Tuesday, September 05, 2006

France – Sacred Stones, Savory Food & Funny Lessons-August 24-31, '06

Dear Family and Friends,
We are in France now and it is wonderful to be here, experiencing the sacred sites, the delicious food and the beautiful countryside. To get to our most up to date info go to our blog site at: www.oursacredjourney.blogspot.com or check our web site at: www.gabriel-icasiana.com.

After difficult lessons in Britain, we have been savoring the sweetness in France, and laughing a lot. Funny things have been happening.

Ferry to Freedom
We take a ferry from Plymouth in England and ride 6 hours to get to Roscoff, France. The ferry is a first class operation, well organized, and the food in the restaurant is superb, a glorious dinner after 2 months in Britain where we had gotten very tired of the food. We were very surprised when we got into Roscoff that there are no immigration officials to look at our passports or give us a visa to stay in France. We just drive right off the boat and into France. This is especially ironic because at the ferry embarkation in Plymouth the ferry operators stopped us at the entrance line and were not going to let us through when they found out we had no visa to come into France. We waited in line for 20 minutes until they called the immigration officials in France, upon Icasiana’s suggestion, and finally told us we didn’t need a visa before we arrived in France. I guess not only didn’t we need a visa before we arrived; we seemingly didn’t need a visa at all, even though they almost didn’t let us get on the boat in the first place. We shall see when we are leaving France to go into our next destination if we really did need a visa.

Electrical Ons and Offs
When we drive off the ferry with no idea where to go, we drive to a municipal parking lot intended for campers and stay overnight. There is no charge and no bathrooms, but we are happy to land gently in France. We drive to Carnac the next day, and we’re excited to see these ancient stones that we’ve heard so much about. Carnac is said to have the largest amount of ancient stones and concentration of sites of anywhere in the world. The kids are excited because we have found a wonderful campsite with a big swimming pool and fun water slides. We like it because it’s surrounded by pine trees and grass fields nearby, and it’s organized very well. When we set up in our site, we plug in the electrical plug, and it doesn’t work. We’d gotten all these other things fixed in the van and must have thought that this would just magically get fixed now that we were in “alignment”. This hope turned out to be just a fantasy. Icasiana spends a couple of hours trying to trace the problem and fix it. She gets it to work for a moment, oh happy day, but alas it is just a fleeting moment, then nothing.

The next day we go to the camping store in the next town over from Carnac. We were told of 2 places, the other place, Baud is about 45 minutes away, and this one in Pleuharnel is just 5 minutes away. The lady at the store tells us she cannot help us, and then she remembers her brother in law is visiting and might be able to help. At least that’s what I think she says because she doesn’t speak a word of English. Her brother in law arrives and works on it, tightens a few wires, and it works. Oh this is great. I pay him 20 euros for his help and we drive back to the campsite, plug it in and it doesn’t work anymore. We decide that we are not going to spend any more of our time in magical Carnac trying to get this fixed. We will wait till we can go to a bigger city.

Carnac – Land of Magic and the Largest Megalithic Stone Alignments in the World Wow!

These stone alignments are so magical and powerful. They rove across the landscape for as many as 9 miles long in rows wide as 100 meters and of many as 11 rows across. Some of them are gigantic and some are just huge. Why were they built? We don’t know. I believe that they follow the earth energy lines, and each row is a line of the energy field. They were also built as astronomical and astrological markers of the solstices, winter and summer, and of things beyond our knowing. When we arrived in Carnac we found out that the main stone alignment areas are fenced off, much to our dismay. We learned that this has been done because for many years access to these sites was fully open, but in addition to vandalism, the trampling of the grass by so many people was causing erosion of the soil and the stones were falling down. These measures were instituted for protection. After October, which is after the rainy season and the large influx of tourists, the sites are again accessible. Well, we just had to get in closer to the stones. I mean they are very nice to look at, but I must touch them and feel them. We did sign up for a guided tour that let us in for one hour. We were not good students though. The woman talked for 30 minutes straight while the group stood in one place without walking through the stones at all. Later on there was some time for the group to walk about but we had long ago separated from the group by then, and we weren’t called back or chastised. I mean, what was the point of listening to her talk about the stones when the whole talk was in French?

Night Life at the Stones
I did take it upon myself to drive us back to my favorite spot after dark, the Kermario alignment. Oh my God. It was magnetic, it was electric, it was something special to be there. I felt like I was about to levitate. There I was in the dark walking amongst the stones, leaning against them and feeling their magnetism. I was in a wonderful sanctuary. The stones took on the shapes of many amazing beings: dolphins, whales, frogs, Mother Mary, giants, old men’s faces. At night my feelings about them became more pronounced and charged and magical as the distractions of the day were minimized. The 2nd night I lay in the field amongst these great giants and felt such power and presence. I even felt a healing coursing through my body. Strangely that night, I had horrifying dreams. I was in the midst of gruesome images of war. I woke up very shaken and not knowing what it all meant – was it a message for me or did the stones awaken this dream?

Being in the presence of these stones was such a gift for me, yet I read in one of our books (Standing Stones by Jean-Pierre Mohen) how the church forbade people to have ceremonies amongst the stones because they viewed it as idol worship. On that basis they took it upon themselves to destroy many of the stones. We are left today with only a fraction of what once was, and still what we are left with is amazing. I feel very sad not only for what was destroyed by the church but for how people have been controlled and disempowered by their policies. The church has discouraged people from having a direct experience with the life force of creation. Must it all be in the form sanctioned or institutionalized by the church? For what purpose has this suppression been done?

Comedy Before we get the Van Fixed
The time has come to leave Carnac after 5 days. The kids are sad because they have loved the water slide, and they have made friends from Britain and France that they’ve had fun with. We plan to go to the bigger towns of Vannes and Rennes to get the van fixed so we won’t be having spoiled food because the fridge cannot stay on long enough. This day begins as a comedy of the absurd. We get to Vannes and I ask the lady at the gas station if there is a camping store that we can get our electricity fixed. This is in French of course. I had gotten the people at the campsite in Carnac to write down for me how to ask this question in French. The family has been amused as I’ve practiced saying it in advance so I’ll be ready for my premiere. I get the question out fine, but my French comprehension is not very advanced. I understand nothing. She’s trying to explain to me that there are no camping stores in this area at all, or in the next big city of Rennes, that we should go to Auray. That’s where we have just come from. We will have to go back. Then she gets the mechanic to help me find a place, he also speaks no English. They’re telling me there are 2 places in the Carnac/Auray area that may be able to help me, but I can’t understand what or where they are. This conversation has all been taking place in French, or sort of on my part – I grunt and gesticulate a lot to try and make myself understood when I have no words. Then the woman says to me, “Okay, I’ll explain to you how to get there.” And she proceeds to explain to me in perfect English how to get there. I guess I had made a big enough fool of myself that she took pity on me. We had heard that many of the French people can speak English but prefer not to. I believe the French people want to be met on their own terms. And I can understand that. There are forces in the world, the United States, the World Bank, the IMF (International Money Fund), to name a few, that are forcing many countries of the world to acquiesce to their will. They often break down subsistence farming communities and make them dependent on growing crops for export at cheap prices. Their policies have led to the crushing of small farmers all over the world. Small farmers in local communities have become mostly a thing of the past. There have been worldwide protests over this issue. There was even a South Korean man who, at a demonstration of this issue, killed himself in protest. In France there are still small farmers in local communities. They have resisted the pressure to conform, and they have maintained their culture. I respect them for that. Each town we go through looks different. The countryside is beautiful; there is a wonderful feeling here. There is much more freedom here than in Britain, yet the people seem much more self regulating.

Oh Where Oh Where Can we Go?
Back to the story; so she tells me how to get to 2 camping stores where we can get the electricity fixed. So we drive back where we’ve come from. We find the first place, it has closed and moved. We call the number, but the company that we bought our French SIM card has had technical difficulties and we’ve not been able to make phone calls or receive any calls for that matter. This is a sore point for us. So we try to find the second place. This is where things get crazy. We drive to the 2nd place and ask directions when we get to the town and get sent to who knows where. We get lost of course, go back and ask directions again and are sent to a city miles away. Normal thinking processes are getting fuzzy at this point and I drive to the far away city wondering why I hadn’t looked further in the town of Crac’h. Of course when we get to the next city of Belz 30 minutes away no one knows of any camping store. At this point I am so frustrated that my fuses blow and I give the driving over to Icasiana. We decide to drive to Baud, the store we had first been told about in Carnac days ago that we never went to because it was so far away. But it wasn’t nearly as far away as this ridiculous ride we’ve had today.

Electrical Problem Ignites New Friendships

[The Nicol family, sorry without mother and wife Marie]
We find the camping store in Baud. They sell camper vans and caravans here. When we arrive we see one of the workers building a caravan. That’s a good sign. The boss, Didier, comes to help us and he has kind eyes. He looks it over and soon after shows us what part of the connection board is “kaput”. He does speak a bit of English. The security part of the board is defective and so the whole thing doesn’t work. He rewires it and bypasses the security board and it works. He tells us to get it fixed when we get back home, but it will work for now. We tell him we’re not going home, this is our home. He says he can fix it but the store that has the part we need is closed by now. We can go to a campground for the night and get it fixed in the morning. All right, that sounds good. He tells us there is a campground that we can go to and he starts to give us directions. Things get confusing here and he decides to have one of his workers take us there but he doesn’t tell us what he has in mind. When the worker drops us off, it’s not a campground that we’re at, but we’re at Didier’s home. Surprise! He and his wife Marie have invited us to their home and we are welcomed by their 2 girls who are the only ones at home. I’m scratching my head at this turn of events. As it turns out, they had thought we needed to plug into the electricity and the campground they knew about didn’t have electricity. So they just brought us to their home. We were so touched by their kindness and how they had taken care of us. What was ironic was that we had never had the plug working before so we were not used to plugging in to electricity anyway and certainly weren’t expecting what they had planned for us. We were glad though that now we could plug in and the fridge would work and we wouldn’t waste more food. They made their home available to us and had a tent set up already that the kids could use to sleep in. They offered us food and wine, some of which I accepted (the wine) as Icasiana lay with Elijah in the van trying to get him to stop his breastfeeding gymnastics routine and go to sleep. Icasiana has been trying to ply me with wine on this trip so she can have a drinking partner, and she hasn’t been very successful. The kids are just too young. I can barely get past one sip of wine and I’ve had more than enough. But the wine in France is not bad, meaning I can actually drink it. The kids were amused at my new sense of humor after 2 glasses, I think. It seemed funny to me anyway.

The Van is Fixed At Last!
The next day when we go back to their shop, Didier fixes the electrical problem easily. This was funny because we had had so many people try to fix it to no avail. He also fixed our light fixture that had been falling down and in the way for almost 2 months that we’d tried to fix a number of times. Didier has been building his own home for a few years, he knows camper vans and this stuff was kindergarten stuff to him. For us it was not so simple and it was much appreciated. We thanked him and his wife and left (they thought they had seen the last of us). Instead, we went to town to get a present for them to thank them more deeply for their help and kindness. We found a plant and some flowers and brought it back to their shop but it was closed for lunch. We took a chance that they were at home and took our gift to them there. When they received our gift they were shocked at what we had done. They gifted us with wine and champagne and a warm reception to eat with them. Before we left, we exchanged email addresses and we showed them how to use a translation program so we could write and translate into the other’s language. We left the town of Baud feeling buoyed and excited to go to Le Mont St. Michel, which is a corresponding sacred site from Mount St. Michael that we had visited in Cornwall, England.

Presence or Presents
We marvel at our son Elijah. As he approaches his first birthday we notice that he is so joyful and so present with us. People remark to us all the time of how present he is with them. It has been such a gift for us to be able to be with him this first year of his life without being called away to so many other things of the world. When we are with him, which is all the time, we give him our full attention, and we notice that he feels so safe and trusting. Icasiana and I had a conversation about this and we believe that kids want full presence from their parents much more than they want presents. We’re not thinking of how we can stimulate him, or accelerate his growth, or develop his intelligence. We trust his innate intelligence and marvel at his natural curiosity. As a chiropractor I have practiced my professional system of removing interference and letting healing happen from within. With the baby we remove interference by being fully present with him and let the growth and intelligence develop from within.

Nor do we try to keep him busy. We have noticed in most every country we have been in, except Bali, that kids are very distracted by TV, video games, iPods and other electronic paraphernalia. Our belief is that these gadgets keep kids indoors and distracted away from their source, from nature, their creator, or whatever deeper connection they could have. Matt and Kate have not had these gadgets for most of the trip and we have noticed some amazing changes in them, especially in Matt. He has had the opportunity to have some deep conversations with other young people and has evolved his thinking, his philosophy and most-importantly, his heart. He has had a spiritual awakening and a developing faith in his connection with the creator. This has led to a whole new feeling about himself, an increased sense of confidence, and a dissolving of his fear of being judged. For Icasiana, she feels the whole trip is worth it just for this healing he has had. We will publish his writings about his experiences immediately after this update. Matt has expressed that even though his writing is extremely personal, he’d like to share it with others, that it may be helpful to young (and old) people, to get into their hearts and find their source, their core for healing.

You’ll hear from us real soon!

Love and blessings, Gabriel and Icasiana and the family.

1 comment:

sumdumdame said...

Hi -- looking for info to give to a family member, and found your Blog --very interesting, and informative. Thanks for posting it. From what you wrote about Kastoria, we must be related. Don't want to put more here; but,will try to find an email address for you: or, please post one here, and we'll check back. Again, thanks for a terrific "Our Sacred Journey" --- great trip, great reading ....and refreshing humor, too!