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TIGERS IN EPHESUS: Drawing in the Aura of the Virgin

Bright Morning Face, Ephesus 2005

Next day we wandered down the main streets of Ephesus, the Biblical town that died a thousand years ago when an earthquake robbed it of its harbor, and admired the library, the remaining statues, the massive stadium.

Dionysius at Ephesus, Ephesus 2015

In its heyday Ephesus was a major city with indoor plumbing and heating, covered walkways, a population of 200,000 and a cemetery just for its gladiators, who were dug up in this century and subjected to forensic studies to see how they died, meaning a museum case with the tombstone and punctured skullcase or fractured femur. I drew the one here in the Selçuk Museum, just around the corner from the Great Artemis.

Storks & Gladiator, Selçuk 2005


Two years later, Cynthia and I went back to Ephesus with Lili,  also from Maui. Lili is a Minister of Fun, and she ordained me as one, too. Here’s our Creed: Never do anything unless it is fun. If you must do something, find a way to make it fun.

Lili & Me in Ephesus

The newly-excavated, sumptuous villas of the Ephesus rich had just opened. They marched up the hill over the posh section of town just like they do in every city to this day. We’d all seen the HBO series Rome, and the hill villas, like the Roman statues, brought out the scheming passionate Atia in us. Again I remembered the fairy tale.

–The Marsh King’s Daughter flew with the storks to a Viking’s home in Denmark. By night she was the toadlike image of her hideous father, with her mother’s generous sweet spirit. By day she had her mother’s beauty and her father’s vicious temper, which her Viking protector adored. Only his wife knew the secret… A glint at times in Cynthia’s cat-eyes, of fury barely checked. This was the sword-edge of an implacable life force. When administered with smoky voice and exquisite tact, it was capable, in one week, of getting a depressed mutual friend out of fusty hair and bedroom slippers and into spike heels, toreador pants, slicked-back hair and a holiday. Me, I just started growing my hair down to my hips.

Sirinci, Sirinci 2007

In the Greek mountain town of Sirinci we bought white khaftans and drove inland to Aphrodisias, a ruined Roman resort town. Those Maui babes know how to behave around an ancient Pagan goddess. In our khaftans we clambered over collapsed arches and fallen columns, all in nests of flowering grasses. We made wreaths and put them on. All of us were dealing with loss of some kind: of marriage, love, property, youth, self. We found an immense carved marble block and held a ceremony. With flowers and singing and incense, in full Priestess mode, we dedicated ourselves in the name of the Goddess Aphrodite to moving forward. Finding a way to make it fun. Only with these Aloha Blondes could I carry on so, to the sun’s dazzle on a whole tour group’s worth of snapping cameras. As we wandered back to our car, I took off my wreath and looked around for where to put it. It was wilted, but throwing it away seemed mildly sacrilegious. In the middle of the lot was an ancient stone lion. I put the wreath on the lion’s head. Walking back I ran into a guard. Uh-oh, I thought. “Madam,” he said with respect tinged with awe, “we are all wondering, where are you ladies from?”

Lili in Aphrodisias
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