Monday, 31 May 2010

Trasna: The Crossing Place...

So sorry, but I'm still not able to get back to my historical flow. In the meantime, here is a poem for my patient readers...
I like the idea of choosing in this poem. It reminds me that the Greek word Hairesis - from which "heresy" is derived - means only that: Choice.

About half way through the Montes de Oca on the way to St. Juan de Ortega on the Camino Frances, there is a small plinth at the centre of a crossways. On the Camino, of course, one approaches it from the east. It is a nice place for a sandwich, a little water. But then the pilgrim continues on...westwards. Why not north or south? The path runs there too. This place always reminds me that the Way is the destination and that perhaps we are always on the Camino.


The pilgrims paused on the ancient stones
In the mountain gap.

Behind them stretched the roadway they had travelled .
Ahead, mist hid the track.

Unspoken the question hovered:
Why go on? Is life not short enough?

Why seek to pierce its mystery?
Why venture further on strange paths, risking all'

Surely that is a gamble for fools - or lovers.
Why not return quietly to the known road?

Why be a pilgrim still?
A voice they knew called to them, saying:

This is Trasna, the crossing place.
Choose! Go back if you must,

You will find your way easily by yesterday's fires,
there may be life in the embers yet.

If that is not your deep desire,
Stand still. Lay down your load.

Take your life firmly in your two hands,
(Gently... you are trusted with something precious)

While you search your heart's yearnings:
What am I seeking? What is my quest?

When your star rises deep within,
Trust yourself to its leading.

You will have the light for first steps.
This is Trasna, the crossing place.

This is Trasna, the crossing place

Come !
Raphael Consedine

The photo is from the Camino Portuguese.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

A brand new traveller...

...on the Camino of Life.

Miss Daniela Perea Saunders was born on May 12th a stone's throw from Málaga Cathedral at 2:40 in the afternoon and weighed just 2.6 kilograms. She's tiny, perfect, and my little granddaughter. She and I will have a lot of things to discover together: flowers, stars, ideas... Her Mommy Rebecca (my daughter) and Daddy Antonio are doing fine.

I'll be back soon...things to do...The past can wait a little longer.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

The revolt begins...

While Diego Gelmirez was a force to be reckoned with, he had a lot to handle with the bourgeoisie of his diosese. As we have already seen, Arias Pérez and members of the "Brotherhood" had ways of swaying the Bishop of Compostela in their direction against the Conde de Traba. Those members of the town who counted for anything wanted their bishop to consider their needs first, even before the building of their cathedral; and they would go to any lengths to make sure that Diego was aware of their influence with the Queen, Urraca.

Urraca was continuing her fight with the Battler - with occasional so-called "reconciliations": meaning that they recognised for a while that a truce was less expensive than pursuing each other's forced from one side of the north of Spain to the other. The Pope had anulled the martriage on grounds of "consanguinity": that is, they shared a great grandfather and shouldn't have married in the first place. Not, in this author's opinion anyway, that they were getting up to any hanky panky and probably never had, the Battler's view being that a soldier should only associate with men.

In 1116, Santiago was not a very good place to be - not if your name was Diego Gelmirez. The powerful middle class led by Arias Pérez rebelled against the Bishop with the Queen's open encouragement. Things had never been very harmonious between Urraca and Diego Gelmirez of Santiago de Compostela. Urraca still had not recognised Alfonso Raimundez in the way that the Traba lord and the Bishop wanted her to. Urraca was a bulldog and she held on to her kingdom with jaws firmly clenched.

With the Queen's backing, the citizens rose up against Diego Gelmirez and made him a virtual prisoner in his Bishop's Palace. Threats of ex-communication were ignored. The rents from the Cathedral's properties were diverted to the Queen and this left Diego with no real authority in Compostela. The few supporters of Diego circled the wagons.
Something had to give.
Or someone...