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Malta and sister Island Gozo

Categorized in these topics: Interviews and Other Works about Danica Anderson

Daughters of Wisdom Work/Study Travel Tour October 1999

I have noted how the memory is the collective unconscious. Perhaps, it is the way the yellow white Maltese limestones glisten in the sun and in the dark that triggers a deep hidden memory within us. I have felt that ancient memory on Malta and sister island Gozo sometimes in the smell of blue aqua seas and mists around Azure Window on Gozo or in the tinges of red ochre coating the Hypogeum walls three stories beneath the streets of a Maltese city. Carl Jung defined the collective unconscious as the encoded wisdom of thousands of generations before us. Somehow, I know that ancient wise women lived every aspect of their lives this way; hence the megalithic structures, and the artwork.

Many think that the pyramids are the oldest structures in the world. The reality is that the Mother & Daughter Temple (Ggantija) located on the island Gozo (a sister island to Malta), predates the pyramids by a 1,000 years. This makes Ggantija the oldest site in the world. The megalithic limestone temples quickly point out that our textbooks and western history is outmoded and one-sided.

Many of the daughters that come on the work/study tour become angry at the sheer absence of ‘herstory’ in their lives, schools and studies. I have the anger rise in the daughters and it is processed during the work/study tour but I ache with sadness at the sheer loss of the feminine in our lives today each time I face this issue. More then anything else, the huge silent limestone temples and sites point out the need for the world to re-member the mother and daughter relationship. And this seems to channel the fury into a more creative outlet and a deepen mother/daughter bond.

Malta is one ancient site that triggers memories so old that they seem to be something which flows from the First Mother. There is precious little written or understood about mother/daughter relationships. Some feel that the whole concept of the mother-daughter relationship needs to be re-invented. Actually, I feel that the mother and daughter relationship needs to be re-membered. The individuals that join this work/study tour remark how the very temple walls and Giantess statues trigger a remembrance that hungers for a fuller mother and daughter bond. The Daughters of Wisdom individuals taste arduous work and a descent akin to Inanna deciding to enter the underworld at this point. The women/daughters are guided along their path with great care on this work/study tour.

For instance, the one thing the daughters on the Malta tour noted was the deep grandeur of the civilization of the Goddess. Archaeologist/author Dr. Marija Gimbutas, in The Language of the Goddess (1989, San Francisco: Harper and Row.), has identified much of the grandeur of Old Europe The pilgrimage of mothers with their daughters on this work/study tour helped all of the participants to access the immediate knowledge and wisdom of our ancient mothers’ legacy, and this happened by their just being onsite. Finally, daughters were hearing herstory being spoken and taught; they absorbed their mothers’ legacy, a legacy that spoke about 6,000 years of no wars, gender peace and the highest of art forms found to date. Even more profoundly, the daughters were re-membering their mother and daughter relationships, memories triggered by the Megalithic limestones and ancient Goddess sites.

This last tour as all tours was filled with synchronicity. We were allowed to have a private tour in the Hypogeum which has been closed for the past five years. Joseph Farrugia was a wonderful Maltese caretaker/herstorian of the Hypogeum and talked as if the Hypogeum was his mother. The Hypogeum is three stories under the Maltese streets. Red pigment etches the spirals into the limestone and the round walls-- no wall was straight--are acoustically perfected to hum vibrations. One of the young maidens sang at the limestone window in the Hypogeum and her voice drummed up through all the floors of the underground temple where the Sleeping Goddess was found. Only a few months before, Jennifer Berezan cut her album “Returning” inside the Hypogeum, she did this because of the floating vibrations and the feminine spirituality within these round rooms.

I practice feminist archetypal psychology and draw on a holistic scholarship that allows for the freedom to spin through many fields (Patricia Reis-Through the Goddess). I have constantly sought to embody the archetypes for these work/study travels because I feel it is a sacred pilgrimage, a return to the divine feminine that is so needed by daughters. After having done my own pilgrimage to ancient Goddess sites and many work/study tours, I have noted how the megalithic temples and tombs exert their archetypal pull through their embodiment of body forms, and especially of feminine body forms. Even Crete’s Knossos palace is a walking labyrinth, and labyrinths are symbolic of the destiny found in the womb. Again, we find ourselves within the body of a woman -- our mother.

With this feminine-centering practice, I noted how the Hypogeum made us feel as if we were inside the womb of the Goddess. Our tour group lost all consciousness of linear time and calendar days within the walls of the Hypogeum. The Daughters of Wisdom was allowed to sing and open a circle within the womb of the Hypogeum. The circle activity involved the encircling of arms that modeled support and backing for daughters to actually feel with their bodies. The singing vibrated through our bodies and resonated in our souls. Many mothers simply cried during the ritual activities. The only words that floated in the air was the words sung by a young maiden of our tour group.

Rachel Pollack explores the aspect of the Goddess’s body in more depth in her book, The Body of the Goddess. The work/study group lived in an embodied community for seven days. Everything from their feet to their eyes took in the feminine forms that abound in Malta. Many of the work/study rituals and circle-kolo processes added more dimension and depth to the process of honoring the mother/daughter bond. It was as if each one was cutting and sculpting the form of the Goddess during the tour. The “Daughters of Wisdom Tour” precipitates an in-depth honing of the divine feminine aspects, a knowledge that promises a profound rememberance of the mother and daughter relationship.

One process that provided for an embodied community experience was to cut and sculpt the feminine forms. This involved a ritual in which all of us screamed and toned our pain and anger while holding hands in a circle. Much like the Native American women’s calls to prayer and the African women’s high pitched peals the daughters cut through manmade language and were able to voice a deeply hidden well of pain and anger. I felt each daughters’ call not only in my ears but through my body in vibrations. Often after this ritual laughter spills out of the mouths and I sense a great release similar to the flow of the high tides and low tides of the ocean. The daughters feel the very same rhythm embodied in the oceans and mother nature’s cleansing process of floods, hurricanes or fires.

The huge and fat Lady of Malta is a large limestone figure of a full-bodied woman in a skirt. The figure of the giantess in the Tarxien cemetery evokes the perception that women’s storage-artifacts embody stories about women. I prefer to call her the Giantess and not label her as huge and fat as the previous archaeologists have before the field was engendered. In one glance, many of the daughters noted that perhaps the giantess was strong, like the mythic Amazons. More effective and sacred than words, the giantess triggers ancient memories within the modern daughter. Adrienne Rich, in “The Greatest Untold Story: Mother/Daughter Relationship, ” says that the fact that this story is untold is true in modern times, but that our ancient sisters would have understood this wisdom and sculpted this wisdom in the form of the Giantess.

Veronica Veen, a Dutch archeologist who has worked in Malta since the mid-1980’s, traced the giantess’s name to that of Saracen. The name “Saracen” indicates that the giantess was a pagan and that she had a dark complexion; she wore the clothing of a mother and/or a grandmother. In another part of Malta (Xaghra), the giantess was named “Sansuna” and that indicates that she was tall, and stronger than the biblical Samson. These ancient stories echoed many of the women’s stories as the participants of this tour began relating the truth of their own lives during their pilgrimage on the “Daughters of Wisdom” work/study conference. Many had lost their authentic voice and noticed how they lacked the words, and indeed the vocabulary.

To name their mother/daughter relationship, one process was to author their personal myth of their lives. Many daughters of the work/study tour complained of hitting a wall on this ritual. I found that many women in my therapy office and in the work/study tours often feel that someone outside themselves must author their story and that they have no right to pen their lives. Sitting in the Maltese restaurant with paper tablecloths became the medium that I chose for the daugthers to author their personal myth. Throwing the colored chalks, pastels and pens in the middle of the tables, the daughters set to work in drawing and penning their personal myths as we orally processed our need to become authors. The paper tablecloths lacked a single inch of white blank material. Before their very eyes, the daughters made a wonderful tapestry before the food was set in front them. The meal was eaten in grace and dignity and hushed voices as if to honor the magnificent tapestry that embodied each daughter.

Another process involved our group to visit Tarxien cemetery located on the island of Malta. The daughters rubbed their fingers in a circle on an ancient grain stone. The grinding stone ritual ended with the daughters giving gifts to their mothers at this site. Synchronicity visited again. The young maiden that sang at the Hypogeum limestone window wrote a song for her mother and played it at Tarxien. She was 16 and did not know, when she wrote her song about voices from the cemetery, that Tarxien was a cemetery where thousands of Maltese lay decorated in red ocher under the ground. The young maiden’s memory was activated long before the actual work/study travel tour in the preparation steps handed out a few weeks earlier. Our young daughters are still tapped into this ancient collective memory and wisdom.

The lyrics pointed to the depth and core of the Mother/Daughter bond that is largely forgotten in our culture. She sang how her mother gave birth to her in the middle of the cemetery. I smiled at the giantess at Tarxien and marveled at how she always manages to birth the re-memberance of the mother/daughter bond. The young maiden that wrote that song was so revitalize because she was surrounded with feminine forms and figures. At times very angry, the young maiden wondered why her mother had not seen her need to be wrapped with divine feminine archetypes while living in the patriarchy.

At the mother/daughter temple site, Ggantija on the Sister Island Gozo, the daughters sat in a circle behind the temple. We commenced our circle-kolo and rituals. Pictures of our daughters and mothers in infancy decorated the ground. Some cried, others expressed their rage at the loss of the mother/daughter relationship, while others re-membered their bonds. Overhead a helicopter buzzed around our circle for a half an hour. A Maltese man stood outside the wall watching our group. When we tried to gain entrance to another Maltese site the next day, we were almost denied entry because word had gotten around that we were practicing evil. Fear is behind most of this, and always present is the fear of the Feminine. Fear is behind the violence in the world. Fear is an absence of love.

These ancient Goddess sites are more often cordoned off, and as with the Hypogeum, permission is needed to gain access. What was once open, free and available for women to practice archetypal rituals and to remember bonds is now held in the hands of androcratic rule (men). This makes it more and more difficult for women to trigger their ancient memories and to find a mirroring of the divine feminine in our culture. Yet, work/study tours such as these are important for mothers and daughters in our culture, in societies that denigrate the feminine. Dale Spencer’s boo, Manmade Language, describes how our culture and language do not contain a vocabulary for women to express their mother and daughter bond.

As a psychotherapist, I have seen the need for a deeper, fuller mother/daughter relationship. Mothers and daughters -- women -- are always in service for others. The constant performance for all others taxes the role of being a mother and a daughter. Many women simply cannot imagine taking time off to do a tour like this; they don’t value themselves enough to pay for a sacred vacation. Of course, this notes underscores how women are living in a culture that does not encourage, respect or prefer the feminine.

Malta is one geographic location where the Neolithic age provides an incredible tribute to mother and daughters. Doing an intensive workshop on mother-and-daughter issues in the realm of a great maternal, ancient culture predating the pyramids offers an experiential inheritance greatly needed by all mothers and daughters. Perhaps, this is one inheritance you might want to give to your daughter. And remember, all of us are daughters, so every woman will benefit from participating in this tour.

Discuss / Raspravljati


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