15 Our private temle, “Melnays Jahnis” (Black John) takes the idea of the temple garden into the 21st century. Of course ours is a different time. We no longer live in the days of the ancient Greeks, or Romans, or Chinese, or Japanese. But this does not mean that the idea of a sacred place does not have a place in our time or in our lives. We believe that the idea of the temple—even if it originates as a private affair—connects to a much larger public. This is why “we” by inviting “the larger public” to visit us dare claim this private temple to be “ours”.
Our “Melnays Jahnis” is a temple still in its developmental stages. One of our “developments” are the trees. We have planted and are still planting trees all around the property. Some of the trees are still under the grass, so to speak, but in ten and twenty years time, the appearance of the temple should change substantially.
Our private temple is dedicated to our private faith, each his and her alone. This writer has his own, and it is inevitable that I will share with the reader some of my ideas and theology. A private temple is, after all, also a personal temple. On the other hand, no visitor is in any way asked to “buy” my beliefs or orientation even as the management may be so rude and ask you for a donation or entrance fee. “Melnays Jahnis” is a temple garden which makes (or if you will, makes-believe) the land it occupies to be sacred. We validate our claim by dedicating it to Nature, more specifically to Trees, Trees which are alive and Trees which are no more, Trees which are growing as we speak and Trees which have been sawed down and not replanted.
"biosphere reserve" . The biosphere reserves are under the auspices of UNESCO. Specifically, we are within the boundaries of the North Vidzeme Biosphere Reserve.
We plan to keep you informed of our developments, ideas, and events.
“Melnays Jahnis” is located at the “Ceļmalnieki” estate. You may reach us by way of Valmiera. Take the road from Valmiera to Matishi. When in Matishi take the road to Aloya (left). When at Vilzeni (a small village with a crossroad) turn right and drive about 6 km toward the Old Braslava center. You will soon reach an oak lined alley. Several hundred meters down this alley you will see (on the right) a sign that reads “Matishi” and “MELNAYS JĀNIS”. Drive about a 1½ km. We are on the right hand side of the road. Please park on the road. Enter under the sign that reads Melnays Jānis….
If you live in Latvia or come to Latvia, please be sure to visit us. We prefer Saturday and Sunday visits. There is a gong (or soon will be) near the entrance. Please hit it several times with the hammer provided if no one is around. Some information about Melnays Jānis may be found at the entrance sign.
For the curious: We take the name of our temple from the name Jahnis. This is a cognate of John, Johann, Ivan, Huan, Giovanni, etc. While there is no definite proof of it, we believe that the name "pagan" originates from Jahnis prefixed with a "pa-" + Janis, re "pa-gan". The word "gans" in Latvian means herder. Thus, pa-gan (originally pa-jahnis) is meant to belittle John by making him a lesser John, a lesser herder. Lesser to whom? You figure it out.
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