THE RAPE OF KORE (PERSEPHONE)

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The temples of Demeter and Kore don’t exist anymore. In Enna, the cult of Mary replaced that of Demeter. I can take you to Lake Pergusa. It is not far from downtown Enna. According to myth, Ades, the god of the underworld, came out of one of the caves scattered in the woods which surrounded Lake Pergusa, with his chariot pulled by four black steeds. At the same time Kore was plucking flowers with her mother Demeter and some nymphs by the lakeside to weave them into garlands.

“To allure her, Ades disguised himself as a splendid narcissus. Kore was enchanted by the color and scent of that beautiful flower and walked away from her mother and the nymphs to pick it, but suddenly the narcissus turned into Ades who grabbed Kore, put her on his chariot, and abducted her. Then, Ades lashed his steeds which, as fast as the wind, immediately headed for his underground kingdom.

“Demeter was desperate. She looked for her daughter everywhere without avail. Then, she turned to Zeus, who knew where Kore was kept, but he seemed not to be incline to displease his brother Ades who had got a wife at long last. After Kore became Ades’s wife, she was given a new name, Persephone.

“Demeter was the goddess of agriculture and fertility. As an act of revenge against Zeus she made the vegetation on Earth wither. Things were getting complicated even for Zeus, the king of gods! But, Ades persisted in his refusal to give back Persephone to her mother. However, he couldn’t help complying with Zeus’s wishes, who wanted to break the deadlock between Ades and Demeter.

“Zeus suggested a solution acceptable to both parties. Persephone would stay for six months with her husband Ades in the underground and for six months with her mother Demeter on the earth’s surface. So it happened!

“The myth symbolizes the alternating of the seasons on Earth. In Autumn and Winter, when Persephone is in the underground, vegetation is lifeless, while in Spring and Summer, when Persephone stays with her mother Demeter, plants and trees are flourishing.”

This is an excerpt from November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily

Ettore Grillo author of these books:

November 2 The Day of the Dead in Sicily
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
– Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

 

A KILLER IN A SICILIAN TOMB

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I arrived at the tomb of a man who, when he was sixteen years old, killed a boy of his same age with one punch. The killer’s name was Gerlando Sferrazzanetti. He remained in jail for fifteen years. During this time he learned painting. His oil paintings depicted sacred images and traditions of Enna: the procession in honor of Our Lady on July 2, the Good Friday procession, the Church of Valverde, and the like.

Seeing his photo on the altar in his tomb, I had a feeling that he must have been a good man, the murder aside. His feature were gentle and his eyes sweet.

An epitaph had been engraved on his marble niche:

As a rosebud becomes a rose,

And a seed becomes a tree,

So the soul grows and evolves

Up to the last stage, the light of love

This is an excerpt from November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily

Ettore Grillo author of these books:

November 2 The Day of the Dead in Sicily
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
– Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

 

LIFE AND DEATH IN A SICILIAN CEMETERY AT NIGHT

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While we were climbing the stairway to my tomb, an owl with a mouse in its claws fluttered its wings towards a cypress tree. Life was suddenly over for the little rodent. That is life! It is based upon violence. Without killing, carnivores cannot survive. The fish in the sea must eat the small ones so as not to depopulate the oceans. The eagles in the sky must bring some small animals to their nests. Otherwise, their species become extinct. There is a fragile balance in nature. The life of one being passes through the death of another. Once, a Jehovah’s Witness said to me that there will come a time on Earth when lions will live peacefully together with lambs; there will be no death, diseases, and violence. When will this time come? Surely not in a world like that in which we are living now. It would be another Earth.

What about human violence? There was a great philosopher named Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel who considered war unavoidable. Was he right? I can just say that wars have never ceased since the world started. Man kills just like animals. There is not much difference between animals’ violence and man’s violence. Both of them kill not only to survive, but also to protect their territories, because of hate, jealousy, and even just for the sake of killing.

At the end of the stairway, we turned left and arrived at my tomb.

This is an excerpt from November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily

Ettore Grillo author of these books:

November 2 The Day of the Dead in Sicily
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
– Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

WALKING IN A SICILIAN CEMETERY AT NIGHT

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It was midnight when we arrived at the hole in the cemetery fence near the graveyard of the poor. At that moment, four bluish lights hovered in the air over the graves. My hair stood on end. I was terrified. I thought I saw blue lights moving toward me, and then they went back to the starting point. They kept hovering over the graves for about two minutes until they vanished into thin air.

Luigi passed through the hole without caring about the lights, while I remained outside the cemetery. I felt petrified, as if those bluish lights had cast a spell on me. I couldn’t move. My legs quaked as if there were an earthquake under my feet.

“What are you doing? Why are you standing outside like a statue? Come in. Don’t be silly!” Luigi cried out to me.

“Didn’t you see those lights over the graveyard?” I asked in a trembling voice.

“Yes, I did. They are nothing more than will-o’-the-wisps. Did you think they were souls of the dead wandering in the cemetery?” Luigi replied, shaking with laughter.

“What does it mean, will-o’-the-wisps?”

“It means small flames kindled by gas emanating from bodies in an advanced state of decay. You’ll see this phenomenon only in the graveyard of the poor, because here the bodies are buried under the bare earth inside coffins that have not been sealed with zinc. So keep calm. Don’t worry. You won’t see blue lights beyond this area.”

Absolute silence and peace reigned in the town of the dead. Only feeble lights came out from the candles in the tombs. We walked under a sky dotted with stars. The Milky Way was visible. My grandmother called the Milky Way Saint James’s Stairway. According to her, the souls of the dead climbed up and down Saint James’s Stairway when they came to our planet, and then they left Earth, bound to faraway planets and stars.

Walking in the cemetery, I didn’t sense any ghostly presence beside me. Luigi was right. There were only bones and decaying corpses in the cemetery, nothing else.

This is an excerpt from November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily

Ettore Grillo author of these books:

November 2 The Day of the Dead in Sicily
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

THE OLD SICILY

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My Christian name is Mario, my family name is Chiaramonte. I am light-skinned, about one meter and seventy centimeters tall. The color of my eyes is between green and light brown. I was born in Enna at a time when the old Sicily was still alive. It was the sunny island where some women knew the secret to rid children of their intestinal worms and of the evil eye, through arcane practices. It was the old Sicily where goats walked in the streets, and the shepherd milked them in front of the houses and sold milk to the housewives. What a fresh product it was! Apartments didn’t exist and people warmed up their houses by using braziers. Fruit and legumes had a natural taste, hens brooded their eggs,  ate wheat, bran and leftovers, and were free of scratching around. It was the old Sicily where fields were plowed by oxen, the wheat was reaped by farmers’ hands, mules and horses trampled the spikes in the threshing floor, the wind separated the chaff from the grains of wheat, the television had not been invented yet, and people gathered in the houses to chat about this and that. It was the old Sicily where people breathed unpolluted air, the water of the sea, lakes, and rivers was clean, and the words like plastic, pollution, climate changes, global warming, and hole in the ozone didn’t exist in dictionaries.

This is an excerpt from November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily

Ettore Grillo author of these books:

November 2 The Day of the Dead in Sicily
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

MY REVIEW OF RUNNING TO RESURRECTION BY CLARK BERGE

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All great masters teach that the secret to get enlightenment is to live life here and now, neither in the past nor in the future. Running is not different from the walking meditation of the Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh, on the condition that you are alert and watch yourself while you are walking or running.

A marathon is also a metaphor of life. Clark Berge took part in the Half Moon Bay International Marathon, California, when he was 58 years old. It was hard to complete the marathon, but he finally arrived at the finishing line in time.

What I appreciate a lot in this book is Clark Berge’s homily to the baboons he met while running in South Africa. “There is something beautiful about just being a baboon, just being who you are,” he says to the baboons.

What a difference between a baboon and a man! The former cannot have split personality, while men often show themselves differently from what they are. Don’t you think that being sincere, honest, consistent with oneself, natural, and spontaneous is the real finish line which we should run for?

Ettore Grillo author of these books:

November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily

– A Hidden Sicilian History

– The Vibrations of Words

– Travels of the Mind


http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

SAN BENITO OF PALERMO, THE PROTECTOR OF COLORED PEOPLE

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Walking in Antigua, his attention was drawn to the many ruined churches. Although the places of worship had been built well and with good materials, they didn’t withstand the earthquakes. In Guatemala, the ground shook quite often.

He went to Saint Francis Church every evening and meditated for a few minutes in front of the statue of San Benito of Palermo. The Franciscan saint was popular in South America. He was considered the protector of colored people. In fact, he was a refugee from Ethiopia, who was later adopted by a Sicilian family. Staying in front of the statue of San Benito of Palermo he felt at home. He had a fellow citizen who protected him in this faraway land!  Even though he lived in another continent, Sicily was always in his heart.

This is an excerpt from November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily

Ettore Grillo author of these books:

November 2 The Day of the Dead in Sicily
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

CEMETERIES IN SICILY

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Enna’s cemetery is large enough to look like a town.  It has broad avenues and tall tombs. Many tombs are similar to small houses. They have a room inside with walled niches and an altar where once was celebrated Mass on November 2.

I dare say that the cemeteries in Sicily are unique. I have visited some burying places while traveling around the world, but they were completely different than the Sicilian cemeteries, for every population on earth has its own way of treating the dead, depending on its culture and traditions.

In Italy, before the Napoleonic edict, the dead were buried in the churches. Later, this custom fell into disuse.

My maternal grandmother, Paolina, used to keep in her family tomb a few chairs for herself and her family, relatives and friends that came to visit the tomb or had the chance to pass by it.

This is an excerpt from November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily

Ettore Grillo author of these books:

November 2 The Day of the Dead in Sicily
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

AN OLD COURTROOM IN SICILY

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The day of the discussion of the case came. The courthouse was located in an ancient palace that had belonged to Andrea Chiaramonte, one of the most powerful noblemen in Sicily, who lived in the fourteenth century and fought against the Spaniards to preserve the independence of Sicily. But he was allured into a trap and captured. After the Spaniards captured him, they beheaded him in front of Palace Steri, his prestigious residence in Palermo.

The ceiling of the courtroom was frescoed with figures depicting the glories of the Chiaramontes. The bench of the judge was carved with the motto ALL MEN ARE EQUAL BEFORE THE LAW and the figure of the blindfolded goddess of justice holding a balance in her hand.

The table for the defendant and that for the plaintiff were in the center or the courtroom. Behind them there was a wooden barrier beyond which the public stood.

This is an excerpt from November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily

Ettore Grillo author of these books:

November 2 The Day of the Dead in Sicily
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo