Pachamama and the Goddesses of the World
Goddess Icons spirit banners are sacred images of the divine feminine from the many cultures of the world. Icons connected to the deep soul expression of the divine mystery of life. Each image was created and revered at some time in human history. The first banners were created for an exhibition at the Celsus Library in Ephesus, Turkey. They fly at sacred sites to empower, teach and share their stories around the globe. They hang in museums, colleges, kindergartens, temples, golf courses, conference halls, studios, palapas, galleries, and a women’s prison sharing their journeys and stories.
The Peruvian “Venus de Fria” is surrounded by Inka stepped temple energy fields, celebrating the duality of Life with her powerful eyes, hands, and pubic triangle. She is featured here as the Mochica Gold Idol 400-800 CE., with a background textile of Nasca/Wari 500-800 CE.
The “Chavin Saramama” is the Great Mother of the Chavin Culture — a Saramama, corn mother, holding sprouting staffs of food and serpentine amaru snake energies. She is fierce and powerful, from the South Coastal Karwa textile 500 BCE, Ica Vally Textile.
“Cuchimilco Mama” is a Chancay Mama raising her arms and hands, energy emanates from her eyes and crowned head. A cuchimilco, her clay body is a vessel for regeneration, her vulva pubic triantgle shows the origin of life. Chan Chan ceramic 1200 CE, Chimu/Sipan patters from litter 750-1250 CE.
“Pachamama” The Earth Mother creatirix of Peru, a machukuna and ancient being. She holds corn, the food of Life. Pre-Columbian stone Inca textile worn for outstanding bravery.
The “Black Madonna of the Andes” standing on the moon and her sacred stones, surrounded by a k’uychi rainbow aura of Light. Her crown is a golden stepped gateway of wisdom and compassion. Source: Moche clay 500-800 CE.
“Inca Venus” holding spirals of energy in her hands, using her inner vision. The Inka cumbi textile in the background was woven by priestesses in the acclahuasi, house of the chosen women. Source: Gold 1500 CE. Background: Sapa Inca cumbi textile 1500 CE.
“Mama Huaca” means sacred stone mother. The Inka creation myth centers on four couples who emerge from a cave near Cusco. Mama Huaca is the partner of a male trickster who was rowdy and cruel. When the people decided he must return to the cave, they sought Mama Huaca’s help as she was forceful and bellicose. She tricked her partner back to the cave where he remains today. Mama Huaca was both clever and wise. She planted the first field in the Cusco valley. After she died, people made chicha (fermented corn beer) every year in her honor. Mama Huaca sits on a throne under a sacred parasol with one hand in a bowl of water, the source of life. She holds a mirror in her left hand acknowledging her power.
Goddess Icon Spirit Banners
The goddesses fly from the terraced walls of Machu Picchu, 1999.
In the footfalls of their ancient sisters a gathering of awakened women sojourn to the mystical land of Pachamama. For the first time in nearly 500 years her image flows freely from the ancient terraced stone walls of the lost city Machu Picchu, just as it had during the previous epoch.
It all began in December ’98 when I found Kathy and Labyrinthina on the Internet. She was sponsoring a yearly Gathering at Machu Picchu April 24 – May l, 1999. A year ago Kathy and Luzclara, a Chilean healer ceremonial leader, came together at Machu Picchu. They envisioned and chose to bring together a Goddess Gathering in 1999. Kathy’s dream was to bring the Priestesses of the Sun back to the ancient Sanctuary.
After Kathy and I connected, I sent Xeroxes of my banners and much Herstory to Florida. She dreamed of the banners flying at Machu Picchu. We both worked hard at making the dream a reality.
I collected images, designed banners, painted them and generally hung out with sacred images for two months in the California desert. An exhibition of my banners in Mexico City claimed my energies for part of the time. My husband Bob and I came back to Colorado where we live the middle of April. I finished painting seven Peruvian banners based on 3,000 years of images and textiles. I took off April 23rd for Peru.
My niece Katie and I flew to Lima several days early to explore sites and museums there. Huallamarca, a mud brick stepped temple of the priestesses in Miraflores near where we stayed, the Museo d’Oro with its collection of gold, stone, ceramics, and the Archaeology Museum of Peru are all great resources about the cultures of Peru. Our guide, Cesar Fransico Rojas Zapana, is an archaeologist and was delighted to share the Peruvian Goddess story with us. He took us on a brief tour of the Zocalo of Lima and to a park overlooking the Pacific ocean at sunset.
The next day the Goddess Gathering officially began as we arrived in Cusco tucked between the peaks of the high Peruvian Andes. This cobble-stoned Incan city is 11,300 feet above sea level, and even I could feel the altitude as we got off the airplane. My gym-training program with weights and Stairmaster two months previous to departure did pay off. Kathy, who organized the Gathering, met us at the airport. Peruvian women sold us coca leaves as we got on the bus. Chewing them helps with the altitude. I found them bitter tasting, better enjoyed as a tea.
After meeting Jose Altamirano and his artist friend Lydia, along with our group assistant Karina, we bundled up our luggage and headed for Pisac and it’s Sunday market. Fabulous crafts and bright colors! Pepe owns a travel company in Cusco and helped Kathy with some of our arrangements. He is a guide and expert on the Inka ruins of the Sacred Valley and is also the dean of arts and sciences at Cusco University and has been the head of the Chamber of Commerce. He made the arrangements with the Peruvian Government to sponsor my banner exhibition at Machu Picchu and was our guide at Ollantaytambo, Sacsayhuaman, and Tambo Machay.
The market in Pisac gave us a great introduction into both crafts and commerce. The shopping Goddess reigned! After a delightful lunch at a bed and breakfast owned by an American woman and her Peruvian husband, the buses headed down the valley to Urubamba and our home for the next two nights, Hotel Valle Sagrado.
The owner Nick Asheshave and his wife Maria del Carmen Leiva, are friends of Kathy. A few years ago they had commissioned her to design and install meditation gardens for the hotel based on the ancient Classical 7-Path Labyrinth.
Colorfully costumed Indian women met us at the hotel entrance with their weavings and hand-made wares. Alpacas and llamas greeted us next to the swimming pool. All around us the magnificent Andes welcomed the Goddesses. The group was spread out into high ceiling comfortable casitas. We settled in. After a delicious buffet dinner, we had an opening ritual ceremony and began to meet our companions. The Southern Cross shown very brightly overhead and the Milky Way reflected in the Urubamba River.
Luzclara, a Chilean shamaness, called in the spirits and performed a spectacular condor dance. One of my banners, the Venus de Fria, spread her energies. Many of the women in the group were energy workers and knew of Luzclara through her workshops. She is a wonderful performer, a complex woman, keeper of ceremony and the limelight. A Machi shaman of the indigenous people of Chile initiated her. A young assistant, Elissa, helped and supported Luzclara in all aspects of their work. There is a lot of carrying, preparing, and holding energy involved in ceremony. A helper is essential. Elissa projected strong, quiet energy.
Next morning, we drove up to the high plateau above timberline. Apus, mountain spirits, surrounded us. Apu Veronica, which means true icon in Spanish and a feminine peak, rose majestically, covered with glacial snow. Sheep, goats, llamas, and cows grazed in the high grasses. Large maguey plants were a surprise. They grow in the Mayan jungles of the Yucatan. A visit to an ancient gorge to see the Salinas salt mines took up the morning. I had made name badges for everyone of the Venus de Fria image. We made a large circle, called in the spirits and went around the circle naming each woman. Luzclara sprinkled salt on each head and I gave each woman a badge as the group sang each name. Naming is such an important part of group dynamics. Each woman needs to be acknowledged and witnessed.
In the afternoon Pepe joined us for a tour of Ollantaytambo. The people of the Andes sculpted mountains and landscapes to experience their mythology energetically! Their shrewd observations of nature are manifested in their stones, solstice and equinox lights and shadows, animal spirits. Ollantaytambo, place of the wind and water, with an enormous rock carving of Wiracocha, the divine male/female being began telling the story of creation. Its energies were powerful! The site is multi-dimensional with many gateways between worlds including the luminous “Temple of the Condor.” I was delighted that my legs climbed so well after two months on the Stairmaster.
At the boundary of sacred sites one encounters the world of commerce. The Andes is no exception. Craftspeople, mostly women and children, swarm around selling their wares – alpaca sweaters, hand-made dolls, silver beaded jewelry, wool blankets, jackets, crystals, stones, and guidebooks. Our group attracted more attention with unabated shopping sprees. On the way back to the hotel, the real stalwarts visited Samana Wasi orphanage to deliver clothing and school supplies, which many had brought with them at Kathy’s suggestion.
Anton Ponce De Leon Paiva, a Peruvian man, who was initiated into an ancient secret lineage of Maru masters was given the task of creating a sacred, healing environment for abondoned children and old people. Over the past 25 years he and his wife have brought street children into their own home creating, Samana Wasi. About thirty children ages 3 ½ to 18 live there in a beautiful wooded environment at the base of the Chicon glacier. We arrived just as they were assembling for meditation which they do every morning and evening. Singing voices, smiles and hugs greeted us; a generation of awakened beings. We later stopped to visit Seminario Ceramics owned by Pablo and Marilu Seminario, clay artists from Lima whose work has appeared in galleries from Milan to New York. It was a full day!
Early the next morning we headed down the Sacred Valley to Machu Picchu by train with all our gear in tow! Getting on and off the train with our gear was an experience! Katie carried the heavy bag of banners and somehow hoisted it onto the overhead luggage rack. The route follows the river down the valley to Machu Picchu and arrives at Aguas Calientes, the small village at the base of Machu Picchu. The only way from the train station is UP to the hotel. We saw construction everywhere as the village prepares for an onslaught of tourism for the millennium celebrations. Katie and I grabbed a quick pizza for lunch across from our lovely hotel, the Machu Picchu Inn, newly opened in April.
Each day we rode a bus up a spectacular serpentine road to Machu Picchu and down each night. At the top, Kathy, Katie and I checked into the Superintendent’s office with the official letter giving me permission to display the Goddess banners at the Sanctuary inside the grounds of Machu Picchu, a first for Machu Picchu. We gave the gentlemen a badge and a poster to display for the exhibition. He called the head office in Cusco confirming everything and gave us permission to hang the banners at 8:00 am on the 29th. He seemed quite pleased about the event and placed one of my posters at the entrance gate next to the ticket takers counter. I gave out badges to the guards and Peruvians working at the Citadel. I soon wished I had brought more!
The group gathered at the entrance for a sacred altar tour with Peruvian Shaman Kucho, a long time friend of Kathy. Kucho is a kind and gentle spirit; I gave him one of my badges. He recognized Pachamama on a ‘field of stepped energy’. He gave me a warm smile and thanked me, bowing his head slightly. He chewed coca leaves, replenishing them often.
Kucho took us into Machu Picchu, explaining as we walked. He showed us the Citadel, the Condor Temple, and a Pachamama cave facing Apu Putucusi. We each climbed out onto a projecting rock which soared above the river below. Kathy led us in ceremony as Kucho described the spot as connecting to the crystal city of the ancients, high mountain Apu spirits. Kucho protected each of us with his shaman’s staff, which is topped with an eagle feather and a condor feather. It is time for the Eagle of the North to fly with the Condor of the South, say the Inca prophecies.
I sat in the back of the cave for awhile, watching and feeling the energies. When I rose to take my turn I was amazed at the view as I stood on the projecting stone. It was as if I was flying! I am usually uncomfortable with heights but I love the aerial view of the world from large and small airplanes, and snorkeling in the ocean. Stepping out onto the rock was spectacular. I thanked the ancient mothers for bringing me to that point.
I took a deep breath and my spirit went flying. I connected with the mountain, Apu Putacusi, in front of me, the landscape transformed into a three dimensional faceted prism of intense jewel like colors and light. I saw a brilliant white prism pyramid in the mountain valley over Putakusi and felt holographically connected to it and the spot where I was standing and to my spirit body. Robin William’s movie “Where dreams May Come” created the closest visual experience to what I saw and felt, lush dense, three-dimensional sensual color.
After my flight, I sat down on the rock and thanked the spirits for the gift. One leg dangled and one leg stood firmly on a rock below. A good physical metaphor for existing in two worlds. I climbed up and joined the group. Yvonne and others had been holding energies with me. I hugged her and she described seeing what I was as I flew…amazing experience!
Machu Picchu is an amazing place with strong feminine earth energies, beautiful people, phenomenal natural beauty and human spiritual vision creating a mythological landscape of the soul! The Peruvians know about spiritual machines!
Kucho showed us how to access the kundalini energies of the Pachamama Stone, a massive stone cut and fashioned to emulate the exact form of the mountain Yanatin, home of the Rainbow beings located just to the northeast of Wayna Picchu. I scrambled to keep up near the front as his voice was soft and didn’t carry. We climbed with Kucho to the Gateway of the Three Worlds: Kay Pachua, this world, Hanana Pacha, the world of the spirit, and uju Pacha, the unknown internal world. The energies coming from the altar from the four directions are powerful. The view is magnificent.
The Three Worlds are guarded by animal spirits: the serpent/dragon of Jju Pacha, the puma of Hanan Pacha and the condor of kay Pacha, all manifested symbolically in the constructions of the entire site of Machu Picchu. It was hard to leave mythic time.
Katie’s and I scampered down to get on the last bus down the mountain at 5:30 p.m. to Aguas Calientes and our hotel. Two thirds of the group chose to stay and do ritual with Kucho and Luzclara. It was getting cool; I left my windbreaker with one of the women. Katie and I wanted dinner and a good night’s rest. Six of us found a wonderful restaurant next to our hotel, Indio Feliz, a French bistro owned and ooperated by a delightful Peruvian woman and her French chef husband. Their food is delicious, the surroundings warm and comfortable, and amazingly clean. Cannie put one of my posters on her wall.
Each woman had her own agenda the next day. Workshops and presentations went on as women came and went. We created a circle around the sacred tree in the central plaza, our daily meeting place. I hugged the tree. Kathy had asked us all to share/tithe for the Gathering. We witnessed energy healing, wisdom stories, hospice stories, mesa making, prayer sticks, protection ritual, soul retrieval, huicol prayers, a stone medicine wheel, channeling, and massage! Witnessing is so important in sacred circle work. It validates each woman and their journey to the divine feminine. Some of the women climbed Huyna Picchu; one woman scattered her husband’s ashes. Tourists and staff watched the doings with much interest. The Quechua security guards quietly applauded us, as they too venerate the Goddess and Pachamama.
Kathy had organized the Goddess Gathering for Wesak, the full moon in Taurus the 29th of April. Her dream was for fifty women to do ritual in the moonlight surrounded by the Goddess banners to reclaim the divine feminine at Machu Picchu. Sixty of the Goddess banners including seven images from three millenium of Peruvian cultures, hung in the Citadel of Machu Picchu on that auspicious day. Symbolically the Citadel of Machu Picchu is part of the serpent/dragon area of the site. The divine energies took off around the world on wings of love and compassion. WOW!!! It was one of the all time highs of my life!
As always, the strong feminine energies call in both the light and the dark. The stronger the light energies, the stronger the dark. Here’s how events went with me getting it all manifested on Wesak.
Katie and I and five other stalwarts, Pat, Linda, Eleanor, Karen and Yvonne showed up at 7:00 am on the 29th for breakfast with the intent of getting on the 8:00 am bus to go up and hang the banners. However, She changes everything She touches! Plus, I drew Coyote in my animal card travelling deck that day! Last summer, I drew Coyote on my way to Istanbul with the banners on another chaotic journey, but that’s another story.
We had planned on hanging the banners, sharing a sacred circle in the afternoon and returning on the 5:00 bus to have dinner in Aguas Calientes, then go back up to Machu Picchu after dark as a group. We found out at breakfast we were staying all-day and evening, not returning to the village for dinner. That meant we had to be prepared, bring clothing for cold weather and ritual for Wesak, food, all the banners, and hanging gear. We quickly ran back to the room, collected more gear, gulped breakfast. Katie grabbed a boy to help carry and ran ahead to put the banners on the bus. She held the bus for me and I made it!
The officials were quite excited and helpful when we arrived at Machu Picchu. One of the archaeologists and several staff came with us to the Citadel. We laid out the banners and got started. The banners travel with an assortment of hanging devices, rods, clips, tape, kite line. I added 100 REI aluminum tent stakes to push into the sod on top of the stone walls for Machu Picchu. We had two hammers, which startled the staff. NO HAMMERING IN THE WALLS!
The stakes turned out to be a tad too fat for the grommets and so we attached line and held the line by the stakes, pushing them into the sod. The banners started to fly. Tourists began arriving in droves as we were hanging the Icons. Curious spectators wanted to talk to me about them. Some had seen posters about the exhibition and had come to see it. Others were surprised with the activity.
All of a sudden, there were loud angry words being exchanged where Katie was hanging her banners. A group of Germans were protesting the banners, calling them ugly, disgusting. One man threatened to burn them. Bless Katie! She is very protective of the girls and me. Her German Valkyrie/Amazon competitive spirit flared, she wanted to deck the guy. Complaints began to make their way to the superintendent’s office. We were ruining the photos of the tourists! At the request of the officials we removed the banners temporarily and were told we could put them back up at 1:00 p.m.
Meanwhile the larger group of Goddess women arrived wanting to know what was happening. A healing circle was called to process the experience. I told the group what had happened. Katie, with strong emotion, described the threat of burning the banners. We came together in the center and hugged and cried. At that point, Luzclara showed up, interrupted the circle and began to tell the group what to do. “We North Americans don’t understand going with the flow,” she said. I challenged her, “It was not about flow but about flooding!”
We needed the larger group to help hold the energies honoring the divine feminine. Their absence and changed plans created chaos. The old responsibility, ability to respond to the real situation issue, which the banners and I have experienced at sacred sites before was again an issue. I asked the group to help! Katie announced we were hanging the banners again at 1:00 p.m.
At 1:00 we began hanging the banners with the support of the large group. The Goddesses of the Western Hemisphere, the Americas, were hung on the West Side of the Citadel and the rest of the world Goddesses on the east. Complaints surfaced again from a handful of afternoon tourists. The eastern Goddesses were ruining the photo opportunities from the top of the Sanctuary. The officials came and requested that we roll up half of the banners on one side of the Sanctuary until 4:30 p.m.
Meanwhile, the Goddess group including three Peruvian women asked me to tell Herstory of the banners. I walked up and down the western side telling stories of those Goddesses following a ten year old girl who held and asked about each one. Then Luzclara, Elissa, and Karina did a despacho with the group ceremony to put the dark energies to rest.
Finally at 4:30 all the girls flew free and were gorgeous, the third time was the charm! After many photo opportunities, we exited at 5:30, changed into our ritual garments in the public rest rooms and ate our bread and cheese sandwich, power bars, and bananas for dinner. My ritual garment was a pink Mayan huipile of Ixchel over my purple and yellow Patagonia rain and snow gear. Looked great with my hiking boots. I wore my Hawaiian face flower head lei around my red ski hat! It gets chilly at that altitude once the sun goes down. Peru is south of the equator so it was the beginning of their winter.
At 6:30 we proceeded in silence into the fantastic space by the light of the full Wesak moon. The energy was full and enveloping, luminous, awe-inspiring. We created our circle in the Citadel cradled between the rows of banners dancing, singing, and played our instruments. Several women performed individually. A young newly finished with her residency psychiatrist, did a Baudo Dance! Fantastic! The banners glowed in the moonlight.
Three resident llamas and their protectress dog came right up to the edge of our circle as we chanted into the night. Clouds and mist moved in and it began to lightly rain. At the conclusion of our ceremony we quietly retired the wet banners, stuffing them into bags for their long journey home.
By the time we got to the bus we were soaked as well. Back in our room, Katie and I celebrated the adventure by calling room service. The only thing available was drinks so we had two beers delivered. We both said NO MORE coyote energy today! Draping the banners around as much as possible to dry them out we both slept in dampness.
The last morning was spent toweling off the banners so that we could get them back into their traveling bag and onto the afternoon train back to Ollantaytambo and the Sacred Valley. They were still wet when they arrived home in Colorado! Somehow we had left one banner in Peru. Beautiful Artemis of Ephesis decided she wanted to stay in the Andes. She’s been traveling around the world since 1995, maybe she wanted to rest a bit. I will paint another golden banner of her soon.
The group was tired and quiet our last night in Urubamba. Some of us walked the stone labyrinth, which Kathy had constructed, and performed a small fire ceremony. We then headed for bed and a good night’s sleep under heaps of alpaca blankets.
Early Saturday morning we piled into two buses and headed for the high plateau on our way to the Inka sacred sites around Cusco. The Inkas were phenomenal builders but many of these sites such as Sacsayhuaman are considered to pre-date even the Inca Empire. The sites of Kenko, Tambo Machay, and Sacsayhuaman are made of immense stones as large as any of the megalithic sites I have visited in Europe. They are sculpted and placed in the landscape combining nature and human effort. A wall near the Inka throne had niches, which produced the various colors of the spectrum when you placed your hands on them. I saw spiraling snake energies when I sat on the Inka throne.
A portion of the group opted to spend their second week visiting Lake Titicaca. I had planned to go with them, but decided at Machu Picchu that I ‘d had enough ritual and sacred places. I manifested what I and the Ancient Mothers called me to do, and now it was time to return home.
Katie and I enjoyed the afternoon in Cusco visiting the Koricancha; the Incan “Temple of the Sun” considered the center, or omphalos of their ancient empire. Later that evening the group gathered on the Plaza de Aramas for a wonderful finale dinner accompanied with Peruvian folk musicians, pan pipes and all! One musician took a shine to Katie and they tried talking – he knew Quechua, Spanish and Japanese. Katie is good in German and English! Lots of smiles and body language did the communicating.
Somehow we got all the treasures into our bags and flew to Lima early the next morning. On the last day in Lima we went to the Rafael Larco Herrera Museum which has a fantastic collection of Moche ceramics along with other treasures. We browsed through the Inka Indian Market not far from the hotel in Miraflores. Next morning, our flight to Houston was at 7:00 am so we headed to the airport at 4:45 am, landing back in Denver at 5:00 p.m. Bob met us at baggage claim. It was good to be home.
Honoring the images of the divine feminine is my call. I create icons with fabric and paint. Going to the sacred sites with the icons and a group, embodies and enriched the experience. The Ancient Mothers and I can’t do it alone. It was time to add Peru’s goddesses to the Family.
Muchas Gracias Ancient Mothers and all the women of the Goddess Gathering, and to the Goddesses of the World! May your healing energies weave a web of love and compassion circling the globe in a net of jewels.
YOUR GODDESS / MEDUSA STORY
By Lydia Ruyle
ART, SYMBOLS, MYTHS, ARCHETYPES are a treasure for exploration! All wake you up to the uniqueness of your potential. Each of us has both an artist Goddess and a Medusa within. Finding Her means doing your own work, choosing to explore and expand your horizons. Telling the story of your journey in art, words, movements, workshops triggers self-realization. Finding the Goddess within changes the paradigm without. There are many books and people to help you. Learning from your demons as well as your angels is a sure path. Choose a path with heart and follow your bliss!
Commit / Choose / ACT
Trust the Process
Trust the Process
Let Go of the Outcome
Life is a continous process of creation. YOU give birth to yourself! YOU are a biological, experiential, intellectual, spiritual co-creator with the Goddess with the choices you make consciously or unconsciously.
Myths and art help you to become conscious of yourself, the creative process and its magic in your life. Your mythic journey to the Goddess begins with asking questions:
Who am I ?
Who is the Goddess ?
Who are my people ?
What myths was I given ?
What myths do I choose ?
Where am I going ?
Who is going with me ?
Who are my Angels ? Demons ? Totem Animals ?
Why am I here in this time & place ?
What is my gift to the world ?
Your answers are uniquely your own. Honestly telling your story and sharing it is essential. Listening and honoring the stories of others helps us all become fully human. The creative process is a holy quest. It leads you to your potential whose archetypal symbol is The Goddess!
ENJOY THE JOURNEY !
Lydia Ruyle is an artist scholar on the visual arts faculty of the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, Colorado. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder, a Master of Arts from UNC and has studied with Syracuse University in Italy, France, Spain, and with the Art Institute of Chicago in Indonesia. She works regularly at Santa Reparata Graphic Arts Center in Florence, Italy and Columbia College Center for Book and Paper in Chicago. Her research into sacred images of women has taken her around the globe. Since 1995, the icons have become spirit banners which fly around the globe weaving the sacred energies of the divine feminine.
Goddess Icons Exquisitely portrayed in “Goddess Icons: Spirit Banners of the Divine Feminine” are the mystery, magic and wonder bequeathed by the ancient goddess traditions. Readers will be drawn to the places of the Goddess, rich in historical text, breath-taking in reverence, and poignant in their arcane knowledge. This profoundly brilliant, labor-of-love, captured through the inner vision and masters brush of artist Ruyle, is a feast of timelessness and great beauty.