In the terms of our Mother's Womb, we need to understand that this Womb is much more than a simple sack of fluid in our Mother's Uterus. Womb is a manifestation on a microcosmic level of the Macrocosmic Maternal Womb of all life. Our Mother's Womb is a doorway from that Cosmic World to this particular experience upon and within Mother Earth. Our Mother's Womb holds the power to carry us through a whole process of evolution from a tiny embryo, through stages where we appear like Ocean Creatures, to the formation of the Fetus and recognizable human features. Our Mother's protective Medicine Pouch (Placenta) is a defense and a nurturer for our process of incarnation, coming from the World of the Ancestors to the World of the so called "Living". In Taino Understanding the Lagoon is the entry way/ passage way to the World of the Ancestors. We also place clear containers of Water for the Fundamento, we go through much effort to make Spiritual Baths which are primarily Water, and we utilize water to refreshen all kinds of situations.
To us in this Munanso we find it offensive when some Paleros describe the Woman's Menstrual Cycle as a weakness, and describe Yayis as weak because of this. We have also heard Tainos say that women cannot be "Medicine People" and cannot be involved with the Medicine at all. In terms of Taino this ignorant statement contradicts one of the powerful Taino Myths regarding a powerful Medicine Woman named "Guabonita" who taught the Casike "Guahayona" the secrets of the Medicine. In terms of Life itself these ignorant misconceptions contradict the evidence that Life herself continually gives us, demonstrating the power of the Woman's Menstrual Cycle and the Power of Woman's ability to Nurture and Give Birth to new Life.
When entering any body of water, whether it be Ocean, Lake, River, Waterfall, Lagoon, we need to recognize that we are entering manifestations of our Mother's Womb and that we are entering manifestations of Mother Earth's Womb that has given birth to Life in all the diversity that we enjoy from her. Waters should never have become dumping grounds either physically or spiritually, yet today they have become both. When we walked to this (relatively) pristine River, we were immediately struck by her Golden Color and how her Waters were the texture and color of Honey. The Waters were clear and we could see to the bottom where many Misterios looked back at us. We were able to submerge ourselves in her cool waters, refreshening in ways that are never possible using indoor plumbing. In some parts we saw many tiny fish.In all these photos many Spirits are easily visible, some fierce, some ancient, some beyond what we may even recognize. And it is important to note that it is the currents of the River that has moulded the expressions of the Spirits that become visible upon the stones. She has "revealed" them, if you will. Our Ancient Taino Ancestors carved Cemis from Stones, revealing the Spirit that had been "hidden" in the Stone or piece of Wood. In this sense Mama Chola is the carver of the Cemis that are found within her. The photo below clearly shows the face of a Spirit looking directly at us. In giving this some contemplation, we realize that Mama Chola, the Spirit of the River, is creating "Medicine".
On the particular day that we came to this River, we had been hearing a Palero, who will remain unnamed, speaking on the internet about how Yayis are weak because their menstrual cycle, and talk too much, and that Yayis are not even allowed in some Munansos. In our walk to the River, the River herself spoke to us, not through the internet, but through her Waters, her Stones, and the glimpses that she gave us into her world. We need to consider the historical facts of colonialism of our Matri-focal cultures by paternalistic aggressive western mentalities. These onslaughts of colonialism with its genocide and enslavement of our Peoples, left its scars that we are still struggling to heal from. The most dangerous of those scars are the ones that we do not even realize are scars because of the scar tissue of ignorance that covers them. The degrading of women and the describing of the Powerful Cycle that allows our Human Experience (the Menstrual Cycle) as weak is one of the scars of colonialism and genocide that still haunts us.
Other schools of thought blur the line of the Menstrual Cycle and try to attempt to give it a function with the Man, which is yet another scar from colonialism. Some Tainos (who will remain unnamed) depict "Guakar", a female Misterio relating to the Menstrual Cycle of Women, as a masculine force. This is another psychological scar that still seeks to undermine the Power of Mother, the Power of the Menstrual, the Power of the Mother giving Birth!
For those who have never read Willie Lynch's speech to his fellow slave owners, we suggest reading it for a better understanding of the psychic attack that we as a Culture, as a People, as Communities and as Families, as Women and as Children and as Men endured and continue to endure. Note that the individual "Willie Lynch" is described as a slave owner in the West Indies giving a speech to slave owners in Virginia on how to keep control and power over their 'slaves'. We also suggest reading "The Dark Side of Christian History" by Helen Ellerbe for a deeper understanding of the energies within Christianity, the same Christianity that was forced upon our Indigenous ways through violence and psychic attacks. It is important not to turn a blind eye to the story of the past, because it is only through facing the stories of the past that we can detoxify our mental bodies in the present and break free from our mental enslavement.
Many within our Traditions come to the River to address "love issues", issues between Women and Men, issues of Marriage, and issues of fertility. This is of course very appropriate. We come bringing the River honey to sweeten these relationships in our lives, to open up energies of healthy relationships and love, and this is wonderful and good. The River will take us as deeply into these trails as we are willing to "dive", and when we dive below the surface of our "apparent" need, we find the stories of our Ancestors vibrating within her waters, taking us to much more profound levels concerning our "issue with love, relationship and fertility". We have seen the River enable Children to be Born to so called "infertile" parents, we have seen the River heal tumultuous relationships, we have seen the River open up doorways for relationships of love. We have also seen how the River always has a deeper story to tell to us, if we are willing to listen, because these issues are never just a phenomenon of the present, they are trails linking to the Ancient Past, and the trails are not often nearly as beautiful as the River appears on this day.
With all her beauty when flowing through a bright, clear summer's day, we have to also remember the tumultuous, debris ridden raging aspect of her that appears from rains from storms, and recognize that we are not dealing with a split personality, where we can relate to one without relating to the other, we are interrelating with a whole Mpungo, a whole Entity, and we offend that Mpungo when we look at her from limited perspectives, just as we offend the Mother of Life when we look at her daughters from limited perspectives, calling Yayis weak and indicating Yayis lack discipline. Rape is rampant upon this Earth and is used as a weapon of war, globally. In terms of the "homeland" of our tradition, Kongo, we see that every day hundreds of Women, Girls and Babies are raped, and this is certainly not the only place Women are being raped on daily basis. Violence is used against the Mother's of Life and on a minute, yet significant, level when Tata's find themselves speaking down about Yayis, this violence is perpetuated further, and when women are sidelined and told they cannot "learn the Medicine" again this violence continues. Some claim it is "tradition" but that has to be examined closely and the legacy of colonialism and its christianity, both on the African continent prior to the Atlantic slave trade, and on this continent, needs to be factored in as a real pollutant of our "Traditions". Once we recognize it as the pollutant that it is, we can break our enslavement in the most important place, and that is within our Spirituality.