Have you ever woken up from a vivid and numinous dream – the kind where you experience a strange but comforting sense of mystery and well-being – and want only to return to its gauzy, imaginal realm? Such was my desire when I dreamt this scene two years ago, on the night of my 58th birthday:
I’m vacationing on the Island of Malta, having come there from Italy. I walk over a long narrow footbridge to get onto the island. While standing on the footbridge I am looking down on the island. All I can see for miles is a narrow beach with beautiful clean sand and turquoise water. There is a canopy
stretched along the beach providing shade. It is made of a light beige cloth that looks like a natural fiber, perhaps linen. The canopy is held up by simple wooden poles. I am by myself. I am captivated by the sand, which I notice has subtle colors in it, when I am sitting on it. I begin digging onto the sand with my hands, and am surprised to see that it is actually made up of tiny shells that haven’t broken all the way down yet. The shells are lightly colored in pastel shades – pink, blue, yellow – which I realize explains why the sand appears to be colored. I continue digging into the sand and looking with amazement at the shells. A family with two small girls comes along and sets up their beach blanket behind me. I hear them speaking and turn around. One of the girls has found a turtle shell – it’s fairly large, about 10 to 12 inches in diameter. The dried empty skin of the turtle’s head and feet are attached to the shell, as if the turtle has molted and the form of its body was left behind. The mother is telling the girl that she can’t keep the shell because it will smell. I very much want to get the turtle shell and take it home with me. I am trying to figure out where I can get some plastic bags to bring it with me on the plane….I am wondering if people on the plane would be able to smell it.
Being embarrassingly challenged geographically, I thought that Malta was in South America. Out of curiosity, I “”Google searched” and read that the Island of Malta is located between Sicily and Africa in the Mediterranean Sea, a fact that grabbed my attention since my paternal lineage is from Sicily. I was fascinated when I discovered that there was an ancient and extensive fertility culture in Malta’s history, one that has been kept quite secret until relatively recently. There are twenty sacred temples believed to have been dedicated to the Goddess on the island, which is only 20 miles long. These temples have been described as the personification of the Earth Mother, with floor plans which echo abundant maternal curves, where one can easily imagine the concept of entering the “womb” of the temple for communion with the Goddess, and emerging “re-born” into the sunlight. Archaeological evidence dates the temples to a time period long before Buddha and Mohammed, before Jesus and Moses and even Abraham, to perhaps 7000 BCE. What surprised me most is that in all my years of interest in goddess spirituality and the sacred feminine, I had never heard of the Island of Malta or these temples. So, I put a visit to the Island of Malta on my bucket list, and eventually forgot about the dream as well as my newfound knowledge.
Fast forward to January 2015. I am driving on the northway to Saratoga Springs to attend an intuitive painting workshop. As I’m nearing my exit I notice a green highway sign for the town of Malta. Suddenly I remember my dream about Malta, and make a mental note that I had never noticed this sign on other treks to Saratoga.
The evening after the workshop, I was having dinner with several of the women who had attended. As we sat around the table leisurely chatting, somehow the topic of milestone birthdays came up. I mentioned that I was approaching 60, and was beginning to think about what I might do to honor and celebrate the occasion. Out of the clear blue, one of the women, a new acquaintance, said “Why don’t you go to Malta?” “HUH???? Why did you just say that?” I asked, taken aback by the synchronicity of my earlier noticing of the highway sign, as well as the dream remembrance. “I know a woman who leads women’s pilgrimages to Malta” came her reply. Information was exchanged, and as soon as I got home I looked up the website of Jennifer Berezan, said pilgrimage guide. Interestingly, the information page stated that there was no tour planned for 2015 because many of the temples were going to be closed for maintenance; the next scheduled trip was to be in September 2016, a few weeks after my 60th birthday. Without hesitation I pressed the “Register” button…and I leave this Friday September 9th for what I anticipate will be a transformative adventure.
I am a reluctant traveler but every once in a while an opportunity like this beckons to me, and it truly feels like an invitation from Soul. I am blessed to have the resources to say yes to this call, and I approach the journey akin to the way Otto Rank describes our experience of the Holy :“Mysterium tremendem et fascinans,” an unfathomable Mystery before whom we are awestruck and stand trembling, yet find ourselves inexorably drawn, …attracted and fascinated in ways we cannot fully explain.
Scratch one off my bucket list.
I’ve decided to stay off social media while I’m away so I can deeply enter sacred time and space without distractions. See you on the other side!