The Watcher

Every thought comes and goes.
Every second of time comes and goes.
Every aspiration comes and goes.
Every lifetime I’ve had, it comes and goes.
Every second of time, it comes and goes.

Every flicker of time, it comes and goes.
The watcher watches; and when I move,
the watcher watches.
When I dance, the watcher watches.
When I love, the watcher watches.
When I kill and consume the flesh of my enemy,
the watcher watches.
When I sin of hatred, the watcher watches.
When I sin for love, the watcher watches.
When I pray to God, the watcher watches.
When I blaspheme against God, the watcher watches.

The watcher watches all the time;
and it does not change;
it does not move.
The watcher watches;
and the watcher inside me is what the five watchers
perched on the Tree of Life,
vulture like,
beady eyes,
and through the darkness within them,
watch the watcher within.

(The Watchers, from Koyote’s Angelic Host series)

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We are co-authors of what we read

The writer is an author creating the flow and rhythm of speech. Any time we translate a manuscript from one language to another, however, we reinvent it. We create it again, and when we read the written word we must translate the meaning, and in doing that, we reinvent it, recreate it, and give it form. We can’t help but be the co-authors of everything we read, everything we understand, and everything we perceive.

Converse

I’d rather converse with an artist of thought than seek to destroy ideas and points of view. We may also get somewhere by walking together, as words come and go and we let them pass like clouds in the sky, without preferring one over the other, until only the empty sky remains… or the gentle rain sheds our countenance.

Soap bubbles, these worlds

When I dream, I like to see these worlds grow like tiny bubbles of soap. I like to see them color up and take on the shimmering lights and tentacles, to then explode into unnamable sentiments and feelings that I could almost name–if only I could remember the language of all.

I see the ones that are still here scramble away from me, swimming through the currents of air that flow into them. I try to touch them with my hands and I cannot. When I get close to one, it vanishes into the nothingness of illusion and memory. I know that just a few seconds before I was seeing those tiny universes made up of flimsy shells of dream stuff.

I can only remember them when I am asleep. I know that when I fully awake, they will give way to a shared reality in a solid world. Or in something that pretends to be a solid world but contains within it millions of little creatures and worlds that scramble away into remembrance and lost memories as I bring my hand close to the light and touch them.

The Kindly Ladies: God’s World

I remember standing with the body of a child, looking down into the cement floor of the street in front of my house. I remember looking down as if I was a god or an angel, as if I had the eye of an eagle. I remember looking at a world small and remote. I remember leaning over a small fence, watching these tiny creatures—impotent and unaware of the one observing them.

I looked at this world of God, and the more I saw this tiny world made of concerns and intent, the more my consciousness was pulled into it. I became fascinated. I didn’t notice when I passed that tipping point. It happened in that silent moment between breaths, where no thought passes trough you, where no stories are told—that place in between moment.

I fell into God’s World. And it took me a while to get my bearings.

The sequence of ages happens to be only a feature of the moment I’m in.

I didn’t know some times if I had dreamt my memories. I didn’t know if I was me or my brother. I didn’t know if was dreaming that house, or if I had dreamt that other place in the jungle among pyramids. Had I just been born, or had I just died from that wound? Sometimes I got confused remembering things not from the past, but happening right now in different bodies.

I was living all these lives, all at once. I was confused by all these things happening to all those bodies. I started up asking a question and ended up telling a story. I would start a story in one body and continue it somewhere else, and in the end I had done nothing in this body.

I moved about this life between story and story, putting a lot of attention on making things slow down, so that the story I told of my life could be told as if it could happen, as if it made sense. Putting much care in the spinning of each piece, weaving each strand, forming a work of art with the cacophony of color and events: to make something whole out of non-sequential chaotic star dust; to sit as an old woman weaving the story now. Or, like a spider, extracting the web from within my womb to lay out for the wake.

This is the beginning of the Kindly Ladies, and the spinning of stories and the laying of worlds.

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Listen to this episode of The Telling by Koyote the Blind

In the vast desert of the mind, we searched for strange maps.

We were a small band of psychonauts, explorers of unintended spaces, out to the Mina Es—a mine of clay soil we had named after the last letter of each of our last names. Ivan, Omar, Milton, Macoy, Ricardo, Pío and Toño. Our last names ending with the sound of es. Not enough money or food at home to make sandwiches or any kind of meal. Only salt, we would take with us. On the way, we could cut lemons to suck with the salt, our provisions for the journey. Sometimes, if someone had a cent, we could buy the refuse of the mango twist from Doña Evelia. She had a machine where a green mango was stripped into long delicious spaghetti-like strips and mixed in a clear plastic bag with lemon, salt, algüaishte and chile. Quite the mouth-watering 25 cents delicacy! So far from our budget, but not the peel of the mango. They discarded the green peel of the mango, and that we could buy in bigger bags for only 1 cent!

And so, armed with provisions and hand made sling shots, we went in our way to the Mina Es. On our way there, we went through ravines and hills, tunnels and shanti towns built on cardboard houses. We visited the abandoned medicine classrooms of the University long ago taken apart and abandoned by the armed forces. We would see the big pig inside a corral, maintained by some unknown caretaker in the deserted department of agriculture. The pigs’ huge testicles protruding behind his legs, each one the size of a soccer ball from some magic or science of the frustrated dreams of some students turned guerrilla fighters.

We went through so many worlds and adventures, running from guard dogs and ignoring the strays, guided by birds and playing with familiar spirits. We went following the maps in our heads, until we found ourselves in a field of golden brown clay, from where we supplied our bags, making room by eating the lemons and salt—or the refuse of the mango twist, if we had scored earlier. We took our loot back, to make cups and plates and strange gods out of the clay: also leaves and toys, little people and trees. And on our way back we would always take a different route. We came to the Mina Es by way of the forgotten passages of Zacamil and Mejicanos, but we returned home through other stranger passages not of this world. We voyaged through uncharted passages of forgotten worlds, using words and stories of long ago, forgotten as the race of people who once inhabited these lands was itself forgotten. We allowed the perceptions of these long ago impressions and sensations, not delegated to hints and adumbrations behind flickering shadows of the unconscious, to come out and guide us on our way back.

Thus we searched for strange maps; maps which described not physical properties of the known world but the shadow world. Waded not through accepted history, but through recurring mythology. We sought the stories of the old ones. We recorded the lies told in prisons and mental institutions. We were guided at times by the sexual fantasies of the dangerously deviant.

Walking from dream to dream, recording every distortion: shadows that move within a blink, the dissolution of the world as we fall asleep, the dissolution of time as we begin to wake up.

Those became our stepping-stones.

And madness!

Yes, madness. Those were the definitions of our maps for a long, long time: lies, distortions, inaccuracies, old-wives tales, intentional lies, honest beliefs, and entertaining mythologies.

Songs and dreams! They created a vast wasteland, a desert made of thoughts. We started to chart the territories where this sand of mind-stuff had congealed into miles and miles of glass, forming cities—illusory cities made not of glass itself but of the reflection of the moon upon the glass.

 

Photography by Sharla Sanchez

The Telling is an Experiment on Cultural Transubstantiation

In medieval times, the Church’s theologians argued about the nature of the catholic mass. Was it a symbolic act or a miracle, a magical act? Did the wafer and the wine truly became the flesh and blood of Christ? It is a true miracle, they claimed. Even though the wine tastes like wine, looks like wine, and smells like wine, it has now become blood.

How? Well, the medieval philosophers made a distinction between primary and secondary characteristics. The primary characteristic is the essence of something, while the secondary characteristics are those phenomenal manifestations that we use to recognize something but it is not part of its essence. For example, the soul of a person would be their essence and the true meassure of who they are. Everything else would be a secondary characteristic: external appearance, color of the skin, or even their particular life story. In the case of the wine, the transformation into “the blood of Christ,” according to the Catholic theologian allows it to retain all the secondary characteristics. The signal to the senses remained unchanged, but the substance had been transformed. It is, in the eyes of these theologians, a type of miracle that affects the essence, not the outward or secondary characteristics. Similarly, they would argue, prayer and the sacraments affect the soul, but not the body of the supplicant. This effect of exchanging one essence for another was called “transubstantiation.”

Now, look at the traditions that seek to preserve the past. Take a dance, any dance, performed thousands of years ago, perhaps to prepare for the hunt. It was a preparation for the one act that could mean survival or death for the tribe. Today, you go to a park in your vehicle, you see people dress in feathers drumming away and you think you are watching the same dance the tribal people did before the hunt long ago.

They dance. They follow the same external steps. They play music, perhaps even dance to the same tunes as before; but what was a dance of survival then is now mere entertainment. What was sacred in a raw sense is now performed to educate and entertain. The audience, and the performers, do not have now the same experience that the ancient artists had. They’ve preserved the external manifestations but not the essence.

The Telling is an experiment in cultural transubstantiation. It seeks to bring in the essence of something live and potent from a different time and make it do what it did, make it come to life in a context that delivers the essence. It does not seek to retain the externals, but delivers the true substance and the audience knows that something happened that is not part of the known.

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