The Weather Channel airs our footage

LMM footage is shown on The Weather Channel making it the #1 video on their app for the last weekend of March 2019. Check it out.

To read our original post and see more images click here

See our original video below.

Macaronesia Film Summer of 2019

The Sete Cidades twin lakes of São Miguel, Açores, Portugal
La Mancha Media, with the help of Richard Taylor, will be making a new three part documentary on Macaronesia, a set of islands off the coast of Portugal and Africa. Many assume there must be a Macronesia set of islands since there is a Micronesia. Oddly, our last film project was in Micronesia. However, Macaronesia has nothing to do with Micronesia or any fabled Macronesia. Instead it's a completely different word with a completely different meaning. See below.

There are four islands in the chain: 1. the Azores, an autonomous region of Portugal; 2. Madeira, another autonomous regions of Portugal; 3. the Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago; and 4. Cape Verde, an independent African nation. We will be going to all but the Canarys.

The entomology of the word Macaronesia comes from the Greek meaning the islands of the fortunate. According to Greek mythology, these islands were known as the Fortunate Isles or Isles of the Blessed, a mythical place reserved for those deities who had chosen to be reincarnated thrice, and managed to be judged as especially pure enough to gain entrance to the Elysian Fields all three times.

Therefore this is the Greek's Elysium or Elysian Fields. This refers to a conception of the afterlife that developed over time and was maintained by some Greek religious and philosophical sects and cults. In Homer's Odyssey, for example, Elysium (i.e., Macaronesia) is described: the Elysian plain...where life is easiest for men. No snow is there, nor heavy storm, nor ever rain, but ever does Ocean send up blasts of the shrill-blowing West Wind that they may give cooling to men. — Homer, Odyssey (4.560–565

The Greek oral poet Hesiod refers to the Isles of the Blessed in his didactic poem Works and Days:

....And they live untouched by sorrow in the islands of the blessed along the shore of deep-swirling Ocean, happy heroes for whom the grain-giving earth bears honey-sweet fruit flourishing thrice a year, far from the deathless gods, and Cronos rules over them. — Hesiod, Works and Days (170)

So these islands were known to Greeks to be the paradise they desired. I can't wait to discover this amazing beauty and dive into its ancient history and present day cultural traits.

The film trip is planned for June of 2019, and hopefully the three part film will be available on YouTube by mid July. If you, the reader of this blog, would like to help in any way, please contact me (David Whalen, LMM Director) on the contact form of this website.

I have just started my research and will be looking for places to visit and people to interview. So far I have found a few interesting places we may visit.

A. Cape Verde
--Cidade Velha (old city) is a UNESCO World Heritage site, the oldest settlement on CV.
--Cidade Velha has the oldest colonial church in the world - Nossa Senhora do
--Rosário church, which was constructed in 1495
--Praia – the capital, on Santiago Island
--Mindelo – port city on São Vicente, probably the country's liveliest
--Cidade Velha (Ribeira Grande) – A historic town on Santiago
--Brava, the smallest island, is a botanist's paradise, home to many unique flora that live in its misty forests
--Pico de Fogo - an active volcano on Fogo that has created a unique landscape best explored on foot or Horseback

B. Azores
--Lagoa das Sete Cidades, a beautiful hour glass green and blue body of water known as a caldera northwest of Ponta Delgada. It is storied with myths and legends.
--Lagoa das Furnas, an active caldera with steam vents, mud pots and geysers, locals cook food in earth ovens available in picnic areas.
--Lagoa do Fogo (Fire Lake) is a beautiful caldera lake high up in the mountain and known for its dramatic views and white sand beach.
--At Faial Island see Horta Harbour where all sail boat stop, Faial Caldera and Capelinhos volcano.
--At Pico Island you can climb the mountain, 2351 meters above sea level. It is the tallest mountain in Portugal.
--A main street in Angra do Heroísmo(a  UNESCO heritage site) and main city of the island of Terceira.
--Whale and Dolphin Watching.

C. Madeira
--The archipelago is considered to be the first territorial discovery of the exploratory period of the Age of Discovery
--In 2019 Madeira island will celebrate six centuries since its formal discovery by the Portuguese.
--The "laurisilva" forests, called lauraceas madeirense, notably the forests on the northern slopes of Madeira Island, are designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO
--Levadas An impressive system of aqueducts built between 1461 and 1966 to bring water from the mountains to farmland.
--Cabo Girão One of the world's highest ocean cliffs (590m/1,935 ft. above sea level).
--Jardim Botânico Funchal Botanical garden.
--São Vicente Caves,  ( Volcanic caves
--(grutas) where you can visit lava tubes.
--Jardim do Monte Palace Magnificent gardens of the former Monte Palace hotel.
--Jardim Orquídea Orchid garden.
--Madeira Story Centre, [13] ( The best way to learn about Madeira's history and culture.
--Madeira has some truly fantastic roads. The fantastic coastal roads and hilly terrain make this island a drivers dream, with brilliant views.
--Kayaking at Ponta de São Lourenço, see hidden gems around Ponta de São Lourenço: visit its enchanting bays, marine caves and breathtaking landscapes, accessible only by boat.

Rediscovered Tree of Life from Paradise

Blessings to you this Christmas 2018. The LMM YouTube channel now has 5000 subscribers and nearing two million views. I have much to be thankful for. I came across this lovely read about the oldest Christmas tree. I want to visit Steyr soon. Imagine real Christmas is a tree, star and a child. So simple.

The Rediscovered Tree of Life from Paradise

A few years ago, I was fortunate enough to see the oldest surviving Christmas
Christkindl Church near Steyr, Austria

tree in the world, which forms a kind of reredos behind the high altar in the church at Christkindl near Steyr.  The history of this tree takes us back to the year 1694.  At that time, Steyr had a new sacristan and choirmaster who suffered from epilepsy, or, as the chronicle innocently puts it, "the sickness where one falls down."  He came from Melk, where he had become acquainted with the devotion to the Child Jesus.  He placed a picture of the Holy Family in the hollow of a medium-sized pine, and he found strength and consolation as he said his prayers before his picture.  Then he heard of an image of the Christ Child that had healed a paralyzed nun, and after some time he succeeded in obtaining an exact copy, a waxen Christ Child holding a cross in one hand and the crown of thorns in the other.

He brought this image to the tree and said his prayers before it, sensing that a healing power radiated from the image.  Gradually, people heard about this, and they began to make pilgrimages to the Christ Child in the tree.  The Church authorities in Passau were slow to approve of this popular devotion, but the local people were finally given permission to erect a little church around this tree, and the foundation stone of the Christkindl church was laid in 1708.  It was built by the most celebrated Austrian architects of the time, on the model of Santa Maria Rotonda in Rome.  One might say that it has become a precious husk around the tree, out of which the altar and the tabernacle grow.  The tree still bears the little waxen Christ child.  He wears a crown, and rays go forth from the figure, giving an assurance of faith and hope to many people.

The story is more than just an interpretation of one of our loveliest Christmas customs: I have come to see it as key to the very heart of the mystery of Christmas itself.  This tree is now the rediscovered tree of life from paradise; as an old German hymn says, "the cherub with his flaming sword no longer blocks the way."  And this tree is Mary with the blessed fruit of her womb, Jesus.  And Jesus is there as a child without weapons, issuing an invitation to us.  He is "Immanuel", God as a child, a God to whom we may speak in intimate language.  He invites us to Himself, and in a very deep sense, we are all suffering from "the sickness where one falls down."  Again and again, we find ourselves unable interiorly to walk upright and to stand.  Again and again, we fall down: we are not masters of our own lives; we are alienated; we are not free.  The rotunda of the church building underline this.  The circular octagon is the classical form of baptisteries, which in turn is linked to a very ancient tradition in religious history, namely, to the cave and to the circular building that hint at the maternal womb- at the mystery of birth.  Thus, the building points once more to Mary, to the Church, and to our baptism and rebirth.  The building explains to us what it means to affirm that God has become a child.  It explains to us the meaning of Jesus' words to Nicodemus: "Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God" (Jn 3:5).  And another saying of Jesus belongs here too:  "Unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven" (Mt 18:3).

Karl Marx once said that a man is not independent as long as he owes his existence to the goodwill of someone else.  As long as you are not autonomous, you are not free, you are dependent.  This seems perfectly obvious!  But if we look more closely, we discover that Marx's words declare love to be slavery.  For love means that I need the other and that I need his goodwill.

This idea of freedom understands love as servitude; in other words, it presupposes the destruction of love.  This makes it an attack on the truth of human existence, since this draws its life from love.  And it is an attack on God, since man is God's image precisely by the fact that he needs love.  For God, too, did not want to be "independent" of love: the Son exists only from the Father, and the Spirit exists only from the Father and the Son, and the Father exists only for the other two Persons.  It is only in this mutual dependency, as the Triune Deity, that He is God.  And this must be so, if God is love.

The Child Jesus points us to this primal truth of human existence.  We must be born again.  We must be accepted, and we must let ourselves be accepted.  We must transform our dependency into love and become free therein.  We must be born again, laying aside our pride and becoming a child.  In the Child Jesus, we must recognize and receive the fruit of life.  This is what Christmas is meant to bring about in us.  This is the truth of the child, the truth of the fruit from the tree of life.  The tree at Christkindl, which tells us all this, is at the same time a monstrance, the appearance of the One who is the bread of life, the appearance of salvation.  And this tree is a cross, and thus has become an altar.  The child bears the cross and the crown of thorns in his hands.  These are the signs of the love that transforms the tree into a cross and the cross into a table of eternal life.

The true tree of life is not far from us, somewhere in a world that we have lost.  It has been established in our midst, not only as an image and sign, but in reality.  Jesus, who is himself the fruit of the tree of life, and life itself, has become so small that our hands can enclose him.  He makes himself dependent upon us in order to make us free and to raise us up from our "sickness where we fall down."  Let us not disappoint the trust he places in us.  Let us place ourselves in his hands, just as he has placed himself in our hands!

Article taken from "The Blessings of Christmas"pp 53 - 60 by Joseph Ratzinger 
(Pope Benedict XVI)

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