“It’s going to wake up the whole street,” I muttered cringily.
Andrew shot me a grin, then called, “here boy. Here boy!”
I whacked him on the arm. It was only six o’clock in the morning after all and besides us and the dog, the whole of Caltabellotta was fast asleep.
Ignoring the angry barks, we hurried past One-Eye and continued up the street until the road sprayed outwards into a large square. At the far end, cupped in a natural rock chalice, rested the Cathedral.
“That’s it,” I whispered. “That’s the one.”
“Where’s the bit of paper?” Andrew asked.
I fished around in my bag for the article and handed it to him. It was quite a short piece, translated from a magazine by the owner of our apartment. Before leaving us yesterday, he’d stuffed the translation into my hand, saying “every stone in this place is precious to me. There is a mystery here.” I’d smiled and thanked him, thinking his pride and love of Caltabellotta was sweet. Yet when I read his article, I realised he was speaking the truth. Caltabellotta is stepped in history … and mystery.
I think “steeped” is the wrong word. Caltabellotta is positively stewed, soaked, stitched, saturated in “way-back times”, both weird and wonderful.
The natural caves here date back to prehistoric times. Ancient graves, dug into the rocks, pepper the mountain side like honeycomb. Move forward in history and mythical kings of the pre-Hellenic era were reputed to have hung out on this mountain. During the Roman epoch the site became the theatre of a slaves revolt, with the rebelling slaves barricading themselves inside the town walls. On the highest peak, where infamous dodgy geezer, Alister Crowley came to try and invoke The Beast of the Apocalypse, are the ruins of a Norman Castle that is so high, it’s impenetrable. Caltabellotta was also a compulsory stop for the Knights Templar, their presence evident in the symbolism that richly adorn the Cathedral and relics within.
Some nasty stuff had occurred here in this mountain village but as we stood there, gazing at the Cathedral, the ruins and the panoramic views, Caltabellotta slept peacefully … like a baby in it’s crib.
For several hours Andrew and I scrambled around the plateau, watching the butterflies, exploring the different views and imagining the Days Gone By. We studied the many Templar crosses hidden like old scars in the stonework and wondered about the myths of the Holy Grail that have become embedded in this place.
Eventually it was time to return to the house. We wandered back down the meandering street, past One-Eyed Dog who this time just looked at us with a cocked head, and slipped back into our house which was still silent. Mum, her partner, Jim Tonic and the kids were still all fast asleep.
Just like ancient hill top towns, our bodies have a history.
Our scars tell stories of old hurts, physical and emotional. Our lines and wrinkles show laughter and frowns; they are etchings of our expressions, our responses to life. The very shape of our body shows the genetic heritage we have inherited from our mothers, our grandmothers, our ancestors. Our bodies are painted frescoes. They hold the relic of DNA and the mystery of our evolutionary path.
* In your journal write the His-story or Her-story of your body from birth. What has happened to you over the years? How has your relationship with your body changed, evolved and altered? Have there been any wars in the settlement of Your Body?
* Create a timeline that shows the main events that have happened during your Her-story/His-story. When did you become conscious of your body as part of “you”? Were your first sexual experiences positive or did you experience a feeling of invasion? If so, how did the settlement of Your Body recover?
* What was your Rites of Passage into adulthood? Was this transition positive or negative? In our culture many young people do Body Destructive things to feel that sense of adult independence, ie. smoking, drinking, drugs. How could you create a healthy, flesh-affirming Rites of Passage?
*Do you have tattooes, piercings, stretch marks? If so, what are the stories behind these landmarks? What are your Body Village’s biggest triumphs? What are you biggest regrets?
*Are you – the inhabitant of your body – closed in and barricaded like the Roman slaves or do you feel free to express yourself physically and interact with others?
* Your body has experienced many things throughout your life, but remember that the past does not equal the future. . Just as Caltabellotta has it’s religious festivals and celebratory events, how can you celebrate the place that you reside in? How can you bring more peace, more tranquility, more healing? Name three ways that you could honour your body, release the past and embrace the future