Ritual Abyss

The Last Guardian of the Rock-Womb

Photo by Cassia Tofano on Unsplash

Here in the liminal space between land and tides, the tattooed Priestess protects life’s transitions, singing incantations that evoke the primal power of the salty waters and the rocky ground, while the smoky embers keep the wild threshold alive. The ancient caves she guards were carved manually into the abyss wall by her ancestors, a sacred landscape at the world’s edge, with harsh winds, fierce waves, deep skies, and crumbling rocks. The craggy shoreline ridges are made of collapsed volcanoes and life itself, for they echo deep cycles when marine, lagoon, and reef animals and plants thrived here. Now their primal fire, and stories, are the rock itself.

This living sacred temple is a place of memory, disintegration, and decay so that Life keeps unfolding. The Last Guardian weaves rituals, so bodies are accepted back into the earth chambers, facing the rising sun. Ceremonies recited throughout time, for belonging in intimacy to a ritual landscape merge the living with the dead, keeping the promise of renewal.

The Guardian of the Rock-Womb knows this place’s language, preserving the memory of the wild and salty water spirits of primal times. She stores seashells, fish-bone needles, charcoal, boar tusks, bone idols, a copper dagger, a crystal rock knife, amber stone, gold, and salt in her goat skin bag. She listens to the birds and fish, dances with the wind and the waves, and sings with the rocks, weaving kinship, braiding time and space.

The tattooed Priestess knows that this is the entrance to the underworld, and no mortals are meant to pass through these cliffs penetrating the rock-carved shrines, as these walls occasionally crash, crumbling down to the primal waters. The living sanctuary reminds of the great dissolution, when each salty wave returns, formless, to the moving ocean. When the sacrifice of the individual, experience feeds the great cycle of Life.

On a moonless night, the old Priestess, with her tunic with bone buttons, boar tusk necklace, and gold spiral rings, sets the pyre and collects the offerings in small terracotta vases with her old hands: some charcoal and embers, sacred salt picked in the ebb-tide from the slabs nearby, fresh local myrtle and adiantum for their magical qualities, some gold, and blood from her finger pricked with her crystal rock knife, and she sings, echoing the stars, the rhythmic waves, and the pulsating earth. She fiercely chants in tender remembrance and reciprocity. In symbiosis, she sings out of the ashes, her voice resonating through the abyss, awakening the wild and ancient beings who open the threshold. At dawn, softly, they carry her frail body to the womb-tomb, placing her with care between ancient bones, in the rocky ground. The winds and waves roar and crash while the earth receives her body.

All is forgotten.

These five thousand old communal burial caves were found in 1944, in the precipice of what is now called São Pedro do Estoril, in Portugal, facing the Atlantic Ocean. Today there is a beach, with cafés, surf schools and a lot of tourist activity in the area. The artificial caves don’t exist anymore because of the scarp erosion. I live in this (still) sacred geography, and this fabulation was woven through Mystery, Myth, and Metaphor, allowing a remembrance of our integrated, contextual wisdom. The tale of the “The Last Guardian of the Rock-Womb” was woven in an Eco-Mythological perspective, an invitation to a fractal and kaleidoscopic pilgrimage, working from joy to grief, in the organic and complete cycle between Life and Death, rescuing and re-creating a diverse ecosystem of stories, myths, and tales.

The severed western modern mind, self-absorbed in moral and intellectual superiority, understands Mystery, Myth, and Metaphors as primitive and childish ways of interpreting reality, for they are not factual, measurable, or objective.

After all, stories are for children, serving only as empty fantasies to escape a painful reality. Just another tragic limitation of the modern narrative of the transcendent, trapped in the unique legitimacy of anthropocentric absolutism. Nonetheless, without the rich living threads of Metaphors, Myths and Mystery, we easily find ourselves climbing cold, mirrored, slippery, devastatingly sharp, and cutting glass mountains, opening ever deeper emotional wounds through which strength and belonging are strained. Where we lose Life, severing the sacred cycle. Stories are the original complexity keepers.

Will we remember?

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Sofia Batalha

Sofia Batalha

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Journeying 🌿 between inner and outer landscapes, remembering ancient earth practices, radical presence, active listening, ecopsychology, art and writing.