This poem, written by Kathleen Raine, was one of the readings shared by the companions at the Mountains of the Sun weekend. We were seated atop an ancient long barrow, that had been built over a yet earlier mound; life upon life upon life, all sharing the same green earth in a continuous story.
We cannot know what our ancestors believed, what hopes and fears shaped their building of these houses of the unborn, but we, as human beings, may perhaps understand at a deeper level that needs neither logic nor explanation, the love and care with which they raised earth and stone to house those who had passed beyond knowledge.
We may see, in the shape of these mounds, the rounded curves of the Mother and in their tunnels, the dark passageway of birth. We can perhaps feel that our ancestors, whose lives were so closely bound to the cycle of Nature, believed death to be little more than a change of state, a birth into the light.
We may, perhaps, infer too that they saw the body of little importance in this rebirth… would their dead be excarnated and disarticulated if the body were the house of that which survived? Were their grave goods gifts for the journey, or simply a token of love and respect for the life that had passed? Perhaps they hoped their dead would bear the memory of life with them?
We can speculate… guess… and will never know for certain. We can only be sure of one thing, that in spite of culture, eon, location or rite, we share a human heart, with all its hopes, fears and dreams. We share the same, basic questions about life, death and existence, no matter where we find the answers that speak to our hearts.
Seated upon a mound built so long ago, time no longer mattered. Its builders were our kin.