A TASTE OF SICILIAN HISTORY

LAKE

Enna is a small city on a plateau in the center of Sicily. Its foundation dates back to time immemorial. It is called the navel of Sicily. It is part of the Erei mountain chain and is located at an altitude of about one thousand and one hundred meters above sea level. Like all Greek cities, Enna was a city-state that had its own government and its own mint. It coined a coin called ennaion. With Greece Enna shared the same language and the same religion. The main worshiped goddesses were Demeter and her daughter Kore. Nobody knows exactly where the temples of Demeter and Kore stood, but it is certain that the main temple of Demeter in Sicily was that of Enna. Being Demeter the goddess of the crops, she was invoked to have a good harvest. It is said that during time of famine, even the Senate of Rome used to send a delegation to Enna to propitiate Demeter.
The people of Enna buried the dead by digging small rooms in the rock, usually facing south. In the room, painted terracotta vases were placed next to the corpse. Tombs have been excavated with well preserved skeletons and red-figure and black-figure vases. Sometimes in the mouth of the skeleton has been found a coin. The Greeks believed that to get to the Hades (the kingdom of the dead) the soul of the dead should pay a coin to Charon who ferried the dead across the Styx and the Acheron, rivers that divided the world of the living from that of the dead.
Enna has always been a city devoted to religion. When Cicero, the great Roman orator came to Enna to collect evidence against Verres, he was so surprised by the religiosity of the city that he had a feeling that the inhabitants of Enna were omnes sacerdotes (all priests).

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE, MOTHER GODDESS TONANTZIN, AND DEMETER

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The place where the basilica now stands was a holy place long before the Spanish conquered Mexico. It is called the Hill of Tepeyac. At the site there was a temple devoted to the mother goddess called Tonantzin. Later, the Spanish destroyed the temple and built a nearby chapel. But the destruction of the temple couldn’t prevent the natives from pouring into the site.
Ten years after the Spanish conquered Mexico, a local peasant named Juan Diego, who had recently converted to Christianity, had a vision said to be Our Lady in the same area, who asked for a chapel to be built in the place. People from all over Mexico rallied to the chapel to worship the shrine, and it is reported that many miracles occurred. Nevertheless, the natives kept calling Our Lady by the name of Tonantzin, the ancient mother goddess revered by the native population. This gave rise to the doubts of the Franciscan friars, who were convinced that the veneration of the holy image was a pagan cult.
Something similar also happened in Enna. In  fact, Our Lady, who is the patron saint of Enna, replaced the ancient cult of Demeter, who was the town’s mother goddess. The celebration in honor of Our Lady happens on July second every year, the same time when the old pagan cult of Demeter was celebrated. People of Enna today still invoke the name Kore, who was Demeter’s daughter.
In my opinion, it doesn’t matter the name you give to God; what matters is the spiritual feeling that radiates from the worshipper. So you can call God Allah, Brahma, Vishnu, or Shiva without losing the purity of your heart. Jesus and the Virgin Mary are beyond time, as they existed before time, long before coming into human history. They also existed in the pagan era and were worshipped differently.
The Virgin Mary appeared to Juan Diego in the form of a crossbreed maiden, and in the same place where the Spanish had destroyed the temple dedicated to the goddess Tonantzin. That means that nobody is allowed to destroy others’ temples, even if they are considered pagan. In fact, religion and spirituality are not related to a particular cult. Over the years people have given various names to God and worshiped Him in different ways, but it doesn’t entitle anybody to resort to violence to make one religion prevail over another.
As for the holy image imprinted on Juan Diego’s cloak, it was kept for some time by the Franciscan friars until it passed under the custody of the diocesan priests. With the passing of time, possibly in good faith, the original image was retouched in some spots. For instance, the crescent on which the Virgin Mary stands was painted with silver. Apparently, nowadays the retouches have discolored naturally, while the original image is still unaltered.

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

THE FEAST OF THE PATRON SAINT IN ENNA

The pagan worship of the goddess Demeter and her daughter Kore was deeply rooted in Enna until the fifteen century. At the time, besides the Gentiles and the Catholics there were many Muslim families in Enna.

In 1412 the municipality sent a delegation to Venice to buy a statue that replaced the previous one of the goddess Demeter.

As they couldn’t find an effigy portraying the Madonna alone, they bought a wooden sculpture of Maria holding the baby Jesus and shipped it to Sicily by sea.

According to the legend, when the statue arrived at the slopes of Enna, it became so heavy that it was impossible to move it. Then, the wheat reapers came from the nearby fields and put the statue on their shoulders. With them it became light, and they took it to the cathedral. Ever since that time the simulacrum of the Madonna is carried in procession on a gilded litter only by those belonging to the peasantry. People call it ‘The Golden Ship’. The bearers are around one hundred and consider a great honor to carry the Virgin Mary in procession. The fixed, numbered places under the beams that support the litter are assigned to the descendants of the reapers who first brought the statue to Enna and are passed down from generation to generation; therefore it happens that tall and short brethren carry the litter side by side, with the result that some bear much weight and others less or almost nothing. For this reason the ‘Golden Ship’ proceeds with a slanting pace and sometimes gives the impression that it is about to fall on the crowd.

On July 2, the day of the feast, the crowned wooden sculpture of Our Lady covered with gold – rings, bracelets, necklaces, and so on, preceded by the statues of St. Joseph and St. Michael the Archangel, files between two lines of people.

According to some historians, the feast of July 2 is the same as the old one of Demeter. At that time three statues were also carried in procession. Therefore what matters is the religious feeling which does not depend on the different names you may give to the divinity.

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
– Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo