"Did you realize this whole island is a sanctuary to Apollo?"
Leto, pregnant by Zeus, had to escape from Zeus' wrathful wife Hera so she came to this low rocky outcropping floating at the center of the Cyclades to give birth to twins.
"Notice how Artemis, (the moon) sort of got lost in this whole Apollo thing?" I murmured. "She, like her Roman counterpart, Diana, was not just a huntress, but a nurturer and child-bearing advocate. But she was usurped by her sun-brother Apollo who claimed this whole island for himself. The guidebook says he actually banned pregnant women from coming to Delos. I guess he wanted to make sure people remembered only he was born here."
We rested against the stone steps, the only two people in the entire gigantic amphitheater. Squinting against the blazing sun, rimmed by a backdrop of the most improbable blue sea, we thought we could see masked actors gracefully moving across the stage. The whole theater hummed. Some places do.
Places that hum is one of the ways you can tell a sanctuary according to Anthony Lawlor, California architect-writer. He claims "architecture was once a sacred art, crafted according to the blueprints of the soul." And round structures, like our Delos theater, "draw welcoming circles in the garden of the world…cauldrons where opposing forces stir the pot of creation.”
As you can see, I'm quite taken with Lawlor's insights into "conscious architecture." Lawlor draws brilliant intersections between nature, imagination and architecture. In a recent blog he wrote, “Sacred places are usually associated beyond this world. I see them as portals into this world." Lawlor claims that sacred places have nothing to do with religion. Rather, these places are used by religion to invite people in and once there, people discover forms that point beyond themselves to the transcendent.
If you visit his blog, be sure to read "What I Shoulda Learned in Architecture School." To this lay person, it seems that most architects should seriously consider the nine things he outlines there. My favorite is: architecture is not a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be explored.
The world is filled with mysterious places to be explored. Places that hum. We just need to open our ears.