Seed | Xinachtli
¡Ábreme como una semilla para que yo pueda florecer!
¡Abre mi corazón, revientalo como una semilla a punto de germinar!
Open me up like a seed so that I can flourish!
Open my heart like a seed about to germinate!
Morning plegaria, prayer to Tonatiuh, our dearest father Sun
Semillita, xinachtzintli, dear venerable seed: How does it feel to be broken? How does it feel when you are about to germinate, when a new being, the new and tender plant, is about to come out from you to be kissed by the sun? Is it painful for you to be broken into pieces? Is it painful? How does it feel semillita, dear little seed? How does it feel to know that very soon you will no longer be? Do you cry? Do you scream?
I WOKE UP today feeling like a seed, one that is about to germinate, one that has been under the soil for some time patiently waiting in the sacred darkness, held by Tonantzin, our venerable Mother Earth. Notlahtol, my word, is like the new plant that is about to sprout from my seed/heart to be sunkissed. Notlahtol is about to sprout, and it is painful.
Does it hurt? Do you cry? Do you scream? How does it feel? Please forgive me: I hadn’t thought about this before. Until now. Hasta que te sucede a ti, until it is happening to you.
Now that my yollotl, my heart, is broken into a million pieces, my true voice is fighting to come out. My true voice, not the one I was told to use, not the one I have been imposed to use, not the one that uses syntax, verbs, and phrases that don’t belong to me. No, the one, THE one that was granted to me by Tloque Nahuaque, the energy for whom we all live, the energy of the near and the close. This true voice is struggling to come out in full force, as nature does, but in the process, I’m finding it painful to feel the brokenness of my heart-seed. In the process, I don’t know what to make of this pain. Maybe that’s the main difference between a xinachtzintli, a venerable seed, and my heart-seed? While sprouting, the seed knows what to make of the pain—but I don’t.
This true voice is struggling to come out in full force, as nature does, but in the process, I’m finding it painful to feel the brokenness of my heart-seed.
Root | Nelhuayotl
“Después de un año / Bajo la tierra
Igual que sobreviviente / Que vuelve de la guerra.”
After a year under the ground
like a survivor, who is coming back from war.
Mercedes Sosa, “Como la Cigarra” (“Like the Cicada”)
SITTING IN FRONT of my altar, I take four deep breaths, one for each corner of the cosmos. As I do so, I gently place my left hand over my navel, noxic (naw-sheec) in Nahuatl. This is my sacred connection to my mom, a connection so deep that it will never disappear, even after we have transitioned, even after our bodies are no longer here. Noxic, my navel, connects me with my abuelita too, and with her mom, and her mom, and her mom, and so forth until the beginning of time. Estas son mis raíces; these are my roots. Mis raíces son profundas; my roots run deep. Nelli (neh-lee) means truth in Nahuatl: that which stands tall and which cannot be destroyed because it has deep and strong roots. Nelhuayotl means root in Nahuatl.
Noxic, my navel, connects me with my abuelita too, and with her mom, and her mom, and her mom, and so forth until the beginning of time.
My venerable mom and all my venerable abuelitas forged strong, deep roots for me.
“Mi’jita,” said my abuelita, “come sit here with me next to the tlecuil, the hearth. You must be hungry; I’ll make some tortillas for you, my dearest.” That’s how I recall one of my earliest memories. I was maybe three or four, but I was already sitting with my beloved abuelita in front of the sacred fire, Chantico, the feminine energy of the fire in the Nahua tradition. I remember my abuelita sitting on her legs on a petate (mat) on the floor in the position Nahua women sit when making tortillas and other food on the tlecuil.
My beautiful abuelita! She is having a sacredly loving conversation with Señora Chantico, while making sacred food for us all, while making tortillas just for me. It smells delicious!
I attentively observed how she would massage the corn dough, then clap on it until she got a perfect circle, which she then placed on the hot comalli, or Nahua griddle. Then, I saw how the tortilla would puff up! Yes, it smelled delicious! And it was hot, too! But I never got burned. My mom and all my abuelitas have forged strong connections with the sacred fire.
Lots of years later, I learned that my mom had been the family’s “fire keeper” and tended with love and care to their temazcalli, the steam house. Yes, my roots run deep, my roots are strong. Chantico, the sacred energy of the fire, always tells the truth. I can stand tall in my truth, the same truth of my mom and all my venerable abuelitas. The truth of Señora Chantico. That truth is in my navel.
Stem | Quiyotl
“Varita bonita, varita de nardo / Cortada al amanecer”
Pretty little stick, freshly cut in the sunrise little nard stick...
Joaquín Pardavé, “Varita de Nardo” (Nard’s little stick)
LOOK! HERE COMES Quetzalcoatl, the energy of the precious knowledge, the matiliztli, coming back from his painful journey through Mictlan, the place of the death, to bring back the bones with which he would create us all, macehualtin, human beings.
It’s been a journey in the darkness, through dark waters, through the vastness of our consciousness, that for which the disappeared Jewish-Mexican maestro Jacobo Grinberg could not find a definition, but which he used to call “the backbone” that sustains us all. The backbone, the stem, el tallo, quiyotl (keeh-iotl).
In his journey to and from Mictlan, Quetzalcoatl travels through a series of butterflies, seemingly static and fragile, but at the same time strong and flexible, which, in our bodies’ taxonomy, translate to the vertebrae.
In his journey to and from Mictlan, Quetzalcoatl travels through a series of butterflies, seemingly static and fragile, but at the same time strong and flexible, which, in our bodies’ taxonomy, translate to the vertebrae. The function of the vertebrae is to protect and support the spinal cord, which, along with our brain, forms our nervous system. Our brain is like the command center, and the spinal cord is like the messenger between our brain and our body. Our brain: our thoughts, our intellect, our tonalli (taw-nah-lee), the energy we carry, the energy we were bestowed with at birth; the first part of our body that was sunkissed after we came out from the sacred waters, from the sacred cave of our moms; our crown, our mollera, the place in our body where our tonalli is located. But it is not fixed there, and it could easily be detached with a susto (a fright or shock), so we need to give it maintenance and protection.
For example, during limpias (cleansing ceremonies), it is of utmost importance to clean our molleras, our crowns, so that Tonatiuh, the Sun can continue blessing it with his sacred kisses. I like to perform a special limpia with flowers, healing yerbas, sacred smoke, and agua florida (special cleansing water prepared with flowers and yerbas) to our whole tonalli system—the head, the neck, the back—so that Quetzalcoatl can travel freely between our own Mictlan and so that he can come back full of wisdom to our brain, so that our knowledge can flourish, so that our sacred knowledge can be sunkissed once again.