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Two Uncalled for Minoan Things


Two Uncalled for Minoan Things

living rock

She offers him the plate. With the gesture he sees the compassion in her eyes coming out from behind her high face. The small noises he hears from behind the woman must be coming from the girl child attendant. He wonders if she is still arranging the bowls, spoons, and the lamp set on the shelf cut out of the cave’s wet rock. Or is she just childishly impatient with the grown-ups and with the silence of this drawn out moment? And the other face near him, near where they’ve lain him on the limestone table, the face with the unfocused eyes of the man whose cut hair marks his station in the temple. His hands are held below the table’s surface. And the glaze in his eyes tells of the kindness in the dried, coal black flower button he has ingested. But the woman still waiting for the young man to lift his hand to the plate of the same buttons being offered him.

She is of the Passage House. And the city has always felt fortunate to have a High Lady like her on the labyrinth throne. She is one who comes from them, and she is a natural. The high days with her always set the city a little apart from the rest of the island. The sacred leaping, the bull playing, the ships’ blessing, the cereal fanning, and the Wild Mothernights; never in memory have their festival days known so much stilling excitement. And the holy day of the year’s deep well when she takes herself down inside the Serpent House, the day that continues them all in close affection and dark love with the Mother-in-Earth. As for himself, the young man thinks, he has always adored her, always and silently he has met his needs to her sacred song of Three Trees. And all of his life he has felt himself inside the laughing love she sets around the town. Only, never until now has he been so close to her.

Her flounced skirt flattens where she leans against the table, with its dark blue quilting a midnight thread thatched between rows of gold thread. The serpent band on her left arm that runs from wrist to elbow, with its eyes and nose set into her arm’s inside hollow. And her blouse formally open as at all ceremonial moments, showing her smooth stomach, her high breasts, and her sharp shoulders. And he never would have thought before now that he might not recognize her, since, she is the High Lady to them all. But not until today has he been close enough to notice more than the dark and almond shape of her face. Her nose straight and narrow, her upper lip arched and full, her cheeks against the black and shiny curls set like curling fig leaves, her shiny forehead, and her black eyes. Her eyes that are still intent on his and showing a dark warmth, a compassion, and also, he thinks, a sorrow.

But still the plate of dreams she continues to extend to him, almost asking him to let her feed him. And the plate of worked silver whose sight leads him back through all the plates that have been offered him, set before him, placed down beside him since before he can clearly remember. In his mother’s home, in the school yard, in the ship’s belly rolling in the sea, in the house of his apprenticeship on the island of marble ladies, and in the temple of their town when midday sets the time to put down his chisels and take his meal in the crafter’s South Court arbor. And he thinks there has never been a more kindly intended plate offered to him before now. No dish more carefully and tenderly held out to him. And so how to refuse it without hurting her, as he knows he will? How to return her kindness back on her, knowing that the pending moment must then come in on them all?

The Bull Roarer’s tremors have only increased in their frequency. The sacred birds and the herd have kept restless. And three days ago came the call from inside the Court of Halls that the Earth Shaker must have his tendance. Since when was the last such time of extremity, no one can remember. And so it happened that the young sculptor’s was counted more highly than that of the others who offered to come. And now he sees himself motioning to the Lady that he wishes her not to ease him, hoping she can know how he must clearly see the Earth Shaker when he sees him.

With the plate refused, the waiting man sets his unseen hands into sudden, unseen motion. There is no time even for the High Lady’s surprise. The sculptor’s throat is opened with the sacred knife of stone, the life stream pulses out over his shoulder, over the table, and over the hands of the office holder pressing down against the body. The young man’s eyes fix on the rock roof above him, the living rock, the wet rock, the Mother rock catching splinters of light. And letting go of them, letting go, letting go so that he can stand again in the dark glen, and the wells he must and must not drink from so that he can remember. And the short walk, looking back once, and the short walk, looking back again, and the short walk done.

But then the trembling that is not human, not coming from between the two officiates standing on each side of the table. The trembling, the first low tremor starting from inside the mountain, from behind the deep and final cave wall. To increase in earth shaking, to rise in depth, until the cave walls shake, until the threesome left alive in the living rock sanctuary are stripped in terror as a stalactite breaks clean of the roof and grounds into the standing man. And the High Lady holds close the girl child as walls give in and living rock piles.



marble light

Often here where she sits on her stool she has sat before. In the workshop quiet, with the rock dust settled, and the smoking boar oil in the lamp bowl always the wary and wild scent in her nostrils. She should have long since crossed the yard with the others to the bedding quarter, as the young sun will soon enough wake the compound. They still have the South Island order to fill, and the ship was sighted at noon today from the seaview. But here she remains as she knows she will do, since, she has again unwrapped the white marble she has been saving.

She holds the tapered block of marble, having done so many times since the day at the quarry when she came up with the workmen carrying the larger block. Yes, this one, she thought then, and thinking it again. This is the unblemished, unfractured one she has been waiting for. She had directed the quarryman on its blocking after testing it herself with the roughing bronze chisel. And with every stroke against the stone, with every chip removed, she had expected to uncover the tell tale sign of internal sparring. None surfacing then, and no fault to be found now as she holds it up against the lamp light. Marble light against the lamp light, and the translucent skin of the tapered stone, inside of which she can see the egg shell light of her new marble Lady.

Too long, she thinks aloud. Maybe she has waited too long. And maybe the grace of body-form seen is no longer inside her. It has always been easy for her in the past. The blocking, the seeing, the articulate feeling for the marble White Lady. But it has always been easy for her, she realized some time ago, because she has always kept inside the Grove’s canon of what she should find in the stone. And so for the past several years she has only worked on the other sacred figures. The Returning Daughter, the Wild Wood Leader, the Sorrowful One, and the Fertility Giver. She has also kept up with the smaller orders, such as the dove bowls, the stem cups, and the palettes. And all the while she has kept away from the Grave White Lady who needs the most of her. She has kept away from her. Yet in the same unquiet way as when the winter madness drumming sweeps through the island, while the clan women are still some distance away in their approach to the temple, and she is waiting for the call to join in and sweep on with them, in the same rhythmic and unsettling way the Grave Lady of Life has been keeping her in unsung tether.

In the tether, she thinks while looking at the stone in her hands. In the tether or in the white light coming from somewhere inside the stone that dimly lights the Lady she knows she has never seen before inside the Grove. An attitude is it, or a shift in the center, or a different bearing in the weight of Her? Yes, it is in the weight of Her, or in how She stretches outward, arching upward, and in her legs stretching from the arches of her feet. And there too in Her face up-pouring as if waking the world from its poppy sleep. All of which the sculptor envisions again, as clearly and certainly as she has seen so many times already, but with no outward reason to believe that what she sees has a place in the ken. And here in the stone she holds, if she lets herself, yes, she can feel the shifting she thinks she sees. In the perfect one, the marble white, in the light of the Grave Lady of light she holds.

The lamp pot is low. But she still cannot say she is ready to cross the yard for her cot. And so letting herself down onto the floor instead, she curls beside the low work table. Here she will stay tonight. And she will begin again tomorrow. She will take up again with the white marble. She will dedicate the unwrapped stone at the sunrise altar, which, she knows, will announce her intention to the others, and she will begin the work on uncovering the inside body-form in the marble light Lady. Curling into herself on the floor, she wraps her arms around the tapered marble she has pulled against her stomach. She closes her eyes to see the One she sees more clearly. And just before she falls asleep, she sees the circle eyes of the Owl looking down on her.


Terreson

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Last edited by Terreson, Aug/1/2010, 2:38 am
Jul/31/2010, 11:07 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
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Re: Two Uncalled for Minoan Things


In a moment of supremely bad taste I am going to comment on these two tales.

Things Minoan have always fascinated me. Figurately speaking it sometimes feels as if I was there, then, during the high mark of Minoan Civ. It lasted for about 1,000 years, from the middle of the third to the middle of the second Millenium B.C. The Minoans enjoyed civilization long before the Myceneans arrived in the area of the eastern Mediterranean (the Acheans of Homer's Illiad who certainly faught a war with Troy), and even longer before the warring Greek tribes arrived and who initially brought with them a span of time known as the dark ages. The Minoans brought about the apex of the so-called Bronze Age. The Greeks with their iron weapons would usher into the area the Age of Iron.

The Minoans probably came to the island of Crete from the mainland of Anatolia, present day Turkey. They built cities, constructed palaces that were labyrinthine in organization (model of the famous labyrinth housing the mythical Minotaur), and notably absent from their cities are defensive structures. They came to dominate the arena, not through conquest but through trade. They were supreme mariners and exquisite merchants. Trade routes extending as far north as Troy, as far east as the mainland, and as far south as the Levant. While likely it has not been demonstrated they had contact with the ancient Egyptians.

Artifacts, vases, seals, and frescoes, amply show a highly artistic people who took pleasure in beauty, in the beauty of the human body especially. But also in animals, and even honey bees. They also evidence a religious people devoted to the Mother Principle. Titular head of the Minoans was their queen who was also their high priestess. Hers was the labyrinthine palace. The one at Knossos on the northern shore of Crete shows courtyards, winding halls, many rooms. And frescoes, many frescoes. From Knossos they could look north and see as far as the group of islands called the Cyclades, its southern most island being Thera with a huge active volcanic mountain. The mountain is displayed in artifacts. It was in someway tied to their religious sense.

Possibly the ceremony involving a running of the bulls originated on Crete. There are illustrations of nude men and women acrobats running around and jumping bulls. The bull roarer was their name for the god of the sea the Greeks would later call Poseidon and he was associated with earthquakes which were fairly common. From time to time the earth trembler was propitiated, possibly through human sacrifice which certainly was conducted in the name of the Lady of the Wild Things.

It is uncertain what brought about the downfall of Minoan Civ. Likeliest scenario was that the Minoans were finally weakened beyond full recovery by natural disaster and then dominated by the Myceneans who eventually had a presence on Crete. Certainly around 1450 B.C. Thera's volcano erupted violently so that its top was blown off. Ash and dust were scattered for hundreds of miles and, worse, the quake caused a massive tsunami that submerged much of Crete's north shore with its palace cities. Almost a thousand years later Plato would create his myth of an idyllic city he called Atlantis that was destroyed and lay under water. Archeologists are satisfied his myth amounted to a garbled memory of Minoa.

The Cycladic islands north of Crete was also a center of artistic industry working in Cycladic, white marble. Artifacts vary but supreme among them are funeray figurines. Goddess figures who got layed out in burials. Highly stylized, toes always pointed, arms crossing the chest. The figurines were exported widely, probably by Minoan merchants. Art historians agree that in addition to the primitive art of Africa and of Oceana in the southern Pacific, the rediscovery of the Cycladic figurines influenced the course of Modern Art. In my tale the sculptor who discovers a new way of seeing her statuette is a woman. I do not know if Cycladic sculptors were women. But mine is. I do know that, stylisticly, the ladies in marble evolved over about a thousand years.

I hope this makes my two pieces a little more accessible.

Tere
Dec/7/2010, 2:58 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
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Re: Two Uncalled for Minoan Things


Things Minoan have always fascinated me. Figurately speaking it sometimes feels as if I was there, then, during the high mark of Minoan Civ.

Tere,

I had the same thought as I read these pieces, that it was like you had been there, though perhaps not just figuratively but literally (if one were to believe in reincarnation). The immediacy of the pieces as well as the style in which the perceptions are presented are what gave rise to the thought, I reckon.
Jun/27/2011, 11:28 am Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
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Re: Two Uncalled for Minoan Things


Thank you, Kat. Not sure what I believe in and I know exactly why, keeping my options open. But, yes. Everytime I read an archeological tale of Minoa and the Cyclades and the eastern Mediterranian, feels like I am home. I cannot tell you just how much reading of the archeological record these two tales are built on.

Tere
Jun/27/2011, 7:45 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
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Re: Two Uncalled for Minoan Things


I enjoyed both pieces and the knowledge and awe towards Minoan culture is related well in both.

Having had the fortune of visiting some of the ruins left behind, I kind of melded my images with your words, the end-result was wonderous.

From my limited knowledge (you seem to be far better versed in the topic) I think it is definetly possible that a female could have been a sculptor. Women in these civlizations did have a higher-degree of social-mobility than their main-land counterparts.

It is always a joy to travel to such distant lands and cultures. Thank you.
Aug/1/2011, 4:48 pm Link to this post Send Email to Alkiviades   Send PM to Alkiviades Blog
 
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Re: Two Uncalled for Minoan Things


These are gorgeous.

In the second piece not only is it evident you were there -- if not literally then in some creative, subliminal process (I favor the first notion, personally)-- but that you are a sculptor too, revealing the true living thing from where it is waiting, inside. It is how you write, too, it seems to me.

The first piece -- what strikes me most is the young man's love for the priestess and his acceptance that his fate is not only necessary but beautiful.

The second to last paragraph of the first piece is especially riveting and evocative:
"With the plate refused, the waiting man sets his unseen hands into sudden, unseen motion. There is no time even for the High Lady’s surprise. The sculptor’s throat is opened with the sacred knife of stone, the life stream pulses out over his shoulder, over the table, and over the hands of the office holder pressing down against the body. The young man’s eyes fix on the rock roof above him, the living rock, the wet rock, the Mother rock catching splinters of light. And letting go of them, letting go, letting go so that he can stand again in the dark glen, and the wells he must and must not drink from so that he can remember. And the short walk, looking back once, and the short walk, looking back again, and the short walk done."

Mar/25/2012, 6:15 pm Link to this post Send Email to vkp   Send PM to vkp Blog
 
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Re: Two Uncalled for Minoan Things


Thank you, vkp, for reading and registering a response to the set. Thanks, also, for bringing my attention to the first piece's penultimate paragraph. Not sure it stood out for me until someone came along and brought it attention.

Here is something that might be fun. In the forum, Ateliers, there is a poem called Cycladic Beauty. It is in the Bottom City Blues thread. It revisits the second piece's theme but from a different angle. Revisiting themes and ideas is a long established habit. One I give into when theme or idea strikes me as protein enough, not easily exhaustible. So here is the same artist seen through the eyes of her mate.

Cycladic Beauty

I remember the night she came in from the workshop.
She had scared herself;
by the shapes suggested and that she found
in marble shimmer; by its water weight and
instinct for beauty; by that she knew village industry
would have to reject her inside sense
for exquisite form and body and touch in stone.

But this happened years ago.
Our trade in figurines with the Labyrinth city
was not yet a memory loss to the Greeks,
not yet fabled in tales of Atlantis.
The earth shaker’s tremors and quakes, by his hands,
had not yet thrown down my fresco walls;
and my mother’s island home, Thera,
was not yet thrown below the wine dark sea.

When she came through the door
her black eyes could not speak
in the way I know they can speak
in that crafty moment when she
needs to ride the bull, finds me.
Her hands trembled. Her lips
were like the Cretan’s crescent, axen moon
just before it takes from his body a man’s head.
And she came to me tenuously,
holding in her shaking hands
an unseeable thing, unseen because
wrapped in the rubbed down boar skin.

I do miss those islander days. No matter
how I try I can’t get her face out of my eyes.

When she unwrapped the girl-stone she had shaped, carved,
polished to easy touch on my finger tips,
sweet water contained in her body, toe to full belly, to breasts,
arms crossing her chest, to face ineluctable,
I saw the third most beautiful woman I’ve known.

We held each other close that night. She wept in her chest.


One other thought. Certain, not every, artist knows what my Cycladic sculptor knew. The terror when the beauty she sees stands out and alone from what the canon of beauty measures, allows, prescribes. My Cycladic sculptor stood out just so, went against maybe 1,000 years of tradition. She would eventually incite the likes of Picasso and Co.

Tere

Last edited by Terreson, Oct/25/2014, 3:00 pm
Mar/26/2012, 7:40 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
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Last night I found a documentary on Minoan Civ. on You Tube. It tallies with what I've learned about the Minoans. But I was struck by something especially. My two pieces drawn from ancient Minoa and the funerary figurines found in the Cycladic Islands immediately to the north were written in the mid 90s, I'll say it was in 1995. Read again my living rock. Then go to the video. Forward to 49:30 minutes. About the only thing I didn't get right was setting. I place the sacrifice in a cave, not in a man made sanctuary. Everything else in the moment seems to have been preserved. I was not aware of this particular archeological finding.

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Tere

Last edited by Terreson, Sep/16/2015, 11:11 am
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Oh, my GODDESS. You really did not know about all that -- and yet it is here in your piece...? Incredible. For people looking for the pertinent moment in the youtube video, it's at 49:30, not 39:40. Check it out!
Jul/20/2012, 1:36 pm Link to this post Send Email to vkp   Send PM to vkp Blog
 
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I'll take your word for it Tere, and a very uncanny thing it is. But not surprising. These things never surprise me for some reason.

So Tere, did it feel like a memory? a vision? a dream?...

Chris
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Thanks for the correction, vkp. I had a brain fart. Chris, I can't say it felt like any of that. I just saw it, the scene, it felt real, not a product of imagination. At the time of the writing, in spite of pretty extensive reading on the Minoans, I had not come across info on human sacrifice then and there. But that too I "knew" had been in practice.

One other thing I learned from the documentary that did not surprise me. The Minoan bulls were cross-bred aurochs. They have been extinct for hundreds of years. Depictions of them can be found in cave paintings going back to the paleolithic. The ancestors to modern cattle. They were huge, standing 6' at the shoulder and with hooves as large as a man's head. I think of those Minoan bull leapers at play with them in ceremony, making it look easy. Hope all will get interested and watch the doc.

Tere
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