". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Cuba -- Spiritual Renewal

     . . .  Currently el V is leading a tour of intrepid Travelers on an intense cultural, religious and music tour of Western Cuba -- a Tobacco and Sugar Counterpoint.  It's only the second Thanksgiving since we've met that we aren't spending it together, and the only one we're not together since we've been married.

Two Muñequitos performing rumba guagancó in their home town of Matanzas. Their kids are now performing in the group. One of them is the daughter Vivian (above), who performs the child Eleggua, just as did when we first met her. The audience adore her child as much audiences had adored Vivian at that age.
The theme for this trip is "Spiritual Renewal."  If any people understand the need for spiritual renewal its the people with whom the Travelers are meeting on this trip. By all accounts, for the Travelers, what they're experiencing is so far beyond their hopes or expectations they can hardly find expression for it. However, maybe the words were found yesterday, and they were few and short.

Yesterday, among the activities was the finale of an initiation, seating of Changó, in the head of a santería initiate (the activities for the initiation have been going on for a couple of weeks already -- this is the conclusion), at the the home of a member of Los Muñequitos de Matanzas, the foremost rumba group in the world, founded way back in the early 50's.  Our relationship with the group and the members, many of whom now are 4th generation, reaches back to 1990. This was the real thing, not made up for tourists. The reason the Travelers were invited is because el V's a member of the family, and his friends and family members are welcome everywhere.

 This experience has not been provided for the other travel groups el V's taken to Cuba, for various reasons. But this group is special, because it's the first group el V's brought to Matanzas since the election.  Cubans understand hurting and their compassion for USians who are hurting is deep and broad, as a citizenry and as individuals, is deep and broad, as I learned personally, after 9/11, and after being very ill.

Two of one of the founders' sons, Barbaro and Figurine, dance in NYC.

While all are hurting badly right now, some are hurting very much more.  A significant number of the Travelers in this group are African American women, some traveling with their daughters.

A Changó altar -- el día de Changó -- the feast day, is December 4.  El V will be participating. The orisha is syncretized with the Roman Catholic saint of Santa Barbara for many reasons including that she, like the orisha, is associated with lightning and the axe. His colors are gold and red.  He is one of what I call the Magnificent Seven of the orishas.  Like Eleggua,  Ogún, and Oyá, Changó's a warrior.

A beautiful rooster was ritually sacrificed.

The conclusion of the rituals and ceremonies is the meal of beans, rice, the chicken etc.* The Travelers needed to partake for ritualistic reasons. But a big dinner was scheduled right after this event. So -- Anna ensured that it was just a taste of each of the required dishes for each of them. 

As they were eating, one of the Travelers said, "I think this is our Thanksgiving."

You can imagine what was all in those words. As soon as el V repeated them to me, my heart thumped in resonance, and I started to tear up.

Spiritual renewal includes reaching back and up and down to the Ancestors.  We know how to do this.

     . . . Giving thanks is one of the caminos to spiritual renewal.


*  For those who think is terrible, think Christian communion . . .  and how much violence has been unleashed for centuries over the argument whether or not it is truly the body and blood of Christ's sacrifice or merely a representation of the sacrifice.

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