in.

In the book club the sole male can dominate the conversation while other more interesting contributors are ignored.

At the RSL  dance time older men, even those who need walkers to get into the building,  can take their pick from the many women of all ages who love to dance. Older women who are great dancers can find themselves as fading wall flowers,  a  uniquely harrowing experience for women who were great lookers in their youth.

So how can older women come in contact with good male energy, when the pool  of unattached men gets smaller and smaller as you age,  and  where can older women  find male companionship or even an occasional roll in the hay?

You can widen the pool by going younger but if you do you run the risk of being stigmatised as one of those awful coogars as well as catching all those nasty modern sexual bugs.

Your young lovers can be the men that younger women have rejected as not being suitable husband material

 not good-looking,intelligent,successful, sensitive,erotic etc etc enough .

If you are into educational makeovers then you could take on one of these younger men

and have some fun but beware you can never be seen in public

and eventually he will go to younger and  more fertile pastures.

You could steal another woman’s husband, partner or lover,

after all many men love to play the field and are turned on

by what they think will be a

desperate erotically charged older woman.

Keeping up this mirage can be exhausting and there will be some nights

when it is all too  much and all you want is to don your flannies and  sink alone into your large snuggly comfortable bed complete with chocolate, fluffy dog or soft toys, I-phone music, and books books books!!

And if by chance you mange to meet a  randy widower at his wife’s funeral who comes on to you(don’t laugh it’s happened) beware you may find out  you need to make up for all the deficiencies of the first model as well emulate her great virtues. And if you survive this late life coupling you may find yourself caring for an older man who does not age as gracefully as you and whose grown up children are absolutely delighted they don’t have to worry about poor grumpy old dad anymore as long as you sign an agreement not to take their inheritance.

So for attractive, intelligent, agile, warm-blooded  older women

what is the answer to the disappearance of male energy from your life?

Withdraw thankfully from the futile chase and accept and celebrate who and where you are.

Surely not you say!                         YES I DO!                                                                                                 

Fill your life with family, friends, travel, some form of exercise 

such as yoga, pilates, tai chi  (avoid lawn bowls at all costs)

but climbing this mountain in Meteora Greece may be too ambitious;

creative and/or educational pursuits like writing, painting,

learning a language, ecstatic dancing, 

or sculpturing your own version of Aphrodite;

good works and/or political action, like feeding the homeless, greening your neighbourhood, becoming a mentor to troubled young women, signing petitions, attending council meetings;

and  last but not least some form of spirituality that honours you and your life path.

THEN watch yourself blossom even as you face the inevitable crises that life/death will throw your way

(don’t take to reading the Obituary columns).

And as you love yourself more and value the sisterhood of women some positive male energy will be attracted to you. It may be in new and better relationships with a brother, cousin, son, son-in-law, grandson,neighbour, blogger, fellow walker or it may be with a stranger with whom you stop to talk (preferably not the local bikie gang chief)  or the person you meet in your charitable activities, (but remember charity does not mean taking him home).

And all of this will enrich your life so that eventually you will wonder

Meteora

how so much of your time in the past was given over to

the imaginary other who is no more.

And DON’T PANIC if you still can’t give up the fantasy

 of the perfect  male lover/companion

you won’t find him in the monastry at Meteora but

you just may find him hiding under a toadstool in the bottom of your garden!

After writing this post I was walking my dog singing all the gospel songs I sing with the Acapella Group, Jonah and the Wailers. Suddenly a man  stopped  as I was passing, his face transformed by the most beautiful smile as he looked at me. Nothing was said. But it was a moment when his maleness met  my femaleness and it felt so good to be alive and well in this great city of ours.

My dear twin brother would say ‘that silly man smiled at you because he thought you were stark raving bonkers’.

And maybe he’s right.

September 5, 2010

BLACK ATHENAS IN THE DESERT AMPHITHEATRE

Amphitheatre At Delphi

 

I was not sitting in  the carved seats of the Amphitheatre of Delphi 

 I sat in mortal form wearing boots, pants, and my trusty Akubra helmet 

with my goat’s skin backpack on the seat beside me.                     

I looked down at the depths of   a valley which was carpeted 

with spiky green  spinifex

I wondered how I came to be so far from my ancestral home 

in this vast southern continent.  

Long before the Bronze age of Homer this land was inhabited by 

some of the first peoples of the earth  

The splintered steps and paths of the   Amphitheatre  were not carved by the artisan slaves of Delphi but 

 by the elements and violent actions of the earth                

Desert Amphitheatre Ormiston Gorge

 

millions of years before my father Zeus was conceived. 

As I sat here I watched  a ghostly platform 

rising in front of me. 

Instead of Pan pipes playing in the background 

I could hear the sound of rushing water at the bottom of the Ormiston Gorge. 

And then out of the mists of antiquity figures of the Gods and Heroes appeared before me. 

Odysseus, Hermes, Apollo, Persephone, Aphrodite, Achilles, Poseidon, Calypso, Pericles, Eros, Heracles and more. Then I saw Athena the Warrior Goddess with helmet, robe, aegis and spear. 

I looked behind me and on the top of the gorge I could see a group of black women gathering. They were singing in language more like a wailing, a kind of continuous cooing with edges of joy shining through the power of their song. 

They were doing what they had always done like their mothers and grandmothers before them through the long sorry story of the last 200 years. I, Athena, so far from my Temple in Delphi stood to salute these Black Athenas

The sky opened above and  I saw not my father Zeus but Gaia,  the Earth Mother who possessed the secrets of the Fates and whose Oracles and Secret Places were older and more powerful than those of Apollo and other male deities….. 

This was why I was here in this extraordinary place to meet the powerful descendants of these women, traditional owners and custodians of the land  like Mavis pictured here with her beautiful baby Tyrene. 

August 27, 2010

ATHENA RETREATS TO SANTORINI

Filed under: Athena's musings — athenapallas @ 9:15 am
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Athena is weary. She has been scheming and working on Odysseus’ behalf

to help him on his epic journey back home to Ithaca. 

She fought beside him in the Trojan wars,

she sent a dream to Nausicaa to give her the idea of doing  her washing

at the river on the day Odysseus landed at Phaeacia;

she gave him supernatural good looks to ensure Nausicaa would obtain a boat for him to return home;

she begged her father Zeus to help him,

‘Olympian Zeus have you no care for him in you lofty heart?’

She caused Calypso to release him after seven years of imprisonment on her island of erotic delights and persuaded her  to give him the means to put to sea again.

She wants to get far away from the Homeric haunts of the Ionian Islands   

 so she has come at last to Santorini

formed by a cataclysmic volcanic explosion

long before Homer told his tales to passers by.

No one knows her here and there is no trace left

of her stay beyond  a little known path along the cliffs

where if you are observant you can see her foot prints.

Like the thousands who have come to this spectacular island

she watch its sunsets in awe.

She finds a cave long since abandoned by its inhabitants

and here she sleeps dreaming of the time when she might welcome Odysseus home.

Then as she feels the ground beneath her  heave in yet another attempt to stop her,

 by her angry Uncle Poseidon who hates Odysseus,

she  knows she has to leave to continue her own Odyssey.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Before she goes she takes one more look at the sunset     

 that will  become the hallmark of this island

 in the centuries that follow drawing thousands

of modern travellers to the shores of this

magic place.

July 12, 2010

WALKING IN THE STEPS OF DESERT HEROES- Macdonnell Ranges Central Australia

This is Nicholas 19 year old lawman of the Arunda people and  Indigenous guide for the Desert Writers Into the Blue Creative Walk   in the West Macdonnell Ranges of Central Australia   a modern unsung hero befitting the NAIDOC  2010 theme of closing the gap through celebrating our unsung heroes.

And this  is the story of the amazing relationship between Nicholas’ family and the family of Pastor Carl Strehlow, the Senior Missionary of Hermannsburg, the first Aboriginal Mission in the Northern Territory, established by the Lutheran Church in 1877 on Western Arunda traditional lands.

The  story is narrated by Nicholas’  grandfather Herman Malbunka and the first part is  about his grandfather Hesekiel Malbunka, a senior Western Arunda man, a lawman of his country and the friend and cultural mentor of Pastor Carl Strehlow. An unsung and sung hero as the story will demonstrate.

 When Pastor Carl became fatally ill Hesekiel was sent to Alice Springs to send a telegram for help.

Hesekiel knew how critical his task was, he needed to act quickly. Once out of sight of the Mission and other people, he pulled out a lump of soft grass.

He sung that grass to act as the sun and stay high in the sky, for him to complete his journey in the daylight hours.

Hesekiel completed his song and then put the grass in a high fork of a tree and travelled overland by INKALAKA (foot  walk) using the power of song to move through country in record time.

He sang just three songs chanting rhythmically in his mind,his sacred songs learnt through the law.

He walked an incredible 250ks  in two and one half days. On his return he removed the grass in the tree and returned to the Mission compound.

Ted Strehlow Carl’s son said this was faster than our horses would have been at that time.

Ted Strehlow and Gustav Malbunka, Hesekiel’s son were born on the same day 6th June 1908.

One day when only boys they were  down at the Finke River playing. Ted dived in and hit his head on a rock temporarily knocking him out. Gustav dived in and pulled him  up onto the bank saving his life.

Carl had saved Hesekiel from a notorious policeman some 20 years earlier.

Gustav had now saved Carl’s son, these families had strong bonds of friendship, they were friends for life.

Herman Malbunka Narrator (From the Occasional Paper 4 2005 Strehlow Research Centre)

Now Herman’s grandson Nicholas, an initiated lawman works as a guide taking people into his family’s lands and the lands of others Western Arunda people.

He is in some ways a typical teenager full of mischief and fun        

but in others he is different.

He walks tall, he notices all that is happening around him,

he takes his responsibility as a guide seriously,

imparting information where it is appropriate

and sometimes keeping quiet.

He is kind and thoughtful to older white women

who must sometimes seem slow. 

He laughs, sings, dances and jumps for joy a lot of the time.

He took himself all the way to Adelaide to complete his secondary education so that he would not return to his people to get married and have children before he was 20 years old.

‘I will do that later’, he said, ‘maybe when I’m 24. In the meantime I want to work, earn money and learn new things’. 

In the course of several conversations during our desert walk  he said things like:

Our family and our people love and respect the Lutherans,

they worked   hard to help us,  

they saved our lives and stood up for us against the government and others… 

They helped us get back our lands and

they brought us the Word of  God but did not interfere with us.

We have a new church now but some of our people have forgotten.

 Our family will never forget.

There is another side to this story. Although the missionaries here did much to save the people as they fled from massacre, drought and disease,  in the single-mindedness of their Christian beliefs of that time, ancient sacred places were desecrated. Mudgooroo in his dictionary of Aboriginal Mythology reports the Christian exorcising of  the main keeping place of sacred objects (tjuringa)  at Manangananga cave two kilometres from the Mission in 1928 and that sacred objects were sold to tourists and Anthropologists at a shilling a time. But apparently  in the 1950’s there occurred a tribal revitalisation movement which saw the re-sacralisation of the  Cave. And by the 1970s the sale of sacred objects and songs was at an end.

July 6, 2010

ATHENA IN THE DESERT

Athena has just returned from an amazing  journey through the Macdonnell Ranges of the Central Australian Desert,  which stretch 400 kilometres on either side of Alice Springs . A life changing event for the Warrior Goddess as she met Ancestral Spirits,  a modern Aboriginal Law Man and Senior Traditional Owners of the lands where she alighted.

In the coming days/weeks she will post photos and stories that she gathered in the company of an extraordinary group of Modern Athenas/Writers led by Jan Cornall performance poet, composer, writer and teacher and Raymond Hawkins  a Modern Hermes of Into the Blue Creative Walks   and  a young  Aranda Law Man Nicholas Williams.

A sample of these posts include the following:

Dog Rock Python-The Desert Oracle                                         

Charioteers of  The Pound

How a Meteorite and a Baby Formed a Landscape

Friends For  Life- an Aboriginal Miracle.

The Amphitheatre of  Centralia

The Four Noble Truths of Writing

Athena’s Sermon from The Church at Hermannsburg

Listening to the Rocks of Ormiston

Next Page »

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