I founded Ofrenda Magazine as an expression of a twenty-year personal healing journey, one that has involved healing my body, decolonizing my faith and life-ways, cultivating my relationship to Earth, and reshaping an understanding of wholeness.
My story is perhaps a familiar one: I grew up in southern California, in a working-class family with ancestral roots on both sides of the border. My childhood experience was colored by my grandmother’s devotion to Guadalupe, my mom’s austere Protestantism, and my dad’s and uncles’ substance abuse. Fear and shame were dominant energies. My conservative, white Sunday school teachers told me with great certainty that I couldn’t be a leader as a woman, that my dad was destined for hell because he drank, and that my beloved grandma would join him in the fiery flames because she had an altar and prayed to statues—not thoughts a seven year old should have to contemplate. I both believed them and didn’t. Rewriting and rewiring the narrative would take years.
A studious kid with mystical inclinations, I chose learning as the path forward, and then as the way out. Enamored with diverse cultures and in pursuit of the truth, I studied global religions, politics, and linguistics in college. Then, in graduate school, I dove deeper into questions of identity and actively worked at decolonizing my beliefs, studying Latinx spirituality, Mesoamerican cosmology, and mujerista theology. It helped that I had met and married an encouraging partner on a similar path: he was a former-Christian-turned-animist, a Zen practitioner, and a Ph.D. student in an emerging field called “religion and nature.” Conversations were (and still are) interesting.
After leaving school, I taught language courses in Mexico and the U.S. for a time and then, eventually, cultivated a career in software design and innovation leadership—which has more in common with religion, politics, and language teaching than you might imagine. Ever the student, I also began learning astrology and traditional herbal medicine. I continued to read in areas I enjoyed, from armchair physics to curanderismo. I integrated holistic practices, especially after becoming a mama.
Intellectually, I had left religious conditioning and childhood beliefs behind, but psychosomatically, those early emotional scars were still with me, in my cells. Bible-banging from extended family triggered autoimmune responses. I had experienced a form susto, a sort of loss of self. I was, perhaps desperately, working on interrupting familial patterns so as not to inadvertently pass along my traumas to my son. I tried several therapies to unstick the parts of me that were stuck on autopilot, but it wasn’t until I had a few sessions with a curandera that I genuinely began to feel better, stronger.
During one session, the curandera guided me through a meditation, offering a simple description of ancestral presence—in human, plant, and animal form. I felt a mild, buzzy whoosh. Energy in. It was the first warm and enveloping, unchipped and uncritical, protective parental love I had felt in a long time. The difference, I believe, between this session and the other Eastern and Western therapies I had tried is that I felt a connection to culture. I felt at home in a way I hadn't before.
Rather quickly, I understood my calling differently. I had always been driven to use my “gifts” for good causes. Now, I understood that I had an opportunity to weave the disparate threads of my experience into a whole: Latinx spirituality, Earth-based spirituality, social and ecological justice, holistic wellness, traditional plant medicine, astrology, digital design, and innovation leadership. The word that kept coming to my mind was ofrenda: I need to make an ofrenda out of this experience and these knowings. I need to make an ofrenda, not only to my ancestors, but also to my son, to those who will follow, and to the Earth they will inherit.
So here, friends, is that ofrenda. I welcome you to this place; I welcome your healing, your wisdoms, your knowings, your artistic expressions—your whole, authentic selves.
The intention of Ofrenda Magazine is to be a space where we can explore and celebrate holistic wellness, ancestral connection (whether human, plant, or animal), and spiritual creativity. I have been truly overwhelmed by the amount of positive energy, gratitude, and support that I have received so far. People are excited about the topic and space to share. You're ready, and I am, too.
With your help, we will grow this space and our offerings over time. We're currently planning to publish digital issues six times per year, on dates that correspond with the full moon. Themes will directly and metaphorically reflect the seasons to help us tune in with cosmos and natural presences in and around us. (You can read about the themes on the Submissions page.)
It's my intention to make this a financially healthy exchange so that we can make the content available in several forms and also increase the rates we pay—ensuring Latinx writers, artists, and other creators are compensated not only for the time they've invested in the creative work but also the energy they've invested in building their expertise. We ask, in the spirit of reciprocity, that you consider contributing what you can for this purpose.
You can support this creative, healing space by advertising your services or making one-time or monthly tax-deductible donations. In time, we will have printed materials, downloads, and informational items available for purchase. And as we listen to feedback from you, our readers, we may also offer events, workshops, and similar gatherings to keep the flow of energy moving among us.
Thank you for participating in this journey. As we do the work and share together, let us honor the seven directions, the Earth, Moon, and Sun, our ancestors, our children, all our relations, and ourselves. Let us support each other through the decolonization process. Let us feel joy and have fun. Let us use our gifts for good.
Issue 01: Intention
In this first issue, we focus on the theme of intention. Most people probably think of “intention” as a goal, aim, or purpose: the motivating idea that turns into action, the commitment to a fresh start. Some also use the word “intention” to name the power of the universe: the cosmic sacred energy that manifests itself in and through humans and all our relations. And the medical definition of “intention” is the process of a woundʼs healing, the union of two parts of skin knitting themselves together again.
This issue invites readers to explore and meditate on the many meanings of intention:
- Berenice Dimas invites us to pursue and deepen our relationship with intention;
- Curandera Ixtoii Paloma Cervantes shows us, step-by-step, how to cultivate the practice of intention;
- Jorge Garcia, with art by Chicome Itzcuintli Amatlapantli, teaches us about Huitzilopochtli as an archetype of intent;
- John Jairo Valencia gifts us with art, verse, and audio that helps us contemplate the seed state;
- Sean Guerra shares his art and a personal journey of healing through the artistic style of Rasquachismo;
- Sarah Monroy Solis, in an intimate narrative about her father, shows us the healing power of discovering and knowing our linguistic roots;
- Cinthya Saavedra shares her spiritual journey, along with a meditation for us to carry into 2021; and
- Lara Medina shares her wisdom as editor of Voices from the Ancestors, one of my sources of inspiration for this magazine.
Thank you, gracias, for your presence here. I'm so excited to share the wisdom of these contributors. Thank you for for reading, listening to, viewing, and passing these pages along.