Since the purchase of our properties 18 months ago now we’ve known that a name change for Aranya was on the cards.
The name Aranya was originally suggested by Vidyadevi before the start of the fundraising in 2000. It literally means forest and has connotations of wildness and seclusion of environment and also of practice; a place where true freedom can enter our minds. Aranya has served as a symbol for the qualities we’ve looked for in a womens ordination retreat centre and it has guided us well.
However it was always intended that while Aranya was the name for the fundraising project it was likely we would chose another name for the retreat centre once we had purchased. As we focused the property search on Spain this became more of a certainty due to associations with a very similar word in the Spanish language.
‘Araña’ in Spanish means spider. To top it off ‘loka’, or ‘loco’ means mad. Aranyaloka = mad spider. Apparently Bhante, in a mischievous mood, says he quite likes this name and I’m sure he’s not alone! In the community we are divided as to who is happy to live in the realm of the mad spider women! Spanish and Spanish- speaking Sangha members on the whole would rather a different name.
So over the past year we’ve invited suggestions for names and those of us who have spent time on the land have been able to get a feel for it.
Informally in the community we’ve found ourselves referring to the retreat centre as Gridhrakuta or Vultures Peak. Both because of its dramatic position in between two limestone ridges but more so because of the griffin vultures that nest in the rock face and circle high above the retreat centre most days.
The characteristic that seems to embody the land (all 108 hectares of it) and the very different settings of both buildings – is spaciousness. There is so much space here – on land and in the vast blue skies, and also ‘psychic space’. But there has also been a feeling not to lose the flavour of ‘aranya’ – the forest and the sense of seclusion. Along with the vastness of space there is also the intimacy of detail; the sense experience of meditating alone under a pine tree and touching the earth.
So Aranya becomes Akashavana – ‘the forest retreat of luminous space’.
Let’s see what emerges into that space as time goes on.