Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Dia de los Muertos 2018

 Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) accompanies a radical transformation, here in the temperate regions, when summer transforms to winter.  The leaves which have absorbed so much sunlight during the summer, now turn every shade of yellow, orange, red, and brown and fall to the earth to nourish the soil.  The tree trunks left reflect the palos within the fundamento, showing us how the Earth is one great big Fundamento with every palo imaginable within her.  This year we chose to make our Day of the Dead offerings in a new Batey that we are building for our son, Hatuey.  The tree in the center is his tree, planted when he was one years old, over his placenta.  The stones of the Batey itself are from an older Batey that was in the forest.  Everything changes and shifts, and shape shifts in life.
The cemis, Opiel Guabiran and Guatauba Maquetaurie, are present, representing the Taino ancestors. Various batons and palos are present representing ancestors, as well as various other elements of the ancestors.  The petroglyphs visible are all Taino petroglyphs.  While we are honoring "Day" of the Dead, in reality everyday for us is the "day of the dead".  As Nganguleros, Taino, we see the Dead as being instrumental, essential and present in every day movements.
Our offering consists of all the vital elements, cooked and raw, that can be absorbed by the ancestors.  The aromas are of particular importance in this process.  Cooking the food allows the aromas to be carried upon the winds in all directions, calling the ancestors to approach.  Essential elements such as the sweet guayaba for the muertos is present year to year.  The sacred root of the Taino, Yuca, is always present, here cooked with name, jautia.  Bacalao and smoked fish from the oceans are present.  Maiz tostada, grown from our conucos here, and a cacao cake with chili peppers are also part of the offerings.  
The offering is varied, as we are making offerings to ancestors from many traditions.  We acknowledge the Indigenous ancestors of this region, the various ancestors whose bones are buried here.  We honor our Taino ancestors, our African ancestors, all our ancestors, known and unknown.  We honor those ancestors we knew in life, and those we never met.

From day to night, the energies shift, revealing faces that were not visible earlier during the day.  It is important to us that the ceremony continue throughout the two faces of life (light and dark), the whole circle of life.  The night blessed us with a clear sky of stars.

 In this time of extreme Earth Changes, we continue to affirm the continuance of our spiritual traditions, teaching our children that their ancestors and cultural/ spiritual traditions are the most precious, sacred aspect of life.  We bring out our Taino cemis, Opiel and Guatauba, to affirm the ancestors, to acknowledge the dead, to make the statement that we are the living, walking extension of our ancestors. We remind these semis of the stories of the Taino Casike Hatuey, the freedom fighter!

Upcoming Book.....Unlocking the Spiritual Power of the Plants

Unlocking the Spiritual Power of the Plants

      Plants sacred to our Afro-Caribbean Traditions from a Palero’s Perspective

Over several years, we have been working on a in-depth book on using plants in Palo.  The book looks not only at certain key plants that we use every day in the munanso, but also at plants that grow outside of the Caribbean which are powerful spiritual plants.  In our munanso, we do not want to be reliant on botanicas for our plants, and have turned to the natural environment that we live in here in the diaspora for local options.  The book includes history, cultural notes, plant energies, and uses in palo.  We expect to be completing it in the new year (2019).