Denise Orpustan-Love

The Mill House Speaks

 Presentation Abstract




The Mill House Speaks is a remarkable story about the journey of returning to my father’s ancestral homeland in the Basque Country in the summer of 2015 with my children, following the passing of my beloved mentor, cultural anthropologist Angeles Arrien, Ph.D. In honoring the promise I made to her to do a project on Basque folklore, I honestly, candidly, and courageously share this journey. In this research trip to my father’s homeland in the Basque Country, I discovered that the “project” is much more than a collection of literature on ancient Basque folklore, but an ancestral journey of living folklore, tied to my father’s sacred mill house.
The Mill House Speaks integrates our daily synchronistic experiences on this summer research trip to the Basque Country in France. The Mill House Speaks describes in detail the life dreams of rebuilding Papa’s mill house and creating a project on Basque folklore with my mentor. Through daily observations, experiences, and storytelling in the village of my father, I reflect on the road that brought me here. Supported by literature on ancient Basque folklore and ethnographic research, I discover that all parts of the journey, the present and past, are united as one, just like the ancient etxe.

The seven pathways are the integrated aspects of this journey, reflecting the parts of the ancient Basque world and belief system. The seven pathways are a synthesis of this ancient Basque world, all connected to the major areas of life, including life lessons from nature and perennial wisdoms, daily life actions (sun), inner qualities/character attributes (moon), the cycles of the seasons, and everyday tools for building one’s life dream.

In its entirety, The Mill House Speaks is a guided journey of living folklore, both memoir and storytelling, for my children and future generations, to pass on the enduring wisdoms of the human spirit.