Tholos Dreaming
by Jane Tilton

Depression was seeping into my days lately and time is too precious to allow it to go on too long. It was time for another walk to the monastery.

I entered the grounds from the break in the wall where it had crumbled years ago and was instantly met by the sound of flute music,. The notes of the wooden flute seemed to be filled with the spirit of God. My emotions seemed to be responding instantly to the sound. I was filled with a feeling, not of peace but more like being where I was supposed to be.

Moving to a secluded spot in a shady place near the back of the yard, where the grass was thick and plush like a cushion, I settled into a lotus position. The birds in the apple tree on the far wall were chattering and singing loudly with the flute music as thought they too were overflowing with the beauty of the music and had to let the notes out into the air. I understood, as a deep emotion of joy was rising in my chest too but at the moment I had no way to release it. I sat quietly and absorbed the feelings.

After an undetermined length of time I could hear the quiet tapping, tapping, on the back of my mind, from my muse Heather. I had been ignoring her calls when the demands of daily life dominated my mind, but sitting here, quietly surrounded by all this beauty and peace I could hear the tapping. I was overcome by a feeling of guilt.

I had been waiting for a personal encounter from her, in Greece, and here she had taken the time to give this gift to Lemuria and I was ignoring it. I stretched my limbs and hurried back to the news center to pick up my copy of "The Tholos" and prepare for a new journey. There was no sign of depression left in my emotions.

When I returned to the monastery the deep resounding bong was calling everyone within its hearing to prayer. From the back door the monks were exiting single file, head bowed and hands clasped in front of them in a meditative walk. They were heading around the building towards the front gate. As the last monk emerged he motioned me to follow and laying my newsletter under a rock I hurried to catch up with the line.

I could see the gate ahead where the last of the monks were heading towards the foothills. They were still in a slow moving line. On each side of the gate a monk was waiting for me. One had the reins of a mule with skin saddlebags slung over his back and a pail with two large ladles attached. They kept clanging together at every movement of the big animal. The other monk had a large bundle attached to his back and his eyes seemed to be attached to mine. He extended his arm in greeting. Without a word he moved his arm in a slow QiGong movement towards the line as I approached. I joined the procession with the mule and monk behind me and the other one at the end.

We moved in this slow pace towards a path that headed skyward. White pillars and piles of fallen ruins sent flashes of white and silver beams from the top of the mountain to the slow moving line of pilgrims. I shivered in anticipation as the rays blinded me whenever I looked skyward. I too bowed my head and concentrated on developing a comfortable, rhythmic movement of my body up the mountain

I think this is the first time I have ever done a meditative walk until my body screamed for attention. I quickly adjusted my pace to the others, and at first I entered a calm meditative state, but as the sun got hotter, and my stomach started growling for food I could not stay centered more then a minute at a time. Thoughts of my body kept nagging my mind.

I tried to ignore my body demands and return to a silent mind but now my thirst buds were joining the thoughts. The monks in the line ahead must have been going through the same thing as they were starting to hum AUM, the basis of all sound. I tried this too but the thirst would not go away. It must have been mid afternoon by now and the sun was at its hottest. Even the mule that was walking behind me was voicing his complaints loudly and in the process spraying my neck every time he let out a big wheeze from his nose. Finally to my great relief a gong sounded and the line in front of me came to a stop. I turned around to see the monk with the mule filling the pail with water from the bag on the mules back, an after placing the ladle in the pail he started down the line with our first drink of water of the afternoon. Each of us got one ladle of water that truly tasted better then the most expensive wine. The last monk in the line followed him and drew out a small string bag for each of us, from a bundle on his back. The monks scattered along the path and I searched for a shaded place to open my bag. It contained a welcome snack of dates, dried papaya, nuts, and a banana. Our climb was at the midway point. I found we had two and a half miles more to go but soon the sun would be slipping behind the mountain and it should be a bit cooler. I let go of my anxiety and for the first time enjoyed the view stretching out below us. I must remember, "It is the journey, not the destination"

The sun was beginning to cast shadows on the fields of grapes below and I estimated it must be nearing three in the afternoon. Rolling fields stretched for miles in front of me and I was amazed how high we had traveled.

The road ahead appeared to be much more arduous and I understood why this particular place was chosen for our lunch. The two monks that traveled just behind me returned , tied the mule to the bush I was sitting under, and joined me in my shady place. For the first time they spoke.

"How are you doing Jane", the monk with the water pail inquired as he opened his string bag and started eating his lunch.

"Well, I must admit that I am a bit apprehensive."

"So far I am fine but the trail above looks a lot harder.

"Yes, it is steeper with a lot of rough ground and rocks to maneuver, but we are half way there now, and with the lowering sun it will soon be much cooler," he replied.

Where is it we are going?, I inquired.

"Our destination is Tholos temple, the santuary of Athena Pronaia, the gateway to Delphi. Many visitors come here yearly to visit the early 4th century site that was believed to be occupied by Olympian deities, and Athena in particular. See that moving line on the western side of the mountain? That is a tour group from Greece, riding mules, that are descending before nightfall. "

As the monk returned to his lunch I searched my memory for bits and pieces of memory concerning Athena and Delphi. As I remember, Tholos had an oracle stone believed to be a marker to the center of their world and a site of wisdom. The site contained some type of gases that aided women to receive great oracular powers. They could enter a visionary trance state, after a ritual of bathing in the waters of a nearby spring, and then drinking from the spring. The hairs on my arm stood up and a feeling of apprehension crept through me. I am very uncomfortable with anything that produces trances. I like to maintain a balance between vision and earth plane. I like to remain aware of all happenings around me.

"Do not be concerned," assured the monk, obviously able toread my thoughts. We leave the god Zesus, the serpent Python, and Apollo to the tourists. We go to Tholos to visit the earth goddess Gaia and her daughter, Python. The earth goddess lovingly dispenses wisdom grant you the answer to one question."

As the monk stood up he smiled and said, " Choose your question wisely." He untied the mule and lead it back to the path. ringing a bell that he extracted from the backpack. The monks slowly rose and returned to the line and I followed.

The remainder of the journey went much faster, even though the path was more difficult, as we maneuvered around large rocks and a path of loose dirt and stones. As the sun slowly headed towards the horizon, behind the holy mountain of Parnassus in the distance, it got continually cooler. When I could take my eyes off the path for a few minutes and glance ahead I could see the tops of Corinthian columns slowly coming into view. My anticipation mounted but I also felt apprehensive. I had been paying so much attention to walking safely that I had totally forgotten to search for my question to ask Gaia.

Snatches of haunting music from a wooden flute reached my ears as the path leveled off ahead of us and the entrance to Delhi came into view. As we emerged through the pines my heart leaped as three tall columns, sitting on three huge circular platforms, towered ahead of us, topped with the remains of a large white marble header. It was at this moment that the heavens burst into a spectacular sunset topping the ruins in bouncing rays of corals and gold’s. I stood frozen in stunned silence. The scene was breathtaking.

I could see my caravan of fellow travelers heading down a trail on the far side of the entrance but I could not bring myself to join them. I stood transfixed in time that seemed to be shifting backwards from my understanding of Now deep into ancient time . Ghost images of all the creatures, Gods, and Goddesses from myth floated through the pillars and fallen stones. Slowly the scene reverted to pre history as the whole structure dissapeared before my eyes and the land lay barren. Still the shift continues.

I found myself lifted up above the earth as it slowly dissolved around me. I was alone in a huge void. All was silence.

Slowly the silence began being filled with a word. The word swirled on spiral beams of light filling the void with energy until it and I burst forth into the beginning. I n the beginning there was the word, and the word was God. It was at that moment that Ge, the earth Goddess took my hand and we stepped forth upon this new forming earth and finally back to the beginning of the future site of Tholos.. God had assigned her the duty of guardian of the earth and all that lives on earth and Tholos was the center. She was mother nature.

It was already dark. The monks had returned and were gathering at the forest edge, where the path begins, waiting for me. I waved and glanced back at the goddess. She smiled and said, "Go," as she picked up a shiny, black pebble no bigger then the end of my finger, and dropped it in my hand.

"But," I exclaimed, "I have not asked my question yet.

"Your question has been answered Jane," she replied , and with that she slowly faded away. By now the monks were calling me to hurry.

The moon was breaking through the clouds and the path ahead was well lit. Dropping the pebble in my pocket I ran to join the group. With one more backward glance I regretfully started down the mountain. I would have liked to stay there and reflect on my experiences but that would have to wait for another day. The return to the monastery now demanded my full attention.

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