UR the sea giant

UR el gigante del mar
UR, el gigante del mar

Many, many years ago, there was a land protected by a sea giant, UR. He protected its inhabitants from the seemingly endless turbulence, destructive waves and tempests. He protected them in their travels, as they crossed the seas. He taught them how to read the stars, so they might take the right path through the currents.

He protected them against hypocrisy, threats, lies and any dangers that evolved with the passing of time.

Before people began to direct their invocations to the heavens and before they looked to the sky as they prayed. They made their orations with songs and sounds sent and proffered directly to the sea. The offerings and holidays characteristic of the place were dedicated to UR in the spirit of celebration. To remember that water is life, and that life is the most important thing, and that it should be respected.

UR understood perfectly how important it was to keep the oceans clean. He knew that the oceans had healing and magical properties, They were kept secret so that no-one would steal them. He knew that everything started with two drops from the oceans, with the blowing of a distant wind, with miles of hope, and millions of dreams to build upon. It was UR who after days of calm, exhaled and blew the winds, this created the waves so that the sailors were able to return home and berth their ships.

UR, el gigante del mar

UR, the sea blue-eyed giant, was able to communicate with a glance, with no need of words. With his gaze directed towards the heart, instead of the brain, he could always tell who was lying and who was speaking the truth.

UR could detect who was acting with a good conscience, or was only seeking personal gain. Who shard whatever they had, or was striving to possess more.

Throughout the years of history, cultURe was based on the respect for the sea, for which they worshipped. People used to work just enough in order to live, to lead a life of peace and happiness.

There was no selfishness, hypocrisy or vanity. UR didn’t permit such things, and as soon as you displayed any carelessness about having a good conscience, he would bind you to a piece of wood (‘“egUR” the Basque translation of wood) and make you spend a night alone with the sea.

Next morning, sanity would return and with a good conscience back in place, everything would be normal once more.

UR, el gigante del mar

UR and the heart

UR, el gigante de mar
UR, el gigante del mar

UR was not only a big, strong giant, his greatest weapon was that he knew how to love. He knew that only from the heart could things heal and cleanse. He knew that if everything changed, it would be because the land had separated once and for all from the sea. Because the land had been left to dry out and couldn’t be regenerated.

His love of people, plants and animals, made him very special. Incapable of harming anyone, he would feed on the tons of algae, sea plasma, saltpeter and iodine, delivered in the form of mist it had the ability to enter every part of the body; On this mixture which opens the pores, activates the blood and produces great wellbeing.

UR slept on the sand by the seashore. Indifferent to heat and cold, he liked to sleep being caressed by the waves of the sea. Laying face up, talking to the moon and exhaling, blowing the stars, trying to turn them off. With his hands on his chest, breathing in time with the waves, waiting impatiently to start dreaming. Even asleep, he would remain alert and protect the life and the happiness of that strange place.

UR the guardian of feelings and emotions and the deepest secrets, he knew the formula by which one learns from the sea and how to love. If he was known for anything, it was his ability of happiness, his benevolence and readiness to take care and give help. It didn’t matter what the situation was. If necessary he would resort to his powers, as he had the ability to part the seas

URLUR was the name of this piece of land on earth, a land of water, a land of peace.

UR and language

UR, el gigante del mar
UR, el gigante del mar

UR was a kind-hearted giant who cherished walking along the seashore, he was incredibly strong, hairy like a bear, he was intelligent and wise. He created a language, based on the word that gave him life. UR used it for names, locations, mountains and rivers. He used it for elements and items used from childhood. For words and proverbs that should remain alive, creating a language for families, friends and acquaintances.

Ur (water), lur (land), ziur (sure), beldur (afraid), elur (snow), euri (rain), urdin (blue), urbil (close), sudur (nose), mutur (snout), gezur (lie), gure (our), egur (wood), agur (bye), urruti (far), urrun (far away), urte (year), urduri (nervous), urtu (melt), haurdun (pregnant), zuria (white), urdaila (stomach), buru (head), liburu (book), helburu (goal),…
ur, urko, urki, …. (names)
urbieta, uria, uranga,…. (surnames)
urdaibai, urbasa, urkiola, urola, urdaneta, urteta, … (places)

Ur (water), hezur (bone), (ez ur) (no water)

For many years, the mythological beings of that region, knew each other and lived in peace. They respected each other, they had respect for each and every one of the actions they suggested for which they shared with others. But all of them knew UR’s importance in taking care of something so special. They knew that if the water ran out, conscience would also disappear, and goodness would be devoured by the darkness of evil.

URLUR the land

UR arditurri

UR did not permit wars. In URLUR weapons didn’t exist, nor did fights. Anyone arguing for some absurdity would be put to work putting out bonfires. Whoever you might be, wherever you might come from, in URLUR you would be welcome, as long as you passed some simple tests.

URLUR would assess your conscience, the purity and quantity of water in your veins. Any self-serving actions, and any actions considered good. Whilst standing up, whether the water in you reached your heart or was nowhere near. Whether you lived in hope, or you displayed in your look a vengefulness that came about from past generations.

In URLUR, everyone knew the percentage of water and earth for-which they were made of. They knew that 30% of what we are is simply given, and there is no option of changing that, it’s an requirement. They knew that that the remaining 70% is water, welling up salty in all of us, without exception. They knew that the sea was conscience, which was born out of the heart and rational was born out of the earth.

In URLUR everyone was equally important, whether they lived up in the mountains or on the beach, where everything is sand. They organised and formed large groups whenever there was a need, no matter what reason, work was required. Each had his or her own special expertise, and no-one wandered the streets full of sorrow. There were no bosses or labourers, nor where there false judgements or unjust sentences.

For many years, URLUR was a veritable paradise. Without frontiers, without papers the requirement for checks or permits. Everyone had the same rights, regardless of their colour, their land or their obligations. All without exception had water, light, work and a good home.

URLUR consisted of different village regions, linked by mountains, valleys and rivers. With a strong sea to the north, where the elderly strolled along the shore as if they were children. They lived enjoying the culture of the sea, even though some days were tremendously cold. Between them all they built ships full of secrets, which are still buried, in dark places.

The spell

UR, el gigante del mar
UR, el gigante del mar

But one dark night, when UR was asleep, he had a dream from which he never woke. Worried, the people of URLUR would meet up each night at the same hour to sing and pray. They sang what UR had taught them, they sang as well as they could. They sang until morning and until they felt weak and heartbroken, falling down exhausted. They would appeal to the moon and to the sun when dawn broke. They would appeal to the mythological beings, when they came to visit. Mari the Goddess, Akerbeltz the Demon, Tartalo the one-eyed giant and Olentzero the Christmas figure «coaler». No-one understood what was happening to UR. Neither ancestral magic nor siren songs would bring UR back to life. UR was no longer of water, he felt no emotion. He had turned into a great rock, a mountain with its own silhouette and lots of vegetation. A place of worship was established there, in the hope of bringing his heart back to life. It was a tower full of magic, a fort named Fortitude.

Nobody could understand how in a single day things could have changed so much and yet remain unresolved. Nobody could explain what that dream might have been, such that it could take control of his life and the very beating of his heart. So great was their surprise that no one took account of the fact that on that same fateful day, the same thing had happened to the whale he had played with from the time of his birth. It too had turned into a great rock, with trees and paths, with flowers of scant colour, in accordance with the rain and the season.

The very thing that UR had protected and which gave him life had apparently fallen sleep for no rhyme or reason. But the speculation and rumour in URLUR, agreed on by everyone, was that it was all the result of a terrible curse. The years passed, and URLUR ended up disappearing, the people died of sadness and desolation. They could not bear the winters, face the violent winds and rain, without him to protect them. The storms became stronger and stronger, and in summer the heat was unbearable. The land could hardly give fruit, the fish were unhealthy, and horror was on the increase. URLUR was disappearing, just as water vanishes from the body, and the beating from the heart. Also disappearing were the generation’s of hopes, dreams and feelings.

UR, el gigante del mar

Euskal Herria

UR, el gigante del mar

Many centuries later, the land of URLUR became Euskal Herria (the Basque Country). The new people were named Basques, they adopted the language, the culture, the land and tradition. With much love they took care of whatever they found in that region, but it was not easy to find, what with so much beauty and so much vegetation.

They headed to the valleys and mountains, to discover new horizons in caves, but the secrets of UR were very well hidden, and it was the land and not the sea that attracted their attention. Euskal Herria was very important, it represented strength and pride, its colonisation was impossible. No one would be able to take over their land by war or impose a god on them. But among all their arguments and conflicts, they forgot that UR was all heart. That life is much more than a flag, that violence gives rise to more violence and an eternal sense of frustration.

That is how the Basques lived, with lots of work, lots of sacrifice and more suffering and some pleasant songs. Euskal Herria turned into earth, and forgot its connection to the sea. It wanted to have strong roots, but its heart was getting cold. It was said that it was all to do with witchcraft, great magicians and many inquisitions. History was being written from earth and reason was being imposed.

There was talk of a rough man, of an insensitive father, a man with no feelings or heart. Of a woman, mother and earth. Of relationships cold as steel, hidden in dark secrets the colour of coal. Secrets that were never spoken about because of shame and discretion. Secrets written in the murky waters of injustice. Secrets that continue to do damage, generation upon generation. Secrets about killings, abuses and violations. Secrets brought back to life in any familiar constellation.

UR, el gigante del mar

The Shepherd and the secret of UR

UR, el gigante del mar
UR, el gigante del mar

One spring day, something strange happened with a man they called the shepherd. He was a shepherd without a flock of sheep, a shepherd without a stick. To be alone with the sea was his great passion. He would say the waves were the heartbeat of the world, and the sea its heart.

Whilst walking along the seashore he found some drawings that caught his attention. They were of trees the colour of the sand, that shone and changed shape according to the direction of the tide. Trees void of foliage, resembling roots, with certain touches of sadness, from years of devastation. He found that the trees were positioned horizontally, they were not normal, and were from another generation. He walked tirelessly, seeking out more tracks, looking for the creations of similar works, without copy or repetition. And he arrived upon some wells, called “putzuzulos”, where in summer the sea baptises, to the sound of laughter from the boys and girls of that community. They are dream factories, places without owners, where the children play in safety and nourish their hearts. They are holes full of life, places with energy, where the water smells of eternal hope.

The shepherd understood that the trees absorbed water and were growing every day and even changed position. That no two trees were the same and that they grew and developed according to the tides and their orientation. He put himself underwater, opened his eyes and after a breath of magic it changed completely his vision. The shepherd was able to see underwater, could read the movement of the waves, and feel and learn their function. He was able to understand that the waves are only an example, to understand how it is the beating of the heart. That if we are 70% water, and it comes up salty when we cry, it’s possibly the sea and not only water, consisting of 30% soil and selfishness. That what we see outside, is only an immense mirror, wherein we are reflected and are able to understand each story and each situation. That our reflection helps us to realise that only by observing and connecting with the sea will we be able to look for a solution.

The shepherd came across a text, written under the sea in the sand, which explained itself in the form of a “bertso” (poem) or song. “If you want life to come back to life, where wars will disappear and love will be obligatory, you must make UR wake up, taking water in to his heart”. The shepherd looked up and understood the meaning of the song, understood the reason for his walks, when he looked properly into the matter. He had to find the silhouette of UR laying down, to look for the whale by using his imagination, a whale stranded many centuries ago, known as a mouse due to it’s resemblance in shape.

The legend was true, what was related in the songs was not a tale, but a story with a great tradition. You only needed to lie down on the shore and forget any bad dreams and look with conviction. To understand that only with courage and by looking at life from the sea do you reach a time when your vision can change.

bosques del mar

The shepherd knew that his very first address, no one would believe him, that they would silence him when he tried to explain his meaning. He had to find a way, how to be a mirror, fight against the current, without fear of blackmail or accusation. He knew that one day truth would triumph, and they would know why UR fell asleep. How a dream could have turned him into a rock, as if the worst curse had fallen on URLUR.

Besides being able to see underwater, the shepherd helped to heal with sea water. He would put his hands on his feet and evil and illness would cease. People would show their appreciation of his hands, but no one wanted to listen to him. Nobody paid any attention to his story, they only wanted to be healed.

And so he decided to make a story, and cast it to the wind with a weighty argument, where he could give an explanation. That there is only one way whereby this world doesn’t die and is able to recuperate.

For that we have to share the water, awaken UR and the consciousness which for centuries we have given out in a random fashion. For that we have to fill the Fortitude and the heart with water, and dare to see life from the sea.

UR, putzuzuloak

UR’s dream

UR el gigante del mar

In fact UR had chosen not to wake up after unreasonable. He cried because he didn’t understand how all his philosophy of respect for life was destroyed because of naked ambition. How people would lose the purity of their gaze, and would hide it behind plastic and pollution. How, sadly, happiness would vanish, and the water would stink of plumbing and putrefaction. How in a near future the word ‘human’ would have a different kind of meaning. How people would die and drown, even as the cities celebrated being capitals of cultURe, without a second thought.

UR knew what would happen and had to choose, just one option of two. Either he could generate a great storm, and lose consciousness in order to flood the land and prevent what was to come; or he could sleep, and allow the world time to learn about hypocrisy and destruction. To see the importance of water, see how vital it is to preserve it and to share it without discrimination.

UR had two choices, create war and destroy URLUR or sleep. He never would have chosen war because earth was irrational. He decided to sleep, to sleep very deeply, to sleep until this very day. He taught the meaning of life, happiness and the origins of creation. That in the beginning we are simply water, salt and much information. That it is up to us, it’s our choice. Either we awaken the giant or carry on living under a curse. Either we are cowards, not paying attention. Or we become truly courageous, and love from the heart.

The moral: If UR is left to sleep it does not fare well for us. So it’s better if each one of us chooses how this tale should end. Just one piece of advice before we finish. Respect water and consciousness, or you can’t expect life to respect you.

UR, el gigante del mar

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Text, video, photography and music:

izaki   desdeelmar   ph2otography   beardpath

Special Thanks:

Translation: Ane Roteta & Geoff, and Bruce
Collaboration: Luca

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