BOMARZO


GARDEN OF MONSTERS


 The romantic ruins of a pegasus stone fountain, in the forest of Bomarzo.

Hello, dear one. Are you nice and comfy? Perhaps you would like a cup of tea, to accompany this strange tale.

I am about to take you on an adventure with me. Get cosy in your place, and prepare your mind for a walk-about.

When you are ready, imagine that I am reaching out to you with one hand. Take my hand, and follow me through the gates into a garden of whimsy, wonder and wild imaginings...


We walk along a path bordered with messy branches and creeping ivy. Our footsteps are muffled by a layer of moss that grows on every surface here. There are birds, unseen but heard in the trees round about, and there is the silent feeling of expectation in the air.

Ahead of us, the path turns a corner, and then a glimmer of white appears amongst the leaves.

Your eyes, which were roaming, now fix steadily on that white... till you see two soft paws, a woman's face, and the strong hind legs of a lion. And then another. They are the two sphinx, the protectors of this garden.

One of them begins to speak:

“Which creature has one voice and yet becomes four-footed and two-footed and three-footed?”

I advise you now: be careful, dear heart, for though the correct answer to her riddle will grant you passage into the garden, a wrong answer will give her cause to devour you.

...

A pause, and then you give your answer.

...

She nods, and turns back to stone.

The second sphinx, awakening now, asks:

“There are two sisters: one gives birth to the other and she, in turn, gives birth to the first. Who are the two sisters?”

Hesitating, I take a few moments to think about this one. Then slowly, it dawns on me...

"The day and the night."

Another nod, and then silence. The sound of birds chirping again, and your heart beating somewhere near your ears. The vision is fading into a dream, and you wonder if it really happened at all.

We are now free to explore the garden. Wander, as you will, I am never far from sight, but I must go speak with the plants and the creatures.

 

 Bomarzo garden of monsters - giant head with gaping mouth.

Walking dreamily, between strange visions: giants fighting ferociously, a turtle bearing a woman on it's enormous shell, and a topsy turvy house... you come across this.

Intriguing, somewhat terrifying.

The stairs inviting.

But then there comes a singing from another part of the woods, and it calls you...

 An old medieval pegasus fountain amongst ferns and forest.

PegasuS: the source of poetic epiphany.

From ferny beds, the singing comes, and then stops.

Looking up, you find a clearing, in which sits a large basin of stone. The fountain is now dry, but Pegasus still alights here from time to time, where once his hoof struck the rock, bringing forth a spring. He is of stone, wings unfurled, poised in a state of perpetual grace. You could have sworn he was moving when you were inspecting those ferns.

Sitting on the fountain's edge, leg's crossed, arms back, you feel a sudden inspiration to write...

 

Words that were once caught now pour forth from your heart. 

 

 Bomarzo - a great monster statue covered in moss.

PROTEUS: GOD OF DARK SEAS & SUBCONSCIOUS MINDS
 

In another grove now, you are standing staring into the eyes of a marine monster.

Proteus.

The Old Man of the Sea. He emerges, at times, from the ocean to sleep amongst seals. From his mouth you hear whispers, like the voices of seashells...

Lean in closer. The whispers become clearer:

"I shall tell you a truth, but in order to hear it you must wrestle with me as did Menelaus. I will avoid you, transform and change, bite at you, become tree, snake and pig, and even water in your hands. But if you can hold me, this key I shall give you."

He is your shadow.

 

 Purple wildflowers in a mossy forest.
 A giant turtle sits with moss on his back in the forest of Bomarzo.
 A large stone basin fountain, covered in moss.
 Violets growing in a mossy stone wall.
 A statue of a greek goddess in the Gardens of Bomarzo.

APHRODITE & Her Graces

You see her first on the back of a turtle. Then again on a seashell. She is beautiful.

Her stone form is shifting, ever changing, but her eyes are blue like the sea on the shore, and her smile remains the same. She turns, beckoning at the wall with the shell, and then stepping down, she is followed by the three Graces.

You sit a while together on the moss, talking languidly of all kinds of things, while weaving flowers into garlands that the Graces then take to drape over the walls of the ruins. In the corner there sits a stone plaque, the inscription is chipped and worn, but these words are still visible:

 

L'antro la fonte e il lieto cielo Libero
l’animo d’ogni oscuro pensiero
The ancient spring and the happy sky,
free the mind of every dark thought

 Huge stone vases along a courtyard in the gardens of Bomarzo, Italy.
 Statue of the goddess Ceres, with a basket on her head, in the gardens of Bomarzo.

CERES: THE MOTHER

Time seems to have shifted again. You are beginning to think that perhaps you are in a dream, as you cannot remember what has come to pass in the last few minutes, and the rest is slightly fuzzy. Or does that perhaps mean you were dreaming and you have just awoken?

Feeling sleepy, you climb into the lap of a giant woman, who rests in the shade of the trees.

You dream of elephants in a battle.

 

 White flowers and Ceres statue.
 Stone statue of a bear holding a rose.
 Huge stone statue of a war elephant, in the Garden of Monsters, Italy.
 Small pink wildflowers growing on the mossy forest floor.
 A face amongst the moss and stones - medieval Garden of Monsters.
 A winged serpent goddess at in the Garden of Monsters.

MELUSINA: FAIRY MERMAID OF SECRETS

You rub your eyes, taking a moment to remember where you are. In a garden of Monsters and imaginings. Getting up, you decide to go looking for me, and you walk further into the woods.

The path takes you round a corner, then up a flight of stairs, through a vast courtyard filled with ancient urns, and then, rounding another corner you stumble across a very strange scene...

A mermaid is taking a bath, splashing about merrily, her tail twisting in loops and curls that reach up towards the sunlight. She has wings, iridescent and dragon-like wings which fall from her shoulders to the floor. She hasn't seen you yet. The whole thing is enchanting. Her singing, the bath, her wings... you step a little closer.

A twig cracks.

Quicker than lightning, she twists around, her head held high now, back straight, eyes smouldering! She asks you what you are doing here, and then who you came with. Relaxing a little, she asks you not to repeat what you have seen to anyone.

Your reply is almost cut short by a whistle.

I am standing behind you.

It is time for lunch, and I have a picnic prepared, my business has been attended to, and I ask if you are hungry.

Then turning to the now stone-still Melusina, I blow a kiss. "Till next time, sister friend."

 

 Walking into the mouth of a monster - Bomarzo garden.

We are back in front of the yawning mouth.

I stop aways from the entrance, and explain some of the symbology of this incredible sculpture. You stand there, just waiting for the stone to move, half listening.

You hear me say something about Orcus, the God of the Underworld, and tune back in to hear the translation of the inscription on his lips:

ogni pensiero vola

ALL THOUGHTS FLY

The sounds of people who enter the mouth are carried, and a person outside may hear even a whisper of what is said inside.

Then laughing, I tell you that this is a great spot for picnics, as there is a small table on the tongue, and the Renaissance folks who created this garden would have thought it quite amusing that those who choose to eat in the mouth, are also being eaten.

I turn and reach out my hand, the smell of fresh bread wafts down from the mouth, and all those strange thoughts of moments ago drift off with the breeze.