Monday, July 28, 2014

Like Odysseus, I'm Returning to Ithaka

I am heading to Greece to attend a writers' retreat on my beloved island of Ithaka, and to do research for an exciting new project, a book entitled 100 Places in Greece Every Woman Should Go, to be published by Travelers' Tales in 2015.

This won't be your average guidebook to Greece - more like having a best friend along on the journey who will steer you towards a personally curated collection of cool, sometimes unusual and always exciting places you shouldn't miss when traveling in this ancient land - all from a women's perspective, wish a healthy dash of enlightening archaeological facts in the mix. And since I'm all about archetypes and the divine feminine, count on many of the 100 places to be oozing with tales of heroines, saints and goddesses of mythology and the cinema.

I'll be returning to do research in the fall and again in the spring to track down new places and in some cases revisit old ones. As an archaeologist who has lived and worked in Greece for many years, I've had a chance to travel widely in the country. I'll offer up unusual and sometimes mysterious destinations  - a mountain village on the island of Kefalonia where snakes and the Virgin Mary are thought to cure both mental and physical illnesses, a kayak trip down the real River Styx - as well as offer a fresh take on the standards, including the ancient architectural jewels of Athens and the inside scoop on that building with the women holding up the weight of the world!
Photo by Matthew Muth

It won't be easy to narrow down the selection to 100 places - I've already got 251 on my bucket list! So, like Artemis, the Goddess of the Hunt, I set out on my quest...

Monday, July 21, 2014

Goddesses in the Dust: How an Archaeologist is like Persephone

An archaeologist unearths the divine feminine, one archetype at a time...
Throughout my childhood I've loved being close to the earth.

But since I was a girl I've had a nightmare of being pulled into a hole in the ground.

In the myth of Persephone, the goddess was abducted against her will into the lair of Hades, King of the Underworld. Before she was returned to the aboveworld and to her mother, the grain goddess, Demeter, she had eaten three pomegranate seeds ~ the food of the dead. For each seed she ate, she was destined to return to the Underworld for a month each year, and for those three months Demeter let nothing grow ~ the three months of winter.

In my nightmare, I also fell into an Underworld against my will. But like Persephone, I soon learned to see in the darkness, and now I go willingly.

 I have eaten many pomegranate seeds. and I return again and again to this soil.

At excavations I have stood at the edge and looked out over the site, aware that the holes are getting deeper by the day. 

Remembering how, the deeper I go into the earth

the more I can hear Persephone speak to me, telling me not to be afraid to pass through thresholds 

because - as in the earth - it is often in the hidden parts of our selves that we find our treasure.

Monday, July 14, 2014


Crossed the Rainbow Bridge on her 17th birthday, July 12, 2014. 

We will miss you Mia, our most beloved Airedale. 

You will live in our hearts forever.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Goddesses in the Dust: The Last Girls' Class Reunion

An archaeologist unearths the divine feminine, one archetype at a time...

Thirty six of us stood on the steps of our school that June day. The sun beat down on our white gowns and mortarboards, that virginal color so many girls wear to graduation. The last girl's class to graduate before our school merged with the boy's school. The new school took the boy's school's name, as Northrop Collegiate School was too much of a mouthful to swallow. 

I've spent all my life in girl's schools. After attending a convent school in England, my parents needed to find me a new school when we returned to the States.
Me in uniform, Oaklawn, Silverdale Avenue, Walton-on-Thames
The English educational system had moved me a couple grades ahead, and my parents didn't want to send a nerdy, socially clueless, tortoiseshell-glasses-wearing prepubescent girl into an American public high school where I would have been eaten alive.
My younger sister and me in uniform, Walton-on-Thames, England
So they chose this private girl's school. This is where I came of age. I could continue to study Latin and enjoy my favorite subject - math - without worrying about being distracted by boys in the class. As an all girls' school we didn't seem to care as much how we looked, never learning how to use makeup and rarely wearing a bra. Friends took Tampax to class, the paper wrapped tubes tucked into the breast pocket of their navy blue uniform jumpers. 

In some ways, it was an idyllic situation. We came to know boys, eventually — but not too early — not before we came to know ourselves. We were too busy enjoying the company of other girls, building up - and occasionally tearing down - each other's self-esteem, in the way only girls know. But because our class was small, it was important to be a friend.

And here I learned how to be a friend.

Last weekend we gathered again. I enjoyed catching up with these beautiful and strong women and learning about their lives. The adage: the more things change, the more they stay the same would be true, as is the old song we used to sing at Girl Scouts:

Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Postcards from the Underworld: Somewhere in Central Georgia

I wasn't aware you could go to school for this.....