In the most southerly corner of Spain, just a few kilometers inland from the closest point to Africa, lies the La Janda basin. At the heart of the basin once was a rich mosaic of permanent pools and lagoons which during the winter months would flood to form one extensive shallow lake covering more than 4,000 hectares. With it’s associated reed beds and marshland La Laguna de la Janda was regarded as one of the finest of all Iberian wetlands, temporary home to hundreds of thousands of birds who would rest and refuel there on their migratory passage between Sub Sahara Africa and North and Western Europe. In 1929 work began to drain the area for intensive agricultural use. The rivers feeding these wetland were dammed, diverted and canalized.
Last week, over the spring equinox, we had a wet week, non stop rain which inundated la Janda. Imagine the joy of seeing the plains dressed up in water again. Birds greeted us upon our entry to the track that runs through the once wetlands. Marsh harrier, grey heron, griffin vultures… Spring migration not quite arrived yet but the place thirsty for water finally having its fill.
We came to la Janda, a group of people, gathered together to celebrate the Equinox and explore the meaning of ritual in a modern context. Our plan was to have no plan, so that out of a listening to the subtle voice of the Place, an outward expression and communication may arise if it wished to. We felt the place was not only thirsty for water but also for the contact with us.
And we ended up dancing along the line of interaction between human and landscape, between the personal space and the collective place, between water and land, where the birds fly. We learned that ritual is about communication and community and healing and loving, and many other words that were contemplated together. We felt the space where love flows, between us, no dams, no weirs, no canals.
Laguna de la janda is a very special place from a geomantic and energetic point of view. We know the wetland was inhabited and revered in prehistoric times from the abundance of cave paintings found in the area. I recommend a visit and if you feel moved then take a look at the new campaign called Get Wet for La Janda which calls for citizen support in finding ways to restore parts of this important ecosystem:
Mójate por la janda http://blog.lagunalajanda.org/mojate-por-la-janda/