Letters from the Underworld: A Bell and a Pomegranate

An archaeologist's favorite mysterious places

Ever since I was a child I felt the world was filled with mysterious places. When I lived in Minnesota an abandoned shed in our apple orchard, where I would play and dream, was a mysterious place to me. When I lived in England it was a greenhouse at the back of our property near a thicket of towering rhododendron. To this day it could be a dusty attic filled with trunks, a bank of gunmetal gray clouds pregnant with rain, a rusted gate that leads into a forgotten garden where the voices of the past or the secrets of the present whisper: 

I'm special......come find me. 

I find the mysterious everywhere - in places where most people wouldn't. Oftentimes it is just an impression of how a place affects me, speaks to me and makes me feel. In this series I travel to exotic faraway lands as well as unearth the hidden beauty of settings closer to home to share favorite places I find to be sacred, magical... and mysterious.


At the top of a mountain pass in Greece lies the tiny town of Kosmas. I was traveling with my sister through the region of Arcadia on the Peloponnesian peninsula when we came upon the small village with a main square wrapped around a church and flanked by a series of gigantic ancient plane trees that stood like silent sentinels.

The mists that hung over this town, hugging the mountaintops, made you feel as if the gods themselves were close enough to whisper in your ear. In fact, the god Apollo was worshipped here in ancient times in a temple erected on a hilltop.

We had lunch at a little place in the square. 

I looked down and the tablecloth spelled out the word endless...

As we were dining a storm rolled in over the mountains. Just as we made it back to the car the heavens released a mass of hail.

On the drive back down the mountain we admired the gray green sky - 

of course snapped photos of it as my sister is doing here

trying to capture Poseidon in action throwing his lightning bolts.

When I was in Kosmas I purchased a sheep's bell

and this candle holder in the shape of a pomegranate

....both sit in the window above my desk.

Whenever I want to remember this little town I ring the bell....

.....light the candle 

and all the mystery of Greece comes flowing back.


  1. Amanda-you showed the mistery of this uknknow place very well! I love your candle holder, it must be nice to ligh it by winter night:)

  2. A beautiful post ... And bringing home the small bell was a wonderful way to keep the memory fresh.

  3. magical place indeed. love the lightning shot...reminds me of storms over zanzibar...x

  4. I see from the sign over the restaurant door that Apollo has not been forgotten in Kosmas. Very nice and evocative pictures.

  5. Such a delightful place you have discovered in Kosmas. Your bell and candle are fine reminders.

    The thought of mysterious places takes me to the Celtic experiences of "thin spaces." Those are the ones where this world and the nether regions seem particularly "close" to each other; the dividing line is "thin."

    Happy adventuring!

  6. That is a really lovely post.I enjoyed the trip with you. I also have special places and find magic and wonder all over the place and sometimes just at home !!

  7. Beautiful Amanda. "Ever since I was a child I felt the world was filled with mysterious places" - that sounds exactly like me. I am always looking for magic in the most unlikely places - and I usually find it too. It's not to difficult as long as you keep an open mind and heart.

  8. oh amanda, this is a post to be read again and again, such lovely photos, and thoughtful words. it made me wistful for greece and i haven't even been!

    and look! i'm in!

  9. Ring the bell and light the candle...
    Reminds me of Leonard Cohen, there is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in... Don't know why though. I guess it has to do with the mystery you're talking about. Mystery, magic, mists.

    I love the photo where you've captured the lightning over the sea. This is such a beautiful post Amanda!

  10. Hi Amanda! I was stopping by to get my travel fix. : ) The trees in the village are amazing...the remind me of that spooky tree in the movie Poltergeist...they seem to be people rather than just trees.

    I enjoyed scrolling through your last several posts...your house looked lovely at Christmas. I love the photo of you with your kids on the stairs. And your dog...so sweet.

    I sponsor a child in Kenya...the photos you took of all the children's art remind me of what I get her in the mail a couple of time a year.

    Blessings...and until next time!

  11. I love your mysteries, Amanda, and they remind me of my own. Attics and sheds make me fel the same way, also some books with fantasy settings, or dreams I have (last night I dreamed I walked down a steep staircase and came out in the open underneath, like in those fairytales where girls fall into wells), and there I walked in a beautiful landscape, with meadows and a church, and peace all around, like in a long-ago century which I rediscovered.)
    Yes, magic and mystery everywhere.

  12. oh yes, there is mystery in the world...the trouble is most people want to explain the mystery rather than enjoy the mystery......the tinkle of a bell can bring your mind back...a wonderful meditation tool. ....i love the pomegranate candle holder...so perfect for you! May visions of Greece dance in your mind often.....

  13. Amanda, I enjoyed the journey you brought me along with your story and the photos to go along with the unfolding of events. Beautifully told, and just the magical touch of the bell and the candle, sparked a sense of peace within me.

  14. Seriously? You caught a shot of a lightning bolt over the stormy sea? Incredible!

    I love that you notice everything around you, right down to the wording on the tablecloth.

    Being aware of our surroundings is the secret to finding the magic within, isn't it?

    Thank you for taking me with you on this beautiful excursion.

  15. I find the mysterious everywhere - in places where most people wouldn't. Oftentimes it is just an impression of how a place affects me, speaks to me and makes me feel.

    it is as though the holy is hidden in things all around us out in the open and obvious, except for the recognition of them. they are like bells themselves, the holy bits hidden. we must listen intently to hear them. (i believe you do.))


  16. OH! that photo of the lightning is so very wonderful. all of that space and such a concentrated punch of energy!


  17. What a magical little town! I do love village squares and mysterious places. Cool lightening photo! I thought of you while eating pomegranate today.

  18. I think you captured Poseidon's work in that photo perfectly :-)

  19. Dear Amanda, as always, I know exactly what you mean. I too had (and have) places like that, that are mine and mine only, infusing me with gentle enchantment, speaking to me, showing me the hidden and the unseen.
    Love all your snapshots, but of course the thunderstorm over the green sea is my favorite.;)

  20. love this: i'm special...come find me.

    yes! how astute of you to connect those dots.

    and love love the photo of the car door open (and then the shot of your sis defying the rules of thou shalt not leave a car in an electrical storm). the colors, the magic, the possibilities!


  21. The small bell is to remind you, never stop traveling!!!

  22. I'm with you on the attics and shed and mysterious places - I'm always on the lookout for the odd out of the way places that call out in some way.

    LOVE that candleholder. lovely

  23. Amanda, I literally savored those photographs. In all seriousness, I felt like they were engaging other senses. The snapshot of the tablecloth absolutely sprinted away with a little piece of my heart and the ones that came after took their share, too.

    Such a beautiful little footfall through your place. Thank you! You have an excellent sense for manifest magic -- and a gift for capturing it.


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