It’s out!

The Legend of Yuraq Orqo

You can sample a taste of Daughter of the Nazca Moon via an excerpt “The Legend of Yuraq Orqo” on https://poydrasreview.com/blog/2020/2/9/the-legend-of-yuraq-orqo

This story is part of a larger novel. The dune-covered mountain Yuraq Orqo (yuraq means white in Quechua, orqo means mountain) was sacred to the ancient Nazca culture. It became known as Cerro Blanco after the Spanish conquest. I read and heard several versions of its origin story while researching my novel, and wanted to include the essence of the tale, while weaving in some of the differing perspectives. Some were told like cautionary tales (the unfaithful wife will be punished), some were tales of liberation (the young savior who frees the unhappy daughter). Some featured battles between ancient gods, others were post-conquest intrigues between Lords and Ladies. What still strikes me as significant food for further rumination and exploration, is that the god/lord/curaca/chief and the lover/rescuer/thief both had names, but the female character was consistently referred to by the name of the mountain she became. She may be revered as a sacred mountain, but as a woman, she remains nameless.

 “Patya had heard so many variations of the legend that she once asked her grandmother which one was right. Kuyllay replied that they all were. ‘There is never only one way to see something,’ she said. ‘Stories should keep you thinking.’ ”

too long away

just need to touch in here, to remind myself to leave a few tracks – in sand, mud, forest, hyperspace – to remember where I might have been in the world, in my head, or on the page.

I have a new story coming out Feb 10, 2020 on https://poydrasreview.com/ – excerpted from Daughter of the Nazca Moon (the novel hasn’t found a US home yet, but is is currently being translated into Spanish with possibilities of publishing in Peru)

NaNoWriMo kept me busy in November, working on the sequel where Patya travels to the altiplano of Peru and Boliva (still sixth century) in search of answers from the fabled society of Tiwanaku and the mystical Lake Titicaca.

In October, made a few dramatic hikes overlooking the lake, beginning at 3,800 meters above sea level… on up to nearly 5,000. slow but steady…

respectfully conscious of the movement of clouds, the direction of the wind, the proximity of the lightning, and the absence of refuge at the summit

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

Peru’s Real treasures? My friend Delia

Peru’s Real treasures? My friend Delia Ackerman makes wonderful documentaries about the conservation of nature, culture and memory. I have been helping with her most recent project, “Hatun Pajcha: The Healing Land” which takes the audience through the culturally and biologically diverse regions of Peru to highlight the remarkable health benefits and nutritional value of foods that are often unknown or overlooked. Viewers will meet hardworking farmers, committed “guardians” of many species, dedicated scientists, creative chefs and nutritionists, and enthusiastic entrepreneurs.
I invite you to visit indiegogo, and sign up so that you will receive updates on the film, tantalizing tidbits about research into Peruvian “superfoods” and introductions to the people who bring them to tables around the world! http://ow.ly/nvLX301P2e4

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Preview… Desert Voices – A novel of ancient Nasca

PROLOGUE

There is no evidence of any writing system in South America before 1532. After the Spaniards arrived, history recorded the brief and dramatic reign of the conquered Inca, but little is known of the many other cultures that had risen and endured for centuries before the Inca Empire. What we do know has been pieced together by archaeologists and anthropologists who decipher history from the pottery, textiles and constructions left behind.

Patya’s story unfolds in the sixth century AD on the southern coast of what is now known as Peru. The creative and resourceful Nasca culture has been flourishing for almost a thousand years, populating the narrow valleys carved by rivers that cross the desert on their way from the Andes mountains to the Pacific Ocean. In recent years, a series of droughts and weather anomalies have taken a heavy toll on the Nasca people. Fields lie barren, wells have gone dry, and raiders from the highlands have been foraging into Nasca territory, hunting their game and raiding their livestock.

nasca2-3
 Nasca pottery is known for its rich colors and imaginative designs. Above is the art from a ceramic vase depicting a tangle of flying anthropomorphic supernatural beings  wearing headdresses and nose ornaments, carrying severed heads, knives, slings for weapons, and sprouting cactus-like snakes. The  rich mythological world of the Nasca was very much part of their living landscape, and ceremonial offerings an integral part of their community.

 

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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