Finding ourselves together in Crete after attending a conference, four friends and I set out to visit the caves of Eilitheia in Amnissos and Agia Paraskevi in Skoteino. As we drove along the coast toward Amnissos, I recalled that caves have been understood as sacred from the dawn of religion. When people knew the earth as their mother, the cave, the opening in the earth was her vagina and womb, the passageway to her deepest mysteries, the secrets of birth and rebirth.
The Eilitheia Cave is in the hills above the ancient port of Amnissos. We arrived in the morning, accompanied by the guard who came with us to unlock the gate. The cave has one large, long room, with a wide mouth, and a low ceiling. There is a belly stone near the entrance that women rubbed to insure conception. Near the center of the cave, in shadowy darkness, are two stalagmites, one squat and the other tall, surrounded by the remains of ancient walls that enclosed the sacred space. The guard told us that they were worshipped as the Mother, seated, and the Daughter, standing. Their heads were chopped off with the blow of an ax. In the back of the cave there are small pools of water, used for healing.