When the main concern of the human being was to continue their species through reproduction and make best of the nature for production, Mother Goddess was the symbol of existence.
When self sustainability and self sufficiency was no longer the motto of the societies, the God of War replaced the honored position of the Mother. But the "mother" never disappeared. Her presence can be felt in the land, in the woman and at the sites of her homeland, Anatolia.
Two weeks devoted to nine millennia of women's traditions in Anatolia from worship of the Great Mother to the Mediterranean Goddesses, from Christianity to Islam!
Inspired by informative talks by two outstanding Institute Leaders, participants will make daily excursions to well-known Goddess sites AND to newly-discovered sites well off the beaten path PLUS experience immersion in women's lives, crafts and culture - ancient and contemporary. And, as part of this extraordinary Institute, participants will share the life-changing experiences of community building, re-creation, and celebration of women's cultural heritage and spirituality.
US citizens need a visa to travel in Turkey. You may obtain this visa upon your arrival at the Istanbul airport. The fee is $ 20 in US currency for the USA citizens. The visa is valid for three months.
When you come out of your plane please proceed to the Visa Booth. They only accept cash.
POLICE CHECK AND LUGGAGE /
MEETING MELITOUR REPRESENTATIVE FOR TRANSFER
After paying for your visa please proceed to police control. Baggage claim is immediately down the ramp after the police check. If you need a cart, you will need to pay one US dollar cash to a person who stands by the carts. It will be nice if you have a change. The Melitour representative for transfer to the hotel will meet you out side the custom area. Look for a MELITOUR sign as soon as you leave the customs gate.
EMERGENCY INFO FOR TRANSFER
In case of unexpected delay or change of your flight, should there be a problem in meeting the person who should be waiting for you at the airport please call Hotel Ayasofya at 0212-51694-46 or take a taxi to Hotel Ayasofya. Your taxi fare will be refunded.
Kucuk Ayasofya Mahallesi
Demirci Resit Sokak
Sultan Ahmet Meydani Alti
PRE TOUR ARRANGEMENTS
If you plan to arrive a few days before the tour to get over jet lag we can reserve a room at Hotel Ayasofya (Single Room US$60, Double Room US$85 Tax Included)
We can suggest itineraries for those who want to explore on their own or with a guide before or after the tour. Simply send us an e-mail with your request.
|THE JOURNAL FOR THE
Tour of "The 9000 years of the Anatolian Woman"
June 08 2001 / June 20 2001
On June 8-20, 23 intrepid women toured Turkey, led by Meli Seval,
a Turkish tour guide, and Mara Keller, director of the Women's
Spirituality Program at the California Institute of Integral Studies. We visited ancient sites, met Turkish women, saw beautiful scenery, ate
delicious food, shared our lives with each other in Women in Community
sessions, participated in rituals in honor of various goddesses, and
just plain old enjoyed ourselves. This journal is the collective record of
our experiences. Material in italics was written by the editor, Emily
Stoper. Special thanks to Lillian Cincone for production and mailing
Day 1 Friday June 8, 2001
By Linda Culpepper
Day one is over. I sit in my bed and muse about my experience.
One thing is sure--I am very tired. There are other women who are also
My musings turned into sleep, so it is now Saturday morning, and I sit outside on the roof of our hotel, the Aya Sofya. As I awoke I heard the call to prayer and found myself reflecting on the Spirit, the source of all that is. It is really that source that has brought me to this time and place. I smile as I write because I never
would have imagined I'd be sitting in Istanbul, Turkey, writing in a journal. Yet here I am, thrilled to be part of this adventure.
I look in front of me and see familiar flowers; I look up and see the same moon that I see in Livermore. Then I look to my right and see the dome of a mosque, a spire and some very old buildings. It is wonderful and my heart fills with gratitude and with the wonder and awe of being in another land. Also with uncertainty and timidity at beginning to learn how to move about.
One thing is easy. In Turkey, I am a millionaire! Already I have discovered many friendly folks who are willing to help me spend my millions. A young man, from the hotel pointed me and three others in the direction of the Covered Bazaar. It was fascinating and great fun. What a wonderful maze of Turkish delights.
Later, our entire group met and visited Kadin Emegini Degerlendirme Vakfi (The Foundation for the Support of Women's Work) (Ed. - a large organization with projects all over the country). It was here we first experienced that beautiful Turkish hospitality as we drank tea, ate pastries and listened to Gulruh (Ed.: formerly an economist with the Dow Chemical Company) as she explained the Foundation's work.
Ed.: Even though the Foundation is funded from abroad, the basis of its work is what Turkish women tell it they want, because its central goal is to empower them. What these women said (and therefore what the Foundation gives them) is: mother-child centers; kindergarten; micro-enterprise loans for starting their own businesses (restaurants, toy workshops, carpenters' shops, etc.; help in going to the municipality to ask for better lighting, etc.
Gulruh told us some very interesting things in the question-and-answer period.
There is no opposition from men to the work of the Foundation.
The Turkish government is very supportive of family planning The average woman has only about 2.5 children.
Abortion is legal and subsidized in Turkey.
Prostitution has been decriminalized and is state-controlled and inspected. For several years, the winner of the national award for the largest individual taxpayer was a madam. She even got to shake hands with the President of the Republic! She is also a major philanthropist.
After this we went to Sanamet Mutfek, a restaurant run by women, where we were served delicious, authentic Turkish food.
Each day will bring a whole new set of events and all that goes with them. I look forward with anticipation, and I trust, an open heart.
Day 2 Saturday, June 9, 2001
by -Nancy Steele
The day began with an orientation for the whole group in the Aya Sofya's
cozy lobby. In answer to the question "Why Turkey?" Meli told us the trip's purpose is to explore the roots of culture and to see where women fit in.
Then we set off for the Basilica Cistern, just off the Hippodrome near Hagia (or Aya)
Sofia. We went down marble steps to a cool, enormous underground space,
dripping with water. Walkways led over the shallow pool, under brick domes
supported by marble pillars from various temples. Giant Medusa heads were
used as bases for two of the pillars; lots of tourists clustered there
especially. The sound of falling water blended with mysterious music.
Afterward, we went to the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts in what once was
a palace, across the Hippodrome from the Blue Mosque. Its beautiful, peaceful
garden was a contrast to the streets thronged with people and traffic. Meli explained that she prefers the name Anatolia, because "Turkey" leaves out so much of the area's long history. "Anatolia" is from the Greek "Anadolu," meaning "rising sun." But in Turkish "ana" means "mother" and "dolu" means "full of" (as in "dolmas"). Therefore, to a Turk Anatolia means "land full of mothers."
At the museum café we had tea and cakes while Meli talked about the history
of Istanbul, beginning with the dream of Byzas in 1200 BC (who founded "Byzantium" on the Bosphorus, where he could collect tolls from all who used the waterway), to Xerxes, Alexander, Julius Caesar, and Constantine (who made it the capital of the Roman Empire and changed the city's name to Constantinople). When the Turkic people came from Central Asia, they changed the city's name again, to "Istanbul" from signs they
saw on the way to the city, reading "eis ten polin." They didn't realize the signs simply meant "to the city" in Greek.
In the museum, which was nearly deserted, were magnificent carpets (many in fragments), brass lamps, ceramics. Meli told us about the Seljuk Turks, who came to Anatolia from Merv in Central Asia in the 11th century. (Their vast empire at its peak included much of China and all of Persia and the Middle East.) Their traditions of shamanism and Zoroastrianism underlie Anatolians' interpretation of Islam, resulting in women's greater assertiveness and less repression than in other versions of Islam (such as the Semitic).
She cautioned us against two common mistakes: (1) Don't call Turkey a desert, and (2) Be aware that tulips come from Turkey, not from Holland.
After lunch we went to Hagia Sofia, along with hundreds of other visitors. Inside, the marble-paved building was almost clammy after the balmy sunshine outdoors. We climbed the winding, rough marble ramp to the mezzanine, where Mara conducted a simple ritual in honor of the original Sofia, who was a pagan goddess. Each of us read one or two lines aloud from a poem about Holy Wisdom (which is what Hagia - or Aya - Sofia means); then Mara anointed us with an oil to promote inspiration (the third eye), a mixture of sandalwood, rosewood, cedar - and mugwort, for dreams.
On the main floor of the church/mosque (now a museum), we gazed at the
immense domes traced with mosaic decorations. A ray of sunlight streamed from
one of the windows encircling the main dome, piercing the gloom. Hagia
Sofia was built as a church, with the altar oriented toward Jerusalem; then when
it was converted to a mosque, the mihrab that replaced the altar was oriented
toward Mecca and therefore is a few degrees off center. (Since1934, it is neither church nor mosque, but a museum.)
Meli said something she was to repeat in other places: that architecture reflects mentality. For example, the soaring domes on tall pillars represent heaven, whereas the horizontal orientation of earlier temples related to the earth (as a grove of trees does).
Meli's favorite spot in Hagia Sofia is a corner with a huge marble urn for ablutions, flanked by dark red granite columns taken from the temple of Artemis at Ephesus. The seat for someone performing ablutions is a fragment of an Ionic capital. This conjunction shows the range of civilizations that have thrived here.
Dinner was at a rooftop restaurant near the Blue Mosque, with splendid views of the Bosphorus, the Asian side of Istanbul, Hagia Sofia and the sunset.
As we were walking back to our hotel, the Son et Lumiere show was beginning.
The two great mosques were bathed in colored lights. With the booming
narration (in Turkish) and the swelling music, we felt as if we were in a movie.
Various people were left behind the group today, not knowing where we were to
meet next. I had lingered for one more photo at the Islamic Arts museum, and
when I got to the street, the group had vanished. I chose a likely direction
to pursue them but didn't find them. It was perplexing at first, but I soon
felt very comfortable on the street alone, among all the local people,
tourists, postcard sellers. I like this city very much, though I think it
reveals itself slowly. It has many layers, twisting streets, sudden views of
the water. It feels strange but not forbidding-just mysterious. I could
happily take years unraveling some of those mysteries.
DAY 3 Sunday, June 10, 2001
Meli took us up to the site of the ancient Hippodrome, which seated 100,000 people and was three times as big as the one in Rome. It was constructed in the 4th century by a Byzantine emperor who wanted to show those Romans that Byzantium was "Nea Roma" (the new Rome). Not just chariot races but political rallies and even folk dances (!) were held there. The actual Hippodrome doesn't exist any more, but you can't ignore the striking ancient symbols of imperial power and alliances that marked it: an Egyptian obelisk covered with hieroglyphs, intact and very beautiful; a large spiral column resembling a screw that was originally much taller; a granite rough-stone obelisk, where climbing contests were held to celebrate the departure of the Roman Catholic Crusaders. The Crusaders wreaked destruction and death, focusing their fanatical rage not so much on Muslims as on Eastern Orthodox Christians, according to Meli.
The Blue Mosque
Built between 1606 and 1616 by Sultan Ahmet I, this beautifully renovated mosque is called by the Turks "Sultan Ahmet's mosque." He insisted on building it over the ancient Hippodrome so that it could be opposite Aya Sofya (completed in 537), which it rivals in size and beauty. He told his terrified Grand Vizier and architect to spare no expense.
From the entire neighborhood, you can see the four delicate blue-tipped minarets that surround it. Ten gates lead to the outer courtyard, which in turn opens into an inner courtyard. As I entered the building itself, I got a powerful sense of delicacy and lightness within grandeur. I was struck by the pointed arches, the massive columns, the many vaulted domes and half-domes. The color scheme is pale blue, light auburn, cream, yellow. Numerous large and small stained glass windows keep the interior very light.
The architect, Mehmet Aga, was a poet and musician as well as a mathematician, and I felt that I could see all those influences.
The walls and domes are painted with numerous circles and medallions, green and white tesserae, Arabic calligraphy, twining leaves and flowers, bells, mandalas, and designs that look like Christmas tree baubles and Chinese stamps. Other walls look like batik or granite and marble moiré patterns. The entire floor is carpeted in a design that follows the color scheme and visual themes of the mosque as a whole.
Meli took this occasion to give us some insights into Islam:
In Islam each human is God's perfect masterpiece who should never feel intimidated by grandeur - hence the circles of lights on metal rods suspended low over the prayer area, designed to create a sense of human scale. (I couldn't help noticing that only men seem to be permitted to enter the prayer area.)
The over-all design creates a focus not on an altar but on the totality and on the highest central dome, which represents God. Islam does not glorify priests as much as Christianity does.
I found this mosque stunning, inspiring, breath-taking. To me, the presence of the divine was palpable. Many people in it seemed to be in a kind of holy trance.
The Harem in Topkapi Palace
Harem," pronounced by Meli with the accent on the second syllable, is one of several elements (including Roman criminal law) which were adopted by the Ottomans from their Christian predecessors, the Byzantines. (Ellen points out that the Hellenistic gynaeceum is also much like a harem.) This "gilded cage," the living quarters of the Sultan's family, was self-governed by the hierarchy of women who lived within its walls.
Topkapi Palace as a whole, built in the 15th century, looks like a tent made of concrete. Meli explained that in the early days, the Ottoman rulers still had the mentality of nomads.
At its peak, the Harem housed 800-1200 women; by 1922, when the Ottoman Empire died, it was down to five or six hundred. Only a few of these were the concubines of the Sultan, who was the only man allowed in - except, of course, for the eunuchs, many of whom (including the head man) were Black Africans. Many others were the ladies in waiting of the members of the royal family and of the Sultan's concubines. Some were gifted artists and musicians, both composers and performers. It is a Western, Orientalist fantasy that all the Harem women were sex slaves.
The Sultan's mother, the Sultana, presided over the Harem. She also played a significant role in affairs of state. Many Sultanas fanned the imperial ambitions of their son ("Capture Baghdad! Invade Egypt!") and engaged in palace intrigue and even murder -which was pretty much a necessity in order to attain and keep power as Sultan. Part of the job of the eunuchs was to guard the Sultana and the other members of the royal family. The Sultan's four wives constantly engaged in intrigue, each one wanting to put her own son in a position to take the throne, in part to further her own ambitions for power.
We saw a series of very beautiful, ornate rooms, some with stone floors and tiled walls, some with idealized painted landscapes, representing what the women could never see. There were gold filigree decorations, fountains in the bath, lots of vaulted ceilings, even gold grating. What we saw was fine enough to make some of the IWSI women long for time-shares - which became a running gag throughout the tour.
The Byzantines and Ottomans had highly developed seismic engineering skills, which is why the Harem (as well as the Cistern and the Egyptian obelisk) still stand.
In 1922, when the Ottoman Empire ended, the Harem women (who were all foreign slaves) were freed and paid off handsomely. Many did not go back to their humble families but lived a sophisticated life in modern Turkey and boasted of having been a "woman of the palace." After all, Harem women had the finest clothing and lived in gorgeous, luxurious rooms (or at least some of them did; we only saw the best of the over 300 rooms in the Harem). They were also close to the Sultan and had an opportunity to gain some real power themselves if they were among the lucky gifted or favored ones.
Yet I would not consider for a moment of giving up freedom to live the life they lived. I'm sure the Turkish classical music and art that a few of them practiced were very beautiful, but they were also very traditional, leaving little scope for real artistic creativity. As a straight woman, I would really miss having sexual and loving relationships with men (even those who slept with the Sultan must have done so rarely and without true intimacy). Mostly, though, the thought of being a slave, locked up and totally subject to the will of others, is appalling to me.
As we approach the Pudding Shop for lunch, we file past a parade of schoolchildren, maybe 10 years old, heading in the opposite direction. They wave gleefully and call out "Hell-o! Hell-o! Hell-o!" as we walk by. We respond in kind. We are to see many other exuberant, friendly groups of Turkish children.
Every mosque has both at least one breast (dome) and one phallus (minaret). The larger ones are blessed with many breasts and phalluses, artistically arranged. What wonderful gender balance! Too bad it's not reflected in the actual religious life of the country.
This lovely church was first built in the 12th century, then rebuilt after being destroyed by Crusaders. The beautifully restored frescoes provided religious education for a largely illiterate population by depicting Bible stories and characters. They are clear, vivid, graceful and uncluttered. The Iconoclasts (image destroyers) frustrated this endeavor for a while when they got the upper hand in the Byzantine Empire, but the pro-icon faction was in power during most of the 11 centuries of Byzantine rule. Ironically, though, the Iconoclasts won when Islam completed the conquest of Anatolia in the 15th century.
Mehmet and Huguette
This unusual couple, a Turkish craftsman and his French Canadian wife, who look to be in their '60s, hosted us at their home in Istanbul. It was a hot day, but Mehmet, who is very round and fat and has huge, bulging eyes, was wearing gray corduroy overalls, a long-sleeved blue shirt buttoned up at the neck and a royal blue knit cap. He sat in his lovely garden the whole time we were there, while his wife and female servants scurried around serving him and his guests. Mehmet's parents and his ancestors for many generations back were craftsmen using the Yazma block print method, which originated in China. As a young man he tried to resist his destiny, but at the age of around 30 he not only became a craftsman but focused on the same motifs as his parents. From the time he first became an artist, Mehmet's beautiful work has sold like hotcakes and that day was no exception. We went on the first of many buying sprees at tour sites.
His work is printed on textiles large and small. Favorite themes: cherubs; nursing mothers; Arabic script; trees of life; vines of flowers; fish (Mehmet loves to snorkel and scuba in the Black Sea).
Huguette spoke to us briefly about what it was like to be a foreign wife in Istanbul. She was distressed about the bestseller Not Without My Daughter, which portrayed life for a foreign wife in a Muslim country (Iran) in such a negative light. She has written her memoirs in order to undo some of the damage. The foreign wives in Istanbul have organized themselves to establish and finance battered wives shelters. (Domestic violence is a major problem in Turkey.)
On a boat on the Bosphorus
This was a long, beautiful ride between houses, palaces, mosques, cafes, all manner of buildings, most of them very attractive. Much of Istanbul is a pleasant city full of white or pastel buildings with red-tiled roofs. Both the railroad station and the train were modern and attractive, with hard-working porters.
After an incredibly intense two and a half days in Istanbul, we are off to Ankara on the night train.
DAY 4 Monday June 11, 2001
Breakfast on our "Orient Express", the night train from Istanbul to
Ankara, seems particularly wonderful to me this morning. Sipping my cup of Nescafe I look out the window to see sheep with their shepherds; fertile fields of unidentifiable plants and vegetables. The landscape is reminiscent of my home in Sonoma County.
In Ankara Meli welcomes us to the 'Meli Tur' bus and introduces her driver, Metin, and her dog Zili. The morning spent at the Museum of Anatolian Culture was a treat and was followed by a visit to the Temple of Cybele (whose symbol, the bull's horns, gave the Turkish flag its crescent). At the Temple site I felt the heavy overlaying of Cybele by Augustus and other major symbols of the patriarchy. Personally, I choose to retain the memory of the museum, with its two wonderful statues and its loving presentation of a rich female presence.
Lunch at the Uludag Hotel was exceptional and dinner in Konya was also terrific. Also packed into this busy day was a talk by Meli on the Sufi (mystical Muslim) poet Rumi at the mosque in Konya, plus a very long hot bus ride. Some hardy souls also extended the night to visit a Whirling Dervish performance but I missed that event.
(Ed. - For me the Whirling Dervishes, those amazing Sufis, were one of the highlights of the whole trip. Three men in long whiter-than-white skirts and blouses, wearing two-foot-tall brown fez hats, danced in perfect rhythm around and around and around, under bluish light, to the exotic, beautiful music of a 6-piece band. The men started with their wrists crossed reverentially across their chests, then stretched out their arms and raised them both to about ear level. As they whirled, the right hand, which was slightly higher, pointed upward toward heaven, receiving the divine spirit, which passed through their bodies into the left hand, which pointed downward toward the earth. Their heads tilted slightly to the right, as if they were listening to God. At first I just sat there enjoying the music and trying to figure out how they kept from getting dizzy, but by the end I felt a great spiritual high.)
Tomorrow it's off to Catal Huyuk and Antalya.
|DAY 5 Tuesday June 12 2001
Bonnie S. Arthur
At Konya, we visited the Roman Catholic Church of St. Paul where we saw a "Black Madonna" painting. I've done a bit of reading about Black Madonnas and favor the theory that they were brought to Europe by Gypsies, who originally came from India, and that the statues really represent the Goddess Kali. This theory holds that the Gypsies gave the statues to churches honoring the Virgin because they felt Mary was a representation of the Great Mother, who was Kali to them.
Two nuns reside in the rectory of St. Paul's and minister to the small Christian community in Konya. A priest visits every three months to say mass. The nuns sang hymns for us, as one played guitar.
Then we bussed to Catal Hoyuk, an archeological site dating from the early Neolithic period, about 9,000 years ago, discovered around 1960. James Mellaart, the first archeologist on the site, saw indications in artifacts of ancient goddess worship. The archeologist Maria Gimbutas popularized Mellaart's findings and built a theory that Catal Hoyuk was one of many ancient matriarchies, peaceful, artistic and technologically advanced societies that were later tragically destroyed by patriarchy.
This sparked a major controversy, which continues. Some of the many archaeologists now working on the site seem disturbed by the fact that it has become a holy place for many feminists. To them the right approach is to spend years excavating the entire site and studying everything with minute care and even then to be extremely cautious about drawing conclusions from artifacts about social behavior and beliefs. There is actually a Catal Hoyuk Web site maintained by Ian Hodder where the feminists and the hard-nosed scientists debate all this. It was fascinating to meet a Turkish graduate student in social anthropology who was doing research at the site for his dissertation on the anthropology of archaeology!
Several members of our tour had looked forward to doing a ritual at Catal Hoyuk, but guards, acting on Turkish Government orders, would not permit it. So we stopped by the road in the nearby mountains and found a beautiful place for the ritual. We spread Turkish rugs on the ground in a wooded area dotted with large granite rocks and honored the memory of ancient women who helped build one of the world's earliest towns and may have invented pottery and weaving.
DAY 6 Wednesday June 13 2001
In the lovely garden of our hotel in Antalya, after breakfast, five women tell their stories in a "Women and Community" session.
The first woman told of being given away at birth and not knowing who her mother is. She recounts the love, passion, and determination of the journey from an orphanage to being adoped to choosing to become a mother. She shares her fear that since she does not remember ever having what she felt was a real mother, she will not be able to be a good mother.
The mother of the second woman is dying. Her daughter, a midwife, is allowing her that passage. "Goodbye, dearie," may be the last words her mother spoke to her. The mother is so loving she lets her daughter feel peace about leaving for Turkey so close to the end. The daughter was wise and courageous enough to join us here.
Woman #3 calls herself a "late bloomer." She is a deeply caring woman, an activist, 66 years old, with two grown children. She is exploring the richly textured quilt of women's issues, between today's young feminists' "I am not a victim" and older feminists' view that "You don't know you're a victim." Her research on the mothers of lesbian and transsexual women raises fascinating questions. We see the moon in all its phases.
An American woman in her mid '50s who chose not to bear children is deeply involved with her college-age Greek goddaughter, who now lives with her. Mothering this daughter mothers the self in wonderful new ways. The cultural imperatives shrink within this wise woman's happy heart.
"I am an alcoholic, searching for spirit in a bottle". Woman #5 projects her hugely courageous, fierce, sword-like determination to remain sober after so many years. With few words, she says so much. This is a woman full of love, with very fortunate children.
At the museum of Antalya, which is filled with artifacts of daily life from the Stone Age through Ottoman times, I am especially struck by a sarcophagus made for the beloved dog of a "solitary woman" around 2000 A.D.
To the beach. Heaven!! Breeze. We stay as long as possible. The beach is like a magnetic field and a nurturing mother at the same time.
Perge is extraordinary! In its Greek and Roman ruins, I imagine the beauty, conversations, social fabric, fountains, aqueducts, sunrise, sunset, chariots along the great wide road. I hope I dream about it tonight. The great benefactress of the city was a woman, Plancia Magna.
I imagine our group spending 24 hours in Perge. A slumber party. Ritual at sunrise. Stories. Dance. What would we each say about our lives in this arena, with our empowering ancestors listening?
Your editor can't resist adding here the delightful incident with Turkish schoolchildren at Perge. As we entered the site, Meli was just about to give us a rap about the extraordinary ruins we were about to see when the usual lively, exuberant, noisy group of Turkish kids, led by their teacher, marched in and stopped right next to us. Meli sized up the situation instantly and came up with a great solution. She told the kids that if they were very, very quiet while she spoke to our group, she would take time afterwards to tell them wonderful stories in Turkish about the site (not just the dry facts and dates they would get from their teacher). They agreed to the deal and kept their part of the bargain. Then she asked them to recite the pledge. A girl got up and led them in a loud, enthusiastic call-and-response that was about 10 times as long as the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance. Meli told us later that this pledge was instituted by Kemal Ataturk. It begins "I am Turkish: I am honest and hard-working" and goes on to promise dedication to the community, love for the young, respect for the old, etc. Our group cheered their performance and walked through their ranks, as they did the usual "Hell-o!" and "Bye-bye!" routine. We waited a bit while Meli told them some wonderful stories (from her large stock) about their heritage. I marveled at what it must be like to learn in school about history starting 10,000 years ago in the Neolithic instead of in 1492.
DAY7 Thursday, June 14, 2001
Day on the Sea,
Today is a fabulous day of cruising, sunbathing and swimming in the
Mediterranean. We enter a lovely harbor nestled in a picturesque cove
surrounded by lush green gardens. It is hot and humid and the plants and
flowers glory in it. Mountains and tall cliffs surround the harbor andhug
the cove holding the green Mediterranean Sea. It is like stepping into a
painting. We board a beauty of a yacht, a well-designed craft ofcomfort.
White canvas canopies flap and billow in the wind, providing shade and
gentle breezes. A full expanse of white cushions throughout the deck
creates absolute comfort.We set off gently into calm waters, a perfect day for cruising. All ofuskick back into a relaxed enjoyment of sun and sea. We ease into the
inletof Memer and anchor to swim. Immediately, most of the women begin
diving and jumping into the water, laughing and rejoicing in the
coolnessof the sea and relief from the intense Mediterranean sun.
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We set off again, cruising the coast, taking in the sights. I relish the
changing colors of the sea. The waters shift from light green to bluegreen
to a deep turquoise. The sea is so clear that it appears shallow,
looks as though you can see the ocean floor. But this is deceptive, as
diving proves it quite deep. We anchor off the coast again, this time
forlunch and another relaxing swim. It turns out our captain is as good a
cook as he is a skipper. He serves up a colorful array of Turkish salads
and fresh grilled fish, cooked to perfection, followed by breads and
freshfruits. All was absolutely delicious! Happy with our fullness and
drowsywith pleasure, we sail on. Approaching the site of Olympus, we set
anchorto go ashore and visit the ruins. Half the group decides to swim to
shore;the rest of us board a dinghy.
Olympus is set in a lovely picturesque cove lined by trees. The beach is
lovely, but painfully rocky on bare feet. After walking to the entrance
ofthe site, we begin our trek down a brambly path. Surrounded by rich and
wild vegetation, we fight killer branches and thorny berry bushes. We
navigate a hilly and obstructed trail, climbing rock and craggy stone,
following Meli, our fearless leader. Perspiring, we trek on, awaiting
therewards of sites. Finally we break through to an ancient path and the
ruinsof Olympus. We find beautiful arches composed of different colored
stones and the ruins of ancient dwellings. It is awesome! Seeing this
brings an intense awareness of an ancient people living in community.
Hiking further into the forest, we come upon a narrow and meandering
stream, an ancient waterway, also made of stone and still functioning
today to guide the running water from a nearby spring. We are soothed
by the cool, refreshing sounds of gurgling water in the stillness of
intenseheat. I can't resist; quickly unfastening my sandals I step into the
coolwater, experiencing immediate joy and relief from the heat. I reflect on
thewonder that I, a woman in the twenty-first century, can enjoy thesounds,
sense and pleasure of water gathered for community two millennia ago.
In one ruin are mosaic floors and mosaic pieces imbedded in the
building.These structures have rounded arches and half domes with a platform.
Was this a hearth? All of the stone structures are overgrown and wild
withfoliage. The trek is tough, but worth the effort to find this ancient
Lyciancity sleeping in the forest.Some of the women decide to swim back to the yacht, while the rest ofus,pooped, take the dinghy. The refreshing coolness of the water is
exhilarating. I float on my back, just letting go. The water is so incredibly
buoyant that it is effortless to stay afloat! What a dream! Here I am,
weightless in the Mediterranean Sea, relaxed beyond measure. I rest
floating in the arms of the Mother, the Goddess, the Sea. All is well.
At the end of the cruise, most of us are filled with deep satisfaction
as weenjoy the beauty of a twilight ride back to shore in a motorized dinghy.
Landing on the dock, we again encounter momentous history: the ancient
road built for Hadrian's arrival in Antalya, lined with large blocks of
graduated stone for seating crowds. One can easily imagine the color and
pageantry of Hadrian's arrival from this gateway to the sea.
As we arrive and prepare to do our ritual at the site at Phasalis, a
group of garrulous Turkish schoolchildren begins arriving, maybe sixty
kids with a few teachers. They are happy, they are loud, and they decide
sit right next to us. Meli saves the day by making an agreement with
them: if they are quiet she will tell them stories about Phasalis. Both
parties keep their word. Part of the deal is that the children will
daily Turkish Children's Pledge to our group. Their enthusiasm is
impressive, their voices high, percussive and snappy. One child, a girl,
designated to lead the group in a call and response. It was delightful
hearing and seeing these young, beautiful faces filled with such
promise.Here is the essence of the pledge, which was quite lengthy.
"I AM TURKISH. I AM HONEST. I AM HARDWORKING. I
PROMISE TO LOVE THE YOUNGEST AND RESPECT THE
ELDEST. I PROMISE TO SACRIFICE MY SOUL FOR MY PRINCIPLES."
I am very moved. I can't help thinking of our American children at home
and how they might benefit from a daily affirmation like this one.
We scout around and find a beautiful new location for the ritual on
"Aphrodite and Passion," a young pine forest overlooking the sea. Many
women have written erotic poems. These are wonderful, stimulating, fun,
even humorous. Beebe recites the Rumi poem "Like This" which
reminds us of the earthiness of spirituality. She also introduces the
"Mirror" dance. We dance in pairs, facing each other; one woman leads
and her partner follows her exact movements. It is important to make eye
contact, but non-emotive eye contact, so as to reflect back to your
partnerher essence, a reflection of the divine. At the close, joining in a
groupembrace of affection, we praise Aphrodite, the goddess of love. At
sunset,we all walk though a young pine forest and then through the ancient
ruins of Hadrian's gate. It is the perfect close of a perfect day!
DAY 8 June 15 2001
Breakfast at Pansiyon Atelya (in Antalya), then off toward Pamukkale. On the way
we stopped at the black goats'-hair tent of the nomads. A large sturdy woman with many missing teeth and expressive hands and eyes graciously invited us into her tent for elma çay (apple tea). We met her youngest daughter (18) and granddaughter, who greeted Meli with a kiss on the hand. The grandmother told us how she has lived her nomadic life like her mother and mothers before her, since arriving from Central Asia. She spends her days tending to her cows and her small but beautiful garden and weaving. On June 23rd the others in her band will take the goats to the higher plains but she will stay for another month to take care of the cows. She also showed us her shotgun, which she uses to scare away wolves. When we asked if she could read or write, she said she was ignorant but knew everything about goats. We asked her why she wore a head scarf. She said she did it because her mother's mother had done the same and for sun protection - not for religious reasons. Meli then showed us how to tie a head-scarf in the style of many different regions - Gypsy, Eastern Turkey, Black Sea, etc. She looked stunning in all of them.
The bus climbed through the mountains and we had a buffet lunch at Salda Lake
(Gölü)--a beautiful crater lake at 4500 ft. Ellen was the swim goddess.
Next we stopped at the women's carpet cooperative where we were given an exhibition in a large hall and an opportunity to view more gorgeous carpets than you can imagine.
(From Nancy's diary: Meli told us that under the auspices of this government-sponsored cooperative, women were given looms in order to revive traditional carpet weaving in Turkey, and that 7,000 families are members of these cooperatives. Men warp the looms, and the women weavers are paid per knot and can work at home with their children.)
(Ed.: We also visited the training center at the cooperative, where a small number of girls can get a high school education, earn money and learn to weave carpets in the traditional manner at the same time.
Meli explained to us that this cooperative represents more than just a stopping shop. Turkey is a "carpet culture." Beautiful carpets adorn the walls and floors of even the humblest homes (as we saw, for example, in the black tent). Weaving carpets is a major artistic outlet for millions. Carpets often contain religious symbols and are used to decorate mosques. They are major heirlooms and trousseau items, thus symbolizing family continuity and re-creation. People are even wrapped in them for burial. )
Then we were accompanied by salesmen (emphasis on the "men") and many of us bought carpets. Diane Ohllson won the prize for 5 carpets bought. Then back on the bus for a quick dinner at our hotel in Pamukkale before heading to the "champagne bubble" waters of Pamukkale. Swimming by moonlight among the ancient carved columns that a long-ago earthquake had pitched into the Hierapolis hot-spring "sacred pool" was an experience I'll never forget. After a long day, most of us crashed early!
DAY9 SATURDAY June 16, 2001
After breakfast and the loading of the Meli Bus, we travelled from
Pamukkale to Aphrodisias via a slight detour to a weaver's co-op.
At the Weavers' building, we stop on the stairs to listen to the machines - the thud of shuttles, the working of the pedals (and the cooing of doves). The cloth here is woven by men, all of them elderly. It is beautiful - as are the faces of the men (although I suspect they were a bit annoyed at our interruption).
Boys and young men patiently trot back and forth to bring even more goods from the warehouse across the street to meet our requests. All seem to embody the exhortation on the Kemal Ataturk statue at the entrance: "Turk. Be proud. Work. Have Confidence."
Once again - the goddesses rise to the challenge of assisting the local economy.
On the bus, Beebe shares her current sense of peace around the passing of her mother. Others share about this loss in their own lives.
As we listen and chatter, we journey through the valley of the Meander River. We see marble quarries that look like mountains missing great rectangular chunks.
And then - APHRODISIAS. For me, of all the Hellenistic sites, this is the one with which I experience the most connection. It is the first place I realize that all Culture Ministry buildings are marked with a stylized "tree of life," expressing the Islamic sense of the eternal rooted in the earth - and this seems so appropriate given the amazing tree at the tourist shop opposite the museum.
Inside the museum, we are once again served up a feast of carved marble. I remember the quarries we passed, whose "soft" marble can be so intricately carved. We admire the Cult Statue of Aphrodite, foam-born goddess of beauty and love. As Meli points out, this means much more than the narrow "beauty and love" that the dominant culture often assigns to her today.
Afterwards, our ritual under the trees and in the breeze celebrates the 3-in-1 aspects of the Goddess of Love: Sensual/Sexual; Maternal/Parental; and Spiritual. The ritual features Yvonne leading a version of the St. Patrick's Breastplate Prayer called the Navajo Changing Woman Blessing - Love above, love below; I am love, You are love, We are love .. Ellen then leads us in "Love is a many splendored thing." Judy and Emily (in her nearly see-through nightie!!) lead us in sensual/sexual, divine, and maternal dance. After pairing off to share a memory of an intense experience of love, we feed each other an aphrodisiac made of a honey-saturated nut mixture. Then we have a round of affirmations, each woman telling the person to her right one thing she loves about that person. The ritual closes with the Blessing of Aphrodite.
We arrive at the beautiful and distinctive Selcuk Kalehan Hotel. The evening air is fragrant with jasmine. In the evening we have Women in Community. Our deep, powerful sharing about our lives concludes with an exchange about people's experiences and expectations surrounding rituals and a discussion of the challenges presented by our particular group's dynamics.
Then bed - wonderful, welcome bed - at the end of another rich day that will require months to harvest the fruits. Thanks, everyone. Blessings of Aphrodite to all.
Sunday June 17 2001
by Judy Beck
What a wonderful morning! We slept as late as we wanted to - nothing special to do. The free morning gave the following options:
-Swimming at the "garden pool" of the hotel (lovely setting - very relaxing)
-Kilim shopping and looking
-Or whatever we took it into our heads to do.
12:00 Noon: Off on the bus to a nearby restaurant for a delicious lunch. The watermelon was among the best quality on the trip. After lunch we headed for Metropolis - a ten year old excavation of the city of the mother goddess, found in a cave. We saw a theater, baths, senate council chamber - all in a wonderfully preserved state. Hardly anything was damaged - no major earthquakes!
After a long, winding drive over the mountains, seeing black tents, nomad families, and a long, long line of goats heading for water and food, we arrived at Claros, site of a temple to Apollo and probably Artemis. Wonderfully grand statues of Plato & Artemis dominate the site.
Our mother/daughter ritual took place there - thanks to Bonnie, Diane O., Daphne and Lily. The experience of sharing our "mother" stories was powerful. There is great depth to the Anatolian mother Ana. Meli did the closing blessing at the ritual today, a powerful prayer for all women to be Anas.'' How ironic that Meli's mother was taken to the hospital today. Meli rushed to be with her overnight.
After supper, eight women shared their story in Women and Community. Some were really deep, powerful stories. In fact I've never experienced such a Women in Community session, though I've attended two previous institutes.
In a discussion after the session, some women complained of a "coercive" element in the group dynamics of this particular institute which left them feeling they had to "hide" something of themselves in order to get along. They felt uncomfortable with various elements, especially ritual. We all ended the evening with the hope that this dynamic can and will change in the three days left to us.
Amen! Blessed Be!
Love to all,
Monday June 18 2001
Editor standing in on June 18
I did not receive a journal page for June 18, so here's a short piece from my personal diary:
I was awed by the ruins of a temple complex that included a huge temple of Apollo that for 1400 years housed an oracle as important as the one at Delphi in Greece. The whole site had an aura of ancient wisdom, beauty and harmony. The carving of the Medusa was amazing.
We actually held our oracle ritual at another magnificent site, Priene, on the ruins of an ancient temple of Athena. These ruins had five near-perfect Ionic columns in front of a beautiful sheer, forested mountainside. (The columns were appropriate: we were in Ionia, a cultural mélange created by migrants from western Greece and the local Carian population.) The ritual consisted of pulling from a hat held by Sun a "wise" oracular response to one's question. We were then asked to walk around the site, meditating on what our response meant. We then came back and told the "oracle" our interpretation, in 5 words or less. She gave us a talisman to help us remember. Do you remember yours?
Tuesday June 19, 2001
This day is a free one, which we all feel we badly need. Early in the morning there is a ritual on the beach for Beebe's mother. Beebe sings her mother's favorite hymn, a Rumi poem is read, and a group walks out into the water, lifts up Beebe and, holding her horizontally, rocks and sings to her. Without being asked, the Turkish workmen on the beach respectfully stop their work when they realize what we are doing.
Kusadasi, a huge summer resort on the Aegean coast, is a hilly town, with narrow winding streets leading down to the harbor. A group of us decide to go to the authentic food market, where the Turks themselves shop, which is quite a contrast to the ubiquitous tourist markets. The smells are wonderful. Visually the colors and displays of fruits and vegetables are staggering. It's fun to be there. We stop after walking up and down the crowded streets and buy peasant bread filled with various delights: cheese, spinach, mushrooms, eggplant, etc. We sit in a shaded area on little plastic chairs provided by two lovely women, who appear to be mother and daughter. The young girl has the most beautiful sparkling eyes and engaging smile. We all feel comfortable and glad to be there. After this delicious lunch, we head back to the Hotel Barbados, to rest and get ready for dinner. Before leaving, however, we cast our ballots for the Goddesses. It's fun and reminds me of all the little things I have learned about each member of the group.
Finally, we go on a short ride to Meli's summer home for dinner. We can now actually see what is behind the stories she has told us during our long bus rides. Yes, there are red, yellow and pink tiles and they are indeed splendiferous. Her house has everyone oohing and aahing. Everywhere we look there is an antique treasure, some wonderful object I wished I had seen first. The rugs are wonderful. The feeling is Anatolian and beautiful, much like our little Meli, compact, lovely, bursting with history and an endless source of stories - whether real or imagined, it doesn't matter.
Meli calls us all up to the top patio to drink our wine or lemonade and listen to the stories of her friends, who are educated, privileged, English-speaking women. Each one tells us the story of her life, so we get a real picture of what it is like to be an educated Turkish woman. All three women were married and divorced.
We stop for a truly delightful dinner. Meli gives us the extra deluxe ten-ounce Beluga treatment. We succumb. This is by far the best food we have experienced so far: crisp chicken, salads of every sort, delightful veggies, sauces, every taste a new experience. All this was then topped with a sinful chocolate fudgy dessert. Nothing beats home-cooked food, except maybe a five-star restaurant.
After dinner, the talk goes back to politics, covering a range of topics. Is there any hope for an end to the animosity between the Greece and Turkey? The women speak of their personal friendships with Greeks; they think a political agenda is the seat of the problem. What about political prisoners? They respond that after the Kurds' leader was captured, things changed for the better and the terrorism stopped. How have Turkish women fared in the political arena as representatives in government? Well, it's not so good now, but in the 1930's there were 16 women out of 200 members in Parliament. Why did it change? What is to be done? On and on go the questions.
Ataturk's program to modernize Turkey was begun in 1925 and continued until his death in 1938. But the reforms were forced on the agrarian population, which could not assimilate them so quickly, with resulting problems that persist to this day. Even so, Ataturk is still revered.
The Turkish women speak of the unabated drift from the small villages to the big cities, which has created considerable problems. We ask about the military campaign against the PKK in Southeastern Turkey and the drain on government finances (46% of their tax money goes to the military). The financial problems opened the door for the Islamic Welfare Party to gain a huge vote. Our conversation ranges over changing corporate culture, multi-national organizations, women's political roles, marriage, divorce, Turkish identity, being torn between East and West. It was stimulating and everyone participated passionately. However, no one was able to solve the world's problems that night.
Our last day together as a group was spent in the Selcuk area and
Ephesus. Our first stop was at the Temple of Artemis. The earliest settlement here was in the 4th millennium B.C. The Temple of Artemis, which was three times the size of the Temple of Apollo, became one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It was reconstructed many times, including after being burned in 356 B.C. Alexander the Great offered to pay the costs of rebuilding it then, but the Ephesians declined, tactfully saying that it was not fitting for one god to make a dedication to another.
Our next stop was at the Efes (Turkish for Ephesus) Museum in Selcuk. Here we saw a display of a Socrates room from a terrace house. The terrace houses were built around a courtyard and included many decorative fountains. The second room was the room of the fountain houses. It contains sculptures from three Ephesian well houses. In the third room were artifacts from Ayasuluk--the time of the Amazons. In room 6 were figures of Artemis Ephesia and finds from the Artemision. The Great Artemis from the beginning of the 2nd century A.D. is displayed on one side of the room, with the Beautiful Artemis from the time of Hadrian on the opposite wall. Both are heavily ornamented with animal figures, necklaces and a breastplate of bull testicles.
Following lunch, we toured the House of the Virgin Mary, a chapel built on the site believed to be the home of Mary after the death of Jesus. It was set among beautiful gardens of agave, olive trees and stone walls.
The best was yet to come. Our bus left us at the upper gate of Ephesus. Join me as we relive our walk through this beautiful, ancient city. Imagine with me what it must have been like in the time of Alexander, when it was rebuilt.
The city was built between two hills, with city walls running along the tops of the hills, making it very secure. Everywhere along our way are fountains and the sound of running water. All this water was brought by aqueduct to 5 cisterns on the hills ringing the city. We walk past a pile of clay water pipes, possibly hand thrown by local potters, waiting to be used in the city water system, which brought running water to every house.
We enter first the state section of the town, where the public buildings are. We walk past the Odeon. The lower part was faced with marble. It was covered and probably had windows of stained glass at the top to let in light. Next we come to the town hall, which was built in two sections with a temple adjacent to the administrative center. The laws are carved into the columns of the town hall. The bull-headed Ionic capitals on top of the columns are unique to Efes. Both the Great Artemis and the Beautiful Artemis were found in this complex, but they may have been buried here in order to save them from vandalism.
As we walk down the marble street, the hill slopes downward quite steeply. The next terrace we come to houses Domitian Square. Here we see the Fountain of Domitian, the Fountain of Ulysses, a monument to a general and a monument to Domitian himself. We can see carved symbols for medicine and pharmacy on the building fronts. Perhaps this is the area where the healing arts were practiced. Water pours out of the fountains and cascades down the street, keeping everything washed and shining.
As we proceed down the steep street, paved with marble, we enter the residential area. Here the 250,000 people lived, shopped, worked out in the gym, bathed, and even enjoyed public latrines. Gossip, intrigue, culture and games were all discussed as people went about their daily living. The Monumental Fountain, standing three columns high, gushes water to supply the needs of the residents.
Once again the street levels out onto a terrace where the library
stands. This building was the third largest library in the ancient world, behind Alexandria and Pergamum. It has a two-story colonnade with statues of the four virtues. To the right of the library is the gate dedicated to Augustus and his wife, Livia. Walking along the marble street, running parallel to the sea, we can see the lower city--the harbor, agora, and places associated with commerce. On the right is the great theater. We can imagine it filled with 25,000 screaming Ephesians, gathered to hear Paul speak, but becoming aroused by the silversmith Demetrius, who opposed Paul and provoked the people to shout, "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians." What a scene for Paul to walk into. As we leave the great theater, we pass through the lower gate, coming to the end of the city and of our journey back in time.
We spent many hours on the bus on June 12 and passed a notebook around for people to reflect on two questions:
What was your favorite experience of today?
What was your favorite experience of this trip so far?
What was your favorite experience of today?
Kay: Buying a rainbow bear.
Anonymous: The Church of St. Paul---wonderful!
Judy: Being at Catal Hoyuk. I have wanted to see that ever since I first heard of the goddess civilization there.
Anonymous 2: It was wonderful to visit Catal Hoyuk. And even more wonderful to do our ritual together in the mountains with the trees and birdsong, dappled sunlight, sharing our loves of Ana---Mother Nature---Mother Earth.
Anonymous 3: Seeing actual excavations at Catal Hoyuk was a great opportunity, and hearing the leader (a Polish archaeologist) explain their goals on the spot.
Lillian: Going to Catal Hoyuk. And the ritual was almost as powerful.
Sun: On the bus, women sharing themselves and opening their hearts.
Veronica: Sharing the ritual with this group of women.
Emily: The ritual. Communing with Mother Earth at one of her many fine sites, a beautiful mountain glen.
Nancy: Going out in the early morning to photograph Rumi's tomb and the mosque and interacting with local Konyans.
Ellen: I love the mountains today, green, granite, Turkish carpet of pine and cedar. I feel refreshed after the cityscapes, close to the Mother.
Anonymous 4: I enjoyed seeing the smile on the nuns when we shared their joy of playing music. Most people must regard them as part of the church, but we showed our interest in them.
Yvonne: I cannot choose one. Walking with new friends to search out Rumi's tomb, the view at breakfast, realizing the intentional "collapsing" of homes, the incredible views, our ritual, the sharing, Meli's belly dancing, Beebe's songs, Karen's performance, the food, finding my table cover---love it all. I particularly love the shifting in energy that I believe is an outgrowth of all of the above. Blessed Be! With gratitude…
Diane O.: Looking for the Great Mother Goddess amidst the boulders just above our ritual site.
Roberta: Quiet time in the mountains.
Joanne: I was really touched by the two nuns at St. Paul's Church, keeping the church sanctuary open for people who want to visit and for the small Christian Community to meet together.
Linda: Sharing on the bus, in particular, the vulnerability and honesty of my daughter-in-law, Sun. The singing by the two nuns, which brought tears to my eyes.
Sarah: Watching the archeologists patiently dig, brushing dirt from long dead skeletons at Catal Hoyuk.
Anonymous 5: Seeing women active in shaping their experience: from women joining the ritual to women saying, "I respect your experience, but I also have to honor my own calling" (for example, by opting out of the ritual as well as the offering of self on the bus). Now the backdrop of Turkey makes the picture complete.
Bonnie: The Black Madonna painting at St. Paul's Church in Konya.
What was your favorite experience of this trip so far?
Kay: Breakfast on the train (from Istanbul to Ankara).
Anonymous: The boat ride on the Bosphorus .
Judy: To be in Hagia Sophia, a place I have always wanted to visit. Seeing the Blue Mosque was also very powerful---a beautiful place to pray.
Anonymous 3: It is not possible to choose a favorite of the trip. So many are once-in-a-life-time (experiences). I would have been very disappointed if I had never seen the Blue Mosque.
Sun: Meli, her knowledge, her charisma, and the way she loves herself and her country.
Veronica: So far, the Blue Mosque still sends shivers up my spine. The sensation was centering and gave me a sense of peace.
Emily: The Whirling Dervishes. They were quite enchanting and it was a privilege to see their sacred practice and to feel the spirit with them.
Nancy: Feeling the peace and openness of the Blue Mosque.
Diane O.: The fragrant air everywhere, even at petrol stations. Meli's wondrous dog, so wise, seems to be smiling.
Roberta: The Grand Bazaar the first day. All the wonderful new sights, sounds and smells of a place I have wanted to visit for a long time.
Joanne: I loved Meli's talk on Rumi in the quiet of the mosque. It really brought home to me the similarities of all belief systems.
Linda: The walk back from dinner, passing by the Blue Mosque with the light show and music. My heart sang.
Sarah: Walking from dinner and unexpectedly finding myself at the Blue Mosque "sound and light" show. Surreal!
Anonymous 5: The combination of the beautiful country Turkey and my experience with women. I am so appreciative of each of you. The awesomeness of the mosques was equally unbelievable and inspiring.
Bonnie: I admired everything about Istanbul, including being awakened by the calls to prayer. It was an adventure to take the night train from Istanbul to Ankara. I love the idea that I've done such a thing. Did I see Peter Lorre, Sidney Greenstreet and Peter Ustinov sneaking past our compartment at midnight?
Your editor can't resist commenting on the huge percentage of us who named some aspect of Islam as our favorite experience on the trip so far.
by DIANE OLHSON
I have been incarcerated for failure to disclose the ancient no longer water tight roof of the Harem. The recent purchasers filed a class action suit due to that tiny omission plus a whole salad bowl of other violations, for example:I failed to mention that the wiring is
inadequate for 47 hair dryers, 82 computers & 17 toaster ovens all singing their tunes at the same time.Their seems to be no hardwood under the 6 acres of carpet. . .(I could have sworn. . . ) Many drinking fountains are lined with asbestos . . . who'da thought?????)
The Welcome Wagon does not go there. Plumbing in the baths only works from 8:00-11:00 P.M. Sun-Thur and 12:00- 1:30 on Mondays. I swear, I had no idea. So, as you can see, I may be stuck here for a long spell, unless you can bail me out. The one phone call they allowed me I used to order a gallon of Turkey ice cream.
P.S. It's cold & dark in here!
Following is a poem written for and recited at the ritual:
by Sarah Pearlman
It gladdens us to see you.
Bones you have found
Beneath our homes
Beads once wound about strong arms
Mothers placed on hearths.
It pleases us to see you
We came out of the forest
To make our homes
Near the sea
Close to the mountains
We were the first
To know abundance
Grain covered fields, fish
Dancing in nets
Trees bent with fruit
The first to harvest
It so pleasures us to see you
We loved this earth
We call the Mother
She gave us abundance
The sea waters gushing
Snow melting falls
Anointing sacred clefts
She is abundance
It is with joy that
We greet you
Our celebrations were many
Serpentine flutes arousing desire
Two women dance
Bodies oiled Hips circling
Snake like limbs
Coil about each other
Heads bow between legs
To revere the sacred entrance birth passage
Cries of desire fill dark nights
Strong women linger
Fill their lovers
Others mount men
Drawing them inside
Moist earth, wet with dew, opening to seed
We smile to see you here.
Ritual for Estella Frazer
June 19, 2001, on the Shore of the Aegean
Creation of sacred space apart from ordinary time
A large heart was sculpted in the sand.
White and red flowers were placed upright in the heart.
"Whoever finds love beneath hurt and grief
Disappears into emptiness with a thousand new disguises." Rumi
To honor the life and passing of Estella Frazer.
To honor anay and anah of each individual.
Invocation of Estella's spirit, and all of our ancestors
Reading, No Room for Form, by Rumi, read by Emily
On the night when you cross the street
from your shop and your house
to the cemetery,
You'll hear me hailing you from inside
the open grave, and you'll realize
how we've always been together.
I am the clear consciousness-core
of your being, the same in
ecstasy as in self-hating fatigue.
That night, when you escape the fear of snakebite
and all irritation with the ants, you'll hear
my familiar voice, see the candle being lit,
smell the incense, the surprise meal fixed
by the lover inside all your other lovers.
This heart-tumult is my signal
to you igniting in the tomb.
So don't fuss with the shroud
and the graveyard road dust.
Those get ripped open and washed away
in the music of our final meeting.
And don't look for me in a human shape.
I am inside your looking. No room
for form with love this strong.
Beat the drum and let poets speak.
This is a day of purification for those who
are already mature and initiated into what love is.
Introduction of Estella and Eulogy
Song: In the Garden
Demeter and Persephone mythos, presented by Mara
Death, separation, resurrection, reunion
Rite of passage in the water
Beebe floated while being supported and passed by the group.
Chanting of She Carries Me....to the other side and through the other side.
All were proclaimed to be adopted daughters of Estella,
incarnation of the great Mother.
Beach clean-up crew asked about our mission, and stopped working in apparent reverence.
Song: He's Got the Whole World in His Hands
Verses added by the group
I stand on the edge of the continent
Where a tiny creek gurgles into the sea..
The sea replies with swell after roaring swell
In powerful rhythmic caresses
Making Cosmic love to the creek
And to my wildly joyful soul and body.
You lifted up your Turkish skirts
And I burrowed into your fertile fields.
The gift of our coupling transforms me-
A single turquoise tulip.
Beloved, I long to touch your body
breath to breath,
heart to eye to lips
salty taste to taste
heat to flame to radiant sun.
Poetry from Phasalis
I stand on the edge of the continent
Where a tiny creek gurgles into the sea..
The sea replies with swell after roaring swell
In powerful rhythmic caresses
Making Cosmic love to the creek
And to my wildly joyful soul and body.
You lifted up your Turkish skirts
And I burrowed into your fertile fields.
The gift of our coupling transforms me-
A single turquoise tulip.
Beloved, I long to touch your body
breath to breath,
heart to eye to lips
salty taste to taste
heat to flame to radiant sun.
Lips and hands yearn to caress
Full, soft vessels of nurturing spirit.
Pour essence into my open mouth.
I want to intoxicate on nectar from your 1,000 breasts.
Flashes of light
The joy of desire.
I saw how the mountains fit together
And I brought that home to you
I delighted in the warmth you found in the desert
We took pleasure at different times
In the sea and lake and gave that to each other
We leave and return, leave and return, but
Serpentine fingers, then tongue depart
Copper thighs tremble
Breasts meet, hips dance
Gentle whirring vibrator purrs, then fades.
The Night After Returning from Turkey
I awake at midnight in a dim, cavernous room,
Staring at odd, curved walls and rounded corners
Under a cosy, low ceiling.
What are those dark masses, those silvery swirls,
Spangles of light, twisty blurs?
I sense that I am surrounded by exotic mysteries,
Caught up in the swirling patterns of carpets,
The sinuous tunnels of Cappadocian caves,
The jagged gaps in shimmering marble ruins.
The sweet, mystical aura of the scene
Envelops my heart,
Then shifts to bewilderment,
Even a dollop of fear,
And finally to a wry moment of recognition.
In the ancient light of Turkey,
Even my own bedroom
Mimics the boudoir of the queen of the elves.
HOW TO FIND PICTURES ON THE WEB
Hi Turkey Sisters,
I finally got a sampling of my photos up on the Web, and I'd love to have you look at them. I've got them on a site, Club Photo, where you can download any photo you like onto your computer and then print it out or order prints. You can also add your own photos by following the instructions below.
The URL to go to for my photos is:
There are 8 albums there; I'd like you to look at all of them. If you double-click on the small photos you see at first, you'll get a larger version. Double-click on that and you'll get a super-large version, bigger than your monitor; you'll have to scroll around to see all the parts of it. If you right-click on this large version, you'll have an opportunity to "Save as" on your own computer and then print it out, if you wish.
As my notes show, I don't remember where quite a few of my photos were taken, so please help me out if you do remember. Easiest way to do that is in my Guest Book.
To add your own photos (which I really hope you will do), first sign up for a free membership in Club Photo. Start by clicking on "Join now" on the site. Then add your own photos by following the directions. If you put your name and your Club Photo URL in my Guest Book, everyone will be able to access your photos through it - so we'll have a series of linked sites. Alternatively, you can just e-mail the list telling them your URL so people can access your photos without going through my Guest Book.