Cape Cod is a most wondrous place. It is a peninsula that juts out into the Atlantic ocean. It is divided from the mainland of Massachusetts and the United States by a man made canal (rendering it an island? Or not? I think not.) It has miles of beaches and sand and dunes. It has hundreds of kettle ponds. It has rolling hills and trees and forests and marshes, estuaries and bogs. It has historical sites and houses, state parks and a glorious national sea shore and museums of art and natural history. In the town of Sandwich (named after the Earl not the food) it has Heritage Museums and Gardens. Cape Cod is indeed a most wondrous place.
Heritage Museum and Gardens was once the home of Charles Owen Dexter, When he was 59 years old Mr. Dexter was diagnosed with a serious illness and was told that he had only months left to live. Upon hearing this, Mr. Dexter decided to live his last days in the pursuit of activities that nurtured his soul. So, he purchased what was then known as the Shawme Farm in 1922 and devoted himself to gardening, to planting and hybridizing rhododendrons. When Charles Owen Dexter died in 1944 – at the age of 81he died a happy man. Cape Cod is a most wondrous place – so too is following the path of your heart.
Heritage Museum and Gardens, in addition to its amazing rhododendron gardens also has a labyrinth. Labyrinth’s are Greek in origin, with connections to the labrys – a two edged sword, and with connections to the earliest goddesses. Labyrinth’s have come to symbolize a path to a sacred center, as symbolic forms of pilgrimage. So, one cool afternoon I was at Heritage Museum and Gardens walking the labyrinth, quietly chanting and meditating on life and change. I slowly followed the path through to center, round the tree at the center and back out again. It was a quiet afternoon, so I sat down on the bench under the tree just at the edge of the path and had myself a bit of a nap. And while I napped I dreamt of Pandora. She was beautiful, and radiant, and immediately struck fear in my heart (I was raised catholic after all, and early practices linger). When she saw my fear Pandora laughed, and as she laughed, she said,
“Daughter, do not believe all you have been told. Too many of the early fathers where jealous of the life giving abilities of the mothers, and they strove to distort our gifts and our countenance. This is the truth of my being: I am Pandora, Giver of all gifts. To you my children I have given the pomegranate, I have given you the flowering trees that bear fruit, and vines that bear grapes that sustain you and give you joy. I have given you seeds and taught you planting. From me you have received plants for hunger and illness, for weaving and for dyeing. I am the goddess of the earth, and beneath my skin I hold for you minerals, ore and countless clays to shape and mould to your needs and uses. I have given you flint to spark the fires of your hearth to warm your heart and home. I, Pandora bring you wonder, curiosity, memory, and wisdom. Justice tempered with mercy are my gifts. I bring you caring and the love of family and friends. I bring to you courage, strength and endurance. I bring to you compassion and loving kindness for all sentient beings. Daughter, I bring to you the seeds of peace. Fear not my gifts. Revile not my name. Take what it your birthright and celebrate it with open hearted joy, rejoicing in the bounty and grace of the goddess and all that is woman.”
And I woke from my dream, murmured, “so mote it be.” And gave thanks for the gifts of the goddess Pandora, for her daughter Charlene Spretnak who opened a path to re-member the lost goddesses of early Greece, and for the wonders of Cape Cod.