The Rage of Fascism is the Whisper of a Dying World.

Don’t be afraid of the rise of fascism. Bring stability into your heart. Know the truth for yourself. Look around and see how many people actually are moving away from bigotry and racism. See how many or us are really, really thirsty for justice and equality. 

How many of us truly can see in each others eyes and see something divine? If you are one of us, know we are going to be okay. The way we conceive the world is how we are shaping it. We are dreaming the new world together. 

They have loud voices, and they want you to panic. They are giving a message of fear, so they make it seem like a loud roar, but that’s all there is. Here, in your heart, know that death is all around us and that that is no reason to panic. We still have this life, and in this life we get to create, write, speak, etch, mold and share a moment with one another, and we get to practice the truth that is in the heart, no matter what the patriots and the fanatics and the fearful say. They will not win. 

So, welcome the foreigner into your home. Welcome your brother and sister. Open your heart to all manners of religious expressions, to all manner of sexual identity. Open your heart to humanity. The hatred is waning. 

There is still work to do, but we have to go through this moment. It’s not that the world is getting worse. We are simply getting to the limits of what we can tolerate. We are seeing the forces we won’t tolerate trying to go back to the “glories” of racist policies, to the “great times” of segregation and the Middle Ages. understand that they are freaking out. The world as they thought it was is shaking. Their world feels unstable and they are panicking. This is why they are acting the way they are acting. Their world is dying. 

After all the wars and all the oppression and all the racism, we who have been alive in this continent for the past 500 years, know that we are awakening and we see the new world. We have seen it. Now remain calm––steady. Let them scream and rage. Their rage is the dying whisper of the old world. We are bringing the new. Keep your heart steady and loving. When you see the door, it is with that calm efficiency that we will walk through it.

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Lucía Through the Shell

When I was in the fifth grade, I had a good friend named Lucía. I called her that because she was born when I was shinning a light behind her shell. It looked like the glow of life came from her as she was stirring alive and broke through this side of life.

My abuelita gave her to me to raise. I carried her warm fuzzy frailty in my hands for the 100 kilometers trip back to the city. She took residence in the small cement square we called a patio, where the water basin was.

I came to visit and speak with her every day after school. She didn’t like to play, but she enjoyed listening. She liked it when I’d tell the cats not to approach, and when I trained the dog to see her as my friend. I failed to train my aunt, who served Lucía to me one afternoon. My older brother laughed at the surprise on my face when I came to the patio after lunch and didn’t find my friend. “You just ate her!,” he mocked.

I covered the real feeling pulsating above my belly, under my heart. I didn’t want him to see. I masked my inner reality with rage, as if the mockery was the only thing I minded. The real feeling, I carried with me safely through life, holding its fuzzy fragility in a tiny square of my solar plexus where a glow of light forever listens and waits.

The Great Magician and The Black Sheep

We tell a story of a sheepherder who happened to be a magician, and a very lazy one. He didn’t want to bother to build a fence to keep the sheep inside. The sheep were always escaping and exposing themselves to danger. The magician decided to employ his abilities to keep the sheep inside, hypnotizing them. He made them believe that they were free and safe inside the fence. In fact, he made them believe that whenever he fleeced them, that it was for their benefit. Once in a while, one would disappear, and the sheep were conditioned to believe that she had gone to a better place. In fact, he not only convinced them that he was acting for their benefit, but that they were not sheep at all, that they were human beings. Some thought that they were doctors, lawyers, priests, business people, seekers on a spiritual quest—all approved by the great magician, of course. They thought they were attaining powers and learning secrets. Of course, if they did not know that they were sheep, they would never try to change their situation for real; they would never try to escape; never attempt to evolve. Some even thought that they were magicians and knew the secrets; and all of them had the same fate.

Now, there were a few sheep whose fleece was not as valuable because they were black. Black wool was not as useful as white in the marketplace, so the magician did not pay as much attention to the black sheep, only the white. So, some of the black sheep woke up because the magician wasn’t making sure they remained hypnotized. They realized what they were and what they were doing there. If one black sheep knew the truth and tried to tell the others, the hundreds of white sheep would not listen. Why would they? After all, they were having good lives. They had their problems in their fake realities, but they were fine. Some black sheep managed to escape, and many of those succumbed to predators, but they were free.

Eventually, you had some spotted sheep. With those you could never tell: sometimes they would learn their nature and sometimes not. Of those who knew, some would decide to stay with the white sheep and become completely white.

Most of us are spotted. Part of us wants to be free; part of us wants to be taken care of by the Great Magician. That’s why I say, be careful with your gifts. Some of those are fake, given by the Great Magician. Someone said to me, upon hearing this story, “Be careful with your words because they can get you in trouble.”

I make my words so they get me in trouble. I am at war with the Great Magician. I am the black sheep. I am black, all black. My wool is not for the marketplace. My wool is the obsidian black of the eternal night sky, and its shine is the silence of the endless.

Read more in Teachings of a Toltec Survivor

Slavery has not ended, and we are being fleeced.

The institution of slavery has not ended yet. It has always been part of our civilization. The institution of slavery as it existed at a particular time here in America is not legal anymore, but that’s an instantiation. Slavery, the forceful use of people for labor, continues. It’s just changed from physical chains to psychological chains. It affects almost everyone. In order to participate in this society, you are forced to conform to certain things. By labor, I don’t just mean that you have to find a job and go to work. I mean that you have to produce, in your body, certain substances that are created by negative emotions and secreted from the pores and glands. In addition, your body is made to transmit signals to each other to create these substances. These signals are communicated through the masses by facial expressions, speech, and lately through memes and short thoughts and phrases. We are made to mass produce a limited number of reactions of anger, frustration, and mockery—all for the benefit, not of you, but of the Great Magician. I’m not just talking about socially negative emotions; what you would call “hope,” “love,” and anything else that is automatically produced in you—adrenaline, anxiety, fear—all these are called negative emotions.

If you begin to look at your education, and how we went from a moment from high anxiety before tests to the relief of anxiety after the test, only to come back to more anxiety, then you will notice that the higher you go up in your profession, the more you continue with that, fear–anxiety release–fear, over and over until your whole being is a machine to manufacture that state. What does the Great Magician get from that? Power, energy, control over the masses. At this point, the Great Magician is not interested in controlling the individual. If you set up a small shop selling vacuum cleaners, you will want to go door to door. But if you have a product like Coca Cola, you don’t sell to a person—you sell to demographics. “We have young, African American males.” “We have old second- and third-generation Latinos. How do we get new ones?” The Magician is thinking bigger than that, and not of countries anymore, but of corporations.

The fleece of the sheep the Great Magician is whatever makes up your identity, your emotions, and the output of your machines: the adrenaline, fear, and paranoia prevalent in society. A few can escape, because the Great Magician doesn’t even want to control small groups. He is not interested in the few black sheep. If you create a liberating movement with several million people trying to be free, he will crush it down. Either he will introduce something seemingly innocuous that will end up diluting the essence of the movement, or he will give you drugs or sex or something to weaken you; and if that doesn’t work, he will come down on you with strength.

What are the consequences of liberation? You are free from the support of the Great Magician as well, so when you free yourself, you find yourself in the jungle, and there are other dangers out there. Therefore, you have to become a warrior, and you have to become a hunter of power, and you have to know that death can come at any moment.

(Excerpt from Teachings of a Toltec Survivor)

Kissed by Lightning

She was a bundle of energy with a happy pretty face. I always saw her running, laughing, talking fast, and looking at the world with dark bright eyes full of curiosity. She was twelve years old, like me, but her precocious nature carried experiences beyond our age; experiences of sensual games I had only barely begun to fathom from rumors and books.

Her name was Luz, and with her I shared my first kiss.

I didn’t know her well. I only saw her here and there, played the occasional game of hide and seek, racing, or tag. I also heard that she kissed boys already, and my mom told me that the nurse that helped her during her miscarriage—and tended to her after the subsequent necessary operation to save her life by making sure she didn’t get pregnant for the tenth time—lived in that building, the number 7. She also told me that the kind nurse, who we all thought was always too angry because she never smiled or said “hello,” had a pretty daughter she was trying to keep safe from all the boys that kept hovering near their apartment, some of them too old to be having any good intentions. It took me a minute to realize that the kind and gentle nurse, that had helped my mom, was the same surly woman dressed in white who would always balk at us if we were sitting on the stair-case leading up to the fourth floor; the top floor of the building where she lived with Luz and her younger brother, Rafael.

I understood, then, why she was always angry and frustrated. But I still didn’t understand why, the other day, when she had come home and found me and Rodolfo sitting on the stair-well right above the third floor, she had mumbled a “buenas” when I said “buenas tardes” to her, but started to insult Rodolfo. He said “Muy buenas tardes,” under his breath as she was walking past us. I didn’t understand why she turned around after having gone up a few more steps, and why she started insulting him and hitting him with a rolled up newspaper that was hiding a hammer inside. She called him a hijueputa and a maricón––some of the most common insults in San Salvador. I also didn’t understand why it was an insult to be the son of a prostitute, or to be homosexual. There were many things I didn’t understand yet, but I knew you were supposed to get angry if someone said that to you, and fight. Of course, Rodolfo didn’t fight. He was always nice, kind, and generous. I have always known him to be gentle, and never get into fights. He was 18 years old, and he was with me all the time. He always came to see me after school, and showed me his books of high school math, chemistry, and electronics. He taught me to use the sliding rule to make calculations, because calculators and computers had not been invented yet. I loved learning these things. I couldn’t wait to be in high school, where I could learn these advanced and exciting things, and not the boring things they insisted on teaching in the sixth grade.

I didn’t understand why she was angry at him. Why was she hitting him with a hammer inside a rolled up newspaper? Why was she calling him those names, and “dirty” as well? I thought later that perhaps she thought he had insulted her when she walked past her, or maybe she thought Rodolfo was one of the older boys circling her pretty daughter, Luz. He wasn’t. He didn’t seem interested in girls. Never had a girlfriend. He spent all his time with me. He picked me up at 5:30 a.m., because I liked attending the morning service at the christian church I had just joined when I went to see that strange group of religious people who had taken over an abandoned church in the Colonia Magisterial. It was a neighborhood designed only for teachers and their families, with apartments for sale that they could afford on their salaries. The church had been abandoned two years before, because the priest working with the teachers had been kidnapped by the Mano Blanca, one of the death squads committed to fighting terrorists and communists, and to kidnap and torture everyone who opposed the government or help the poor organize. The church building had been abandoned for a while now, and Rodolfo told me of this group of christians, “evangélicos they call themselves.” He told me they seemed different from Catholics. They really read the Bible, and they didn’t have priests, but called each other “brothers and sisters.” They seemed to have a good community that loved each other and Christ. They loved God so much that they came into the abandoned Catholic Church, after her priest had been kidnapped and his cadaver dumped in some hidden place, and proceeded to destroy all the statues of saints and virgins because they were not God. I wanted to go see this community that talked to God directly, without a priest or mass. So, he took me there. I was already fascinated with the Bible, which my father had taught me to read. They were discussing it and reading it together. They were all praying together, too, with fervor. When the moment came when the pastor asks if “anyone here present wants to take Jesus into his heart,” I raised my hand and everyone was happy for me and prayed for me with all their hands like antennae over me. Since that day, I started going to their service every morning at 5:30, which gave me enough time to get back home for a quick breakfast before going to school. Rodolfo would pick me up in the morning, take me to the service, and wait for me outside. He never went in. In the afternoon, he would come after school and we would spend the afternoon together.

She shouldn’t have hit Rodolfo like that. He hadn’t done anything wrong. Luz was too young for him, and he didn’t even seem interested in getting a girlfriend. He had never had one. He wasn’t one of the older boys circling that pretty girl with the curious eyes and the bundle of precocious energy. Of course, I was interested, but I didn’t think at the time that any girl would want to kiss me. I had seen my face in the mirror while making kissing faces. I looked too comical with my lips pursed, and if I opened my mouth like I saw a guy do in a movie once to kiss a girl by putting his mouth around her lips, I looked even worse. No, there was no way any girl would kiss me if I looked like this. Besides, I was too short. Everyone said that, and I talked too funny and made everyone laugh when I said my name or any other word with the letter “R”. How could I ever kiss a girl, when they are all too tall for me? Even if they didn’t mind how I talked, they would laugh and run away, for sure, if they saw the face I saw in the mirror when trying to see how I’d look if I went for a kiss.

It wasn’t that I had crush on Luz, you see. She was very pretty, however, and she liked to kiss boys. Every one said that. I didn’t feel the pangs in the heart and the void spot in the stomach like I felt with Alba, the girl from Colonia Magisterial I had a crush on last year. Still, Luz was very pretty and it was a lot of fun when I played with her and the other boys. I actually had never seen her kissing anyone, but everyone said she did. I had also never seen her brother, Rafael, kiss any boys, but everyone said that he liked boys too, and that he was gay and that was why he spoke like a girl too.

When I told Rodolfo that I was thinking of asking Luz to be my girlfriend, he laughed at me and said I didn’t have the courage. That angered me, and I said I would prove him wrong. Toñito was there, too. He was a quiet boy who often came to my side of the neighborhood with Rodolfo. He would hang out with us, but was mostly very quiet and shy. I told them both that this day I would ask Luz if she would be my girlfriend. Rodolfo said I would chicken out, like I had chickened out with Alba the year before. I promised to myself I would do it, “no matter if she laughs at me or makes a face of disgust.” I would ask her, and prove to myself that I could do it. So, I went up to the apartment buildings, around building 7 where she often hanged out with her brother and the other kids.

There she was, talking fast next to her bycicle, giving commands to other boys and looking around as she always was, like attempting to drink in all the colors and shapes around her. I walked fast, ahead of Rodolfo and Toñito, and called her to come to me. I had to be assertive, so that the doubt and fear couldn’t crawl in. So that the thought of my kissing face in the mirror wouldn’t come up to remind me of how I never said anything to Alba the year before. I came up to her, and when she heard me call her name, Luz stopped what she was saying and ran to meet me, her curious eyes opening wide and fixating on me for a moment, to see what I had to say with such urgency. I was in the middle of asking her the question, if she wanted to be my girlfriend, when Rodolfo interrupted from behind me, and in a louder voice said: “He wants to make out with you.” A hint of anger or contempt in his voice. I didn’t finish my question. She looked up at Rodolfo, her attention going to the sudden and louder voice. Her mind, quick as her eyes, understood what Rodolfo was saying before I could say what I wanted to say. She then looked back at me, and asked, “Really?” With my mind now confused and scrambled, but the impulse that brought me there still carrying me through, I simply heard myself say, “Yes, I do.” She smiled, and looked to the side. It was a sweet smile. She quickly said, “Okay, meet me at seven on the stair-well.”

At seven, I arrived, and she was there. Her short dark hair fell over and below her ears, emphasizing and framing the features of her face under the dim lights of the evening. Her denim shorts had been replaced with a soft skirt with flowery design. Her freckled face, smiling mischiviously and happy. “Okay, like this…” she said, moving to the landing of the stair, one step below me. She had already calculated the maneuver that puzzled me. This way, she didn’t have to lean over too much to be able to kiss me. We were almost the same height, if I was standing a step above her. She put her arms on my shoulders, and I held her waist. My mind went silent, no more worries. My left hand went behind her light green t-shirt. She pulled me closer, still smiling. I didn’t purse my lips, or opened my mouth wide. She took over, and I absorbed everything. Her small chest pressed agains mine; and this sensation of firm breasts on me, I had never considered. Incredible as that was, even that evaporated when her lips touched mine. She parted my lips with the tip of her tongue, and started playing with mine. My eyes closed, like hers, and my hands went to rest on her back. She held my neck and touched my hair, and breathed into me a life I didn’t know. I smelled fire in her skin, and tasted nature in that kiss: the wet grass after the first rains of May, mixed with the fragrance of the many orchids in the Salvadorean fields. I thought for a moment that I was flying over the green and flowery cloud forests of El Salvador, when the taste of honey combined in our tongues. Electrical fluids coated my senses, and the smell of lighting opened my forehead. The sweet multiplicity of nature expanded the sense of taste and smell for the duration of that kiss. That kiss was no longer lips and tongue, but an expansion of nature itself within my frontal cortex.

I didn’t expect this much from a kiss. After that, it didn’t matter anymore that I was too short or too shy. It didn’t matter that kids and grown ups made fun of my speech. It didn’t matter, at all, that Rafael came downstairs and laughed hard at me standing on a step to reach her lips, or that she turned away embarrassed and laughing too. It didn’t matter that she ran away. It didn’t matter that the next day I found out that Toñito had met with her an hour later to get his first kiss too, a meeting instigated by Rodolfo after I had proven I did have to courage to ask a girl for a kiss. It didn’t matter if I thought we were going to be something couple like, but we weren’t. Yes, it all hurt, but it really did not matter anymore, not really. Just like it didn’t matter that a week later Rodolfo would try to wash the confidence and courage from me, by holding me upside down by my ankles over the railing of the fourth floor of building 7, to make me look at the drop four stories below, to make gravity pull out of me the joy and courage, to hear from me a shriek of terror. None of that mattered in the end, and not because I didn’t scream, and not because I held my terror inside until he put me back on my feet, and not because I summoned the rage and terror of ages within me and punched him hard on his testicles and saw him bend over and lose his breath. No. It all didn’t matter because I had been kissed, not just by a girl named Luz, but by her namesake within the thunderstorm, and the fullness of nature had truly penetrated my mind without regards for how small, insignificant, and petty I and all my people can be. And because in the presence of such a gift from the Goddess, all kisses became, after that, the first kiss into the santo sanctorum of Life; and that undeniable fact melts and and dissolves all other experiences unto the endless fields of Her bosom, eternally impregnated by the Light of the first rains of May.

Rage, impotence, and despair.

She was youthful and strong, as her name implies. Her big smile and thick glasses seemed to radiate her mirth all over the lecture hall in our philosophy class. Bright and curious was her intellect, and from the first day of our college days we became part of a small but tight group of friends. Those were the times of fascination with Marx, Jung, Benedetti, and Ramakrishna; the times of walking about in sandals and native cotton shirts; the times of basketball hoops on Saturday morning; the times of beer and a slice of pizza; the times of listening to Silvio Rodriguez when listening to Silvio would get you killed. Those were the times of hope.

We had an intrinsic and thus unspoken trust in our integrity; and surrounded by war and torture, we acted as if we believed the times were changing. We saw the world and history as if we were sure any day now it was going to reflect what we felt in our bones ought to be.

Perhaps drunk with that idealism, she one day pulled Guillermo and me to the side. She did one thing you should never, ever do. She told us of her role in the rebellion. Yes, we were all on the same side, in mind and spirit. But to actually tell someone you were an active agent, that you were connected and knew people and took action, was a death wish. It was to rely too much on the loyalty of those who had not taken an oath. It was to rely on their presence of mind, their integrity, and their ability to keep silence. It was to risk your life to loose lips, fear, torture, and changes of heart.

“I’m putting my life in your hands by telling you this,” she told us. So I did the one thing you should never, ever do if it is not absolutely necessary. I told her what I could never tell anyone, not even friends, family, teachers, or lovers. I told her of my involvement, so that my life would also be in her hands.

It never crossed my mind that she would betray me, or I her. Neither ever thought Guillermo would ever do anything to put anyone else at risk either.

We never did. What I didn’t suspect was the depth of her nobility.

After, came the time of deep peril, and the years of exile. A gulf of time and experiences later, after not seeing any of them for years, I was sitting with Guillermo with pizza and beer between us. He told me then of the time, after I had seemed to dissolve into the obscure exile outside, when he was walking the streets of San Salvador with her and another poet of the old gang. I could only imagine the laughter, the heartfelt joviality in every intellectual reference, the reminiscence and satire about all things current. I imagined in his account more of what I had missed for so long, until the army barricade stopped all. Then came the usual yet dreadful “show me your papers” and “what are you doing here?” and “where do you live?” Maybe they expected to be let go with just remnants of the brutal chill in their hearts, or perhaps they expected to be allowed to leave without a watch or a wallet.

But this time the servants of the oppressors wanted more. My male friends were made to sit on the sidewalk, machine guns pointing at them by men with cold in their eyes. She was taken behind the bushes, and the soldiers took turns raping her. His face was full of tears as he recalled the moment, and his impotence was a cold blade still lodged in his heart. They were both sitting, unable to do anything but cry as they heard one hijueputa after another violate our gentle friend, who had lived so happily for the good of others.

When they were done, they decided not to kill her, or any of them. They left them there, on the sidewalk, with their laughter and curious intellect forgotten. She approached them from the back. She saw them in tears of frustration, rage, and impotence. She knelt beside them and held them both, next to her bosom, and consoled them.

“She consoled us!

And seeing that scene in my minds eye I became awestruck by the force of her, whose love and force are so whole and all pervading that even across time and space continues to heal this heart of mine of all the rage, impotence, and despair.

I still cry. I still rage. Over this and many other things, I cry and rage. But I no longer despair because I always now feel the eternal embrace of Her, who nameless and formless has all names and all forms, and who one day took the form of my brave friend, whose name I swore once not to reveal, to console the hearts of the impotent men who were forced to watch the horror of man over the beauty of the Beloved.