The Serpent Map
So I’ve made this map. I live in Portugal, and we were colonized four thousand years ago by the Romans. We mostly forgot the land-based culture that emanates from this place, even though we get some fragments from oral traditions and rural folk tales. This territory has been populated since paleolithic times. There are cave paintings and rock carvings all over the region.
From ancient Greek, this land was known to be the land of the dead, part of the sacred geography that connects different dimensions of reality. The people who lived here were the Ophids, or people of the Snakes. This whole land ends in the ocean, at the utmost west point of the continent, Finisterre — a place of ancient rock memories, death ceremonies, and whispering snakes — .
We have many megaliths remains, some still painted or carved. In our folk tales, we have an ancient being called the “Mouras”, old chthonic forces of the land guarding potent and special places. They come out in the solstices and equinoxes, or at midnight. They are usually women who transmorph into snakes mostly, but also into large black dogs or ox. Local people always have a tale for megalith remains, remembering a sacred being guarding the place.
Although these tales have been Christianized, and most of these beings have been demonized, they still endure being present in oral lores.
In this map, two snakes following the megalith trail meet in Alentejo, an area with many ancient constructions. I used the ancient alphabet founded here also, and the symbols are from archeological rock carvings from the northern part of the land and an idol found in the southern part.
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[Disclaimer: all these words and weaved concepts are birthed through my lived, biased, and always limited perception of things, not supposing to bring any absolute truth.]
By Sofia Batalha
Mammal, author, woman-mother, question weaver and dismantling global-colonial-technological-capitalism one day at a time. Awkward prose-poet with no grammatical knowledge. Pilgrim through inner and outer landscapes, remembering ancient earth practices, in radical presence, active listening, ecopsychology, art, ecstasy, and writing. Author of seven books, editor of the free online magazine, Wind and Water, Re-member the Bones Podcast, and Beyond the Sea Conversations — all in Portuguese.
More information: sofiabatalha.com