Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Through the crystal caves of the deep ocean


Through the crystal caves of the deep ocean
Demeter comes to greet me.
Her voice whistles like a flute
As she calls across the water.

``Swim with me, dive in,
Trust your spirit
To the sea.”

But I hesitate – the water is so deep,
The rock pool falls away into a shaft
Of midnight blue. I cling to the edge,
My feet stick to the rocks.

``Hold on to me, dive in,
Trust your spirit
To the sea.”

I loosen my hold on the rocks, splash about,
And then she is under me, her laughter
Breaking like spun glass
On the cave’s crystal walls.

``Swim with me, float free,
Trust your spirit
To the sea.”

We ride the waves, through a tunnel
From the cave, where the jade green sea
Ripples like a silk road
In the morning sun.

``Swim with me, have courage,
Trust your spirit
To the sea.”

I sense below me the endless deeps,
Yet for the first time I know no fear.
We crest the breaking waves
And leap into the salt fresh air.

``Swim with me, be a child again,
Trust your spirit
To the Sea.”

I am flying – I am flying over the sea,
The endless deeps hold no fear for me,
I am flying on dolphin wings,
A song pours from my heart.

``Swim with me, dive in,
Trust your Spirit
To the sea.”

Monday, August 29, 2005

Memories of Light



The draw of the deep,
forgotten memories of a place
once known,
now not.
The watery chalice
brings new life,
a power of itself.
Wonderful it is to swim
down, to the secret place
beneath the sea -
among the dolphins.
To know it again,
among the pearls
and coral blue.
copyright Monika Roleff 2005.
(mosaic Knossos - courtesy Arthur Evans site)

four dolphins feed


four dolphins feed
Originally uploaded by FranSb.
On a lovely day we bathed among the dolphins: I talked all afternoon to four beautiful swimmers
who told me they were sisters: Mollie, Andora,
Leonora, and Polly. Polly was the youngest and wanted to leave quickly because the big man with his pail of fish was coming. Andora preferred to talk a while and Leonora sang a song of the deep.

Dolphin Dreams

When I arrived at The Bath House I was shown by an attendant into a cubicle where I was cleansed beneath a shower of aromatic spray. After drying off, my skin felt silky soft. When I stepped from the cubicle, I exchanged my large, soft towel for the robe that was waiting for me, a robe of the finest of Eastern fabric. It was then and only then that I was shown into the inner sanctum, the bath house proper.

The pool was large, so large in fact that I couldn't see the other side. I heard voices so I knew I wasn't alone, but they were muffled in the steamy atmosphere. I sat on the edge of the pool and dangled my feet in the water. Swimming in my skin proved to be too inviting so I slipped out of my silken robe and slid effortlessly into the water. After just a stroke or two, I realized I wasn't alone. My companion in the water was a bottle nose dolphin. He pushed against me, commanding in his language that I climb up on his back. Strangely enough, I understood, and with his help I climbed aboard so-to-speak. We took off, skimming through the water at a good clip. I knew there was a limit to the size of the pool but it seemed to have no boundaries. It was then that I remembered a poem I had been struggling with, and the pieces that had escaped me before fell easily into place.

Dolphin Dreams

Slicing through the water like a sharpened knife.
My legs clasped around your smooth and graceful belly,
arms forward of your dorsal fin.
Lovers in these restless waters,
moving together in perfect unison.
We feel the power of the ocean,
I feel the power of you.

I am naked as are you, as nature intended us to be.
You are suited to spend your life
forever swimming these salty seas.
We break the surface in a shower of sunlit jewels
and soar into an arc of perfect symmetry,
Then, like an arrow,
we slice the surface with barely a ripple to mark our passage.
You dive and I'm with you.
You crest and I am there.
We are lovers rising,
aiming for the sun,
but returning as you must to inner space.

We skim the surface,
playful now
as we speed toward the shore,
where you gently lay me down
on a warm and sandy beach.
"Don't go," I cry
as you swiftly swim away.
"I want to stay with you forever,
be your mate, share your aquatic realm.
But, you are gone and I'm left
tethered to the land,
but hoping,
always hoping,
that someday you will return
to take me with you,
to live forever
in your changing,
restless palace of the deep."

Vi
©August 29, 2005

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Special Engagement

By Special Engagement
Travelers, we invite you to join us!
Madame Eclectica is overjoyed to invite travelers to a special engagement. My good friends the dolphins have arranged a visit--don't ask--the logistics were a nightmare!

We here at the bath house have prepared a special brine bath for our dolphin guests and tired travelers. Relax in the buoyant blue waters and commune with your dolphin companion.
If your mind is open, your dolphin campanion may invite you to interact...many bathers have received special messages, insights, or wisdom from their dolphin guides.
Madame herself continues to ponder the wisdom imparted to her
by Badrayah, a lovely bottlenose.
I invite you all to partake of this experience and share your impressions with the other guests at the bath house.

Overheard in the Bath House

"She says he's back
Who?
The Yo-Yo boy"

Friday, August 26, 2005

Pain gone

Soak in warm water
twisted fingers
freed at last

Washing Away Koshchey

I arrive for my appointment feeling and looking like a complete slob, my hair matted, my body sweaty and smeared with muck and mud. Don't ask about the smell. Please, don't.

In an ordinary bathroom tiled in blue and white, I remove my filthy clothes and try to shower away every remainder of my encounter with Koshchey. I let the water run and run, but I don't think I'll ever be rid of him. I turn off the tap when I realize I'm scrubbing the skin on my arms raw.

I had expected more from this place, but I suppose a bath house so near the Abbey isn't going to offer a great deal of luxury. It's only when I reach for the terry robe hanging on the wall that I see a doorway hidden behind it, a door that leads to a small enclosed garden. Completely private, open only to the blue sky, I find a sunken pool of green and white marble with cool water splashing into it from two dolphin spouts. The tang of mint and lemon verbena mixes with the sweet scent of the white roses in bloom against all four walls.

As my body finally begins to relax in the cool, refreshing water, I notice the roses aren't white at all, but delicately shaded in pastel colors of pink, peach, and yellow that I hadn't been able to perceive in my agitated state. Lining the rim of the pool are several exquisite geodes. I lift one and gaze into its heart. Smokey crystal and bits of fluffy moss form a world in the palm of my hand. Breathing deeply, I know that here my mind will begin to mend as my body heals.

A tale overheard in the bath house




She stood at the edge of the glade, eyes sparkling in the glow of the homefire. All around her, the young ones danced and leapt; their passion and minds were free in the bright burning moment of now. The man stood at her side and gently squeezed her hand. They exchanged a look rich with their own nights by the fire, the wildness loose in their skin. Now they shared the quiet comfort of many nights side by side. She smiled at her daughters dancing under the starwashed sky, and then, unexpectedly, a feeling of sadness filled her.
The dark of the moon reminded her of the dark emptiness she had felt for some time now. Mother Moon had left her behind. Her body no longer kept the rhythm she had known since maidenhood. She was no longer a part of the whole. She noticed a slow deliberation to her thoughts and her movements. Her mothertime was long past, her two daughters grown. They strengthened the community, one a wise teacher, the other a gifted builder. Her gift was given.
The man knew the woman felt a change; felt her turning inward. He searched her face, worried. She no longer felt at home in her skin, under which all the pieces of the universe itched. As the feeling grew, she sifted through her knowledge, seeking a tincture or potion that would heal her. Finally, she knew—she would embrace that most ancient of cures—solitude. She chose for her journey objects that reminded her of life and of home, and wrapping her warm cloak about her body, set off into the woods. The man stood at the gate, the feel of her hand on his cheek fading as she walked away.
She walked for two days and nights, resting in the shelter of a tree or rock that called her name. She drank from quiet pools and lively brooks. She kept company with red foxes, deer, hawks, squirrels, and one wise owl that flew silently above her in the night. She came to an ancient clearing, remembered from girlhood, a place of sacred plants. The enormous oak at the edge of the clearing bent its limbs almost to the ground. The shelter it created kept out the rain, but allowed the breeze and light to flicker in and fall on the mossy carpet below. She placed her cloak in the warm curve at the base of the tree. On a low branch, she found a fallen sparrow’s nest. She placed it gently in the crook of the great tree and within it laid smooth gray river rocks—two, one for each daughter. In a gnarled hole in the trunk, she tucked her book and her comb. She crumbled herbs into her sleeping place, and hung them about the low branches of the tree. Some, like soothing lavender, were for comfort in the present; others were brought to remind her of times past. Passionwood reminded her of nights next to the homefire, wrapped in the arms of another. Motherwort and crampbark, no longer needed, were bundled with velvet ribbon. Rosemary lay by for clarity of remembrance. The fragrant herbs formed the scent of her rich life and she inhaled deeply.
Each day the woman rose and walked the forest, finding simple food to nourish her body and sights to awaken the wonder of her mind. Tender young morels, glittering dew on a crimson flower, stones worn smooth by time’s caress—each delighted her. At night, she spoke softly to the Great Mother before settling into Her sheltering curves. She waited for the dream.
Months passed, and the patience of the woman—a gift of aging—grew. Still she waited. One night, her inner voice bade her prepare. She drank deeply of water from the spring and anointed her skin with lavender oil. Climbing into the arms of the great oak, she stood on a strong branch. Mother Moon was peeking over the horizon, glowing red-gold in the velvet blue night. She once again felt the overwhelming sadness descend. Her sisterhood with the moon was over.
A rush of wind passed over as three powerful black birds descended. She peered into the darkness and saw three large Ravens, feathers shining blue, snapping black eyes gleaming in the night, perched on the branches of the oak.
“Come with us, Sister,” they crowed, in their rusty voices, catching her dress in their powerful beaks. She stretched out her arms, encircling the neck of the largest. They rose and circled the wood, flying higher. “We will show you all there is to see, Sister.” They traveled through the wood and beyond, to her village. She saw the home fires burning; the maidens dancing around the fire. Her heart was torn asunder with all she had lost. Her warm tears fell on the raven.
“Do not cry, Sister. Mother Moon is full and round, as is the wheel of time. You have known the robust passions of youth. You have known the fullness of lifegiving. You will now know the true fullness. No longer will Mother Moon call you to the cycle. Now you become a keeper of wisdom. You will keep all you have known and learned, and your light will grow with each fullness of Mother Moon. In time, you will be so luminous that you will dance up into the night sky. You will become one with those who light us.” The Raven swept a wing toward the stars.
The ravens flew higher and higher, toward the rising moon. The woman reached toward the moon, still longing for it, and dropped her face to the Raven’s feathers in grief. As she moved to wipe her tears, she saw that her hand shimmered with fine moondust. Without thought, she brought her hand to her face and tasted it. Suddenly, she laughed, her joy soaring in the night sky. As the Ravens circled around and around the moon, she scooped handfuls of moondust, eating until she was quite full. She began to feel lighter. She felt a tingling in her heart center. Holding her hands in front of her, she saw moonbeams shooting from each of her fingers. She opened her mouth to speak and moonlight came pouring out in a silken, silvery stream. Her Sisters, the Ravens, cawed and crowed with delight. “You see, Sister, your life is not over. Now Mother Moon lives in you. You will light the way, glowing with the radiance of life and the fullness of time. Be joyful, Sister!”
The ravens circled down, down; into the woods, and dropped her beneath the tree. She fell, solidly, into her body, which now fit her like a glove. Her skin was alive—each cell part of a joyous chorus. She stood up very straight, and walked through the forest to the village, the moonlight caressing her shoulders. She reached the edge of her village in a short time. She passed by the fires, where the maidens were dancing. Some were drawn away from the bright flames to her pale radiance.
“Hello, Mother. Welcome home. We have missed you!” She greeted them, touching each one on the forehead, leaving a faint trace of silver. Dazzled, they smiled and leapt into their dance, rushing back to the fire and the passion of discovery.
She continued on to her own dwelling. Taking off her shoes, she stood in her garden, her feet cool and solid upon the earth. I made this place, she said to herself. I am of it, and it of me. I belong here. My life is full. I am the gift. Her dog came to her and nuzzled her hand. She smiled in the darkness. She heard a noise, and looked up to see the man standing in the doorway.
“I’ve missed you,” he said. “Did the dream come?”
“This is the dream,” she said. She walked to him, the delicate blossoms of the moonflower unfurling in her wake. “I am me again,” she said, “only better.” She stretched out her hands toward him, and the light in her enveloped them both. They began to dance.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Finally


Madame Eclectica, after a day spent running around at these fitness games and carrying dumbells, I've had it. So I've run across from the Hermitage to spend the evening soaking under the glow of the night lights, and to be lost in clouds of steamy lavender and rose oils. Spring is coming and with it, some things have to come off! I didn't bring Hadrianio with me because he's on the loose, being Spring and all. It will be fascinating to hear the stories....I am sure there are many to tell....Hermit.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Seven Serpents Soothing Massage

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Foot Bath and Snake Pumice
This is a particularly stimulating foot bath. After soaking use a snake to smoothe away calluses - it will leave your feet feeling soft.
20z lavender
half and oz of thyme
1oz of sage
1tsp sea salt

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

My Spirit Guide... A Donkey?

I am still feeling fresh from my private relaxation time in Duwamish... yea... I was enjoying myself in the hot thermal spring while most of you were in the cramped bath-house... hee hee. The water from the spring was just intoxicating... I got drank just by being in there... the vapours were purfume to the soul and the tranquility from the surrounding bamboo were simply captivating. I stayed there for
much longer than I have intended... ...

I almost forgot I was on a journey... and I felt so peaceful... surrounded by a deep silence, free from all worldly desires and demands... that was until a talking donkey arrived and shattered my paradise! Her name was Alexandria she screamed and my she could not stop chattering. She went on and on from the time her mother's mother was born to how she travelled over mountains and across rivers looking for me. She was a spider in her former life she says... my totem at that time, she was called Maya... accompanying me on my journey through the land of the aboriginals, she inspires my true essence and awakens my creative juices, weaving them into web after web of transendental stories. Stories that traps their readers in alternate realities, dreamscapes of infinite possibilities where I manipulated their destiny, weaving their every thoughts, feelings and actions.

This life she was Alexandria, sent into my life as a spiritual donkey to drive my thoughts and ideas into actions. This life I am too passive she says... lacking in commitment and follow through with all
my marvelous ideas. She was enjoying her life as my spiritual guide on the other dimension... untill I prayed to my higher self to show me the way in a more tangible way, she complains (no wonder they say to be careful what you wish for ;-).

Anyway, she insisted that I ride upon her and she just went on and on about everything dead and alive on earth and beyond while she lead you through the mountains of Myrr. There was a bag on her back. It was from the Enchantress she wispered... I opened it with care and found a pair of ancient spectacles, a used candlestick, a tiny anchor, a magnetic medallion with the imprint of a flying Unicorn, a set of
angelic wings and a map to what Alexandria said was the House of the Serpent. And at the base of the bag was the best thing that I could wish for on this journey. A tibetian singing bowl to counter the noise from Alexandria! Three cheers for peace!


I started playing the bowl and the music of heaven surrounded me. Om... Om... Om... Within moments I was transported into the land of the aboriginals, weaving dreamscapes of infinite possibilities just as
Alexandria described. I saw her as Maya, tattooed on my throat(vishuddha chakra). No wonder I now have hair growing from my throat!

The hooves of Alexandria seem to be beating a tune as I travel on the well worn path across a heavily wooded forest. Gnarled branches spread their long arms across the path, whispering as you pass.

The words of the Enchantress ring in my ears and I touch my bag to make sure it is still with me. Alexandria never stopped her chattering all this time, so its amazing how I can still hear anything else.

Passing through the forest, I arrived at the House of the Serpent, near the Blind Springs at the foot of the mountain. Night has fallen and there was no one around. I was tired from all the noise from
Alexandria and her snores now sound like music to my ears... I could not resist the hypnotic drone and before I know it, I was back in the comforting heat of the thermal spring in Duwamish... I was a baby
again, in my mother womb.

Bath House Tales

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Rosemary – Bath of Remembrance


I could smell the pungent aroma of rosemary as I entered the private chamber that Madame Eclectica had prepared for me. I loosened my robe and let it fall to the floor. I stepped into the steaming bath and let the aromatic waters envelop me. My tired and tense muscles began to relax and my mind began to wander.


I have not always loved the water. Washing my hair was a nightmare, as a child. I hated the water running down my face. My mother would hold my head back and pour water over my head, shielding my eyes. She even bought a special shower guard. She put it on my head, it flared out (kind of like a frilled neck lizard) but it stopped me getting soap and water in my eyes.


I hated putting my face in the water. This was not helpful in swimming lessons. Swimming lessons were not pleasant; they became screaming matches with my mother. I didn’t learn to swim until I was eleven years and only because my parents paid for private lessons and I wore a mask. The kind of mask that you wear snorkeling; it allowed me to put my face in the water and enabled me to swim.


After I learnt to swim I entered a race in the school swimming carnival. I didn’t win, in fact I came last, but I didn’t give up. I finished the race cheered on by spectators.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

A respite




Now that I have come from my disturbing encounter with Baba Yaga, and spent some time pondering milagros, I am ready for respite. I sink into the rosemary scented bath that Madame Eclectica has prepared for me and allow my thoughts to drift.

I recall spending time as a girl making a secret camp in the windbreak behind our farm. My sister and I cleared away the brush, sweeping and raking to form a trail through the fragrant cedar trees. We harvested rocks from a nearby field to make fire rings, and brought out dishes from the house to be filled with greens and berries that we prepared as "salads." We spent quite a lot of time out there. My sister and I didn't often get along, and it was a rare treat to partner with her in any endeavor. It was a secret, shaded world, one that we were sole owners of, until the day we decided that the trail needed an exit, out behind the old pink Chevy that had died and been hauled out to the back acreage. It was now a home to mice, snakes, and wasps,and we gave it a wide berth as we used a handsaw to cut branches from one of the trees. After about an hour or two, we had a large enough opening to ride our bikes through, and could then make a round trip, starting at the driveway, coursing through the paths we had made, out the crude opening, down the lane leading to the tractor shed, and back in. All was right with our world, until Dad came home. He was doing chores when he happened to notice our circuit. He walked back to the treeline and was waiting for us as we made our next pass.
"Pretty neat, huh, Dad?" we said as we rode through the hole in the tree.
Dad looked ready to explode. We hopped off our bikes.
"Why the hell do you think it's called a WINDBREAK?" he yelled.
We looked at the tree, and noticed its distinct lack of windbreaking capacity, thanks to our busy-beaver sawing job. The hole was about six feet by 8 feet, not bad work for a couple of girls under 12. Frankly, a merit badge was in order.

I don't remember if we were punished--though it's likely, but what could he do? The damage was done. It took about ten years for that hole to grow shut, and now the treeline at the north end of my parents' property is as full and fluffy as it ever was. Whenever my sister and I walk back there, we always look at one another and burst out laughing. Dad can finally laugh about it too.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Lagging Behind

Have I ever told you how much I love water? I could live in water. Bring my meals to the side of the pool...or bath...or spring...or ocean. Once I get in, it often takes lightning to get me out.

I've been lounging here in this wonderful bath for days. The bath-house host has been so wonderful. She HAS brought food to me so I've only gotten out for short breaks.

I am in my own little world when I'm in water. Cares soak away as I become one with the gentle waves. I feel caressed and held in the arms of water.

Before I even realized, several days had past and my traveling companions had moved on without me. I guess I best get myself out of these waters, dry myself off, and get packed and ready to go. More adventure awaits.

Time for a Soak

Mme Eclectica,
What a wonderful bath house you have here. There have been so many things going on in my life that I wanted to have some time for myself. So here I am!

I wandered around and found a wonderful warm tub with special salts to soothe my aching bones. Slipping into this warm bath, I couldn't help thinking of a tale someone told about the huge cumbersome jovial lady who popped into the bath with her. Apologies to whoever wrote it for not remembering your name, but it has kept me smiling many a time. Remembering this I lay back with not a care in the world letting my body relax completely.

As I lay there, I recalled a time when life was not so complicated, a time when my husband and I took our 6 children for a long weekend in our big bus (or van) down to the Tara Valley. We left on a Friday night after work and travelled down the Princess Highway. All went well until we turned off the highway.

To set the scene for those who don't know the area, there is a ridge of mountains between the highway and the valley. The problem was that in the dark of night we took a wrong turn. The road became quite bumpy and there were rocks, quite large rocks in places and the road twisted and turned, around and around. We became rather concerned as there was no way we could turn around because the road was so narrow. So on we went.

Of course the children were quite excited by this. To make it more interesting, there were small kangaroos hopping across the road and the odd wombat as well. The children were hanging out the windows, no seat belts in those days, and loving it. Of course, Mother and Father were a little less excited as they were worried about where they were going to end up. By about ten o'clock that night we finally came to a main road - the Grand Ridge Road- so we could then begin to work out where we were.

We finally arrived at the park where we were staying and had the most wonderful weekend in very beautiful country. We discovered that the track we had taken was actually a logging track so in hindsight we were very lucky to get through.

It was a weekend of togetherness, adventure and fun.

a mosaic for the bath house


Dear Madame Eclectica,
I would like to donate this picture of a fish mosaic I made some years ago for display on a wall in the bath house.

I lay soaking in the rosemary bath in the recently opened bath house, run by the expansive Madame Eclectica.
It was just what I needed after a somewhat stressful day, spent running hither and thither and seemingly not achieving very much in relation to the effort expended. Here in the baths all you had to do was lie back and allow the water to wash away all the physical and mental dirt accumulated over the last few hours. It was bliss. The smell of the rosemary oil from the crushed leaves was intoxicating. I had been looking at one of the mosaics on the wall and drifted off into a dream. The mosaic was a modern copy of a very ancient original, depicting two fish. Pisces. My zodiac sign.

Pisces, oh pisces
where are you going
drifting along on the crest of a wave?
I´m going to see what my true love will bring me
when I greet him at dawn on the sands of the brave.
What will you wear my fine fishy friend
when you slip out on to the strand?
why, a tail of sorts,
no need for shorts,
and a starfish to put in my braid.
What will he give you, my sweet mermaid,
as he touches the shells on your breast?
why a necklace for sure, from the isle of the blest.
A necklace of coral, beyond compare
that he stole from King Neptune´s lair.
And what will you do in return?
I will give him the moon and the sun,
a garland most rich and most rare,
to wear for a year and day
for we may not meet
each to each for to greet
without the enchantress shall say.
Are you sad
are you glad
are you mad
are you bad
tempered?
I will temper myself as hot steel
and cool my heels
in the shallows
until Lethe allows
our return.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

The Bude Stone



Aaaaah - that rosemary scented bath was just what the doctor ordered after a busy day. As I lay back and wiggled my toes among the rosemary leaves, I remembered a beautiful day many, many years ago, that my mother and I still talk about...

The rocky coast of Cornwall is one of the most beautiful places in the world.
Little towns and bays nestle amongst the cliffs, each with its own distinct character.
In 1957, I spent a wonderful late summer touring these towns with my parents. Mum and Dad were part of a carnival that visited places such as Clovelly, Barnstaple, Bideford and Bude. Part of the touring company on this trip was a dance duo, old friends of my parents, whom I called Uncle Richard and Aunty Annette.
We loved every minute of the tour, but at Bude we had a special treat. No one came to the fair. The other attractions in that beautiful little town proved too strong for the tourists, so the fair closed early and we got the day off.
Show people and travellers rarely get to play tourist – other peoples’ holidays are our working days. It was delicious fun to get away, like playing hookey from school.
First we looked around the town – especially the churchyard, for we all enjoyed studying old headstones. We had tea at a charming inn with white washed walls, sitting outside under a magnificent bank of wisteria, sipping shandies and enjoying scones with jam and fresh clotted cream.
Finally we went down to the beach, but it was too crowded so we braved the climb down to Strangles beach, where many ships have foundered over the centuries. My father took a picture of us all sitting on one of the jagged rocks, then he went for a stroll. He was an inveterate beachcomber, and among the treasures he found that day was a small, perfect white pebble.
Later, he polished the stone and painted the word Bude on it in bright red and yellow letters as a memento of the day. My father is long gone now, but my mother still has the pebble in her china cabinet, and when grandchildren and great grandchildren come to visit, they love to hear the story of the Bude Stone.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


Pirene
of Corinth
daughter of Asopus
weep for your son
Cenchrius
dead at Artemis hand
tears well up
and spring forth

Pirene fountain
sacred to the muses
healing waters
spring from the tears
of a grieving mother

Luxuriating in the Bath House - Lois Daley

Well I am back from my trip to the Island of my Ancestors and a meeting with a well loved Ferrywoman.

She(the ferrywoman) in her day was a wild woman who loved many men,she was a great dancer and loved fun..She came from a very strict background and was often given a caning for being out too late ..She was expelled from St Josephs Catholic school here in Port Melbourne on more than one occassion....asked too many questions

I do remember when in the 1940's we had American service-men billeted here in Port Melb and they loved to come to our homes for a home cooked meal....

Maureen was tall and slender and wore her long fair hair in a dark fishnet type hairnet.The seamans mission hall had dances every Sat night for the servicemen, and she and her girlfriends all around 18 or 20 went with the rules to follow...No going outside with any sailor. No dancing with just one person,no dancing too close etc etc etc.

I don't doubt all these rules were broken...But I do remember the servicemen giving us kids coca cola,lollies, Mum got stockings cigarettes for the men (and Women) ..

My Ferrywoman married an American serviceman and after the war she went with him to visit his family on the farm in Alabama .. She only stayed for 6 months and was home without Jimmy ,he was to follow later.
I will not bore you with her description of the farm in Alabama as some might have relatives living there......but I don,t think it was Maureens' vision of a farm. I wonder if I will see her at the bath house?

My story is now of my trip to the Bath House in Duwanish.

Now I do have problem with my figure and how I view my body( and others view it too)So I will wrap my big white hot towel around me,walk to the edge and just slide gracefully in...Ah I will love it I know having been in my Brothers Spa many times (He is rich)

Sliding into the water it has a salty perfumed taste or is it me wishing I was home by Port Phillip Bay... The round rocks below the surface I think were heated in some way or perhaps the bath house was built on a fissue in the ground where it is constantly fed by hot springs... No matter it was glorious on my body... I was looking foward to a massage but missed out,never mind there is always tomorrow ...

When I was a working woman I gave myself the luxury of a full body massage once a week for an hour and after it was over I just seemed in another body and driving home and my car was like being on a cloud taking me to oblivion,I was feeling like this and never wanted to get out of the bath.... But hunger and scented tea with dry crackers and lovely cheese, beckoned. .

I sat with other travellers and enjoyed the company and the banter,we laughed and laughed ,letting it all out as women do when they get together.

I had not felt this relaxed since I had packed my bags on leaving Australia .. I was now not pining for home and the thought of returning in several weeks was daunting..... but I put it all behind me ,as I knew there was much more of the journey in the Umbrian mountains in Italy yet to come WOW I thought Wow..... More laughter with many jokes shared between us.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Lotus woman


I float in this pool
heart opening like lotus
accepting what is



The door is ajar
my stories slip through, cautious
I welcome them home


My soul is the sky
reflected in still water
before a stone drops



After a wonderful massage by a large and silent creature of undeterminate gender, who had ten digits on each hand and enormous strength, my muscles were liquid. I walked slowly to the bath house in a cozy robe and slippers, and entered the hall of waters. The smell of lavender and other essential oils hung in the air, mingling with billowy clouds of steam rising from the blue depths of the pools. I saw familiar faces, leaning contentedly against the side of the pools, fellow travelers all. I slipped off the robe and slid quickly into the deep end of the first pool, one surrounded by rocks, plants and flora in a naturalistic setting that brought to mind a waterfall and pool in the rain forest. I sighed with relief and release as the hot water contacted my skin. I felt small creatures flicking around my calves and knees, and looked within the water to find tiny fish, a vivid blue, nipping at my skin. The sensation tickled but was not unpleasant. I leaned my head back and relaxed.

After some time, I felt others slip into the water, and opened my eyes. I felt a bit nervous about being with quasi-strangers, naked. Instinctively, I folded my arms across my chest. Some of the others were a bit inhibited, as well, but a few lay back in the water, arms open to the heat and bliss, uncaring that they were exposed. There was a bit of idle talk, some comments and praise all around regarding the performances the other night, but mostly quiet. The steam mingled with our breath, and rose from the pool like gossamer. I began to feel the need for a breath of fresh air, but felt uncomfortable getting out of the pool. The other travelers would see my body—the scars around my breasts, my slightly sagging belly, the bulges in my thighs. I waited, hoping for courage to descend. Instead, as we were quietly talking, a large woman entered the room, completely naked, no towel or robe or anything. She was at least 375 pounds, massively tall, and glistened with oil. Her great breasts lay atop her generous belly, her thighs rubbed together when she walked, and her buttocks quivered with each step. She had hairy legs, stretch marks, and a slight mustache, if I were to be truthful. She strutted in and announced to the entire room,

“That was the greatest single massage I have ever experienced. I feel as if I may melt.” She walked over to our pool, and actually leapt in, performing sort of a modified cannonball. Waves broke over all of us in the pool, wetting our faces and leaving us gasping and red.She settled herself in the corner of the pool, chuckling.

“Sorry, gals, can’t be helped. The best way to enter any situation is to jump right in, with both feet. She lifted first one giant breast, then the other, allowing the water to wash beneath them as they gently bobbed near the surface. “Ah, the old girls feel good, swimming free,” she said. She raised both her arms and stretched luxuriously. I looked away, politely.

Suddenly, she moved to my side. Her arm slid around my neck. She clasped me to her bosom.

“Sister!” she said, “It is so good to see you.”

I was shocked and somewhat panicky, skin to skin with this expansive woman, this woman I didn’t even know.

“Um, excuse me, but I don’t think we’ve met,” I said, attempting to free myself from her wet oily clutches.

“Oh, I’m sure we have,” she said. “Somewhere.” She loosed me then and went swimming about the pool, as graceful as a dolphin, splashing about and kicking her legs in the air. “La-de-da, la-de-da,” she sang.

“Really, madam,” I said sternly. “You are splashing all of us while we are trying to relax. Control yourself.”

She looked at me, winked, and threw a handful of water in my face. I sputtered and hiccupped. I wrenched myself up onto the edge of the pool, and reached for my robe, preparing to leave. But I was too slow. The impossible fat woman had grabbed it and plunged it into the water. It was soaking wet. I ducked back under the water.

“Oh, tut-tut, darling. You won’t want to get out of the pool now. I mean really, do you want everyone to see that tiny little stomach of yours? Why it’s hardly large enough to give birth to the world. And those thighs, darling…they are more like sticks than sturdy tree trunks. And your breasts don’t flop around at all; they aren’t really very festive, are they, darling?”

I was incredulous. This woman, this enormous creature, felt herself beautiful, gorgeous, voluptuous, and to her, I was nothing but a six foot, two hundred pound....stick woman. I sat hunched in the pool, feeling bitter and embarrassed.

“Oh, now, mustn’t pout, sweetie. We all can’t be…well, spectacular. You are lovely in your own way…”

“And what way is that?” I asked coldly.

“Well, darling, in the way that is somewhat…well, confined, I guess. Correct me if I am wrong, but you have worked very hard to stay as small as you are, and you still feel you are too large. Am I right?” I nodded, slightly. “And I watched you walk in from the massage hut, darling, furtively, as if wolves were after you. Meanwhile, I was doing a dance for all of the massage creatures and other guests. I figure that once I am relaxed and oiled up, everyone should view the magnificence that is me. I can tell you, I got quite a round of applause, and even a few coppers, though I lack a pocket at the present to keep them in.” She lurched onto the side of the pool and stood, water streaming off of her great curves. “This is who I am, darling, and I am luscious. Now, who are you?”

“I am…just…a woman.” I said, rather at a loss.

“Exactly, my dear. A woman. A woman is all lovely curves, generous spaces, hidden clefts, nourishing hills, succulent valleys, hidden meadows, and flowing rivers.” As she recited this litany, she moved. Her hips wound round in circles, her arms moved about in the air, her hands stroked her great curves, her dark hair slapped wetly against her back and breasts. “We must flow, like lava, like water, like air. We cannot be confined. In order to be the real women, the true women, that we are, WE MUST FLOW!” She reached down and took my hands, pulling me out of the pool. I struggled against her, but she brought me onto the surface. “Now, darling, look at me.” I glanced at my fellow travelers, but they were all watching the large woman. I looked at her. “Now, dance.”

She began to move, and holding my hands in her own, I was forced to move as well. I began to sway my hips, move my shoulders, and shuffle my feet. The air cooled my skin.

“Look at me, darling, look at me!” she said.

As I gazed into her eyes, I saw a vision. She was seated on a throne, dressed only in a belt of gold, and adorned with many jewels. Man and women were bowing down to worship her. Her bounteous flesh overflowed her throne, and her subjects reached out to touch it, afterward kissing their own hands and looking at their fingers with rapture.

“Hmmm? What do you say, Darling?” She smiled merrily at me, still dancing round and round.

Suddenly her vision shifted, and I saw myself, naked in a room full of men and women. I was in the corner, and no one noticed me. But soon, I began to change, shifting and growing. My body became rounder, fuller, and more voluptuous. I could feel the sag of my flesh, the drop of my belly, the weight of my breasts lying on my stomach. I became voluminous. Suddenly, all of the people in the room were watching me, and I became aware of a sound. The people were all chanting, in a strange language, but one that I knew somehow. It was my name they were chanting, only they called me Gaia:

Gaia, who created us
Gaia, who comforts us
Gaia, who protects us
Gaia, who contains us
Gaia, who birthed the universe
Gaia, who nourishes the world
Gaia, bless us.


Suddenly I slipped inside my own skin, the skin that I had worn uncomfortably for forty years, and as I did, the woman embraced me, her tears falling on my skin, mingling with my own as they streamed down my face. We stood, flesh to flesh, skin to skin, woman to woman, and felt our strength, the strength of the mother of the world, the strength of the body, the strength of birth, death, and everything between it. A moment later, we stepped apart, and she cupped my chin in her hand for a moment, and said, “Now we both know who you are. Goodbye, darling.”

I looked at all of my travel companions, seated there in the pool, and I raised my arms overhead and began to dance, a wild dance of joy and abandon, followed by a leap into the pool that splashed everyone, even the ones in the next pool over. My fellow travelers just smiled and wiped the water from their eyes. I looked at the ceiling and whispered, “Thanks be to Gaia.”

In the Baths...Gail Kavanagh

Luxuriating in the steamy waters of the bath-house, relaxing with my companions from the grotto, I sipped on Oolong tea and started thinking about the Ferry Women. I wondered who they were and where they came from, and what stories they must have to tell. Thoughts have an unsettling habit of manifesting themselves in Duwamis, so I was not surprised to see my own Ferry Woman sitting on the tiles at the edge of the bath, dangling her feet in the water.

She fixed me with a shrewd look. ``You seemed cheerful on the way back. Did you meet someone you know?”
``No,” I said. ``It was an ancestor I never knew, but maybe suspected – a strolling player, a minstrel. I know little of my family more than a couple of generations back. We were travellers, you see, we didn’t keep records.”

She nodded. ``Like us.” She said succinctly.

She was a strong, muscular woman, as I would expect in her profession. She had pale blue eyes in a deeply tanned and wrinkled face and her hands were broad and calloused
``You’re Irish, aren’t you?” She said.
``What gave it away?”
``Oh, the red hair, the green eyes.” She chuckled. ``And maybe a fellow feeling – my name is Maeve.” Her voice was deep and rich, with the lilt of the west in it.
``How did you come to be a Ferry Woman?” I asked, ``and how did you come to Duwamis?”
``I came here because I answered a call,” she said, ``and as for my life on the sea – that was a call I answered too.

I was walking on the shore one day, watching the waves beating ceaselessly on the sand. The frothy white caps billowed up, curved over and leapt onto the shore - `white horses’, we called them when I young.

I felt the sting of salt spray, and as I watched, the graceful form of a leaping white stallion rose from the foam and galloped onto the shore.

It was Manannan Mac Lir, God of the Ocean. Sometimes he takes human form, sometimes he takes the form of a great salmon, but when he is a horse, and leaps ashore in a welter of foam – oh, that is a sight to see!

All morning I had been feeling a storm in the air. The wind was whipping my robes, and the sand shifting beneath my feet but I could not leave. I heard my mother calling for me – she hated the sea, where my father had been lost. But I could not stay away from it – it was as if it called me, ceaselessly, day and night.

The great stallion paused at the crest of the dune and his head turned my way – my heart was almost stilled in me as I looked into his eyes – human eyes on the head of a horse. Great dark eyes that looked deep into my soul.

That night there was a terrible storm – we heard the crack of a hip breaking on the rocks, and we all ran down with torches to see if we could help. My mother wanted me to stay behind, but I refused.
It was a terrible sight. The great ship was sinking and the water was full of souls desperately trying to reach the shore. The fishermen put out their boats and rowed out to pick up all they could, while others formed a chain to walk out and grab those washing up on the shore.

I heard crying on the wind and ran down the beach – I saw a child clinging to a rock, surrounded by buffeting waves. A great head reared up from the water and I saw Macannan Mac Lir swimming toward her. The child slipped onto his back and he came ashore, to where I was standing. I helped the child down, and he bowed his great head over her and blew softly on her face, drying her tears. I understood that this was a sacrifice he did not want, and I understood that though he is great and terrible, the God of the Sea is also just. In that moment I pledged my allegiance to the sea, to the endless white waves.
In the morning, with the wreckage strewn across the shore and bodies tangled in the weeds, I told my mother I was going to sea, and there was nothing she could do to stop me. And in time I got the call to come here, to Duwamis, to be a Ferry Woman, and I joined my sisters who came before me.”
I thought how wonderful it must be to know yourself – who you are, what you believe, to be so strong in your life’s purpose.

Maeve got to her feet. ``I must go – I must take another journey to the island of the Ancestors tonight.”
``Have you ever been there yourself?”
``Yes,” she said simply. ``I saw my mother – she has forgiven me.” And with a slight bow of her head, Maeve walked away.

Welcome to the Bath House

Welcome to the Bath House. I am Eclectica, Madame of the Baths. Leave your cares behind as you sink into the steaming depths of The Hall of Waters. Allow the cares of the day to fall away as you return to the environment of the womb. Float freely, and allow your mind to do the same. We are here to serve you, to anoint you, to massage your weary muscles with sacred oils, herbal decoctions, and aromas for every ailment. Enjoy the splendid murals and mosaics that surround you, the echo of your voice against the tile, the rising clouds of steam that carry away your doubts and fears. Here we care for the body, so that the mind may be free. Immerse yourself in the warm embrace of the baths, and be healed.