23 November 2009

Sacred Mountains

A common feature of human cultures is the association between mountains and spirituality. I am not a mountaineer and have no desire at all to climb the world's highest physical peaks, though spiritual peaks are often worth contemplating.

Today, I have added a few more photographs to my Ancestors Within blog. My family photographs have special significance to me though I am not yet sure if there is a spiritual aspect to the reverence I show towards those faces from the past.

In September, I went on a sort of pilgrimage with my husband, to the southern Italian birthplace of some of his ancestors. It was to the "village of the harp", Viggiano in Basilicata. The above picture is of a keystone above a doorway in the village. Perhaps keystones and harps have a spiritual element to them, like mountains.

Before leaving Viggiano, we somehow found ourselves climbing its sacred mountain. We had not intended doing so and it was quite amazing to experience being there. I usually avoid uphill walks!

All we really wanted to do was find out more about the pilgrimage route that brings thousands of people in May and September to Viggiano to venerate the "miraculous" statue of the Virgin and Child. There were very few people around when we made our climb.  They had all been there the day before.

Perhaps much of the spiritual association with mountains has to do with their role in the fertility of valleys. Here is a view overlooking the roof tops of Viggiano, down towards the Val d'Agri. I wonder if the word "agriculture" comes from the name of the river Agri. The area was farmed by the Romans, and before them by Ancient Greek colonists.

The green of the valley, and its agricultural productivity, were evident from our journeys through it. Oil has been found there, too, in recent years, bringing industrial prosperity to the once impoverished region. The valley also has a high risk of earthquakes but fortunately none happened during our visit.

03 November 2009

Onwards and Upwards

My off-line writings are keeping me occupied at present. I am trying to document the findings of my recent travels, and all the research I did along the way.  And I'm still attempting to make sense of it all.  Are you going onwards and upwards yourself?