Archive for the ‘World War I’ category


May 25, 2015

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When It’s Real…It Hurts

December 21, 2014

A Stone to Remember

Yesterday I went to see The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies. Of course it was good. What’s not to like about the mystically twisted stories born from Tolkien’s mind? There were a few core themes in this movie, but I felt the most prevalent was loss. There were several losses in this story.



The only moment which drew a tear from my eye were two moments between Tauriel and Kili. The elf and dwarf have had a star-crossed history throughout Tolkien’s writings. Lost love is always tragic. Loss is not a surprising theme which surfaces to anyone familiar with the author. Loss was experienced by Tolkien during World War I and he wrote these stories during World War II.

Legolas, Prince of the Woodland clearly loves Tauriel though she loves another. It is admirable that his character was written to support her unconditionally given this circumstance. Tauriel’s elven family doubts her love for Kili the dwarf archer, but when he dies in her arms at the end, all doubt disappears with her tears. I cried during his death.


“If this is love…take it from me, please. I do not want it. Why does it hurt so bad?”
Tauriel, head of the Elven guard

“Because it was real.”
Thranduil, the Elven King

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.

Mystique and JFK

May 25, 2013
• Inside the Kennedy Mystique by Chris Matthews (Smithsonian Collector's Edition~ Summer 2013) •

• Inside the Kennedy Mystique by Chris Matthews (Smithsonian Collector’s Edition~ Summer 2013) •

Today I picked up JFK: The Ultimate Guide. The magazine is the newest Smithsonian Collector’s Edition (Summer 2013) and features 14 articles about John F. Kennedy. It was kind of expensive, but it will be a good one to save in my personal collection.

Tonight I read the introduction by Chris Matthews of MSNBC and NBC. This piece is titled “Inside the Kennedy Mystique.” I like JFK as an icon/symbol of several things, but I didn’t know that “Kennedy was a dead-serious student of history.” Really?!? At age 14 he read about WWI in The World Crisis by Winston Churchill. At age 14? I have to say that the Matthews piece alone has already made me like JFK even more. I can’t wait to read the rest of the magazine. I will write about each article I like after I read them over the next few weeks.

In the Matthew’s introduction, I learned that JFK’s father believed that his son was too shy to have a successful political career. As it turned out, “the politician would prove to be charming beyond both expectation and belief…” and that “charm made him almost irresistibly attractive to men as well as to women. It also helped him keep people at a distance.” Sounds true, and I may have known that already? Who knew an introvert could be so charming?

I have read about JFK over the last few years, but I never knew that he was very sick as a child? I was surprised to learn that he kept his medical conditions and pain secret in order to serve in the Navy during WWII. He also stayed quiet about this through his political career and while he was President of the United States of America. Kennedy had scarlet fever when he was a boy, he thought he had leukemia when he was a teenager, he had Addison’s disease and his back was very bad. The Catholic Church administered the Last Rites to JFK four times! Wow… Something I didn’t know? Matthews says that “as president, he took a half-dozen shots of painkillers a day simply to function.” He often used crutches, tried not to pick up his children, and had to be lifted into Air Force One with a forklift. Really?

I guess any politician must surround him or herself with intellectuals in order to be successful. It takes so many different kinds of people and perspectives to insure an accomplished career, in turn leaving a solid legacy. The other thing that stood out to me in the Matthew’s introduction was that JFK called his political speech writer, Ted Sorensen his “intellectual blood bank.” I absolutely love that term of endearment!

Anyhow~ I look forward to reading the other articles featured in the Smithsonian publication. I’m sure I will learn other interesting things that I didn’t know about my most favorite intriguing man. He is indeed a historical icon enveloped by mystique.

Whiskey Dreams: Inside the Mind of Hemingway

May 10, 2012

I may be a person who reads farther into things than I should, but as a deep woman, it is really hard for me to take things at face value. Today I had two signs- they were signs that I think I needed to see, or maybe to feel. One of those signs was a post by a favored writing guru with a love similar to mine. That post reminded me that there was something that I had to do. Many of the posts on this site deal with digital initiatives and issues, which is the main reason I like it. Today I learned about a new digital initiative, and this one involves the mind of Ernest Hemingway. The Hemingway Papers are now available in a digital archive, and I know thanks to the author of Read, Write, Now.

The Hemingway Papers capture “the legendary writer’s reporting from the Toronto Star archives.” Article topics in this digital archive include: culture; sports; vices; and war. The articles were featured in the Toronto Star in the 1920s. I am yet to explore the pages devoted to “the curious case of the stolen Hemingway letters.” The site also mentions the Hemingway Letters Project which will be an attempt to digitize over 6,000 Hemingway letters over the next few years. Did this guy really have and/or write that many letters? I am madly in love with this man! Since he was interested in whiskey and rum-runners, I can’t help but wonder if he wrote best after licking the fire water?

Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961) was a Nobel Prize winning author and journalist. His work enveloped fiction and non-fiction. His various works were published from around 1918 thru the 1950s. When Paris was liberated during World War II, Hemingway was on the beach for the Normandy landings capturing history during Operation Neptune and Operation Overlord. From Illinois, to Kansas, to Madrid, to Pamplonato, to Italy, to Paris, to London, to Normandy, to Africa, to Key West, to Florida, to Cuba, Hemingway had likely seen it all. Maybe he saw much more than he could handle? He had a seasoned life, and sadly he still never seemed to peg down true happiness. He had several brushes with death throughout his lifetime. A couple were close calls. It was sad for me to learn tonight that after escaping a dark fate so many times, his life was ultimately ended by his own hands. In 1961, Hemingway moved from Cuba to Idaho and killed himself. It is strange that though I started reading his works as a middle school student, I never knew that? This was indeed a tragic loss to the literary world. With any luck for this amazing man, they allow whiskey dreams in heaven!

The Hemingway Papers

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Māori: Origins of a Warrior

January 26, 2012

Digital composite of a Māori Warrior by Felicia Lujan. Includes: multiple renderings of a Moko drawing of Te Pehi’s face (1975 white paper); a photograph of a wooden Māori dagger (1920 white paper); and one contemporary photograph.

Origins of a Warrior


Māori man, I can feel the power

of your breath. The energy in each

breath searches for listening hearts.


Māori man, your ancestral cry

pierces me. Indigenous warrior, you

must protect your land and people.

Māori man, your roots run deep.

They are so deep, that only the stars

can remember the origin of those

who came before you.


Māori man, identity marked in thick

black will grace the face of your son.

The children of your children will

forever value your whakapapa.


Māori man, I can feel the spirit

of this spiral of life. The force

gives me strength, and penetrates

my listening heart.


by Felicia Lujan_1.25.2012


Old Māori Proverb
Ma te huruhuru te manu ka rere, Ma te ao te rangi ka uhi.”
By feathers alone can the bird fly, By clouds are the heavens covered.”
————A Māori Bone Decorative Comb from Riverton by H.D. Skinner
————Journal of the Polynesian Society, Vol. 39, No. 3 (1930), Page 285

War cry of their ancestors, the War Haka or Peruperu is a traditional dance of the Māori of New Zealand. This dance is filled with powerful movements, which involve the entire body and spirit. With their eyes open wide, strong stances, and the use of their tongue, the Māori exude strength. Heavy sounds from the slaps of their hands, dominant foot stomps, and deep shouts, are used to evoke the God of War. This dance is fierce, and is performed with weapons. According to some accounts, the Haka changed dramatically following World War I, but I would need to do more research to confirm that.

I became enthralled with the Māori when Alan Duff’s independent film Once Were Warriors (1994) was released. Duff, a journalist, novelist, and native to New Zealand gave me my first taste of culture in the South Pacific Ocean. I wanted to know more about the islands of New Zealand, which are at least half a world away from me. The film is centered on the social problems of the Heke family, and is still used today as a tool by educators and historians internationally. What inspires me in this film are the themes of hope and family. I am so inspired by the ability of a family to draw strength from tragedy. When one son in the fictional family immerses himself in the spirit of his ancestors, some of the family members are able to band together with mighty force. After seeing these men perform the War Haka or Peruperu, I was intrigued.

From 2001-2003, with each release in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, I couldn’t help but remain mystified by the beautiful scenes filmed in New Zealand. There were breathtaking mountains, waters, and mystical places. The islands seemed magical. Through the cinematography in these movies, I could almost grasp the spirit of place. I was recently reminded of New Zealand by “a woman of strength,” Maryanne Pale ( Maryanne is the woman who nominated me for a Genuine Blogger Award. I was honored to be nominated by such a distinguished and beautiful writer. After discovering she was from New Zealand, I started to look into the origins, history, and mythology of the Māori.

I did track down four anthropological white papers written between 1901 and 1975. I was absolutely amazed to find out that the tattoo (moko) of the Māori often represents ancestral origins (genealogy). I couldn’t believe it?! As an archivist, as a genealogist, as an artist, and as a tattooed woman, I found this astounding. According to one anthropological account of moko designs, “the symbolism that governed an artist’s choices in composition has been lost.” It is understandable that the researchers are referring to hard copy records. Though actual records relative to the symbolism of moko designs may be nonexistent, certainly oral history and collective memory have preserved meaning. One account of an indigenous carver, said that he “was brought up to believe the different patterns in front of each ear represented descent from the male and female sides of a man’s family.”

It was also interesting for me to discover that the primary marks used by the Māori are “curves and spirals.” The spiral is of course one of my signs. I have been signing my art and poetry with the symbol since I was in my youth. I am always lead to the subjects of my writing for a reason, because as we all know, everything happens for a reason. Can you imagine wearing your lineage as a visual badge? It is a fascinating tradition to say the least. In the future, I hope to learn more about the Māori, and maybe one day I can visit New Zealand.

General Information:

Māori Haka

Lord of the Rings Trilogy- Film Locations

Information on New Zealand

Scholarly Sources:

Māori Tatu and Moko by H. Ling Roth
Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, Vol. 31(1901), Pages 29-64

On Two Wooden Māori Daggers by William Ridgeway and H.D. Skinner
Man, Vol. 20 (1920), Pages 49-52

A Māori Bone Decorative Comb from Riverton by H.D. Skinner
Journal of the Polynesian Society, Vol. 39, No. 3 (1930), Pages 284-285

Moko and C.F. Goldie by Michael King
Journal of the Polynesian Society, Vol. 84, No. 4 (1975), Pages 431-440

Cryptography: Decoding the Human Puzzle

January 21, 2012

*****Digital Composite of a Cryptogram by Felicia Lujan***** Includes five contemporary images and one digital photograph of my hand. ***********CAN YOU SOLVE THE CRYPTOGRAM?*********** Here's a hint in the form of a riddle: Espionage battles lost not won, give up the fight, if you can't go on...

Cryptograms… They are teasers. Cryptography leaves encrypted clues. They puzzle us. Replacing, transposing, and deleting letters, adding numbers and pictures, or even speaking in code, in an attempt to encrypt a secret message. During World War II the Navajo Code Talkers used cryptography to convey hidden messages. Native tongues were used to deliver messages to the battlefield. It was an “unbreakable code from the ancient language.” Even during World War I, there were tongues of Natives fighting the war. The enemy was never able to decipher the code, even as “skilled code breakers.”

A cryptogram can be a combination of oral, written, or even visual communications. One of my beloved poets was actually a cryptographer. During the 19th century, Edgar Allan Poe was obsessed with cryptographic messages. Solving a cryptographic message may take time for some, but for others, it may be easy. In 1943, W.K. Wimsatt published a white paper titled What Poe Knew About Cryptography. The paper (PMLA, Vol.58, No.3) was published by the Modern Language Association. After reading the paper this evening, I found myself wondering why Poe received and deciphered so many cryptograms in his lifetime? Maybe his obsession derived from masking and unmasking the complexities of his own mind? Cryptography is basically about being able to read between the lines. According to Wimsatt, in a publication called Alexander’s Weekly, Poe called cryptograms “enigmatical.” The actual definition of cypher means “code” or to “convert ordinary language into code.”

The Constitution was a historic newspaper published in Atlanta, Georgia. On September 3, 1899, the newspaper ran an article titled Marvelous Cryptograms of European Diplomacy. According to that article, “a perfect cipher ought to be capable of being written and read quickly. It ought to require no material key that may be lost or stolen; it ought to be capable of being telegraphed or copied; and, of course, it ought to be undecipherable to all but the initiated.” This is a topic I would like to explore in a full blown research paper in the future, but for tonight, I will close with a great quote from that historic newspaper.

It is true that Poe’s skill as a cryptanalyst were not that of a professional, yet his native power was far beyond the ordinary, and as a litterateur who could solve ciphers he was in a position to add to cryptography the glamour of illusion.” Illusion… Reading between the lines… To see or not to see? You decide!

American Indian Heritage Month- An Indian Technique- Code Talkers Use of the Native Tongue for Secure Communications

Edgar Allen Poe and Cryptography by R. Morelli

Felisita Hails the Armistice: A Message from Paris

December 5, 2011

One of the most treasured items I have in my family papers is a tiny little booklet called a “cartera” in Spanish. The cartera belonged to my maternal great grandfather Alfonso Valdez, and great grandmother Felisita Brizal. At some point, I will post the digital images of the book, but for tonight I wanted to feature a special note in the back of the book. On the last page of the cartera, my great grandmother Felisita (who I am named after) noted the end of World War I. When I first read the note years ago, I remember wondering how she may have been feeling on that day? She was so moved by the end of the war, that she actually created a record. Her handwriting is beautiful. I understood that the date obviously marked the end of the first world war, however, I didn’t look further until tonight. There was a radio announcement made from Paris on November 11, 1918.  (OMG of course- 11.11) 🙂 The address said “hostilities will be stopped on the entire front beginning at 11 o’clock, November 11th (French hour).”  (OMG of course- 11.11 @ 11!) 🙂 Then “at 5 AM on the morning of November 11 an armistice was signed in a railroad car parked in a French forest near the front lines.” Amazing! My great grandmother was French. So maybe now I have a better idea of what she did that day. Maybe she had relatives and friends on the front lines I have yet to learn about? On November 11, 1918, like those “all over the world,” she was likely “celebrating, dancing in the streets, drinking champagne,” and “hailing the armistice that meant the end of the war!!!”

The following is quoted from: Armistice – The End of World War I (1918)- EyeWitness to History –

“The final Allied push towards the German border began on October 17, 1918. As the British, French and American armies advanced, the alliance between the Central Powers began to collapse. Turkey signed an armistice at the end of October, Austria-Hungary followed on November 3. Germany began to crumble from within. Faced with the prospect of returning to sea, the sailors of the High Seas Fleet stationed at Kiel mutinied on October 29. Within a few days, the entire city was in their control and the revolution spread throughout the country. On November 9 the Kaiser abdicated; slipping across the border into the Netherlands and exile. A German Republic was declared and peace feelers extended to the Allies. At 5 AM on the morning of November 11 an armistice was signed in a railroad car parked in a French forest near the front lines. The terms of the agreement called for the cessation of fighting along the entire Western Front to begin at precisely 11 AM that morning. After over four years of bloody conflict, the Great War was at an end. “…at the front there was no celebration.” Colonel Thomas Gowenlock served as an intelligence officer in the American 1st Division. He was on the front line that November morning and wrote of his experience a few years later. ‘On the morning of November 11 I sat in my dugout in Le Gros Faux, which was again our division headquarters, talking to our Chief of Staff, Colonel John Greely, and Lieutenant Colonel Paul Peabody, our G-1. A signal corps officer entered and handed us the following message:

Official Radio from Paris – 6:01 A.M., Nov. 11, 1918. Marshal Foch to the Commander-in-Chief.
1. Hostilities will be stopped on the entire front beginning at 11 o’clock, November 11th (French hour). 2. The Allied troops will not go beyond the line reached at that hour on that date until further orders. [signed] MARSHAL FOCH – 5:45 A.M.

‘Well – fini la guerre!’ said Colonel Greely. ‘It sure looks like it,’ I agreed. ‘Do you know what I want to do now?’ he said. ‘I’d like to get on one of those little horse-drawn canal boats in southern France and lie in the sun the rest of my life.’ My watch said nine o’clock. With only two hours to go, I drove over to the bank of the Meuse River to see the finish. The shelling was heavy and, as I walked down the road, it grew steadily worse. It seemed to me that every battery in the world was trying to burn up its guns. At last eleven o’clock came – but the firing continued. The men on both sides had decided to give each other all they had-their farewell to arms. It was a very natural impulse after their years of war, but unfortunately many fell after eleven o’clock that day.

All over the world on November 11, 1918, people were celebrating, dancing in the streets, drinking champagne, hailing the armistice that meant the end of the war. But at the front there was no celebration. Many soldiers believed the Armistice only a temporary measure and that the war would soon go on. As night came, the quietness, unearthly in its penetration, began to eat into their souls. The men sat around log fires, the first they had ever had at the front. They were trying to reassure themselves that there were no enemy batteries spying on them from the next hill and no German bombing planes approaching to blast them out of existence. They talked in low tones. They were nervous.

After the long months of intense strain, of keying themselves up to the daily mortal danger, of thinking always in terms of war and the enemy, the abrupt release from it all was physical and psychological agony. Some suffered a total nervous collapse. Some, of a steadier temperament, began to hope they would someday return to home and the embrace of loved ones. Some could think only of the crude little crosses that marked the graves of their comrades. Some fell into an exhausted sleep. All were bewildered by the sudden meaninglessness of their existence as soldiers – and through their teeming memories paraded that swiftly moving cavalcade of Cantigny, Soissons, St. Mihiel, the Meuse-Argonne and Sedan.

What was to come next? They did not know – and hardly cared. Their minds were numbed by the shock of peace. The past consumed their whole consciousness. The present did not exist-and the future was inconceivable.”

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

A trip through life with fingers crossed and eternal optimism.

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