Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Temple of Melnays Jānis

The Temple of Black Johns

Would you not like to see a world of 1000 new temples? or would you rather see a thousand oil-smeared pelicans dying?

 At the Temple of Black Johns, we hope to see a thousand new temples, rather than the natural world dying. So, please, think of yourself as one who has been invited to build a private temple.

No doubt, we live in a world that is different from yesterday. Old faiths are gone and their messages go unlearnt. Nevertheless, we hold some things sacred. Is not nature a part of our sacred? Think of how you would build a temple that is both your living space and a place that not only you, but others call a Temple.

We present the Temple of Black Johns as an example of what a temple in our day may look like.

Here is our Cross”:
The Saw-(ac)cross.
It shows a saw cutting upwards a tree.
The image suggests that the sawing-upward of the tree can stop at any time we realize how cruel the act and those who do it are and stop the act.
Please stay in the areas where the grass has been cut. The pond is for the fish and not you to swim in.

What is beyond the lawn belongs to nature, but both the lawn and what is the owner’s ultimately belong to the Great All.

The Temple of Black Johns

The Temple of Melnays Janis

You are welcome to come visit us. Address is somewhere among the posts below. We would like to see a thousand temples who use the Saw-(ac)ross A Trees Heart as their logo. The pictures should tell you about the idea visually. Below is some text you may wish to read to follow our thought. Welcome to our private temle.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Johns Eve bonfire at Braslavas Park, Alojas novads on 22.06.2010. An estimated 400-500 people attended the event.

Johns Eve is being celebrated at the Braskava Park for the 13th year this year. Yours truly restarted the tradition that many years ago. Our bonfire teams (2) construct the bonfire on alternate years and compete in creative design.

Many people from Braslavas pagasts, now part of Alojas novads, participate in making our Johns Eve festival a success. We are known for being off the beaten path, therefore, very much a community affair. In this picture three women from Vilzeni are making a wreath to decorate a nearby small stage.

Some years ago, our bonfire team built the bonfire from large roots which we gathered from trees fallen during a then recent storm. We faced the roots outward, and the design turned out to be like a spider's net, a web of connections or, better, communal bonds.

This year our bonfire resembled a small house, one perhaps which Hansel (Yansel) un Gretel lived in. Some years ago our team began to use colorful paints to enhance the appearance of our outdoor art works.

The forebears of Latvians, being a people of the forest, had plenty of wood to make their fires from. However, in our day, with much public land now in private hands, it is not so easy to access wood for burning. Thus, Alojas novads provided us with old railroad ties. Our builders were worried over the smoke this would cause. Fortunately, there was no wind, and the heavy smoke rose straight into the air and soon left but a huge torch to light the evening.

Perhaps this fire presents our community's will to live and prosper.

Of the 77 years that this author has sojourned on planet Earth, 26 years have been spent in Latvia. The first 11 years were in Latvia, followed 5 years as a refugee in Germany, then 46 years in the United States of America, and then again the last 15 years in Latvia. I am proud and humbled to be honored with the medal of "Lachplehsis" (Lāčplēsis) by the Latvian defense fund Lachplesis. May Latvia, blessed with the strength of Lachplehsis and the spirit of the Johns, live on and create a most worthy and prosperous community. May we live to present the world with the best of possible examples of pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Prose translation in English of poem below. It is to be sung by the Latvian melody of “Kas tie tādi, kas dziedāja?”

1. ”Who are the ones who sing by the Johns fire? They are all the Children of Johns who no longer acknowledge themselves.

2. What is the song they are singing? Does the song sing of Johns? Yes, the song sings of Johns, but the song sounds as if it comes from orphans.

3. History has been forgot, which is why the song of Johns is mute. Who are these Children of Johns, who no longer know themselves.

4. Raimond Pauls [the oneLatvians call ‘the maestro’] makes a concert for himself. He will mention no tomorrow for John. The Children of Johns open their ears (to the concert), but hear little mention of Johns.

5. Tomorrow morning, early, early, the Children of Johns will be asleep. A griffon arrives with the wings of a raven and hides the wreath of the Sun.

Kas tie tādi,
Kas dziedāja
Pie Jānīša uguntiņ?
Tie ir visi Jāņu bērni,
Kas vairs sevi neatzin.

Kas tā dziema,
Ko tie dzieda?
Vai tā dziesma
Jāņus teic?
Gan tā dziesma ir par Jāni,
Bet skan bāru valodiņ.

sen aizmirsta,
Jāņu dziesma
mēma šalc.
Kas tie tādi Jāņu bērni,
Kas vairs sevi neatmin?

Raimonds Pauls sev
koncertu taisa,
brāķē Jāņu rītdieniņ.
Jāņu bērni sanākuši,
Ausis ver, bet
Jāni nesadzird..

Rīt no rīta
Jāņu bērni dziļi snauž.
Atnāk griffins
lietusarga spārniem,
aizsedz Saules vainadziņ.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Kāpēc “Templis Melnays Jānis” izcirstiem mežiem?
Rakstiņš viens no pirmiem blogiem rakstu virknes apakšā!

An Invitation!
Sunday, June 20th at 15:00
Temple Black John
Of Disappeared Forests
the First Private Outdoor Temple in Latvia

located at „Celmalnieki”, Braslavas pagasts, Alojas novads
For directions see blog entries below

invites you to share with us in a bite of Johns Cheese
and a sing-along of Songs of Johns.
Participants include The Puikule Drama Assemble,
The Puikule Choir Ansemble Kolorīts.
The sing-along will be directed by Digna Virkstene.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Latvian version of this text is the first blogs of this series.
Why “Temple John of Disappeared Forests”?

© E.A. Benjamins, 2010

The name “John” is one of the most widely known cognates in Europe and beyond. We may meet “John” in such names as Johann, Huan, Jean, Ivan, Giovanni, etc. If we know that the consonant J may with time slip slide and become a G, H, D, V, X, etc., and that it may even disappear as in, say, Angus, then the number of words of “John” at their root may reach hundreds. In Latvian the word may also be verbalized, re “jonjot” (joņot) and become an adjective, re “jancihga” (jancīga), a person with something of a chip on the shoulder.

In the days of proto-Latvians (those who lived before Latvians had their own nation), the word John, Jahnis, was pronounced with a G, re Ganis or Gans (a herder of cows, pigs, geese, sheep, etc.). Do we now see that John, Gans, is the same as a king, that is to say, a herder of nations? In the days of yore some societies (the Turks for example) had two kings. One of the kings was the spiritual king, the other was his executive. Words such as gendarme, jannisery received their name as a result of being the king’s right (executive) hand.

Let us also remember that John the Baptist was not only a herder, but a healer and a shaman. John the Herder was the one who came in touch with plants and got to know their characteristics. It is likely that the word “gens” (man) was originally identified with “herder”. This is also why “John” is at the root of so many other words.

We can now better understand why the Children of Johns, a Latvian religious sect from the times of the Bogomils and the Cathars et all (known from about the 11th and 12th centuries of our era on), were thought of as a community. This was a time when our planet was still overgrown with forests. The Johns, itinerant teachers all, went from one clearing in the forest to another and brought to the people news from other parts of the world. Incidentally, the Latvian verb “jonjot” (to run fast) may have a distant echo in the English word “jog”, which j may at one time have been pronounced as a y.

John the Jogger was also known as the son of the Sun, because he was always (or most of the time) on the road and, thus, always in sight of the Sun. At the the time of the great solstices, Midsummer and Midwinter, the Children of Johns lit fires atop tall poles to lead the Johns to their villages in the forests. Of course, in the winter the hearth with its Yule log enticed the Johns to come into the house.
Let us turn now to a controversial thought, to wit, that the Johns came to be identified as protectors of the forests.

When the people made a clearing in the forests, they did so not only to build them selves shelter, but to grow plants in soil that became extra fertile due to the ashes left by the burning of the roots and the brush. When this fertility was exhausted, the people moved on.

Alas, there came a new caste of men for whom the forest was an object of exploitation. This caste no longer identified their living space with the forest, but cut down the forests to build themselves castles, castle walls, ships of war, and huge furnaces where they baked clay into bricks. The caste of princes did not allow the cleared forest to grow over, but sowed the clearings over with seeds of grain. They made thus more money. While a tree takes fifty years or more to grow into a harvestable product grains take only one season.
The Children of Johns and their Sacred kings, the Johns, tried to fight the princes off. There were wars. At first the Children of Johns were successful in defending themselves, because every tree in the forest acted as a shield. However, the princes gained the upper hand, because they turned to wholesale destruction of the forests. The Latvians have retained from these times but the tradition on Johns Eve and Day decorating their heads with oak leaf or grasses. While this tradition persists, the Latvians no longer know why they are doing this.

The process of “desertification” of Latvia allows us to recall that John the Baptist (or Savior) of the New Testament is portrayed as a man who lives in the desert and eats grasshoppers. In the days of the New Testament John there were still Children of Johns. Many went to see John (maybe also known as the Water Curer) who had come to the River Jordan. However, John was soon captured and executed.

The name of Johns (John) disappeared. One way to disappear the name among the Latvians is to replace the Johns Festival with names such as Midsummer Festival, the Lihgo Festival, Family Festival, and the like. This process is well on its way of receiving the Nobel Prize for Destruction.

The desertification of Latvia continues. Though forests in Latvia still cover a significant (46%) area, the figure reads false, because the deforested land is not replanted with trees, but allowed to overgrow with brush.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Kāpēc “Templis Jānis” izcirstiem mežiem?
Skat. priekšpēdējo lpp.

The postcard to the right is available at our Johns Temple at Celmalnieki. The Saw Cross is our own unique design. The message on the card is: "Saw-(ac)ross a tree''s heart" and "Koki sapņo zāģu krustu!".

News about what is happening to Latvia's forests
(in Latvian)
re: Meža dienests apšauba
All is not as it seems. This only the smoke
to the fire behind the hill.

Was life perhaps better when we lived in the forest?
Here is an interesting link that I happened across recently.
Click HERE

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Temple of Johns of Disappeared Forests

or as in Latvian "Jāņu templis izcirstiem mežiem"

The photos are of Lady or Leidīja, the unofficial mascot of our temple of Johns.
Pekse or Peksite may be my neighbor's dog, but I have seen her at other neighbors' houses who also have dogs. In short, she likes company. Peksite frequents the temple grounds, because something  usually goes on there, meaning there are people around. SPeksite always has a grin around her nose when we meet. When recently I walked around the pond, she followed me, and I just happened to have my camera along. No one feeds Pekse, but we do give her an occasional belly rub. Incidentally, for anyone who is curious, my grandfather's dog was named Peksis, and Peksite looks very much like Peksis.
Here Peksite wonders if to enter the pond for a swim and then does it.  
We soon walk back to the work site and Peksite dries off in the sun.
Come to visit us sometime soon. Who has heard of a "Temple of Johns of Disappeared Forests" in Latvia before? We believe along with our forebears that trees are sacred. We have some apple wood sculptures to prove that the flesh of a tree feels good to the touch.                          During our introductory phase, we may seem a little unsettled, but we are friendly and will try to meet you if you announce your visit ahead of time at "letters" of these blogs. We are a private property and have much concern for nature, therefore, please show respect for this little nature corner even if on occasion we are not available to meet you.
If you wish to find a place to celebrate Johns Eve as the locals do it, you are welcome to visit Braslavas Park on the eve of June 22nd. We are participating in the event by building the bonfire. Though the pagasts will be at the park, the Temple of Johns is only 1 km away, and on a nice evening it is a nice walk. For Directions see one of the blogs below.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Temple of Johns of Disappeared Forests
or as in Latvian "Jāņu templis izcirstiem mežiem"

…is located in the northeaster part of Latvia, about a twenty minute ride from Burtnieku Lake. More specifically, we are located at the former farmstead called "Ceļmalnieki" or "Waysiders", Braslavas pagasts, Alojas novads, Limbažu rajons, Latvia. Directions from Valmiera: drive west to the small town of Matisi (23 km), then turn left on the road to Aloja until you reach the first significan crossroad at the village of Vilzeni. At Vilzeni take a right toward Braslavas Park. About 6 km down the road you will enter an oak covered alley. About 1/2 km on your right, you will see a sign that reads "Melnays Jānis". Our temple is about 1 km down the road on the right. Please park your car on the road. Welcome.

Planning for the temple began some ten years ago, but the accelerating pace of deforestation in Latvia makes the temple so much more timely an event. The temple is private, and open for visits to the public on Sundays or by special arrangement. We welcome inquiries about your plans for some special event, anything from meetings, small business conferences by nature loving business men and employees, a Garden Party, a wedding in the country, concerts, dance, etc. Please contact us by way of our blogsite.

The Temple of Johns of Disappeared Forests
is soon opening for visitors.

The Temple of Johns of Disappeared Forests
or as in Latvian
"Jāņu templis izcirstiem mežiem"

is located in the northeaster part of Latvia and about a twenty minute ride from Burtnieku lake. More specifically, we are located at the former farmstead called "Ceļmalnieki" or "Waysiders", Braslavas pagasts, Alojas novads, Limbažu rajons, Latvia. Directions from Valmiera: drive to the small town of Matisi (23 km), then turn left on the road to Aloja until you reach the first crossroad at Vilzeni. At Vilzeni take a right toward Braslavas Park. About 6 km down the road, the road enter an oak covered alley. About a 1/2 km further, you will see a sign that reads "Melnays Jānis". Our temple is about 1 km from there on the right. Please park your car on the road.
 While planning for the temple began some ten years ago, the accelerating pace of deforestation in Latvia makes the temple ever so much more timely. The temple is private, and open for visits to the public on Sundays. We welcome inquiries for your special events, anything from meetings or conferences by the "Greens", a Garden Party, a weddings, to concerts, dance, etc. Please contact us by way of this blogsite.

As we have just put up a large canopy structure (see red roof), we can receive people on rainy days. The owner of the property, Eso Anton Benjamins, is available during the summer months as your guide. Anyone interested on a personalized tour, please contact this blogsite and tell us of the intended time of your visit.

Below are some pictures of the site. Please note that we are still building and adding new objects.

We welcome concerts and other performance groups. Our audience sits around our small ponds, while the performers do their serenading from the opposite side of the pond. However, we prefer that sound amplifiers not be used as a way to respect nature round about. If you hear a frog croak during the middle of a performance, its part of our plan.

The above are some pictures of our site. In due time we will be adding more. Below see blog that provides some information about John or Johns and h/her origins. Hope to see you soon.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The posts at this site, while for the most part written in English, will on occasion contain material in Latvian. This is the case with the essay below. An English translation may follow later. The essay speaks of the origins of Johns, the Children of Johns, and the Johns Festival on Midsummers Eve.

The copyrighted illustration to the right is of the "Saw Cross" or "Zāģu krusts". It represents the suffering endured by nature at human hands, specifically, the cuttingt of trees by chainsaws. The Temple to Black John advocates laws that will allow the cutting of trees by handsaws only.

Kāpēc “Templis Jānis” izcirstiem mežiem?

Kāpēc “Templis Jānis” izcirstiem mežiem?

Vārds “Jānis” ir viens no visizplatītākiem vārdiem Eiropā, bet ir sastopams arī citur pasaulē. Mēs Jāni varam atpazīt vārdos Johans, Huans, Johns, Jean, Ians, Ivans, Giovanni, u.c. Ja mēs saprotam, ka patskanis J var pārnesties uz G, H, D, V, X utt. un kā tas var arī pavisam izzust, kā, piemēram, vārdā Andžs, tad vārdu virkne, kam pamatā ir “Jānis”, var sasniegt simtnieku un vairāk. Neaizmirsīsim arī, ka Jānis dažkārt kļuva par darbības vārdu joņot. Kāpēc Jānis ir tik populārs?

Iedomāsimies, ka proto-latvieši (latvieši senatnē, gadu simtiem pirms vēl bija Latvija kā valsts) Jāni izrunāja ar G patskani priekšgalā - Ganis vai Gans. Vai tad gans (zosu gans, cūku gans, govju gans, aitu gans, utt.) nav arī tas pats ķēniņš, tikai cilvēku sabiedrības pārvaldnieks? Senākos laikos bija sastopamas sabiedrības ar diviem ķēniņiem. Viens bija garīgās varas ķēniņš, otrs bija viņa domu izpildītājs, vai izpildvaras ķēniņš. Žandarmērija, janisāri savu vārdu ieguva būdami izpildvaras labā roka.

Atcerēsimies arī, ka Jānis Svaidītājs, senos laikos bija ne tikai gans, bet arī dziednieks, burvis, ko šodienas angļu valodas antropologi sauc par šamani. Jānis bija tas, kas ganos saskārās ar dažādiem augiem un iepazinās ar to īpašībām. Vai tā ir patiesība vai tikai iedoma, mēs tikai paši varam izlemt, bet ja vārdam “gens”, cilvēks, pamatā arī ir Jānis, tad nav brīnums, ka vārds Jānis ir tik plaši izplatīts.

Tagad mēs varam labāk saprast kāpēc Jāņu bērni ir saistīti ar Jāņu saimēm. Sen sen, kad vēl lauku un pļavu vietā pasauli apauga meži, Jāņi bija tie, kas apstaigāja mežos izcirstās sokles, izcirtumus un sokļu (varbūt vārdam ir sakars ar vārdu “sādža”) iedzīvotājiem atnesa ziņas no citām pasaules malām. Varam atcerēties, ka agrāk Jāņus atpazina kā staigātājus, jo gani, īpaši kalnu apgabalos, ganāmpulkus dzina uz kalnājiem, kur klajumi (ar mežiem neapaugušas vietas) bija vairāk kā ielejas. Vēlāk Jāņa vārda variantu pielīdzināja uz jebkuru pasaules staigātāju. Ir iespējams, ka joņot (ātri skriet) arī apraksta staigāšanu kā tādu - jāņotājs, staigātājs.

Jānis jāņotājs arī tika piesaukts kā Saules dēls, jo vienmēr atradās ceļā uz kaut kurieni, tātad Saules acs redzes laukā. Saules mātes lielajos griežos (tagad tā sauktajos saulgriežos) Jāņu bērni dedzināja uguni augstos kātos, lai rādītu Jāņiem ceļu uz viņu apmetni. Ziemā bija ceplis, tagad saukts kamīns, kuru kurināja, lai Jāni Ceļotāju sildītu.

Tagad pievērsīsimies pie kādas pretrunīgas domas. Būdams gans laikmetā, kad meži, ne klajumi valdīja pār pasaules telpu, Jānis, Saules dēls, tika uzskatīts arī kā mežu sargs. Pasaulē tad vēl nebija ne tuvu tik daudz cilvēku kā šodien, un ja izcirta sokles, tās ātri aizauga ar jaunu mežu. Parādījās varas vīri. Tiem koki nebija svēti, jo tie nebija viņu telpas noteicēji. Varas vīri zināja kokus tikai izmantot. Viņi izcirta mežus, lai sev celtu pilis, pils vaļņus, karakuģus un vēlāk milzu cepļus, kas cepa ķieģeļus. Varas vīri neļāva soklēm aizaugt, bet izdedzināja celmus un mežu vietā sēja labību. Tā varēja vairāk pelnīt. Koks aug 50 vai vairāk gadus, bet labība prasa tikai vienu vasaras sezonu.

Jāņu bērni nebija priecīgi par savas telpas samazināšanu. Viņi turējās pretī. Bija kari. Kungi pārvarēja Jāņu bērnus, iekarojot viņu vidi. Meži tika ātrāk izcirsti, jo kara pulku vara mežā izlīdzinājās Jāņu bērnu varai par labu (cilvēks paslēpies aiz koka ir labāk aizsargāts), bet uz klaja lauka kungu karapulku vara Jāņu bērnus pārvarēja.

Jāņi, kā senās sabiedrības gani vai pārvaldnieki turējās kungiem pretī un mācīja savus “bērnus” turēties pie senām vērtībām. Tomēr vara, kura nebijās liet asinis, guva virsroku. Atcerēsimies, ka tā sauktais Jānis Pestītājs Jaunajā Derībā tiek tēlots kā vīrs, kurš dzīvo tuksnesī un pārtiek no sienāžiem. Jāņu bērnu bija daudz, jo ir rakstīts, ka daudzi gāja ar Jāni tikties (kungi turēja Jāni prom no pilsētām) pie Jordānas  upes. Taču kungi Jāni sagūstīja un nocirta viņam galvu. Pamazām Jāņu vārds tika aizmirsts un aizvietots ar nenozīmīgiem vārdiem kā saulgrieži, līgo, pikniks, ģimenes svētki utt.

Šodien Latvija tiek pārvērsta tuksnesī. Kaut meži vēl ir samērā daudz, mēs nevaram neievērot, ka tie tiek strauji izzāģēti. Cilvēki dzīvo pie “plikas” izdzīvošanas sliekšņa. Meži ir vienīgais Latvijas dabiskais resurss. Kaut meži tiek aizstāti ar labību, ievērosim, ka “labība” ir vārds ar divām nozīmēm. Kaut “labība” parastā nozīme ir grauds (rudzi, mieži, kvieši, auzas, rīsi), cilvēka zemapziņa nevar neuztvert, ka ar labību nāk apgalvojums, ka labības labums ir galējs. Tātad, cērtiet un nežēlojiet savus mežus, jo tos atvietos “labība” ar pārnestu nozīmi. Padomāsim, vai tā domāt ir ieteicams. Domāsim arī par citādiem atrisinājumiem, piemēram, kāda būtu dzīve, ja mūsu “labība” atkal būtu meži.

Moderna māja soklē! Lai līgo Jāņi, lai līgo meži, lai līgojam mēs!

© Eso / Ceļmalnieki, Braslavas pagasts, Alojas novads, Limbažu rajons, Latvija http://melnaysjanis.blogspot.com/