Monday, March 4, 2013

Goddesses in the Dust: Athena and a Tale of Deadly Mists


Greece is not always about sunshine and beaches. There is a lot more to this landscape than what you can see on a three island cruise.

To me, Greece is about both light and dark, sunshine and shadow, gods and daimons.

Case in point.

One of my favorite books about Greece is by the British expat Lawrence Durrell, The Greek Islands. In it he writes about an Austrian botanist who went camping in the mountains of Corfu, Durrell's home of many years. The man, searching for a particular plant specimen, described later how he climbed to the top of a ridge and found himself becoming enveloped in a mist. Inside he heard the sound of seagulls as well as the calling of human voices. Afterwards he told people that he became so terrified that he packed up immediately and left the site. Some months later he was found at the bottom of a high rise apartment building in Athens, still clutching the receiver of a telephone in his hand, which was found ripped from the wall. 


While this is a more forbidding example of Greece's mysterious side , it relates that the country is not the one-dimensional tourist destination travel brochures proclaim. The author Paul MacKendrick was the first to say the Greek stones speak, and he is right - but the stories they have to tell are not always of blue skies and bright sunlight - sometimes they come from deeper, darker places that are full of pathos. 

If you look more closely at this landscape, you will hear it speak too - and perhaps it will reveal its strangeness, its frequent inexplicability, and its mysterious underbelly, where Athena is known to manifest herself in the most unexpected places....


.....taking home horta freshly harvested from the roadside

.....lighting a candle in a roadside shrine to keep the memory of the deceased alive......
.

.......and most of all, inhabiting the mists that hang over valleys....

....and mountaintops, waiting to whisper her secrets to someone brave enough to listen.

Top image by Kate Stalker

18 comments:

  1. OMG, I am missing Greece, also when it's cloudy there:)
    życie & podróże
    gotowanie

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  2. These photos are so amazing, so beautiful and mysterious. Just like human beings, we all have sunshine and shadows inside of us, don´t we?

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  3. There is always a dark side to these ancient places. Some are in tune to it and some are not. And sometimes, it is best to tune out. I loved this post Amanda - especially since our valleys were thick with mist this morning.

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    1. i would love to see you do a post on those mists!

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  4. The figure in the second photo looks quite mysterious ...

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  5. I love Greece, Amanda. It's such a magical land...

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  6. You are that someone brave enough. You are a true mystic.

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  7. i understand the voice of stones. and they don't have to be stones manipulated by man. in fact, perhaps this is why the voices speak to man more violently at times there, the stones have been disturbed. all throughout this area is Precambrian shield. thank god it's pitted with swamps and lakes but i'm not sure which contains the deeper madness, and by madness i of course mean a natural order of reason.

    it is almost ludicrous to me to see people in what seems like ordinary clothing in greece - dress shoes? hoodies? no wonder the stones speak. they call us back (or they warn us away).

    (and it just occurs to me now to ask you if you are familiar with jack gilbert's poetry? you must be. he touched and was touched by greece.)

    xo
    erin

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    1. the madness of the precambrian shield. now that's something that will occupy me for a long time.......thank you erin.

      i do not know jack gilbert's work but now i will look it up. xx

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  8. Your post really resonates with my own internal dialog at the moment. What we show to the world, our sunniness (How are you? I'm fine!), belies our shadowy side. You tug at something very beautiful and mythical in your writing, in the photographs, in the combination which expresses your own layers of understanding.

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    1. thank you ruth. your words have compelled me to explore this more deeply, and i plan to......to be continued...

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  9. I love how you show us the non-touristy side of Greece. One day I must go myself but visiting here is the next best thing.

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    1. thank you sarah. i hope you visit greece and travel off the beaten path there some day soon.

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  10. lately i've been thinking of all that exists without verification. and this post tells me it is so. after reading this, i am so filled with yearning, i don't know what to do about it. other than to thank you for sharing the mists and the shadows and the thread that connects us to everything.

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    1. what you, ruth, erin and others have said here inspires me to continue with this thread.......thank you all♡

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  11. Have you ever read Henry Miller's "Collosus of Marousi"? More than likely I misspelled something there but I'm on a phone and can'tlook it up. Anyway, as you know Durrell and Miller were very good friends at the time. If by chance you haven't read "Collosus", it is Miller's take on Greece. I think Durrell and Miller were much of what made me fall in love with Greece.

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    1. It's been a while, but I have read that book, years ago. And I recall that Miller and Durrell were friends. Seemed to me that Miller was a bigger than life kind of character and Durrell more of an observer of life. How cool that it was their writing that connected you to Greece.

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