I have been looking for this place for the past three years and something. The megalithic garden I have longed for is known as I massi della vecchia — literally, the stones of the old woman. The woman in question was a witch. Actually one of those witchy witches of the Italian folklore. And she was told to be the guardian of some kind of an hidden golden treasure.
This one day trip I owe it to a nice local archaeologist I have already mentioned in a previous post. I believe I can call him a friend by now, and I hope this wandering in the Salento country will become an habit. I will call it dolmening. While I will definitely call myself a dolmeniac. As a guide in the hunting we had his experience, braveness and kind heart, a good reading, and some luck.
The main issue with looking for dolmens and menhirs in Salento is that they are located into private properties. So it is very much indispensable to be well equipped in terms of courage, kindness, and GPS coordinates. The latter, we found them in my friend’s archaeo-senses, but also in the reading of Dolmenhir, a recently published book (in English soon) where the main prehistoric sites are collected with useful informations about their discovery and how to find them.
The good fortune in our case was that we met the owner of the land himself. A nice old man engaged in the supervision of the olives harvest, who kindly opened his fenced area in order to let us in, and enter the sacred site from there. And it was a precious encounter because it opened a beautiful unprecedented perspective on the ancient stones. They are large blocks of limestone dating back to the Miocene.
The magic of the place, though, is not only due to its having emerged from the sea depths thousands of years ago, which is still quite something, but also to the fact that in the ages it became a ritual spot. The huge stone I climbed onto is named Il letto della vecchia, — literally the bed of the old woman, and it holds holes related to the cult of water. I have established a connection with this rock while I was there, standing in the stillness of the green, listening to the blossoming flowers and the whisper of the Mother.
They do not like to be easily found, and I suspect they do not particularly like cameras, so I will respect their will, and decide to just show the picture of the only one stone which allowed me on. Instead, I will focus on the scenario: the acanthus leaves growing on its length, as a symbol of strength, and the purple five points borage flowers among the surrounding grass blades, to strengthen courage.
The practice of dolmening definitely refines itself as a deep immersion in the Nature as a temple. And the act of worshipping the Goddess turns out to be watching closely to the details of the natural shapes, and catching their metaphysical meanings. It is the case of the asphodels, standing straight on the border of the sea at the end of the journey, strong in their trunks but delicate in their flowers, as the Love they are supposed to forecast into some kind of a pagan archeo-botanical lore.
This post participates to the Pagan Blog Project 2014