We welcome all Faiths
May 8, 2017
Under our house in Italy (in case you have just started following us, we are living in – and restructuring – an old farm house in Italy – read more on http://www.sanctuaryofjoy.org/en/sanctuary-of-joy-new-home-in-italy/ ) we have found a hidden treasure: initially labelled as ‘an old storage room of the old farmer’ by the real estate agent, we knew there was some underground space but, when we bought the house, it was completely closed off and inaccessible, so we had no clue about its real shape/size and conditions. The path leading to it was completely covered up in junk of all sorts: it turns out that, with the house and field having been essentially abandoned for a over a decade, all the neighbors farmers were dumping the branches they pruned from their trees, and all sort of other garbage in there. Even the previous owner was likely already using it as a dump ground himself, because we have been busy for a few weeks digging out anything you can imagine from it: from rusted old lumberjack tools to plastic bags with house garbage, glass bottles, shoes, rusted parts from a motorcycle from the 1950’s, ceramic dishes, an insane amount of aluminum cans that were once containing dog food (in various states of decomposition), an umbrella and some other mysterious objects we still have not managed to identify.
When we had dug up enough junk and reached the point to be able to walk on the path and actually reach the ‘storage room’, we saw that this was not looking like anything the same people who initially built the house might have dug themselves by hand in the 1960’s; it appeared more like an old cave, maybe from the middle ages or possibly even Etruscan. We don’t know for sure if it used to be an Etruscan tomb, a pre-historic house, a temple, a refuge of a middle-ages hermit (like the one we described in one of our previous posts http://www.sanctuaryofjoy.org/notes/2017/01/18/find-light-within/, given that these fields belonged to the church until the 1950’s) or anything else or all of these things. In fact we don’t know anything about it for sure but in one of the neighbor’s fields, slightly up higher on the same hill, there is a similar hole that we noticed, but he also has the whole lot covered up in junk – almost to the top – and that seems to be the only thing that the local people use these ancient holes for. It appears obvious that this type of caves were more widespread on this particular hill (we mentioned in a previous post that this area of Italy has been already identified by archaeologists as the area with the maximum concentration/density of ancient pagan altars in the whole world [see http://www.sanctuaryofjoy.org/notes/2017/04/10/planet-not-kind-danger-human-life-danger/] and there are other hills in the surroundings that have more well-known and studied caves, some of which are dating back all the way to the bronze age). Anyhow, our neighbors and other local people won’t talk much about these and they try to avoid the conversation when asked – either just out of ignorance or out of fear of what’s ancient and unknown, or both.
Going back to how the cave on our own property looks like: it sits under a space used as deck, in front of our house, and it had been covered in a thin layer of cement which, coupled with the broken drainage system of the house, had unfortunately let a lot of humidity infiltrate into the cave. This had unfortunately caused some part of the original ceiling to crumble and collapse.
Wanting to preserve the cave, with the help of some local bricklayers, we reinforced both the entrance (creating an arch) and the deck which sits on top of it to reduce further humidity infiltration (covering it with a much thicker layer of metal-armed concrete and paving it with large stones). You can see what’s old/original and what’s new/added, but at least it should be more robust now!
The cave itself is a simple square room with two ‘shelves’ (or ‘altars’) on the back wall. There is a smaller cavity/alcove on the left side with another lower and larger shelf where it is possible for a person to sit.
What’s also very interesting about this cave is its orientation: its opening faces roughly towards the south and, when standing in it with your back to the ‘altars’ back wall, the path that leads to it is oriented towards south-east. On the right of the path there is a sort of semi-circular area, also excavated and at the same level (which is lower than the ground level) pointing towards the west. We have observed that, at the winter’s solstice, you can observe the Sun, rising from behind the hills in front, its position aligned with the path and sending light directly into the cave. As you move your point of view towards the semi-circle on your right, there is pointing at the moon, still visible around the time of sunrise, which presence is about to fade in the morning light. Essentially, from the cave, on Winter’s solstice, at sunrise, the moon meets the sun.
Whatever this place was or has been in the past, we are now turning it into our private temple. Dug into the Earth and womb of Mother Nature, where we will run morning meditations and rituals to welcome each new day.
We have named it ‘Fanum Terrae’ which, in Latin, means ‘Temple (or Sanctuary) of the Earth’ and matches our ideals of caring for the earth, for nature; honoring our planet, our environment, our source of life and food. This temple is not tied to an religion in particular and it will be non-denominational, honoring and permitting all faiths and religions, since all of them include respect for our home environment and other beings in their core teachings.
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