• The Tribal and Pagan Side of Barcelona

     

     

     

    Barcelona is an ancient city and still observes many of the traditions from long ago. The city can be dated back to the Neolithic times and was founded by the Romans in the 1st century BC. The colony only had about 1,ooo citizens and was defended by a wall, which there are remnants that can still be seen in the oldest Barrios. Barcelona was a major port for the Mediterranean and still is. It was under Muslim rule for hundreds of years and then was followed by the Christians being in control. Interestingly enough, the medieval times brought success to Barcelona when it became the economic and political center of the Western Mediterranean. The Gothic Quarter, which is where I’m staying, still has many sites dating back to the 13th century. Then the 15th to the 18th centuries brought a time of decline and ended when the city was taken by the Bourbon troops, who suppressed the rights of Catalonia. The mid-19th century brought a revival to this ancient city through the success of its textile industry.

    Looking at the political unrest that is happening today, many could say that proud and outspoken Catalonia is still fighting for its independence. As an example of the Catalan spirit, ALL of the public signs are in the Catalan language and not in Spanish. Since Catalonia is partly in Spain and the rest is in France, the Catalan language is a sweet combination of Spanish and French. Hey, now that I’m getting my Spanish down, I realize now how important learning at least the basics of that language, could have really helped me. Even the sign outside of Starbucks is in Catalan.

    There are demonstrations happening here all the time. There seem to be two types: one for Catalan to leave Spain and the other to free the political prisoners who have recently been arrested. The police are politely standing by in case there is any problem. But they all seem to be demonstrating in a civil type of a style. Here is a picture of one right down the street from me.

    The Tribal Side

    Living here for 2 months has made me realize how important community or maintaining the tribe is here in Barcelona. The Barrios, or neighborhoods, were originally little villages that eventually grew together. Even though they are all now part of the metropolis of Barcelona, they absolutely maintain the identity of their barrio. Neighborhood fiestas are the way that people get together and they do it on a very regular basis. There seems to be a fiesta every week and sometimes several in a week, especially during the summer. 

    So, what actually is a fiesta? For an example, the family I’m staying with in my Airbnb has a 10-year old daughter whose class just graduated from a school year. The parents and children got together at noon on a Sunday next to the famous Santa Caterina Mercado. They set up many tables, brought food to share, cervezas were flowing plentifully and of course, the music. There is always a band with people dancing in the streets. Always. I stayed for a couple of hours, but they didn’t return from that fiesta until 11 at night. Their fiestas always seem to last almost 12 hours and I’m sure some last for days. What are the fiestas for? The reason for fiestas is so the neighbors can get to know each other as well as the kids, with everyone playing and dancing in the streets. They are very close, like extended family. This is the way they preserve their tribal connections with each other. Barcelona takes their fiestas very seriously and they are a very important part of their lives together.

    One of the fiestas I was fortunate enough to experience was the procession of the gigantes, or giants. Every barrio makes their own giants, according to the style of their barrio. For example, in Barcelonetta, which was once a fisherman’s village, their gigantes are a fisherman and his wife, who has fish on her hat. Other barrios have different gigantes that reflect the history of their neighborhood. There is evidence of processions of gigantes as early as 1424 in Barcelona, starting with religious figures such as processions of Corpus Christi. In recent centuries, they have taken on less of a religious and more of a cultural style. 

    The procession I saw started in the sweet Plaza of El Born with all the gigantes on display for people to see up close. They were made of fiber glass with amazing clothing and gowns of incredibly rich fabrics. Once the procession started, it meandered through very narrow ancient, winding streets and ended up at the Santa Caterina Mercado. Several barrios were represented in the procession, which lasted for about 3 hours. (I’m sure they had food and more fiestas in private areas after the actual procession ended). Every barrio had different gigantes that were accompanied by their neighborhood band. Yes, the gigantes all danced with each other to their band and all the barrios had different gigantes, dances and music, which reflected the flavor of their barrio. 

    One of the things that fascinated me was how the entire family was involved. The large gigantes were carried by grown men. But there were chickens, fish and dwarfs who were handled by children. Under each gigante was a structure that looked like a large wooden chair with big pads so they can carry then on their shoulders. They sure looked heavy to me! Each gigante had about 5 people ready to carry it, once a carrier got tired.  The chicken had several kids to carry it who were only about 4 years old! So, you can see how they grow into the larger gigantes as they grow up. Once the chicken walked for a bit and did its little dance, everyone clapped and celebrated their display, then they changed to another child carrier. The entire family is included in their fiestas. There is no age gap here and I bet no babysitters. 

    One thing to note is the difference between gigantes and dwarfs and what they call the deformed ones. They seem to honor all types of individuals, including dwarfs and oddly shaped people, by making gigantes that look different, like the diversity of people. Dwarves are heads with a person inside that appear to have shortened human bodies. The peephole for the carrier is on the forehead or the hat of the figure. On the other hand, the bigheads are a prosthesis in the form of a head, usually human, that is worn on the shoulders of the carrier, giving the impression of being a deformed person, with a huge head. In this case, the carrier sees through the mouth or double chin.  Many of these smaller heads were worn by children or teenagers. I have to admit that I couldn’t tell the difference between the dwarves and the deformed ones, as they all looked a bit strange to me. Then there were those who were there to lead and maintain order in the procession. They wore cowhides, whips and bladders, which I’m sure gave them authority. I loved all the gigantes, whether they were Kings, Queens, Chickens or Dwarves. 

    The Pagan Side

    Now for the wilder, more raw side of Barcelona -- which they proudly call their Pagan ancestry. There are many fiestas, especially during the summer, but nothing compares with the Fiesta de Sant Joan. This year it occurred on Saturday June 23rd and celebrates the longest day of the year, (In the Northern Hemisphere), or the Summer Solstice. The origin of this celebration is pagan and is part of a group of holidays coinciding with the Equinoxes and Solstices, like Christmas. The tradition goes back to the Romans with their festival honoring their Goddess Pales, a deity of fire. Bonfires are built in all the Plazas of different Barrios with the ancient belief that the fire would scare away any evil spirits that were present. One of the honored traditions was to jump over the bonfire three times to ensure good health and happiness. There are still those who jump over the fires.

    Although pagan in origin, this festival was borrowed and integrated into Christianity and renamed as the celebration of the birth of John the Baptist, who was said to have been born six months before Jesus. He was of course known for baptizing Jesus. Even though this fiesta was incorporated into the Christian festivals, the pagan traditions remain strong.

    The eve of Sant Joan is full of magic rituals. There are three pagan parts to this celebration: Fire, water and herbs. Tradition holds that the fire frightens away all the bad spirits and it is said that those who burn objects during this festival will be cleansed of all their sins. Fire is for purification.

    Then there is the water element. As the custom goes, many wet their heads, arms and legs at the water spout on the boulevard of Passeig Sant Joan. Others jump in the sea at midnight to wash away old energy. It is said that the Barcelonian grandparents took embers and logs from the ceremonial fire and at the stroke of midnight, they threw them down the wells to purify the water. In the writings of folklorist, Amades in his book, Costumari Catala, he said that, “St. John the Baptist, apostle and evangelist, by the power vested in by God, delivers the water in this well from evil witches”. Water is for cleansing.

    The other ritual done a few days before the Eve of Sant Joan, is the gathering of sacred herbs. It is said that these herbs will have strong medicinal powers if collected and used on this sacred night. The herbs are for healing.

    Ok, I thought I was prepared for this evening of festivities . . . not really. It was much, much wilder than I could have ever imagined. Each Barrio prepared their plaza with their huge bonfire and then it all started. I was having a lovely dinner in Barcelonetta, a Barrio by the beach and all of the sudden I heard these loud fireworks and saw the parade lead by the Diablos, or devils. There were grown up Diablos and kid Diablos leading the wild parade with major firecrackers. Ok, what are the devils all about? 

    I talked to a local Barcelonian who told me that this is also a celebration of fertility and the Diablos and wild beasts were there to remind us of the potency and fruitfulness of this season. After the lead Diablos were many people in different animal costumes as well as drummers. Amazing drummers, also in costume. Hey, I’m a big lover of parades, but this topped all the parades I’ve seen, including the incredible Dia de los Muertos procession in Tucson. Ok, I finished my dinner quickly and had to follow the parade, that was heading to the beach.

    Oh my, what a scene it was on the beach! There were bonfires everywhere with firecrackers and fireworks going off in the streets, on the beach and everywhere. I  have to admit it was a little disconcerting to see two-year old kids running around with firecrackers exploding all around them. Of course, clothing is optional on the beaches of Europe, so many were naked running around with fireworks! It was quite a sight to see. Ok, this party lasted all night. It really didn’t start until almost midnight and lasted until dawn, kids and all. I didn’t make it that long, but long enough to experience the wildness of this pagan night of ritualistic celebration.

    Once again, I talked to my friend, who was born in Barcelona, and asked him about the danger of the fireworks and kids. He said that the parents want to teach their children about fire and fireworks early in their lives so they have no fear of fire. I laugh about when my fire troupe does a performance in Tucson. We need to meet with the Fire department and get an official approval to do our show. One of the rules is that no one can be closer to 30 feet from the fire. Ok, that sure doesn’t hold true for Barcelona!

    I found a great vista where I had a view of the beach and the fires with fireworks going off constantly. The only other party that rivaled this wild event was Burning Man. But I do think that the Fiesta de Sant Joan was much, much crazier than my experience at Burning Man, which I thought was impossible. 

    Here’s hoping that the pagan in all of us can feel free to experience life, fire, water and herbs fully. Thanks to the pagan side of Barcelona, I want to get even more wild and free in my future.  


  • My Summer in Barcelona

     

    Hola amigos, como estan? Si, estoy en Barcelona!

    Yes, I’m speaking Spanish 24/7 now that I’m living in Barcelona for the summer. Since the Sun is entering the sign of Cancer now, I thought it would be perfect to talk about my new home here. Not only is the Sun entering the sign of Cancer on June 21st, but the rebel, Uranus, has just entered the stable sign of Taurus. Since Uranus is such a slow-moving planet with an 84-year orbit, that’s a rare phase and will be with us until 2026. In fact, it is so rare that I wrote an entire article on Uranus’ ingress, or entrance into Taurus. If you haven’t read that article, please do, so you will be up to speed with this exciting time in humanity. Here it is, just in case you haven’t read it yet. http://www.susiecox.com/blog/uranus-in-taurus-barcelona-is-beckoning

    For a brief summary of Uranus entering Taurus -- it’s going to bring excitement as well as uncertainty to us all. Uranus is associated with the wild sign of Aquarius, who loves change, just for the sake of change. Uranus is the planet that welcomes the future as it breaks old patterns with the past. On the other hand, Taurus doesn’t do well with change at all. That earthy, earth sign loves routine and stability. Yes, it’s an odd combination. Since Taurus relates to the earth, many astrologers are predicting earth changes. It has been interesting to see the massive volcanic activity in Hawaii as well as in Guatemala since Uranus entered Taurus. We can expect more of that.

    One fascinating thing to note is that astrologers see a cross section of what the world is experiencing, through our clients. I’m noticing that almost half of the readings with my clients now are Astro*Carto*Graphy interpretations. They all want to see where they might want to move. I’ve done AstroMaps for many years, but suddenly, almost everyone wants that technique to help them made decisions. Astro*Carto*Graphy is a map showing your planetary lines and indicates your power spots around the world. Where was your Sun rising when you were born? That will be a place for a personal rebirth. Where was your Moon rising? That is a location I call “Your home away from home”. Your AstroMaps tell that and much more.

    Typically, my clients have used it to decide where to travel for their family holiday or maybe where to move their business. But now it seems they’re using Astro*Carto*Graphy to decide where to move their home.  This transit of Uranus in Taurus will bring an exodus to the world. Or if you don’t want to move, you can make changes to your home and to your life. Are you bored and want a new career? Do you want to remodel? My Taurus sister is totally building a new kitchen, which has been exciting as well as completely disruptive for her. Yes, chaos is a keyword for Uranus. So, if you are having some yearnings for change . . . I’m writing this article for you.

    Back to Barcelona -- after high school, I traveled here for the first time and have since then visited this beautiful city about a dozen times. I’ve always had a dream of spending more time here one day and it seems this Uranus transit was the trigger that allowed that to happen. When Uranus entered my 4th house of home, I rented a sweet Airbnb here from a lovely Italian woman and her daughter. It turned out to be the perfect arrangement for my first time really living here. Her home is in the Gotico neighborhood which is one of the oldest barrios in this medieval part of the city. The streets are pedestrian and are barely wide enough for a car, thank goodness. We live on the 3rd floor and with no elevator. (I counted 54 steps to get to our apartment). Hey, good for daily exercise. Here is my street in Gotico. 

    La Vaca

    While I’m here I am renting a co-working space at the very cool, La Vaca. It used to be an old dairy, which is why they chose the cow theme. They have created a great space for people who want to work with others. There are dozens of Vaqueros who are working on their laptops on individual desks. There is a shared kitchen, printer and scanner, lots of plants, a bar, pool table and a place to chill downstairs. One Vaquero brings her dog, so we have a resident pooch. Upstairs is a Skype booth which is where I’ll be talking to my clients. This is the first time I’ve been in a co-working space and it is very inspiring. I’m finding it a great place for me, since there aren’t as many distractions as I have at home. Yes, I’m an official Vaquero!

    One exciting part about La Vaca as well as Barcelona in general is all the different languages spoken here. As with much of Europe, maybe with the exception of France, most people speak several different languages. The 10-year old daughter of my Airbnb host speaks 5 different languages! So I’m not only speaking Spanish, but they slip in a lot of Ciao in Italian too. My brain synapsis are working overtime, which is a very good thing! 

    Lifestyle

    One of the first things that I noticed was that I walk about twice as fast as everyone here. Even though it’s a big city, people almost stroll as they walk down the street. The first few days I tried to pass people walking but realized the people in front of them were walking just as slowly. Ok, I guess I have to slow down or walk in the streets. As I walk slower, my breathing also slows down. Since this is a pedestrian city, walking is the main mode of transportation. In addition to walking, there are Lots of bikes, scooters, skate boards and those little push scooters that we’re used to seeing only for children. Not here, plenty of adults use those cute little scooters too, which are adult-sized and some even have a little motor. Of course, mass transportation includes a great bus and subway system, they call the Metro. Spain makes the tickets for the Metro and buses quite inexpensive, in comparison to other countries. Yes, I’m a Metro girl now as I travel that way to go to La Vaca each day.

    Another thing that was strikingly different from the US is that people are very slender here with hardly anyone over weight.  I'm sure that the natural food and so much walking contributes to the healthy bodies. Even though many people smoke and drink, they seem to handle it quite well. There aren't many street people or beggars, but there is one guy always in the same spot. He has four paper cups for donations. This is how they are labeled: "Beer, Weed, LSD and Disneyland". I guess food wasn't as important. Hey, at least he's saying what he wants! 

    Yes, Barcelona is a foodie city. Almost every block has fruit and vegetable stands that make Whole Foods look sad. I’m walking to the famous historic Mercado, Santa Caterina, for my grocery shopping about 3 times a week. Instead of shopping for the entire week, people here shop only for a couple of days. Then they shop again for their next few meals, which adds to the healthy lifestyle. Here is a typical picture of a Tapas sign. A bit tricky to figure out what you're eating.

    I do admit that I’m a fashionista and wow, the fashion here is truly stunning. The Spanish women typically wear little kicky skirts with an off the shoulder almost peasant style blouse. Lots of lace cutouts for their fabrics. I would call the style sassy chic with an edgy flair. Many women, no matter the age, have very colorful hair. Pinks, purples and multi-color hair is common. And a huge percentage of people have tattoos. There are so many majorly tatted bodies. Speaking of tattoos, I decided that since I am being reborn here, I needed a tattoo also. So here is my butterfly or mariposa in Spanish. 

    Arch de Triumph and Park Ciutat Vella

    It seems that most countries have an Arch de Triumph and Barcelona has one at the entrance of their big city park, complete with a Zoo. Families are having picnics with their well-behaved dogs, mostly off leashes. The dogs seem as mellow as their owners. The park has a lake in the middle with row boats and ducks. As I walked through the park, I came to their grand fountain, topped with golden horses. They really know how to do fountains and statues here so beautifully! Notice the interesting modes of transportation!

     

     

     

    Gaudi

    The skyline of Barcelona is dominated by Gaudi’s huge unfinished church, the Sagrada Familia.  Antoni Gaudi (1852 – 1926) was a Spanish architect best known for what is called Catalan Modernism. He used broken tiles to make mosaics in his creative style with no square corners, which I’m sure was unsettling at the time. His main passions were architecture, religion and nature, which he wove seamlessly into his buildings. His masterpiece, the Sagrada Familia, is the most-visited monument in Spain. Much of Barcelona is what I would call Gaudiesque as the city is filled with art, music and geckos crawling up the side of buildings!

    La Playa

    Oh yes, Barcelona is a major port of the Mediterranean and La Playa, or the beach, is a main attraction of the city. Many of the fiestas happen on the beach as well as yoga, meditating and just playing in the water. I went to La Playa and the first thing I noticed it that most of the people on the beach weren’t wearing any clothes. No one was flaunting it, but quietly doing yoga with a bare bottom. Somehow it feels natural here….not so in Tucson. This picture is of my bag with my poi that I'm spinning on La Playa.

     

     

    The Planets

    The only problem that I've had here is that it's hard to see the planets with all the tall buildings and small winding streets. I'm so used to seeing them each night from my big back yard inTucson and it threw me off, I admit. That is until I found Plaza Catalunya. This picture was taken on the evening of my birthday as I saw both the Moon and Venus. it was truly a birthday present from the Universe for me!

     

    I know that this summer will somehow change me, in addition to the Uranus transit triggering off my chart. I do know that my already good relationship with food is different. I’ve gotten spoiled with all the organic mercados here. For sure my Spanish will get much better….mucho mejor. We’ll have to see what else will change by the time I re-enter Tucson as a new person. Que Bueno!


  • What's Up for Your Sign During Cancer

    Cancer

    Happy Birthday, dear Cancer! Mental Mercury is in your sign of Cancer now until June 28th, which will also be the Full Moon. If you have any writing or communicating to do, now is your time. Also, have a gathering on the Full Moon for family and friends.

    Leo

    Venus, the planet of love and beauty, will be in your sign of Leo until July 9th. Be sure to do something luxurious now. Maybe a massage? Absolutely get a mani and pedi for sure. Are you ready for a new hairdo? Go for it!

    Virgo

    The Moon will join Venus and will both be in Virgo on July 16th and 17th. You will be more emotional than your usual Virgo self, so be prepared to do something in a sensitive manner – maybe helping others.

    Libra

    This month will bring you unusual events. Try to embrace newness as much as your Libra can handle. Be bold and adventurous and do something a bit scary. You will realize that it’s not as scary as you thought but was instead, stimulating and fun.

    Scorpio

    Your escape time this month is the weekend of June 23rd. You can either take a quick holiday or just hibernate in your bedroom. It doesn’t really matter, as long as you are doing exactly what you want. Yes, you can be a bit selfish!

    Sagittarius

    You have luck guiding you now, Sag. So, if you are in the mood to take a nice holiday, now is your time. Choose a new destination you have been wanting to visit and be daring. The exotic is all yours now.

    Capricorn

    The Full Moon will be in your sign of Capricorn this month on June 28th. The Moon will join both Pluto and Saturn on the Full Moon, so it will be very powerful for you. Meet influential people during that time.

    Aquarius

    Mars is in your sign of Aquarius now and is helping you to release what you no longer need. It could be outdated things or old emotional habits from your childhood. They are no relevant now and are ready to go away. Do it and you will feel free!

    Pisces

    The Moon will be in your sign of Pisces on the July 4th holiday! It will join Neptune and form a perfect triangle with Jupiter and the Sun to help you be creative and have fun. Do something that inspires you. Yes, you will feel like celebrating!

    Aries

    Have a fun party this July 4th holiday. The planets are lining up for you to have a theme of activity . . . like a hike or playing on the beach. Be adventurous and try a new location to stimulate your mind. Yes, you can get a bit wild!

    Taurus

    The rebel planet Uranus has entered your sign of Taurus. Do you feel like making drastic changes in your life? If not, you will soon. Now is the time to dream big in preparation for your new life!

    Gemini

    Ah, dear Gemini, you are in an amazing time in your life now. Think big. Make changes. Know you can do it and go for it in a confident way. You are co-creating very powerfully now.


  • Uranus in Taurus: Barcelona is Beckoning

    The world is in for a change! The slow-moving planet Uranus is getting ready to enter the earth sign of Taurus, which is a fairly rare event. Uranus will enter Taurus on May 16, 2018 and will remain there until April 27, 2026. So humanity is starting a new phase and it will be felt by us all.

    Not only does Uranus connect with us universally, it also triggers off personal change, as seen by where it is transiting through your birth chart. This planet of change and surprises is moving into my 4th house, or the section of the chart that talks about home. I was born in Tucson and have always lived here. Uranus is great at making bold announcements, so here is mine: I’ve always had a love for Barcelona, Spain --- so what am I waiting for? As Uranus enters my 4th house, I’ll be flying to Barcelona for the summer. After a retrograde, Uranus will enter my 4th house for quite a while on April 2019. So this summer, thanks to Uranus, will be a scouting trip for me to see if I want to move completely. Excitement is in the air!

    If this ingress (when a planet enters a new sign) is making such a profound difference in my stable life, what is it doing to the world? First, let’s get to know the planet Uranus better. This planet has an orbit of 84 years and is therefore in a sign for approximately seven or eight years. Uranus is the rebel and it is his duty to bring change to the world. Not just any old change – sudden, shocking change. Independent Aquarius is the sign associated with wild Uranus, for another example of the Uranian personality.

    Uranus is the genius of the Zodiac and is associated with inventions and new technologies. Uranus moves society forward by breaking down old paradigms. Any oppression is targeted by Uranus and will not be tolerated. This is collective consciousness on a global scale for the purpose of dismantling the old to rebuild it better. Anything antiquated will be upgraded. The internet is a perfect Aquarian concept with people connecting with each other all over the world, yet remaining separate. Social media is totally Uranus. Radical change, verging on chaos is necessary to have a resurrection. Expect the unexpected! Lightening is the weather connected with Uranus. The ideal of Uranus is for each and every person to have a voice – and use it personally and collectively.

    Now let’s look at the sign of Taurus. This earth sign is associated with money, luxury, beauty, food, the environment and resources in general. Venus is the planet connected with sensual Taurus. I named Taurus the Banker of the Zodiac. Security, stability and the earth are all important parts of this steady and stubborn sign. Taurus is also a fixed sign and doesn’t enjoy change very much. Boy, is Taurus in for a big surprise!

    Astrology is cyclic, so when was Uranus in Taurus last time? Uranus entered Taurus in June 1934 and remained there until May 1942. That was of course WWII and lots of financial changes. Franklin Roosevelt enacted the Banking Act as well as the Social Security Act during those years. It’s also interesting to note that the board game, Monopoly, was created in 1935.

    So what are the likely trends during this time Uranus will be in Taurus?

    • Virtual currencies, like Bitcoin, will become more common.
    • Demonstrations for financial equality, human rights, oppressive regimes, the environment and independence.
    • Financial institutions will change.
    • Marches for global causes.
    • Technological advances merge with the body -- cyborg style.
    • Imbedded chips.
    • New ways of growing food.
    • Computerized art.
    • New traditions.
    • Interest in alternative medicine.
    • Revolution.

     

    One thing to remember is that change is inevitable and needs to be embraced, even shocking change. Somehow Astrology is big enough to understand the cycles and show us that this is part of our universal growth spurt. We are heading to the Aquarian Age and this will get us much closer. So, where are you moving or what are you doing to honor this change? I’m checking out Barcelona….por que no?



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