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Temple of Aphaea at Aegina

Temple of Aphaea at Aegina ©Lynne Buchanan
Over the summer, I had the great fortune to travel to Greece and visit my lifelong friend and fellow artist, Mary Cox.  One of my recent dreams is to travel back there and collaborate with her.  My busy schedule would only allow a week in June, but even a week steeped in such history and energy is life altering.  This "current" temple was built in c.500 BC over the remains over an earlier tempe c. 570 BC.   For us in America, it is hard to envision being in the presence of such antiquities as one finds in Greece, Egypt and elsewhere in the world. Sadly, all these monuments which have existed for so many millennia are being affected by pollution, increasingly so each year.  Yet, it is still so inspiring to stand in the vicinity of these monuments, to look out at the views the people who built these monuments thought were worthy of their gods.

Aphaea was a Greek goddess who was worshiped almost exclusively here.  Early on, she was a local deity associated with fertility and the agricultural cycle, but under Athenian rule she became associated with Artemis and Athena.  While I was walking around I preferred to to think of her as being a divinity of agriculture, as indigenous ways of living with the earth seem so important to connect with right now in this time of industrialized farming which is raping our earth.  Artemis was a very important goddess as well.  She was associated with nature and the moon, and represents a less dominating, more mysterious connection with being.  Athena, the goddess of the arts, reminds me of the incredible creative power of the feminine spirit.  Though I am not militaristic by nature, we often forget how powerful women are and what they are capable of doing when their young or their homes are threatened.   To resolve conflicts peaceably, through artistic expression and words, is always preferable to me, but the attitudes rampant in our society today towards the earth and our fellow humans and other creatures inhabiting this planet are so violent and disrespectful that women may be compelled to rise up and fight back,  Hopefully, we will do this with intelligence, dignity and compassion, instead of from a purely reactive frame of mind.  As the gender that brings communities together, women do tend to think of the larger picture and the web of life.  We heal horizontally.

To be on such a sacred spot where people came to worship Aphaea in her many manifestations gave this temple a very special charge. I have to wonder what she thinks now, looking on the earth and what we have done to her, since we have forgotten the gods and goddesses and the important roles they had in keeping us balanced with our environment.  That is why it is so important to preserve these sacred spots.  When we stand there we remember the grandeur of the human spirit that once was and still exists buried beneath the superficiality of values our culture imposes on us.  We remember how it was to be the conduit between earth and heaven and that we were entrusted with keeping both nature and the scared alive and well.

I am so grateful my friend Mary took me here.  We had to take a boat and then a long bus ride winding up through the hills to get here, and no one was really sure when or if there would be a bus back or whether that was the last one.  It didn't matter.  We took our chances and went anyway, as Mary knew that we could walk down the hill to another location where boats came and went from the mainland.  We took our chances that there would be another boat arriving there that afternoon.  If I was going to get stuck somewhere, this island would definitely be a fine place to be marooned.

Of course, the universe must have been smiling on us for our awe and respect.  When we got to the bottom of the hill, there was a wonderful restaurant where we shared a Mythos Beer (I don't drink beer but with a name like that I couldn't resist) and some octopus and giant fava beans before taking a swim in the crystal clear water in the cove below.  The waiter had told us we had an hour and a half until the last boat, so we had plenty of time to dine and explore.  Perfect days do exist...