Monday, December 22, 2008

A Spooky Door, from Navarre

Not a sunflower, yesterday.

Here's a picture of a door I saw on my trip, last summer, to research my next Tom Knox thriller, at present entitled THINK OF A TITLE. Half the action of the book takes place in the mist-wreathed Basque Pyrenees, straddling the Franco-Spanish border.

The Basques are an odd bunch, in many ways (which is one reason I chose their strange and beautiful little "country" as a location - that and the food) and one of their great peculiarities is their attachment to pre-Christian superstitions.

Here, for instance, is a dried flower hammered to a front door: the flower is called a sun thistle, and it is a symbol used to ward off evil - sun-thistles can be found on many doors in the more traditional parts of "Euskera". Sun-worship itself is a leitmotif of Basque culture - their houses are built to face the rising sun, their wobbly swastika symbol, the laurubu, is also a solar sign, and so forth.

Even more intriguingly, I found this door in the notorious witch's village of Zugarramurdi, which is high up in the Navarrese Pyrenees. Zugarramurdi was the birthplace of the worst witchcraze in European history, which saw thousands accused, and hundreds lynched and burned, on either side of the mountains, in the early sixteenth century.

There is a cave just down the hill from Zugarramurdi which was supposedly used by local witches to have orgies with Satan. Apparently Satan has a notably thick and icy black penis. Just in case you were wondering.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Another Door, How Exciting is My Blog?

Negev Door

Continuing my exciting and effervescent theme of Door, Windows and Other Things seen on my travels, here is a door which is also a sort of window - double the fun!

The photo was taken about a year ago, when I went to the Negev desert in Israel to see the Spice Route of the Nabateans. This hotel - with the door/window - was a freezing cold eco-camp, devoid of electricity, and full of young Israeli settler hippy types (a very weird sort of young hard right wing sandal wearing fundamentalist Zionist vegan) all singing songs and eating enormous breakfasts.

The only heat (the Negev is cold at night in winter) was provided by huge wood fires and the the only light at night came from storm lanterns.

It's right by the Egyptian border though so there's always the chance of a firefight or a missile strike to warm things up.

I quite liked it.