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Published: September 24th 2007
We are now in Trutnov, East Bohemia, in the Krkonose - Giant Mountains -, my mother´s birthplace. We arrived here on Saturday afternoon after a pleasant three-hour train ride from Prague on a very old-fashioned, but incredibly charming train. The journey took us past harvested fields and meadows, and nearing the mountains, through large pine forests and hilly fields, very remote and beautiful. In our excitement at seeing the first signs for Trutnov, Mum and I got out of the train one stop ahead of the central station. We should have known something was up when all we could see were a couple of abandoned train tracks, with no station in sight, and when the chubby train conductor yelled at us in Czech out of the window us. 'He means hurry up! The train needs to leave.', I suggested to Mum as we heaved her many suitcases down the steep iron train steps. As the train moved on, the conductor gave us a dismayed look and shook his head. We looked around us and cracked up laughing. No way was this the central station - we were in the middle of nowhere in the midst of a pine forest. About 50
metres ahead of us, on the horizon, was a tiny little station hut. Pulling our luggage behind us, an arduous job on train track gravel, we walked towards it and found out that we'd have to wait another two hours for the next train to the central station. After I was, rather bizarrely, surrounded by two gypsy children singing at me in a strange Czech-sounding rhyme, Mum managed to persuade the station manager to call us a cab to Trutnov.
Trutnov, also known as 'little Prague', is a beautiful little town with amazing architecture and some examples of Cubism, and a wealth of forest and hills surrounding it. Rather strangely, there are also two huge sex shops, one of them called Erotic City, just off the idyllic town square. The centrepiece of the market place is a fountain depicting a sculpture of Krakonos - Ruebezahl in German -, a sylvan mountain spirit who was famous for helping the poor people of this area with difficulties in their everyday life in the middle ages. The old giant, who is rather Druid-like with his long beard and a big staff, became a beacon of hope for the people here, their guardian
spirit, and he is still very much revered. I remember him from the myths and legends of my childhood, and it feels very significant to be here and to connect with the spirit of this land at the time of the autumn equinox. There is the aspect of grounding, connecting to my ancestors - many of whom lived here for generations, and the earth. I felt very welcomed by this great gentle spirit's energy, and we spontaneously decided to dedicate part of our autumn equinox ceremony to him.
Yesterday, for the equinox, we went for a long walk through the woods above the town. The skies are huge here, and the air is cold and fresh, despite the daytime heat. Autumn leaves are everywhere, golden and green and red, rustling, crackling in my hands. There is also an abundance of mushrooms, including the poisonous red and white Fliegenpilze. Eventually we arrived at a meadow in the midst of the forest, where we chose to conduct our ceremony. On the top of the hill was a small place which looked like remnants of a stone circle, with four stones, two stacked on top of each other, in a semi-circle, which
called to me. We found some nature items and set up a small circle, and I led the ceremony in the bright, warm afternoon sunshine - quite an eclectic one, when you take into account that my mother called Jesus Christ and the Archangel Michael into the circle, amidst some Pagan Gods and Goddesses! This was also the first ceremony I conducted in my native German language, as all of my training was in England, which was interesting.
Apart from Krakonos, there is also a dragon that guards this town, the patron of the city, called Lindwurm, who has his own little monument in the park. It seems that the people here have a big annual ceremony to do with this dragon, as I saw photographs displayed which look like a big sacred drama, with robed men carrying torches, a dragon, and so on.
I learnt yesterday that the Czechs use an amazing, unusual system to denote the months of the year. The names of the month are descriptive nouns, often beautifully apt for the month in question. January is ice, February is renewal, March is birch, April is oak, May is blossom, June is red, July is redder, August is sickle, September is blazing, October is rutting, November is leaves falling, and December is the slaughter of the pig.
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