Virginia Beane Rutter's spectacular piece of scholarship, Saffron’s Offerings, is also a unique contribution to the study of women’s initiation rites as reflected in the symbolic imagery unearthed in the excavations of Akrotiri in Santorini, Greece. Long a student and lover of ancient and modern Greek culture, Virginia has spent many years actually visiting Greece as well as taking imaginal journeys in the multiple layers of its psyche, culture, and history. Along with me, she has given birth to the Ancient Greece, Modern Psyche series of conferences and books. This article first appeared in Ancient Greece, Modern Psyche: Archetypes in the Making but the material is greatly enhanced in this version through the inclusion of numerous color images which are prohibitively expensive to reproduce in a printed book as opposed to this online version.
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Ancient Greece, Modern Psyche
Ancient Greece, Modern Psyche: Archetypes Evolving
This work evolved out of my love for the land, the people, and the language of Greece, where I lived during the summer of 1966, after a year of travel in Europe. Rocky islands, turquoise waters, and whitewashed buildings reduced to shimmering blocks of color by light and heat both concealed and revealed the energy of the old gods pulsing beneath everyday life. In the following years, returning to explore the ancient marbles and to study early Greek religion and ceremony dovetailed with my recognition of the archetypal mysteries in the psyches of modern women and men in analytic work.
When I visited the National Archaeological Museum of Athens in 1995, a group of frescoes from the island of ancient Thera, now Santorini, captured my attention. One of these is the Spring Fresco, which shows a rocky landscape with blooming red lilies and swallows diving in a joyous expression of nature (Figure 1). In another fresco two ladies are intimately engaged in a robing ceremony (Figure 2). These Bronze Age frescoes are from the site of Akrotiri, where excavation was begun in 1967. The Akrotiri settlement was abandoned after an earthquake, then covered over by a volcanic eruption around 1630 BCE. Archaeologists found the frescoes and other artifacts preserved by the volcanic ash. When I came to the site in 1999, the Petros M. Nomikos Foundation had recently installed an exhibit at the Nomikos Conference Center in Fira. This show reproduced the rooms to scale with photographic images of the frescoes that had been excavated thus far.
Read Saffron Offering and Blood Sacrifice in its entirety.