Friday, 30 August 2013

Volcanoes, aborigines and Solar worship

Adventures were had. On my free day this week I made some excursions, and learned a few things about La Palma. For example: 
  • Like the other Canary islands, La Palma formed after volcanic eruptions in the Atlantic ocean some millions of years ago. They formed from East to West starting about 20 million years ago, so La Palma is the youngest, being around 2 million years old.
  • The southern tip of La Palma is the newest, and consists of a landscape of dormant volcanoes (taking dormant to mean there not currently being a risk of eruption but not unlikely to erupt in the future). The last eruption was during the 1970's, creating land which had simply not been there before. (The thought of setting foot on land which is younger than living humans is just staggering to me.)
  • The volcano San Antonio last erupted during the 1600's. Now there is a pine forest growing in its crater. (Trees! I just cannot get over how awesome they are.)
  • I now know what a wet volcano smells like. It smells extremely interesting.
  • The first inhabitants of La Palma were the Awara people, who came from the North African coast 2500 years ago. They herded goats, planted some crops, harvested fruits, did a bit of fishing, carved patterns into rock and sculpted pottery for a living. They lived in caves during the winter, and in the summer they lived in shelters up on the mountain while letting their goats graze up there and making cheese. 
  • The Awara appears to have had religious practices centred on the Sun. They worshipped Abora, the sun, and also the moon. They feared Iruene, the representation of darkness and evil in the shape of a ferocious dog.
  • The second wave of new inhabitants came from Africa at around 1000 years ago, as some cultural changes in pottery and so on indicate, say archeologists.
  • The third wave of settlers were the Spanish assholes conquistadors in the 1400's, after which the aboriginal people and their culture met a swift decline.
So, yeah, this island has its history alright. Now I shall proceed in the ancient tradition of worshipping the Sun in the only way I know: to study it. I think that is the most profound expression for holding something sacred: to try to understand it. Isn't that what all the ancient myths are about, really? An attempt to make sense of the world and find out what you can do to optimise your chances of surviving in it. We change our stories based on the best of our observations, but the fundamental reason why we tell them remains the same. The same reason why we have evolved into the knowledge-thirsting human beings we are today. Curiosity; the desire to understand.

Love and Sun,

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