Friday, December 24, 2010


Yesterday we drove around town and to the rez several times trying to get the last minute Christmas items taken care of.  As we moved from one end to the other and back again, I looked at this town that has become as familiar as my personal family (maybe more) and tried to sort out my emotions.  Do I love this place? Do I find it repulsive? What is this strange confusion about, what happened to my undying loyalty?

I’ve often explained to newbees and visitors that this place is the most beautiful and dangerous place I’ve ever been.  Most casual visitors and even long time visitors who haven’t actually lived here can’t understand this description.  First, there is a rawness about Taos that even new sidewalks and traffic lights haven’t touched.  It leaks up from the earth and flows over the top of all modern improvements.  The old adobes, homemade wiring and leaky roofs always win in the end.  I once saw it as quaint but that is an insult to this place with attitude.  When I came back from Arizona this summer, I lost patience with the Taos attitude of, “don’t bother me I’m talking to my cousin” from the clerk at the checkout line of our forever understocked WalMart. I used to just flow with the slow and inept.  Now I’m not as patient with the glitches. Much of it seems like an attitude of imbedded hatred toward the outside world.  Taos fancies itself to be a kind of low key, homemade Shangri-La that can’t be fathomed or understood by outsiders.

Things don’t run very smoothly here, but it all works out in the end.  It is organic and it is old, and impatience isn’t tolerated.  You don’t push Grandma around, not here anyway. All the same an apologetic attitude doesn’t work either. Although there is something different about this town that pulls in visitors from more American places such as Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado and Arizona, places that are next door neighbors, Taos tests its visitors, the way an old horse tests an inexperienced rider. 

When I came back from Arizona this summer, I began to realize that you mustn’t let an old horse get away with its tricks either.  If you do it begins to lose its spirit and becomes spoiled. You can’t coddle it, but you let it know that you know its tricks, won’t participate, but love it anyway.

My partner, PQ, is happy to be back this Christmas.  We had a great time in Arizona, grew very close to each other and Cottonwood/Sedona, and made wonderful friends.  It was truly a second home.  However, family is family and you can’t divorce them.  Taos is like that.  PQ is a Taos Pueblo native, so the tie is forever.  Since we lost his mom and dad holidays have not been the same.  Since he is now the family elder it has been nagging at him to continue the holiday tradition.  So we are having a potluck at his rez house.  The old pueblo house still needs some work to bring it back into shape for feast days.  He’s been very frustrated that with his lung problems he can’t participate in the kiva ceremonies or do the physical repair work needed by the old house.  One son is supporting a family while going to school and helps here and there as he can but the house needs some concentrated work.  The other son is in Denver trying to make a living, not easy here in Taos.

I spent the last three days making biscachitos, prune pies, green chili stew, and other traditional goodies. One of the Pueblo ladies is making red chili and he acquired some traditional horno bread from another. An horno is the traditional outdoor adobe oven introduced to the Pueblos by the Spanish who got it from the Moors. It was important that the menu be traditional to honor Frances (mom).  He is so happy putting this together and wrapping presents for his grandchildren by himself (with a little coaching from an experienced wrapper).  This year on Christmas day the Pueblo is going to have the Matachines Dance instead of the Deer Dance. We love the Deer Dance most of all.  We both carry deer energy. While all the Pueblos have a Deer Dance, the one at Taos conveys the power of life, death and rebirth in the rawest form. Much of its power comes from the simplicity of presentation.  The deer men wear the skins of recently killed deer on their backs.  The ongoing passion of life becomes cosmic in this dance. But the Matachines is quite mysterious in its own right.  Although the Spanish introduced this dance and used as a morality play, it has taken on a mystery that is neither completely Spanish/Moorish nor Indian.  It expresses much of the emotionally laden historic journey of the Spanish Moors, through Spain to Mexico and finally New Mexico.

I feel better having written this.  Like with a marriage, after you’ve been in it almost 20 years there is a need to re-evaluate.  Yes, I still love Taos, but I’m no longer in love with Taos.  It can’t schmooze my independent viewpoint away anymore.  In fact I think I’m a better family member by not being enchanted by the “Land of Enchantment” as I was so long ago.  Now I’m remembering my first Christmas in Taos, but I don’t have time to get into that right now.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


Recently there was a program on the PBS station about Benoit Mandelbrot and the discovery of Fractal Geometry.  It seems that everything we know is a branch of a branch, etc., of a core shape. It is based on the concept of self-similarity multiplied until it fills space.  This concept really seized my attention recently even though it’s certainly not the first time this idea was presented to me.  All the way to Santa Fe the other day, I saw endless fractals in trees, rocks, and clouds.  On the way home it snowed and I thought of the shapes of snowflakes.  But something kept nagging at me.  I knew a new insight was coming in although I couldn’t pin it down.  Then just as we were nearing Espanola, the light bulb came on.

What if the concept applies to the unseen world just as it applies to the physical dimension that we can perceive with our senses.  What if there is only one world and the dimensions that we are able to perceive are divided from the unperceived world only by the fact that we don’t have the equipment to perceive beyond the five senses.  Wouldn’t this be an easy way to explain synchronicity, psychic perception and even astrology? Our physical senses are, after all, very limited.  We see the results of Fractal Geometry in the physical world visible to the eye but it seems that the underlying principle would exist in the space we can’t see or hear as well.  This might explain the realm of spiritual and intuitive perceptions and psychic phenomena, as well as magic. Of course the limit of the physical senses is to some degree a cultural bias. We all know that young children that are still not seriously indoctrinated with what they can and can’t perceive often have a connection to realities not recognized by Scientific Materialism. This thought is just a beginning.  I’ll be thinking about this for awhile.

Many things are related across time as well as space.  There are even patterns in history that seem to reoccur over and over with slight variations.  Is it possible that this too is an aspect of fractal patterning?

When I was a child I loved Kaleidoscopes.  I remember spending hours playing with these fractal mandalas. They were like snowflakes, there were no two alike.  Later as a teenager I would be able to close my eyes and see intricate geometric patterns, and no, I wasn’t taking anything.  It was just something that happened and I assumed it worked this way for everybody until it quit happening for me.  Psychedelic art back in the 70’s also used fractal patterns quite a bit.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


I’m an indigenous person.  No I’m not a First Nation indigenous person although I suspect some of my ancestors were. It disturbs me that the word indigenous has come to mean only those whose ancestors came from the continent on which their remote progeny now live. The best way, in my mind, for honoring indigenous people is to recognize that you are one.

OK, some people believe their origins are on other planets.  Actually so do many indigenous people.  The Plieides and Serius are among the most common star roots.  But in reality our ancestors have moved around on this earth for hundreds of thousands of years.  Geneticists and archaeologists believe that Africa is the ancestral homeland of all of us.  But we have cultural connections and spiritual connections with certain places on the earth and usually there is a creation story that spiritually honors that connection.  It’s a kind of sacred cultural marriage to the place you have come to love and depend upon for life.

Indigenous peoples have emerged into public consciousness in recent years.  The whole concept of indigenous people has brought awareness to the fact that the dominant cultures of this period in history disown their origins.  In fact in many ways they are not a culture, just a kind of cancer that grows independent of its hosts ability to integrate it and threatens death to its own source of life.  When the host dies so does the cancer. But when things become too massive and impersonal individuals experience their personal impact as so insignificant that instead of experiencing themselves as beings who have the power to make a difference in their society and the planet that hosts it they feel they are like a raindrop in the ocean. It is tempting to focus on bettering one’s personal life and immediate environment and forget about the bigger picture.

So much attention has been directed to the date 2012, the end of a Mayan great year.  Some look toward it as the end of the world in a catastrophic sense and some expect salvation and renewal.  Either way it seems that people are hoping for and yet dreading the inevitable collapse of the world as we now experience it.  But actually nothing changes completely.  On the tree of life there are always roots back into the previous condition and branches up to a new situation.  We each will have to be responsible for what comes after the end/beginning.  The main thing is that a new paradigm is inevitable but shouldn’t be mistaken for paradise. Einstein said, “it is impossible to solve a problem within the system of the problem.” This is one of my favorite quotes because it is an obvious truth that is usually unrecognized. 

The big world of spin, greed, unlimited growth and busy-ness is running out of fuel, literally and figuratively.  Some want to carry on by finding another planet to wear out and a few others want to rise beyond the system that is wearing out this one, and yet others want to cling to a previous time.  But if you acknowledge your membership as a child of this planet and a grandchild of the universe you allow the story of creation to unfold and recognize that everything you do is cosmic and part of a development beyond anything you could possibly imagine. Creation is always happening and you are an indigenous person.