Mid-Summer Illumination by Anne Key

Goddess, Gratefulness, Priestess, ritual, Seasonal Greetings, Summer Solstice

Today is Mid-Summer, the Summer Solstice. Here in the Northern Hemisphere, we are living in the moments of the most light of the year. Solstice means “sun ceases” (originally from Latin), and it is at this point that the sun stills, rising and setting at its northernmost position on the horizon the few days before and after Mid-summer, drenching us in almost unrelenting light.

Many times, I view the unrelenting light as invigorating, life-affirming, and joyous. This year, the unrelenting light brings exposure. The politics of the day shine a thousand watt beam on the inequality, injustice, and inhumanity that is often unseen, or that we choose not to see, or that we cannot take in without our hearts breaking.

Today in this moment of stillness as the sun bathes us in its light, I open myself to seeing all that is illuminated and accepting my place in it. I see my power and privilege, and I see the limits of my own capacity. I don’t allow myself to be immobilized by guilt or shame, and I acknowledge what I have done to better the world. I take this day to see the big picture, to see my path in it. And I take this moment to open myself to the illumination of the solstice, without and within, and accept myself as whole, holy.

Whatever you do today, take a moment to truly see what is being illuminated, both without and within.

Blessings on this brightest and longest of days —

Anne

Note on Dates: Astrologically, Mid-Summer may be calculated as the date the Sun is at 0 degree cancer. Summer Solstice (Latin: “sun ceases”) is known as Mid-Summer or Litha (from the Anglo-Saxon name for the month of June) and St. John’s Day (the feast day of St. John the Baptist).

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11698910_10153125848983220_7989607679311699491_o (1)A faculty member in Women’s Studies, English and Religious Studies, Anne Key is the co-founder of the independent press Goddess Ink and co-editor of two anthologies: Stepping Into Ourselves: An Anthology of Writings on Priestesses and Heart of the Sun: An Anthology in Exaltation of Sekhmet. She has two memoirs, Desert Priestess and Burlesque, Yoga, Sex and Love: A Memoir of Life Under the Albuquerque Sun. She and Veronica Iglesias created The Jade Oracle deck with deities and symbols from ancient Mexico to bring this wisdom to a new generation, and they lead tours to sacred sites in Mexico. See more at www.sacredtoursofmexico.com.  Anne resides in Albuquerque with her husband, his two cats and her snake.

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Four life-changing ways to encounter the Sacred in the Maya Lands by Veronica Iglesias and Anne Key

Divine, Goddess, Mesoamerican Goddesses, Mexico, Priestess, ritual, sacred sites, The Jade Oracle

The Maya Lands of Mexico offer many ways to encounter the sacred. Here are just a four sacred experiences that are, literally, life-changing.

Being “in-situ”:

It is one thing to see artifacts in a museum or book, and it is a completely different experience to be on the land, at the places where people have performed ritual and honored the ancestors and deities. Walk through the temples of Chichen Itza and hear the echoes of songs and the petals of flowers from ancient rituals. Climb the pyramid at Ek Balam and look over the surrounding verdant jungle, breathing in the prana of the plants. Sit at the altar of the goddess IxChel with the waves of the turquoise ocean lapping nearby. This is the time and place to reach from the past to the present and feel yourself between the worlds.

The Balche ceremony:

Balche is a fermented beverage made with honey and the bark of the sacred balche tree. When the Spanish arrived, they quickly banned the making and drinking of balche because of its strong religious significance. However, when the Maya showed the Spanish its healing properties, the ban was lifted, In ritual, the drink balche has healing properties, both for self and society. When drinking it in ritual, balche connects us to the cosmos, bringing messages from spirits and ancestors. Join us in December for a balche ceremony at Kaxan Xuul Ek Balam Colectivo De La Cultura Maya

Cenotes:

Cenotes are deep underwater pools. The name cenote is from the Maya ts’onot, which refers to a “sacred well.”. When we swim in these sacred pools, we are connected to all the other waters of the land. These turquoise and mineral-rich pools represent the womb, a place where we are reborn. The Maya would make offerings to these pools, and they were a part of their most sacred rituals.
Hear Veronica Iglesias talk about the beautiful and soulful things we will experience on the Tour of the Maya Lands: https://www.youtube.com/watch…

 Temazcal:

Experience a temazcal in the jungles near Ek Balam and again on the island of Isla Mujeres. The temazcal is an ancient ceremony used throughout Mesoamerica. This ritual takes place in a round structure, like a womb. On the south wall, on the outside, is a fireplace. The fire heats the wall and volcanic stones are brought inside. The temazcal ceremony brings purification and healing. When you leave the temazcal, you enter the world reborn. Imagine leaving the dark womb of the healing temazcal and walking over the white sand into the bright sunlight and turquoise ocean of the beach at Isla Mujeres.

 

Join Anne Key and M Verónica Iglesias and Sacred Tours of Mexico this December and Dive Deep into the Beauty and Mystery of the Maya Lands. Are you ready to make this Winter Solstice the moment when you dive deep, breathe it all in, and return renewed? http://sacredtoursofmexico.com/2018-tour-schedule/ 

Visit our website and circle with us on Facebook and Instagram. Check out our newly designed store and please sign up for the Goddess Ink Newsletter for a monthly dose of inspiration.

 

Summer Reading: Legacy by Kerrigan Valentine

Goddess, Story

This week we have the first chapter from one of our favorite fantasy reads: Legacy, by Kerrigan Valentine.  Purchase in paperback from Goddess Ink or Kindle on Amazon.

Prologue

My mother died before I was born. It sounds odd, saying that, but I can’t find any other way of explaining.

She was fifteen when I was born, the first in a long line of unwelcome daughters. A year later, my mother had Beth. The following autumn brought the twins, and then with each year came all the rest. The one boy that Mother bore brightened our father’s life for only a few days. We buried him in the men’s graveyard, my father grieving more for this untouched soul than he ever did for his other living, suffering daughters.

Women lived hard in the Valley. Married at twelve, first childbed by thirteen, they were bent-backed grandmothers by the time they were twenty-six. My mother must have been despaired of when no baby appeared those first years of marriage. Father could have divorced her, on grounds of barrenness. He was nearly thirty then, home from warring, and ready to start a family. But in the Valley, a family meant sons. Daughters were of no importance, except to grow up to breed and rear sons. Those like my mother, who failed to do even that, were truly worthless. As I grew, she turned from dead to a ghost.
I played in the grass one morning, after the twins were born, while my mother drew a stained shirt up and down the washboard. A butterfly lifted from a flower and I laughed, clapping my hands, turning to see if she had noticed. Her dead eyes were still as stone, frightening me. I knew one day those would be my eyes. Their emptiness would be just the same.

By the time I was eight, her hair was white and broken, with spots of scalp shining through like scattered coins. Her head withered into the stalk of her neck, her bloodless arms sunk to bony hands. The pale blue of her eyes had leached away, until they looked as white as her hair. She was an apparition that wisped and disappeared when I turned to see. Rarely speaking, never smiling, never scolding. In our tiny living room full of noisy little girls, she simply vanished.

I looked at my father, tanned from the sun, robust at his work, and yet he was so much older than my mother. One day, I stood up from my child’s game and began helping. Not as much as I could have or should have, but some. If I had expected her to express thanks, I would have been disappointed. It was Father who approved.
“Maybe you’ll be a proper woman yet,” he said once, watching me sweep the floor as he downed ale.

Something dark and evil within me rankled at his praise. For I had made a promise, that day in the grass with my mother washing. I did not know how, but my life would be different. Her eyes would never be mine.

Chapter One – Going Home

I’m twelve past a quarter and already an old maid. The thought made me giggle, though at this vast age, I knew I should be beyond childish laughter. San and Teff looked shocked, their insult falling flat beneath my snickering. Beth elbowed my side.
“It’s not funny!” she said prissily, fussing over the pleats in her skirt. “Look at you, Shannon! A few more months and you really will be an old maid.”

I mussed her thin hair with my free hand. “Better that than a wife, eh, boys?”

Teff’s mouth fell open as San stiffened and moved back from the fence they were leaning on. I hefted the market basket up to my shoulder.

“Well, we’re off!” I said too loudly, pulling Beth along the road. “Why should I bring a husband’s children into the world to starve, when there’s not enough food to keep my father’s from hunger?” I smiled in satisfaction at the sound of three throats choking.
“I can’t believe you said that!” Beth hissed while San and Teff muttered behind us.
“You’re not natural, Shannon Wrightsdaughter!” one shouted. The wet sound of spitting followed.
“What if someone heard you?” Beth flinched away from me and tried to fix her hair.
“Spinsters’ cursed empty womb, brings lonely life from home to tomb!” the boys called as we neared the end of the Trel farm fence.

I rustled around in the basket. “Think I could peg Teff with an apple from here?”
“No!” Beth said, slapping my hand away.

“It’d be a waste of an apple,” I said sagely. “Pity their wives one day. But then who’d marry those cracked brains? I wouldn’t.”

“Well, you have to marry someone,” Beth said.

I started to retort, but she had already begun to wheeze. Children born in the Dark Winter never fared well. Beth and then the boy, both Dark Winter children. And irony of ironies, Beth, the too-early hard birthed baby, translucent-skinned and kitten-weak, had lived. The full-born, rose-colored boy born eight years later had not. Father, the odd time he looked at any of us, made sure to let his eyes skip over Beth. Had she been healthier, more of his rage would have poured down upon her. As it was, his anger was thoughtfully doled out in equal parcels to me, our mother, Beth, the twins, and the others.

Beth tried to even her breathing. I slowed and pretended not to notice her rasp. The sun was setting over the Valley, turning the crop fields a fiery gold against the flame red of the sky. Threads of darkness spread like talons behind us. The road was pale yellow beneath our feet, and the colors of land and sky together were as lovely as Jadan Trelson’s paintings before he had gone to war.

“Marriage,” I grumbled, hoping to draw Beth into conversation. It wasn’t thoughtful, with her trying to breathe and all, but I couldn’t bear the silence.

“What else are you going to do?” Beth said with a shrug, sounding exactly like Old Mother Nhilde in the market. “Cut off your braid and take up a plow?”

“Oh, don’t be tiresome,” I said. “I just don’t want to marry, that’s all. I mean, honestly, do you want to?”

Her voice was tired. “Of course I do. It’s not a question of wanting to, anyway. It’s a matter of doing what we should.”

“Goat drops to that! I’ll do what I please!”

“And that’s why your life will be so much harder than mine,” she said. I made a horrible face at her and shifted the basket to my other shoulder. We’d gone to market that afternoon and were late returning.

“We’re really late.” Beth said. I nodded, judging a mile or so left. I loved going to market, the bustle in the square and commotion from the stores, haggling down prices as Beth tugged on my sleeve in embarrassment. Her face would get redder still when some charitable man with many sons gave us a coin for our poor, unlucky father. Poor Father, naught but daughters. Poor Father, unable to plant all his fields with no sons to help. If Father ever found out we had accepted the money, would his fists fly! I always smiled my gratitude to the giver and pocketed the coin. I had one hidden in my dress right now. Taking it out, I watched the deep blue coin flash and sparkle in the last of the afternoon sun. I went to flash the light in Beth’s eyes, but thought better of it. I stroked its smooth surface instead and slipped it back into my pocket. A full twenty-pence piece, compliments of San and Teff’s father himself.

The road wound south. Suddenly, a rabbit skittered over the yellow gravel and vanished into a patch of thick grass. Beth grabbed my arm before I could give it chase.
“You’re no fun,” I scolded. “I wouldn’t have done it, really.”

“Yes, you would have,” Beth said. The catch in her voice made me look back. Her face was deathly pale, and beads of sweat trickled down her cheeks to drop onto her dampened collar. Her brown eyes slid around sickly, going in and out of focus when they tried to steady on me. She clutched at me to keep herself from falling. Ignoring her protests, I made her sit down along the side of the road.

The Dark Winter came with a vengeance every eight years, with icy winds scrabbling at the cabin walls and the Valley in near blackness for months at a time. Candles and fires gave the only light while thin blankets gave too little warmth. The oldest and youngest quickly died of lung illness and, by the time spring rolled in, the hale and healthy were near death themselves. I had been too young to remember the winter Beth was born, but I could remember the next one with crystal clarity. Father’s mother, Old Luol, sat in the rocker, going back and forth, back and forth through the days and nights. I could not tell one from the other. Firelight flickered on her lumped fingers twisted over the armrests. The only sound but for the shrieking wind was her voice, mumbling stories to us about the beasts in the Beyond. I had been nine, Beth eight, and the boy child lived to see his third day before dying. Had there been some light, Father no doubt would have gone to the tavern. But he had to remain in our cramped, tiny cabin until travel was possible. Beth and I huddled with the twins in a cold corner to avoid his rampaging about, while the rest of our sisters shivered along the other wall. Mother was still bed-ridden in our parents’ room.

“Dead! Dead! Dead!” he screamed. “Look at my son! What have you done to my son?” He held the bundled body to his chest, poking at it now and then, as if to make sure. I had only caught a glimpse and gotten slapped for my trouble, the boy’s whitish face eerily still in its swathe of wool blanket.

Dark Winters were long and hard. Had they come about more than once every eight years, I would probably go mad. That first spring day, when the sun gave the earth no more than a late evening’s dimness, we all spilled outside and would not go back in until nightfall.“Don’t worry, Shannon,” Beth said. I jumped at her voice. “I don’t think San and Teff will tell anyone what you said. They know it was just foolishness.” I stared at her in confusion.

“I wasn’t thinking . . .” I began to protest, but realized she didn’t need to know what I was really thinking. I helped her to her feet.

“I’m better now. Do you want me to carry the basket?” she asked.

“No, I’m all right,” I said as her chin got a stubborn set to it. “Maybe you could carry one or two of the loaves, that would lighten it some.”

She took three and started off. We went the rest of the way in silence. She shouldn’t have come with me to market, as fast as she tired, but it was better than being home.
We turned off the road and walked down the dirt path to the cabin. No cook fire came from the chimney.

“What do you. . .” Beth stopped as two of the Nameless ran for us. After Roaninblue were born, Father had forbidden us to waste even names on other useless baggage. I had names for them, but only when Father wasn’t around.

I looked over their heads at the cabin. The door was ajar. Father started shouting.
“Come on,” I said. “We’ll go into the barn and play games.” I gestured to the other Nameless, huddled on the porch. They clambered to their feet. All of them ducked when a particularly loud shout cut the air around us.

“Hurry, hurry,” I said as I ushered them into the barn, glancing at the cabin. It wasn’t much, uneven boards and cracked glass windows that never seemed to get clean. Old Luol’s rocker lay in a heap in the front yard. I pulled the barn door shut and counted . . . seven, eight, nine. Everyone was here. Roaninblue each took a hand of another sister and tried to pull them into a half-hearted ring game. Roan or Blue gave up, and then the other twin followed suit. Father never called either one by the same name, so they became Roaninblue, like a single identity.

“Come on, let’s play hide-and-seek!” I said loudly to cover the sounds from the cabin. “I’m it!”

Beth took the basket from my shoulder. I had forgotten it was there. I ran to the barn door and pressed my face against it, counting noisily. The three youngest shrieked and footsteps pounded away. Beth chuckled. I heard her sit down with an exhausted sigh.
“Twelve!” I called out. Two giggles came from the horse’s stall. Greda and Keluu, probably. They always hid together. The twins’ voices whispered behind me.
I opened my eyes and looked out a crack between the boards. For a moment, Mother’s face was barely visible through the gray glass of the cabin window.

“Why doesn’t she just hit him back?” I had demanded of her, when I was Greda’s age.
My mother looked out over the market. One of the Trelson boys had slapped his mother and ripped a coin from her palm.

“Thirteen!” I shouted, looking at my mother’s eyes. Her face disappeared. I turned back to the musty barn.“Ready, steady, on I come!” I ran blindly into the dust motes.

The Trelson mother had pressed her hand to her stained cheek. She looked down at the ground. Mother didn’t do anything for a moment. Everyone had paused at the ring of that slap, and then they were in motion again around us, slightly faster than before, to make up for the time they had lost.

I ran, not caring if I tripped, keeping my hands in front of me to push off posts and sagging doors and bales of hay. Why had the other girls been so pleased when it was time to put our hair in braids? Who wanted to be a Valley’s woman?

I stumbled over a loose board and fell, skinning my knees and tearing my dress. I scrambled to my feet. This time when I ran, like a foolish little child, my eyes were closed.

Want to read more? Purchase in paperback from Goddess Ink or Kindle on Amazon.

Author Kerrigan Valentine was born in Wisconsin and grew up in California, where she lives today with her partner. She has a bachelor’s degree in Classical Studies. After graduating from college, she worked for several years in education with mildly to severely disabled children, and now divides her time between writing, occasional teaching and seasonal viticulture positions, and learning how to cook with limited success.

 

Summer Reading: Dancer for the Goddess by Diana Rivers

contemplation, Dance, Empowerment, Fiction, Goddess, Priestess, ritual, Story, Vision, Women

Dancer for the GoddessThis week we have the first chapter from one of our favorite fantasy reads: Dancer for the Goddess by Diana Rivers, author of The Hadra Series.  Purchase in paperback from Goddess Ink or Kindle on Amazon.

Chapter 1: The Temple of Kernoss

By walking past the Temple at that exact moment on that particular morning,
my life was changed forever and set irrevocably on its new course. I
had been sent out on some errand or other. Later I couldn’t even remember
what it was because I never reached my intended destination. I was very
young at the time, ten perhaps, certainly no more than eleven, just barely old
enough to be out in the streets alone. My older cousin, Renairi, the one who
should have gone instead of me, was ill. I had been allowed to go in her place with the strict understanding that I was to come straight home afterward.

Of course I’d been on that street many times before with my family,
but we’d never lingered in front of the Temple of Kernoss. My mother was
so contemptuous of the Goddess and all things holy that we always passed
by quickly, often with my mother making disparaging remarks. I knew my
father had once been head gardener at the Temple, but that was long ago,
even before my parents married. Sometimes he still spoke of it with longing
and affection. My mother had no such feelings—and in our family, my
mother held the power.

Those other times, the outer courtyard had been a bustle of activity,
crowded with celebrants there for the holy days, or merchants who had
business with the Temple. Throngs of people passed in or out of the gates,
some from the city and some from the farmlands beyond. The Temple of
Kernoss was immense, almost like a town within the city of Urshameel,
with many to be fed and clothed and much sacred business being conducted
there everyday. This time, however, it was early morning. For once,
the front courtyard of the Temple was empty.

Feeling very daring and a little frightened, I stepped through the open
gates to take a quick look into this forbidden place. I had only meant to stay
for a moment or two, but I found myself lingering there, tempted by the
beauty of the flowerbeds overflowing with spring blooms. I was also tempted
by this unexpected freedom. After glancing around to make sure no one was
watching me, I craned my neck to find the source of the waterfall that started
from some high place in the polished black stones of the Temple wall. From
there I followed with my eyes as the water fell, flashing and sparkling, into
a shallow pool where gold, red and bronze fish swam in lazy circles. Past the pond the water flowed on into little streams that meandered about and
watered the gardens. Of course, I had to stop for a little while and watch the
fish. Then, humming to myself, I had to dip my fingers in the water and run
my wet fingertips lightly over the flowers.

Drawn by curiosity, fears forgotten and responsibilities as well, I began
walking further and deeper into the courtyard. At a bend in a low, curving,
brick wall, I came upon an enormous stone statue of Great Mother, The-
Mother-of-all-Things. She was surrounded by a multitude of tiny animals
and humans made of painted clay. I sucked in my breath with delight.
Wonderfully round and full of power, Her features were almost worn away
from the touch of many hands. Awed, I stopped before Her and bowed. Then,
feeling very daring but unable to resist, I scrambled up on a bench. With
tentative fingers I stroked Her face. I wanted to pluck a flower and set it on
the altar in front of Her with all the other offerings, but Temple ways were
unfamiliar to me. I was afraid I might do something forbidden.

The courtyard was paved in dark stone with an inset of lighter stones
in the shape of a spiral. Stepping with care, I followed this spiral pathway
to its center where a small, round pool reflected the sky like an unblinking
blue eye. From that center, I looked up in wonder at the pointed archway of
black polished stones leading into the inner courtyard and the Temple itself.
My eyes were instantly captured by the symbols carved around it, each one
painted in a different bright color.

Errand long forgotten, I began moving toward the archway as if in a
trance. I was reaching out my hand, intent upon touching one of those mysterious symbols, when a sudden movement caught my attention. A young woman, far back inside the archway, was bending over to fasten her sandal.

Fascinated, I stopped to watch. Just then she stood up and swung her long
dark hair back from her face with one sweep of her arm. Sighing deeply, she
took an unconsciously graceful pose and stood looking past me into the
outer courtyard as if lost in thought.

A ray of early morning light fell on her in the darkness of the archway.
It flashed on the gold links of her necklace and lit the richness of her Dancer
costume, red and purple with a blue vest and several multi-colored sashes. In one hand she held a glass tube or wand in which brilliant colors swirled and shimmered in constantly changing patterns. With the fingers of her other
hand she absently twirled some strands of her dark hair. I stood gaping at her
with my mouth open. Her beauty took my breath away—the Goddess Herself
in earthly form. Flooded with admiration, in that instant I fell in love with
my whole heart as only someone very young can fall in love. At the same
moment the Dancer glanced down and noticed this little girl, staring at her
so openly. She turned her full attention on me.

“Have you never seen a Dancer, Child?” I blushed and stammered, “Yes, often, at festival times but always Dancing, never just standing still like a real person.”

The Dancer threw back her head and laughed. “Oh, I’m real enough.
Watch…” She did some quick intricate Dance steps ending with a slight bow
in front of me. “You see, I’m very real,” she said again, reaching out and
touching me on the wrist. “I’m a Dancer for the Goddess and I’m training
right here in this Temple.”

I trembled at her touch and went on staring up at her, my eyes wide and
unblinking. Words came tumbling thoughtlessly out of my mouth: “What’s
your name? Mine is Zaia. How old were you when you started Dancing? Can
someone my age do those steps? Are they very hard to learn?” Then I glanced away, going suddenly shy and silent.

I think the longing and intensity in my questions must have touched
her heart. It was certainly not my manners. “My name is Kendrin,” she said
with a smile. “I started when I was nine. Come, I’ll show you where the
girls your age practice. Melanthia is the Dance Mistress and she’s very strict
so we have to be quiet and not let anyone see us there.” Kendrin slipped her
wand into her sash. Then she reached out her hand and I took it without
thought or question.

Together, hand in hand, we made our way through the Temple. To my
young eyes it was a place of wonders, a vast jumble of vivid impressions. I could see now that the Temple was not just one massive black-stone building, as it appeared to be from the street but many interconnected buildings of different shapes and sizes. Kendrin led me through courtyards, gardens, archways, halls.

I could hear bells and chimes in the distance and, from another place, the swell of music. Peacocks and other brightly colored birds strolled about like walking jewels. There was a constant flow of people moving purposefully, as if to some important task. They nodded to Kendrin and looked curiously at me, but no one blocked our way or stopped us to question my presence.
Off to the side I saw a long processional walkway. It was made of colorfully
patterned tiles and lined on both sides by a row of carved columns.
Beyond that loomed a huge ceremonial chamber hung with bright tapestries.
Soon we turned from the main way and entered a series of twisting narrow
passageways. “This is a way that few outsiders ever see,” Kendrin told me.

We passed shops where weavers, carvers or potters were bent over their work. From around a corner came a loud rush of sound, much clanging and bustling and the clamor of raised voices. In passing I caught a glimpse through a wide doorway of a huge, steamy kitchen.

Soon we were out again, hurrying past terraced kitchen gardens. Chickens and geese were running loose. There were pens of sheep and pigs. What I remember best were the flowering fruit trees growing flat against red brick walls in the shape of giant harps. Next we came to an especially beautiful flower garden. Because of my father I knew much about gardens. I was tempted to linger at this one, but Kendrin urged me on, saying: “They’ve
already started. You’ll miss it all if you wait. The young ones are going to do
The Dance for First Harvest here in the Temple Dance Court. It’s for this they
practice. You must get your parents to bring you at mid-summer.”

I nodded, but even as I did a shiver went through me. My parents in the
Temple? Not much hope of that! I pictured my mother’s face contorted in
anger and saw my father cringing at her bitter words. Then, with a will, I shut
out all thoughts of my parents, shut out everything but what was happening
right at that moment. I knew there might be trouble later but I told myself
that no matter what happened after, this would be worth it.

At some point the way grew narrow and Kendrin stepped in front of
me. It was then I noticed the woven knot of thick silken cord she wore in her
hair. Intricately shaped and bright red in color, it was nestled at the back of
her head in a cluster of small tight braids. I was just going to ask her about it
when her hand went up to touch it. As if she had read my mind, she turned
back and answered my unasked question: “That is my Dancer’s Knot. We
wear it any time we’re not sleeping. It is one sure way to recognize a Dancer
no matter what else she may be wearing. We earn it when we graduate from
Novice to Apprentice.”

With an odd little tremor, I touched the back of my own head as if I felt
a weight there. My mother had always kept my hair cut short. She said it
was too unruly and she didn’t want the bother of untangling it. Looking at
Kendrin’s fall of long shiny black hair, I vowed to let mine grow. Of course
it would not be quite the same since mine had red mixed in with the dark.
Besides, it was wild and curly instead of straight.

Finally we came to a large Dance Court, a circle of short, well-tended,
bright green grass. The Dance Court itself was sunken, with a few tiers of
seats rising around it. At the very center it was open to the sky and surrounded y two sets of wooden pillars that supported the curved roof, each
pillar carved with a representation of the Goddess. Three musicians were
seated on a low stone bench at the edge of the court. Twenty or more girls of
near my age were Dancing, while a stern-looking Dance Mistress put them
through an intricate set of steps, using a wand like Kendrin’s for emphasis.
“It’s so big,” I whispered to Kendrin, gazing in awe at the court.

“This is just the practice court. The formal one is much larger,” she
answered. Then she released my hand and whispered in my ear: “We can only go a little closer, just by that pillar there. Then we must stand very still.”

I did as I was told and watched in silence as the other girls moved through their steps under Melanthia’s direction. She was indeed an imposing-
looking figure, tall and spare with a lean, well-muscled body. Her silver
hair, pulled back tight, was in stark contrast to her dark skin. I found myself
listening so intently to her words that my ears ached with them. Soon I could
feel the music moving in my body. Though I was standing still, the Dance
began flowing through me like an irresistible force, pulling and pulling at my
core. I could do those steps; I knew I could. It was as if I already knew them,
as if I had Danced them in my sleep.

Suddenly, with no thought and no intention on my part, I found myself
walking or rather floating down to the Dance Court. I suppose Kendrin had
been absorbed watching the Dance. Too late she must have realized that her
charge had slipped away. To call me back or try to grab me would only have
caused more disruption. I slipped in to join the others. Moving like someone
in a dream, I began doing the steps as if my body had suddenly been freed to be itself. Some of the others girls saw me and hesitated with a look of shock on their faces.

“Please continue,” Melanthia said sternly. “This class is not yet finished.”
Then she walked over until she was standing directly in front of me.
I was concentrating so intently on following the steps of the other girls that
I was hardly aware of her presence until she tapped me sharply with her
Dancewand and asked in a loud voice: “Who are you, Child, and what made
you think to intrude this way? Has no one taught you any manners?” The
voice was severe, but there was an appraising look on her face. Most of the
other girls moved away quickly, all except one whose name I later learned
was Thesali. This Thesali looked to be a year or so older than I was. She
stepped up right next to me as if to offer protection.

Startled, I looked up at Melanthia then quickly glanced away again,
blushing deeply. At that moment I was aware of everyone’s eyes on me. My
tongue glued itself to the roof of my mouth and my stomach curled into a
knot. I was frozen in place, unable to move or speak.

“Answer me!” Melanthia snapped. “I am not used to my students keeping
me waiting in this way.”

“Zaia, of the House of Anzor,” I mumbled, glancing down at the floor.
Then I took a deep breath and with a burst of courage looked up into that
stern visage. “I didn’t mean to cause trouble, but I couldn’t help myself.
Something came over me. The music called me.”

At the mention of my name a strange expression passed over Melanthia’s
face and she muttered, as if to herself, “The House of Anzor? Goddess, how is that possible?” Then to me she said in a gentler tone: “The Dance called you, Zaia, that is what drew you here. Never forget that.”

Kendrin had come forward and was looking back and forth between us,
flushed and confused, twisting her hands in distress. “It was all my fault. She
asked if girls her age could Dance. She seemed so eager I thought to show
her. I imagined we could stand quietly behind a pillar and not be noticed. I
had no idea she would…”

Melanthia put a hand on the girl’s arm. “It’s alright, Kendrin. You did
well to bring her here. The Goddess moves Her will through us in mysterious
ways. This was meant to happen—but don’t think to ever do it again.” After
that Melanthia signaled, by a nod of her head, that I was to continue Dancing
with the other girls. I shivered with excitement, very conscious of her shrewd,
appraising eyes watching my every step.

Fortunately for me it was my father who came to look for me—or, more
likely, he was the one who was sent. If my mother had come she would probably have made a dreadful scene. Likely she would have thought there was some intentional insult there, that her daughter had been lured on purpose by the Temple. Even my father sounded unusually gruff. “What are you thinking of, Zaia? The whole house is in an uproar. You were supposed to come right home. Everyone is out looking for you. If a little boy playing ball
by the garden wall hadn’t seen you go through the gates I would never have
known you were here.” He looked distraught and his hands were shaking.
“Melanthia, my apologies,” he said with a quick bow. “What a strange way for
us to meet again.”

“Do not be too harsh with her, Tomaire. I think she is drawn to movement
the same way you are drawn to making things grow and with the same
passion. She’s a born Dancer. You must send her to the Temple soon for
training. I see the hand of the Goddess in this, that Zaia came to us here in
spite of all the…” Then she stopped in confusion and they both looked at each other strangely, almost as if they each wanted to reach out and touch, though neither moved to do so.

“Please Father, please. You must let me come.” I reached up and tugged
on his arm.

“Later,” he said almost harshly. “We will speak of this later, Zaia. Now we
must go home quickly. Everyone is worried about you.” Turning to the Dance
Mistress he made a slight bow again. “Melanthia, please forgive this intrusion. I’m sure the child meant no harm. She’s young and impulsive. It was a mistake to let her out on her own this way.”

Melanthia shook her head. “It was no mistake Tomaire, it was meant to
happen. Remember what I said. Bring her here for training. Such a talent
should not be wasted. There are not that many natural Dancers in the world.”
Impulsively, I reached out and touched the older girl’s hand. “Thank you,
Kendrin. I’m sorry for the trouble I caused you. I didn’t mean you any harm.”

Then, gathering my courage, I said to Melanthia: “I’d like to come back to the
Temple and Dance. I’d like that more than anything in the world.”
She shook her head again. “Be very sure. Don’t think it will be easy, Child. It
will be very hard, I promise you. It will take everything you have, mind and body and soul. Look deep into your heart before you make that choice. Goddess bless you. Now go home quickly. You have frightened your people.”
“Yes, quickly, the whole house is in turmoil,” my father said urgently as
he took my hand and hurried me out of the circle. I gazed back filled with
longing, stumbled and would have fallen if my father had not grabbed my
arm. “Look where you’re going, Zaia,” he said gruffly. “You’ve already caused
more than enough trouble.” But as soon as we were out in the gardens his
whole manner softened. “So, Melanthia thinks you have a natural talent for
the Dance. She’s not known for being generous with her praise, in fact quite
the opposite.”

“Can I do it, Father? Can I come here to Dance?”

“Not now. We’ll talk later.” As he said that, he seemed more shaken than
angry. Then he turned to look at the gardens and his manner changed again, a smile spreading across his face, a smile that had some sadness in it. “Did you ever see such beautiful flowers? It’s a joy just to stand here among them.”

“Father, did you plant these gardens?”

“I designed most of them. I even planted some with my own hands. I’m
glad to see them still thriving. These trees were no more than little dry twigs
and look at them now, spreading out over our heads and giving shade.”

There was such a tone of longing in his voice it made my heart ache.
“Did you plant this garden?” I asked, eagerly drawing him over to my
favorite part of the gardens that Kendrin had just rushed me through, a place
with several fountains and many little stone-paved paths that wound through
the shrubs and flowers.

“Everything. From the very beginning. I still have the drawings for it
rolled up somewhere.”

And so, instead of rushing home, we wandered through the gardens on
our way out of the Temple, with me asking endless questions about everything that grew there and my father answering patiently. At that moment I was trying not to think about home and what waited for me there. It was well
worth it, I told myself again, No matter what happens, it was well worth it.
Finally, we reached the street. On sudden impulse I grabbed my father’s
arm, wanting to stop him. “Do I have to go back? Why can’t I just stay here
and learn to Dance? They want me. You heard Melanthia. I want to be just
like Kendrin. I don’t want to go into the family business. I have no head for it.

He looked away and shook his head. “You can’t always do what you want
in this world, Zaia. There are other people involved. You mother would never
allow it. You know how she feels about the Temple.”

“Please, Father!”

“No more! Not another word! Come with me right now, Daughter! Right now! We have tarried here long enough. You have worried everyone with your thoughtlessness. Now we must hurry.” With that he took hold of my arm and rushed me down the street. Before we went around the corner I turned back for one last glance at the Temple gates. Kendrin was standing there watching us. She raised her hand in a farewell gesture and then disappeared inside.
Once home it was even worse than I had imagined. My mother’s relief at
seeing me safe quickly turned to anger and then rage when she realized the
extent of my betrayal. “The Temple of all places!” she shouted. “You know
how I feel about the Temple! You see what comes of all your stories about the Temple gardens, Tomaire? Or have you been secretly influencing her behind my back?” She was pacing up and down, spewing out furious words and then stopping suddenly to glare at my father or me, first one and then the other.

“All our neighbors have been out looking for you, you little monster! And
there you were lolling around the Temple, making fools of us all. You have no
heart and care for no one but yourself.” Quickly, she resumed her pacing, as if all that anger could not be contained in a still body. Then she whirled on my
father again, shouting, “Do those witches have nothing better to do than lure
our children in off the street? I’ll bet Melanthia was behind all this. She can’t
have you so she wants my child, my eldest daughter at that, the one who is
destined to take my place in the family business.”

With the courage of desperation I burst out, “But Mother, I’m no good
at it. I have no head for numbers. Let Yanin take my place. I yield it to her
willingly. She can be the eldest daughter. All I want is to go to the Temple and
Dance. Melanthia says I’m a born Dancer.”

That, of course, was the wrong thing to say. My mother whirled on me
with her hand raised. She was so angry she would have struck me if my
father had not stepped between us. “Thea, think what you’re doing. She’s
only a child.”

My mother lowered her hand and said with barely suppressed fury,
“Never! I will never give my consent. Put such ideas out of your head right
now, Zaia! You will take your place in this family as you are supposed to.
Melanthia cannot have you. I won’t allow it. Now go to your room and shut
the door. You can spend the day there thinking on all the trouble you’ve
caused with your selfishness. As for you, Tomaire, you have undermined me
in this family and made a fool of me in the Temple world. You know I won’t
forget it—and I will never forgive you.”

I crossed the garden court with a heavy heart, tears filling my eyes so
that all the flowers ran together in a blur of colors. As I was about to close
the door to my room I heard my father say, “Thea, I want you to know there
was no intention to hurt you in this. She’s only a child. The sight of a young
Dancer standing in the archway caught her fancy, nothing more. Pay it no
mind. She’ll forget this notion soon enough.”

But he was wrong. I didn’t forget. I could think of nothing else. And now,
of course, I was not sent on any more errands. In truth I was seldom allowed
out, even with the family. And, if I did go with them, it was never by way
of the Temple. My mother barely spoke to me and then only in the coldest
tones; my father seemed awkward and embarrassed around me; and my
little sister, Yanin, mocked me with sly looks and cruel words. I was a virtual
prisoner in my own home, expected to study diligently to make up for my
betrayal. But I had a hard time studying. Where before the work had bored
me, now I loathed it. It seemed like part of the punishment.

All I could think of was the Temple: the beauty of the courtyards, Kendrin standing in the archway caught by that ray of sunlight, the Dance Court, the other girls my age being allowed to Dance, and Melanthia saying that I, Zaia, was a born Dancer. Even when I tried, the numbers swam before my eyes and sometimes in my tears. Then I would lay my head down on the table and let the visions come and of course there would be more trouble. My only comfort and my only confidant at that time was my cousin Renairi, the only person I could talk to. Though my mother had warned her to keep away from me, she managed to find ways to sneak into my room. Or we would meet in secret in the far corner of the garden under a tree whose drooping branches hid us from sight. There I would pour out my heart—all my grief and longing and my anger at the unfairness of things.

Whenever my father came to encourage me in my work, I would beg him
to intercede for me. Then he would shake his head and look sad. “You know
your mother will never agree. She has already told you so. Now you must
accept that in your heart and make the best of it. There is a long-standing
feud between your mother’s family and the Temple. Thea is a proud woman.
If nothing else, her pride would not allow it.”

All that trouble with the Temple had happened so long ago it seemed like a myth to me. It was well before I was born, when my mother was a very young woman or perhaps still a girl. Her parents, who were also merchants, had had some dealings with the Temple. They felt they had been treated unfairly cheated actually. When they went to the Temple for redress of grievances, they found themselves met with arrogance and contempt, or at least that was how they perceived it. Anyhow, in their eyes, the matter was never made right. That was the story I was told, the source of all that anger.

Now, these many years later, those involved were likely all dead, my grandparents as well as the High Priestess and others at the Temple, but because of what had happened back in that misty past, I was not allowed to go there and Dance. I raged against the injustice of it and often cried myself to sleep.

Finally, in tears, I begged, “Please, Father, ask her again for me.” I knew
my father loved me, but he was under my mother’s power. He had come into
the marriage as a poor man and he was never allowed to forget it.
“Are you very sure, Zaia? Your mother is a strong-willed woman. She
does not forgive those who go against her. You may make an irreparable
separation with this insistence.”

“I’m very sure. It’s all I want in my life.”

“But you’re so young. You can’t know all the consequences. How do you
really know if…?”

I grabbed his hand. “Please do this for me. I know what will happen if I
stay here much longer. I’ll die!”

He must have gathered his courage to ask because an hour or so later my
mother stormed into my room. “So now you have taken to threatening your
father with your own death. What kind of heartlessness is that? You know the
man loves you and you abuse his love that way. Unnatural child! Understand,
Zaia, I will never give my consent. Never! Get that into your head!” Then
she left, slamming the door behind her so hard things fell off the shelves
and crashed to the floor. I was in despair. Later my cousin Renairi found me
asleep at the desk in a puddle of tears. She shook me awake. When I finally
raised my face it was all crisscrossed with a design of wet ink marks. She
showed me in the mirror before gently washing them away.

I had not planned it as an act of resistance or a last resort. It was simply
what happened. I lost my appetite and stopped eating. I stopped studying. I
no longer cared what was happening around me. My father’s pleading and
my mother’s threats could not reach me. My cousin’s worry had no effect.
My aunt tried to scold me back to life and got no response. Nothing seemed
to touch me. I had disappeared inside myself into a semi-dream state where
I wandered freely in the Temple gardens, which seemed far more real to me
than the rooms of my family home. Night and day began to blend together. I
was sunk so deep into my stupor that I was hardly aware of anything until a
loud shouting argument broke out. My aunt, alerted by my cousin, had come
to confront my mother. “You will let your daughter die in your house just to
satisfy your cursed pride, and then what will people say? Where will your
pride be then, Thea? Have you thought of that? Let her go! She’s not yours to hold. She has her own life. Let her go quickly before it’s too late.”

My mother shouted back, “You always thought you could tell me what to
do, Veraine, but this is my family and none of your business.” “She is my business! She’s my niece and my Goddess-child, the one I’m honor bound to guide and watch over and keep safe. I have no choice but to intervene. You’re killing her with your stubbornness.”

“No! She’s killing herself with her own stubbornness.”

“What does it matter, Thea? It will all come to the same thing very soon
and then it will be too late!”

I felt myself slipping into a sort of dark pool and didn’t hear any more
until suddenly my mother and aunt and father all burst into my room. “Get
up, Girl and get yourself dressed,” my aunt Veraine said urgently. “You’re
going to the Temple to learn the Dance. Anyone who wants something so
much they are willing to die for it should have it.”

I saw the look of implacable hatred on my mother’s face. “You will go to
the Temple to live there like one of the country girls. I won’t have you in my
house anymore. The Temple can have you and good riddance. I won’t pay
them a single coin for your keep there. You are not my daughter anymore.
Your sister Yanin will take your place in this house.” I could see my sister and
cousin crowding in the doorway, their eyes big and round. My father reached
out his hands for me. “It has been decided, Zaia. Come, it is time to go.” My
heart was pounding wildly in my chest. I took his hands, struggled to my feet
and instantly fainted dead away into total darkness.

I remembered nothing of my trip to the Temple. When I came to myself
again I was lying on a bed. I was in a little white room I had never seen
before, with colorful hangings on the wall and a blue vase of bright flowers at
the window. Kendrin was sitting next to the bed, leaning over me. In back of
her I saw Thesali, the girl who had stepped up next to me in the Dance Court.

Her eyes were wide and she was looking anxiously over Kendrin’s shoulder.
Kendrin was smiling down at me. “If you are going to Dance, Zaia, first you
must eat,” she said firmly. Then she held out a bowl of food to me. And that is how I came to the Temple of Kernoss to be a Dancer.

Want to read more? Purchase in paperback from Goddess Ink or Kindle on Amazon.

Author Diana Rivers is a Lambda Literary Awards finalist and a winner of the Golden Crown Literary Award for Speculative Fiction. Find something inspiring to read this summer–see all of our books in our store.

Greetings and Welcome to the Season of Light!

Beltane, Goddess, Seasonal Greetings

Greetings! Saturday is the First Day of Summer, the cross-quarter day between Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice, often called Beltane or May Day. If we think of the summer as the Season of the Light, then we can see that now it is definitely lighter in the mornings (am I the only one waking up at 5am?).

We are entering the season of light. It is a moment to allow the life-giving light of the sun to energize us to the very marrow of our bones. It is a time to breathe in the vitality and vigor of the season and allow it to move us forward on our path and bring our dreams to fruition.

As we enter through the gate of Beltane into the light of summer, what is your heart’s desire? How and where do you want to light up and shine? Open your heart’s petals to the rejuvenating and revitalizing light of the Sun, and may your blossom bring grace, beauty, love and power to all.

Note on Dates: Traditionally Beltane is celebrated on May 1st or the eve before. Astrologically, the First Day of Summer may be calculated as the date the Sun is at 15° Taurus (Tropical system), which currently Falls around May 4th to 5th. See more here.

Full Spectrum Healing Illustrating The Jade Oracle Deck Using Rainbow Colors by Ramona Snow Teo

Creativity, Culture, Divination, Goddess, Jade Oracle, Mexico

ATecuciztechtl

For those who have spent significant time studying the art of Pre-Columbian Mexico, you may find it a bit surprising to see every color of the rainbow expressed in The Jade Oracle divination deck. My reasoning for breaking the rules and stepping away from the traditional palette at this juncture, is because of my own deep connection with color as a magical and healing tool. Receiving the wonderful opportunity to illustrate this oracle deck of ancient Mexican deities meant that I had to bring my best to the table. Vibrant color has always been a significant trait in my artwork, so I felt I couldn’t hold that back now.

Traditional artwork from ancient Mexico typically used a limited palette that commonly featured shades of red, yellow, black & white. The typical colors used in murals and codices reflected the natural pigments and dyes that were available from the land. Tiny coccid insects who flourish near prickly pear cactus were boiled, dried and crushed to powder to produce brilliant crimson dye. Genipa seeds were used to produce the color black, a technique probably learned from the Mayans. Yellow pigment was derived from a variety of cuscuta plants that are common in Mexico, North America & Central America. Variations in the hue resulted from harvesting the plants at different ages. White was made from ground, heated limestone chalk.

Our team, Anne Key, Veronica Iglesias and myself, went through tremendous effort to make The Jade Oracle as historically accurate as possible. Everything has been meticulously researched to provide a truthful representation of the ancient Mexican culture. So why didn’t I color all of the images exactly like their original counterparts found in ancient codices, murals and statues? I felt like upgrading the colors would help each design to communicate its meaning more clearly. Whether we are aware of it or not, humans are wired to respond to color. It catches our eye and it evokes emotion within us. I was initially a bit worried about how the deck would function if the majority of the cards were colored in red, black & yellow. To the modern, untrained eye, the strange ornately detailed cartoon-like Aztec deities would begin to all look the same. I wanted each card to bring out an immediate unique feeling-response when viewed. Color seemed to be the most obvious way to help each card stand out. So after a bit of back and forth with my teammates, we agreed that a bit of creative freedom in the color choices would be useful – and of course beautiful!

Color has been known to have beneficial healing properties around the world for thousands of years. It can be used to bring harmony to the mind and body. Red, orange, yellow and brown are warm colors. They are generally uplifting, motivating and speed up circulation. Violet, blue and green are cool colors. They soothe, tranquilize and assist with diseases of the eyes, ears, nose and throat. Blue light is used to heal newborn babies with jaundice, prisons are painted pink because the color has been known to encourage a docile and obedient attitude, and warm yellows and oranges are used to light rooms for elderly patients with vision problems to help them focus better. Green encourages growth, renewal, equilibrium and circulatory health. I have always been deeply moved by color and as my artistic journey unfolds I am discovering that it is part of my soul’s mission to perpetuate the full spectrum of the rainbow which will bring balance, healing and inspiration to all who gaze upon these colors.

A few of my favorites from The Jade Oracle deck that really demonstrate my intentional deviations in color are Cuauhtli, Tlaltecuhtli & Tecuciztecatl.

bCuauhtli

Cuauhtli is the Eagle, who soars high above the Earth and enjoys a heightened perspective on reality. From way up there he clearly sees what his heart truly wants. I chose to color him in purple, a color seldom seen in ancient Mexican art. I felt that this color lended the Eagle an air of royalty and greatness. In the ascending colors of the chakras, purple or violet is the uppermost color, associated with wisdom, enlightenment and spirituality. To me these qualities fit the Eagle and I couldn’t picture him in any other hue.

TlaltecuhtliTlaltecuhtli is the Spirit of the Earth. The original monolith which her image was discovered at the Templo Mayor. It is an intricate stone carving measuring about 13 by 12 feet and weighing about 12 tons. Tlaltecuhtli is the embodiment of the land, often pictured in birth-giving posture, she represents the fearlessness of mother nature, earthquakes, cycles and regeneration. While the stone sculpture is in natural earthy hues of yellow, ochre and white – I chose to color her in blue, green and brown. I felt like she should look like the planet Earth as seen from space, a massive orb of water and land. Though the color appears drastically different from the original, I am totally in love with the resulting colors and earthy feelings Tlaltecuhtli evokes in this card.

 

d Tlaltecuhtli

Tecuciztecatl, or The Man of the Big Shell, is another unconventional card as far as color choices. I colored him with pale rainbow colors. His story is part of the creation story of the current age. Each deity must give offerings to the fire. Tecuciztecatl offers to sacrifice himself, but lacks the courage to follow through. It takes him four tries before he overcomes his cowardice and enters the fire. It is a card urging you to stop holding back from embodying your highest self. Symbolically, the rainbow spectrum is the full expression of the highest self. I colored him as a pale, washed-out version of the rainbow because it shows how he is holding back his true vibrance.

In conclusion, I hope that scholars, historians and descendants of the ancient Mexican people can forgive me for straying from tradition when coloring The Jade Oracle deck. And I hope the students, seekers, and open-minded card readers will appreciate my unique creative version of this collection of deities and symbols. I hope these images speak to you in a deep emotional and spiritual language, helping you to connect with divine guidance and ancient wisdom. The Jade Oracle is a new path to the sacred, a bridge between distant history and modern spirituality.

Lastly, for those who want to engage further with color possibilities of The Jade Oracle deck, we have created a coloring book with the images! It includes all 52 drawings with interpretations. It is printed on a heavyweight cardstock paper so after you color it, you can cut it out and create your own deck of oracle cards. With this amazing project, you can explore your own relationship with color and the intricate details of these deities. The result will be an extremely powerful oracle deck that you have your own sacred connection with!

Coloring Book Blog

Coloring books are available now on etsy.com/shop/divinenaturearts

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Ramona Snow Teo was born and raised in New Mexico, “The Land of Enchantment” where the diverse culture and thriving arts community has inspired her to explore her creative calling. She earned her Bachelor of Art’s Degree at the University of New Mexico in the Cinematic Arts Department with a focus on Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican Art & History. Her passions include painting, drawing, clothing design, jewelry making, graphic design, experimental filmmaking and belly dance. Always the creative entrepreneur, Ramona started Guerrilla Graphix (original art t-shirts, custom design and printing services) with her father in 2008 and Divine Nature Arts (her personal brand of clothing, jewelry & sacred art) in 2015. A constant theme in Ramona’s artwork is sacred geometry and the mandala. In 2015 she became a certified Mandala Facilitator and guides workshops on healing with mandalas. In 2017 she completed the illustrations for The Jade Oracle Deck: Deities & Symbols of Ancient Mexico. Ramona is currently a stay at home mother of two (Zena, 11/5/15 and Rafael 2/1/17) and vends her art at festivals and the local farmers markets on the weekends.

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Coyolxauhqui: She Who Is Adorned with Bells by Anne Key

Divine, Goddess, Mesoamerican Goddesses, Mexico, Priestess, sacred sites, The Jade Oracle, Vision, Women

One of the most fascinating deities of pre-Columbian Mexico is Coyolxauhqui. At first glance, a deity named “She Who is Adorned with Bells” might seem to be a dancer, until we read that warriors wrapped strings of bells around their calves before going to battle. Then we see Coyolxauhqui (Nahuatl: coyolli = small metal bells) as a warrior, suiting up for battle.

The image of Coyolxauhqui is beautifully rendered in the massive stone relief that was found at the Great Temple (Templo Mayor). Construction of this temple began in 1325 CE, and it was the main temple of worship for the Aztecs in their capital of Tenochtitlan (present-day Mexico City). The Templo Mayor was dedicated to two deities, Tlaloc and Huitzilopochtli. Tlaloc (Lord of rain) was most likely a local deity before the Aztecs arrived. Huitzilopochtli (Left Hummingbird) was the warrior deity of the Mexica, accompanying them on their sojourn from northern Mexico to Tenochtitlan, which resides in the altiplano, or high plains, of central Mexico. The Templo Mayor may have been a symbolic representation of the Hill of Coatepec, recounting the story of Huitzilopochtli’s birth and Coyolxauqui’s demise.

The Templo Mayor was a large structure at 328’ x 262’ at its base. Rebuilt six times, its excavated ruins are on the northeast edge of the zócalo, or city center, of Mexico City. The Spanish used the stones from the temple to build what is now known as the Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral, a massive structure situated atop the Templo Mayor. But careful excavation, and some lucky breaks, have brought both the temple and many of its monolithic sculptures to light.

In February of 1978, while workman for an electrical company were digging, they discovered the giant disk of Coyolxauhqui. The stone disk is 10.7 feet in diameter, almost a foot thick, and weighs over 9 tons. Her discovery set off a wave of archaeological work on the Templo Mayor.

Coyolxauhqui is the second largest sculpture found in the temple. This exquisitely carved disk encircles her. She is dressed in full battle gear with balls of eagle feathers in her hair, attesting to her bravery and courage. A large ceremonial headdress sits atop her head, and her ears are adorned with pendulous earrings. A “warrior’s belt knotted from a double headed snake” winds around her waist (Kroger 189). Her belly is puckered, showing that she has given birth. She is a mother and a warrior.

Looking closely at her stone relief, we see a curious space between her limbs and torso, between her neck and head. Her arms and legs, attired with the pads and bindings of a warrior, are dismembered. A bit of bone sticks out from each thigh and upper arm. Her head is also separated from her body, almost unnoticeable. Even dismembered, she is resplendent with dynamic warrior energy, the circular stone emphasizing her strength, evoking the idea that she is hurtling forward.

When I stand in front of her, in the museum at the Templo Mayor, the first emotion I feel is strength and bravery. Her dismemberment does nothing to diminish her power, for she continues on in spite of all the odds. She is unstoppable.

When I meet her in visions, Coyolxauhqui barely has time for me. She is surrounded by training warriors, shouting directions and giving orders. She looks me straight in the eye and says “don’t you dare make me fit into whatever story you want to tell.” She requires me to tell her story, unapologetically.

She exudes the power and potency of warrior women, both mythic and contemporary: Boudica, Athena, Joan of Arc, Hyppolita, Atalanta, Wonder Woman, Xena, and Trinity.

Unfortunately, the myth of Coyolxauhqui is not in her own words. The story we have of her is one that reinforces a patriarchal worldview, showing favor on women who are kind, all-loving “mothers” and killing upstart rebels. This is a pattern we know well.

When I approach the story of Coyolxauhqui, I work to find the “back story,” to fill out the entire narrative sequence. We will start with the myth as it was written by the Spanish cleric Bernardino Sahagún in The Florentine Codex. This mytho-historic account begins, and ends, with Huitzilopochtli, for this story, written by the victors, can be read as a myth explaining how the Mexica inserted their deity into the local lore, and how he was victorious.

This mytho-historical saga takes place during the migration of peoples from Aztlán, the ancestral home of the peoples that came to live in the place that is now Mexico City. Aztlán was possibly located in northern Mexico or the Southwest of the United States, and the migratory groups consisted of many tribes, including the Mexica. Along the way, the migrating group encountered many villages cultures, and one of these was the peoples of Coatepec.

The myth of the birth of Huitzilopochtli, which contains the only story of Coyolxauhqui, says very little of her strength, courage, and power. Instead, it paints her as the instigator of her mother’s assassination. Huitzilopochtli was a traditional Mexica deity, and he is the embodiment of male strength and warrior energy. He was one of the most celebrated deities of what would become the Aztec civilization.

The myth recalls a time during the migration from Aztlán when the people settled briefly at Coatepec, the “hill of the snake.” The deities living at Coatepec were Coyolxauhqui, her mother Coatlicue (She of the Serpent Skirt) and her 400 brothers (the Centzon Huitznahua). The myth opens with Coatlicue sweeping the temple.[1] She finds a bundle of precious feathers, picks them up, and keeps them underneath her clothes. These feathers make her pregnant.

When her sons, the 400 brothers, and her daughter, Coyolxauhqui, discover her pregnancy, they are enraged, saying that the pregnancy “insults us, dishonors us” (Markham 382). They ask her who fathered the child, but she does not answer. Coyolxauhqui leads the brothers in a plan to kill their mother, Coatlicue.  While this seems a strong response, later we find out that the child in Coatlicue’s womb is Huitzilopochtli, the warrior deity of the migrant peoples, the Mexica.[2]

Meanwhile, Huitzilopochtli, from the womb of his mother, Coatlicue, tells her: “Do not be afraid, I know what I must do” (Markham 382).

In the myth, Coyolxauqui “incited them, she inflamed the anger of her brothers, so that they should kill their mother. And the four hundred gods made ready, they attired themselves as for war” (Markham 383), including tying bells (oyohualli) on the calves of their legs.

Let’s take a moment and unpack what has happened so far. We have a group of migratory Mexica bringing a new deity to an existing culture. This becomes the story of how Coyolxauhqui defended her land and culture from the Mexica, presenting her as the military leader, the defender. And, it paves the way for Huitzilopochtli to insert himself (literally!) into the myth of Coatepec, converting the primordial mother of the Coatepec culture into his birth mother and shaming their greatest warrior, Coyolxauhqui.

Returning to the myth, Coyolxauhqui is marshalling the troops for war. One of the 400 brothers, Cuahuitlicac, turns against the rest of his family and informs Huitzilopochtli (still in Coatlicue’s womb) of the plan of attack.  At the moment Coyolxauhqui and the 400 brothers approach their mother, Huitzilopochtli is born in full battle gear. He takes the Xiuhcoatl, the fire serpent, and strikes Coyolxauhqui, cutting off her head. Her body rolls down the hill of Coatepec, arms and legs separating as she falls.[3]

Huitzilopochtli drove the 400 brothers off Coatepec, slaughtering them. Some escaped to the south, but those killed by Huitzilopochtli were stripped of their “gear, their ornaments,” and Huitzilopochtli “took possession of them…introduced them into his destiny…made them his own insignia” (Markham 386).

This myth can be seen as a cautionary tale of women’s diminished power in the newly formed Aztec society. M. J. Rodríguez Shadow, in her book La Mujer Azteca, writes that there is ample evidence of matrilineal and matrifocal societies in Mesoamerica before the 14th century CE (1997, p. 68). However:

During the epoch of the Aztecs the religion glorified masculine values, erasing whatever vestige of that phase [matrifocal] existed, quickly and efficiently, replacing them with male gods and men, destroying allegorically the feminine figures (like Coyolxauhqui) that could have occupied positions of power or discrediting those [female figures] that they wanted to retain (like Malinalxóchitl).[4] (p. 69)

Moreover, in this myth Huitzilopochtli appropriates Coyolxauhqui’s warrior aspect. Art historian Janet Berlo puts this myth in context:

But one of the central myths of the Aztec empire is the struggle between the newly born male warrior god and the warrior goddess who preceded him. I believe this myth structurally embodies the ideological struggle between the Great Goddess of the Central Mexican past and the new Aztec order in which the significant ties of mythic kinship are redrawn to emphasize the male lines of Huitzilopochtli…. In this fraternal kinship network, the northern invaders and their ancestral god Huitzilopochtli are firmly linked with the Central Mexican past… (Berlo 1993)

The giant stone sculpture of Coyolxauhqui was found at the foot of the stairs of the Templo Mayor, on the side dedicated to Huitzilopochtli. It may have been hurtled down the stairs, just as she was thrown from Coatepec. While it may have been put there as a symbol of defeat, the sheer size of it is a reminder of the threat she presented.

On a personal note, living in these times, I feel like the dismembered Coyolxauhqui. I feel as if all I have worked for to make life better for myself, my students, my friends and neighbors in this great country is being dismembered. But, like Coyolxauhqui, I remain whole and strong. #metoo, #marchforourlives, #blacklivesmatter and so many more have grown from this fractured political environment. Coyolxauhqui is a testament to the power, strength, and resolve of those who have been defeated. In the Museum of the Templo Mayor where she resides, her spirit pervades the space, a permanent reminder of the warrior women and cultures that are in the earth and spirit of Central Mexico.

References:

Berlo, J. (1993).  Icons and Ideologies at Teotihuacan: The Great Goddess Reconsidered. In J. C. Berlo (Ed.), Art, ideology, and the city of Teotihuacan (pp. 129-168). Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection.

Markman, R. H., Markman, P. T. (1992). The Flayed God: The Mesoamerican Mythological Tradition.  San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco.

Rodriguez Shadow, M. J. (1997). La mujer Azteca [The Aztec Woman].  Mexico City, Mexico: Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México.

[1]Sweeping has a deeply ritual context for the ancient Mexicans. An entire festival, Ochpaniztli, was dedicated to sweeping the streets, private homes, and temples, preparing for harvest. Tlazohteotl, another Goddess, is shown with a broom, showing her connect to this festival.

[2]This brings up a number of different ideas. Did Coatlicue “change sides,” going against her people? Was she raped? Or did Coyolxauqui and her brothers know that if this god was allowed to birth through their mother, that it would be the end of Coatepec as they knew it?

[3]The statue of Coatlicue that once stood in the Templo Mayor replaces her arms with the Xiuhcoatl. Could it be possible that the Xiuhcoatl was a symbol of the culture at Coatepec, and that this was coopted by the migrating Mexica?

[4] En tiempos de los Aztecas la religion enaltecía los valores masculinos, borrando cualquiere vestigio de aquella fase y consolidando con eficacia y rapidez la sobresaliente posición de los dioses masculinos y los varones, destrozando alegóricamente las figuras femeninas (como Coyolxauhqui) que podia ocupar el poder o desacreditar a las que desearan compartirlo (como Malinalxóchitl).

Click here for more information on the Jade Oracle.  Visit our Goddess Ink Media for videos about The Jade Oracle. For more information on Goddess Ink, visit our website and circle with us on Facebook and Instagram. Check out our newly designed store and please sign up for the Goddess Ink Newsletter for a monthly dose of inspiration.  If you would like a weekday dose of daily inspiration sign up for our Daily Inspiration newsletter.

  3.5x5.75x56pcs         Special Introductory price for the Jade Oracle deck:
$45 until May 5th 2018 (Cinco de Mayo)
Find out more and purchase here.

Visit our Goddess Ink Media for videos about The Jade Oracle. For more information on Goddess Ink, visit our website and circle with us on Facebook and Instagram. Check out our newly designed store and please sign up for the Goddess Ink Newsletter for a monthly dose of inspiration.  If you would like a weekday dose of daily inspiration sign up for our Daily Inspiration newsletter.

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Anne KeyPriestess, instructor, writer and dancer – Anne Key, Ph.D. has traveled, researched, and written about Mesoamerican culture since 1990; her dissertation investigated the pre-Hispanic divine women known as the Cihuateteo, and she is co-founder and guide for Sacred Tours of Mexico. She was Priestess of the Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sekhmet, located in Nevada and has edited anthologies on women’s spirituality, priestesses, and Sekhmet as well as written two memoirs, Desert Priestess: a memoir and Burlesque, Yoga, Sex and Love. An adjunct faculty in Women’s Studies, English and Religious Studies, she is co-founder of the independent press Goddess Ink. Anne resides in Albuquerque with her husband, his two cats and her snake, Asherah.

Come see Coyolxauhqui and other wonders with Anne and Veronica Iglesias with Sacred Tours of Mexico!

Drawing in the Dark: Summoning the Goddess Malinalxochitl by Ramona Snow Teo

Culture, Divination, Goddess, Jade Oracle, Mesoamerican Goddesses, Mexico

PromoMalinalxochitlThe Jade Oracle deck has been painstakingly researched, checked, and cross-checked. It has been our goal as the creators of the deck to make a spiritual tool with with great energetic power that is also historically accurate. We wanted to honor the ancient history of the Mesoamerican people by staying true to the knowledge that is available about this beautiful culture. The writers of the deck, Anne Key & Veronica Iglesias, spent many hours on each deity gathering detailed information, sifting out discrepancies and honing in on the most significant aspects of each character.

My job as the artist was to work with the research and sample images provided to me to create an image for each card. Most of these were fairly simple to create since I only had to draw replicas of famous ancient statues, murals, and codices. For example, you can see in the image below that the artwork for Mictlancihuatl & Mictlantecuhtli looks very similar to the reference image beside it. I tried to keep a consistent and attractive style throughout the deck, while adhering to the original historical artwork closely.

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My assignment got tricky when I got to the goddess Malinalxochitl. Malinalxochitl is a wise woman, a leader who confronts the patriarchy. She represents the magic and strength in the spirit of the Goddess. She is the heart of the people, leading ceremony and connecting with the energy of the land. The difficulty with illustrating her card is that there were no preserved images of her on record. There is plenty of writing about her, and even descriptions of her – but no pictures or statues from which I could draw reference. So I was faced with the challenging task of creating an image out of the void – an image that would look authentic and evoke the energy of Malinalxochitl.

My process of summoning this goddess began to unfold. I began as I always do by pouring through the research provided to me by Anne & Veronica. After my left brain was sufficiently prepared, I connected to the right hemisphere – the instinctual, feeling side. I lit a candle and burned some copal and palo santo incense. I took several centering breaths and tuned into my body, my art supplies, my place in time. And then I asked for the spirit of Malinalxochitl to come and assist me. I asked her to be with me and guide me in illustrating the perfect image to reflect her essence. And then, I surrendered into trust. I accepted whatever flowed through me as I began to sketch the deity.

Before too long, she came into form. I traced the lines in ink, solidifying Malinalxochitl’s new image. Then I colored her in with colored pencil, following flashes of guidance, colors in my mind’s eye… always trusting the goddess was showing me the way, showing me how she wanted to be seen. Upon completion, I gave a humble thanks to Malinalxochitl for the great gift of drawing her. I blessed the work again with sacred incense, and placed a rose quartz crystal on her heart to charge the drawing overnight.

As the creators, we care deeply about The Jade Oracle being a genuine reflection of the ancient Mesoamerican culture. While the image for Malinalxochitl (and a few other cards) had to be uniquely created for the deck, we sincerely hope that the artwork has captured the spirit of the deity and will be embraced as a powerful tool for connecting with the energy of this ancient wise woman.

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For a Free Download of the coloring book page for Malinalxochitl of The Jade Oracle, click here.

Ramona Snow Teo was born and raised in New Mexico, “The Land of Enchantment” where the diverse culture and thriving arts community has inspired her to explore her creative calling. She earned her Bachelor of Art’s Degree at the University of New Mexico in the Cinematic Arts Department with a focus on Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican Art & History. Her passions include painting, drawing, clothing design, jewelry making, graphic design, experimental filmmaking and belly dance. Always the creative entrepreneur, Ramona started Guerrilla Graphix (original art t-shirts, custom design and printing services) with her father in 2008 and Divine Nature Arts (her personal brand of clothing, jewelry & sacred art) in 2015. A constant theme in Ramona’s artwork is sacred geometry and the mandala. In 2015 she became a certified Mandala Facilitator and guides workshops on healing with mandalas. In 2017 she completed the illustrations for The Jade Oracle Deck: Deities & Symbols of Ancient Mexico. Ramona is currently a stay at home mother of two (Zena, 11/5/15 and Rafael 2/1/17) and vends her art at festivals and the local farmers markets on the weekends.

etsy.com/shop/divinenaturearts

DivineNatureArts.com

RamonaTeo.com

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Visit our Goddess Ink Media for videos about The Jade Oracle. For more information on Goddess Ink, visit our website and circle with us on Facebook and Instagram. Check out our newly designed store and please sign up for the Goddess Ink Newsletter for a monthly dose of inspiration.  If you would like a weekday dose of daily inspiration sign up for our Daily Inspiration newsletter.

  3.5x5.75x56pcs         Special Introductory price for the Jade Oracle deck:
$45 until May 5th 2018 (Cinco de Mayo)
Find out more and purchase here.

Jade Oracle Five Card Reading by Veronica Iglesias

Culture, Divination, Goddess, Mesoamerican Goddesses, Mexico, The Jade Oracle

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The divination with the Jade Oracle is based in the Ancient Mexican way to relate with the Cosmos. Each time that a spiritual leader was leading a ceremony he/she created a sacred space that honored the four directions with an altar and different elements related with each direction. Also she/he positioned him/herself facing the east.

The five card reading of the Jade Oracle is based on this ancient tradition and on the cosmic conception of what is to be human.

To do a five card reading:  1) shuffle the cards, and 2) pick five cards that will be placed in this order:

Card #1, located in the center, represents you as you are in this moment.

Card #2, located above #1, represents the east. In ancient codices, the east was above, relating to the orientation of human beings relative to the universe. This direction shows you what is in your immediate future, what you will encounter on your path.

Card #3, located below #1, represents the west. This is the past, what is behind you. It can refer to the end of a path or cycle or something in your life that is coming to a close. It may also refer to ancestral wisdom and deities that are helping you.

Card #4 is located to the left of the center. This represents the north, the direction of the ancestors, providing valuable information for personal insight and growth. This card indicates aspects of your personality that are currently challenging for you; the north shows your reflection in the obsidian mirror, the dark side of yourself that is difficult to see.

Card #5, located to the right of center, is the south. This direction is your connection to your destiny and your mission as well as to the things you enjoy in life. This card will give you information on your career and areas in your life that you would like to explore.

The Jade Oracle brings you answers that offer insight and understanding to help make decisions with agreater knowledge of the underlying currents in your life, always with the intent for deeper personal insight and self-knowledge that will help you on your life path.

I hope you enjoy your personal reading and the information will support  and illuminate your path.

Infinite Blessings.

María Veronica Iglesias

Maria Veronica Iglesias was born in Mexico City, Mexico. She has a Bachelor´s degree in Library Sciences and a Master´s Degree in Mesoamerican Studies from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (La Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico). Initiated as a sahumadora (bearer of the Sacred Sahumerio) when she was 8 years old, she studied about medicinal plants, crystal therapy and healing with gems. She was initiated in the sacred knowledge of Mesoamerican shamanism and became a Portadora de la Palabra, bearer of the Sacred Word. A Priestess of Ix´Cheel, the Mayan Goddess of Medicine, Veronica researches gem stones and their therapeutic use, Pre-Hispanic medicine, rites of passage and Goddesses from Mesoamerica and is co-founder and guide for Sacred Tours of Mexico. She is the Co-Creator of The Jade Oracle.

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Click here for more information on the Jade Oracle.  Visit our Goddess Ink Media for videos about The Jade Oracle. For more information on Goddess Ink, visit our website and circle with us on Facebook and Instagram. Check out our newly designed store and please sign up for the Goddess Ink Newsletter for a monthly dose of inspiration.  If you would like a weekday dose of daily inspiration sign up for our Daily Inspiration newsletter.

  3.5x5.75x56pcs         Special Introductory price for the Jade Oracle deck:
$45 until May 5th 2018 (Cinco de Mayo)
Find out more and purchase here.

Visit our Goddess Ink Media for videos about The Jade Oracle. For more information on Goddess Ink, visit our website and circle with us on Facebook and Instagram. Check out our newly designed store and please sign up for the Goddess Ink Newsletter for a monthly dose of inspiration.  If you would like a weekday dose of daily inspiration sign up for our Daily Inspiration newsletter.

Balancing Motherhood & My Creative Calling by Ramona Snow Teo

Goddess, Goddesses of the Americas, Mesoamerican Goddesses, Mexico, The Jade Oracle

 toci tonantzi‌

Balancing Motherhood & My Creative Calling by Ramona Snow Teo : Illustrating The Jade Oracle Deck & Raising Two Babies

I’ve always had a strong driving force in me, calling me to create. As a child I loved to draw, color, make clothes for my barbies, and build houses for my pet snails. In grade school, I always went above and beyond expectations to create unique and intricate art projects. My entrepreneurial spirit developed at an early age when I started making holiday greeting cards and bookmarks and selling them to my friends and family. I’ve always known I was an artist.

 Unlike other young girls, I didn’t play with baby dolls or envision myself one day growing up to be a mother. In fact I never really pictured myself having children of my own. I wasn’t against it, but it just wasn’t something I had given a lot of thought to. But life is full of unexpected twists and turns, and here I am now – 30 years old with two gorgeous little people to call my own. Zena is almost 2 and a half now and Rafael just turned one. I am blessed each day as I experience their young lives unfold. And it is a gift to witness myself stepping into this new role called “mother”.

 Although I never thought I’d be a mother, now that this is my life it generally feels quite natural. My own early childhood memories are finding their way back to the surface and there is a familiarity to the day to day interactions with my children. Changing diapers gives me a strange sense of déjà vu as I flash back to being a baby myself. Nursing, feeding, and bathing my little ones all feels like it is ingrained in my DNA, despite my lack of preparation for this stage of my life.  And that thing they call “motherly love” – that unconditional, deep, warm and nurturing sea of love… it is a real thing. It explodes into existence at the moment that little baby pops out into the world. I love them so much.

 I am beginning to get into the groove with this motherhood thing now. And it’s become glaringly obvious that my impulse as an artist has not subsided. There is still a burning in me that yearns to create, to make with my hands, to express with line and color, to bring my internal visions to life for others to see. I wonder if it is too soon, if I am being selfish, if I should simply focus on the children and put my other projects on the backburner until they are older. Or is it actually detrimental to all of us if I stifle my passions? I want my kids to learn how to live fully and follow their dreams. So I need to embody that and be their role model. It is a delicate balance. Of course I don’t wish to neglect my children. I want to give them the greatest care and attention they need. I also want to pursue my creative calling. I believe it doesn’t have to be either/or. I believe with patience and care I can do both!

Ramona and babies

Zena, Ramona and Rafael

 Last spring, when Zena was one and a half and Rafael was just three months old, I was invited to be a part of one of the most exciting creative projects of my life. Anne Key & Veronica Iglesias asked me to be the illustrator of The Jade Oracle Deck: Deities & Symbols of Ancient Mexico. They needed 52 original drawings based on Aztec mythology, culture and history. I knew this project was meant to be for me. I had spent my university years studying Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican Art & Art History and had a deep fascination and love for the culture already. And I had always wanted to make a tarot or oracle deck. Coincidentally, I was already working on a painting of the Aztec goddess Tonantzin “The Great Mother”.

 The invitation was too good to be true and I just couldn’t turn it down. Part of me was worried though. How would I do it? How would I find the time when I have these babies on me 24/7? Could I really pull this off? But the creative spark had ignited and was rapidly catching fire. The excitement bubbled inside of me as I thought about the project and I was bursting with great ideas for how to make it work. I felt that if I declined the opportunity or asked to postpone it until my life would be a better fit…. I’d miss the chance. The wave of inspiration would pass, the spark would die out, it would be hard to pick back up again months or years later. For me, that creative wave comes once and I have to grab it and ride it out. So I went for it!

 Thankfully, we completed the project. It took about 7 challenging months to fully manifest the deck and it came out beautifully. It nearly took everything out of me, but I don’t regret it for a minute. Each day I nursed, changed diapers, cooked, cleaned and snuggled with my babies all day, and I worked almost every night while they slept from about 10pm to 1am. I hardly slept, but that’s sort of how it is in the first years of parenting anyway. Bit by bit, I chipped away at this creation and gradually it came into being. Looking back, I am blown away that The Jade Oracle deck actually manifested and my kiddos are still healthy and happy.

 In summary, I feel there are three pieces of advice I have for others who are following their passions while balancing family life.

 First, family comes first. The basic needs, love and affection of your loved ones are truly the most important. But there are many hours in the day, days in the week and weeks in the year. There is time for more if you are feeling called to do more.

 My second piece of advice is to grab the wave of inspiration when it comes! When opportunity knocks, don’t be afraid to answer the call. There is always a way to make it work. Follow that spark of inspiration and see where it leads you.

 My third suggestion is to maintain momentum. Even if you can only spare 15 minutes per day to work on your dream project, do it! Keep the ball rolling. You’d be surprised over time how much you can accomplish by piecing it together in small increments. So keep moving forward, and you will get there! And it will be so rewarding.

 Working on The Jade Oracle has been one of the most deeply fulfilling experiences of my life. I thrive off of creative collaboration and I’m so glad that I allowed myself to follow that calling. Whatever your calling is, I hope you will follow yours too!

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For a Free Download of the artwork for Toci Tonantzin of The Jade Oracle, click here.

 Ramona Snow Teo was born and raised in New Mexico, “The Land of Enchantment” where the diverse culture and thriving arts community has inspired her to explore her creative calling. She earned her Bachelor of Art’s Degree at the University of New Mexico in the Cinematic Arts Department with a focus on Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican Art & History. Her passions include painting, drawing, clothing design, jewelry making, graphic design, experimental filmmaking and belly dance. Always the creative entrepreneur, Ramona started Guerrilla Graphix (original art t-shirts, custom design and printing services) with her father in 2008 and Divine Nature Arts (her personal brand of clothing, jewelry & sacred art) in 2015. A constant theme in Ramona’s artwork is sacred geometry and the mandala. In 2015 she became a certified Mandala Facilitator and guides workshops on healing with mandalas. In 2017 she completed the illustrations for The Jade Oracle Deck: Deities & Symbols of Ancient Mexico. Ramona is currently a stay at home mother of two (Zena, 11/5/15 and Rafael 2/1/17) and vends her art at festivals and the local farmers markets on the weekends.

etsy.com/shop/divinenaturearts

DivineNatureArts.com

RamonaTeo.com

3.5x5.75x56pcs      Special Introductory price for the Jade Oracle deck:
$45 until May 5th 2018 (Cinco de Mayo)
! Find out more and purchase here.

Visit our Goddess Ink Media for videos about The Jade Oracle. For more information on Goddess Ink, visit our website and circle with us on Facebook and Instagram. Check out our newly designed store and please sign up for the Goddess Ink Newsletter for a monthly dose of inspiration.  If you would like a weekday dose of daily inspiration sign up for our Daily Inspiration newsletter.