Well of Mnemosyne and Monastic Abbey

For how many months
did the stonemason toil at this
archway of smooth grey stone
which looms before me at
the pinnacle of irregular steps,
a sombre facade which
belies the warm and fertile
soil hiding within. A beacon
for those whose past is a tangle
of wild and untended thoughts,
weeds which struggle to find purchase
in the starved earth, gasping for nutrients.

courtesy of Lani Gerity Glanville

There is no doubt that the pilgrimage to the pinnacle of the Holy Mountain is not for the faint of heart. All too often, it is the most confident who are overwhelmed when they realise that they must commit to an arduous apprenticeship. Unwilling to face some harsh truths about themselves they make haste, literally sprint to the conveniently positioned portal that takes them back on a conveyor belt to the industrial, technological, information obsessed world they know. It is all they have known. It is where they feel safest.

Those who make it to the Lemurian Abbey, a small monastic hermitage in a wooded sanctuary, make the most of the beauty and solitude, of a place that has been home to Priestesses for millennia. Invariably they savor the writings and art of those who have stayed before them, quickly take advantage of the humble accommodation that is made available for their stay.

I wandered slowly through the abbey grounds smelling the musky scent of the flowers and bushes as I did so, and hugging a tree here and there. The grounds would be considered by some as overgrown and untidy. True, they weren’t the manicured gardens one might expect. But they exuded a wild beauty that did justice to the abbey itself. The structure soared skyward, its spires punching holes in the fluffy white clouds that drifted slowly across the sky, their shadows following like puppy dogs on the ground.

Wood Nymph – Vi Jones

an ornate setting
of pale wood and wrought iron
under over latticework woven, melded, beaten
into submission by a heavy hand
exposed to elements and its patina softens
to green.
roughly hewn roses nestled among
fine detail, the work of a tradesman
and an artisan.
there are gaps where the sunlight
reaches through and lovingly caresses
my notebook
though the chill wind cuts an unforgiving
path through the sycamore
overhead and I shiver
beneath my borrowed serge.
my mind witters during this
contemplative seclusion, prayers not yet
fully formed but trivial thoughts –
butterflies which dance from one
merry bud to another.

I had no clear idea of what monastic life entailed. I’d rarely set foot inside a Church and knew little about organised religion. Instead, I harboured romantic visions that Monasteries were places where medieval scribes produced illuminated manuscripts like The Book of Kells. Hildegard of Binger, the German nun of the middle ages, had always fascinated me. She was reputed to a migraine sufferer as was I. Scholars wrote treatises linking her written accounts of mystical visions with the physical and mental disturbances associated with migraine. Beyond that, Hildegard’s range of accomplishments was awe inspiring. She composed music, was a skilled herbalist and wrote on the medical use of plants of plants, animals and stones as well as on religious matters. She illustrated her manuscripts with beautiful paintings that glowed with luminous reds, blues and gold. Recently I had discovered that she was quite possibly the first woman to write a description of female orgasm.