High on a hilltop in County Cork, Ireland sits the Neolithic wedge tomb of Labbacallee. Remnants of a dark forest surround it. The tomb was constructed around 2,500 BC and is sited to catch the rays of the setting sun at the autumn equinox. It is home of the goddess in her guise as the crone – a symbolic representation of the energies of birth, death and rebirth.
Lasting through the millennia this strange and rather creepy tomb exists a container or stronghold for the energies of the old religion.
In the blog post titled Permitted not to tell on CDHK Chevrefeuille recounts an episode on Basho’s journey to the deep north where he visited Mount Yundano:-
Mount Yudano (meaning “bathroom”) a very sacred (and secretive) Shinto place. Today’s episode not permitted to tell is written after Basho’s visit to Mount Yudano.
According to Jane Reichhold, Basho wrote the following haiku on Mount Yudano (bathroom). On this mountain was a spectacular waterfall which had been a Shinto place of worship since early times. Only men could visit it and only after a rigorous climb with several rituals and services in various temples. At the gate, after purification rites, they must remove their shoes to climb the rocks barefoot. In addition, before being allowed to view this wonder, each men had to swear never to reveal what he witnessed there. In modern times, in interests of disclosure, the secret of Mount Yudano has been revealed.
Due to the wearing away of the rock and the reddish minerals in the thermal-warmed water, the waterfall looks exactly like the private parts of a woman complete with sounds and gushing water. The practice can be thought of as worshiping the reproductive aspect of the feminine earth.
The priest Ekaku had asked Basho to write some poems on his visit to the three holy mountains of Dewa. Basho couldn’t do that because it was an awesome experience for him and so he couldn’t find the words. Also it was forbidden to talk about what he had witnessed on the mountain.
katara re nu yudano ni nurasu tometo kana
not permitted to tell
how sleeves are wetted
in the bathroom
© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)
Why did the men go to a sacred feminine place? In indigenous cultures such a place would be the domain of the women.
It seems to me that the fact that men went to a sacred feminine site then referred to it by such an ignominious name as ‘the bathroom’ and kept their visit secret has ramifications that resonate deep in the modern world. The Shinto religion is not the only example of men assuming control over sacred feminine knowledge. Such behaviour has equivalences in many cultures and religions and lies at the root of patriarchy. Across the globe the concept of the sacred feminine has been placed within a stronghold of ideas that assert the supremacy of the divine masculine principle.
At the core of most contemporary cultures and religions (be they west, east or middle) lies the assumption that men are in control and have the power. Over everything. Not just over women and children but of the planet itself. Such thinking dominates our world and many people, women included, subscribe to this belief system. Such people believe they have the right to rape and pillage the body of Mother Earth as much as they like.
It is becoming increasingly obvious that such behaviour is unsustainable. If we continue to allow the rampant exploitation of the earth our planet will become a barren, infertile place and our days as a species will be numbered.
I’m not suggesting we return to some Neolithic matriarchal culture. Archaeological evidence suggests this culture had it excesses too. Human sacrifices appear to have occurred at Labbacallee and other ancient mother goddess sites in Ireland and, perhaps, across the globe. There’s no way I want to return to that world.
Perhaps the way ahead lies in a union of the principles of the sacred masculine and the sacred feminine
– a sacred marriage where the highest qualities of the masculine – qualities such as generosity, clarity, steadfastness, focused intention and productivity – unite with the higher feminine qualities of fertility, abundance, nurturance, tolerance and healing.
Perhaps if we truly learning to love and respect another and the planet we live on a new way forward will be found.
Carpe Diem Haiku Kai – ‘not permitted to tell’ and ‘the clam’ – although I have taken a different direction that was perhaps intended with recent Carpe Diem prompts I have linked my posts to CDHK because the original stimulus for the haibun and haiga came from there. In so doing I mean no disrespect to Chevrefeuille or anyone at CGHK. I have the greatest respect and admiration for Chevrefeuille and his interesting prompts. I am also deeply grateful to Hamish Managua Gunn for teaching me how to write haibun. It has been one of the most profound learning experiences of my life. Comments from group members at CDHK have often been catalysts that have led me to a greater understanding of haibun, haiku and wabi sabi. Thank you all.