Air, the final element
I am sure for the right person Florence is a beautiful place to visit. Galleries, museums, cafes, water-fronts and much more is at the tips of tourist fingers. However as a choice of places to visit, it wouldn’t be on my list, or at least not very high. As a side note, I would love to visit the place with someone who is an art fan (sic).
Yet, here I was on the train to Florence. The answer to the question that is begging to be asked, namely, “Why?” The answer is always complicated isn’t it. In this instance because of a vision that I had some months back. Now, as readers will know, I am on a quest to obtain four elements. Each had to be obtained in a different country. Other posts detail the acquisition of Earth, Water and Fire. So, I was guided to visit Florence so as to obtain the final element, Air.
What do I know about this art capital? Not a lot, my knowledge comes from a book I read a couple of years ago, Inferno, by Dan (Da Vinci Code) Brown. The book is set mostly in Florence and though consciously I don’t recall anything from it, sub-consciously I might have.
Anyway, I was heading out of the train station and generally following the tourists until I hit the first piazza. Of course the first stop of the day had to be the gelato parlour. Melon and Apricot flavour was the breakfast ice-cream. I looked around at the architecture of the piazza as well as acquainting myself with the Genius Loci of Firenze and decided after a short time that this was going to have to be a job for dowsing rods.
A really cool feeling I have found is that when abroad and in public, I don’t feel conscious about walking about places with dowsing rods. I do feel conscious when I am on home turf but it doesn’t stop me. So dowsing rods in hand, I asked to be taken to the place where I could get the final element of my quest. And with gusto, off they went…
My expectation was that they would head deeper into the heart of Florence, but instead they took me away from the throng of tourist and out towards the more suburban areas of the city. The map (which followed my dowsing path) shows how direct my route was. At one point the rods turned into a pastry shop. I stood outsize puzzled. Surely this wasn’t the place? I asked the rods and they said no, but they also said that I needed to go in. So in I went and bought my first coffee of the day and a scrumptious cream filled cake. This, it seems, satisfied the rods and I was off again.
Another alley later the rods made another unusual flick. This time they moved across the road and crossed directly over a begging guy. My intuition was switched on quite well by now and I realised that that I needed to give this fella some money. I dug into my pocket and dropped some dough into the cup that was in front of the guy.
I suppose you might be wandering what the guy thought of me with my rods? Frankly, I have no idea, however he didn’t say anything or do something to indicate his thoughts and emotions.
I held up the rods and they took a sharp turn back to the guy. It seems that this was to be the home of the cake and coffee. Once I had given these to the guy, the rods were satisfied and I was off again. Further out of the center city. After a few more minutes the rods took a turn up a slope and into a housing estate. I was beginning to lose faith. According to the map I had there was nothing up here. Doubtful thoughts were infecting my mind. I was wondering why I had come all the way to Florence, a place that I would never have chosen.
There was one hope left in my rational mind. As I climbed the sloping road, I saw that over to the left there was a canopy of trees. Perhaps the rods where taking me up to that wooded area and a possible clearing where the Element of Air could be acquired? It was a slim hope because as I continued up, I saw that there was a huge fence blocking access to the woods and this was certainly not one that I could climb.
This final hope was dashed as I reach the top of the sloping road and it curved to the right, away from the tree canopy. The rods also agreed with this path as they urged me deeper into the land of suburbia.
I felt that the rods were stripping me of all rational hope and they had succeeded. What could be up here? Still, what was left to me now, but to follow, without hope but with faith. So I did.
At one point the rods pointed me towards the right and I turned a corner to see some greenery in the distance. Walking some fifty metres along the alley it opened up to a beautiful small courtyard with a church.
What a totally unexpected find. It was a church dedicated to St Bartholomew. Here in the middle of suburbia, at the top of Florence. Surely this was the place to gain the Element of Air. I quickly asked the rods and they said…No! What! Seriously? No? Why bring me here then? I looked around inside the church for inspiration. There on one of the tourist (how would they get here) notice boards was some text given the history of this place. At one point there was mention of a quote from the Maestro himself, Michael Angelo…
“…being the gateway to heaven…”
Exactly I thought, the perfect place to be gaining the Air Element and yet the rods insisted that it wasn’t. I used them to determine the place of preparation which happened to be a pew on the left side of the church two in from the front. I sat there and composed my somewhat disappointed feelings. The mantra, which is so lodged in my mind now, was…patience…
Calming myself and my energies for several long moments I knew that I was ready to proceed. But where? I asked the rods about my state of readiness and they agreed. So I was off again out of the church. Somewhat within the garden/court-yard beyond the door was a little altar that had been made between two trees. I went over and lit some incense and placed it there, whilst also asking whether this was the place? No.
The rods took me off to the side of the church, which incidently I had to climb a fence over and hence down some steps, finally turning in towards a door. Really? I asked them. I have to go in there? Yes, the rods told me and with a sigh, I tried the door. It was open. I went in…Breaking and Entering was the thought that was foremost in my mind.
From the dimensions of the place I knew that I was underneath the church, in the crypts so to speak. There was a lot of rubble about and it seemed that repair work was happening. In fact it was in progress at this very moment because I could hear people talking a couple of rooms away. My heart, I swear, was in my throat. What kind of explanation could I give, if I were caught? Holy Crap!
I quickly followed the rods and they took me to a long passage lined with grave stones. It seems that I had to pay homage to these souls before I could proceed. I did so. The fastest homage paying in the west. I was bowing and nodding and intentionally homaging and then with a quick ‘thank you’ leapt out of the door on the other side of the crypts. Done! And the rods agreed. They took me back towards the main courtyard and with a sigh of relief I climbed the fence and was back in legal territory.
As I walked back towards the main entrance, wondering where I was going to acquire this final element I saw an old fella examining the incense I had laid at the altar. Oh Shit! Was he going to object to this possible pagan intrusion. He turned to me and said a few words. I indicated my lack of Italian and he nodded and pointed to the incense and me. I gave a confession type nod and smile. The old fella came over to me and said a few more words which again were lost on me and then he pulled me towards the exit. At first I thought that he was turning me out but his voice wasn’t in line with his actions.
I let him gently move me towards the exit whereupon he pointed down to the end of the alley and made a gesture to the right. I had come from the left and recalled that over to the right it seemed like the street came to a dead-end. I looked at the man and he smiled, said a few words and gestured again. There was nothing more for me at the church I thought and I might as well head back so I nodded at the guy and made my way down the alley, intending to return to the main tourist area and reassess my Elemental Quest.
As I got to the end of the alley, I turned to look back and saw the old man still stood there gesturing to my right. I wanted to go left and down, but his pointing seemed so insistent that I thought, why the hell not. So I nodded and smiled to him and walked off down the right hand path. Some few meters later the path veered off again and began to climb even higher. I followed it and then another turn later and I was greeted with…heaven.
There was an archway in front of me that led into a beautiful park and gardens. There were a couple of people walking their dogs and that was it. But I knew, this was the place.Without a shadow in my mind, I knew it. I walked in and took in the entire Genius Loci of the place. I didn’t walk around that place. No, I floated. The dowsing rods hung loosely at my hands as I was guided along path and grass to the place where the Element of Air was to be gained.
Weaving a path through the magic of birdsong, trees, flowers and the bloom of spring I arrived at large open field, lined with trees. Here was the place. Lifting the rods, they took me in a nice lovely spiral into the almost centre of the open field. I looked about me in perfect harmony. This was indeed Angelo’s Heaven. The church had been the gateway of course. I was ready, no more preparation was needed.
The ground was dew-drop damp and so I laid my coat on the floor and sat down. What would gaining the Element of Air mean I wondered. Sitting down and letting go of all expectation I asked the Genius Loci of the place to reveal the magic I had quested for.
Firmly grounded in the Earthiness of this place I reached into heaven. A slight breeze began to blow and I breathed it in. It was bringing me Air. I could feel it traversing into my body. No, not traversing…flowing…into me. That was it. That was what gaining the Air Element would give me. The ability to flow into and out of any situation. To fade away, like smoke, from this world and into others.
I savoured the taste of this magical ability for many moments. Lost to it. After all, I thought, Air is my element. Then I returned back to Earth and this world. Heaven was a place that one can’t linger for long I thought.
Was I done, was this it? The end of a year long quest? It seemed not. The rods said that there was more work to be done here. I meandered around the park for a while musing over what else was needed, then intuition hit. I needed to somehow bring all the elements together. To coalesce them in some way.
Again, Iwas back in the field where I had just recently sat. Four elements. Earth, I felt the solidness of the ground beneath me and the depth that it held. A deep anchor that could support anything. Water…I felt the wind bring with it some mist and felt the water on my cheeks, perfect. Fire…I looked at the incense and saw the ends illuminated. Yes, it as fire I thought, but…and then..the sun burst from between the clouds. It’s first serious appearance today and lit up the land. Fire, indeed. Finally, Air…the breeze was still blowing, mixed in with misty water. Everything was in alignment.
The four elements rose in my mind and entwined with each other. From their intereactions I could see that they were also leaving knowledge and understandings about their properties within my mind. Deep within. Knowledge that would surface over time. And then with a final twist the four elements became one and were a single white light that touched the Earth and the Heavens. It was done. Complete. Finito!