In the Arena
The ways that things occur in parallel are often attributed to the idea of synchronicity, that of meaningful or preordained co-incidence. The ancients thought of this idea as a wheel. This idea morphing into the Wheel of Dharma, the wheel of fortune, the wheel of the constellations, the cycles of myths and divinitory practices that have been relevant cross culturally and across millennia. These ideas, though not as articulately thought out in the moment that I stood on the sands, but felt in a profound way through my body, mind, spirit triumvirate, thrust me back into a time beyond memory.
I say memory and that sounds like something conscious, something akin to visual although in the mind’s eye, but my experience was completely basal and plasmic, filling every cell...every cell that I ever had or ever will have.
The day was not hot. Mid October in the mountains of Andalusia is temperate, and on this day the sky was a cerulean blue. The sand, a deep reddish yellow buff, crunched under my feet as I walked out toward the center of the arena at the Plaza de Toros in Ronda, Spain. The bull ring here at Ronda is the oldest in Spain. The first part of the complex that we saw was the dressage school, an inner courtyard where the Maestros de Caballos trained in the fine riding style of the Spanish nobles. Huge chandeliers would have lit the room and the white washed walls would have reflected the light and the glittering harness garnishments of the pure bred horses.
Leaving this commanding space we walked the narrow corridor where the bulls would have entered the arena from cramped cells in which they waited for perhaps their last moments of life. We walked it and turned at the end and into the arena itself. It was there I came fully alive, fully rounded in senses, thought, feeling and organic memory.
Was it a past life experience? I wondered as I walked in awe toward the center of the arena. The feeling was deep, as deep,as I have ever felt. Awe, or perhaps some sort of agape had seized me and I could nearly hear the deep throated crowd-roar as I turned a slow 360° in the center. The sand stone galleries and columns felt alive to me. I was at that moment myself, fully. No, I was not the bull, nor was I the matador. No..., it was deeper, much deeper.
This Plaza de Toros, though old, is merely a replica of the Roman Arenas of antiquity in which men fought and died, wetting the sands with their blood. The bullfight, though barbaric was merely a more civilized, genteel version of the Roman spectacle.
Turning slowly in the center of that arena, looking at the galleries and columns I was transported. I felt the crowd in it’s full throat, felt the elation of a victory, or more so the elation of the coming contest, the full joy of battle coming. It filled me. And as it filled me I wondered at it. A past life experience? Could be. I am a Celt, and many of the gladiators were Celts. In contemplation of this, what on the surface may have seemed a past life jolt, I now feel was pure cellular and genetic memory. It runs deep. The body does not forget nor did his, or his, or hers... on back to that one or those many who stood in arenas before me.
As I write I can smell their blood, feel the elation and know who I am.