Rounding Cape Horn we enter the domain of Poseidon. The sea rules here. At one time a third of those who sailed these seas perished. To round the horn three times gave you the right to ‘spit into the wind’ for you had beaten fate and were now riding the ship of your own destiny. We are not in the tropics under the coconut trees. Life here is not a given. It is raw, wild and an imperative. At this latitude on the planet there is no land - the oceans burst their containers and become the one circumpolar sea rolling around the globe. The effect on the psyche is a cleansing and a strange mystical dissolving. We are pausing before we enter the icy bum of the planet south of 60 degrees in the way many indigenous cultures pause at streams or lakes to cleanse before entering sacred space.. We are in a huge moat crossing to the seventh continent, the white bride of the south pole, the temple of the mother of the world, Antarctica.
I have made many pilgrimages in my life and am used to the dance of inner and outer worlds that accompanies sacred journeying. It is one thing to travel in the imagination, another to trek in the body sheath and yet another to synergise the two. The soul senses of consciousness and the shamanic senses of the body weave together revealing mysteries that neither alone can penetrate or fathom. My first taste of Antarctica collapses any duality and i am immediately hit with a blast of that which lies at the root of body and soul alike - pure presence. it is as if the primal split of mind and body never occurred here. There is no indigenous people to tell the story of the land, no colonisers to impose their own and so the land simply speaks for itself in the ancient silent language of prima materia. Each iceberg is itself a poem, each cliff of rock a song, each glacier an ecstatic shiver up the spine of being. The mind surrenders into awe, cameras drop, naming falls away. We have not come to enter Antarctica, safe on our ship, clothed in the inner and outer robes of a few thousand years of civilisation. She strips us naked with out trying and enters us impersonally with the radiant power of essential embodied spirit.
It is as if the land keeps counsel with herself. Celibate. Virginal. Not wanting or needing relationship. This is challenging to human egos which tend to console themselves by naming it a hostile environment where we must wage a heroic struggle to survive. But i don’t sense any hostility. The emperor penguins trust her with their most precious possession - new life - as they huddle into her icy bosom for the long winter. Her love is cold and fierce but not hostile to those who are themselves full of life force and know how to cooperate with nature and each other. The white queen is simply focused within herself on deeper matters than the self importance of roaming bipeds. i am further humbled by the impression that she is keeping her reserves of energy for a time when the current reign of humans has passed away and a new evolutionary wave of earth we cannot yet imagine or comprehend, unfolds.
I am also surprised by the way being near the south pole of the planet opens me to cosmos in a totally different way than the arctic. In the north I am drawn to the stars of the Great Bear and seek to align my will with the evolutionary imperative of a sentient Kosmos. i feel the descent of thousands of years of ancestors bringing down the celestial fire and creating civilisations and cultures to preserve and reveal the mysteries. In the south I look up into the heavens and simply belong. The stories of ufo bases hidden in the antarctica are replaced by the reality of her communion directly with the starry heavens through the medium of her body. More than sixteen thousand meteorites have been ‘recovered’ from her surface. All around me there are whales. I feel them in the water, hear them blowing around the boat and calling to each other. The great southern summer aquatic caravanserai. A whale once taught me that they listen to the cosmos with their whole body and when the ecstatic vibration gets too much to contain, they sing. That is another story but the whales and the penguins, the seals and the albatrosses are the moving face of this vast continent and they are all shamans - shifting shape and flowing effortlessly between the elements of air and ocean and land and ice. They, themselves are the fire.
The boat we are on is celebrating Xmas and we are struck by just how steeped we are in northern rituals and traditions - even those of us who come from ‘down under’. So we play with a southern solstice celebration of Mother Christmas. It becomes an ode to the body and the senses. Strawberries, grapes and tongues trace sacred hills and valleys and the base is blessed with ice. We celebrate the virginity, innocence and primal power of matter in and of itself before it is ‘known’ by consciousness; before the struggles of prophets with sin and holiness; before the endless stories of possession salvation and redemption are played out on its surfaces. Before the shadows of striving and the wastes of consumption are buried deep in her entrails and bones. The reindeer,the hymns, the naughty and nice lists, the big bag of presents - give way to the song of whales, the unconditional love of the goddess and the hag of Presence.
Perhaps we stand on the edge of a failing civilisation precisely because the ’Sons of God’ have forgotten ourselves as ‘Daughters of the Goddess’. Antarctica, the seventh continent, the virgin, is like the lost Pleiad of the seven sisters who did not marry one of the seven stars of the Great Bear. Perhaps precisely because she birthed no civilisation of her own and is spared the fate of her six sister continents who must watch their children turn on them and each other - she is in a unique place to help them and us all. Like Isis, her mysteries are veiled and mortal man has yet to know her. As the unknown reservoir of mater-nal power on the planet perhaps there is still time for the northern civilisations to tire of their pursuit of consciousness expansion, transcendence and racial purity. Perhaps they will come to her bloody, muddy, on their knees with thirst of a more urgent kind ( she hold’s 70 percent of the world’s fresh water in her icy embrace.). Perhaps she may yet open for us the sacred door to the heart.
When awakened consciousness, humbled on the mountain, descends from the crown to the base, it calls forth the rising of kundalini - the primal latent power of virginal matter up the spine. When the soul learns to honour both the divine powers then the heart can blow fully open. This may be the metaphysical truth behind the legends of the south pole as a gateway to the hollow earth. Kundalini is fire and where best to store the sacred fire of matter than beneath the largest body of ice on the planet. When we activate the base centre; when we come to the dragon, not with the sword of will, but AS the sword, tempered in the fires of the heart, then a doorway opens - an initiation into the deeper mysteries of matter as divine. An initiation our world sorely needs.
We do not own Antarctica. It is the only place on earth we have somehow ( yes i know, it’s so not like us ) protected by treaty against exploitation. military action and political ownership. Her land has tasted very little human blood and most of those bodies she has encased in ice are those of pioneers, explorers and scientists. This power to freeze has its corollary in our base centre instincts - the primal responses of fight, flight and freeze. Animals, including humans freeze when they have no choice in a situation to run or fight or when doing so would be even more dangerous. The freezing suspends the energy, retains it in the body for a later release when the situation changes and when the consciousness is more able to integrate the trauma. It is a protective mechanism. I like to think it has survival implications for our planet as a whole. Antarctica is ‘pre-Genesis’. She did not get the memo about God giving the earth to his people to have dominion over. She inhabits a realm where land is not separate from divinity and can’t be given or taken. It simply IS.
I have been ‘home’ from Antarctica for two weeks now and I woke this morning in tears from a lucid dream. It is a new moon and the stars of Orion are icy songs in the dark thrumming of the void above. The waves outside are no longer the 'pacific ocean’ but the planetary sea. The island I live on no longer an isolated part of a ‘country’ but held in the embrace of the seven sisters of the one continent of earth. I am listening to the song of whales and miraculously, in my heart, the flag of Antarctica is flying. I am crying with gratitude in the grace. It is not a flag of dominion but the living flutter of my being in the cool southern wind from the pure land of spirit. I belong.