The Hallows

hallow (v.)

Old English halgian “to make holy, sanctify; to honor as holy, consecrate, ordain,” related to halig “holy,” from Proto-Germanic *hailagon (source also of Old Saxon helagon, Middle Dutch heligen, Old Norse helga), from PIE root *kailo- “whole, uninjured, of good omen” (see health). Used in Christian translations to render Latin sanctificare. Related: Hallowedhallowing.

hallow (n.)

“holy person, saint,” Old English haligahalga, from hallow (v.). Obsolete except in Halloween.

https://www.etymonline.com/word/hallow

Thoughts on this 31st of October

We reflect on the eve of the hallows of old
as leaves flurry past us, red, yellow and gold

the words of John Lewis, who walked with the wind,
call out for justice to truly begin

 echoes of hallowed ones join in the chorus,
summoned for healing 
they gather before us  

Even as time forges furrows in my brow, Halloween calls forth the eternal child, conjuring magical nights of sweetness and pretend. While the trees shed for winter in these northern climes, summer is blooming in my other hemisphere. I may have mixed feelings about the nature of the holiday and its excesses and sugary hangovers, but autumn always rests easy at the heart of my soul.

This year, with the word particularly challenged, I find solace in the nearby woods, and turn again to some of the final words that John Lewis shared with the world before his passing in July.

Walking with the wind and letting the words of John Lewis sink in

Refuge

As we continue to self-isolate, and cases of COVID multiply around us, I find refuge and renewal in the nearby woods.

Racoon trio takes refuge overhead

On these dappled paths, the invitation to wander brings my feet joy.

what is is about Nasca?

IMG-20130325-00189

The questions I went in with when I started writing the novel Desert Voices had to do with: 1) what lead to the demise of the Nasca culture?  2) how would such an earth-honoring culture interpret the environmental crises that constantly plagued the region? and 3) what lessons can we apply to our current environmental challenges?

I read everything I could get my hands on, researched the evidence left behind, talked to archaeologists, anthropologists, historians, archaeobotanists and geologists. I spent the night atop their sacred mountain, visited thousand-year-old trees, and explored hidden valleys. I walked the Nazca lines in my head and scratch my own across wide stretches of beach.

I ended up with more questions than I started with.

I began mostly with curiosity about how the Nasca had managed to harness the underground waters that turned their desert valleys into productive fields; about why they had such a penchant for severed heads; and about which of all the theories the Nazca lines might be closest to the truth of how they were actually used.

But in the process, some new questions led me down some unexpected paths. The prevalence of orcas in their iconography prompted me to research the ocean’s top predator – which opened up a new world of understanding about the social structure of the species and also raised questions about interspecies communication.

The central role of the San Pedro cactus in their iconocraphy, remniscent of the Chavin culture, led me to explore the living cultures that still use the cactus in a ceremonial brew as a “visionary medicine” and who consider some plants to be teachers of wisdom and guides for healing.

And so the novel project became much more than a novel.

One of the first things that came out of my explorations was a documentary about the guarango, considered by some to be the “king of the desert”, the One Tree that not only unites the three worlds -the heavens above, the world below, and the place we inhabit in between- but that also provided food, shelter and fuel. I organized a trip through Ica and Nasca with documentary filmmaker Delia Ackerman, camerographer Juan Duran, and cultural anthropologist Jerome van der Zalm.

You can see the result here in the short film: The King of the Desert is Dying

PHOENIX – another pin on the wall

The unrelenting sound of construction has not ceased since the day Marisol first asked me about curses and enchantments. I hadn’t really paid much attention to all the building in the neighborhood, since I kept my radio tuned to an upbeat oldies station that masked the other noises. But that day, I turned off the radio to be able to hear her better. For some reason, I never turned it back on. The rhythms of construction have replaced the music that used to fill my office. From all sides come the buzz and clank, the banter of workers—but I digress. I am not here to recount the problems in the neighborhood, but to tell you something of Marisol’s story before my office is taken apart around me.

It was almost exactly a year ago when Marisol’s dark and downcast face suddenly moved out of the shadowed corners of my world right into its center. Her name had always made me think of girasol—Spanish for sunflower, from girar “to turn” and sol for “sun.” Marisol was anything but sunny back then.

… and for the rest of the story? 

pushpin map

mosey on down to Amarillo Bay

(picture borrowed from http://www.houzz.es/push-pin-travel-map?irs=US)

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