Wednesday, February 11, 2009

them bones, them bones, them funny bones. V/13 pt.1

I am in the vines and wet. It spit rain on and off today. In the end we quit early because of it. There were an amazing quantity of rainbows today - small intimate ones. They span a field or two. You can often see both feet of the arch touching down. They are so many that unless they have some special rainbow quality, like the full arc or glimmering color, you tend to ignore them.

That was just a side show to the big fight that was going on all day up high over our heads. It featured two heavy weight contenders - the massif central and the Mediterranean sea. We were on the front line. Hence the rainbows appearing like mushrooms on a moonless night.

The massive central was throwing down some wind at full force. Backed up with monster clouds and wet, gray biting rain that the vigneron called melted snow. The whole mass was hanging on the top of the plateau, just to our backs all day. Every hour or so it would make a push, overtaking the blue skies in an attempt at reaching the sea. It would rain, never hard, but constant. Just enough so that you thought you could continue working... at least the vigneron thought we could, though in the end it was him who called the day finished. I actually was ready to stay. It’s my fake farmer pride that doesn’t let me pussy out, at least not on the exterior.

It was four thirty when we quit. The vines we’re working are up the road a bit from the town where, when I moved to France, I had a house. A little maison de village, a 700 year old rock townhouse. I had a wife and two kids there too. They are all still there, I am not. I still see them on my small quantities of court appointed time, at least the two kids , the wife and the house are ‘interdit’. It kind of takes some of the romance out of me each time I pass there. Wicked.

So as I passed through my old little village in the drizzling rain I came across a hitchhiker. I had seen him a half an hour earlier in the vines. He was walking along the trail of Saint Jacques de Compostelle that runs right through the vines. You know le chemin de St Jacques - The Way of St. James, it’s the pilgrimage to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain. Tradition has it that the remains of the apostle, Saint James, are buried. In fact the church is built upon the grave site.

There is another tradition (without the press and consequently the pilgrams) that claims that the bodily remains at Santiago belong to Priscillian, the fourth-century Galician leader of an ascetic Christian sect - Priscillianism. He was one of the first Christian heretics to be executed. You remember Pricillian and his ism - it was derived from the Gnostic-Manichean doctrines taught by Marcus, an Egyptian from Memphis, and later considered a heresy by the Roman Catholic Church. Remember? - at the synod at Saragossa in 380. There are a lot of battles that are waged, and which like the weather, pass and get forgotten.

At the time it was a giant battle for the newly forming Christ network. There were a lot of hot human beings fighting on both sides. A locale ward boss, a certain Hyginus (a.k.a. mr. clean) made his fears known about Priscillianism to Hydatius Bishop of Emerita (Mérida), and Ithacius of Ossanoba. The bishops of Hispania and Aquitaine then held that synod at Sargossa and well, Priscillian and his leaders were excommunicated for there ‘heresies’.

The wrap they officially got them on was the Priscillianian's were talking dualism. The old light/dark thing. The side of Light was the Twelve Patriarchs, heavenly spirits, who corresponded to certain of man's higher powers, and on the side of Darkness, the Signs of the Zodiac, the symbols of matter and the lower kingdom. Not only bad dogma, but black magic said Rome. Priscillian gets the heretics torch, and 150 later Priscillianism, for better or worse, was a non-existant religion.

You see there are always the forgotten in history. Even though for centuries they looked ‘historic’. It always comes down to who will be making the rules, and therefore collecting the tribute. It costs to run an efficient business. It was all about control of the expanding client base. Imperial Rome was going out of business and the catholic church was stepping in. They were pushing a growth strategy. There was an extreme interest to increase territories while maintaining rigid control on already existing markets. Just simple good business.

Iberia was Rome’s and though the Visigoths where rapidly replacing the ceasars, holy Rome would truck no competitors for the flocks’ spiritual dominion. Rome’s strategy was simple, The first step for any upstarts with their local interpretations of the good word was a sit down with a proposition they couldn’t refuse.

Excommunication came next. Excommunication was the black hand of fate as controlled by it’s earthly stewards. You get excommunicated and you are not only out of business, you are eliminated. Think of it like being Will Smith in ‘Enemy of the State’ with Gene Hackman as St Augustine.

In the end the church won and so the bones are St. James the apostle. The pilgrimage came much later in the 800’s when a miracle revealed the whereabouts and identity of these bones. The local bishop pushed it (“G-D dammit don’t you know what an apostle can bring in”) and by the 12th century it ranked with Jerusalem and Rome on the pilgrimage tour. For centuries it was the Mecca of European Christiandom.

By the 15th century the pilgrim traffic had died way down and it wasn’t until the 20th that it picked back up. In any case one of the routes runs right through the vines where I work. I often see folks all backpacked up making the route, alone or in groups. They mostly do small sections of the route, step by step they might make it all before they die, like doing the Appalachian trail.

Pt. 2 the hitchhiker...

The guy I picked up was making his way, all the way, to the holy shrine of old bones in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, (and not the Cathedral of Proscillian of Galicia) in the northwestern coast of Spain, in one shot. He’s been on the road for the last three months. he started in Antwerp.

He looked a bit odd when he first stepped in the car...

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