Guadalupe Rises Again

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Yesterday I was in a Mexican store helping someone to choose tiles for the sink and bathroom of a new casita that is just coming into being. I have always been drawn to Mexican art because the images tell stories, and many of those stories revolve around images in Nature – usually stylized. The tiles, for example portray flowers, birds, butterflies, and fish in brilliant colors. The child in me loves to see these stories. Artists who work with animal images in a respectful way honoring the spirit of the animal portrayed (either natural or stylized – cartoons revolt me) allows me to bridge the world from animals to people.


The mandala is also frequently present as a motif in these tiles. The mandala is a universal symbol for wholeness and containment, and is a particularly common element in most Mexican folk art. Some might add that the circular designs also represent the ‘self.’ Personally, I perceive mandalas as both symbolic and a concrete manifestation of Earth and a mysterious Wholeness that is intrinsic to the entire Universe.


Mexican art moves me. The expressive folk images, and the use of natural objects like gourds to create complex designs give me a sense of being at home in the world of people. Nature has been my Muse since I was a child. As a life long naturalist I am deeply drawn to the world of animals, I think in part because aside from my brother, animals were my first real friends.


For much of my adult life I have reflected upon this complex attraction of mine. I have both Italian, and Indigenous roots as part of my heritage. I also grew up as the daughter of an Anglian artist whose love of classical and impressionistic art was deeply woven in to my life.


Folk art only came to the forefront when I reached adulthood and began to develop into a self -directed woman – something that didn’t happen until my children were grown. First it was Native American fetishes, especially bears that drew me in along with Mexican embroidered clothing.


The child in me emerged for the first time in my life and I “made up” a healing Bear Circle inside which bears and other fetishes were moved around by whim or prayer (it turned out that the Lakota Sioux as well as other Native tribes use bear circles for healing, but I didn’t know that then). I also developed a fascination for wild bears that the naturalist in me couldn’t make sense of since there were none where I lived on the coast.


In my forties I began to dream images of ancient goddess figures that I later drew and sculpted in clay. I also discovered that the Great Bear was probably the most ancient goddess figure in the Northern Hemisphere. Around the same period I attended a Jungian conference held in Assisi Italy where I had a mystical ongoing experience with Mary and Mary Magdalene that lasted almost a week. And when my life fell apart for the second time, a year spent in the desert helped heal me enough to go on.


It was in Arizona that I discovered Guadalupe, the unofficial saint of Mexico. Many folks are familiar with her story. Guadalupe is a Mexican Indian goddess that appeared to an Indian peasant asking him to convey to the Bishop that a chapel be built on a hill outside Mexico City. To “prove” to the Bishop that she was “real” Guadalupe presented the Indian with red Castilian roses to take to him (that cascaded out of her robe when she opened it) … It is said that when the chapel was built in her honor, a healing spring bubbled out of the Earth. It is rarely mentioned that Guadalupe’s Hill was also the place where the ancient Indigenous Earth Goddess Tonzantin resided. Goddesses have a way of appearing in a multitude of guises, each con specific to a particular time, place, and need.


After discovering statues of the Black Madonna or Guadalupe behind the country churches in the outskirts of Tucson (all had candles lit all around them), I bought a Mexican carving of Guadalupe on the streets of downtown Tucson. This image of an Indigenous goddess was the very first of my personal belongings that found a place in my log cabin, my second home, where she resides to this day.


Falling in love with Guadalupe was followed by a compulsion to visit Mexico (which to this day has never been realized because I never had the money to make this pilgrimage).


However, one by one, I bought pieces of other Mexican art. Huichol Indigenous string art adorns almost every corner of my present home. Deer, serpents, mushrooms, and other animals and plants tell cultural stories through string and intricate beadwork in vibrant otherworldly colors. Mexican Talavera pottery appeals to me because each artist is telling his or her version of a story that is also grounded in images in Nature as already mentioned. Over time when I could afford it, I acquired a Mexican Talavera frog, and later when I built my small log cabin I bought a few precious Talavera dishes and two more frogs and a lizard…


But let me return to Guadalupe. When I came to Abiquiu, New Mexico two years ago I was stunned to see so many images of Guadalupe that were white. At least in Tucson, She was portrayed as the Indian goddess she was. Eventually it occurred to me that Spanish influences and the Catholic Church (who to this day has not canonized this “saint”) were both responsible for her whitening.


For two years I have been looking for an image of Guadalupe to be with me here in Abiquiu and yesterday I found her in the tile store!


This Guadalupe is cut out of tin, a simple but profound image, the metal has been shaped to resemble the traditional Mexican image of Guadalupe. However, this image – a starry cloak with rays of light outline a figure without a face and body that for me allows Guadalupe to become the frame to hold any image that is sacred to me, one of which happens to be the Bear. There is even a small pocket in which a bear fetish could be placed at the bottom of the piece. The only addition inside the cloak is a pair of copper hands held in prayer.


Last night, I couldn’t stop gazing at her. The tin shimmers in reflected light. Oh, I made the right choice by buying her! What I love the most is her universality. This goddess makes room for all other sacred images female or male, human and non – human…


This morning I was given a hand written note by the man I was with yesterday that acknowledged the importance of this figure for me and hoped that this “Lady of Guadalupe” would find a Nicho nearby.


I hoped so too.


A Ladder to the Stars


Every evening at twilight

she climbs a ladder

to the stars…


Venus is her guide …

As the Evening star

(who also rises at dawn)

this Goddess of Love

is her Muse.


As a woman who

respects herself,

she stands up for others.

She has learned how to Love.


Giving is as natural

to her as breathing;

every gesture is grounded

in caring for people and the Earth…


She honors the gift

that She has been given –

Life in all its heartrending complexity –

embracing both joy and pain

with equal intensity.



A wise woman, she reflects

a choice we

all have been given –

(regardless of personal story)

to live with an open heart.


Becoming a mirror for

those who might

have forgotten,

her actions remind us

that only Love endures

Longing For Home



This patch of red earth

under my feet

even in drought

feels like home.

At dawn

I sit at the river’s edge

gazing east.

The rising sun star

almost always

turns pale light

into a world of color

that defies imagination

or words to describe

my wonder.

Even the lamenting horse

next door

breaking my heart

with his sorrow

is part of the story…

His anguish has become

my own.

I greet each day

with gratitude

and earnest prayer.


will I find home

in this high desert?

I long for roots –

dug deep as my longing –

and a place of my own.

Becoming Seed



Turning smooth seeds

over in my palm

bruised purple and mauve

kidney shaped patterns capture

my heart…

I recall that each embodies

the Mystery of Becoming –

through genetics, pattern and form.


I gently place

each seed in her pot

watering it well,

anticipating the green stem

that will split the air in two.


Within a week

a transformation,

as seed unfurls,

sprouts her stalk.

New emerald leaves

have startling raised veins

that gift us

with the air she breathes.

Because of her we live.


Vining up the gnarled trellis

She spirals her way to sky.

Heart shaped leaves

and bittersweet orange flowers

beckon to hummingbirds –

Sweet nectar is their treat.


After a spray of orange blooms

the tiny beans appear

like birds on a wire,

lined up

in a row.


When seed pods

begin to ripen

I watch for slender

emerald beans to lengthen

into wavy strings.

Plucking them

to eat

when young,

I always add a prayer.


Some ripening seeds

I leave

to grow plump,

and rounded –

bulging shapes

anticipate a cyclic

Fall Gathering…


As summer fades

seed cases become giants,

some a foot or more in length.

A dying sun, wind, cool nights,

toughen tanned and crackling pods

that rattle like gourds.

I cut them away from

withering vines,

now ten feet high.

Excitedly I open the first one

to greet next year’s gift,

purple and pink seeds!

Another circle closes.

Oh, the miracle of new life to come.

March Moons



Last night a Moonflower blossomed.

Hovering over bare branches

she rose quickly

into a pale blue sky.

Guilded in gold at twilight,

Moon turned iridescent,

pearl white by nightfall.


Will a month of double moons

bring high desert’s thirsty

trees, scrub, and grasses,

first spring flowers,

water they desperately need?


Do both hold Promise?

Or does one

cancel out the other?


Is the Hare hiding

behind his Grandmother

beckoning to the unwary?*


Or will winter buried toads

emerge to bask under

fragrant spring rain?


Beware an offer

of too much light

without shadows,

or reversals in Time.


Endings and beginnings

are always ambiguous.


March Light lengthens out our days.

Winter’s soft shadows fade

into cerulean blue –

a blazing white star

brings warmth, but all too soon

stares red earth down

cracking parched ground.


We can lose sight of ourselves

even as sprouting seeds unfurl,

reaching towards god’s eye.

At high noon no shadow is cast –

a dangerous time for

those who refuse to reflect

upon the necessity

of winter darkness.


This time of introspection

precedes a fierce

“Coming of the Light.”


At the equinox two halves

are wed as One.

A cautionary note

for those who would

cast away dark selves

to take wild flight

seduced by the fire

of the rising sun/son.


  • In many Native Indigenous traditions (as well as those from other countries) the Hare lives with his Grandmother the Moon. Hare is a trickster figure who is capable of reversals. He can turns the world upside down in seconds.

Blossoming Owl

I first met Sam at the Abiquiu Artist’s Tour a couple of years ago. At the time I was struck by the beauty and complexity of his images, especially the spirals he painted.

Since then, Sam and I have become good friends.

We have also discovered that we both think of owls as being personal guides.

Fortunately, I have been present while he has been painting “Owl Blossom” which for me has been very exciting.

Recently I wrote a piece for this blog on what I call “Deep Time” and last week while visiting Sam I realized that his paintings articulate better than I ever could with words, just what I mean by “Deep Time.”

Please visit Sam to see more extraordinary paintings at:





First a muted sunrise.


Dark clouds streak across the canvas

we call the sky.


A golden orb is obscured.


Wild field grasses sweep across the open scrub

scattering the last of winter’s seeds.


The wind picks up.


We are subsumed by a momentary maelstrom.


Thick white flakes

barely brush the scrub.


In moments the ground is bare

and parched once more.


I am left wondering

if the snow visited us at all.