In the 1rst century AD the river Rhine had become the natural border of the Roman Empire towards the “barbarian” tribes, residing in the deep forests on the right bank of the Rhinus, as the river was called by the Romans.
Big rivers have always been important trade routes, and Roman forts and towns were built on the left side of the river.
Let us close our eyes and travel on the wings of vision into the past to visit such a place in the early 2nd century.
We are approaching the elegant Roman metropole Colonia Ulpia Traiana from the riverside. There we see the harbour, where ships which bring goods from all places of the Roman Empire are stevedored.
We enter the city through one of the giant city gates, and soon we are part of the teeming crowd of people. Some are here for business; others are part of the city council, and many are members of the Roman army, as the town is not only a trading place, but also one of the largest bases of the Roman army in Germany.
We follow the tree lined street and pass by the buildings of administration, the lodging houses and the quarter of craftsmen.
Wanting to leave this teeming crowd we are looking out for the temple of the Matronae.
Nearly we had missed the small and unspectacular entrance into the Goddesses’ sanctuary. We enter a roofed passage between two houses on our left to enter the holy place.
Instantly the noise of the busy city is shut out, and we find ourselves being surrounded by an atmosphere of peace and tranquility.
The whole place is surrounded by a roofed colonnade, open to the inside and by another portico, surrounding the small square building, which is standing in the middle of the place.
Before entering the temple we want to follow the paved spiral path, first leading us to the outer colonnade, where we are admiring the beautifully painted walls, which shows flowers, trees and nature spirits – fauns playing the syrinx, dancing dryads and the animals of the wilderness, deer and lynx, hare and fox, all so ostensively alive, as if they would jump off the fresco to continue the happy party of this company of the wilderness in the temple’s patio. We nearly hear a faint sound of the syrinx. .. and we know, that the spirits of the environment are a honoured here, too.
After having circumambulated the temple’ s yard on it’s outer colonnades path it is time to enter the inner portico, which is surrounding the temple.
The temple’s outer walls are white, and our circumambulation of the temple calms the mind and focusses it on the purpose of our visit – the honouring of the Matronae – the trinity of goddesses, to whom this beautiful place is dedicated.
Now we enter the temple, a square room, suffused with the red golden gloaming of the setting sun.
A soft whiff of lavender, sage and hyssop is filling the room, and we feel an atmosphere of clarity and confidence.
We are looking at the altar in front of us. It is beautifully decorated with large bouquets of flowers. On both sides of the altar are tables, on which dozens of oil lamps are burning, and we know, that each little flame is representing an individual’s hope, wish or worry brought before the the motherly goddesses.
A beautiful work of stone carver’s art shows them sitting on a bench. The outer ones are wearing bonnets; the lady in the middle has her hair hanging down in a long braid.
Each of them is holding a casket, filled with fruits on the lap. A little dog is sitting g at their feet.
We send our prayer to them; and as we are looking at the ladies, sitting on their bench, we see, that they are very much alive. They are giving us a friendly smile.
We feel a warm glow touching our navel, heart and forehead.
A deep feeling of relief and healing, of comfort and liberation from all our earthly suffering is permeating our whole being, and we know deep inside, that we have found our refuge, our spiritual home.
We have received the blessing of the Mothers, which is nourishing our spirit, our mind, heart and soul. In this instant we know, that in the cycles of incarnation, of birth, life, death and rebirth every single being, whose life touches ours, could have been our mother, who has brought us to life, so that we may learn to overcome suffering and the causes of suffering and be a light of love and clarity, shining brightly on the path for all in the community of sentient beings.
Our vision has inspired us with confidence, and we give thanks to the Mothers. We know that we may always come back to this place to receive the healing blessing of the Matronae.
We leave the temple, and standing again in front of it, we enjoy the beautiful colours of the sky, aflame with red and golden light of the setting sun.
We leave the temple grounds through the small roofed passage between two houses, and soon we are part of the teeming crowd, walking along the tree lined street.
We pass by the craftsmen’ s quarter, the shelter and the forum. Leaving behind us the amphitheatre we arrive at the river bank. Looking into the flowing water of the river Rhinus – the Rhine – our vision fades. We take a deep breath, move our hands and open our eyes. We are fully back and awake in the here and now.
We bring with us the healing blessing of the Matronae, the insight that all things alive, humans – including ourselves – animals, plants and spirits belong to the same family -the Goddesses’ family of sentient beings, and we feel the pulse of life, the heartbeat of the earth, that connects us with them.