Guadalupe Virgin, The Queen of Mexico

The cult of Guadalupe Virgin is very difficult to comprehend to us non-Catholics, and I think even to Catholics outside of Mexico. They say that the only way to really irritate a Mexican is to disrespect his or her mother, or Virgin of Guadalupe.

Knowing Mexican history and pre-hispanic cults it’s not very hard to guess where the belief is coming from. Almost all north American and middle American tribes had, among others, the good goddess of home, motherhood and domestic bliss so to say. Aztecs called her Tonantzin, our good mother, and strangely enough, she wasn’t motherly figure, but beautiful young woman, young wife in love. To the European way of seeing things, this is a little bit off since we are used to see woman in very patriarchal manner, as beautiful virgins or nice old ladies, like there isn’t anything in between. Sexuality is in European point of view, connected to the youth and matrimonial love is something to intimate to look at or talk about.

Tonantzin thus was one of the favorite goddesses in Aztec pantheon. When Catholic priests came to New world fallowing conquistadors and started forced baptism of the natives, they as all the missionaries started building new religion on the roots of the old one, explaining  Virgin Marry as similar as Tonantzin as possible, to make it easier and more appealing to the natives.

This sincretism resulted in the cult of the Virgin of Guadalupe. Actual image is from XVII century and has a beautiful story of origin: Outside of Mexico City, ancient Tenochtitlan of Aztecs, there was a little village called Tepeyac, and in it there existed temple to Tonantzin, among a beautiful flower garden. Catholics destroyed a temple and built a church dedicated to the Virgin Marry in the same place. Natives kept coming to the church and kept addressing her as “Tonantzin”, although it’s not blasphemous perse, since tonantzin in Nahuatl means “our mother”, so it can be applied to Virgin Marry too. However, one event marked the sincretistic nature of Mexican religious cult: Newly baptized native, named Juan Diego on his baptism, started claiming that he saw “Tonantzin”, or Virgin Marry, while he was climbing the hill of Tepeyac, on his way to the temple. Like in similar cases, no one believed him, but Virgin Marry kept appearing to him. One day, when she asked why does people don’t come when she asked for Tepeyac to be place of pilgrimage, Juan Diego admitted that no one believed him, and that priests even  forbid him to talk about his experiences. Then she promised proof that will make her divine presence known to everybody, and wipe all the doubts. She ordered Juan Diego to pick up roses that she left to fall to the ground from her hands, and so he did. She also told him to carry the roses to the church and show them to the disbelieving priests. He did, and when he opened his long tunic, which was worn by the natives, on the white fabric there was an image, a painting never seen before of a beautiful lady in a long green-blue cape covered with stars, standing on the young moon sustained by an angel.

Her skin was not fair and rather dark, and she had sun beams coming out of her entire body, not only surrounding her head. The Virgin said that her name was the Perfect Virgin, Holy Mary of Guadalupe, but it is possible that catholic priests, like so many time before, misinterpreted Juan Diego’s Nahuatl, and it is possible that he actually said Tecuatlanopeuh,  “she whose origins were in the rocky summit”, or Tecuantlaxopeuh, “she who banishes those who devoured us”, which has much more logic, since “Guadalupe” is a region and a river in Spain, and has nothing to do with Mexico.

The painting which miraculously appeared on Juan Diego’s tunic still exist and it’s an object of one of the biggest pilgrimage in the world, when on 12th of December millions of Mexicans visit Tepeyac where the old chapel is changed to grand Basilica. She is called the “Queen of Mexico and Emperor of America”, and is patron saint to Mexico. It is ever present motive in Mexican popular art and everlasting reminder of divine grace.

This is the statue of Virgin of Guadalupe which I have in my house.

Bewitched house in Morelia, Michoacán

Couple of years ago, my husband and me rented a beautiful house in Morelia, Michoacán to live in while he was working on a university project. I was very happy with the house in a street called Gertrudis Bocanegra, after a Mexican Independence heroine. Since than we always refereed to the house as “Bocanegra”, which is Spanish for “black mouth”.

House is specious and pretty as you can see on the pictures, which were taken on the same day we rented it. It always seemed shadowy and humid, though. i first thought it’s about morelian climate and rainy season. Soon enough I realized I’m afraid to be alone in the house which didn’t make any sense since I lived alone for many years.                  I had troubles sleeping, I felt uncomfortable and constantly had that spooky feeling which makes us look over our shoulder.

All members of my family experienced some strange events in the house, even before I mentioned anything because I didn’t wanted to scare anybody. My stepson mentioned one day that he doesn’t like the house. When I asked why, he said that he hears steps on the gallery, and that he thought he heard somebody calling him. He’s an adolescent and the one with vivid imagination‚ so at first we didn’t put too much attention to it.

However, although I NEVER believed i spirits, supernatural and so own, something inexplicable happen to me next month. I was making ready for the office one morning in front of the bathroom mirror in the master bedroom on the second floor (actually, exactly where that picture bellow is taken), when through the open door next to me, I saw what I thought is my husband, passing through the hallway. I turned around and said: “you’re dressed already?”, AND THERE WAS NO ONE THERE! I had that feeling when you miss the step and your foot just falls in the empty space. I even remember seeing yellow sweater which my husband had on that day.

The house has this enormous tree in the front yard (also on the picture bellow) and  sometimes I think that is where all the strange things come from. I guess trees have their own magnetic field around them, so maybe that’s why everybody felt weird in the house. Also that’s the reason why the house was so shady all the time.

We moved out two months later, because the plumbing was awful, and the house we rented afterwards was ok, nice and well… non hunted.

Bellow is the map, with the house circulated and the photos I took on the day that we moved there.

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Sé lo que hicieron el domingo pasado

Ayer domingo 10 de junio del año 2012, en lugar de disfrutar unos “drinks” con los amigos en un jardín, todo el pueblo mexicano quedo plasmado frente de las pantallas de diferentes tamaños, viendo cuatro personajes, tres hombres y una mujer, explicando porque cada uno de ellos opina que el (o ella) debe ser el próximo líder de México. Fue una experiencia rara y poco satisfactoria, por cual seguramente no sacrificaría otra noche de domingo. Lo que es mucho más interesante son los reacciones y consecuencias que traen estas elecciones a México.

Así que yo decidí dar mi opinión sobre cuatro candidatos, sobre sus campañas y la debate de domingo, porque mi opinión, completamente ajena a cualquier interés y objetiva, puede resultar interesante.

En general, en esta campaña hemos visto unas cosas nuevas y modernizadas, lo último en tendencias políticas incorporado en discurso político tradicional de México y América Latina, que siempre es un poco más populista que en pueblos germánicos y anglo-sajones. Esta vez, es interesante la presencia de un cierto pensamiento liberal, según yo, la única dirección lógica en cual se puede ir en este momento.

En particular, México va, como cualquier otro pueblo, a obtener al presidente que merece. Los candidatos que tenemos ahora son exponentes del momento histórico. Primero la dama: Josefina Vázquez Mota, mujer que se ha preparado por años para cumplir con una campaña presidencial, la cual ha hecho tantas cosas buenas participando en previos gobiernos, se ha equivocado en cosas puramente técnicas de la campaña política y va a pagar por estos errores…perdiendo. Un error, por ejemplo, es enfocar la campaña en las mujeres, pensando que las mujeres van a votar por una mujer. Eso nunca funciona. Las mujeres son educadas desde muy pequeñas para poner su seguridad en manos de los hombres. Nos protegen nuestros papas, nuestros esposos y hermanos. Podemos hablar de igualdad e independencia; pero en realidad nos gusta ser apapachadas. Creemos más en los hombres que en otras mujeres. Por esto JVM debió enfocar su campaña en otro “target”. Ayer en el debate, sólo mostró de nuevo que su campaña es confusa, sin una idea clara a quién y por qué se enfoca. Además, no sé quien la esta aconsejando; pero sus técnicas oratorias son muy malas. Ya sé que habla tan despacio para sonar más dramática y clara; pero en realidad suena poco confiable y rara.

Después, la estrella: Enrique Peña Nieto sinceramente se ve como un futuro presidente, muy decente. Sus técnicas y su campaña son increíblemente buenas. El es candidato de un partido con una historia complicada y muchos problemas, del cual se percibe absoluta falta de orientación. No son izquierda, no son derecha, pero les gusta poder. EPN, por otra parte se ve y se escucha como alguien a quien el poder cae bien, como alguien quien se siente muy natural mandando y quizás esto no es malo para México ahora. Lo que a la gente no le gusta sobre él es que se ve… demasiado saludable. No se ve como alguien que sufre mucho por México. Y a nosotros nos gustan los mártires. Nos gusta que alguien se le caiga el cabello y que tenga bolsas bajo sus ojos por no dormir tantas noches velando por México. Pero el equipo de la campaña de EPN notó esto y lo hizo muy bien en los videos de la campaña: en los videos de los estados, EPN parece más gordo de lo que es en realidad, usa camisas tipo “Suburbia” y se ve mucho mas canoso. Estoy segura de que eso es a propósito y me gusto esta idea.

El tercero, al menos en este artículo, el ídolo de los jóvenes, Andrés Manuel López Obrador: El es el único que puede ser la elección peligrosa de este año. AMLO es candidato de las izquierdas, una política que de por sí es peligrosa, no sustentable y obsoleta; pero a él no le importa la ideología. El es un personaje al cual solo le importa el poder y lo ha mostrado varias veces. Su discurso ha mejorado en el último debate; pero todavía se le nota su herencia de políticos del pasado: no se cree muy responsable por lo que dice, porque en realidad no le importa. Por ejemplo, ayer dijo que va a crear un millón de empleos. Para que gobierno cree un empleo, se necesitan 100 mil pesos, más o menos, así que para millón de empleos… 100 mil millones de pesos. Este es una de las muchas razones por las cuales el socialismo no funciona, créanme, yo soy de un país ex socialista y lo he visto con mis propios ojos. Pero AMLO ahora tiene atrás de sí un poder que nadie, incluyendo el mismo, no esperaba. De repente, atrás de un político gastado, político con discurso obsoleto, de un burócrata viejo, se pone un ejército de los jóvenes y estudiantes, intelectuales y profesionales, que en lugar de mirar al futuro, están volteando hacia atrás. Pues ok, dicen que ser joven y no ser comunista no es normal; pero lo que yo no entiendo es ¿qué es lo que ven en AMLO? ¡Qué elección tan mala jovencitos! Además cuando veo los estudiantes de UVM, Tec y Ibero en la calle buscando comunismo… mientras que sus papás están trabajando en las empresas capitalistas para pagar sus escuelas escandalosamente caras… ¡No tiene sentido!

Y el último: Gabriel Quadri, la absoluta sorpresa del año. Todos sabemos cuál es el problema con él: la maestra. Además de esto, el es ciertamente una briza de aire fresco en el escenario político mexicano. Sus ideas liberales me recordaron mis días en Alemania, y el tiene razón en muchos puntos. No, él no puede ser presidente; pero hay que esperar que del sus ideas surjan en algunos otros líderes para algunas próximas elecciones. Porque las grandes batallas todavía están por venir.

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About the end of the world, 1st part

This is Aztec sun stone

First, let’s have something clear: the image bellow, “mayan calendar” it’s neither calendar nor mayan. It’s an Aztec sun stone, which was discovered in Zocalo square on one beautiful day in 20th century, and it was probably used to hold an altar for human sacrifices, and looked especially macabre when in it’s reliefe was filled with blood.

There is a mayan calendar, and there is an era ending, roughly said, around this year. But it’s very hard to interpretate what Mayas really wanted to say, because they way of thinking wasn’t occidental and they spoked in different terms. I strongly believe that we are actually entering the new era, but surely better one than the one behind us.

This IS Mayan calendar

However, here in Ciudad de Mexico there is definitely something going on. We had two big earthquakes and arround 300 small ones in last two months (!). The climate is very rare for this time of year, it’s raining all the time. As if this wasn’t enough, volcano Popocatepetl which is 80 km from the city is activated and is currently in stage yellow 3 of alert, but it doesn’t really mean anything scary yet.


There is an interesting legend about two volcanos that you can see on the picture above, Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl, which translated from Nahuatl means “warrior and a sleeping woman”:

Iztaccíhuatl’s father sent Popocatepetl to war in Oaxaca, promising him his daughter as his wife if he returned (which Iztaccíhuatl’s father presumed he would not). Iztaccíhuatl’s father told her that her lover had fallen in battle and she died of grief. When Popocatépetl returned, and discovered the death of his lover, he committed suicide by plunging a dagger through his heart. God covered them with snow and changed them into mountains. Iztac cíhuatl’s mountain was called “La Mujer Dormida, (the “Sleeping Woman”), because it bears a resemblance to a woman sleeping on her back. Popocatépetl became the volcano Popocatépetl, raining fire on Earth in blind rage at the loss of his beloved.

And there they are, cursed Mexican lovers!

The treasures of Mexico – FONART and their collection, part 2

THIS ITEMS ARE FOR SALE! JUST CONTACT ME ON  rama_dorada@hotmail.com or my twitter or facebook on the side of this post. After two weeks of talking to different people of SEDESOL Mexico, I finally got my permission to take photos inside of a FONART store. FONART is an governmental organization which foments craft producers and ethnic art in Mexico. They have stores all over Mexico, but I’m not sure how well they are known abroad. Well, I want to change that, so I’m going to write couple of articles about things they have. The store I took photos today is: Av. Patriotismo No. 691, Col. Mixcoac C.P. 03910 Tel. 50-93-60-60 E-mailtda_patriotismo@fonart.gob.mx Lunes a Viernes 10:00 a 20:00 Hrs, Sábados 10:00 a 19:00 Hrs, Domingos 11:00 a 17:00 Hrs All the data about FONART you can find on their SiteFacebook and Twitter. I would like to thank them for giving me and my readers the opportunity to see this lovely crafts. If you have a question about, special item or it’s price (YES, ALL ITEM ARE FOR SALE) you can leave me a comment or send me an e-mail on rama_dorada@hotmail.com. Don’t forget to fallow me on twitter and facebook.

 

Native Mexican cultures and their importance

Almost all beautiful things that you can see on my blog are work of craftsmen which belongs, or using their cultural roots, of native Mexican cultures. Native, or prehispanic cultures in Mexico are alive and triving. Virtualy they are inseparable from modern Mexican culture and alive inside of it. So I’m making one series of picture dedicated to native cultures of Mexico. If you want to know more, or have some question contact me on rama_dorada@hotmail.com

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