Where Is Bohemia Anyway?

The best thing about Bohemia, I think, is that unlike so many other great and romanticized places that have enchanted idealists and captured imaginations (think Camelot, think Narnia), is that Bohemia is a physical place you can venture to as much as it is a state of mind. "Bohemia" is actually the western region of what is currently the Czech Republic - the locals in the area still refer to their homeland as Bohemia - which I know since that's where much of my father's side of the family still resides.

For centuries Bohemia's capital Praha (Prague) was Europe's intellectual center and the world's most promising artists and scholars found their calling and place in the city. Bohemia was also was notorious for spawning the sort of ideas and movements that fueled political dissent - (part of) the reason "Bohemian" has become synonymous with those who live on the fringes of society living according to a more romantic and less-acceptable code than what you'll find among the mainstream.

For those of us who are predisposed, genetically or otherwise, to live a little off-the-grid in accordance with romantic notions and wandering ways that sometimes make the crowds raise eyebrows... well, I frankly find it lovely to know there's a land to which I can pilgrimage - a few acres of earth where castles still stand and gargoyles blink, where gypsies in caravans laugh at the sunflowers and high waters and those people who merely dip their toes into travel while lugging around their fearful need for solid things; a preserved boulevard of medieval cities where I can sojourn and be penetrated by the air steeped in hauntings - clammy with the residue of dead people, especially those with strong characters, and absolutely reeking of all things ether-worldy; a once-upon-a-time country, a Brigadoon where the balls of my feet can meet cobblestones and fields of wildflowers as I take deep breaths and think "yes, this bewitching world is where a part me came from, where certain chambers in my soul long to be and - when the moon is just right - where I sometimes belong."


Nancie Jirků said...

"yes, this bewitching world is where a part me came from, where certain chambers in my soul long to be and - when the moon is just right - where I sometimes belong." My father came from a very small village in Southern Bohemia and fled when he was just 18. He died just over 20 years ago and I've been feeling a need to connect with who he was and where he came from for a very long time. I've been looking for a crest of our family name to get a tattoo, but I've not been able to find it. Therefore, I think I will get the Bohemian crest... which is what led me to your blog. And what a serendipitous click it was since your words so beautifully expressed what I was unable to formulate on my own, but was in my heart. Thank you.

Ms.Nožisková said...

Hi Nancie,

Isn't it interesting how those ties feel so strong? I do think it signifies this "larger something" that we come from and don't acknowledge the way we once did.

I love the idea of a Bohemian crest tattoo. It seems like a lovely tribute to your father and where he came from.

I wish you well on your continued quest to connect with your Bohemian roots. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to write!

V klidu,