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

AN ANCIENT FUNERAL CEREMONY IN SICILY

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The coffin was carried by my grandfather’s friends on their shoulders to the Church of San Cataldo nearby, and after Mass it was set on a hearse dragged by two black horses.
There were thousands of people at the funeral, and all of them followed the hearse to the cemetery. At that time there were not many cars in the streets, so whenever there was a funeral the streets were closed to traffic. Sometimes the municipal band played a funeral march for very rich or special people.

After the funeral we had a tasty dinner. For eight days we were served breakfast, lunch, and dinner by our close friends. All the families gathered around the table. In Enna, you could not make the time of mourning at your will. It had to last eight days. During this time, besides being served delicious food by our relatives and close friends, we received visits from our neighbors and acquaintances. The food we received was more delicious than anything I had ever eaten before—so much so that a doubt arose in my mind: “Is this a time for mourning or a party?”
After eating, we returned to the double bedroom to show our grief as the visitors came in little by little. I sat close to my mother and observed the scene. The visitors entered the room and gave condolences to the family members, starting with my grandmother, and then they sat on the chairs scattered across the room and remained silent or talked with some of the family members.
Every family member was dressed in black. As soon as a new visitor came in, my mother and Aunt Carolina put a sad expression on their faces. Then they started chatting with the newcomers. While they chatted their faces were quite relaxed, but whenever a new visitor came in, they stopped chatting right away and reassumed a sorrowful look. In fact, it was mandatory to show a contrite face; otherwise folks might think that they didn’t mourn the loss of their father.
Since then I understood the difference between “to be” and “to look like.” The change in my relatives’ faces in showing grief meant that appearances had great importance in people’s eyes.
The custom of judging by appearances was widespread in Enna. Even today we tend to judge by appearances and fail to see what is really hidden inside every human being.

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

ENNA (SICILY) SEVENTY YEARS AGO

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When the Second World War was over, most women in Enna didn’t work outside the home. They were housewives, dependent on their fathers, and once they got married they were submissive to their husbands. You often saw many ladies dressed in black in the streets, the symbol of sorrow. The close relatives of those who died wore black to show their grief. Every time a person died, the walls on the streets were covered with death notices as if the whole town was mourning.
The duration of mourning varied according to the kind of relationship with the dead person, but usually were observed the following criteria: if the dead person was an uncle, a cousin, or someone not a close relative, the woman dressed in black for three months. If a child had been lost, the woman dressed in black for five years. If a sibling passed away, his or her sister dressed in black for three years. If the dead person was the husband, the widow dressed in black the rest of her life. I never saw my grandmother dressed in anything but black. She lost two children and her husband.
As for men, the duration of mourning was shorter than that of women. They usually didn’t dress in black suits for a long time, but confined themselves to wearing a black tie, an armband, a narrow band around their jacket collar, or sometimes they wore a black button on it.
In the afternoons, after having done their chores, the housewives used to sit on their chairs by the window and watch the people walking in the streets. At that time, Via Sant’Agata was unpaved, and in the early morning you could see the goats going along the street and the shepherd then selling their milk to the housewives. It was a very fresh product. The goats were white, long-haired, and quite tall with upright and coiled horns. Nowadays, there are people in the cities who have never even seen a goat!

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

A TASTE OF SICILIAN HISTORY

FOT

Enna is a small town, but over the years it has fostered the hopes of great spirits and people that have devoted their lives to missions in faraway lands, like Blessed Girolamo De Angelis (1567-1623), a Jesuit friar who left his hometown to follow his spiritual path. At the beginning of the seventeenth century he went to Japan to spread the Gospel, but fell into fierce persecution against Christians and had his life ended by being burnt at the stake. Enna is the birthplace of good writers like Nino Savarese and Napoleone Colajanni—the latter was also an honest politician and sociologist—and musicians like Francesco Paolo Neglia. The spiritual path followed by the main character of this story is worthy of note, though minor in scale.
Not many towns in the world can boast so peculiar a lifestyle. It is possible that if I hadn’t published A Hidden Sicilian History some of Enna’s oral traditions would have been lost forever.
The events happen because they had to happen, not by accident. There is an invisible thread on Earth that links all people who have the same spiritual feelings, regardless of their race or skin color. They belong to the same spiritual race. The real races are not physical but spiritual, and you can feel it clearly whenever you have the chance to come across someone with similar feelings and nature. Through that scroll, the author wanted to create an invisible chain of spiritual beings, which he intended to become broader and broader.
Here is the translation . . .

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

LIFE IN THE SULFUR MINES IN SICILY

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After an hour of riding, I saw a long line of men, young men, boys, and ragged children walking slowly on the road with their lanterns in their hands. They looked as if they were souls that were heading for the Valley of Jehoshaphat near Jerusalem on the day of the Last Judgement….

…We kept walking around the area until we finally arrived at an entrance that had been dug into the ground. The upper part of the tunnel and the walls were propped up by wooden piles and beams, and a narrow staircase led underground.

We went downstairs for about a hundred meters. Then the stairs became steeper and slippery. Little by little, as we went down it got hotter. We kept going until we arrived at a wide area from where many tunnels branched off. They were propped up precariously.
Along the stairs and the galleries I saw an uninterrupted line of children who were carrying that nauseating acetylene lamp in one hand and a heavy weight on their shoulder. The ore was stuffed into canvas bags or baskets. The children wore small bags stuffed with rags on their shoulders and heads to soften the harshness of the ore. Stooping under the weight and with labored breathing, they went upstairs slowly, giving out a painful moan with every step. I had the impression of seeing human-shaped moles which didn’t like to come out in the daylight.
“What is the average age of those children?” I asked.
“Their age ranges from seven to eighteen years. They cannot grow well because the air here is too rarefied and humid. Moreover, they carry weights that are too much for their young age. They cannot stop on the stairs to take a rest or the entire long train of carriers would stop. Their bodies are misshapen and they will never grow taller.”
We kept going down, and finally arrived at the end of one of the galleries. The air there was hot and unbearable. I saw that a few men were completely naked because of the stifling heat. With picks in their hands, they dug out the ore. Near them, a few children filled baskets and canvas bags with the ore, while other little laborers helped other children put the loads on their shoulders.

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

HISTORY OF SICILY: THE AUTO-DA-FE’

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I had the impression of having stumbled across a rare precious report about an auto-da-fé, which were held in great numbers throughout Sicily at the time of the Spanish  Inquisition.
According to some historians, 114 autos-da-fé were celebrated throughout Sicily from 1501 to 1748. The word auto-da-fé comes from the Portuguese auto da fé, meaning an act of faith.
An auto-da-fé consisted of a public ceremony where a sentence of the Spanish Inquisition was carried out. Before the enforcement of the judgment, the condemned person was made to file between two lines of people, their hair was shaved, and then they were dressed with a donkey cap and a sack on which were painted the grounds of the judgment. If it was painted with a full Saint Andrew’s cross, it meant that the condemned person had repented in time to avert the execution; a half cross showed that he had been just fined, while the flames meant that he had been sentenced to death at the stake.
A solemn Mass attended by city authorities and a large gathering of the townspeople was celebrated where the auto-da-fé took place. People came together in great numbers as if there was a festival, and many street vendors flocked from the nearby towns and villages to sell cakes, carobs, licorice, and similar things.

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

AN ANCIENT SICILIAN TRADITION

20190702_191153It is said that Demeter’s home was in Enna, a city in the center of Sicily. During paganism, the belief that the goddess of agriculture lived in Enna was so deep-rooted and widespread that even the Roman Senate sent a delegation to Enna to appease Demeter when a great famine occurred in the empire. Then, as by magic, the earth started to bear fruit again.

After Catholicism took over from paganism, the citizens of Enna didn’t give up their old procession in honor of Demeter. They just replaced the statue of Our Lady for that of the pagan goddess, Demeter.
Every year, on July 2, the litter with the wooden statue of Our Lady covered with golden votive offerings is carried on the shoulders of barefooted brethren through the streets of Enna, as it happened with Demeter during paganism.
The religious feeling doesn’t change. Demeter is still present through Our Lady. Tradition will go on. People will keep worshiping divinity beyond time.
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
– Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

THE PERSECUTIONS AGAINST THE HEATHEN

PAGANS

“If we leaf through the pages of history, we can meet with many cases of persecution, some well-known, like the persecutions against the Jews and the Christians, and some not well-known, like the Christians’ persecution against the pagans or the persecution against the Jehovah’s Witnesses.”
“Uncle Salvatore, it’s the first time that I have heard about Christians who persecuted the heathens. Are you sure about that? I thought the heathens persecuted the Christians under the Roman Empire.”
“Yes, I am. The pagans were persecuted, too. After the Edict of Constantine in 313 AD, all religions were admitted in the Roman Empire. The Christians were not persecuted anymore. And then they started to show intolerance against the pagans. Little by little, they destroyed the pagan temples. Afterward, mainly for economic reasons, they converted the pagan temples into Christian churches. In Syracuse, the hometown of Santa Lucia, the temple dedicated to the goddess Athena was converted into the Catholic Cathedral of that city. It stands on the island of Ortygia. As soon as you enter the church, you can see the former pagan temple with its well-preserved Dorian columns.”
“Also in Isola, Uncle Salvatore, paganism merged with Christianity. In fact, in our town the cult of Demeter was replaced with the worship of Our Lady. Deep down, nothing changes. Religious faith remains unaltered over the eras.”
“Yes, it is as you said. After the Edict of Constantine, many pagans were persecuted and killed by the Christians. Apparently, the Christians lost the spirit of nonviolence and love taught by Jesus. They persecuted the pagans, showed intolerance against the heretics, and burned them at the stake.
“One of the cruelest cases of persecution against the pagans was the murder of Hypatia, a martyr and a symbol of freedom of thought. She was a pagan scientist, philosopher and mathematician from Alexandria in Egypt. The Christians killed her during the persecutions against the pagans.

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

SIMILARITIES BETWEEN MITHRAISM AND CHRISTIANITY

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“His easy and fluent talk was like the rushing of a river. It seemed unstoppable. ‘Do you think the Christian religion is original? Not at all! Christianity borrowed its rites from the cult of the god Mithra, who was also born in a cave on December twenty-fifth.’
“I stared into his eyes, and then I raised my voice, ‘Tell me! Where did you find such information? Can you prove what you said?’ ‘Yes. I’ll give you written proof, but don’t ask me to prove anything else. Everything I say is true. I don’t invent anything,’ he said severely. Actually, a few days later, he showed me the encyclopedia through which he had learned about the god Mithra. While I was driving toward downtown Isola, he kept talking about religion. ‘The Roman Catholic Church built many cathedrals on god Mithra’s temples. Do you want me to give you evidence?’ ‘Yes, I do!’ I answered eagerly. ‘Hence, go to Rome and visit the Basilica of San Clemente. It’s near the Colosseum and easy to reach. This basilica has one ground floor and two basements. At the entrance, on the ground floor there is the newest church dating back to the twelfth century. If you go down to the first basement, you’ll find another church which goes back to the fourth century. On the second basement, you’ll find god Mithra’s temple. Some people perceive a peculiar energy in the lowest basement, especially when they stand near the water which flows down there. I don’t believe in extrasensory energies. I only believe in what I can touch, see, and hear. I am just reporting that somebody feels an arcane energy in the Mithraeum of San Clemente Basilica.’
“Giuseppe was still telling me the story of the god Mithra when we got to Umberto Sabatini’s house. Umberto’s build was different than Giuseppe’s. He was a tall redhead with a more refined way of dressing. Umberto had the air of a teacher, while Giuseppe looked like a blacksmith. Actually, he had been a teacher of Latin and ancient Greek, but he quit his job. Even though he had a degree in classic literature, he wanted to become a municipal policeman. Strangely, although Giuseppe and Umberto had master’s degrees, they didn’t want to have the job they had studied for. One wanted to be a writer instead of a physician, and the other a municipal policeman instead of a teacher. Two uncommon persons! Like them, maybe many of us would want to be uncommon, to lead a different life, change jobs, move away from our country, city, family, and so on. But we don’t do that because we tend to live according to the social patterns that have conditioned us since childhood. Umberto, at a brisk pace, got into my car and sat in the back seat. We introduced ourselves briefly and set off toward Capodarso, which is almost a half hour away from Isola.
“On the road Giuseppe resumed his tirade. ‘The Christians changed the figure of Jesus. The Greek word Christos, which means anointed, doesn’t apply to Jesus. The term was coined later by the early Greek-speaking Christians. Jesus was anticlerical, but the Christians turned him into a priest. Jesus didn’t hand over any rite, but the Christians borrowed their rituals from Mithraism, such as baptism, Holy Communion with bread and wine, and so on. The idea that Jesus was born from a virgin was also borrowed from Mithraism. In fact, Mithra was born from the virgin Anahita, who had been inseminated by the god Ariman through a miracle. Like Jesus, Mithra promised eternal life to his followers and was very popular among the Roman soldiers who could die in battle.’

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