Caves: echoes of the past

Caves: echoes of the past

“For echo is the soul of the voice exciting itself in hollow places.”                                    ― Michael OndaatjeThe English Patient

The Newdegate Cave at Hastings  was glorious. Cheeky, and filled with a lightness that desired interplay. Many small chambers that resonated with a gloriousness remnant of some of the best cathedrals in the world. A long acoustic. Longing to be sung in. A symphony of sorts…

Newdegate Cave, Hastings Tasmania

So it was with a great appreciation that I had been largely on my own whilst I have sung and explored these caves. The sense of stillness is deeply satisfying. There is something again about residing in the silence, and then making sounds from the ethereal heavens which seems to open up hidden places. 

I was reminded again that I had been to many caves before this year. I went to Sung Sot Cave whilst I was in Vietnam several years ago. My memory of this time was that it felt unstable, and that there were literally thousands of tourists who were traipsing through with little respect for the cave. It had been said many people had taken pieces of the cave and touched much. What i witnessed was this lack of respect for the natural formations. In Australia, and in particular Tasmania, it seems that we are lucky that there is still so much that remains pristine.

Gunns Plains Cave, Tasmania

In Gunns Plains Cave, there was a moment, when the lights were switched off. And the gurgle of the flowing water through the cave was all one could hear. If there was a sound of amniotic fluid, and a recording of this, I imagine that they would be so similar. I was moved to silent tears. A sense of being soothed and safe in the dark. Delicious. Where time stands still. And in that moment I could have stayed there forever. A sign of the divine. Timelessness pervades deeply.

Geoff, the guide spoke of how he is often rejuvenated after a walk through the cave. Going in tired, with aches and ills, and coming out the other side, in a sense reborn with newfound vigour and delight. This was a theme amongst the guides all stating that they always felt better after tours than before. My body felt more energised after being in the caves, and I found my sleep to be deep and strong after such days. 

They do concerts in the cave. This seems to be a new, cool thing to do. It seems the cave energy can now support a new level of sound. Using the cave, and using sound to make the vibration of the cave change. I mean it has been there for over 440 million years. Since the ice age. How amazing is that? And lest we disturb it with our travels, our ramblings, and using sticks on columns to make sound( a little like playing the organ of bones in the Goonies) hopefully it can be preserved for many more years to come.

Cave experiences may not be for everyone, but it seems that once we have tried it, it fits like a comfortable shoe. Picasso describes his creativity as the “descent into caves of initiation and secret knowledge” One woman on a guided trip exclaimed a fearful “OOOH” when it went dark, yet was the first to say “I could have stayed there forever” once the lights were turned back on. Delightful. That seems to be the transformation and residing in process.

Metaphorical language of the caves.

*They caved into their cravings
 *My throat/heart/will caved in”
*Like a child in a magic cave”
*Aladdin’s cave

Metaphorical language of caves then reminds me of the breath…

*our first breath

*he took my breath away

*he gasped in fright

*our dying breath

*he was a breath of fresh air
*I walked on air

Newdegate Cave, Hastings