Updated: Mar 4
Our home is in the woods, when we emerge from the the lush green a panoramic sea greets us. A mountain safeguards us from Noreastern winds and storms throughout the year. The sound of the crashing 7 to 9 meter high waves on the seas cliffs can be heard during storms and a tainted scent of the salted sea water reaches us when the wind gushes just right towards us.
My beloved Galicia, a magical corner on sacred catholic soil. We are the Northen gateway for the Way of St. James after the river crossing from Asturias. The solemn pilgrims and large groups walk following the markers along side the paths and roads. I have had several strays knocking on my doors or startling me when on the grounds when caught off guard since I decided to call Galicia home and having The Way of St. James 300 meters from my front door. "Buen Camino" is my forever goodbye to these strangers after giving directions or pointing towards the Way. Some seem to be on a race to the finish line while others linger around for company, ultimately offering a narrative of their reasoning, causes and promises to walk the Way of Saint James. I sometimes think those who were eager to share their story may have needed validation for their journey when knowing some of the roughest terrain would lie ahead.
We also live in the lands of Meigas, witches. A land of story telling, rituals, beliefs and protection, the evil eye and many amulets to protect us.
114km of beaches, cliffs, As Catedrais and hidden coves full of legends, magic and Meigas.
As Catedrais also referred to as Praia de Agua Santa, Beach of the Holy Water, there once was a natural spring leading to sea believed to be medicinal. Listed as one of the seven natural wonders of Spain, its large thirty meter high stone archways, hidden caves and cliffs seem supernatural. Geologists suspect the openings and the archways were naturally developed by sea currents, while some scholars are arguing it may have been a Roman gold mine.
It is believed there is a moment during the day by the sun, or night by the moon, when the largest arch glows of gold and you will be able to see into your future or visit your past, but never both.
This remarkable natural wonder is 12 km (7 miles) from home but we do not visit.
Instead we head west then down a rabbit hole and we arrive to our hidden place, where only those who live here know how to access and seasonal visitors wonder and frantically look for the entrance way when not seeing a small sign from the road above. A rocky path that leads us to a beach where the sand feels like silk on the bare soles of our feet, the sun warms us on cold days and cool cliff shadows shelter us from direct sun during the summer heat. It disappears during high tide and during the receding low tide random pools of water are left behind. Colonies of Tomate de Mar, (beadlet anemone), on rocks can be found in tones of reds and orange, symbol of valour against the often raging Cantabric Sea. In the winter beach glass is found and when we are lucky an Ollo do Mar will find her way to us.
Ollo do Mar...
Ollo do Mar, The Eye of Shiva, The Eye of Santa Lucia or Orejita de Zahara are a few of the many names for this special talisman. In Galicia it is Ollo Do Mar, the Eye Of the Sea.
A conch with a flat white side with a swirl and the the other side orange resembling the shape of an ear... many believe it hears your wishes, La Orejita de Zahara, (Zahara´s little ear).
The possessor of one can share their deepest desires to it. Whoever finds one assigns their own value on it and wishes have been known to be granted. Placed in a coin purse to attract money, kept to cure an ailment of one who has fallen ill. Worn on a chain to attract love when referred to Venus´ Navel. Held in a tight fist when thinking of your deepest desires. It is believed they are are the eyes of Santa Lucia that were pulled out and thrown into sea, when one is found on Italian coasts, the keeper will have a clearer view of their life and will be protected from coming danger.
In Galicia if found on days leading to the new year, one will be granted a new year of peace, love, joy and protection- El Ollo Do Mar.
Several years ago I found one at the beach and did not put much thought into it, it seemed unusual. Amelia, then 71 years old, who is no longer amongst us, told me I have been blessed by the sea. The sea gifted me an "ollomao", as she pronounced it, to ward off evil spirits (the evil eye) and fill my life with love, it is the seer of my good fortune. All narrated over coffee with excitement for my find when she perceived I needed it most.
When I found it I just thought it was pretty.
With the unseasonably warm weather and calm winds we are fortunate enough to be offered during this time of year after the harsh late autumn storms, the desolate beach in the winter belongs to just me and my girl. Every visit with hope an Ollo Do Mar will find her way to us.
Combing the beach for seashells, beach glass and mother of pearl, Candela found one, or as she corrected me, The Ollo do Mar found her. "We will continue to be happy in the New Year" was what she said.
... and yes, we will be happy.
May the new year be full of happiness, health and wonder. Our wish to you all.
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