Saturday, October 10, 2009

A glass of words


In my current travels in Eastern Europe, I continue to learn the value of taking the trouble to learn a little of languages few outsiders can speak. This is respectful to the country where you are traveling, and when you make it your game to pick up odd and unusual terms you would never find in a tourist phrase book, the results can be very entertaining.
A case in point. Over dinner on my first day in Bucharest, my host described how he makes wine on his own land in the eastern part of the country. He explained that at this time of year, the crushed grapes are on their way to becoming wine, but are not there yet. In this in-between state, the somewhat alcoholic brew is sweet and "murky". He struggled for the right English word. I asked him for the Romanian. Tulburel, he told me. The near-wine is called tulburel. I found the word interesting and jotted it down.
Then over lunch at an outdoor restaurant with other new friends on Friday, a pleasant waitress also started talking about Romanian wine. She explained that this is the season when fermentation is going on and the wine is nearly but not quite ready. "I don't know the word in English."
"Tulburel?" I offered.
Her eyes widened. "How you know this word?"
"A friend who makes wine." I shrugged. "I like funny words."
"How long you been here?"
I glanced at my watch. "Twenty-two hours."
"You are MAGICIAN!" she cried.
She vanished but promptly reappeared, bearing a huge glass of pinkish liquid. Tulburel. "A gift for the magician of funny words." Too sweet for my palate, but drinkable with the chicken in spicy sauce.
On Saturday, the first day of my weekend workshop here, my language lessons continued, as we traded dreams and stories and experiences from group journeys powered by shamanic drumming. We played my Coincidence Card Game, in which everyone writes part of a story or a quote or reflection on one side of an index card, which is then offered to the group as a one-time divination deck, from which each player will pull a card with the understanding that what is written on it will be a response to a request for guidance they have formulated.
The first player picked by a random twirl of the drumstick to read a card had asked for guidance on improving relationships. She found this message on the card she pulled from the deck (written, as it happened, by our host): Nu accept rolumni in dramele altora. "Don't accept a role in other people's soap operas." Sometimes oracles are mysterious and ambiguous; that's how oracles stay in business long term. This message was wonderfully clear, as the woman who drew it acknowledged, through her laughter.
Life rhymes. Inspired by a vision of the White Wolf known in these parts, I wrote this simple message on a card: "Let the White Wolf guide you." Camelia, the woman who drew this message, was seeking the way to fulfill her soul's longing, its dor, and liked the suggested guide. When I turned over my card, I found the message Camelia had written, which advised me to look for a "white star" i in my future relations with Romania. When we discussed the meaning of these messages during the break (pausa) Camelia told me she had been unable to attend my evening program on Friday because she had drunk quite a lot of tulburel and it hadn't agreed with her.
Most people smoke here. It's startling to anyone arriving from a typical Western city, with its prohibitions on smoking in public places - let alone for someone accustomed to teaching in holistic centers. In my hotel, the restaurant is nefumatori only until 11:00 am; smoking after. The waiter appears shocked when I refuse the offer of an ashtray. "No smoke?" he grimaces. During breaks at my workshop, hillocks of butts and ash rise from the ashtrays on the garden tables, spilling in small avalanches. It's a throwback to the heyday of cancer sticks in the world of "Mad Men". When I comment on the intake of the most prodigious smoker in this crowd, I pick up another handy Romanian phrase: fumeaza ca un sarpe. "He smokes like a snake."
In the garden, after a delicious and copious barbecue, Joana, a young woman from Transylvania, sings a doina. The doina is a lyrical song that typically speaks of love and longing. This one is achingly beautiful. It reminds me of nights of fado in Portugal, and the bittersweet mood of saudade that wells up when fado is sung. The Transylvanian singer explains that a doina often has a companion song, something frisky and funny that moves people on from the tears. When she belts out something happy and slightly risque, I am reminded of how ladino singers (from the Sephardic Jewish tradition of Iberia) also shift back and forth between tragedy to comedy.
I need to hear the original doina again and Joana oblges me. Her wonderful singing comes from the heart. It carries me back into a dream I hold deep in my heart's memory, a dream I titled "The Birth-Funeral." In my dream I have made a choice; I am leaving those I love in my home world to go on a mission to another world where I must oppose dark forces that are stealing the light. The high voices of the mourners are keening, almost unbearably sad and beautiful, as I walk a path of blue lotus petals, towards the place where I will drop my old body and put on a different one.


Rebecca said...

Robert, you are a magician! Thanks for the update. Interesting how this in-between state, "Tulburel", is reminiscent of dream states. I am enjoying this expansion of language (among other things). I noticed the snake, song of longing, fado and "saudade" have also re-emerged. I will have to listen to a "doina"; I was drawn to flamenco songs for the same reasons. Clever of them to follow it with a more joyful song. There is much to be said concerning the power and emotion these songs evoke; it is something I often encounter in sound healing research. May you find your white star and continue to shine!

Robert Moss said...

Ah Rebecca, that is a fine analogy, between the in-between state of the tulburel and liminal states of consciousness. Thank you!

Rebecca said...

I just saw a shooting star. :)

Nicola said...

Hi Robert, your post reminds me of a dream, where I saw a number of ancestors sitting together at a long table filled with food. they were chatting and laughing and having a jolly good time.
They were also all chuffing away on their ciggies perhaps happy that they could finally enjoy this pleasurable pastime without having to worry about it's ill effects on their lungs.
I am not a smoker myself, however I can remember when it was the norm, and the battle that so many lost in their attempts to give up this most deliberatly invented addiction.

Carol Davis said...

Yes, indeed, the timing of the right comedy can carry us through tragedy.

Yesterday I led a workshop on the theme of Meeting the Departed in Dreams. Since a different workshop group was meeting in the conference room, I set up our circle in the chapel with soft chairs, sofa and chapel chairs. Many of the people who attended had experienced the death of a loved one recently. Several were grieving the death of children. The sharing was filled with angst, sweet, aching beauty, tears and at times hilarious stories and gales of laughter.

One particular shift occurred just after everyone in the group sat in a brief moment of tear-filled silence in support of a dreamer who shared a sad, but beautiful experience. The next dreamer shared a story about seeing her mother dancing on stage in a dream.

"Did your mother ever dance on stage ?, I asked.

"No, but she loved to jiggerbug."

Oh the moment was just too precious to let it escape. A smile slowly emerged from my face as I invited the group to stand. I began the beat, bebopping sounds to "Rock Around the Clock." The group joined in, the dreamer grabbed a partner, others joined in and the jitterbug was danced in the circle in the chapel. It was a moment of joyous healing.

Patricia said...

I too felt the Tulburel as the in-between state of dreaming. Sometimes a little too sweet for my taste, but very intoxicating and to be treated with respect.
Your dream of leaving your home to encounter the dark and bring the light in, is a celebration for me. The Dreaming that is so deeply entrenched in the Original culture of this land has set you on a path that reaches so many people who also have a great richness. Bringing it all together is indeed a wonderful thing. A gift to be shared.
Patricia from Oz

Robert Moss said...

Dear Patricia - wonderful to hear a fellow-dreamer from Oz. I thought of you over the weekend, when a Romanian in my workshop mentioned that she had dreamed of a Native American who gave her a song. When she looked at a book of portrait photographs of American Indians, she thought her dream visitor might be Sitting Bull.

I could not resist quoting what you said in our workshop in Gloucestershire a few years back when someone said they had run into a psychic in Brighton who claimed to channel Sitting Bull: "I just hope it's not Shitting Bull." The Romanians (including the dreamer) have a very earthy sense of humor and they roared with laughter over this earthy corrective from Oz.

I am reminded that to do this work we need a sense of humor and a working BS detector, at all times.

Robert Moss said...

Nicola, I just hope those dead smokers were enjoying their ciggies at a safe remove from the living. I never judge what people choose to do of their own volition (as long as it does not harm others) but heavy smokers, in my experience, are often accompanied by hitchhikers who are trying to get another smoke through them. Those dead smokers need to be identified and helped to move on. The same can be said for the psychic component in many other types of adiction.

Robert Moss said...

Carol, I love your account of how you helped the dreamer to honor the jitterbug dream. This is such good work!

Unknown said...

Robert, I enjoy reading your blog as my own divination deck. Your pulse on coincidence is so widespread I usually see the rhyme in my own life just by reading your words. I woke up this morning and read your blog about travels in Romania which brought back last night’s dream.

I am in an ancient amphitheater with 1000’s of others in a silent prayer. This is a sacred place for all people of all spirituality. There is a black sphere in the sky with brilliant white stars in it. After the prayer the poor roam the area asking for alms and I meet my Romanian host sister I haven’t seen in 8 years. I ask her ‘Ce faci,’ (meaning what are you up to) and she hugs me. Life has been rough on her and her and her family and they are down on their luck. I remember the $40 in my pocket and give it to her. I am glad to be able to help and that you are able to be a magician of funny words to all of us.

Multsemesc frumos,

Lou Hagood said...

Thanks, Robert, The tragedy/comedy reminds me of a jazz funeral in New Orleans--slow, mournful dirge going to the cemetery, fast, celebratory music on the way back.

Mikka said...

My beloved friends,
It is so good to find you here!

Dear Robert,
We had a wonderful time with you, here, in Romania! Now I still have these feelings of joy and freedom, while I walk on a new path. Well, not quite a new one... It is a re-cognition... And is REALLY different! 'It's a kind of maaagiiiic!"
My friends and I, we are talking about the daily symbols and we have good time in sharing our dreams...

Dear Jennifer,

TOATE BUNE? ("All good"?)
Multumesc frumos for sharing your dream. Nice to hug you, in the "realm of blogs"... :)))

Warm hugs from Romania for all of you,
May you all walk in Beauty!

Patricia said...

Hello Robert,
Thank you for sharing my 'down to earth' humourous look at the BS detector with our dreaming friends across the globe. Playing with words is one of my favourite pastimes and can therefore see humour in many situations. Sometimes it feels as if signs play tricks on me and one letter will change to give me a different message. So I can have a really fun time, just by walking down the street.
It is nice now too, to see some comments from Romania. Welcome, friends. I feel I have been travelling with you all and bringing back gifts to share.
Much love and light
Patricia from Oz

Robert Moss said...

Buna ziwa, Jennifer! Thank you for sharing your wonderful dream!

Salut, Mikki! Your wonderful energy was a vital part of the fun we shared in the Bucharest workshop, and I will always remember the lively role you played in our shamanic theatre based on a Japanese myth, in which we had to lure the sun goddess up from the Underworld. I hope to lead a new depth adventure in shamanic dreaming, dream archeology and cultural soul recovery, in the mountains in Romania next year.

Robert Moss said...

FLYING WORDS (a postscript)

During my long trek home from Bucharest I had a couple of hundred words of Lithuanian, a couple of dozen in Czech, and a couple of hundred more in Romanian jostling for room in my tired brain. On the longest flight, from Frankfurt to Philadelphia, after a mixup over seats had been resolved, my rowmate was a sweet little Russian lady who spoke nothing but Russian. I know about a dozen words in Russian, but after she tapped her chest and gave her name ("Roxa") and started chirping away like a little bird, I found that I could usually intuit what she wanted. I was soon ordering food and drinks for her from the flight attendants, then filling out her customs and immigration forms and explaining how to get around Philadelphia airport with the help of a map.

When we landed at Philly, Roxa stayed close. I tried to explain to her that I was in the line for "U.S. Citizens and Residents" and she needed to get in the other line. It seemed she did not want to understand this. I was trying to gently push her off in the right direction when we reached the head of the line and I noticed a passport officer looking at us with keen curiosity. I went up to her booth and explained that I was trying to help a lady who spoke only Russian. "I appreciate that," said the pleasant African-American lady at the desk. "I don't speak Russian, but you can tell her she can come up here after you and I'll take care of her." I bird-chirped to Roxa, who had just started to walk towards the correct line, shoulders slumped. Her face lit up.

Nice to encounter friendly gatekeepers, for ourselves and others.

Worldbridger said...

Friendly gatekeepers seem to be quite rare these days, it seems that your journey has been double, triple blessed.