Translate

Friday, August 1, 2014

NEW MEXICO'S HOLY SANTOS

.


For the most part, the santeros led holy lives; it was thought that
the more religious the santero, the more powerful his saints.
There simply were not enough priests to minister to the devoted
in this large geographic area. 

Chuck Rosenak, The Saint Makers, 1997

 .

Edited from newmexicoexplorer.com 
.
To understand New Mexico history, we have to look at the role devotional art held for the people. This is art that has been important throughout the centuries, continuing to the present day. Its imagery is pervasive throughout New Mexico, and the meaning it holds today is just as strong as it was in the 1500s.  
  .
.
Spanish explorers first came to New Mexico in the 1530’s, but they did not find the Seven Cities of Gold they thought existed. They returned to Spain, but in 1598, Juan de Onate commanded an expedition, which brought them back to New Mexico. The Espanoles, as the original Spanish settlers of colonial New Mexico were called, lived in accord with cultural traditions recreated from the memory of Catholic Spain. Because the inhabitants were so isolated, they would reenact old religious dramas, sing traditional hymns, and say prayers, living an old world lifestyle structured very much like traditional Spanish village life of the sixteenth century. 
.
.
 The religious art that embodied the spirit and aspirations of
 New Mexico Catholics include painted and sculpted images of
 celestial beings—divine, angelic, and human—that adorned
 churches, chapels, and homes. This art formed a vital part of
 Hispanic religious tradition that harkened back to the Middle
 Ages. The early settlers maintained memories and associations
 of the religious art in Spain or New Spain, much of which
 reflected an already outmoded sixteenth-century
 provincial style.
.
 .
Once every three years Franciscans and Hispanic merchants from the colony sent trade goods to Mexico City in exchange for supplies. Occasionally, the caravans returning to New Mexico contained a few santos (meaning, ‘image of a saint’) from the workshops of Mexico. However, the small supply of imported santos could not begin to satisfy the desire of the Hispanics for these religious objects.
During the Pueblo Revolt of 1680—a province-wide rebellion in which drove the Spanish out of New Mexico—all of the religious objects in the province had been destroyed. Then, in 1692 and 1693, the Spanish, led by Don Diego de Vargas, returned to New Mexico and reconquered the Pueblo Indians.
.
Soon, the new settlers began building towns and villages, each with a chapel. During this period of reconciliation, the Spanish and Pueblos formed an economic and political alliance to protect the province from attacks by Plains and other nomadic Indians who periodically raided New Mexico.
.
.
In the first half of the eighteenth century, some religious art began to appear in households and churches of the province, a few locally crafted. Until this time, religious artifacts had been primarily imported from Spain and Mexico. New Mexican religious art at that time consisted primarily of paintings on hides and skins, some fashioned by local artisans and the clergy, and oil paintings on canvas imported from Mexico. In addition to producing religious images on hide, the Franciscans also influenced the creation of wooden santos by the first known santeros. The santero deviated from the traditional Spanish style by painting on wooden boards instead of on canvas.
.
.
 The demand for santos stimulated a continual succession of native santeros who began to produce images around 1790 and whose works were essentially free from the older Spanish baroque style. Their interpretations were made within the context of the social, cultural, and spiritual influences of New Mexico. These regional santeros established a decidedly unique New Mexican style of santo. At that time, there numbered perhaps seven thousand households, each supplied with at least one santo and possibly two or more. Each village, with its church, chapel, and morada probably had dozens. Thus, it is likely that New Mexicans produced well over ten thousand santos during this era when santo making was a    thriving cottage industry.

.
  .
As Christians, New Mexicans did not worship the saints such as Mary, Michael, or Anthony as deities; they revered them as beings who served as intermediaries and means of communication between individuals and God. However, besides being regarded as heavenly intercessors, the saints had personalized functions or powers ordained by God that they could use at their own discretion. Thus, the saints could be petitioned in case of special needs.
.
.
.
The popularity of specific saints depended upon their function as intercessors, benefactors, or protectors; to alleviate some grave and constant need, to offer something hoped for, or to protect against something feared. To alleviate a sense of powerlessness, they turned to the celestial hierarchy to help them realize their hopes and protect them. Thus, a santo is not only an aesthetic object to adorn a home; it is also a utilitarian object with a particular function.
.
 At baptism each Catholic took the name of a patron saint. The godparents, rather than the parents, often chose the namesake. Since each of the saints had distinctive powers, the Hispanics treated them as valued friends and even as members of the extended family. They often talked to the saints as they would speak to members of the family, and they instinctively involved them in family affairs. A villager would take the figure of Saint John the Baptist out on June 24, for example, to bless the irrigation ditches. Today, Hispanic villagers still carry a statue of the patron saint around the town during the annual fiesta.
These New Mexican santos constitute the only monumental religious art that European America can claim as part of its own heritage. Nothing comparable exists from New England, as the Puritan forefathers forbade the creation and use of most religious images.
(Editor's note: Today the art of the santeros is
alive and thriving, as you can see from some of
the examples here.  The styles have gone
 through growth and change, but the
essence seems the same.)
  .
.
.
 
. 
.
.
.
.

.
.
 
.
.
.
.
.
 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

PRAY FOR RAIN....AGAIN! AND MORE....

.
.
It's been a year since we held the
 "PRAYER VIGIL FOR RAIN"
the flyer information above refers to, that
we held at the Chapel of the Living Waters.
We're going to try to recreate the idea
in a new way, in a different, digital form.
Here's a short video we used last year
at the Prayer Vigil, narrated by Travis Sullivan,
of Sullivan Bucking Bulls, Dusty, New Mexico.
.
 
.
Below is a painting, with our plea, of
the Hopi Indian Snake Dance, the oldest
ceremony and prayer for rain in North America.
The painting was done by E.I Couse, who
 witnessed the dance at a Hopi village in 1903.
.  


"....if the gods are good - and if all has been done well,
 the gods are good - rain is coming.
  As the late afternoon light wanes,
 dusk is usually hastened by the gathering of huge clouds,
streaks of rain appear over distant mesas, dude-wranglers
 marshal their charges into cars, eager to 'cross
 the wash' before floods fill it, Hopis from
 neighboring villages get themselves and
 their families loaded into cars; and then comes the long,
 swishing, sweet-smelling rain, pouring in cleansing floods
 from the roofs into the streets and over the edges of the mesa,
bringing hope and confident assurance that hearts 
were pure and the work was pleasing in
the sight of the unseen ones.
The Snake-dance always brings rain."
Erna Fergusson
Dancing Gods: Indian Ceremonials of
New Mexico and Arizona


.



.


Jewish Tradition/Water/Rain/Prayer

"The land you are about to enter and settle is unlike the land of Egypt you have left, in which one could sow seeds and irrigate by foot, like a vegetable garden. The land you are going to settle is a land of mountains and valleys, which absorbs water as rain from heaven."
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 11: 10–12

Water plays a central role in Jewish tradition, both literally and metaphorically. The ancient Israelite agricultural system was dependent on rains coming in their proper times and in proper amounts. And throughout our liturgy, we are presented with the idea that rain is a blessing that reflects our societal balance 
 and harmony.
Today, water continues to play a crucial role in our agricultural systems. And while we have developed advanced irrigation methods, ultimately, we are dependent on clean water and rains coming in their proper times.

During the High Holy Days we take stock not only of our own lives, but also on the state of the natural resources on which our lives depend. When we consider water, it has been quite a year indeed. We have witnessed a frightening series of droughts, forest fires, floods, ice melts, heat waves, and other extreme weather events. On top of these natural phenomena, hydro-fracking has emerged as one of the most significant environmental issues of our time.
.
ABOUT THE VIDEO BELOW
"A Prayer for Rain" Jewish Farm School's first video in the Feast Forward series, includes a diverse cross-section of people reading an adaptation of T'filat HaGeshem, and the themes of the poem are connected to contemporary issues related to clean water, sustainable agriculture, and climate change.
.
.
.
.
Below is a music video of one of the most CLASSIC
songs about rainstorms ever composed - "Cloudburst" - 
from THE GRAND CANYON SUITE by Grofe.
One of the major sacred places of Hopi Tribal origins
 and religious beliefs is the Grand Canyon,
 known to the Hopi as Öngtuvqa, including the area of the
 confluence. It is believed to be a place where many Hopi
 ancestors lived and their spirits still dwell there including
 many cultural resources that support its 
revered status for Hopi people.
.

.
 .
From the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer 
For Rain
.
O God, heavenly Father, who by thy Son Jesus Christ
hast promised to all those who seek thy kingdom and its
righteousness all things necessary to sustain their life: Send
us, we entreat thee, in this time of need, such moderate rain
and showers, that we may receive the fruits of the earth, to
our comfort and to thy honor; through Jesus Christ our
Lord. Amen.
.

LITANY FOR ALL CREATION IN A
TIME OF DROUGHT AND FIRE
.
God of all creation, of rain and fire, of ponderosa and pinon,
we your people lift our prayer to You.
Lord, hear our prayer.

For rain in this thirsty land, and for hope in this hard time.
Lord, hear our prayer.
For the people who are dealing with a water shortage and its effects - both financial and personal - from Magdalena to the Plains, from the Rio Grande Valley to Elephant Butte Reservoir.
Lord, hear our prayer.

For firefighters on the front lines, for pilots and crews, and all who are working across the State of New Mexico at this time to contain fires - for their safety and stamina.
Lord, hear our prayer.

For the animals and birds that have lost habitat or lack water sources, for the plants and trees, rivers and lakes, and all creation that is suffering because of drought and fire, and often because of human greed or human carelessness.
Lord, hear our prayer.

For the farmers and ranchers, and others of our rural communities whose lives and livelihoods are threatened by fire, drought, or water theft.
Lord, hear our prayer.

For the just and wise use of the water You have given us, to be gracious stewards
of Your creation and good neighbors with all people.
Lord, hear our prayer.

For the wisdom to conserve resources, and the grace to share them, with common sense and a dedication to protect what is a sacred trust - to understand that we are not so much owners as we are custodians of land, and to know that water is life.
Lord, hear our prayer.

For the local, state, and federal authorities and leaders - to have Your courage, O Lord, and Your vision, to make hard decisions for the common good, and the will to stand up to financial and political powers that would rob the state's citizens of what is theirs.
Lord, hear our prayer.

For a peaceful resolution to the difficulties that people face on the San Augustin Plains aquifer water project, and a fair, just, and timely answer from the New Mexico Court of Appeals.
Lord, hear our prayer.
Gracious God, You who hear the prayer of every heart, hear now the prayers we lift up to you now.
(A moment of silent prayer.)
Hear all of our prayers O God, spoken and unspoken.
Remind us that You are the One who listens and Who hears.
Grant us the wisdom to love one another, and this God-given earth, as You do.
We pray in Your name, and offer the prayer that Christ taught us:


Our Father, Who are in heaven, holy be Thy name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Amen
.
 The litany above was written by
  Rev. Talitha Arnold of Santa Fe, NM. 
Permission is allowed to reproduce and adapt
for worship services or church education.
  Publishing rights are reserved.
.


.
Here's the link to a post we did last year on another blog
titled "PAUSE FOR A PRAYER FOR RAIN."
The blog is concerned with an attempt by foreign "operators"
who are trying to steal 52,000 acre feet of water in New Mexico.
Obviously, the NEED for water during a period of drought
gives any flim-flam artist who says they can deliver water
an opportunity.  The fact that New Mexico is so incredibly
corrupt and ignorant makes the issue much worse.
But here's more praying for rain:
http://stopthewatergrab.blogspot.com/2013/03/pause-for-prayer.html

Thursday, April 24, 2014

JOHN THE REVELATOR

.
.
From Wikipedia 
. 
"John the Revelator" is a traditional gospel blues call and
response song. It has been called "one of the most powerful
songs in all of pre-war acoustic music ... which
has been hugely influential to blue performers".
American gospel-blues musician Blind Willie Johnson
recorded "John the Revelator" in 1930 and subsequently
a variety of artists have recorded their renditions of the song,
often with variations in the verses and music.
.The song's title refers to the Apostle John in his role as the
author of the Book of Revelation. A portion of that book
focuses on the opening of seven seals and the resulting
apocalyptic events. In its various versions, the song quotes
several passages from the Bible in the tradition of American spirituals.
.

.
Blind Willie Johnson version
.
Blind Willie Johnson recorded "John the Revelator" during his fifth and final recording session for Columbia Records in Atlanta, Georgia on April 20, 1930. Accompanying Johnson on vocal and guitar is Willie B. Harris (sometimes identified as his first wife), who sings the response parts of the song. Their vocals add a "sense of dread and foreboding" to the song, along with the chorus line "Who's that a writin', John the Revelator" "repeated like a mantra".




Johnson's lyrics reference a number of
passages from the Bible:

[call] Well who's that writin'?
 [response] John the Revelator
Who's that writin'? John the Revelator
Who's that writin'? John the Revelator
A book of the seven seals
Tell me what's John writin'? 
Ask the Revelator
What's John writin'?
 Ask the Revelator
What's John writin'?
 Ask the Revelator
A book of the seven seals
.
Well ooh ooh why me, thousands cried
 holy Bound for some, Son of our God 
Daughter of Zion, Judah the Lion 
He redeemeth, and bought us with his blood 
[Repeat verses 1&2]
John the Revelator, great advocator
Get's 'em on the battle of Zion
Lord, tellin' the story, risin' in glory
Cried, "Lord, don't you love some I"
[Repeat verses 1&2]
Well Moses to Moses, watchin' the flock
Saw the bush where they had to stop 
God told Moses, "Pull off your shoes"
Out of the flock, well you I choose
[Repeat verses 1&2]

The song was released as one of the last singles by Johnson and
 is included on numerous compilations, including the 1952
 Anthology of American Folk Music.
.

.



.
Son House version
.
Delta blues musician Son House recorded several
 a cappella versions of "John the Revelator" in
 the 1960s. His lyrics for a 1965 recording
 explicitly reference three theologically
 important events: the Fall of Man, the Passion
 of Christ, and the Resurrection.
.
[call] Who's that writin'?
 [response] John the Revelator
Tell me who's that writin'?
 John the Revelator
Tell me who's that writin'?
  John the Revelator
Wrote the book of the seven seals
.
 Who's that writin'? 
 John the Revelator
Tell me who's that writin'?
 John the Revelator
Well who's that writin'?
 John the Revelator
Wrote the book of the seven seals
.
You know God walked down in the cool of the day
Called Adam by his name
And he refused to answer
Because he's naked and ashamed
[Repeat verses 1 & 2]
.
You know Christ had twelve apostles
And three he led away
He said, "Watch with me one hour,
'till I go yonder and pray."
[Repeat verses 1 & 2]
.
Christ came on Easter morning
Mary and Martha came down to see
He said, "Go tell my disciples
To meet me in Galilee."
[Repeat verses 1 & 2]
.
This version was included on the 1965 album The Legendary Son House: Father of the Folk Blues (Columbia).

A number of artists have covered the song. 
.

.


.

 .

.

.