Today is the feast of Santa Lucia, a saint from Syracuse who was martyred under the emperor Diocletian. She is the patron saint of the blind and people with limited eyesight.
As usual, there are processions on her day, and the statue of the saint is carried on a litter along the streets of
Enna. On this day, many families in Enna make a special meal called cuccìa. It is a ritual meal that was made in ancient Greece on the day of the commemoration of the dead. Nowadays in Sicily, the cuccìa is cooked on the day of the Feast of Santa Lucia. It is made from boiled wheat seasoned with chocolate or sweet ricotta, honey, and pieces of candied fruit. My sister Carolina used to cook cuccìa in a big cauldron and then invite all our neighbors to taste it.
Even though I don’t like cuccìa, I really enjoy the coming and going of our neighbors who crowd my home all day long.

This is an excerpt from A Hidden Sicilian History

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



The weather in Rishikesh changed radically the following day. The sun was shining and it became much hotter. We walked along the same lane as the day before and arrived at a narrow bridge. Only pedestrians and motorbikes could use it. Monkeys stood along the handrails, hoping to get some food.
We crossed the bridge and walked along the other bank of the river, which was also full of shops and restaurants. While we walked on the bridge, I admired the river in all its majesty, and noticed that the olive-green color was constant, even in stretches where the banks were surrounded by houses, when the trees were far away and the sky was cloudy. Its wonderful green color remained even at twilight. Obviously, the constant hue depended on some phenomenon that I didn’t know about, but there had to be something mysterious in the amazing Ganges. It could be considered sacred not only by Hindus, but by everybody. It cannot be ruled out that God, who is the same for all people, regardless of the race, becomes manifest in different ways so that He can show Himself through those holy waters.
Cows wandered freely in the narrow streets, while donkeys and mules were used to carry river sand, gravel, and red bricks to building sites. I hadn’t seen this kind of transportation for at least seventy years, when long lines of donkeys, mules, and horses carried goods and people from the countryside into Enna.

This is an excerpt from A Hidden Sicilian History by Ettore Grillo
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind



“At the entrance to the museum, the origin of Nazism was summarized on a large board. At the beginning, Nazism was illegal, and Hitler was imprisoned. While he was in jail, he wrote the book Mein Kampf, which became the ideological basis for the ascent of the Nazism. Maybe the words contained in that book vibrated harmfully, polluted the air, and later they triggered a wave of anti-Semitism, I thought.
“At that moment, I thought of Erez. In my mind I saw him at his kibbutz by the shore of the Sea of Galilee. He cast a stone against the trunk of a tree and said, ‘Look at this stone. First it hits the tree, then it bounces and strikes the grass, and finally it lands on the ground. Three effects derive from one action. The same is true of words. Words have vibrations. They trigger a chain reaction when they pass from mouth to mouth or from ear to ear.’
“I went around the museum with Anne, who looked a little bit less pale. ‘Do you know that words can give rise to life or death?’ I asked. ‘Yes, I heard about that in a lecture. It was held in Hebrew, and I couldn’t understand everything, for my Hebrew wasn’t good, but I caught the gist of the lecture. Yes, words can create or destroy something.’ ‘Anne, do you think words can cause bad events?’ ‘Yes, I do. If we speak negative words all the time, it can create bad situations in our life, and vice versa. So, to be happy we need to speak positive words.’

This is an excerpt from The Vibrations of Words: second edition by Ettore Grillo
Ettore Grillo author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind



“When I got to the Garden Tomb, I was surprised at the silence in that place. I turned to the right and headed for the skull-shaped rock. It was a cliff with two big holes and a nose-shaped stone between them. To my eyes, it didn’t look like a skull. On the railing was a picture of the cliff. Looking at it, the whole cliff seemed to be skull-shaped.
“I turned left and walked to the tomb. Entering it, I saw three stone beds. One of them was a bit higher than the others. The ceiling of the tomb and the right wall had been plastered. I was alone inside the tomb. Turning my eyes to the wall on the right, I thought I saw Jesus’s face slightly imprinted on the wall. It was similar to that on the Shroud of Turin. I didn’t see the whole face but only some features like the eyes. At that time I felt that the real Holy Sepulcher was there.
“I got out of the tomb and looked for the winemaking press. I couldn’t spot it. So I asked a lady who was sitting on the bench. She got up and pointed out a pool where in the past the grapes were pressed by feet and the juice flowed into a smaller basin. ‘Do you want to see the real place where the Lord was crucified?’ ‘Yes, of course!’
“She led me to a rocky wall on one of the sides of the garden. ‘This cement covers the  crack in the rock caused by the earthquake that happened when Jesus passed away. Underneath our feet there is no rock but a wooden floor. The rock is hollow. Digging is in progress. Jesus’s blood fell from his bleeding body into the Ark of the Covenant. He established a new covenant between God and humans.’
“I was puzzled by her words. How is it possible that the Ark of the Covenant was below the cross when Jesus died? I thought. She noticed my doubtfulness, so she took out a pen and a postcard from her purse and wrote something. Then she gave me the postcard. ‘Do your research, and then you’ll find out that I am right.’
“Later, I checked her information. Actually an archeologist had been digging under the rock of Gordon’s Calvary. The aim was to bring into the light what was once called Zedekiah’s Cave, a vast underground quarry which supplied the stone for the Temple of Solomon. Therefore, nothing can be excluded. I still keep the postcard the lady gave me. Besides the name of the archeologist, she wrote, ‘Jesus loves you.’

This is an excerpt from The Vibrations of Words: second edition by Ettore Grillo
Ettore Grillo author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind



“He watched the river and then turned to me. ‘What a beautiful landscape! Once people used to come here and walk along the bank of the river until late at night. Now this river is full of garbage. It flows into another river called Krishna. It is the only river of India flowing eastward before arriving in the Bay of Bengal.’ ‘What is your job?’ I asked. ‘I am a yoga teacher, now! I was rich at one time. Then I lost all my money at the stock market. I just followed the advice of the managers of the bank, but things didn’t go well.’
“I didn’t have any reason to doubt his words. Maybe he was rich at one time. Who knows! It is not unusual to fall from riches to rags. As he said that he was a yoga teacher, I thought he knew something about the relationship between body and soul. So I asked him, ‘Do you think there is life after death?’ ‘After death there is a mutation. It happens because the frequency changes and the wavelength changes, too. Then, resonance takes place according to the whole cosmos. Resonance is everywhere. It can be chaotic or smooth. Human intelligence has to learn to accept the polarity of destruction and creativity, which is one infinite energy. These days women can’t resonate due to the education system. The male scientific mutation dominates the feminine resonance, so we are proceeding toward a global suicide,’ he answered.”

“Did you ask his name, Uncle Salvatore?”
“Yes, I did. ‘My name is Prem. I had my first death experience at the age of eighteen. The second experience came through pranayama, yoga, and long-time vipassana, or cosmic self-love. I was dying during my prayers. My mind stopped slowly, and my body also stopped. No breath, only awareness and cosmic vibrations. Peace, oneness, feeling of being drunk in bliss, freedom, and being in the now and here, no future, no past.’ ‘You said that everything is mutation of wholeness. Trees, animals, stars, the moon, human beings, and so on are mutations. Is wholeness God?’ ‘I don’t use the word God, I use the word godliness. God is a noun, while godliness expresses action, creativity, and quality,’ he answered.
“I wanted to stop the conversation with him. But I continued to talk because I didn’t want to hurt him. So I asked him, ‘Are people with a low intelligence a mutation of godliness?’ ‘They are a mutation of our retarded social system.’ ‘Is our retarded social system a mutation of godliness?’ ‘It is a mutation of the animal kingdom.’ ‘But the animal kingdom is also a mutation of God!’ ‘Look! There are three things: pain, pleasure, and transcendence of both. If there is no pain, there is no pleasure and no transcendence. Godliness means all three: animal, human, and superhuman. Being human means that through the right effort man can transform the inner animal into a superhuman being. If we don’t try to transcend instinct, we are not human beings, yet. We are just animals with contracted hearts or maybe without hearts. We are just robots that act mechanically. Our scientific inventions created by our animal minds are of no avail to go beyond animality.’ ‘Does evil come from godliness?’ ‘Evil means a closed and contracted heart. Good means an open and expanded heart. It depends upon us and our educational system.’”
“This time I agree with him, Uncle Salvatore. His idea about good and evil is unique. Yes, if our heart is closed and contracted, we can be evil, while good is an expression of an open and expanded heart.”

This is an excerpt from The Vibrations of Words: second edition by Ettore Grillo
Ettore Grillo author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind





“Apparently you could make friends easily, Uncle Salvatore. Listening to you, I sense that you felt in India as comfortable as in your own country.”
“Benedetto, my country is the world. My hometown is the place where I am at the moment. In other words, if I am in New York, my hometown is New York, if I am in Moscow, my hometown is Moscow, if I am in Addis Ababa, my hometown is Addis Ababa, and so on.”
“I think you were lucky to find a piano academy in India. They play other instruments in Indian music such as sitar or harmonium.”
“Yes, I was lucky. But the academy was different from that in Isola. As soon as I entered there, I saw several musical instruments in one room. I couldn’t expect that they gave lessons for the violin, guitar, keyboard, and piano simultaneously. When I went to the academy for my first lesson two days later, two students were playing the violin, one the guitar, two the piano, and one the drums in the adjacent room. All those sounds didn’t annoy me. On the contrary, there was a delightful harmony of noisy sounds.
“The teacher was a young woman called Swara. She was quite fat, with long wavy black hair down to her shoulders. If she had been less fat, she would have been a beautiful woman, but her fatness made her body look like a wine bag. “I sat down at a black upright piano and started playing by reading the score on the piano. Now and then, the teacher came and checked my practice. If my playing was acceptable, she turned the page of the piano book to a new page.
“At that time, I wondered whether this was useless work. I was too old to learn a musical instrument. But I felt that playing the piano was like a kind of meditation that made me a less cerebral person.
“After I finished the piano lesson at the music academy, I went to Ravi’s home. He showed me his favorite musical instrument, the sitar. ‘The sitar is an Indian string musical instrument used in classical music. The sound box is made from a pumpkin. The strings are supported by two ivory bridges. Sometimes in the cheaper sitars, they use bones of a camel as bridges. The number of the strings ranges from eighteen to nineteen. There are two rows of strings, seven on the upper part of the sitar and twelve on the lower part,’ Ravi explained like a teacher.”
“Uncle Salvatore, it seems that the sitar is similar to the viola d’amore. You’ve already talked about this musical instrument when you met the lawyer Bruno.”
“They are not similar, Benedetto. The viola d’amore looks like a violin or a cello. The sitar looks like a guitar. However, the common thing of these musical instruments is that some strings vibrate though they are untouched. It was the first time that I saw a sitar.
“Ravi went on, ‘When two strings are tuned in the same frequency, it doesn’t matter if the string is in the upper part or in the lower part, whenever you pluck one of them, the other string vibrates.’ ‘Some time ago I heard about vibrations from a friend of mine in my hometown. He said that everything vibrates in the universe. Do you agree with him?’ ‘Yes, I do. Everything in the universe has its own frequency. The frequencies are measured in hertz. For instance, if the frequency of the glass I am holding in my hand now is x hertz, when you produce the sound of x hertz, both frequencies are the same and the glass vibrates. Everything vibrates, both organic and inorganic matter, both material and immaterial. That’s why when beautiful music is played, our whole body vibrates. Our bodies are made of many particles that react to the various sounds.’ ‘Do you believe in the existence of the soul, Ravi? If yes, I want to know whether the soul can vibrate as well,’ I asked Ravi.”
“Uncle Salvatore, I want to know whether you believe in the soul or not.”
“I don’t know, Benedetto. I’m not sure about that.
“Ravi said, ‘The world is made of energy. When a musical instrument is played and you feel well, it happens because the sound contains positive energy. On the contrary, when you hear the noise of the cars and horns in the street, you are stressed. There are two kinds of energy. One is good, and the other is bad. The world is ruled by two opposite energies. Everything is energy, and Einstein proved it by the well-known formula, E=mc2. It means that energy can change into matter and matter into energy.’ ‘Is the soul energy?’ I asked.
“Ravi lit a candle. Then he went on. ‘The human body and the soul are similar to a candle. When the human candle is burned out, it can’t contain the soul, which leaves the body. Stones are also energy, for they are not dead. There are souls in the universe when an embryo enters the womb. It attracts a soul with the same frequency. When you work under pressure or have pain, your body loses its natural positive frequency. That’s why you need good music to harmonize your body. The soul can feel vibrations as well. Body and soul are connected, and both vibrate. Words and thoughts have vibrations, too. If we say something or think of something, our words or thoughts create vibrations. Do you know why we met? It happened because we have the same frequencies. We both love music. If we had had different frequencies, our meeting wouldn’t have been possible. People attract one another according to their frequencies. Among millions of people in the world, you can attract your soul mate who has a frequency similar to yours. It is like playing the sitar. The string that vibrates in resonance must have the same frequency as the string you pluck.’ ‘What is the difference between frequency and vibration?’ ‘Frequency is the number of vibrations in a second. It is measured in hertz. Hertz are the number of vibrations. In other words, one hertz is one vibration, two hertz are two vibrations, and so on.’

This is an excerpt from The Vibrations of Words: second edition by Ettore Grillo
Ettore Grillo author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind



Near Chiswick Square, I stopped for a while to look at a board in front of the entrance to an Anglican church. There was an advertisement for tai chi chuan. While I was standing in front of the board, a man about thirty years old with an athletic body came up behind my shoulders. He reached me and I assumed he was probably about to talk to me of tai chi chuan.

“No, thanks.” I said, anticipating his words. “Sorry, I am not interested.”
“Come up with me, I want to talk with you.”
We went to the upper floor and entered a room equipped as a gymnasium. It was a traditional gymnasium, that is, without apparatuses for bodybuilding. On one of the sides, there was a step. We sat down on that step. The light was very dim, but I could see him clearly. I cannot forget his face, his eyes, and everything of him. He left an indelible imprint in my heart and mind.
The young guy was a bit taller than me and wore brown running trousers, a green T-shirt, and white training shoes. His hair was light brown and his eyes green. He had a small scar in his large forehead. His nose was a little bit snubby and his lips were very thin. His arms and legs were so stout and beefy that they made him seem capable of knocking a bull down, but his smile was the sweetest I had ever seen. As soon as we sat down, I went to the core of my issue one more time.
“I would like to know whether everything ends, or there is something that survives the decay of our body after death.”
The young English athlete stared into my eyes for a short while. All of a sudden, he stood up and bent his right arm.
“Stand up! Push my arm hard with all your strength!”
I stood up, too. For a while, I had the sensation of being in another world. That unexpected action of the young athlete, the half-light in the gymnasium, that chance meeting in London in a country different from mine, all these made me think that I was daydreaming or I was in an unreal place. I couldn’t feel like I was living in this world.
I had an instant of confusion, and then I decided to follow the instructions given me by the athlete. So, I put my hand on his arm and pushed it hard, with all the strength I could muster. The athlete went back markedly.
“Now you are strong!” he exclaimed.
Soon after, he recovered and pushed my arm back. Even though I tried hard to withstand him, I couldn’t help stepping back.
“Now you are weak! What’s happening?” he said to me.
We kept doing this exercise for a while, and the smile appeared on my face. Just that smile that I had lost for many, too many, years!
“What happened to you? When we entered the gymnasium, you were pale, pensive, and tied up with your question about death. Now you are smiling. How is it possible?”
“You are an angel, aren’t you? How can I thank you for the smile you’ve brought back to me!”
He seemed to appreciate my praise, with a big smile.
“Thank you! Today, I gave you a small amount of fire. It’s a fire that you will pass to others later!”
Then, he explained the meaning of the exercise we had done.
“You must never permit yourself to be conditioned by the result. Never ever act, work, study, fight, love, and so on only for the sake of a good outcome. The good action is important, not the result! You shouldn’t stop any action only because you haven’t achieved good results. In other words, you must be authentic to yourself regardless of success or failure. Success doesn’t give you strength or energy, nor can failure deprive you of your good qualities. So, remember this: Don’t depend upon anything outside yourself, but only rely on your inner energy! It is possible to apply this principle to sports as well. If a football team wins a match, it doesn’t mean that it is a strong team, and if a boxer wins a fight, it doesn’t mean that he is a champion. Both the football team and the boxer are really true champions only when they have a real autonomous, inner strength, regardless of winning…”

This is an excerpt from Travels of the Mind
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
– Travels of the Mind



London is a big city rather an ensemble of small towns joined together to form Greater London. To try to unravel the mysteries of the city, the best thing to do is to get on a red, double-decker bus and see the interesting places to visit from above. Following that idea, I waited for the first double-decker bus at the corner of Bath Road. It was the number 105.
The first stop was at Heathrow Airport. There were three terminals. On the upper floor of the terminal for international flights there was a waiting lounge flanked by shops. There were also rows of chairs for the passengers to sit while waiting for their flight.
I sat on one of those chairs and watched the people walking down the lounge and going in or out of the shops. There were people of all kinds of races. Many wore the traditional clothes of their homeland. I observed all those passengers and asked myself why I couldn’t travel by airplane. I thought about my absurd fear of flying. What was the cause? All those people around me were traveling by plane with no problems. Why not me?
I felt like a pigeon pushed away from its nest by the beak of its mother. Instead of opening its wings and flying, it hides in a bramble bush where it feels safe and from where it watches the other birds flying high.
While I was watching the crowd, a young couple came and sat close to me. He had Eastern features and wore a long, brightly colored robe and a fez on his head. Of the woman, I was able to see only her eyes; the rest of her body was covered with veils.
“Are you also waiting for your flight?” the man asked me.
“No, I am not. I’m just watching the passengers.”
“Are you a writer? Are you going to write a novel?” asked the veiled woman whose eyes looked like black quicksilver and flashed like those of a ferret. Her eyes reflected her gaiety.
“We got married just a short time ago,” said the man, “and we are going to Malaysia.”
“Where is Malaysia?”
“Near Thailand.”
“How long does it take to fly to Malaysia?”
“About fourteen hours, but we will transfer in Bangkok.”
“Aren’t you afraid that the airplane might fall?”
“There is no danger!” they both answered with one voice.
They said goodbye with great warmth, and I remained sitting there for a while, keeping watch of the continuous flow of people. At last, I decided that my abnormal situation should not last any longer; I had to finish being handicapped! I had to put a stop, once and for all, to my fear of flying. But what should I do? How could I do that? I had the sensation that, if I got onto an airplane, I would die of fear. I thought I would not be able to bear the changes in atmospheric pressure in my ears. Nevertheless, I was determined to win this battle. So, I started watching the airplanes during takeoffs and landings. In order to keep up my observations, I left the airport and went to a nearby two-story building.
On the ground floor, there was a permanent exhibition dedicated to civil aviation. On the walls, I saw pictures of famous figures when they got on or off an airplane. Among them there were Queen Elizabeth and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, taken in the late fifties when they disembarked from a four-engine aircraft with propellers.
There was also a simulated flight deck. I vied with the children to get on that flight deck! Inside, everything looked real: the seats, the cockpit, the console full of electronic instruments, and the wide windscreen. I followed the stages of the flight: takeoff, flying at high altitude, and landing.
Everything was reproduced perfectly, even the conversations between the captain and the control tower. I listened to the instructions the control tower gave to the captain before landing. I often went back to that flight deck and focused my attention on those talks.
On the upper floor, there were large windows through which I was able to see two runways from a short distance, one for landing and the other for taking off. I noticed that most of the airplanes, after taking off, made a turn toward the right, and then went straight on their way. Nearing the airport, the airplanes descended slowly and landed smoothly. I admired the takeoff of a Concorde, which usually left for New York in the late afternoon. I was struck by the elegance of that supersonic airplane and noticed that its four engines emitted a red glow at sunset.
The following year, I was in London again, but this time as a volunteer of RSPB (Royal Society for Protection of Birds). I had conquered my fear of planes as a result of my experience with the simulated flight board the year before. I boarded a low-cost flight from Palermo to London Stansted Airport. It took three hours to go from Sicily to England. The previous year the journey had taken three days by train and I had spent nearly 300 percent more!…

This is an excerpt from Travels of the Mind
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
– Travels of the Mind



“One day, I was walking on Portobello Road. I entered a small booth where some antique objects were exhibited. Rummaging in the bits and pieces, I found a scroll in a bronze case. I took it out. To my surprise, it was a copy of an ancient Chinese painting, The Vinegar Tasters. I unrolled the scroll and spread it out on a little table. I was very happy to find so excellent a copy with the colors still vivid and brilliant. Three different characters were portrayed in the act of licking their finger after dipping it into a pan containing vinegar. After tasting it, they showed a different expression on their faces. Obviously, the painting had an allegorical meaning. The three men were not common and ordinary tasters, but the masters of the most important schools of thought in China. Vinegar symbolized life itself in that painting. The three masters were Kung Fu (Confucius), Buddha, and Lao Tzu. This last is the author of the most ancient book about Tao. After tasting the vinegar, Confucius assumed a sour expression, Buddha showed a bitter look, and Lao Tzu had a smiling face. Apparently, each of them expressed a different way of intending life. For Confucius, life on this earth is sour and not up to heavenly life. According to Buddha, life is bitter because it brings suffering. For the third master, Lao Tzu, there exists a natural harmony between heaven and earth. According to him, life is an incomparable teacher. There is a paramount force over heaven and earth, called Tao (the way). This cosmic principle or force can’t be described correctly in words. But why is Lao Tzu smiling instead of assuming a sour or bitter countenance like the other two? Because Lao Tzu lives in harmony with the circumstances, without fighting or forcing the events. He thinks that unfavorable situations are a source of personal growth. In Taoism, the sourness and bitterness of life are not caused by life itself, but by our minds, which don’t know how to transform the unfavorable situations into favorable ones.”
“Who is right among them?” I asked.
“I think all of them are right. We can’t say which way is the best.”
“So far, you haven’t answered my question about life after death.”
“I can say once more that you have to find the answer by yourself, inside yourself. Even if I knew the right answer, I wouldn’t tell you. This is a path that each one has to cover individually. It is an inner journey that everybody has to experience alone!”
Then he took a leaflet about tai chi chuan out of his pocket and wrote the titles of four books in the corners. Two of them were about Tao, one was about the concept of time and space, and the last was about the search for mindfulness through breathing meditation.
In the meantime, it was getting late, very late. The conversation had lasted a long time, maybe more than two hours. I felt like time had stopped. The caretaker of the gymnasium hurried us to go out because he had to lock the room. We said goodbye to each other, and I have never seen that young man again…

This is an excerpt from Travels of the Mind
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
– Travels of the Mind



Yesterday, I met an artist, a Korean calligrapher. He wrote poems in Chinese characters with a brush made of sheep hair and a special black ink, called muk. His writing was not conventional, for he added something of himself to it.
He also wrote something for me.

“What is the meaning of these letters?” I asked.
“They mean The sound of Autumn,” he answered.
A long time ago, my friend’s father used to work as a calligrapher in the state archives office of my hometown. Sometimes, he showed us his works of calligraphy. The characters he wrote had something artistic. It was as if he conveyed his spirit to them.
What is art? It is giving life to something that is inanimate.

Cooking is also an art. In Italy we call it Arte Culinaria (Culinary Art). Even making coffee latte can be a work of art. At a coffee shop of Daegu in Korea, I saw the shape of a heart drawn on the latte. The barista was also able to draw Jesus’s face on it.
When I learned a special martial art called Shintaido in Japan, the teacher used to write Chinese characters similar to those I saw in Korea yesterday. At that time, he said that writing by brush was like a meditation for him.
Not only music, poems, and writing but also life is an art. It depends on how you live, creatively or not. As for me, yesterday I learned something new about art and human heart.
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
– Travels of the Mind