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Elefsina

The clock strikes 8.

A hurried breakfast then, it is.

" This is your last chance, I say to myself,

To bid farewell to the ruins".

The march begins on Dimitrios odoz,

The street that leads,

Straight to the sanctuary.

Right, left, right, left,

My feet taps the march,

To the chant that I composed,

A vital part of the ritual.

" Demeter, Doso, Anassa, ainoito."

The three most important names for Demeter, 

That I extracted from Omeros' hymn.

She is the mother who reigns in Olympus, 

Who then took on a human form,

Yet remains in the Highest Plane, respectively.

The beat a tisra eka*1, it would be in dance for me.

" Ta ki-ta, Ta ki-ta, Ta ki-ta, Ta ki-ta."*2

Rhythm of 123, 123, 123,123.

Fits well into a Gopura Adavu.*3

A living moving temple indeed,

All the way to the sanctuary.

The air is crisp, the breeze is slight.

Folks on the street, so few today,

No need for me to dodge.

A jasmine I pluck and take a quick whiff,

A home soon it finds,

In the locks of my hair.

Approaching the holy yet bare site,

 The cup of my mind now becomes full,

Full of the sacred joy from the past.

The lady at the ticket booth,

Puts her cigarette, down. 

Her lips break into a smile,

For the first time. 

This is my fourth day visit, you see.

About time for a smile, really !

 

A special prayer to Doso I enunciate

Sitting by the Kallichoron well.

For here Demeter faked a human form.

Then up on to the Plutonian, near the cave,

Where it says Aidoneus, snatched Kore away.

I search for an ancient tool to draw.

A simple sharp stone, I find.

The hard earth below receives words I score.

In the ancient script of the land 

              ΔΗΜΗΤΗΡ , ΔΩΔ Ω , ΑΝΑΣΣΑ  ΑΙΝΟΙΤΟ

Demeter, Doso, Anassa ainoito.

May Demeter, Doso, Anassa be praised.

 Then I say out loud to her, sadly

" This is all I have to give you.

I am doing this for you,

And for the future of Elefsina.

May you rise from archaeology

To a purer, greater glory!" 

 

Walking towards the cave,

I bend low towards Mother Earth.

I reach to pick the tiny fragrant, mauve flowers,

That spreads as a ground cover, just here and there.

Was this the herb that flavored her Kykeon?

It will now find its place,

Between the pages of a book.

I will carry it all the way to my home in USA.

To Petaluma *4  where the Lady sits on a rocky throne,

Holding a sickle in hand, which means to me,

As you sow, so shall you reap !

 

I wander aimlessly this time.

No curiosity assails me.

I climb up to the area 

Where the onlookers used to watch, long ago,

Solemn proceedings that took place,

With the tense initiates down below, 

Ready to plunge into the Greatest Mysteries

That the world has ever seen and will sadly never see any more !

I stand there, looking down.

A solitary witness to the grey stones spread everywhere,

As fragments, evidence of this ancient story.

A story whose truth stays alive even today,

As the seasons roll by,

As a Mother's love abides,

As a daughter becomes a wife,

As a manipulative ruler decides, 

As Mother Nature displays her withholding power,

Olympus trembles from up, far above.

 

Retreating as I exit the hallowed grounds,

I chant the one line, 

Remembered for the sudden, sonorous lift,

Giving life as it were, when Prof. A A*5  uttered,

          ΜΕΓΑΛΗ  ΘΕΑ ΥΨΙΣΤΗ ΑΙΝΟΙΤΟ

          Megaley thea ipsistey ainoito.

Praise be to the great Goddess.

Just one of the Sixty two praises,

Received as an MP3.

Will I ever forget the thrill, 

That captured my being ?

When for the first time I heard the voice

That I knew was that of a noble Greek ,

Giving throbbing life to that ancient language,

So holy, oh so holy for me.

Vasanti.

 

* 1, 2 and 3 refers to a rhythmic movement pattern in the classical Indian Bharatanatyam dance style, called the Temple tower .

* 4  Petaluma, the city whose seal, no one knew who was on it. Lucy Kortum, librarian in the history and genealogy section, Petaluma requested I research on it. Turns out that the city seal bears a goddess, a combination of the Greek Demeter and Roman Ceres.  Please refer to www.ambahouse for more details. 

* 5  Prof. Dr. Apostolos Athanassakis of Athens

CONTACT

Vasanti Jayaswal

EMAIL: vasanti.jayaswal@gmail.com

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