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Barcelona, Spain

7.jpgThe expression on the faces of the dancers reflects that place where pleasure and pain collide. In a dark, intimate room, they dance as if right on top of you. They dance as if to dishonor the folly of personal space. It is just as Flamenco ought to be danced. Where you can almost taste their sweat. Where you can feel the heat from their bodies and smell their perfume. Where you are hit by the wind from their dresses when they whip the fabric past you. And shocked by the force of the clash of their shoes against the floor. Flamenco is meant to move you and to force polarity upon you. It forces you to feel. There is nothing polite about flamenco. It is a violent display of power and passion and emotion and sex.

The first stop on this year’s European tour is Barcelona, Spain. The cosmopolitan capital of the Catalonia region of Spain. On the coast of the Balearic Sea, it is held between the mouths of two rivers and bordered by the Serra de Collserola mountain range. A city famous for its individualism and architecture. Antonio Gaudi, the visionary architect/designer/artist has created the face of Barcelona that is shown to the world. Exquisitely eccentric buildings and parks that look like something from a fantasy world. Including the colorful trencadís mosaics that the rest of the world associates with Barcelona.

5.jpgHis masterpiece, the Sagrada Familia, is a colossal church. But to call it a church feels unjust. It is a work of art so detailed and extensive that it exhausts the mind to consider. When Gaudi died in 1926, it was only between 15 and 25 percent complete. And it is still under construction today; aimed at a goal of becoming the tallest church in the world by its completion. Since his death, individuals dedicated to carrying out his vision have taken over the project and the process continues still. The entire building itself is a collage of different forms in stone. Inside, the gradient light streaming through the stained glass creates a green to blue cast on one side and a yellow to red cast on the other. The stonework, embellishments, spires, staircases and pillars make it look like something straight out of the fantasy novel Lord of The Rings. The energy of the place is also a dizzying collage. The ancient and aggressive energy of the Monserrat mountains in the conglomerate stone, the thoughts of millions upon millions of tourists, the personality of the architect himself and those that followed him by taking on the work as their own, the celestial feeling of millions of people going there to touch god, the desperation of people praying for relief from their suffering, a heavy cloud of distrust and suspicion and even disapproval coming from Catholic authorities regarding the building itself, dark and demonic energies most especially around the oldest part of the church, the area where mass is held. There are so many counter forces to the energy of prayer and faith and desire in the place that in extremely rare fashion, I chose not to light a candle, set my intentions or offer up my asking to the greater universe there. Something that I never pass up the opportunity to do inside of churches, where the energy of hundreds (if not thousands) of years’ worth of belief is backing them.

4a9ca482-6edf-495f-94d5-89fb867fa6b9.JPGOf all the types of architecture I have seen around the world, Spanish architecture is my favorite. The terra cotta clay tile roofs, the stately wooden beams, the thick stucco walls, the soft arches, the carved wooden doors, the warmth of the colors, the way they capture and contain the light of day, the way the structure of them lends itself to fiesta. It is above all a social architecture, the kind that makes you want to throw a party. The view from the hacienda I have rented for myself and my team has a sprawling view of the Mediterranean ocean, California-like hillsides of other estates and houses and an open market full of a vibrant collection of fruits and vegetables. Just like the people of Spain, there is an intensity to the produce. There is an angst and a passionate, almost aggressive energy in the fruits and vegetables here. Because of this intensity, which is grown into them, it would be very hard to make comfort food here. It makes the flavors sharper than usual. It is the makeup of the land itself that makes them this way. The influence of the people growing and handling them adds to it, but could not create such an effect on its own. No matter what food it is, eating the food here stirs you up rather than calms you down.

After days of walking through the genial maze of the historic alleyways of Barcelona and traveling outwards to the flanks of the city to find the places where only locals reside, I have decided upon my energy diagnosis for Barcelona.

The dominant negative vibration of Barcelona is: Spoliation. Spoliation is the act of ruining or destroying something. It is a term often used when something precious is taken away from a place. Throughout history, Barcelona has been a place too densely populated for so small an area. This fact has created a multitude of problems again and again. And this time, it is related to tourism. Barcelona has a very long history of political unrest tied to its fight for recognition and individualism. In large part because of its political history, since the late 1800s, so many of the people in charge of Barcelona had the intention of it becoming a heavily trafficked European tourist city. This intention came to fruition especially thanks to the World Expositions and the 1992 Olympic Games and the 2004 Forum. As a result, the unique magic of the place was no longer embraced. Instead, it was abandoned in order to make it match the other talked about travel cities of the world. It has catered itself to popularity. And in doing so, lost its richness. To put it bluntly, over-tourism is absolutely ruining Barcelona. The town has been quite literally designed to cover over the rich Catalan culture and history and rather to cater itself to whatever features or spectacles will draw visitation from foreigners. It is so crowded that it is impossible to take in anything of depth or character from the city itself. Barcelona is a display of all the classic symptoms of over tourism.

4.jpgI had to make a serious effort to go find pockets of true Catalan people and culture in order to even feel the consciousness and energy of the people of Barcelona because the city is so full of so many tourists from so many different places in the world, that true Barcelona has been lost underneath it all. To be honest, it kind of broke my heart. It especially broke my heart because the people of this Catalan region have been desperate for the distinction and individuation of their own unique culture and ideals and values and legacy. And instead of Barcelona being a statement of exactly that, it is a statement of the opposite; indeed the loss of that.

On an energetic level, it is very hard to feel Barcelona. On an energetic level, Barcelona risks being emptied of its magic. Its vibration is becoming almost whitewashed and bland. Such is the problem with over tourism. Unlike world centers like London, where people from all over the world come to combine their cultures into a rich human display, places of over tourism suffer the fate of having the essence sucked out of them. Tourists don’t come to add anything more than money to a place, they come to take away things, like items and experiences. And it can only be a mutually beneficial exchange if the people in charge of a place know that and never forget it.

3.jpgThe dominant positive vibration of Barcelona is: Bravado. To generalize, the people of Barcelona are not afraid of making a bold and showy statement. You see this Bravado holding strong throughout their political history. It is a very bold mannerism that is meant to impress others and even to intimidate others. There is a kind of pride in the Bravado of the people of Barcelona. They are driven, proud people and they are proud of and driven about whatever they associate themselves with. This bravado is behind the architecture and the taking on of a project like the building of the Sagrada Familia. It is behind the idea to bid for the Olympic games. It is behind the decision to solve the burial space issue by creating The Cementiri de Montjuïc. It is the necessary spirit with which to dance the flamenco. It is behind the push for Catalan independence. This bravado is grown into the people. It is an integral part of their speech patterns and mannerisms and movements.

As I write this, I am sitting on the beach looking out over vigorous waves curling up and collapsing in on themselves so close to the shoreline, it feels like they are deliberately trying to grab you. To my right, a couple is slow dancing in the golden honey sunlight at the end of day. There is a rich quality of life here. A quality of life that lasts well into the wee hours of the morning. To generalize, the Spaniards keep extremely late hours. As a morning person, my day is soon to be over. But for the people of Barcelona, the day has just begun.    2.jpg


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