Liz Huston

Original Art, Musings and Photography

Tag: lentas

I danced

From my journals, post trip:

I’ve been home from Greece for a few days now. It’s 3am, and I have still only slept in fits and starts. The jet lag is so much worse than ever. Every night, if I can sleep at all, I wake up every two hours confused, looking desperately for the Libyan Sea or some other now familiar landmark. I am glad to be in my house with a purring cat on my lap – but it all feels different. I feel different. There has been a deepening in me, and there has been a wounding and a profound healing.

The world is full of terrors, I feel shallow and selfish being so preoccupied with this feeling. I should be doing something more productive with my time, something to help others, but what can I do when I my heart is howling? I found that place in my soul that has been calling me for a lifetime – and now I weep from the feeling that I left it all behind.  It is a sad, frightening feeling when I wake up at 3am looking for the sea. Where is the sea? Where is my heart?

There is work, there are art shows and deadlines, collectors and ideas pushing me forward to get back into the work. Of that, I am so very thankful. I use that lifeline to re-enter my life. I lived something mythic in Crete, honoring it with making new artwork is my gift back.

And yet, the sadness. My priorities have shifted ahead of my life. I dream of going back there to Crete. And yet somewhere inside I believe that once you have left, you can never return. The pain is tremendous. What am I mourning?

I explore the contrast, which serves to give shape to everything. The night gives way to the day, the hot to the cold, the happy to the sad, the deep to the shallow. We receive tremendous benefit from experiencing the contrasts, they clarify and refine all the edges, sharp and blurred.

Looking to the contrast of this extreme feeling, I realize that even though I have worked very hard to make something of myself as an artist, that in so doing I have been isolating myself to the point of danger. I don’t think I am actually meant to be alone. I don’t think I actually want to be alone. This revelation blows my mind.

In Lentas, I grew close with a small group of medicine women who gathered there from around the US and Greece. We were looking for healing, community and sisterhood. We each brought a unique piece to the puzzle, sharing our gifts with the group, and in our close communing, were prompted to see our shadows and our light. The support in those moments was overwhelming in its vastness, its wisdom. I was at home with these women, we became a family of sorts.

I had the sea, beautiful and bountiful food, the support of a community, all in the lands and the ruins of a culture that venerated the Goddess. If I had a religion, it would be of the ancient Goddess cults, that has always been where my heart knows itself. In the sweetness of all those experiences, what else was a single woman to do but fall for the handsome stranger at the local tavern?

Our moonlit encounters on the beach were the archetype of every beautiful and trashy romance novel. I was utterly smitten. For his part, for what he felt, I do not really know. I want to believe the same of him, but perhaps that is naive. Our ending was a bit tragic, full of miscommunications and missed opportunities. So many evenings together and in the end, we never even said goodbye. There are no pictures, he has no presence online. That part of the story is done, and I feel I cheated myself there. Was it fear and old stories that kept me from truly finishing what we had started? Or did it just go as far as it could? I will never know.

Yet, because life is generous, on my last night, despite that abrupt ending, my heart was expanded even greater, and into more joy than I had ever known!

There was food and community and an incredible Cretan band played who played for hours upon hours (five hours or so, I think). Their music stirred me profoundly. I danced and danced and danced! Tried to learn the traditional dances, which were fun and centered around community. I was not great at them, but with a heart as overflowing as mine, they didn’t seem to care. They welcomed me anyway! The band bought me drinks, the other patrons bought me drinks, and we danced some more. When the others were tired of dancing, I kept going, my body could not stop!

In my dance, I was following the ecstatic spirit of the music, my heart, the sacred land and the magic sea. I danced for the joys that were revealed to me in that week, and I danced for the sorrows at leaving it all behind. I danced for the beauty that is yet to come and I danced for all that is strange and frightening in the world. I danced for the sisters I had found, and the love we all shared. I danced for the man in the tavern who was not there, and I danced for the man who would come next. I danced for my heart coming home to herself, and I danced a prayer that this would please please please come around in some form, again.

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This is me. Happiest I’ve ever been in all my life, on the last night I spent in Crete, as the band played on. October, 2017. (Photo by Demeter)

Day Three. Lentas, Crete.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017
(from my journals)

It is already morning. Not sleeping a lot here, which is unusual. I love to sleep! Watched the sun come up again from my bed. My sleepless nights are not out of melancholy or stress, or even from the romantic rendezvous. Deep down, I stay awake because I know my time here is short and want to take it all in – I really can’t get enough of this place. I love it so.

Why? Why do I love it so? There is not any one thing; it’s the combination of it all. It’s the moon, the sea, the land herself. It’s the ruins, the wind, the rocks, the herbs, the goats with the little bells around their necks, the lion shaped mountain standing guard, the elephant rock in the water. It’s the people, it’s the food, the history – it is everything. People talk of their spirit animals, this feels like my spirit land. How am I so connected to this place? I feel it in places within my being that I never even knew existed. As if this land opened up a new room in my soul.

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The wind is so strong this morning, I imagine it is carrying stories. I listen, but I cannot hear. How do I catch the stories? Yesterday, as I swam in the waters at the gorge, I laid on my back, relaxed deeply, and let the water carry me. It was quite effortless, the waves are so gentle. For once in my life, it was easy to let go. Ah, let go. Why are we so reluctant to let go? No matter the thing. So reluctant.

In the water yesterday, there were stories too. The beach is full of pebbles and rocks and as I laid on my back, ears submerged in the water, body relaxed and receptive, those rocks sounded like a thousand tiny voices.

I attempted to focus on one voice, but it is not possible. I am distracted by my mind, but it is the heart who has the ears to hear. My mind knows these sounds are only the motion of the ocean waves moving the rocks. My mind tells my heart to stop with this silly nonsense. But my heart is still listening intently, convinced there are messages for her.

The heart is clever and she wonders, “is it not the vocal chords that produce the sound of our voice with their vibration? Then is it not possible that it is the motion of the waves that gives voice to the ocean?”

My mind has lost patience with my heart.

I wanted to write about what happened today. There is so much to write! Everything has a deepening. My words feel softer, more purposeful.

We walked silently in a line up the hill to the ancient site. The Sanctuary of Asklepios, in Ancient Lebena, was a sanctuary of healing. He is the father of Hygeia, Goddess of Health, Cleanliness. What am I here to heal? What in my heart needs to be cleaned? I am faraway again, listening to something deep within that I cannot seem to really hear. Why am I so desperately wanting to hear a message?

We walk some more in silence. A tourist walks by me, says hello, and I break the silence by saying hello to him. I am disappointed in myself for that. Always so polite, Liz? This is a sacred, silent moment. Then I remember I had been trying so hard to hear something, and I heard something! Hello! I giggle. The sacred need not be boring. Lighten up, I tell myself.

We walk. Until now, I have only seen this path in the moonlight, as I excitedly walk to meet him. Him. I can’t think of him too much, I’ll get lost. I notice how pretty the path is in the day, though much less exciting. As I walk, I keep having this sense that I must think of something quite big and profound to ask for at the Sanctuary, but what? Wait. Am I to be listening or speaking?

I arrive at the sacred site. They give us instructions that I don’t hear because I’m thinking too loudly. I follow their lead and witness a bit of the mystery in expression. Memories surface. How is it that as a young girl I pretended at all the things I do now? When I was quite small, I remember practicing slow processionals on the long walkway to the porch. I was some kind of priestess, on my way somewhere important. I was 4, and suddenly it is one of my earliest memories. Am I having a life review? Where are these new memories coming from? Maybe I did have a secret room in my soul open. Another memory surfaces; I used to draw a woman, over and over and over again. Just one woman in the center of the page, wearing the most incredible clothing. I was 7 years old in this memory. She is remarkably similar to the woman I still make, in the center of the page. At 9, I pretended to be a shopkeeper, selling my drawings of the woman – until my little brother told me they weren’t very good (as little brothers are wont to do).

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Is it that life has a way of orchestrating itself so you are always at the right place and time gathering just the right knowledge in order to advance to the next place? Or is it that we are organizing it from within?

The memories stop. All is quiet in my mind, for once.

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In that timeless space, I make an offering at the Sanctuary and say a prayer.

My prayer is unique in that there are no words. All that thinking, all those words clouded around me as I proceeded up the hill to this place, and now my prayer is silent? It has never been silent. In this place, I pray to a feeling, a sensation of peace and knowing that lies beyond words. I take that feeling, picture everyone I love – there are so many of them! I love so much. I recall lovers, friends, family, strangers. All manner of people who have touched my heart in some way. There are those I loved once, and those I still do. There are streets, and houses I lived in and passed by. I wrap everything in this prayer of peace. It feels like a gift and a witnessing.

I hold everyone close in my heart.
And then I let it go.

Day One. Lentas, Crete

It took me 26 hours, door to door, to get here, to this very spot. I traveled from Los Angeles to this small village of Lentas, with the elephant rock off the coast, the waters of the Libyan Sea lapping at its base. When I saw this place with my eyes, there was a resonance in my soul, for I had seen it months before, in a meditation (long before I knew of this trip or this place). I howled silently, a deep recognition in the center of my soul, which felt like descending into the depths of the mystery itself.

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I slept with the doors and the blinds open, tonight, falling asleep to the stars, and waking up with them too. The coastal winds are howling, carrying the voices of an ancient people. I do not yet know anything about the history of this place. I was called here, a sudden call to come on a women’s retreat, with only 3 weeks to plan. I may not intellectually know the history, but I feel it. I hear it. Though I have not seen any ruins, this must be a very ancient place.

Concerns of the world I left behind tug at me, they woke me at 3am. I feel I must work, but the sun has not yet risen. I gather my sketchbook and I draw, I contemplate. Do I know how not to work?

I contemplate my Tarot deck. There are 4 cards left in the major arcana I don’t yet understand; The Empress, The Emperor, The Devil, The Hierophant. In this land, I can more clearly see and feel. The Empress, Goddess of the land, she is the bountiful earth. She is generosity personified – she provides a good life for her people, long as they don’t take advantage or abuse the privilege by taking more than they need. She is powerful in and from love, not force. It is her great gift, this giving of life and sustenance.

At last I understand the Empress.

Something is awakening in me as I watch the sky illuminate, the sun is rising. I am in Crete!

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This is what it feels like to have enough. This is what it feels like to be content in the knowing that you are loved and provided for. I am crying now, the tears are washing away the words in my journal. I have never known such sustenance before. There is water, air, food, companionship, shelter. I would like to feel more of this when I return to my house. I very nearly said home, but right now, this is home. Being here in Crete I feel at home. The land welcomes me as if I have walked it thousands of times before.

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I know very little about the resort I am staying at, but looking around, I believe it was built by a good man. I see the fruits of labor from a man with a vision and resources, who used both wisely. I think that is the gift of the Emperor. A truly just and good Emperor has a vision, and builds it in the strongest way he can, in harmony with nature, yet also reinforced, knowing that storms do come.

I have never understood Him this way. How amazing that in the land of the Goddess, I can finally appreciate the God? I can finally see him and be grateful for his contributions. I am surprised by this revelation. I am not a man hater, but having been subjected to various forms of abuse at the hands of men who “loved me”, I lived my life in fear of men. Here, I do not feel that same way. Here, I appreciate Him, as much as I appreciate Her. The balance of the divine, where the masculine and feminine truly meet.

Is this because coming from a place so skewed to the force of the masculine, just by being in a land where She is still alive, there is no longer anything to fight for, there is only an integration of the two?

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Today I will gather with the women in ceremony and celebration, and there will be free time to explore the village in the afternoon and evening. I do not know what I am most excited for, the sisterhood or something greater? I feel as if I am stepping into a grand adventure of heart and soul. There is no script, only a sense that something big is about to happen. Am I up for the challenge? Already I am wondering how I can ever leave such a beautiful place. There are so many days ahead of me here, yet already I am lamenting my fate at having to leave. It would do me well to learn how to be here now. I have often felt the sensation of being in the wrong place and time – longing for something I could never name. Is the key in just accepting now? THIS now is easy to accept. It is beautiful and peaceful. I feel at home and full of life. But NOW is so transitory. You can’t catch it. Even as I wrote the word now, that now vanished and gave way to the next – and on it goes.

It is probably better I do not know the script, or if I do, that I do not remember it. I will be brave in the improvisation. I will do my best to recognize the gifts when they come and to not fear what comes next.

Thank you, Lentas, for calling me here. I remember you. I know you in my heart. I am so excited for what lies ahead.

~Liz Huston, from my Crete journals, Monday, October 2, 2017