On Monday I visited the Queen Mine in Bisbee AZ. The tour was tame; it was well lit and not at all claustrophobic.  I found it exciting. I have never been down into the depths of the Earth.  There was an archetypal thrill to be down among rock and stone.  Since I was a boy I have been drawn to stone and minerals, for my family name has a pun in it towards stone. I am well to be with rock.

Legend and literature are filled with people going down into the bowels of the earth – The Descent to Hell – in order to learn something deep and austere.  They ascend back to the light and the living,  transformed by the Journey.

I had no such numinous experience, but it was  exhilarating and jolly good fun.  We wore miner’s gear, including a hard hat with portable lamps. At one point we turned off our lights; the dark was more than pitch black. It was Dark – my first taste of it.

The thrill was bittersweet when I thought of how grueling and dangerous it was to be a miner. We were told the early miners were down there ten hours a day, with only candles for light.  They often did not live long but died from exhaustion, accidents, or respiratory illnesses contracted from the dust.

As we ascended back to the surface, I wondered if I was going to be transformed in any way. So far I sense nothing, but I will keep you posted.

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