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I am a writer, editor, reviewer and dance teacher based in Perth, Western Australia.

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The first novel of my trilogy, The Talismans, is available as e-books from Smashwords, Amazon and other online sellers. I do have paperbacks of The Dagger of Dresnia at the low price of $AU25 including postage within Australia. I also have a short story, 'La Belle Dame', in print - see Mythic Resonance below. Book two of the trilogy, The Cloak of Challiver, will be available again shortly. The best way to contact me is via Facebook!

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The first two books of The Talismans trilogy were published by Satalyte Publications, which, sadly, has gone out of business. I hope to see my books back on Amazon under a new publisher in the near future.

The Dagger of Dresnia

The Dagger of Dresnia
Want a copy? Contact me at satimafn(at)gmail.com

The Cloak of Challiver

The Cloak of Challiver
Available again as an ebook soon!

Mythic Resonance

Buy Mythic Resonance

Mythic Resonance is an excellent anthology that includes my short story 'La Belle Dame', together with great stories from Alan Baxter, Donna Maree Hanson, Sue Burstynski, Nike Sulway and nine more fantastic authors! Just $US3.99 from Amazon. Got a Kindle? Check out Mythic Resonance.

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Sunday, 8 April 2007

Easter in Germany

Posting every two days is essential if I'm not to forget the details of all these new sights and experiences. This is my only journal while I'm on the road and it will jog my memory when I come to organise my photos once I get back to Oz.

For a non-Christian, I seem to be spending a helluva lot of time hanging around churches. That's because churches are among the few landmarks (other than natural ones) that remain in place, generation after generation. Some of the local ones here in the Rhine Valley have changed only in minor details over the last three hundred years or so, which means they must look pretty much as they did when my children's ancestors lived here. On Friday afternoon, Elfriede took me on a return visit to the parish churches of Erbach and Winkel. This time I made sure the camera had a fresh battery and the card had space for lots of piccies.

In Erbach lived the furthest-back ancestor we know of on the Rhine line. Her name was Anna Christina Freylinger and she was baptised in this lovely church on 29 September 1689. Her parents appear to have moved to the area from Koblenz and Arnold, her father, was a butcher. Elfriede found the record of a marriage settlement on his daughter Helena, child of a previous marriage which took place on the other side of the river, in Bingen. Such old documents are invaluable because they give little details about family life that otherwise would never be known. This one tells us that Helena's husband needed money to establish himself as a miller so Helena was getting her inheritance early.

Our Christina, Helena's half-sister, was to live a chequered life. She married Gottfried Neus, a surgeon, in the church at Geisenheim on 3 March 1710, but after siring two children, Gottfried died in May 1715, at the age of only thirty-five. In the following September, Christina married again, to a man named Johann Wedelin Kissel, by whom she had four more children. This husband died in 1725 and again Christina lost little time in re-marrying. She and Heinrich Weber were wed at the Erbach church in 1736. There were no children of this marriage. I took some good photos of the interior of St Marks in Erbach and also of the village, which still has many half-timbered buildings left from Christina's time.

Winkel was the home of the Kunz family, which spawned the Margarethe who married Josef Neist (as the Neus name had become locally) and emigrated to Australia in 1907. Here again, the church, dedicated to St Walburga, is much as it would have been on their wedding day and I captured some good shots.

As a break from churches, I went with Renate yesterday afternoon to the village of Bacharach on the other side of the Rhine, about 17km downriver from Bingen. Bacharach is unique in that it has an almost complete town wall still surrounding it. Most of the towns and villages hereabouts were under the rule of the Archbishops of Mainz, but for some reason Bacharach was ruled from Cologne. Renate told me that Bacharach has always held itself a little apart from the rest of the valley's villages, and the atmosphere was definitely different. Yet there were many of the same kind of half-timbered shops and dwellings found in the other places I've visited and it has added attractions such as a well-rebuilt castle that serves as a youth hostel. There was a delightful restaurant with a medieval courtyard where Renate and I had lunch. An excellent musician played for us on a large Celtic harp. When we arrived he was playing wafty, new-agey music, but soon he switched to a program of English folk songs, including Greensleeves and Scarborough Fair. If I closed my eyes I could easily believe myself transported to an inn of Tudor times and if I opened them and looked up my gaze fell on the Gothic beauty of the ruins of the Werner Kapelle, which nestles on the steep vineyard-strewn slopes below the castle. Chapel? Ha! The place must have been the size of a cathedral when it stood in all its pre-C18 glory. As my guidebook says, "Its filigree network of gleaming red sandstone is an unforgettable vision of loveliness".

The musician passed a basket around for donations and I was horrified to see he was being given only 20 cent pieces. I doubt if it contained more than €10. I took it over to the next table, thinking that side of the courtyard hadn't had chance to show their appreciation and in my best bad German explained it was "für die Musik". One of the women replied, in broad Yorkshire, "W'iv already doon it!" There were laughs all around when I replied in like accent that I was glad she was a North Country lass! I then went out hunting for a banking machine, thinking to give the musician more than the 30 cents I had in my purse. I found that the only one in the vicinity was inside a closed shop! Many shops were closed (and this was Easter weekend, remember) there was no banking machine available and when Renate and I visited the tourist office the receptionist did not even look up from her typing, let alone offer any assistance. Yes, they are different in Bacharach. Elsewhere the facilites have been first-rate and people have fallen over themselves to be helpful and friendly.

Still another church last night although not, AFAIK, one with any family connections. However, the nearby village of Johannisberg had its New Fire service at 8.00pm instead of late at night, so we favoured it with our patronage. St John's, in contrast to all the other village churches I've seen, is almost completely without internal ornamentation and has its walls painted a soft white that emphasises soaring architectural features. Arches flow along its nave like towering waves and a huge, starkly simple wooden cross serves instead of the usual carved or painted reredos. I had fun trying to follow the service. For a start, sight-singing is not foremost among my talents. Add to that my linguistic difficulties and you can imagine how I must have sounded. Slightly out of tune much of the time, I chanted inanities like "dum-dum-ooh-ah" only joining in with gusto when it came to "alleluia" or "hosana"!

I should add that the New Fire ceremony is one I find thoroughly moving. Whether Christians admit it or not, it is a Pagan remnant, celebrating the return of the sun and the coming of spring. The Buddhist part of me likes it too, for it reminds me to start anew, time after time. Mindfully, of course:-)

Well, we've ticked off almost all the churches. Geisenheim alone remains to be photographed, and I hope to get there later today.

3 comments:

Billy Jo said...

Hi Mum.. Happy Easter! I've been following your blogging avidly, but been having trouble getting into the comments page.
Glad you're getting to take in so much history and scenery.. looking forward to seeing your photos!
xxx BJ

Satima Flavell said...

Hi Billy Jo,
I'm glad you're reading my blog! E´mails to you are bouncing and I can't remember the name of your suburb (Alzheimer's rules, alas)Back to England on Thursday.

Imagine me said...

Glad you're still enjoying yourself, Satima.

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