Monday, December 22, 2008
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.
Posted by sean at 2:23 pm