Often, when I walk in ancient sites or visit sacred places, I can feel the past walking with me. Pausing to find the stillness inside, I look around to see ghostly images of what was once a vibrant truth and listen to the sounds of voices quieted by the passing of time. Its as if in these places where we preserve old structures, marvel at ancient ruins or build monuments to remember, we are creating a collective awareness of time that is a dimension folded over in layers upon itself with each layer holding a rich tapestry of reality. Like a book, you have only to turn back the page to an earlier chapter to be swept away in a living memory of sights, sounds and experiences.
Greece, June 2015
One particularly hot summer day, not too long ago, I found myself sitting in the shade of a cliff wall with my back against the cool, damp rock, high on the side of Mount Parnassus just above the ruins of Ancient Delphi in Greece. Enjoying the coolness of my vantage point while the dry, dusty air carried the melodious sounds of multiple languages rising and falling and mixing, as intrepid tourist ventured to touch the past with curiosity and wonder. I had stopped to rest from my climb, to escape the fiery hot sun and paused, allowing myself to be bathed in the sights and sounds of this sacred site.
From where I sat, I contemplated the stillness and deep conscious presence of the mountain and land that had witnessed thousands upon thousands of years of man’s pilgrimage to this very place.
Looking from that timeless perspective at the people walking around the ruins below, I wondered how many still came as pilgrims, searching to connect with an ancient past, anticipating or yearning for answers to the mysteries and deeper meanings of life.
Then, feeling a call from within, I closed my eyes and almost instantly found myself sitting in the same place at a different time. It was no longer the middle of the afternoon. The sky was a clear black velvet field of stars. Sitting next to me was a woman, a Sybil (priestess) of this sacred place. She smiled, and as I opened to her I was filled with knowing. I had arrived at a time long before the defined dusty paths meandered through stone ruins. Long before even the structures themselves, the temples, the treasury buildings and the ancient marketplace, ever existed.
With her at my side, I could see a simple path climbing up the steep slope. The landscape before me was alive, full of natural wonder and wild with potent potential. Without having to look, I knew that down the path there was a simple rock jutting out from the side of the hill. “Sybil’s Rock,” not yet obscured by the immense Temple to Apollo in an Athenian future, was the gift of mother earth and marked the sacred site of the original oracle. The natural pulpit—the “Sybil rock,” was the place for the priestess to stand and speak the prophecies directly to those who were searching.
Off to the left of where I was sitting and down just a ways, there was a natural spring bubbling up out of a crevice in the wall of the cliff. The pool that formed there was a gathering place were young girls were now bathing. I could here the laughter drifting up to where we were sitting. It was a time of ritual before the prophecies of the full moon.
As I looked back at the Sybil she smiled again and asked without words what I was searching for. Without words, I shared who I was in that moment and opened my soul. I shared my dreams, my desires, and I shared my concerns. The details of what I shared have become meaningless with time, however the wisdom I received still permeates my being. The wisdom of resting in a place of potent, timeless knowing while surrendering to an evolving deeper understanding of the experiential world.
Then she reached over and put something into my hand. I remember, as it touched my hand it slipped through my fingers and fell to the ground. Without a thought, I opened my eyes to retrieve whatever it was and in that instant found myself back in the present. The afternoon sun still burned high in the sky while people continued their slow trek up the steep paths among the ruins of Delphi on the side of Mount Parnassus. I looked down and noticed a small shell sitting between my feet. A Nautilus Shell, the symbol of an evolutionary spiritual journey unfolding with exquisite fractal perfection.