Tour of Malta and Gozo, with Koko (Glastonbury) and Anna (Madrid), June 2011

Described and reviewed by Rachael Clyne

MaltaThese tiny islands are home to some of the most ancient temples. Between 3-5,000 years old, all are dedicated to and built in the shape of the Great Mother. Their curvy shapes are beautifully executed in the honeyed limestone that is the islands’ foundation.

We went as individuals, some acquainted but most not. We returned having connected through heart and spirit, renewed by love of Goddess and her love for us. We were an international mix of three Spanish and seven British women and men, some priestesses or priests and some unfamiliar with Goddess; however it was a warm and inclusive group. Two had deep connections with Malta bringing another dimension as they returned to lost roots.

We were based in Marsaxlokk, a quiet fishing town Malta's south coast, staying with remarkable value at a youth hostel -  a "real find". Our host, Salvu, turned out to be a gentleman and a treasure, revealing his deep spirituality and blossoming in like-minded company. Marsaxlokk abounds with delicious fishy eating places so we were well placed to enjoy the delights of the island.

MaltaWe explored Malta and Gozo together, visiting temple sites and exploring the land. Malta is a quirky country, built of honeyed limestone. Two of us became obsessed with photographing the rich variety of balconies that adorn buildings everywhere. It has a Ruritanian feel, reminiscent of early Ealing Comedy movies, with its densely packed, baroque stone buildings, restricted to a low height that hugs the land. The last occupiers before independence were British, who left their stamp in the English language seen and spoken everywhere. Oddities like soya milk etc are easily found in local shops; also the highly economical and quaint 60s Leyland buses, gaily painted orange and yellow and full of chatter. These will sadly soon be replaced as Arriva takes over transport. The Maltese are friendly and helpful, which made things pleasant and easy.

There were many amazing moments and experiences, each having their own journey. We spent a day in Valetta visiting the Archaeological Museum, with wonderful goddess statues, and then St John's Cathedral with its plethora of gold and connection with the Knights of Malta. The Barrakka Gardens give a fantastic panorama of the harbour and the unique setting of Malta's capital. A worthwhile tip is to purchase a multi-ticket that provides entry to most of the sites on the islands.

We went to the Hypogeum, having managed to negotiate a free hour in this incredibly powerful sacred place. Stepping through an ordinary door in a side street of a small town, you enter another world. The spiral of catacombs, hollowed out of the solid rock, is like an inner ear of the earth. Reversing the order of most archaeological sites, the levels grow younger in age the deeper you go. Words cannot describe the power of this place and our experience there as we sang Her into being. With the hypogeum's amazing acoustics our singing surged and soared, reverberating and filling every hollow as Her love and ours poured forth. Hearts were opened and tears flooded as one. Salvu, who came with us, was deeply touched feeling that we re-animated the place and rejoined his body and soul. He too touched us with his grace.

At nearby Tarxien temple we were still high and sat among the ruins to, sing, dance, and tell stories. The next day we visited several sites via one of Malta's tour buses. We stopped off at Ghar Dalam, a prehistoric cave found full of bones of hippos, miniature elephants and other animals. Tuning into the ancestors we entered a timeless space, sensing the playful presence of a Neanderthal man, filled with delight and glee as he joined our hands and danced with the "pale spirits".

Our next stop was the famous Blue Grotto caves, with their amazing blue waters,  which we visited in small boats. In the afternoon we arrived at Hagar Qim and Menajdra, two temples built overlooking the sea. Hagar Qim's massive outer stones rest together like curved teeth, some being higher that Stonehenge. Unlike British standing stones, they seem to rest against each other without being half beneath the surface. There is an oracle space which holds power. Inside, some stones are marked in pitted patterns and a beautifully carved altar column provided space for Samuel's tiny Venus statue and our dedication.  We then made the walk down a paved processional way towards the sea and the lower temple of Mnajdra. Both temples retain their power in the stones and we sang and sounded together.

MaltaSome visited the ancient walled towns of Mdina and Rabat the following day, famous for Mdina glass and strong Moorish influence. However I took a much needed day to rest and integrate.  Marsaxlokk market, held every Sunday along the harbour, provided morning entertainment, its sales range from fresh fish and clothing to souvenirs and even a pink kettle, purchased by one who had searched long for a match to her kitchen!

Our last visit was to Gozo, crossing on the ferry to this smaller and greener island, home to Ggantija, the most ancient temple known: 5,000 yrs old!  It is in the process of being covered by a canopy like those at the other temples, to protect the stones from the weather. We were disappointed to visit only a small part of the temple still open. Pressed together with coach-loads of tourists, we sensed the energy had dispersed to the nearby hills. It was sad, and one only hopes it will return when the canopy is finished.

We visited the archaeological museum at Rabat citadel, with some tiny goddess statues. Our next stop was T'a Pinu church, high on a hill, dedicated to Madonna of the Assumption and renowned for its healing miracles. This was apparent the moment I walked through the entrance curtains (so brilliant it wasn't a door). The chapel behind the altar is filled with a gentle, loving peace and several members had profound healing here. We then met with a local shaman who trekked us overland to his favourite spots, showing us plants and cart ruts in the rocks. Also some temple remains, including a beautiful Venus flower arranged in stones on a small plateau like a stone crop circle of interlaced petals. The way was very challenging, particularly for me,  especially down slope with marble like stones underfoot. Not to be repeated!

We spent our last day at St Peter's Pool, close to Marsaxlokk. It is a stunning cove, with smoothed out hollows reminiscent of the Hypogeum, some filled with rock salt. The sea everywhere is crystal clear and nowhere more so than here; turquoise and azure. Where better to swim and rest after a very full and rejuvenating week?  It was a first trial pilgrimage for Koko and Anna, who were always loving and supportive and they managed to organise some great deals. They are now planning return tours, no doubt having learned and tweaked from this first experience. They have plans in the pipeline for visits to other countries and amazing sites as well as return trips to Malta.

Thanks to Anna, Koko and to all who helped to make this a memorable and transforming journey. Blessed Be.

Row.

Rachael Clyne

Rachael Clyne is a Glastonbury-based psychotherapist, Goddess artist, writer and poet. Her self-help book, "Breaking the Spell - the Key to Recovering Self-esteem" (PSAvalon 2005) is available in Kindle and paperback.  Her poetry has been published in magazines and anthologies and she has a collection, "She Who Walks with Stones and Sings" (PSAvalon 2006).  Both books can be bought via Amazon, or from her website: www.rachaelclyne.com/, as can her powerful Goddess artwork.  Her articles and poems appear on her public Facebook Page.

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