Archive for the ‘Culture’ category

GiGi’s Amazing “Okay, so…” Post

April 21, 2018

❤Now that’s writing! https://wp.me/p2R0vm-iHN

Meghan: Missing a Friend

June 13, 2015

Tonight I’m thinking about my friend Meghan as she treks across El Camino de Santiago. She started in Lisbon with her mother and is on day 5 on the Camino Portugués. Today she is in Portugal and she is heading to Santiago. From what I could find online, it seems they will be walking about 300 miles. Her journey is inspiring! She even tied the symbolic shell to her backpack.

image

•••Meghan...Day 4 on the camino.•••

I’m going to miss working with Meghan. I have had the chance to get to know her well and I’m really glad I met such a wonderful woman. I included some photos we took together on a site visit for work last month. We visited New Mexico’s largest petroglyph preserve, known as Mesa Prieta. The private preserve is a magical place and around 7500 years ago, Archaic people began carving pictures into these basalt surfaces.

Meghan and I had a great time that day. We both learned so much about how petroglyphs were made, how they are documented today, and the digitization project that this non-profit organization is working on. It was mind-blowing. We spent the larger part of the day with a very knowledgeable archaeologist. Our conversation was interesting. I love to learn and asked many, many, many questions.

I’m really glad Meghan and I got to spend that day together before she left my agency. There is nothing like having like minded friends when we are finding “the way.”  It reminds us that every single person we meet on our personal and professional journey will teach us something because we are meant to meet them. From Meghan I have learned how to stay inspired… how to stay smiling… and how to stay brave.

image

•••Meghan Bayer and Felicia Lujan visit the mesa.•••

Honored by the Indigenous

May 1, 2014

image

Today I had a pleasant surprise from my beautiful cousin, Jessica. She is a very special woman and is the moderator of the Sacred Garden Doula blog. This afternoon she sent me a text message to tell me that Tewa Woman United was using a photograph I took on their Facebook page. I was honored to learn that this group of “indigenous woman united in heart, mind and spirit” used my image of a very special moment in time.

image

I took one of the most beautiful photos I have ever taken last year at the Gathering for Mother Earth in Pojoaque. I grew up in the Pojoaque Valley. Participating in the gathering was an extremely spiritual and touching experience for me. I wrote about it in The Spirit of Place. In this piece I explained how I felt that day. I was definitely moved in so many ways.

It really is an honor to have my photo selected by Tewa Women United. They obviously agreed that it captured the spirit of place. 

Death by Curare: A Love of Blowguns

April 24, 2014

image

~“Blowing Poison in the Amazon” a digital rendering by Felicia Lujan~

For some time I have been fascinated with blowguns. These low tech tools or weapons used mostly by indigenous peoples in the rainforest are also referred to as blowpipes or blow tubes. A blowgun is traditionally made of a long tube of organic material such as bamboo. The tube is used to fire poisoned darts or other projectiles by blowing air by mouth into the tube.

I first became intrigued with the blowgun when one of my all time favorite fantasy films was released in 1985. I was a ten year old girl with a wild imagination. In Legend, a poisoned blowdart was used by the evil goblins to kill a unicorn in a dark fairy tale which I favor. I now own that movie and still watch it often. The blowgun made such an impression on me that I authored a poem titled “Blowdart” in February of 2013.

image

~The talking book and player on the chair in my office.~

For the last few days, I have been listening to a talking book while I work. This book along with a book my son and I read on poison dart frogs, made me want to research further into the history and use of the blowgun. After listening to my talking book, and doing some research, I am more fascinated by not only blowguns, but by medicine men.

Listening to Tales of a Shaman’s Apprentice has been so interesting. The book was read and written by Mark J. Plotkin, Ph.D. Dr. Plotkin is a famous ethnobotanist who searches “for new medicines in the Amazon Rainforest and said “everytime a shaman dies, it is as if a library burned down.” This is a very sad realization. There is so much oral history to be lost with death.

Dr. Plotkin spent an amazing amount of time studying the shamans of the northeast Amazon and his book is indeed mind blowing. There is something about actually listening to him tell the story. I could hear his love and enthusiasm for the Amazon, nature and research in his voice. I was particularly struck by his interest in the indigenous use of blowguns.

The indigenous peoples of the Amazon, South and Central America, and South East Asia utilize blowguns as do the Native Americans of North America. These people have used both round projectiles as well as handmade darts for ammunition. I tend to favor those cultures which lace the tips of their darts with poison. This is done to cause paralysis and death.

image

~A Poison Dart Frog~

The type of toxins used on tipped darts to cause paralysis and death vary from culture to culture. Indigenous peoples use curare, a plant based extract or the frothy secretions of toxic frogs to tip darts. Native Americans have been known to extract toxins from the Golden Poppy. The amount of poison used, and the level of penetration seem to play key roles in the life or death of the receiver.

image

~The Golden Poppy~

On September 17, 1864, London’s Illustrated Times published a short piece titled “The Woorali Arrow Poison.” This historic news article says “from the fact that this poison, introduced into the system by the blood vessels, causes paralysis and death in the course of a few minutes, it has been erroneously inferred that death by curare is perfectly free from pain of any kind.” Dr. Claude Bernard’s experiments with curare showed that “one limb after another becomes gradually paralyzed…” He assumed death by curare was not painless as an animal retains intellect during the course of paralysis, which “gradually extended to the respiratory organs” causing suffocation.

On September 16, 1993, the Indiana Gazette ran an article on Dr. Plotkin by Nita Lelyveld, a writer with the Associated Press. He is truly an amazing man. The article was titled “Scientist Learns Healing Secrets from Rain Forest’s Medicine Men.” In this piece, there is a photo of the handsome scientist discussing “blow gun poisons with an En-Yeh-Pah Indian in central Venezuela.” What a great image! It was awesome to read this story. I’m in love with this ethnobotonist. Again, Dr. Plotkin’s professional passion was evident.

image

~The handsome ethnobotanist discussing “blow gun poisons with an En-Yeh-Pah Indian in central Venezuela.” ***Photo Courtesy of the Associated Press~

At the time of that article and the release of his book (1993), Dr. Plotkin was working with Conservation International. He is still on a conservation mission. That is commendable. Today he is president of the Amazon Conservation Team. His team is working with indigenous peoples in order to protect our magical rainforests. He is a very special man with a love of poisoned darts, blowguns, and medicinal cures.

When I first became intrigued with the blowgun, I was just a girl. I had and still have a wild imagination. As a young girl I could never understand the importance of conservation and preservation. If it were not for experts like Dr. Plotkin and the late Dr. Bernard, people like me would never learn about some things. I can only imagine what it is like to be a scientist studying in the rainforest. It must be an empowering, humbling and fulfilling experience.

I am not a scientist, but I am a writer. Through writing I can mentally experience those things I may never be able to do. Through writing, I can spread Dr. Plotkin’s message. Through writing, I can shoot a blowgun. Through writing, I can extract toxins and make curare. Through writing, I can become a poisoned dart. Through writing, I can administer death by curare.

The Real 47 Ronin and Star Crossed Love

April 13, 2014

image

~~★The witch in her dragon form.★~~
……………………………..
Just finished watching 47 Ronin. It was an awesome flick for sure. I started looking into the true story behind these samurai warriors tonight. It’s fascinating and I will surely write about this sometime soon. I learned tonight that fictionalized accounts of the 47 are called Chūshingura, though I assume this story is technically historical fiction. I need to do research to confirm that. These men were brave souls. I saw photos of their real graves online.

I love me some movies which feature culture, weapons, bravery, demons, spirits, witches, spells, and tragic/star crossed lovers. The movie was a tribute to the actual Ronin, but I also continue to wonder what truth is behind the love story which permeated the film. Was there really a half breed and a beautiful princess in this story? Is it true that Kai sacrificed his own life to save her life and restore honor to his people? People who gave him no respect until the very end?

image

~~★The supernatural spider infused with witch breath and Lord Kira’s blood.★~~
……………………………..
There were three scenes I really liked. The first was when the witch uses a spider to poison Lord Asano. The evil witch seamlessly floats into the Lord’s room to drive him mad. She weaves around magically then hovers upside down above his bed while he sleeps. With crazy hair curling about looking like spider legs, she releases a supernatural spider infused with her breath and Lord Kira’s blood. The spider crawls across Lord Asano’s lips leaving a trail of glowing poison which seeps into his mouth.

Another scene I liked featured the witch becoming a dragon with no extremities. I adore dragons. The graphics in this scene were amazing! Critics who say otherwise know nothing about the artists and processing power needed to drive such a scene. The digital fight scene was choreographed well. When the witch was killed by Kai, the tail of the dragon shrunk back into her flowing gown. She laid dying on the ground. I also loved that her eyes were two different colors. Of course! I would have liked to see more spells in this movie for sure.

Maybe I am a hopeless romantic, but what can I say? I like to see the rise, fall and resurrection of an empire hinge on the power of love. It seems that Kai and his Princess, Mika were star crossed since their youth. Even though they couldn’t be together, they cared deeply for one another and vowed to find one another in another life. Before his death, Mika told Kai “my father told me, this world was only a preparation for the next. That all we can ask is that we leave it having loved and being loved.” He told her “I will search for you through a thousand worlds and 10,000 lifetimes until I find you.” With tears she replied “I will wait for you in all of them.” Lovely!

image

~~★Kai and Mika★~~
……………………………..
If you haven’t seen 47 Ronin, I would say it’s worth a watch. It is a story about honor, bravery, magic and love. It would also be great to honor the real samurai warriors by taking some time to learn about their real story and sacrifice. I know as a lover of history and records, I will take time to learn more about these brave samurai warriors. This page on the 47 Ronin is a great place to learn about the real story.
~★~

~°~ The Spirit of Place ~°~

September 23, 2013

The morning was crisp and I could feel the winter slipping into my bones. On Saturday, I got up while the stars were still twinkling. All night long I had various dreams about the special gathering I knew I was going to attend that morning. After making breakfast, I poured up the last cup of flavored coffee and headed out the door into the darkness.

The drive to the valley seemed different. The Pojoaque Valley looked peaceful early in the morning and I really couldn’t remember the last time I had that thought. During my descent I wondered what the Gathering for Mother Earth would be like? My cousin Jessica had invited me to the gathering last year, but I never made it. She insisted it was something I would love. I was happy to be on my way down to my home town. At one time, I said this was the place where I grew up, but I actually grew up several years later. I still continue to grow.

image

image

Upon approaching the gathering site there were several invitational signs. The signs carried depictions of the sun and moon. There were also handmade signs which featured the symbolic turtle totem, one of Creator’s creatures who burrows into Mother Earth. The gathering is held not far from my childhood home. I would say maybe five miles away. There was a long, bumpy dirt road leading to the sacred space amongst the moon, trees, and the spirit of place. 
image
~° Photograph of the moon in the Pojoaque sky by Felicia Lujan °~

When I got out of the vehicle, the first thing I noticed was a painted sky. The sky was alive with shades of pink, purple and blue and had two beautiful teepees in the distance. People were shuffling and beginning to gather. I was hoping I hadn’t missed the ceremony to usher in the sunrise. My cousin had told me that “the grandmothers would sing the sun up in Tewa.” I made it just in time. The moon was still high west in the Pojoaque sky.

I walked up a small embankment into a large circle of rocks. The grandmothers called to us and invited us into the circle. Within that circle there were two centered small circles of rocks. One of the small circles contained a pile of dirt which was likely symbolic of Mother Earth. The other had a fire burning. There were offerings of wood, corn meal and water near the fire. During the course of the gathering handfuls of these offerings were tossed into the fire in prayer and to ask for blessings.

There were about 40 people gathered into the circle. The ceremony started with the thoughts and prayers of the grandmothers. All of those in attendance were spiritually cleansed with a smudge stick. The smoke smelled like a combination of sage and lavender. One woman went around and ran smoke up and down each person’s body. Some people gave thanks. Some people stayed silent. Some people pushed the smoke into their lungs with their hands. A few different people spoke thereafter. They spoke about respect for Mother Earth and fostering an appreciation of her gifts.

When the rays of the sun started shooting over the mountains to the east we were asked to face that direction. While I waited for the sunrise, my heart heard the most beautiful prayers, songs and instruments. The drum, a rattle and a flute complimented each voice. The song of one particular woman brought tears to my eyes. I was moved and touched in ways which seem indescribable. I experienced overwhelming warmth once the sun was in full view. It seemed as though I was seeing the sun for the very first time. In a way, I was.

When I turned back to face the fire, I looked right past the flames. I was overcome by the enchanting beauty of the Black Mesa. The natural light cast a surreal glow from one end of the mesa to the other. Again it felt like the first time I had seen the mesa that I have seen a million times. It is hard to explain how all of this lifted my heart. I felt connected to the strangers experiencing this beauty with me. Lastly we participated in “a short version” of the cinnamon roll hug and then we were released from the circle with blessings.
image
~° Photograph of the sunrise and the spirit of place in the Pojoaque sky by Felicia Lujan °~

This may be one of the most spiritual experiences I have ever had. It made me feel good. It made me feel connected to people and place. It made me feel complete. The experience was nothing like my dreams. It was so much better and more beautiful than the mind of the creative could imagine. When the sun came up, I took a picture. In my photo, unexplainable red markings appeared around the sun. There is also a glowing red orb directly below the sun. I don’t know about you, but I believe I captured the spirit of place that day. I believe. The Gathering for Mother Earth was so amazing.

~° Natural products made by my cousin Jessica °~
image

image

Sharing Wisdom and Creativity in a Sacred Space: A Closer Look at Santa Fe Artist Ken Estrada

August 14, 2013

Logo_Estrada
The studio of an artist can be a sacred sanctuary. When it comes to the works of art created by artist Ken Estrada, that which is sacred permeates his artistic space. Estrada is a Santa Fe native who descends from the Casas Grande Apache Nation by oral tradition. He shares the wisdom of his people using art as a divine medium. His works are deep and highly symbolic. The paintings created by Estrada capture the intimate knowledge of his ancestors using signature earth pigments. The walls of his sacred sanctuary are strewn with earthy tones and imagery which helps minds understand stories of the past.

Art and artistic expression has been a great part of Estrada’s life. As a young boy he was exposed to creative thinking while he sat near the side of his grandfather, a master carpenter who specialized in Spanish Colonial designs. He believes that “everyone has a new idea or approach” to art which “essentially documents the world” they live in. For this reason, Estrada sees his art as a method of storytelling. All of his creative endeavors share “the wisdom of the elders so that it can live on” regardless of the vehicle of expression.

Grey Eagle By Ken Estrada 60 x 48_Web

~Grey Eagle By Ken Estrada (60 x 48)~

In addition to acquiring respect for art from his grandfather, Estrada also developed a profound appreciation for ancient petroglyphs and pictographs. These spectacular images have remained engrained in his mind’s eye. In his youth, Estrada spent several years intrigued by the mystical markings left by the Anasazi at Bandelier National Monument. Estrada grew up near the monument and lived with his uncle who was a park ranger there. He has said that this was “the seed” which inspired his “works and respect for past civilizations expressions of art.” This is a primary reason that the artist opts to work with natural pigments.

The most logical choice was earth,” Estrada said. “In my process I discovered that not only can I get texture from the earth, but more importantly pigments. So most of the pigment, tone and texture, starts from collecting various rocks and minerals from the canyons and mountains of New Mexico. These rocks and minerals are crushed and sifted to a fine powder then mixed with acrylic base and applied generously to stretched canvas by hand and brush.” The act of physically collecting the natural elements featured in paint on his pieces is a spiritual process.

Estrada is a man of many talents. His wife Michelle has called him a “renaissance man” and “true artist” who is “gifted in music, song, writing, art, master craftsmanship, poetry, and thought.” She believes he has “remained faithful to all of his blessed talents” by “baring his soul to the City Different where he was born and raised.” His artistic expression extends beyond imagery and penetrates several senses in addition to the eyes and mind. He not only captures images in paint, he also captures spiritual sounds though music, as well as through the oral history of his ancestors.

Concerned with the historical record, Estrada has been passionately archiving ancient stories and songs from Native American storytellers over the last year. This is a special project he founded called Indigenous Spoken Song Archival Project. The project “has been consuming his thoughts for over a decade.” Recently Estrada developed a web site for this project, which is presently self funded. He has been recording and producing this project in his private recording studio, but is eager to get on the road and travel to native reservations where the ‘Elders Voice’ can be heard. “I truly believe that if we do our part, Creator will take care of the rest,” he said.

West Medicine By Ken Estrada 30x24_Web

~West Medicine By Ken Estrada (30×24)~

The studio of this local artist is indeed a sacred sanctuary. The unique works created by Ken Estrada are unmatched and convey imagery which appears to jump from the canvas into the soul of the observer. Estrada shares the ancient wisdom of the Casas Grande Apache Nation by using art as a divine medium. The works of this artist offer a sound look into the stories of the past, and inspire a future of creativity and respect for Mother Earth. He is excited to extend the reach of his sacred creations at this year’s Santa Fe Indian Market. His sacred space will be open to the public so that people from around the world can catch a unique glimpse into the mind of a native Santa Fe artist. This year Estrada will feature his works near the historic Santa Fe Plaza.

Estrada Studio_8x10_JPG_8.2013_Web

~Estrada Studio Opening Reception Poster~
Designed by Felicia Lujan

The Santa Fe Indian Market is a local event with an international draw, and has been hosted by the non-profit organization SWAIA (Southwestern Association for Indian Arts) for close to 100 years. Estrada’s opening reception is Friday August 16, 2013 from 6pm-8pm. Estrada Studio is located on the 1st floor of the Plaza Mercado Building, 112 West San Francisco Street, Suite 105, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501. Entrance on Water Street across from Coyote Cafe and below Blue Corn Cafe.

Mysticism: The Power of Belief

July 23, 2013
~~~Priestess of Delphi (1891) by John Collier; the Pythia was inspired by pneuma rising from below~~~

~~~Priestess of Delphi (1891) by John Collier~~~


Since the dawn of man we have been intrigued by mystics. Today we have contemporary mystics who embrace all things divine. We are fascinated by those who can see beyond. We are drawn to those who are godlike or have heightened intuition. Their insights into the unknown and their ability to heal broken souls permeates our collective consciousness, culture and history. Some may believe that mystics see through the eyes of God. Some may believe that mystics dabble with magic. Some may believe that mystics do not exist. That is something each of us must decide for ourselves. Do those gifted with divinity walk among us? That depends on what we choose believe.

Mysticism envelopes those who are on a higher level of awareness. They see things that normal eyes either will not or can’t. They are conscious of alternate realities, yet can remain grounded. A mystic seeks and gifts others with spiritual truths, and are often believed to walk a fine line between self and the divine. Only a true mystic can master the art of transcendence. There are historic accounts of mystics who could completely absorb a deity. This enabled them to heal, apprehend extensive knowledge, see into the future or the past, deliver prophecies, dream and find the answers to mysteries.

Pythia or the Oracle of Delphi, was a priestess. She practiced on Mount Parnassus, near the Temple of Apollo at Delphi which was established in the 8th century BC. It is interesting that Pythia delivered her prophecies near a Castalian Spring. Water in itself is highly symbolic and has been used to heal, baptize, birth, and replenish those who use it. She delivered prophecies from the Temple of Apollo as it is he who inspired her visions. The mystical Pythia is said to have frantically delivered divine messages which were triggered by mysterious vapors. The vapors were released through natural formations. Some say that she simply spoke nonsense, but it was likely glossolalia or speaking in tongues.

Right here in New Mexico, a record created to assist an ethnohistorian with the School of American Research captures visits by two separate mystics (Albert H. Schroeder Papers Collection No. 1972-033, Serial No. 10706, Folder No. 427~NMSRCA). In 1969, an unknown author documented “new perspectives on the Pueblos.” In these cases, both mystics appear during the first and second world wars. This is a time of need. The mystics are both men with Christ-like features. The men pray for and heal many in Nambe, Picuris, Santa Clara, San Juan, and Taos Pueblo. These mystics were called “new prophets” by the locals. They “enchanted” and “spoke many languages,” which made them even more mystical.

Today I found myself wondering if I have ever been touched by a mystic? I am intrigued by historical and contemporary mystics who have embraced or embrace all things divine. I am fascinated by those who can see beyond. I am drawn to those who are godlike and have heightened intuition. These insights into the unknown and an ability to heal broken souls is vital to our spirits. They may see through the eyes of God or dabble with magic. I do believe they exist. Those who are divine do walk among us. That is just what I choose believe.

A Visit to Villanueva State Park and the San Miguel del Vado National Historic District

May 12, 2013

Here are some photos from the trip we took yesterday to Villanueva State Park and the San Miguel del Vado National Historic District. This is a great day trip for anyone interested in history, nature and fitness!

The church at San Miguel del Vado was built in 1806 at the principal vado of the Pecos river on the old Santa Fe Trail. This is where custom taxes on caravans, entering New Mexico, were paid to the Mexican government. The original church is still in use.”

Now I’m off to Tortilla Flats. Happy Mother’s Day to my beautiful mommy and my grandma Emily. Today I also remember my grandma Corine and my great grandma Lina.

Spirit, Heart and Mind: An Interview with Miguél A. Tórrez

April 15, 2013

Aristotle once said “if you would understand anything, observe its beginning and its development.” I believe that the great Greek philosopher intentionally excluded “its end” when he said this. History has no end, therefore, there are constant developments. This quote could not ring more truthful for a lover of family history. There is something about knowing where we came from that makes us feel complete. When it comes to the art of research, there is a genealogist who grew up in Ranchitos that is making major contributions to our history. This man has a passion for traditional and scientific research, which makes him a well-rounded historian.

I have known Miguél Tórrez for many years. The first time I met him he was feverishly working on his genealogy with his small boys by his side. He has been interested in history since he was just a boy, but in his early 20s he was seemingly smitten by the history of those who came before him. This was just a few years after Miguél graduated from Española Valley High School. Growing up in Ranchitos, New Mexico, Miguél was near the historic Ohkay Owingeh (San Juan Pueblo). At that time he couldn’t imagine that several years later his maternal line would be genetically connected to this type of ancestry. He says “current data tells us that approximately 80-85% of all New Mexicans with colonial roots have Native American roots on their maternal lineage (mtDNA).”

The final week I collected photographs from Miguél for his feature piece he was preparing for Holy Week. His spiritual devotion bears the deep roots of tradition. As a genealogist, learning about traditions and even practicing tradition will foster a clear understanding of what shaped our people. Miguél believes that “knowing oneself through culture and language fosters a sense of pride” and this belief is evident when you hear him lecture. I asked him why he felt that our traditions were important and he said “no matter what culture a person belongs to everyone’s culture is important because it gives people an identity.”

Santo_Niño_in_Espinosa_Colorado_by_DeSautel

~~Santo Niño in Espinosa, Colorado by DeSautel~~

By now I’m sure that Miguél has a family tree which extends further than I can imagine. He has done so much work and he is always willing to help others in need, which is admirable. Many people who don’t understand the breadth of family history are unaware of the vast collection of surnames they can be connected to. Miguél says that “just two generations back we can see our extended relations.” Between his grandparents and great grandparents he can claim the Torres, Romero, Madrid, Roybal, Rodriguez, Martinez, Medina and Trujillo surnames. He is proud to have discovered that some of his relatives were involved in very important historical events such as the Apache Campaigns and the Rio Arriba rebellion of 1837.

Miguél has tracked military service on his paternal (Torres) line back to Cristoabl de Torres who was born in 1641. He seems to appreciate the fact that a grandfather named Juan “loved to tell stories about his grandparents and all of his relatives.” This grandfather was born in 1915 and had extended family from Chimayó to Cordova, New Mexico. “As a child I was given a visual of life in the 1920s with his stories of travels he and his father would take on horseback and wagon to communities such as Mora where they would travel to sell their produce,” he said. Though his grandfather practiced oral history, Miguél has now harnessed the power of documentary evidence and genetic studies.

3 generations of Torres

~~Three Generations of Torres Y-DNA~~

Miguél is currently in charge of about 100 paternal lineage (Y-DNA) kits. He collaborates regularly Angel Cervantes, the New Mexico DNA Project Coordinator/Group Administrator. This DNA project includes “the colonial expeditions of New Mexico by the Spanish in 1598 and 1693, by the Mexicans in 1821, and by the Americans in 1848.” This weekend Miguél will make a presentation titled “The Espinosa DNA Quest.” On Saturday (April 20, 2013) he will deliver a lecture at the Albuquerque Main Library (501 Copper SW~ Albuquerque, New Mexico) on the discovery of the Y-DNA genetic code of the Nicolás de Espinosa lineage (which includes 18th century branches of that clan). The presentation will run from 10:30~12:00 and is sure to be captivating.

When I asked Miguél what he wanted people to remember about him 200 years from now he said “I hope that the work I am doing will produce results that are worthy of scholarly articles and will serve as a worthy reference thus having historical relevance. As a young man I hope that I will have many successful years in doing so and that many generations will remember my name as having been a valid contributor to the preservation of New Mexican history and culture.” I guess as lovers of history we couldn’t ask for more than that right? Here is to one amazing man making a positive contribution to our communities and to the future through history.

The Loss of Tradition

March 23, 2013
•Cherry Blossoms and The Acequia_3.23.2013•

•Cherry Blossoms and The Acequia_3.23.2013•

Today I participated in the annual cleaning of the acequia in Pojoaque. New Mexico’s acequia system is comprised of several communal irrigation canals. Some parts are dirt and some parts are paved. Some parts are narrow and some parts are wide. These canals or ditches play an essential role in the community I grew up in.

The mayordomo (water master or “ditch boss”) of the acequia is trusted by his neighbors to make critical decisions. The ditches are governed by the boss and by the community members. Mayordomos oversee the distribution of and rights to water. The boss also plans meetings, in addition to coordinating repairs and the annual cleanings.

This year my participation was bitter sweet. For centuries acequias have been cleaned and repaired almost exclusively by men. I was the only woman on the crew today. I am good with a shovel and I’m not scared to break a nail. There is only one other woman I know who cleans the ditches each year. Why does it have to be that way? More women should take pride in their traditions. While most people would opt to pay– we decided to work. It was not an easy task but it did make me feel good.

I was also disappointed to see that there were only three young men on the crew (one was my son). These days it is rare to find parents who want to pass on traditions. Most children are not willing to participate. It made me proud to see my son under bridges and in the mud with his mini shovel. My son was the youngest worker. It was his 1st time cleaning the acequia. He didn’t complain for several hours. At the very end we all grew tired and he said he wanted Subway.

I don’t want to see another casualty in our traditions. More people, young people, and women should take pride in preserving our acequia system. I was told that less than 10 representatives of at least 60 properties showed up for the cleaning. Water is a sacred resource. Ditches have been used communally for so long that they are now part of us.

•Daryn in part of the Acequia_3.23.2013•

•Daryn in part of the Acequia_3.23.2013•

•Pojoaque Acequia Crew_3.23.2013•

•Pojoaque Acequia Crew_3.23.2013•

…..

February 26, 2013

Good Morning Gloucester

vert moon copy

 

From The Farmer’s Almanac:

February’s full Moon is traditionally called the Full Snow Moon because usually the heaviest snows fall in February.

Hunting becomes very difficult, and so some Native American tribes called this the Hunger Moon.

Other Native American tribes called this Moon the “Shoulder to Shoulder Around the Fire Moon” (Wishram Native Americans), the “No Snow in the Trails Moon” (Zuni Native Americans), and the “Bone Moon” (Cherokee Native Americans). The Bone Moon meant that there was so little food that people gnawed on bones and ate bone marrow soup.

 

View original post

Contemporary Traditionalist: An Interview with Andrés Armijo

February 16, 2013

The Contemporary Traditionalist by Felicia Lujan
In a modern world filled with instant gratification, busyness, and over stimulation, it is easy for us to become lost in all of the bells and whistles. On February 8, I had the chance to sit down with one man who is on a mission to forget the bells and preserve tradition in creative ways. A deep love of his origins drives Andrés Armijo to travel the world and New Mexico in search of stories. Andrés has been an intrinsic part of the University of New Mexico for over 20 years. In 2010, an interview with Andrés was uploaded to YouTube by UNM Live. The man with an affinity for education discusses the “dynamic tension between past and future” as evidence of that passion can be seen strewn about the walls of his office.

When the Albuquerque native with roots in Valencia County speaks of his childhood it becomes clear that he was destined to be fascinated by history. He tells a story of being captured by a photographer in 1974 while he was looking into an incubator at a local science fair. There was a distant light of a fresh memory while he remembered that day. Andrés describes himself as an ever curious child. The photograph he told me about was published in the Valencia County News Bulletin, and that childhood curiosity may have engaged Andrés in ways which forever changed him. That spark for didactic is evident as he feels that his greatest contribution to UNM has been the “satisfaction of knowing” that he was “able to encourage and support students in education, creativity, arts, language and culture.”

Andrés Armijo in Embudo, Tecolote, and Jarales, New Mexico (2006-2012)

Andrés Armijo in Embudo, Tecolote,
and Jarales, New Mexico (2006-2012)

On the day of our interview, Andrés was in Santa Fe to recruit students from Capital High School for a special program with UNM. The Interdisciplinary Film and Digital Media Program (IFDM) is intended to “integrate filmmaking and digital media, build a native New Mexican Hollywood, train the citizens of New Mexico, and foster research.” From the outside, Andrés seems like a perfect fit for the contemporary program with a mission to enlighten natives of his state. It is a modern program with a particular place for a man who refers to himself as a “traditionalist.” In his time at UNM, Andrés has had several official titles. Among those titles are Senior Academic Advisor, Senior Program Manager, Lecturer, Director, Academic Advisement Specialist, and Program Coordinator.

Andrés has indeed gone through many titles while at UNM. Of all those official titles, the one Andrés may have the most pride in may be the more personal title of Family Historian. He recalls being bitten by the genealogy bug as he questioned his mother about a 1919 photograph. The photo was of his grandmother and grandfather. Andrés asked his mother why his “grandmother wasn’t smiling” and “was standing” while his “grandfather was seated.” He was only a boy at that time, but has turned into a man who lectures others on the care of their family memories. On March 16, 2013 at 10:30am, Andrés will present Historical Family Images and Artifacts in the Albuquerque Main Library Community Room. The presentation promises “a creative approach to visualizing and narrating” family history and genealogy.

Andrés Armijo and Flamenco Dance

Andrés Armijo and Flamenco Dance
with Maria Benitez Club (1996-2002)

In 2010, Andrés published Becoming a Part of My History: Through Images & Stories of My Ancestors. A UNM professor called the book “a perfect model for anyone interested in knowing about themselves and their world through research into genealogy and photographic collections.” It was intended to be “a personal journey into the author’s past, but it is also a fascinating account of family life in New Mexico, neighborhoods in Albuquerque, the rites and rituals of Hispanos, how a family through the ages pictured itself, and how all this information and reflection enlightens the author.” Energized by the exploration of his roots, Andrés has a new book which is set for release by LPD Press/Río Grande Books later this year. The book is titled Por Constancia/So that it may be validated: Family History in the Río Abajo. The book will have research on the Candelaria, Bernal, Gallegos, Barreras, and Nuanes families amongst others.

Andrés Armijo in Paris (2010)

Andrés Armijo in Paris (2010)

When asked what he wants people to remember about him 200 years from now, Andrés seemed surprised. As an archivist it is second nature for me to contemplate the hidden history each of us unknowingly leaves behind. How will we be remembered? Several centuries from now our relatives will be looking for us. Before we are gone maybe we should leave more than a census record or a property deed? Take the time today and write down intimate thoughts about yourself. What is you favorite food? What color do you like? What are your favorite memories? Maybe if we save these notes, future generations can learn that much more about the people they came from? In any case, Andrés wants to capture the fact that he is “passionate and considerate.” He also wants to be be remembered as a man who was “intrigued and curious about his past and the world around him.” He said “I hope that will be reflected in my work.”

For more on Andrés Armijo you can visit: http://highnoonarmijo.blogspot.com/

Blessings for the Remains

February 2, 2013

Last week I was talking with a friend about the reburial of some human remains. The remains were discovered in mid 2003 by a contractor working for Bernalillo County. The contractor was working on a sewage system and unearthed the bones of an old cemetery, or camposanto. The camposanto was just north of Albuquerque rather close to the Rio Grande.

The New Mexico Historic Preservation Division of the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) was contacted by the contractor as soon as the remains were uncovered. This division assists with the identification and protection of cultural resources in my state. The work had indeed exposed an archaeological site. This division of DCA worked closely with archaeologists from the University of New Mexico on this site.

I remember when that story first surfaced. It is always horrifying to learn that these things happen. I helped a couple of people several years ago who were looking for information on the area where the remains were discovered. A recent article reported that the remains of about 123 people were recovered from the site. If my memory serves me right at the time I helped those people, the remains of at least 70 residents of the early village of Alameda had been discovered.

Archaeologists determined that the human remains were from a former burial ground of the original Nativity of Our Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Alameda. The time period tied to that community was from around 1700 to 1900. In the first few years of that final century, a major flood swallowed the area.

This past week, parishioners of the current Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church had a rosary and participated in a funeral procession. The church now sits on higher ground, due to that historic flood. The church parishioners then reburied the disturbed remains in the San Carlos Cemetery. The reburial coincided with the centennial celebration of that parish. I find that interesting because the church was built in 1913, shortly after New Mexico became a state.

Many years ago I remember helping two different archaeologists research a dig here in Santa Fe. Sadly, one of the archaeologists has now passed away. By using maps, we discovered that the area they were excavating here in Santa Fe was once a cemetery. It was scary to see the city divide the land and basically sell “graveyard” lots several years later. If I recall, that happened in the 1950s.

The most recent article on the Alameda remains said that with a “proper burial” these people were “now at final rest.” I send my blessings for the remains. It is unfortunate that someday these bones may be studied yet again by another set of archaeologists.

A Look at the Symbols in Bless Me Ultima

October 29, 2012

On Sunday my sister and I took our mom to the movies. This week is her birthday and she has been wanting to see the new movie Bless Me Ultima. The movie is based on a book written by Rudolfo Anaya. The novel took the writer many years to finish, and he is said to have employed spirit guides and his subconscious mind to complete this work. It was published in 1972. The book has been used in classrooms for many years because it is well respected in the world of Chicano literature. I was also very anxious to see the film because I knew it featured a curandera and that it would be filled with love, magic, history, land, nature, herbs, and witches. What’s not to love? A curandera is a female folk healer who uses faith as a weapon. She also employs good magic using herbs, spirit guides, and the power of the natural world around her. The story is not that of Ultima’s. It is the story of a young boy named Antonio Márez y Luna, an outside spectator who is contemplative of many things.

Our Tickets to Bless Me Ultima on 10.28.2012

Photo I took of Ultima “La Grande”
and Antonio in the movie Bless Me Ultima

At first I was surprised to learn that the movie was two hours long. I must say that there was not one moment of the movie that didn’t capture me completely. We laughed and we cried as a New Mexico story graced the big screen in a way that I have never seen. I have one of the original runs of Anaya’s book. When I was a girl I remember reading the book in school, and in college we did chapter studies. I felt that the film flawlessly embodied and conveyed the heart of the original story. We all loved the film. I always feel so blessed to have people in my life who understand me. As we left the theater, I explained to my mom and my sister that I was taking notes on my phone. My mom said “I know,” and my sister said “I figured.” In some movies I have attempted to take in a notebook, but it is hard to see what you are writing in the dark and have found it much easier to jot down thoughts in draft form on my phone. One day I aspire to complete a full literary analysis of this novel, but for tonight I will deliver the symbols I derived from the film.

Photo I took of the funeral procession
of a Trementina witch sister
in the movie Bless Me Ultima

When we were leaving I told my mom that I saw so many symbols in this film. I adore my mature and intense mind. My mom was very curious about the symbols I saw, so I dedicate this to her. Maybe with any luck I will make her and my sister just as crazy as I am! If you have or haven’t seen the film, or even if you have only read the book, look deeper. In my mind, symbolism is about connection. A symbol is a connection~ usually from sight to an object or idea (with the mind)~ to a feeling (with the heart)~ and then ultimately to a person, place or thing. Following are the symbols I ascertained from Bless Me Ultima. This was not Ultima’s story, however, she embraced symbolism like no other character in Anaya’s novel does. The end of the movie brings the strongest and most poignant quote. When “La Grande” dies, Antonio laid her to rest and said “I did not cry~ her voice is everywhere.” The quote confirms a connection of all symbols in the book and film.

Symbols in the Movie

Ultima or “La Grande”~ was a symbol of love, sacrifice, life, death, land, faith, respect, acceptance, forgiveness, nature, power, protection, knowledge, tradition, and healing

Ultima’s Owl~ was a symbol of protection and sacrifice

The Moon~ was a symbol of mystery, land, time, magic, and knowledge

The River, Rain and Water~ were symbols of life, death, healing, abundance, and the seasons

The Land, Herbs, and Farming~ were symbols of home, family, tradition, knowledge, continuity, and healing

The War~ was a symbol of evil, change, vice, and sin

Death~ was a symbol of fear, evil, mortality, and immortality

Religion~ was a symbol of connection and disconnection


betsyrandolph's Blog

4 out of 5 dentists recommend this WordPress.com site Or so I've been told.

Ebony and Crows

A dark spill of worlds and words

Dr. Eric Perry

Psychology to Motivate | Inspire | Uplift

Krivs Studio Blog

Profiles, Features, Interviews, Contest News and more from the Studio

Premier Performance

Become Your Best

Discover WordPress

A daily selection of the best content published on WordPress, collected for you by humans who love to read.

Matiuadex Gallery

Movies, Music, Celebrity, Gists, life style and many more

FITNESS SALVATION

Fitness Without The Fluff

Taylor Network of Podcasts

Podcast, News and Articles

deverepaynept.wordpress.com/

Build the best version of you!

DEDRIAN E COLON

SOCIAL MEDIA CONSULTANT

I didn't have my glasses on....

A trip through life with fingers crossed and eternal optimism.

%d bloggers like this: