Monthly Archives: April 2010

Moors and Christians

 

The Moors and Christian Fiestas of Spain evolved during the 18th century from the traditions of the country people who acted out stories in history through music and dance.   Today’s pageants recreate the battles of the reconquest of Spain from the Moors.  The largest and most illustrious of these festivals takes place in Alcoy in Alicante Province on 23rd April, St George’s Day. 

St. George has been Patron Saint of England since the 14th Century when King Edward III made him the Patron of the newly founded Order of the Garter and he has been revered since Richard the Lion Heart’s crusade at Jerusalem.  Catalonia, during its long struggle against the Moors, also adopted St George as their Patron Saint, and he is represented as overcoming the infidel not the dragon.  During the Alcoy Moors and Christians Festival the St George flag with the red cross on white background hangs from every balcony in the town.  The pageant begins with the entrance of the Christians, a parade taking four hours to pass, followed in the afternoon with the entrance of the Moors a further four hours of procession.   We see beautiful Andalusian horses in dressage, camels lumbering along, exotic birds squawking in their cages, dancing girls undulating in their colourful garments.  Cannon and musket fire fills the air with the smell of gunpowder and sabres flash from the lines men and women in fabulous costumes swaying in time to the music of bands from all over the province. 

The climax of the festival is the battle that takes place in the town hall square around a mock castle.  This commemorates the defeat in 1278 of the ferocious Moor Al Azrac (nicknamed Blue Eyes) who was born in the nearby village of Alcala de la Jovada in the Vall de Gallinera. 

To see how this spectacle was born we must turn the centuries back to the year 711 and the legend of the last Visigoth King Roderick who had been driven to madness over the beauty of the daughter of the Byzantine governor in North Africa and stole her away.  The governor wanted revenge and sent Tariq ibn Ziyad to mount a reconnaissance mission to Spain. He landed at ancient Calpe, the rock they called jabal-tariq now known as Gibraltar.  King Roderick’s armies were swiftly overcome and Tariq ordered his first Visigoth prisoners to be cut to pieces and boiled in a cauldron.  Tariq spent the winter of 711 in Toledo at the old Visigoth court and the Moors soon had the Peninsula firmly in their grip.  Cordoba became the Moorish capital of Spain and its Mosque second in importance to Mecca.

The Arab tradition of bathing before prayer is well known.  Christians whispered of immorality obscured by steam and began to associate not bathing with purity.  Spanish monk’s body smells became known as ‘the odour of sanctity’.  The Moors muttered that Christians were sprinkled with water at birth and thus relieved from washing for the rest of their lives.

Despite differences, the multi culture of Moor, Jew and Christian made Spain prosper under Arab rule encouraging tradesmen, craftsmen, farmers, physicians, pharmacists, interpreters and money changers.  The Moors produced the first paper and the first gunpowder a substance much in evidence during the Moors and Christians festivals of today.  New crops were introduced under the caliphate, oranges, lemons, peaches, apricots, figs and pomegranates, as well as sugar cane, cotton, silk and rice.  The Arabs also brought their beautiful horses which have evolved into the famed Andalusian breed.

Those who remained Christian but embraced Arab ways became known as Mozarabs (almost Arabs).  They developed a distinctive culture and style of architecture especially of their churches.  The Mozarabic Rite for the Mass, later replaced by the Latin of the Roman church, is still said in a tiny chapel in Toledo cathedral.

There followed many Arab kings and rulers the splendour of their courts and harems well known.  They prized blond women from northern Spain who brought their Romance language which became widely spoken at court.  Interbreeding with blond Christian women brought a race of leaders in which Arab blood became diluted.

The reconquest began in 1085 when Toledo was taken.   El Cid Campeador, Rodrigo Diaz De Vivar, carved out a private state for himself around Valencia with land and castles taken from the Moors.  Unfortunately for him, there was yet a further invasion from Arabs of another kind.  They were the Almoravids led by Yusuf ibn Tashufin who founded Marrakesh.  Yusuf’s army landed at Algeciras in 1099 and swept north to challenge the Cid.  El Cid sustained a mortal wound during the clash with Yusuf and later died.  The Moors reformed preparing for another attack.  According to legend El Cid was placed upon his faithful horse ‘Babieca’ with a wooden plank holding his body upright.  When the horse heard the battle drums it charged into enemy lines throwing the moors into panic and confusion and they fled thinking El Cid was immortal.  El Cid’s people held on to Valencia for another three years until it was seized by the Moors once more.

The Almoravids were fundamentalists and persecution of Jews and Christians followed.  The Kingdom of Valencia became predominantly Arab.   Zaragoza was taken by the cross in 1118 and more Christians gathered in Portugal and they moved in to found Castile the kingdom of the castles.  It was here the Castilian language evolved from its beginnings in Romance.

There followed yet another Arab landing with the arrival of the Almohades in 1126.  These Arabs were the natural enemies of the Almoravids.  Despite their fanaticism, which drove more Christians and Jews northwards, the Almohades made great cultural achievements and a revival began in poetry and song.  This was probably the time of the birth of cantejondo or flamenco.  At the end of each stanza the Moors would shout ‘O Allah’ just as ‘Ole’ is shouted today.  The Spanish guitar is also thought to have evolved from this time.

Deep in reconquest mythology is the legend of St. James of Santiago ‘el Matamoras’ Moor Slayer.  Pilgrims still flock to his shrine at Santiago de Compostela, a route lined with Benedictine Monasteries.  Christian faith was fought for by the Knights.  The famous orders of Calatrava, Alcantara, Santiago Knights of St. James and the Knights Templar who all wore the white mantle emblazoned with a red cross.  They became rich with Moorish treasures taken in ‘Carta Puebla’ (rights of conquest).  In France however, the Knights Templar were persecuted by King Philip the Fair who wanted them burned as heretics.  The King of Aragon was grateful to the Templars for their military help so in answer to the Pope’s edict for the end to their military order the king renamed them the Knights of Montesa and merged them with the Hospitalers.

In 1212 soldiers from Spain and Europe gathered at Toledo and moved on to defeat the Moors at Tolosa.   James 1 Conqueror, knight and king took Valencia and the Balearics in 1238.   

As most of the Christians had fled northwards, Aragon, Valencia and Andalusia were left with Muslim majorities.  These people became known as Mudejar (those permitted to remain) and their architectural style remained until the Renaissance.  But the Moorish legacy of alchemy, botany, medicine, astronomy, numerology and geometry was lost to the layman with the influence of the Inquisition. The Mystical Cabala was also lost to Spain with the expulsion of the Jews and there began an economic decline.  The Moorish people were expected to convert to Christianity or leave.  Many were forcibly baptized but most kept to their own religion and their own ways and hid themselves away.

Christian Noblemen from Catalonia laid claim to the land in the kingdom of Valencia and brought with them their own language which has evolved into Valenciano.  These Noblemen were not farmers so the Arabs continued to work the land.  As more Christian settlers arrived over the years they became jealous of their Nobility’s preference for employing Arab labour. The Moors worked hard for little money and paid their taxes hoping to be left alone.  Resentment bubbled among the new Christian underclass resulting in the peasant’s revolts of the 1500s which precipitated the expulsion of the Moorish people in 1609.

It is estimated that 160,000 people of Moorish descent were living in the kingdom of Valencia.   20,000 were deported to Africa from Denia harbour on 22nd September 1609.    Men, women and children fled to the mountains, some took themselves into the fastness of Gaudalest Castle, where they remained until they were starved out of the citadel.

A man named Melini, a miller from Gaudalest, became leader of another group of 30,000.  His people went into hiding in the Val de Laguart near a place called Petracos.  Unfortunately for them Christians from the nearby village of Murla reported them hiding in the castle on the ridge of CaballoVerde that divides Jalon and Laguart.  Troops were sent from Naples to rout them out.  The bombardment was such that nothing remains of the castle and only 8,000 Moors survived to be transported to Morocco.  Many were driven to their deaths over the Val de Inferno, hell’s ravine, their bodies smashed onto the rocks that still echo with their screams when the wind blows down the valley.

This lament was heard in Morocco in the 1980s, it tells of Caballo Verde, the Moor’s Mystic Mountain and a knight on a Green Horse who would have saved them.  It is a song of the dispossessed for their beloved valley, views of sea and misty peaks, almond blossoms, cherries and grape vines.

I was born in a far valley beyond the waves,

Beautiful between mountains of wild solitude

Under brilliant sun, surrounded by cherries.

O Allah, protect forever the valley of Laguart

The bones of my people within that white earth

Are left in confusion for all eternity.

O valley of Petracos,

Your oleanders still preserve reflections

Of the blood they saw drain away

The fresh red sap you store in your inmost heart

Maintains the seed that will never die,

Laguart, your sweet name is engraved on our lips

An ardent flame from across the sea

Retaining the memory of those who died

For a green horse which never arrived.

 

Text and Photographs copyright Tigerbrite

Kingdom of Sweets

Christmas eve,

the log fire snaps and glows

Mince Pies

Mulled wine

silver tinsel in candlelight

Tall fir tree

Midnight chimes

Clara creeps downstairs

unseen

To claim Nutcracker doll

she kisses him lightly on the cheek

He smiles

Toy cupboard door comes ajar

Dolls dance

mice emerge from the skirting

Cat wakes

Mouse King and Queen

scarper

Clara and Nutcracker

dance with the dolls to fairyland

and suck candy

On a sugar sofa

in the Kingdom of Sweets

Dolls dance on

The Sugar Plum fairy

casts her spell

In a flurry of stardust

Clara and Nutcracker

are whizzed from fairyland

Dolls dancing

First light and embers of fire

Cat purring

Dolls asleep in the toy cupboard

Nutcracker winking

she smiling

Presents soon opening!

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Verse Copyright Tigerbrite

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Nutcracker_and_the_Mouse_King

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Imbolc

The home hearth is happy as the fire wheel turns

and the long darkness begins to break.

The awakening from winter’s rest is celebrated

with freshness and a joyful surge of yearning.

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The Sun God risen at Yule is full of vigour.

His power is present in the new cycle of life.

Shoots wait to burst in the warmth of his beams

and the melodies of the rights of spring begin to sing.

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Candlemas glows bright stretching the winter light

from evening shadows into lighter days.

Woolley White Lambs leap in new grass

to the promise of nourishment from mother’s milk.

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The Goddess looks sunwards to the healing rays,

as the Wise Crone sleeps she is renewed to youth.

Snowdrops pierce the frost to ring bells of new birth

bringing universal magic to mother earth.

Copyright Tigerbrite

Atlantis to Avalon

 

Has lost Atlantis any bearing on our own island tradition of Merlin and Arthur and the drowned land of Lyonesse?

From the centre of the Atlantic, reaching out towards what is now Central America there was a great continent where the Root Race lived that succeeded the Lemurians and preceded our own.  There was a great civilization, built up with the help of the gods who then dwelt among men.   There was the City of the Golden Gates, of which the folk-lore of all races has a tradition.  This city, so we are told, was built upon the flanks of an extinct volcano on the sea-coast of the ancient land.  Behind it was a plain stretching back to the inland mountain ranges and an isolated pyramidal hill, shaped like a truncated cone, with one side sheared off into a precipice.  At its base that was a vast concourse of wattle huts that housed the bearers of burdens.  On the shoulder of the mountain lived the merchant and craftsman castes, and upon its flat top were the palaces and colleges of the sacred clan, which was divided into the military and the priesthood.

This sacred clan was most carefully segregated from the rest of the population, and its breeding was carried out under the supervision of the priests.  As soon as the boys were of an age to show their disposition, those who were deem fit were taken into the sacred colleges to be prepared for the priesthood, and those who were not predisposed for this discipline were sent to the military colleges.  The girls of the sacred stock were guarded with the greatest care and given in marriage to priests or soldiers according to their lineage and temperament. 

Thus the heritage of the sacred clan was kept pure, a carefully selected stock bred for the development of those rarer powers of the mind so highly esteemed among the ancients and so little understood nowadays – the powers which enabled the Greeks and Egyptians to discover the basis of modern astronomy and atomic theory of chemistry and the cellular structure of organic matter, without the aid of any of the instruments of modern science.

The Atlanteans were great navigators and traded from the Black Sea to the Pacific, they were also great colonizers, and wherever they planted their colonies they brought their priests and their altars.  They were Sun-worshippers of giant stature and adored the Lord and Giver of life in open circular temples, paved with great flagstone of marble and basalt.   Their architecture was of the cyclopean type – great blocks of dressed stone that no primitive man could have handled.

 Now what of Avalon in connection with this story?  Is there a possibility that in the legends of Merlin and the drowned lands of Lyonesse we are touching the history of lost Atlantis?  Is it possible that Merlin was an Atlantean priest-initiate and in presiding at the birth of Arthur was carrying out the Atlantean custom of the kings bred for wisdom?  In order to bring the higher consciousness of the evolved Atlantean race into the Celtic tribes of the colonized island did Merlin, in defiance of the strict laws of the sacred clan, cross the Atlantean stock on the Celt and so breed Arthur.  And was Morgan le Fay, the half-sister of Arthur and witch-woman learned in all sciences, a pure bred Atlantean?  Is the streak of psychism that runs through the Celtic race due to the Atlantean blood introduced by the daring experiments of Merlin after his own race was sunk in the sea?

The Lost Goddess

 The Lost Goddess

 

It is time to reclaim the energy of the sacred feminine and bring harmony and balance to today’s world.   The sacred marriage, hieros gamous, is the meeting of the male and female principle to make a balanced whole.

This is part of the Song of Songs, which is Solomon’s from the Old Testament.

Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!

For your love is better than wine,

Your anointing oils are fragrant

Your name is perfume poured out,

Therefore the maidens love you.

Draw me after you, let us make haste.

The king has brought me into his chambers.

We will exult and rejoice in you,

We will extol your love more than wine,

Rightly do they love you.

While the king was on his couch.

My nard gave forth its fragrance.

My beloved is to me a bag of myrrh

That lies between my breasts.

My beloved is to me a cluster of hena blossoms

In the vineyards of En-gedi

I am a rose of Sharon

A lily of the valleys.

Hidden from sight until the 20th century the Gnostic Gospels tell us that Mary Magdalene was the most important of Jesus’ disciples, the one he loved and kissed often.   It is evident from her Gospel that they shared a deep secret knowledge not fully realised by the other disciples.

Almost all reference to Mary Magdalene is omitted from the New Testament, except that she is painted as a sinner or prostitute who wasted a valuable jar of ointment to bathe Jesus’ feet and wiped them with her hair on the eve of his crucifixion.   What a strange thing to tell us…. almost as though we should guess there is more to this ritual than meets the eye.

Jesus’ teachings found their way to France with Mary and there grew a strong Gnostic tradition that evolved over a millennia into the religion of the Cathars.  The Roman church was losing its footing so  the Cathars were wiped out with the Albigensian Crusade.   But the legacy of Mary Magdalene remains and is highly revered to this day.

It is time for us to acknowledge that feminine energy is essential to bring harmony to the earth.  As the Sun rules the day and the Moon rules the night, so both the male and female must have their place.  When balance is restored Earth vibrations will be harmonious.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Magdalene

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albigensian_Crusade

 

2012/21/12 A New Earth

 

21 December 2012 is said to be the end of a 26,000 year cycle in which the earth will have travelled through each of the 12 signs of the zodiac for about 2152 years each.  We will have reached the cross roads.  Sumerians, Tibetans, Egyptians, Cherokees, Hopi and Mayans refer to this cycle in their mystical belief systems and their calendars are based on it.

The 26,000 year cycle is also reflective of the 260 day cycle of human gestation and suggests that the earth is about to be re-born or transformed.  There has been dire prophesy of Armageddon in 2012, the end of the world brought about by a massive heat storm from the sun.   This could be a literal interpretation of the prophesy that spiritual light will be given to the earth.  The world is not about to end but to be transformed and renewed.

Edgar Case, prophet and healer, said that a ‘new comprehension’ and ‘new vision’ will emerge.   Spiritual progress will come in the form of development of human mental potential.   Telepathic communication and full consciousness of the creative forces will be revealed to us and we should use these gifts in conjunction with science to improve our quality of life.

This is a crucial time for us all and each of us must work towards a higher goal and balance our natures.  The greatest wisdom is in simplicity and we have to adjust our attitudes.  Love, respect, tolerance, sharing, gratitude and forgiveness are the keys to improving our future.  Find your heart and you will find your way.  Our collective emotions and thought forms have the ability to influence everything around us.  We can change weather patterns and end wars.  We must claim the world we want with our positive emotions.  We must choose love not fear.

At present the world is in imbalance because of man’s alienation from nature.   Some say that the way we measure time and our uneven calendar create a frequency of mechanisation and disharmony that manifests as greed, fear, sense of separation and isolation as well as competition, stress, materialism, exploitation etc. 

A 13moon/28 day lunar calendar could help bring us back into harmony.  The earth and the moon are intertwined and the pull of the moon directly affects our emotions and the movement of oceans.  Our positive will to re-align with nature will bring about the progress we must make if we are to save our planet.  This progress will not happen in a day but with our positive mental attitude we can heal Gaia, Mother Earth.

Copyright Tigerbrite

Reality

The real world is not the one we see with our eyes, the real world has no buildings, no streets where people walk together but separately.  There are no shops where people buy things they do not need.  The real world does not have artificial light because darkness never falls.  The world we see is preventing our vision.

In the world we see everything has the mark of death upon it.  Roads lead nowhere and no city built has withstood the crumbling assault of time.  This aching world does not have the power to touch the living world at all.

If we judge reality we do not see it, for whenever judgment enters reality slips away.  Out of sight and out of mind.  What is not recognised is denied.  The ego tells us what we need but what we gain will surely be left behind in the end. The ego sees salvation in separation and would block the way to the light by urging us to strive instead of listening for the word.

Yet the real world has the power to touch us even here, it is full of love and love is all there is.   Love created us and the beauty of the earth, it fashioned true art and produced harmony in music.   Whenever we are tempted to undertake a useless journey that would lead away from light, we should remember who we really are and seek the peace that passes all understanding.   In the real world joy awaits, pain and suffering exist only in the world we see with our eyes.

Copyright Tigerbrite