THE FEAST OF DEMETER IN SICILY

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 Kore, Demeter’s daughter.

In my opinion, the name you give to God is not important, what matters is the spiritual feeling that radiates from the worshipper.  On the other hand, Jesus and the Virgin Mary are beyond time, for they existed before time, long before coming into human history.

They also existed in the pagan era and were worshipped differently.

These days, there are no processions in Enna, for the reason everybody knows. Hopefully, next year the pandemic will be over. Everything will return to normal and the citizens of Enna will continue to celebrate their feast in honor of Demeter which dates back to almost three thousand years ago.

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 SICILIAN REMEDY TO GET RID OF ROUNDWORMS

Aunt Filippa removed the plate from my head and put it, along with the small cup, on the near table. She then asked me to lift my T‐shirt and bare my belly. Finally, she made certain arcane signs on my stomach and at the same time said a special secret prayer in a low voice, which she repeated three times. Since I was a curious boy by nature, with very fine hearing and an excellent memory, I heard and imprinted in my mind the secret prayer to cut roundworms, which I now disclose both in the original Sicilian and in English:

RAZZIONI PPI TAGLIARI I VIRMI

Tagliu li virmi ne stu curpu

Tagliu uttu e tagliu novi.

Tagliu li virmi ne stu cori.

Luni santu, Marti santu, Mircuri santu,

Iuvi santu, Venniri santu, Sabbatu santu,

A duminica di Pasqua.

Mori lu vermi e ‘n terra cadi.

PRAYER TO CUT ROUNDWORMS

Cut the roundworms in this body

I cut eight and I cut nine.

I cut the roundworms in this heart.

Holy Monday, Holy Tuesday, Holy Wednesday

Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday,

Easter Sunday.

The roundworm dies and falls onto the floor.

When her prayer was over, she recommended I drink a small glass of olive oil with squeezed lemon and raw mashed garlic the following day in the early morning. I followed her instructions, and I have to say that I actually excreted a lot of roundworms. Some of them were dead and some looked dazed.

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

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

A SICILIAN NATURAL REMEDY TO CURE LUNG DISEASES

Today, while I was buying ricotta at a farm, I had a peep at the sheepfold. I saw about two hundred ewes and a few rams. A man with a baby in his arms was also standing in the middle of the fold.

While I was waiting for ricotta to be ready, the sheep left the fold but the man remained there. He was well dressed and looked like a distinguished gentleman.

“What is he doing?” I asked the shepherd.

He replied, “The baby girl in his arms is suffering from whooping cough. The fumes of the dung will heal her. The fold is the best place to cure lung diseases, flu, fever, and more.”

At that moment I recalled the great philosopher George Ivanovic Gurdjieff. He treated the writer Katherine Mansfield, who was suffering from tuberculosis, in the same way. He send her to sleep in the stable.

Gurdjieff couldn’t cure Katherine Mansfield, for she died a week later, but according to the Sicilian shepherd, many children got over their diseases by standing in the sheepfold. Try it to believe it!

 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

Cuccìa, a Traditional Sicilian Dish

December 13, 1934

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 cuccı̀a. 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.

On this day, my sister Carolina cooks cuccìa in a big cauldron and then invites 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 the diary of Vincenzo Chiaramonte in 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

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

A TRADITIONAL SICILIAN RECIPE

 

“I’ll prepare macaroni with tomato sauce, eggplants, and salty ricotta.

“Can you give me the recipe? If you don’t mind.”

“I chop the green onions into small pieces and fry them for a few minutes with olive oil. Then I add salt, peeled tomatoes, and a half teaspoon of sugar. This small amount of sugar is very important, because it removes the sourness of the tomato. Finally, I season the sauce with two teaspoons of raw olive oil and some basil. Our traditional Sicilian basil has small leaves. The fragrance of this basil is unique. But the real secret is these three things: first, to have good ingredients, second, to love cooking, and third, to love those who you are cooking for. In the end, love is the basis of everything, including cooking!”

This is an excerpt from The Vibrations of Words

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

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

THE DAY OF THE DEAD IN SICILY

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Since I was a child I have visited the cemetery of my hometown, Enna, on November 2. In Sicily, the festival of the dead is one of the most awaited. When I was a child, we children believed that the night before, the dead left gifts in the nooks of the rooms.
This happened at the time of my childhood. Now this tradition has almost disappeared, having been supplanted by Santa Claus. But, seventy years ago Father Christmas didn’t exist in Sicily.
The symbolic meaning was clear. By receiving the gifts, we were taught to respect and love the souls of the dead.
On November 2, we used to eat special cakes, called ossa di murti (bones of the dead). They were white, looked like bones, and were very hard to eat, but they were delicious.
The typical flowers to offer to the dead were chrysanthemums and very beautiful cockscombs.
Today I went to the cemetery, like every year. I saw a lot of exotic flowers in the tombs but I couldn’t spot even one cockscomb. Apparently, the old Sicily is disappearing!

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 FEAST OF SAINT AGATA IN CATANIA (SICILY)

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February 5, 1939
Today, the celebrations in honor of Saint Agata, the patron saint of Catania, reached their peak. Townspeople wore white habits and ashen-black headdresses. For ten days, twelve gigantic candles on baroque-style litters were borne on the shoulders of guild members as they went along the streets. Today, the litters went ahead of the statue of Saint Agata to light up the street. The patron saint stood on a wagon dragged by hundreds of devotees.
People crowded round the statue and lit big wax candles, which they then handed a man on the wagon. There were so many candles that the wagon couldn’t hold them all. Every now and then, it was emptied of all the candles and they were tossed into a truck.
The wagon was dragged along the places where Saint Agata suffered martyrdom. According to history, the saint belonged to a noble family and wished to be a Christian, but the Roman governor wanted to possess her. She refused, and for that she was imprisoned and later executed.
I saw the procession from the sidewalk of Via Etnea. The streets were so crowded that it was impossible for me to get near the wagon. So I watched the bust of Saint Agata from a distance.
There were also many street vendors. I saw an unusual, beautiful red apple in one of the stalls. I asked the vendor what it was, and he told me it was an apple mixed with sugar, the traditional fruit of the Feast of Saint Agata. I couldn’t help purchasing and eating that apple before I headed for my lodging house.

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

HOW TO REMOVE THE EVIL EYE AND ROUNDWORMS FROM CHILDREN IN OLD SICILY

evil-eye-2852149[1]

Aunt Filippa opened the cupboard and took out a soup plate and a small cup. She put the plate on my head, asking my mother to hold it fast. Then, she poured some water into the plate and olive oil into the small cup. Finally, she dipped her finger into the small cup of olive oil and dripped some into the water.
I remained with that plate on my head for several minutes. Aunt Filippa was not convinced, and from time to time she dripped more olive oil. Then she scrutinized the shape of the drops.
The drops could take different forms. They could remain as they were, become wider, or even disappear completely. If the drop maintained the same shape it had when it was dripped, it meant that there was no hex on me. If the drop became wider, there was a real hex. Sometimes the drop disappeared completely, and that meant that there was a lot of hex. In my case, the drops disappeared, and for that reason Aunt Filippa dripped olive oil many times.
“This boy has a lot of hex,” she said, “but I’ll take it out of him. I swear!”
To do that she made special signs around the plate and said a special prayer, which she had learned from her mother on Christmas Eve. It was a secret prayer that had been handed down from generation to generation. She then concluded, saying that I was now hex free thanks to her prayer.
At the time I barely understood her method of removing the hex, but with passing time I realized that what Aunt Filippa had done probably had a scientific basis. Words, thoughts, and feelings have vibrations. Everything vibrates in the universe. It means that each kind of vibration affects both organic and inorganic matter, including the shape of the drops that Aunt Filippa used to diagnose the hex. In other words, if my body vibrations were good the drops assumed a certain shape; otherwise they got broad or sometimes disappeared. However, the real reason my mother and I had come to her was not to get rid of my evil eye, but for the intestinal worms.
I looked up at my mother again and shyly asked her, “What shall we do about my worms?” Once again my mother told me to keep silent and wait.
Aunt Filippa removed the plate from my head and put it, along with the small cup, on the near table. She then asked me to lift my T-shirt and bare my belly. Finally, she made certain arcane signs on my stomach, and at the same time said a special prayer, the words of which I could not understand because her voice was very low. The treatment lasted several minutes.
When her prayer was over, she recommended I drink a glass of olive oil with squeezed lemon and raw, mashed garlic the following day in the early morning. I followed her instructions, and I have to say that I actually excreted a lot of ascarids. Some of them were dead and some looked dazed.

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