Monday, February 20, 2012

Goddesses in the Dirt: The Lady of Lake Bled

Unearthing the Divine Feminine, one archetype at a time...


Goddesses in the Dirt - Issue #28: The Lady of Lake Bled


Out there, somewhere, she lived. In the shadow of the Julian Alps, on the shores of Lake Bled, I watched for her. Located at the northern edge of Slovenia along the border of Austria, this is where the ancient Slavs worshipped Ziva, the goddess of love and fertility -  whom some refer to as a goddess of longevity. 

The Goddess Šiwa. Book print, 1740

In the middle of this lake is the only island in Slovenia - a dark and wooded rock marooned in frigid waters - where I was told her temple once stood. I couldn't help but think, watching sunlight trading places with shadows that dragged across a castle on a distant cliff, this would be the perfect domain of Count Dracula.



As a pair of sculls got into position to race across the lake, I thought of Ziva's association with water as a rejuvenating force. In ancient times this lake was a symbol of water's magical capacity for healing in this life or the afterlife, as well as a symbol for the peace of the soul.

Not only in antiquity was this lake known as a place of peace. In modern times, it's well known for rowing as the conditions are perfect for the sport. 

If the rowers were to glance over to the island, they would no longer see the wooden temple, known as a hram, which was dedicated to Ziva. A church now stands on the site of the pagan building, as this sacred landscape shifted from the worship of a pre-Christian goddess to Saint Mary.

Watching one of the sculls make a turn, I caught the fragrance of roasted chestnuts. A few steps away was a vendor - for a handful of coins he traded me a paper bag filled to the brim. 

Returning to my bench, the sculls had now stilled, their wake gone from the surface, replaced only by the reflection of the setting sun. 



I reached for another chestnut, but before I began to peel away the bitter husk I stopped. In the fading light, I watched to catch a glimpse of the goddess in the distance.  

Ziva did not show herself that evening, but I sensed her reflection in the mirror-like surface of the water. Dusting my hands, I got up to head back to the hotel. But not before leaving my last, unpeeled chestnut in her honor.


Book print of Ziva from Google images, all other photos courtesy of author.

21 comments:

  1. Not only Ziva and Mary the Mother, but the Lady of the Lake in Arthurian legends. Which is where I thought you were headed. All the interesting images that come to mind when I read your goddess stories.

    Once again, well done, amanda.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ah, the convergence of two powerful stories, two powerful women. I love the new look here; and I love the pictures.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I love it, Amanda.

    Those photographs of you in the hat are among my favorites you've posted, so far. Who shot them?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. suze, i have my dear husband to thank for those photos..

      Delete
    2. They capture something essential about the woman I've come to know through these posts. Tipping my own black fedora.

      Delete
  4. Dear Amanda, I always love your thoughtful, a bit mysterious reflections. And the settings. Could you please send me that first picture by mail? I have just started writing a dragon story for my grandson, and he lives in a mountain by a deep lake (the little dragon). This would be the perfect setting!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. geli - will send the foto. so happy it will be the backdrop to one of your fantastic stories!

      Delete
  5. at first glance it looks a bit abandoned like a place for a godess of fertility:)
    I would like to try the sculls:)


    Life and travelling
    Cooking

    ReplyDelete
  6. Lovely post, as always Amanda. I always feel that there is something mysterious and sacred about lakes - that they act as portal to some other realm. And, like Rob-bear, the Lady of the Lake came to my mind too.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Ziva, how interesting, it sounds a bit like Civa and, of course they have to be first cousins, if not sisters. All those ladies of the lakes, white women of so many waterfalls, including our own Montmorency falls near Québec city, point to our common origins and bring us back to our primeval ancestors whomever they may be.

    ReplyDelete
  8. It's easy to see how a legend (if not the source of the legend, itself) grew around such a beautiful and mysterious place. It looks like a painting...otherworldly!

    Thank you for another fascinating journey, Amanda.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I love how all of the old 'myths and legends' are intertwined. It makes me think, are Ziva and the English Lady of the Lake one in the same, or perhaps they were all related... a family of goddesses in spread throughout all of the waters :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. You make me want to scull across that tranquil lake. Thanks for sharing that peaceful moment with us. I like your new banner image too.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Beautiful, eerie, peaceful and mystical. You make it feel "secret" as if we need to stay with you to learn the ending.

    ReplyDelete
  12. What a peaceful moment I find coming here and looking at these beautiful images , I could spend hours sitting at the bench just thinking and wondering about the past and all the mysteries hidden behind the walls of the houses, castles and churches.And eating roasted chestnuts , perfect!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Ah, but you know Ziva did come by...she sent her Swans ahead of her....and after the sun had set and you, the sculls and the birds had gone....she recieved her lovely *offering*.

    ♥ Robin ♥

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. of course — the swans!! i should have known.... ;-)

      Delete
  14. What a wonderfully dramatic castle. There really does seem something magical about that cold and mysterious lake.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Wow such beauty...thankyou for this gorgeous journey...beautiful haunting photos..pure poetry along with your words!! aww..how sweet...the roasted chesnuts are a favorite in my Italian culture..i love the smell of them too! Beautiful post...just magical!
    victora

    ReplyDelete
  16. Dear Amanda, I am back from a vital and very longed for vacation and a blog brake.;)
    Loved this post as you made me relive our trip to Bled when I was a young teenager. Judging from your images, your trip was in autumn while ours was in the height of a hot Mediterranean summer. We felt so refreshed stopping by there on our way back to Scandinavia, having left behind the sunny and hot pebbled beaches of Croatia and the dark green crystal clear waters of the Adriatic sea behind.
    Never knew of this goddess and I enjoyed reading yet another piece in your lovely theme.;))
    xoxo

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hi Amanda,

    I found your post on http://www.travelbelles.com/2011/01/19/the-street-food-of-athens-greece/ and wanted to know the name of the coconut sticks in the 2nd to last photo. I was in Athens 30 years ago and had those delicious treats at every opportunity.

    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for visiting♡