Archive for the ‘Spiritual’ category

Gifting Goodness… x3

June 11, 2018

Three-fold Law or the Law of Return, is universal to all. What we put out into this world, good or bad, we will get back three-fold. A special woman gifted me one baby cactus several months ago as a symbol of a new beginning. Later she brought me more babies planted in rows of three, which I felt was very symbolic. In line with this natural law, I regifted three babies with thoughtfulness and heart. One for my mom, one for sista and one for Gail.♡


March 25, 2017

picture the warmth
the sun
pure joy
when gold boldly
meets your eye
a field of bliss
sun kissed by God
and sweet clouds
in painted skies
feel the love
precious daffodils
surround your heart
with light
a field of gold
sun kissed by God
and the power
of His might

by Felicia Lujan

♡Photograph of flowers from my mama. She recently told my sister and I, “when you feel stressed out, think of a field of daffodils.” The flowers she sent us, opened beautifully. She was also my inspiration for this poem.♡

The Cutest Guy

November 10, 2016

Today I got a chance to touch the cutest guy I’ve ever laid eyes on in the gym! We had a special visit from one of my animal totems and he was only about one inch long. Tiny lil guy almost got smashed by a dumbbell when I dropped it. Oh no!!! I scooped him up and took him around the gym to tell all the regulars hello. Looked like he had lost tail #1 and had regenerated tail #2. Dodging and laughing off “prooootein” remarks from the guys, I headed outdoors and gently placed him on a big tree. On my way back in, Don patted my shoulder and said “you’re a beautiful soul Felicia.”

Read my 2011 post…

The Little Lizard: A Power Animal

•♡ Rep’n @ Mandrill’s Gym ♡•

Invoking Divine Intervention

September 13, 2014


Picked me up this awesome spiritual artifact. It is a pendant with an image of Hanuman…the Hindu God of power, strength and courage. He is also believed to be an avatar of the God Shiva. “Amongst the Hindus of Northern India, it is a very popular belief that chanting the Hanuman Chalisa invokes Hanuman’s divine intervention in grave problems, including those concerning evil spirits.”

White: New Site Theme

August 25, 2014


I love this famous quote by Black Elk (Heȟáka Sápa). He was a visionary Medicine Man of the Oglala Lakota Sioux who passed away this month in 1950. May this great man rest in peace. The contrast of black and white in his words is highly symbolic and interesting. “Black” Elk mentioned several “white” things with the “whispers” metaphorically becoming grey.

Black Elk said… “Now suddenly there was nothing but a world of cloud, and we three were there alone in the middle of a great white plain with snowy hills and mountains staring at us; and it was very still; but there were whispers.” There are words coming from black, reflecting off white and birthing grey. This can be symbolic of many things.

The numerology of 3 is interesting. This number is known to represent the triad of human-heaven-earth. The Sioux Nation consists of 3 divisions: Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota, each of which speaks a unique dialect. A Sioux Holy Man named Lame Deer once said… “We see in the world around us many symbols that teach us the meaning of life.” If we choose to see the symbols, our eyes will open.

Honored by the Indigenous

May 1, 2014


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.


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. 

*Fall in Love*

April 6, 2014


Sunday Visit to El Santuario de Chimayo

March 9, 2014


Today D and I went to Chimayo with my family. It was a good day. We left in the morning and came back in the late afternoon. It was such a gorgeous day up north. The amazing blue sky gently enveloped the sacred, historic site.

I know all of us thought about how much my grandma and her sister loved that place when they were alive. My grandma believed in Santuario’s power to cure every ailment be it mental or physical. I picked up gifts for one of my special girlfriends who is very religious. She will appreciate the gifts.


I came across an old friend selling sweet smelling, handmade soaps, sage smudge sticks, and Chimayo chili. It is always good to support local creatives, so I dropped 40 on some goods! Following that we went to Rancho de Chimayo for lunch. I had a delish salad there.

Tonight I went back to read an old piece I wrote in April of 2012 about El Santuario. It was titled Good Friday: The Penance of Imperfect Creatures. I remember that I really enjoyed writing that piece. I used a quote by Ernst Fischer which says “as machines become more and more efficient and perfect, so it will become clear that imperfection is the greatness of man.”


It is important to embrace our imperfection. Hearing a sermon for sinners today reminded me I’m human. I also reread a lovely quote from Karen Nave I used for that 2012 piece. She said “sometimes we strive so hard for perfection that we forget that imperfection is happiness.” Being human is hard, which is why so many people pray.

We pray for health. We pray for peace. We pray for others. We pray for direction and answers. In times of our deepest human weakness we pray for strength. If my prayers aren’t answered, I know that there’s a reason. I trust in that. Visiting El Santuario always reminds me that I am beautifully flawed. 

~°~ 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.



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. 
~° 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.
~° 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 °~


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

August 14, 2013

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.

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~~

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.

Eye 2 Eye

January 29, 2013

Eye 2 Eye by Felicia Lujan
Why does the eye see a thing
more clearly in dreams than
the imagination when awake?”

~~~Leonardo da Vinci

When Leonardo da Vinci contemplated the clarity of his visions he must have wished he was always asleep. Surely the genius of the Italian Renaissance was afforded the luxury of unrestricted creativity in his dreams. There he could perceive alternate realities. There he could understand complexity. Why? I believe that Leonardo was able to open his third eye of knowledge through his dreams. In a spiritual dream state his ideas were clear.

Sometimes we don’t see eye to eye with others. It can be difficult to understand when seeing eye to eye is so desired. In college I took many traditional courses in psychology, philosophy, and religion. Today I was reminded of the three eyes of knowledge, as well as the information that they are able to capture and convey. If we take a look at the eyes of knowledge, each level, each function, we can get a better understanding of why people disconnect or lose eye contact if you will.

In the thirteenth-century there was a religious philosopher named St. Bonaventure. By all accounts, Bonaventure was a great man. He was respected by the church and became one of our greatest philosophers. The Western mystic developed the concept of “three eyes.” The “eyes” were the three methods that men and women utilized to attain knowledge. In his book Breviloquium, St. Bonaventure discusses knowledge and wisdom at length.

The first eye is associated with physical phenomena. The second eye with mental phenomena, and the third eye with spiritual phenomena. Numerous individuals within the humanities believe that we do not only see with our eyes. The larger part of that which we are able to see derives from the mind’s eye. Philosophers, psychologists, and theologists also believe that many may never see with the third eye of knowledge. I myself feel that I see regularly with the Eye of Reason, which is also called the mind’s eye.

1st Eye… Eye of Flesh is the eye we use to see the outside world. Here we actually employ physical sight to see material objects and gain knowledge from those objects.

2nd Eye… Eye of Reason or the mind’s eye is used to attain knowledge associated with the flesh. We also use this eye to analyze abstract thoughts and ideas. This eye includes, but transcends the Eye of Flesh so it is a combination of physical and intellectual knowledge. This has also been referred to as intellectual sight.

3rd Eye… Eye of Contemplation or the Eye of the Spirit is only open when we become fully illuminated with spiritual insight. Most people still have this eye closed. It is said that only true mystics see with this eye.

It is hard to understand why seeing eye to eye in a world of knowledge is difficult. Maybe it is simply that your eye is closed while my eye is open or vice versa? Maybe like Leonardo da Vinci, we should rely on our dreams? Maybe doing so would allow us to open each eye and perceive alternate realities or even reconnect? Why? Because in our dreams, ideas are clear.

In the Marriage of Heaven and Hell, William Blake said “if the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.” Apparently Blake also contemplated translucent eye lids.

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

To Remember: Keep the Flame Alive

September 16, 2012

Stone Altar and Candle
Santa Gertrudis Church
Mora, New Mexico
~~Photograph by Felicia Lujan (2012)~~

Wooden Entrance Sign
Santa Gertrudis Church
Mora, New Mexico
~~Photograph by Felicia Lujan (2012)~~

Exterior of Santa Gertrudis Church
Mora, New Mexico
~~Photograph by Felicia Lujan (2012)~~

Santa Gertrudis Church
Mora, New Mexico
~~Photograph by Felicia Lujan (2012)~~

Since so many of my Valdez family members have recently discovered my site, it is only right that I highlight some history of the Mora Valley tonight. There are some that are far away and my not have a chance to visit the area often. I decided to share some photos I took during a recent funeral of one of the Valdez men- Gary. May he rest in peace. When his funeral ended I took some time to walk around by myself and really absorb the history of this scared place. This is the church where my maternal great grandmother and great grandfather married. Historically, the plaza which envelopes the church was once known as Santa Gertrudis Lo de Mora, which is the present day town of Mora. Church registers can be found in the 1845 Mexican Census and offer a rare glimpse into early settlers of the valley.

1981 painting of Santa Gertrudis Church in 1890s
Artist- Fred Olivas
Mora, New Mexico

This church is the last remnant of the original plaza. The church was destroyed by fire in the mid 1960s, but was rebuilt a stones throw from main street in the same exact location. I will have to ask my mom and Ernie if they remember that? There are still several historic buildings on the property. This area is on the National Register of Historic Places and includes parish buildings, a small convent, educational sites, and some houses. It is amazing to think about how the population changed in Mora over the decades. I am not sure what the total population is today, however in 1860 there were over 5,500 people living in the area. By 1920, the population was just under 14,000 and by 1970 it had dwindled down to about 4,600. The 1860 census documents several carpenters in the Mora Valley who were French-Canadian. I have linked the maternal side of my family (through a prenuptial investigation) to French-Canadian ancestry.

Stained Glass Window
Santa Gertrudis Church
Mora, New Mexico
~~Photograph by Felicia Lujan (2012)~~

In 1950, the famed historian, Fray Angelico Chavez said that some buildings in Mora exhibited “French rural flavor” with regard to architecture. Some of these “French” designs included Gothic Revival exteriors with the use of stone and pitched roofs, such as the “board-and-wood-shingle pitched roof” which was once on the church. I find it interesting to think that some of my relatives may have contributed to the architectural history of this small and beautiful Catholic church. My maternal grandmother was Corina Valdez y Brisal de Garcia. My grandma Corine was a Mora girl at heart, but she passed away in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She was the oldest of five children born to Alfonso Valdez and Felicitas Brisal. I am named after my great grandma Felicitas. I do know that my great grandparents were married in Santa Gertrudis Church on November 27, 1915. They would have married in the original church building before it was destroyed by fire. I do wish I knew what the inside looked like then? If my grandma was still alive, I could ask her.

Baptismal Pool
Santa Gertrudis Church
Mora, New Mexico
~~Photograph by Felicia Lujan (2012)~~

My grandma was born to her mother and father on September 24, 1916. She was baptized on October 2 that same year. Her godmother and godfather were her grandparents (my maternal great great grandparents) Roman Valdez and Porfiria Maes. There were four other children to follow my grandma. These children were: Maximinio Valdez (born in 1918); Jose Eugenio Valdez (born in 1920); Maria Lara de Jesus Valdez (born in 1922); and the final child was Crecencia (Cres/Chencha) Valdez (born in 1926). I am sure each and every one of these family members were baptized in this church, which made my visit to the church that much more special. I can’t explain the feeling of awe I get to travel the path of those who came before me. Visiting that church that day also reminded me how important it is for us to remember. It is important to remember those who were blessed in a sacred place and those who were laid to rest in a scared place. It is our duty to keep the historic flame alive.

Virgin Mary
Santa Gertrudis Church
Mora, New Mexico
~~Photograph by Felicia Lujan (2012)~~

Stained Glass Window
Santa Gertrudis Church
Mora, New Mexico
~~Photograph by Felicia Lujan (2012)~~

Santa Gertrudis Church
Mora, New Mexico
~~Photograph by Felicia Lujan (2012)~~

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