Community building requires community healing. And what does that look like?

"Staying ‘home’ and not venturing out from our own group comes from woundedness, and stagnates our growth. To bridge means loosening our borders, not closing off to others….To bridge is to attempt community, and for that we must risk being open to personal, political, and spiritual intimacy, to risk being wounded."- Gloria Anzaldua

"Quedarse en la casa'' y no aventurarse fuera de nuestro propio grupo viene donde estamos heridos y proviene nuestro crecimiento. Para hacer puentes signifa que abriemos mas de nuestras fronteras y que no cierremos a otros… Para hacer puentes es intentar comunidad, y para eso tenemos que corre el riesgo de ser abierto a personal, político y espiritual intimidad, a correr el riesgo de ser heridos. "
-
Gloria Anzaldua


Everybody is waiting for the movement to happen ! And we dont realize we are the movement. Its me and you coming together and having some honest and maybe painful truthtelling between us. But there is probably some beautiful thing we will create together as a result. I want to speak to each person in my community.Let's get the party going.

Todo el mundo está esperando a que el movimiento a ocurrir! Y nosotros no darse cuenta de que somos el movimiento. Comienza la communidad cuando usted y yo tienemos algunos conversaciones doloroso pero verdarosos . Pero es probable que algunos bellos cosas que es probablemente vamos a crear juntos . Quiero hablar con cada person en mi communidad.Vamos a comienzar esta fiesta !




Thursday, May 23, 2013

Curandera/Nepantlera workshop 2 :For the Real Xicana Writing or the Reclaiming of our Real Beauty and Power Workshop



with Ari Chagoya

This workshop is open to all Xicana and Black Women and Girls who want to heal themselves by reclaiming their word and voice. This is for the sisters who want and need to reclaim all that is theirs.

My daughter, Tabitha, who is 13 years old, is struggling with writing. She hates reading and writing. I don’t want her to lose her voice and write “white” but she also needs to learn how to write “white”. Why not? She can do it all.

THIS IS A NON ACADEMIC CLASS

I don’t give a shit about dyslexia or learning disabilities and other reasons why we cant write. We have a lot to say and we have a beautiful way of saying it that is both honest and worthy of being published. And its what needs to be read and heard. We are hungry for the truth and the real. And we want to hear what our young people are thinking in their words.

As women so much of our self-esteem is connected to our writing. The message is we have anything anyone wants to hear or read.

First we will break all the rules of writing and do freestyle writing, dub writing, zumba writing ,bling bling, xrated explicit lyric writing etc.

Then I will be teaching some rules of English writing and some Spanish that I know (and Imp sure someone in class will correct and teach me more rules). Then we will break the rules again.

The whole point is to write!

I want to have fun. I have a bored 13 year old that will be there, I have to make it fun. Most of all, I cant wait to see what beauty, power and healing will unfold.

The only requirement I ask is that you show up to all the classes.

Bring Brunch to share. I got the coffee, tea and juice

The workshop is free but donations are accepted.

Please tell especially your teens and young women.

FOR RIGHT NOW CLASS IS EVERY OTHER SAT in JUNE AND JULY

FBook me, Email me arichagoya@gmail.com or call 210-487-8898 for location and information

Class may be limited in size

THE BROTHERS




ARTIST UNKNOWN

There comes a time when women need to take on a job of leading men and to lead men with some kind of thoughtfulness towards men in reclaiming their humanness and about being of assistance in healing the hurts all men endure.

There is way where society doesn’t think about men or just simply forgets about them. We expect men to be tough or just take it. AJUANTETE! We forget they should not be left alone. They don’t want to really be alone .

We just think they have all the power and privilege, so let them figure it out. Right ? I think if we want to end violence, we have to look at the violence that society inflicts on men, and usually its men against other men.

I believe that the men I pick to come to my class are men who long for more connectedness with another men and women. I believe this is essential and needs to be healed for men to be of any help to women and for the healing of our people. I believe this work is needed for the next generation of Nepantleros y Curanderos.

This will be a 4 week class every two weeks. At the end of the 4 weeks, we can decide what other work needs to be done and each man will take turns being the leader.

This is new frontier work and there isn’t much written unfortunately we are probably IT. I want to have lots of platicas with yall about this.

The women are excited and curious about what will happen. They should be. If Xicano men can get a movement rolling , it will freak out the gringos when our men stopping hurting each other and themselves.

What would the barrio look like if then men started supporting each other for real?

What does Brotherhood really look like?

These classes are open to men and boys.
If you wanna what is in it for me?
My sons Justin, age 11 and Joey, age 9 will be there.

For more info or questions, please FBook me, email me at arichagoya@gmail.com or call me at 210-487-8898

Classes will be every other sat in June and July
Bring brunch food to share.

Monday, September 17, 2012


BABY CORN Y NEPANTLA
I had the opportunity and honor to get to know 5 month old YAHRETZI this Sunday while her mama and my partner, Jennifer was at their monthly sweatlodge or temazcal. Justin, Tabitha, my children, ages 10 and 12, and I had our own pretend temazcal under the shade of a plastic blue tarp in 100 degree temperature outside the lodge, near a boggy creek in South Texas. I told the women of the lodge they were crazy to go sweat and ughugh not for me. And in a nice smart ass kidding way said, “I sweat under the tarp and make sizzle steamy sounds. I’m already all india and spiritual and all. Aint got nothing to prove nobody. I’ll support y’all and run errands chop wood or whatever. Y’all crazy to be sweating in this kinda weather.” Whatever. To each their own; I will sizzle in the shade and watch children and the dragonflies. And yes Nepantleras, its not always hard to get to Nepantla. It can be fun.
YAHRETZI aka YAYA had just been given the chichi and was just fine until her mama placed her into my arms.Yaya is cute and chubby but right away with her whole body starts to cry. Mama tears up and I tell her I’m fine with her crying. Mama said, “She’s very attached to me.” I said smiling to her, “ I know . Go sweat. I can handle it.”
Justin and Tabby start to panic as soon as mama enters the lodge. Then they start sssshhhing Yaya. I tell them gently, “No, don’t sssshhhing her .Listen to her to her cry. This is her way of telling you she is having a hard time.” After a very short time, they start to get scared about her crying and start giving me advice on how to comfort her to make her stop crying. I listen to them tell me give me their expert advice after all they are children and probably have some good ideas .They talked to me like I maybe don’t know how to take care a baby. And I’m curious about their thinking and ask them for more of their thinking and ideas.
Carla, the firekeeper quickly brought us a big turkey feather fan to cool YAYA. “Maybe she’s hot?”, I said to them I cool Yaya with water sprinkle and ask Justin and Tabby to take turns fanning her. She still cries louder. I give YAYA water she drinks and stops for a few seconds and then continues to wail LOUDER! I told Yaya, “Sorry, Mamas. It’s not milk.”
Tabby and Justin get panicky again and ask me if they can hold her to help her stop crying. They each took a turn and when they saw she wouldn’t stop crying, they handed her to me and took turns fanning YAYA. Tabby and Justin started to get cranky and hot. And bored. And I said to them, “This is how we learn to take care of people and be good mamas y daddies. Practice. Fan her like you wished someone had fanned you when you were a hot baby.” Justin said to me, “But it’s not good for a baby to cry!”
I said, “No, babies cry for a reason. This is the only way she can talk to you and tell you what’s bothering her. What is not ok is to let someone be alone when they are crying. Don’t let her be alone with all this. Listen to her with all your attention.” Their faces got serious and I said, “She needs you attention. She’s not hot. She’s not poopoo. She’s not wet. But she does miss her mama and she might be a little scared. And take turns fanning her.”
“I wanna hold her,” said Tabby. I said, “Ok, she’s heavy. Don’t drop her.” Tabby and Justin take turns holding Yaya while I fan all of them and myself. As they each hold her, YAYA was still wailing, I tell them, “Just let her cry. She just needs to cry. Tell her we love her and that her mama will come back and get her.” Justin said to her, “Mama will be back, little baby.” I said, “Good job, Justin. Ask what else is hard?”
Finally, Yaya falls asleep in my arms. Tabby and Justin keep fanning her and Justin whispers, “Can we go to the pond, yet?” I whisper back, No, not with the baby. Later.” They keep fanning. This is how we learn to take care of each other.
About 30 minutes later, Yaya wakes up crying again and 15 minutes later Mama came out of sweatlodge all weepy red muddy and sweaty. And Yaya stopped crying right away when mamas’ arms held her. We fanned her and mama. She thanked me and I said, “De nada.”
The women came out of the lodge about 15 minutes later all red muddy y sweaty too. Me, Justin and Tabby fan them and give them cool water. As we cool off in the global warming heat, we ate laughed and talked under the blue tarp. Yaya had more chichi and was bouncy and happy. Mama seemed more refreshed. And Mama, Yaya, Tabby, Justin and I are a little more connected and closer than we were before. This is but one of many ways we learn to take care of each other. It was good to be sitting there with my red skinned sisters in any kind of weather. I think about how many of us long for this kind of day. There is so much against us to split apart and we forget- we seek communion with each other. Communications in union .I don’t want to do just ceremony and yet still not be connected with each other .It’s how we hold our ground in the truth with each other during the good the bad and the ugly. Being with each other during the hard times is the ceremony. Holding the space for crying babies and children and still enjoying the struggle and the dragonflies. I hope I am preparing the way for Yaya the Nepantlera .
Being together IS the victory. Now, that is being in Nepantla. LOL!
This was a good day on the good red road.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

CORN ROW 5 QUEER CORN





The thing I like about my multinational corporate job here in San Antonio is that I get to work with mostly young adult RAZA, who are in charge. So I get to work with some of the smartest nerdiest Xicana/os in the city. I like that we come in all sizes and shades and regardless, we are from the working class. We work there because we have to and because we are smart.

I decided to be inspired by a young xicana dyke that works here. (I’ll find out my sister’s name later). If I was thinner I’d be her size and height. Orale, Sister!

I love being Queer Corn. Of course, I wouldn’t be as exotic or erotic if everyone would just be themselves. If everyone would decide to free their minds and hearts, then I’d just a mere human. But no, I’m Queer Corn.

I love being Queer. I’m not just different to be different or to be shocking. Im not queer to impress anybody. Some people are outrageous so they can be the center of attention like Madonna or Lady Gaga.

No I’m queer because I’m curious. I’m queer because I love myself. I m queer because a different path or direction is my destiny. I don’t know what queers me that way but surely I follow whatever light makes me grow.

If love is light, which I believe it is, then I’m queer because love guides me to a higher reason. I’m queer corn because the heart of corn is big. If corn has a heart which I’m sure all plants do then corn’s heart must be BIG! And corn with a big heart must be daring enough to love what is forbidden. I’m corn that defies the limits. Im corn that crosses borders. I dare grow in bad dirt. I’m corn that combines with grass, earth, air and water and make our world a better planet. I dare grow with doubt and danger all around me.

My friend, Jane, the one who is growing an urban garden said,” Oh I got you some real queer corn!” She said it was her favorite plant and she showed me the stalk of Johnson grass that had come together with her corn and that it at first in the beginning, its stalk looked just like a corn stalk.

I know it is silly to compare corn to queers but there is something amazing to being imperfect and yet so beautiful. Was corn always yellow? Or did some queer corn decide to show up blue or red or white? If so, what was the event or condition that made it change? And what did it taste like? What does survival taste like?



Sunday, June 17, 2012

HAIKU: AFTER KISSING JENNIFER

she's brown and working class
and has nice ass what more
could you ask for, damn.

she said no more cafe
for you te vuelves bonkers
thats why I love you

I said haiku for you
you silly boo te quiero
y tus tacos too.

Friday, June 15, 2012

CORN ROW 4 Children of the Corn




My children are from the new millennium. Their names are Justin, Joey, Tabitha and Nico aka KING KONG, DING DONG, QUEEN KONG. And my godchild Nico, I used to call MOCO because when he was a toddler he had a lot of snot. I’m not sure if I do right by them but they all seem to want to spend more time with me. Sometimes they just want to talk or want me to join them in some physical adventurous activity.Im okay with that. I’d be fatter if it wasn’t for them making me move a little more than I would if I was childless. Now what is hard for me is shopping for frilly things with Tabitha, or telling them about the ugly things our society has set up for them to face like racism and sexism.Or that we live in the class system where money before people matters.


Nico and Tabitha are the oldest. When Nico was born, I tell him that I saw him come out of his mama’s belly. I was there when she had a Caesarean. In that moment he was born, it was if I had forgotten what joy was about. That’s all I felt when my eyes first saw him. My eyes still tear up when I think of that moment. I felt absolute most divine light room filling JOY. My heart burst open more than it had ever been bloomed before.

When Nico was 2 years old I didn’t want him to learn how to kiss from soap operas. I didn’t want him to learn sexuality or affection from fucked up television. I want him to learn all that naturally. I have talks with Tabitha daily that her intelligence is as important as her looks or body. That I don’t want Nico to be oppressive and UN thoughtful about women and that I don’t Tabitha to demean herself and yet I want them to be free about their sexuality and not have any hang-ups about sex. Tabitha freaked me out when she wanted to wear big hoop earrings to 5th grade! Already she is more concerned about her looks than writing or reading.

I am trying to prepare them for reality but also plant hopefulness so they can carry with them all their lives. Hope.

Hope is like corn. Gotta plant it to grow it. But you can’t tell a lies. And I’m not about to lie to my babies.

My children are full of themselves. They love to look at themselves in the mirror. And they think they are so cute. They are. Then again at times, they tell me they feel terrible about themselves. But we all feel like that at times. Sometimes we feel cute and other times we pick at ourselves where we are not perfect.

I was definitely Asian in my past life. I love beauty and order. I admire the Zen of perfection but I don’t my children to be afraid to make mistakes. I’m not looking for perfect looking ear of corn although corn is perfect with all its imperfections as it IS. I like that corn is imperfect just like my children. My friend, Jane, who is growing corn in her urban front yard, said that her organic corn is smaller.

My children have been judged as imperfect. And they are. I like them like that. My boys have been diagnosed with ADHD blah blah and getting them off meds was easy and at times like an exorcism. My plan is to defy the labels and diagnosis. They are intelligent humans and my goal is to help them discover and recover from the hurt that has been placed on them. This is where I refuse to be defined by white colonization and medical model of illness and intelligence. The wildest colts do make the best horses.

I don’t want my children to be good workers in our slave system or what I call the madness. But I do want them to be good workers that love to do a good job. Work is good. That doing nothing but being depressed or drugged not the way they would want to spend their time. WORK IS GOOD. Perfection isn’t the goal. Doing their best IS. I tell the must learn to struggle and that they can whistle why they work. I am reminded of the Buddhist saying: before enlightenment, chop wood and carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood and carry water. You have to know how to chingar. That means endure struggle and suffer thru things. If you can’t get over it you have to go thru it and that is that.

My boys Justin and Joey know suffering. They were taken by the state from their parents who struggle with drug addictions. Those boys know fear and hurt. They also know how to check out from emotions. They had to learn how to get thru the pain when no one was around to help them. Yet I see them as so tender. I worry that they will be too tender that they will be brutalized by other men. And I also worry will they be brutal men? I asked them one day, “WHAT KIND OF MEN DO YA WANNA BE LIKE? LIKE SO AND SO? OR SO AND SO?!!!!!” Joey said so matter of fact, “Like you, Ari.”

It hit me like someone punched me in my chest. There was no smile in his face. Real serious he said it. I wanted to burst out laughing. He knows I am a woman. He wasn’t being a smart ass or clever. He meant it.

I hope my children know that when they really need someone that they have me. When do I be there for them and when do I let them figure it out for themselves? Just when I think I am being too hard they ask me to not go to work and stay home. Sometimes they say I am being mean. I say, “I mean business”. My word means something. I promised them, I would never lie to them and that I would keep my word. I dunno But I do know one thing. If theres trouble or they are scared, they look for me. That’s because I DO MEAN BUSINESS. And yet I can’t protect them everything.

I confess. I struggle with my commitment to nonviolence. I used to have a poster that I lost and found again years later. I was excited when I thought it was a poster of acupuncture points but instead it was a poster of Martial Artists strike points to kill an opponent. My friend, who was with me when I found it, laughed and said, “Oh yeah that’s from the days you wanted kill people not heal them!!” Non violence Principle 1 of Martin Luther King, Jr. is “Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people. So far, all I can say is Love gives me courage. I hope my love helps me finds the ways to do right for my children. I tell myself that how I am with them NOW is how they will be with their children and how my grandchildren will be with their children. I take the next generation seriously. I hope I pass the skills and information I have so they can learn how to heal themselves and help other people.

I do mean business.

Each kernel makes a lot more corn. Our children are the children of the corn.And for whatever reason, these four are in my path, surely they must be extraordinary, and Creator wouldn’t have blessed me with just anybody. Any child that happens to stumble in my bunny trail has got to be special.

Gotta go plant some corn with all my love and hope.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

CORN ROW 3 WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON?





I told my teacher, who is naturopathic doctor, that obesity among mi raza especially the young ones was big here in Sananto. She said, "It’s the food. The corn we eat is not nutritional anymore. Haven’t you heard about what Monsanto is doing to our corn?”


“Yes I know. But what I want to know is am I ok? Am I sick? I’m struggling with my health and weight right now. Diabetes. My mother and sister are diabetic. I am headed that way.”, I answered.

She said gently lovingly sacredly,” I dunno. You gotta make the decision. You have to decide whose side are you on? The GMO Side or NON GMO side? Whose side are you on?”

WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON? Her voice keeps haunting me when I’m still and quiet especially, or in a quiet creeping up like a snake whisper. Whose side are you on? Whose side are you on? It feels heavy and wells up a deep sadness for me ? Add to that a suffocating choking grief for mi gente

WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON?

I told Ms Silva that DIABETES IS AN EPIDEMIC. Are we the only ones that are worried?

At the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, I met a healer named Arturo Castillo. He had come to the Health Center I worked at to teach a juicing class. Rumor was that he used to be HIV+ and that he was now negative. Its was hush hush because no one believed him. And he was tired of telling people he no longer tested positive for the HIV virus. This was in the time when it was absolutely too many too soon were dying .Grief on top of fear was heavy. We weren’t sure who were we gonna lose next. When he found out he was HIV+, he decided to do something different.

He told me that his friends who were diagnosed with AIDS did the usual medication. And usually the medication itself is what probably killed them. To Arturo it didn’t make sense to take the medications that ended up destroying the organs like kidneys and liver that our bodies use to cleanse and heal itself.But Arturo remained loyal to his body. Arturo cleaned himself up for real all the way. He changed his diet. Arturo told me Jesus and Essenes were into cleanliness. “What else did they all have to do all alone in the desert with the apostles?", he whispered. Escandola!

In an Essene book that I read ,”Jesus said, everything you need to heal yourself is in Mother Earth.” That blew my mind.He said  Mother Earth.

Arturo cleansed himself with colonics and was macrobiotic food. He was into juicing and massage. He was a dancer and ran 10 miles a day, worked out and he was buffed!

And all he ate was vegetables .

He was love and light. Puro Indio. I wanted to always be in his light.

He was that all the way live!

But Arturo had sadness about him. He had lost a lot more friends than I had. One day, Arturo died suddenly. I’m not sure from what. My teacher says he saw what was coming and was too tender to stay on the planet.

QUEERS.

Who gives a shit about them? Is it shame that led to our self disgust about each other and ourselves, then hopelessness that leads to the death count? Is it the hopelessness that is happening. Or is the pinche miedo that makes me think Im not gonna make it.

IM NOT GONNA MAKE IT.

AJUANTETE.

ERES UN HIJA DE LA CHINGADA.

YOURE NOT GONNA MAKE IT

BITCH.

Feel the hopelessness?

Why is it easier for me to find heroin than organic corn on the cob in this town? GMO corn is killing me. Or is it me killing myself?

WHOSE SIDE AM I ON?

I go out

of my way to buy organic corn.

AND I WILL ENJOY IT TO THE MAXIMUM.

I don’t have to give up corn

I just have to decide to be on the organic corn side like Arturo would have been too.

Once after I smoked organic weed (it was organic, I had to try it), I saw Arturo. He was a 3D Viewmaster looking dark brown skin puro indio angel.

He is my guardian angel. Real Purdy.

I wonder what Arturo would say now about corn.



Friday, June 8, 2012

CORN ROW 2 TORTILLAS




I had a thought about cornrows earlier…why do they call black hair braids cornrows? Duh, because it looks like corn kernels in a row! LOL! Then of course , that lead me to another duh? Tortillas?

Tortillas reminds me first of LALO GUERREROS song, “There’s No More Tortillas” then I think about George Lopez’s joke, “ A tortilla will never be a WRAP!!” WRAP has become a NOUN word.

Then my companera Jennifer said to me just two days ago,”Baby, I am gonna help you eat right. I made you a WRAP ( tortilla) and it has spring mix in it”. What???? !!!!!

My mother has a dicho that says : Las cosas que no quieres en su casa en su casa lo ayes. Or the things you dont want to in your home is where you will find them.

I m sad like Lalo and Im with George. A TORTILLA WILL NEVER BE A WRAP!

I have a science fiction story called LAS AVENTURAS DE LOLA COATLICUE and in her world there is a plant that has a round vegetable that you slice and make a tortillalike food. Even in my wildest fantasy can I be without a tortilla.

I get the best supernatural stories from viejitos and the working class -brown blackwhite doesn’t matter. I love the many versions I hear about the Virgen de Guadalupe or Jesus appearing on the toasted parts of the tortilla. I have yet to hear about a Buddha on a tortilla yet. Jennifer sees Jesus all the time in tree barks. And SHE IS  brown and working class!

Everyone I know has a version of how they like to eat a tortilla. First, do we wanted it toasted hard or soft and warm? Jennifer loves her practically burnt and me soft. Do we use it to scoop food with our hands or do we eat it aside like bread? I think its interesting that a child can eat with their hands and then switch back to school and use a spoon or fork.
Ugh! We used to be embarrassed when I had a fresh made buttered tortilla in my hand and had to rush to get on a bus full of white kids ! Then  they would say ughhh, whats that??? Shut up.
Now it’s a luxury to get a handmade tortilla ……precious. Now everybody eats a tortilla…well in Texas. Now its fashionable. I guess. Well in my world it is!

My mother would make tortillas from scratch every morning…mostly flour. I can still hear the palote banging. Palote an indian word for rolling pin and her singing at the top of her lungs LOUD some mariachi de Jalisco high note song. She says when she did that it meant that she was in a good mood and that her tortillas came out perfect. And in the evenings,she would ask me to sit with her, while she threw the chile, garlic ,tomato etc in the molcajete ,and ask me about my day at school . And always her stories.

Super natural.

Working Class y brown.

I think I see a Buddha in my tortilla.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

CORN ROW 2 Kernel





Jennifer says after reading that corn comes in many colors that her new painting is gonna be on focusing on each kernel. Then she said,” Baby, you need to write just a kernel since you don’t have much time lately.” I thought to myself yeah corn comes in many colors. She said she loved especially how each kernel could be different colors or even two or more colors in just one kernel. I said oh yeah. That’s right. Corn is purdy.
I was talking to Ms Silva this morning via Facebook and I realized that part of the reason I’m writing about corn is that it’s my way of working on food and diabetes. Ms Silva is working on a series of Platicas on diabetes and also just finished a book of poems and other writing on Diabetes and RAZA. And I’m raza working on corn and my fear or probability of diabetes.
Diabetes reminds of the AIDS epidemic. Maybe its because in San Antonio I see so much effects of food and diabetes here. I can go for days and not see white folks in San Antonio where I live. My daily life is MEXICAN. I live in occupied Mexico or at least a large rez. I speak Spanish daily or at least Spanglish. DAMN there is even more diabetic shoe stores and dialysis centers here than I see anywhere else. That’s messed up.
Well this is what I wanted to be with..mi gente. San Antonio is a large cornfield. Jennifer says we are children of the corn for real. Have you noticed that in OCCUPIED Mexico we eat more flour tortillas than corn? But corn syrup is in coca cola and always corn chips. In Texas, corn chips are almost always free before your meal comes to you. There are as many ways to fry corn chips as there are colors of corn and kinds of corn. BUT nothing is as good as homemade corn tortillas….mmmmmmm good.
My sister Alice tells us the story of when she visited Guanajuto, where her husband, Jose and my daddy’s family are from that’s she tripped out when she woke up and smelled smoke. She said the women had gotten up early and started a fire outside. Damn she thought they up early! Then later she heard them grinding stone. When she finally woke up because it smelled good she said they were making tortillas from scratch. They had ground up the corn from the kernel to the masa to the tortilla. We all said DAMNMMMMMMMM! That there are some children of the corn for real.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

CORN ROW 1

Mi MAIZ es mi RAIZ
I am gonna speak to you as if you never were forced to forget you are India. I am gonna speak to you as like I am your village or tribal storyteller. I am gonna speak to you because you belong to me and I belong to you. I am gonna speak so you will remember who you are and where you came from, India. And I am gonna speak to you so you won’t have an excuse to not pass it on. I am gonna tell you, so I won’t forget. And I am gonna tell you because the there is a heaviness we live with that makes us forget and together, we can lift it off once and for all. SOMOS INDIAS.
Each of us is a seed for more corn.
Many years ago when our people lived… not just existed, it was the land…. la tierra ….earth that mattered the most.
That was the center of our universe.
We were in the now moment and not busy with work that was for profit or money. We worked to feed everybody. We shared more and thought more about each other. We weren’t working for the master or landowner or other bully. We weren’t slaves. No one owned the land. Earth was spirit. Earth was worshipped and treated like it was holy. When we were more into la tierra, Earth was church. Earth still is.
The earth was given more attention. All things evolved around the earth. We weren’t into our looks or our money. What we were going to eat was far more important. Food occupied our body hearts and minds. Corn was sacred.
Corn was more sacred to us than our Ford F150 or Explorer. It was more sacred or important than the Harley Davidson motorcycle. It was more sacred than beer, weed, sex and crack. Corn was more sacred than the Texas Longhorn football game or the Spurs winning the next game. Next to corn, I suspect rest and play were next in importance. Air and water were important but I place that under the category: Earth…La Tierra.
My father, Joe Chagoya, who was a master landscaper and arborist, gardener and farmer, horse whisperer, and water dowser used to tell me that he wanted me to go to Texas A &M and study agriculture. I used to roll my eyes and say to myself ugh why?????? I went instead to the rival University of Texas. But I still have my daddy’s earthiness.
He used lay out in the grass outside when we went out en la monte and say, “Ahhhhhh…..smell that country air!” Daddy was puro indio. Tree climber. Chango. Tarzan, my pops. Had my daddy lived more outside, I don’t think my dad would have drank as much.
When I would help daddy till the dirt and plant the seed for the garden, afterwards, I would be all sweaty and hot but I used to love to lay on my back between the rows of dirt. It made me happy and one with universe. It made me feel joyful and satisfied-accomplished and victorious. Don’t know why I still just love to lay down on dirt. Earth
Corn. Maybe I am planted with corn too when I do that. Maybe la tierra makes our bodies feel happy in places where things are fertile and growing. Maybe laying that close to the earth on our skin makes us remember why we are born.
Maybe it makes us feel closer to creator or at least makes us closer to something special. Maybe that special feeling is that you are holy in the a place that’s holy. Holy like when you are in the room when a baby is being born.
I am gonna speak to you as if you were never made to forget you are an indian. I don’t care what you think or say.
Hey, Skin.
You Redskin. You Redskin that looks like Whiteskin or maybe
Blackskin.
Maybe Meskin acting like no skin.
I am specially talking to you.
Hellooooo, the eagle eating a snake on the cactus Meskin?
Hello nopal on your forehead Indian!
Maybe you a forgot Nauhatl Indian.
Maybe not.
Maybe you a forgotten Swahili Indian.
Maybe you a Gaelic forgotten Indian.
Maybe you lost your tongue Indian.
Maybe you lost Indian.
Maybe you lost.
Now you found.
Corn comes in many colors.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

FIRST Meditation on CORN


Last night I looked at the images of lotus blossoms for a painting I want to do. My teacher gave me assignment to find my flower so that I can keep it focus as symbol for me about me. I choose the lotus flower. I want to meditate on it in detail.. study it.. become it. When I paint it, I want to be its spirit and express it in a painting but corn is as a precious to me. As I wrote this I am hurt and angry when I feel CORN. My teacher also said to me that I needed to stop eating the genetically modified corn. That the corn that is on the market today is killing me..killing my people. That the rise of diabetes is directly related to eating GMO corn. Everything has corn. Corn syrup corn oil .How did a plant that was so crucial to my people become one of things that is killing us? I had to stop eating corn and its not easy. Its in everything. Try finding organic corn in town. Its easier for me to find cigarettes than organic corn. Hell, I can find heroin easier than non GMO corn in my town. Seriously we need to grow our own. If we can get the guts to grow weed we can grow our own corn.
Corn .I go to Wikipedia to look up corn. “The term "maize" derives from the Spanish form of the indigenous Taíno word for the plant, maiz. It is known by other names around the world.I see MAIZE the word for CORN. I like the word CORN. I like the word MAIZE. Either word works for me. Makes my mouth water mmm sweet juicy maize. I like the sound of maize not MAZE but MY EAZE the way my mama would say it. ‘Vamos a trear maize para los tamales. Compro nomas cinco libras.”
So here are some things about corn you may not known
Maize started becoming a food about 7,500 to 12,000 years ago. Researcher from the 1950s to 1970s originally thought that maize first started in the highlands between Oaxaca and Jalisco, because the oldest archaeological remains of maize known at the time were found there.The later found out that corm is related teosinte which is genetically most similar to modern maize. Teosinte is Zea mays ssp. parviglumis, native to the Balsas River valley and also known as Balsas teosinte
From Wikipedia : Some of the earliest pollen remains from Latin America have been found in lake sediments from tropics of southern Mexico and upper Central America, up to Laguna Martinez and have been radiocarbon dated to around 4,700 years ago.[citation needed] Archaeological remains of early maize ears, found at Guila Naquitz Cave in the Oaxaca Valley, date back roughly 6,250 years; the oldest ears from caves near Tehuacan, Puebla, date ca. 2750 BC. Little change occurred in ear form until ca. 1100 BC when great changes appeared in ears from Mexican caves: maize diversity rapidly increased and archaeological teosinte was first deposited.
Perhaps as early as 1500 BC, maize began to spread widely and rapidly. As it was introduced to new cultures, new uses were developed and new varieties selected to better serve in those preparations. Maize was the staple food, or a major staple (along with squash, Andean region potato, quinoa, beans, and amaranth), of most pre-Columbian North American, Mesoamerican, South American, and Caribbean cultures. The Mesoamerican civilization was strengthened upon the field crop of maize; through harvesting it, its religious and spiritual importance and how it impacted their diet. Maize formed the Mesoamerican people's identity. During the 1st millennium AD, maize cultivation spread from Mexico into the U.S. Southwest and during the following millennium into the U.S. Northeast and southeastern Canada, transforming the landscape as Native Americans cleared large forest and grassland areas for the new crop
Maize was planted by the Native Americans in hills, in a complex system known to some as the Three Sisters. Maize provided support for beans, and the beans provided nitrogen derived from nitrogen-fixing rhizobia bacteria which live on the roots of beans and other legumes; and squashes provided ground cover to stop weeds and inhibit evaporation by providing shade over the soil.[30] This method was replaced by single species hill planting where each hill 60–120 cm (2.0–3.9 ft) apart was planted with three or four seeds, a method still used by home gardeners. A later technique was "checked maize", where hills were placed 40 inches (1.0 metre) apart in each direction, allowing cultivators to run through the field in two directions. In more arid lands, this was altered and seeds were planted in the bottom of 10–12 cm (3.9–4.7 in) deep furrows to collect water. Modern technique plants maize in rows which allows for cultivation while the plant is young, although the hill technique is still used in the maize fields of some Native American
Masa (cornmeal treated with lime water) is the main ingredient for tortillas, atole and many other dishes of Mexican food.
Popcorn consists of kernels of certain varieties that explode when heated, forming fluffy pieces that are eaten as a snack. Roasted dried maize cobs with semihardened kernels, coated with a seasoning mixture of fried chopped spring onions with salt added to the oil, is a popular snack food in Vietnam. Cancha, which are roasted maize chulpe kernels, are a very popular snack food in Peru, and also appears in traditional Peruvian ceviche. An unleavened bread called makki di roti is a popular bread eaten in the Punjab region of India and Pakistan.
Chicha and chicha morada (purple chicha) are drinks typically made from particular types of maize. The first one is fermented and alcoholic, the second is a soft drink commonly drunk in Peru. Corn flakes are a common breakfast cereal in North America and the United Kingdom, and found in many other countries all over the world.
Maize can also be prepared as hominy, in which the kernels are soaked with lye in a process called nixtamalization; or grits, which are coarsely ground hominy. These are commonly eaten in the Southeastern United States, foods handed down from Native Americans, who called the dish sagamite.
The Brazilian dessert canjica is made by boiling maize kernels in sweetened milk. Maize can also be harvested and consumed in the unripe state, when the kernels are fully grown but still soft. Unripe maize must usually be cooked to become palatable; this may be done by simply boiling or roasting the whole ears and eating the kernels right off the cob. Sweet corn, a genetic variety that is high in sugars and low in starch, is usually consumed in the unripe state. Such corn on the cob is a common dish in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Cyprus, some parts of South America, and the Balkans, but virtually unheard of in some European countries. Corn on the cob was hawked on the streets of early 19th-century New York City by poor, barefoot "Hot Corn Girls", who were thus the precursors of hot dog carts, churro wagons, and fruit stands seen on the streets of big cities today.[40] The cooked, unripe kernels may also be shaved off the cob and served as a vegetable in side dishes, salads, garnishes, etc. Alternatively, the raw unripe kernels may also be grated off the cobs and processed into a variety of cooked dishes, such as maize purée, tamales, pamonhas, curau, cakes, ice creams, etc.
Maize is a major source of starch. Cornstarch (maize flour) is a major ingredient in home cooking and in many industrialized food products. Maize is also a major source of cooking oil (corn oil) and of maize gluten. Maize starch can be hydrolyzed and enzymatically treated to produce syrups, particularly high fructose corn syrup, a sweetener; and also fermented and distilled to produce grain alcohol. Grain alcohol from maize is traditionally the source of Bourbon whiskey. Maize is sometimes used as the starch source for beer. Within the United States, the usage of maize for human consumption constitutes about 1/40th of the amount of grown in the country. In the United States and Canada, maize is mostly grown to feed for livestock, as forage, silage (made by fermentation of chopped green cornstalks), or grain. Maize meal is also a significant ingredient of some commercial animal food products, such as dog food.
Maize is also used as a fish bait, called "dough balls". It is particularly popular in Europe for coarse fishing.
Some forms of the plant are occasionally grown for ornamental use in the garden. For this purpose, variegated and colored leaf forms as well as those with colorful ears are used. Size-superlative types, reaching 40 ft (12 m) tall, cobs 2 ft (61 cm) long, or 1 in (2.5 cm) kernels, have been popular for at least a century.[4][46][47] Corncobs can be hollowed out and treated to make inexpensive smoking pipes, first manufactured in the United States in 1869.
An unusual use for maize is to create a "corn maze" (or "maize maze") as a tourist attraction. The idea of a maize maze was introduced by Adrian Fisher, one of the most prolific designers of modern mazes, with The American Maze Company who created a maze in Pennsylvania in 1993.
Traditional mazes are most commonly grown using yew hedges, but these take several years to mature. The rapid growth of a field of maize allows a maze to be laid out using GPS at the start of a growing season and for the maize to grow tall enough to obstruct a visitor's line of sight by the start of the summer. In Canada and the U.S., these are popular in many farming communities.
Maize kernels can be used in place of sand in a sandboxlike enclosure for children's play.[48]
Additionally, feed corn is sometimes used by hunters to bait animals such as deer or wild hogs.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

THIS is IT: Death, the Nepantla Way

""


I am a nepantlera. I know I am.

But I have been in denial about it for years. I had read about it in Gloria Anzaldua’s book, Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza and I had a intimate friendship with Anzaldua, but I never realized until much later that is why she loved me. Nepantleras live different because we know death intimately. Randy Conner, a close friend of Gloria’s used to say that he had to be careful because if he told Gloria it was dangerous, then she would go there! My denial must have been from all that pressure to be agringada. All that training to be an All American girl kept me from knowing myself. But they could never wipe the neon nopal off my forehead.

Maybe my turning Big Fifty is the reason I am so intensely into Death this year . Or could it be the dirty little secrets that are now being revealed about our environment like the pinche BP Oil Spill y Coal Ash Spills? Or is it that iceberg melting in Greenland that has an effect on me? Is it my society’s self disgust of our bodies? Or is it that people are killing themselves and others in numbers like gay teen suicides? Do I need to mention the continuous worldwide class and racial wars ? The polite masks have been removed and the racist faces and words coming out are retefeo y sin verguenza. “We have a Black president and too many Mexicans! ”, the Haters just come out and say it. There is so many big chingazos that we haven’t had the chance to exhale. The grief is too much too much. Makes me wanna give up and holler they way they do my life like a heartbroken Marvin Gaye said in his song. The internet has me planetary connected to Death now more than ever. What is worse is that some of us like to see realistic killings on Television. Those of us who are connected to the earth know there are no more signs of the times. These are the days the Elders warned us about. Ya se cabo el pedo. These days are dangerous times. We can’t pretend anymore. THIS is IT.

This summer after spending the day digging for Arkansas crystals with my godchild Niko, we stopped in Hot Springs to fill our containers with the sacred water . I said to him, “Baby, this is some of the cleanest water you will find on the planet. Let’s say our prayers. There may not be good water like this for very long and one day you will remember this day, Baby. And be careful the water is hot.” I watch his brown little hands on the jug saying his prayers looking all serious and being careful not to get burned by the hot water. Right then, I wanted to burst out in tears opon feeling like the next generations ahead will get to taste and know sweet water .

The truth is our planet is dying. And its breaking my heart. Yeah, you may say Earth is not dying and that we humans and other species will die but the earth will still be here. This isn’t about whether we survive or not. It’s about how we respond to our emotionally as humans who have been industrialized. Our industrial culture has taught us to fear death. Nepantleras would say that we are all being awakened. Nepantleras say we must be mas daring and embrace vulnerability. We know those that refuse to be awakened will keep on feeding who and what controls them. This is what the Industrial does to the Indigeneous.

We assimilate. We forget. We go numb. We go for chemical lobotomies via illicit drugs or legal pharmaceuticals. It’s easier to get a drug than a hug. We go back to work a week after death or birth. We go into a Coyolxauhqui state. And just like Coyolxauhqui, the Aztec goddess whose body was dismembered, we are torn apart from parts of ourselves. Nip tuck here and there. Our lives follow the script we used to deal with when the sexual abuse, incest and rape happened to us. We compartmentalize. We check out and stare at the ceiling light and will do anything to leave our bodies. And we stay there and exist. Some of us never move out of here. Y lo… we try and build community with our social anxiety! Intimacy has become terrifying. Social networks and the internet falsely numbs our loneliness like porno and candy. This is surely a death. Some of us never really get to know the healing that happens in a Coatlicue state. Few of us know Coatlicue, the goddess. Goddess of las Hijas de la Chingada… She terrifies us.

The Coatlicue state is the journey and initiation of Nepantleras. It can be a choice or it can be forced by the universe/creator. The Coatlicue state is labor before a baby is born. Its getting bit by a snake and transmuting the poison. Its recognizing and daring to revisit old wounds and space we occupy in that state is the healing. We avoid opportunities to heal old hurts and wounds. Healing is found when we touch our tenderness. As my friend, Tufara from Arkansas says, “Sometimes healing is ugly. We have to lance the thang. And it gets stanky!”. This is what we no longer know. This is what is what is lost about how to heal ourselves.
Most of us left behind are too young to be elders yet. And as each elder crosses over, we lose ourselves, lose our healing ways. We don’t even know how to breathe. We never fully inhale.. never completely exhale. All that we know now is to take our grief into our dungeons of silence and isolation. We hide. We settle. We are in a state of shock. Death is experiencing all the things we don’t want to feel like getting older, getting sick, or being broke. Death is disappointment. Death is any BYE BYE ADIOS.

If it is true and these are the days the elders warned us about and you are unprepared-here is the shortcut-Tell the truth. The preparation and the test are the same. That truth may be that you are secretly homophobic and have a lot of ugly feelings about LGBT people. Tell the truth and work on it. Work on it? See? We don’t even know what that looks like……I always say if you cant get over then you have to go thru it. Set it up. Go where you don’t want to go. Its time to freak out. This is the good red road to Nepantla

Go where its retefeo. Go where good girls don’t go. What you can’t face will find you anyway. Be daring. Dare to reclaim your power. Not power over, but claim power within and power with. Let go and feel ALL the hopelessness.

Nepantla is not just being in the middle of two worlds. Its about walking in balance. Joy and Grief are equally available. It about being present and awake. You are not here but everywhere. You are connected far better than any internet to information and intelligent creativity than you think. Nepantleras are always wanna be starting something. They pass the limits. They cross the borders. We are beautiful but how much more we could be without the ball and chains shackled to our ankles? How much more would we create and solve the issues of the planet? Who would I be and what could we do without all this hurt, doubt and hopelessness? It starts with me and ends with we. Its how we love in the little things.

My comadre and I prepare my godchild, Niko, for the death of his abuelita. We tell him she doesn’t have much time left here. I tell him he needs to say what he needs to say and spend as much time as he can with her. He says she is always sleeping more now. We tell him she is very sick. I said, “Baby she can still hear you. Light your candle. Say your prayers for her. And let me or mama hold you if you feel like crying.”
We can still talk to our dead and in some ways it’s easier when they are dead. They arent as full of angst as when they were alive. For years, I was afraid I was gonna hear voices from the dead. And I told my teacher that I ever started to hear voices and channel spirits that I was gonna shit in my pants and pack my bags and run to New Mexico to be with her. She told me I better pack up bags. And she was right. But it wasn’t like I expected it.

When my Tia Lena, the Jehovah Witness homophobe died, as I was lighting a white candle for her on my altar, I heard her. But it wasn’t with sound. She was upset she was dead and mad that I was the only one that could hear her. Here it was the first woman I fell in love with and oh how I loved her. She loved me too. But homophobia was why we stayed away for years. Who would have thought it would happen like that with my Tia? I love the tricks Creator plays on me.

You don’t have to wait for Dia de los Muertos to do this. Build you altar. Talk to your dead. Defy the military industrial complex society. Love yourself and take the time. We need to tell our stories. Death isn’t in our mind. The story of our life is written in our heart and bodies. Its in our gut. We can stop saying goodbye intellectually. Feel the stories in our body. Hear the story of each person. This is how we did it when we used to get together with our village people after supper. And we make things sacred whenever we say the names of all our beloved. Im tugging on your spirit. It’s as simple as that.

Walk fire.

Get to know death not just as a body dying but death as hopelessness. Death as drug addiction and divorce. Death as a foreclosure and bankruptcy. Death as depression, diabetes, cancer, AIDS and fibromyalgia. Being awake unnerves us being genuine means moco flowing y our knees shaking. Death softens us up wakes us up. We open ourselves and let ourselves be touched.

Only then as you step out of isolation and risk humiliation and betrayal, you will then know Nepantla. Nepantla is the space you arrive after you hold space for ourselves and others just like we do when we do Dia de los Muertos. Can we walk fire together and tell truth? And can we gather together and grieve the death of the sacred tree? Nepantleras know we have a sacred contract with that requires the utmost committement to authenticity. Or as we say,” Keeping it 100” or as the Cholas say, “ FOR THE REAL”. And then we must ask ourselves this question: To what do we commit ourselves? That is the core of how to build community sacredly. Nepantleras are the link to the sacred world.

One hot Texas day while I stopped at a long red light at a busy intersection, I suddenly noticed an energy change and my body sensed something wrong with the people in the streets. My mind was confused but my body and my eyes scanned around. Mind syncs up and I turn to the left of me because now I see people running to that direction. All energy suddenly is focused to that left corner. As the light changes, my heart softens and I am touched. A little poodle like dog had been hit by a car and everyone in that moment were all sending their best love and light to that dog. Tears well up in me as I drive off. And I am touched and reminded again of the true nature of humans is goodness. Death awakens me.

If what stands before me is death and my planet and all its ugly, then let it wake me up more to life. Let me break out of the shackles of Mental Slavery. Y you?

Firewalk with me.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Suffering Too Insignificant for the Majority to See

By Alice Walker


In this groundbreaking talk to participants at the first-ever African-American Buddhist retreat, Alice Walker describes the great toll, both personal and societal, of racism in America, and how Buddhism has helped her heal its wounds.


This was not an area of large plantations, since the land is hilly with some bottoms of rich soil. Whites usually had small or medium-sized farms with slaves, but one pervasive thread of “southern life” ran through Leake County history. White masters raped black slave women who bore their children. The treatment of these children varied, and sometimes they were accepted or acknowledged as relatives of the white families.
And other perversity was always looming. Percy Sanders, a descendent of an early black family in the area, recalled hearing as a child about George Slaughter, a white farmer’s son by a black woman, who came to a horrible death because he “didn’t keep his place.” Ambushed by white men, including his own father, he was shot while riding his horse because the saddle horse was “too fine.” The story goes that when he was found, “the horse was drinking his blood.”
—From Mississippi Harmony: Memoirs of a Freedom Fighter, by Winson Hudson and Constance Curry

When I went to live in Mississippi in the sixties and to work in the Civil Rights movement, whose aim was to emancipate and empower African Americans who were still, thousands of them, treated as badly as and sometimes worse than slaves, I met Winson Hudson. She was trying to write the story of her life. I helped her, until I left Mississippi to live in New England. We sat under a tree and I wrote what she dictated. Today her story has become a book.

I begin with this harrowing quote simply to ground us all in the reality of being African Americans, African Indians, African Amerindians. We are that mixture of peoples, brought together very often and for centuries in the most intense racial confusion, hatred, and violence. This horrible story, which has haunted me since I read it, is typical of the kind of psychic assault we endure, while it is exactly the kind of assault today’s white majority takes no notice of, just as it took no notice one and two and three hundred years ago. This story, so chilling—The horse was drinking his blood? His own father was one of the assassins? His crime was that his horse was too “fine”?—unfortunately is one in a storehouse of such stories those of us present might hear or expect to hear, on any given day of our lives. What do we do with the shock? What do we do with the anger? The rage? What do we do with the pain?

When I read this story recently I was sitting in a federal courthouse, preparing to do jury duty. I felt ill immediately. But not as ill as I would feel an hour later upon entering the courtroom, when I was confronted with the fact that three young men of color, one Asian, two Latino, were to be tried for the murder of a policeman, whom they allegedly killed when he interrupted their burglary of a steak house. One glance at the accused trio revealed the faces of malnourished youths, barely out of their teens. The choice before the jury would be life imprisonment without parole or the death penalty. The judge, white and middle-class, well-fed and well-educated, seemed prepared to impose either choice.

Here were the contemporary brothers of George Slaughter.



My first version of this talk began with a poem by Basho:

Sitting quietly
Doing nothing
Spring comes
And the grass
Grows
By itself.

I was thinking of how I found my way from the backwoods of Georgia as a young woman into the company of the finest poets. It was a route of unbelievable, serious magic. When I was a child my family had no money to buy books, though all of us loved to read. Because I was injured as a child and blinded in one eye, the state gave me a stipend that meant I could buy all the books I wanted. When I went north to college, my first stop after settling in my room was the bookstore, where I entered a state of ecstasy seeing before me all the books of poetry I was hungering to read. It was there in the Sarah Lawrence College bookstore that I encountered Basho and Buson and Issa, Japanese Buddhist haiku poets who had lived centuries before. And also a book called Zen Telegrams by Paul Reps. We connected on the profound level of Nature. That is to say, in these poets I discovered a kindred sensibility that respected Nature itself as profound, magical, creative, and intelligent. There was no hint, as there is in other poetry, that simply because humans are able to write about Nature, they are somehow, therefore, superior to it.

So this is the way I was going to start the talk. But then I thought: it is more honest to start with the harder, more collective stuff. The stuff that makes addicts and slaves of Africans a hundred and fifty years after the Emancipation Proclamation. For I knew while sitting in that courtroom, having read the story of George Slaughter and acknowledging the young men before me as today’s version of him, that the pain I was feeling is the same pain that sends our people reeling into streets and alleys looking for a “fix” to fix all that is wrong with this gruesome picture. It is the pain that undermines our every attempt to relieve ourselves of external and internalized white domination. The pain that murders our every wish to be free. It is a pain that seems unrelenting. A pain that seems to have no stopping and no end. A pain that is ultimately, insidiously, turning a generous, life-loving people into a people who no longer feel empathy for the world. We need only listen to some of our African American comedians to see that our traditional compassion for life has turned into the most egregious cynicism.

We are being consumed by our suffering.

We are a people who have always loved life and loved the earth. We have noticed earth. How responsive and alive it is. We have appreciated it. We have been a nation of creators and farmers who adored the earth even when we were not permitted to own any part of it larger than our graves. And then only until a highway needed to be built or a condominium constructed on top of them.

I remember distinctly the joy I witnessed on the faces of my parents and grandparents as they savored the sweet odor of spring soil or the fresh liveliness of wind.

This compassionate, generous, life-affirming nature of ours, that can be heard in so much of our music, is our buddhanature. It is how we innately are. It is too precious to lose, even to disappointment and grief.

Looking about at the wreck and ruin of America, which all our forced, unpaid labor over five centuries was unable to avert, we cannot help wanting our people, who have suffered so grievously and held the faith so long, to at last experience lives of freedom, lives of joy. And so those of us chosen by life to blaze different trails than the ones forced on our ancestors have explored the known universe in search of that which brings the most peace, self-acceptance, and liberation. We have found much to inspire us in Nature. In the sheer persistence and wonder of Creation Itself. In Indigenous wisdom. In the popular struggles for liberation around the world, notably in Cuba, where the people demonstrate a generosity of spirit and an understanding and love of humankind that, given their isolation and oppression by our country, is almost incomprehensible. We have been strengthened by the inevitable rise of the Feminine, brought forward so brilliantly by women’s insistence in our own time. And of course by our own African American struggle for dignity and freedom, which has inspired the world. In addition, many of us have discovered in the teachings of the Buddha wise, true, beautiful guidance on the treacherous path life and history set us upon.



Having said this, let me emphasize that I did not come to the study and practice of Buddhism to become a Buddhist. In fact, I am not a Buddhist. And the Buddha would not have minded this in the least. He would have been happy to hear it. He was not, himself, a Buddhist. He was the thing Itself: an enlightened being. Just as Jesus Christ was not a Christian, but a Christ, an enlightened being.

The challenge for me is not to be a follower of Something but to embody it; I am willing to try for that. This is how I understand the meaning of both the Christ and the Buddha. When the Buddha, dying, entreated his followers to “be a lamp unto your self,” I understood he was willing to free his followers even from his own teachings. He had done all he could do, taught them everything he had learned. Now, their own enlightenment was up to them. He was also warning them not to claim him as the sole route to their salvation, thereby robbing themselves of responsibility for their own choices, behavior, and lives.

I came to meditation after a particularly painful divorce. Painful because I never ceased to care for the man I divorced. I married him because he was one of the best people I’d ever encountered. However, life had other plans for us both. I left my home, as the Buddha left his two thousand and five hundred years ago, to see if I could discover how I at least could be happy. If I could be happy in a land where torture of my kind was commonplace, then perhaps there was a general happiness to be found.

The person who taught me Transcendental Meditation was teaching out of the Hindu tradition and never mentioned the Buddha, the Four Noble Truths (about the fact of human suffering, its causes, and the necessity to engage, endure, and transform it) or the Eightfold Path, which provides a guide to moral, conscious living. What she did teach me was the deeper value of sitting quietly. Doing nothing. Breathing. This took me back to childhood days when I did this without thinking. Days when I was aware I was not separate from the cosmos. Days when I was happy. This was actually a place where poets, time out of mind, have frequently lived. No wonder I felt at home there.

And so I laughed. The laughter bubbled up, irrepressible. I saw the path to happiness and to liberation at a glance. It was inside myself.

Now I understand that all great teachers love us. This is essentially what makes them great. I also understand that it is this love that never dies, and that, having once experienced it, we have the confidence always exhibited by well-loved humans, to continue extending this same love. The Buddha, presumably raised as a Hindu, was no doubt disheartened by its racism; i.e., the caste system that today blights the lives of one hundred and sixty million Indians. Indians who were once called “untouchables” and now call themselves Dalits, “those broken to pieces.” They are not allowed to own land. They cannot enter the same doors, attend the schools, or drink from the same wells as the so-called “higher” castes. Their shadow must never fall on those above them. They are brutalized and the women raped at will. Niggers of India, they are.

Traditionally it is taught that the Buddha discovered someone old, someone sick, and someone dying, after having lived a very sheltered life, and that because of this suffering, inherent to all humankind, he struck out into the world to find a remedy. There’s no mention, usually, of the horrible caste system, everywhere in place in his area, which I personally find impossible to imagine the Buddha ignoring.

I like to think of the young prince, Siddhartha, observing this hypocrisy of his native religion, perhaps touching or loving an “untouchable,” and deciding there had to be a better way. A higher truth. I like to think of him leaving his cushy home and delightful family, his loving wife and adorable son, and striking out into the wilderness. Searching for a way humans could rid themselves of the hideous affliction of spirit that forced division and degradation of part of the human family imposes.

Which is to say, I felt the Buddha’s spirit long before I began to study his words. I felt him not as a god or as the son of a god but as a human being who looked around, as any of us might do, and said to himself: Something here is very wrong. People are such beautiful and wondrous creations, why are they being tortured? What have they done that this should be so? How can there be an end to their suffering?

The Buddha sat down.

Most of the representations of the Buddha show him sitting down. Sometimes he is lying down. Sometimes he is walking, though this is rare. Sometimes he is shown leaping to his feet and flinging up his arms in joy. Anyone who meditates recognizes these states. First, the sitting. The concentration on the breath. Sometimes the lying down, feeling our connection to the Mother, the great support of Earth. There is the walking, which integrates our bodies with our mind state. Then there is the feeling of exuberance when we realize we have freed ourselves. Again.

How does this happen?

I imagine there are people who turn to the Buddha because they’ve lost a lot of money. My experience, however, is that almost everyone I’ve met who has turned to the Buddha did so because they have suffered the end of a love affair. They have lost someone they loved. Perhaps they have lost a country, as well, or parents or siblings or some function of their bodies. But very often, people turn to the Buddha because they have been carried so deeply into their suffering by the loss of a loved one that without major help they fear they will never recover. (I actually love this about Buddhists: that though their reputation is all about suffering and meditating and being a bit low-key sexually and spiritually languid, they are in fact a band of hopeful lovers who risk their hearts in places a Methodist would rarely dare to tread.)

This is what happened to me. I had lost my own beloved. The pain of this experience seemed bottomless and endless. Enter my teacher for that moment of my life, the Buddhist nun Pema Chödrön and her teachings on a set of tapes called “Awakening Compassion.” Under her guidance, far in the country away from everyone, on my own retreat of one, I learned an ancient Tibetan Buddhist meditation practice called tonglen, along with the teachings that accompanied it, called lojong. This involved, during meditation, learning to breathe in the pain I was feeling, not to attempt to avoid or flee it. It involved making my heart bigger and bigger just to be able to hold it all. It involved breathing out relief and happiness for myself and for everyone on Earth who was feeling as miserable as I was. I stayed at this practice for a year.

It worked. So that today I sometimes wonder what my suffering over the loss of a loved one was really about. I have almost concluded that it was the love of the Buddha reaching through two thousand and five hundred years wanting me to understand that I had some control over how much suffering I endure. Wanting me to try a remedy he had found and to see for myself whether it works.

My novel The Color Purple was actually my Buddha novel without Buddhism. In the face of unbearable suffering following the assassinations and betrayals of the Civil Rights movement, I too sat down upon the Earth and asked its permission to posit a different way from that in which I was raised. Just as the Buddha did, when Mara, the king of delusion, asked what gave him the right to think he could direct humankind away from the suffering they had always endured. When Mara queried him, the Buddha touched the Earth. This is the single most important act, to my mind, of the Buddha. Because it acknowledges where he came from. It is a humble recognition of his true heritage, his true lineage. Though Buddhist monks would spend millennia pretending all wisdom evolves from the masculine and would consequently treat Buddhist nuns abominably, the Buddha clearly placed himself in the lap of the Earth Mother and affirmed Her wisdom and Her support.

It has been enormously helpful to me to learn that the Buddha’s wife and son eventually joined him in the wilderness and that she became both a follower and a teacher. There was love between them. How I wish we had a record of her thoughts. The male effort to separate Wisdom from the realm of the Feminine is not only brutal and unattractive but it will always fail, though this may take, as with Buddhism, thousands of years. This is simply because the Feminine is Wisdom; it is also the Soul. Since each and every person is born with an internal as well as an eternal Feminine, just as everyone is born with an internal and eternal Masculine, this is not a problem except for those who insist on forcing humans into gender roles, which makes it easier for them to be controlled.

Sometimes, as African Americans, African Indians, African Amerindians, people of color, it appears we are being removed from the planet. Fascism and Nazism, visibly on the rise in the world, have always been our experience of white supremacy in America, and this has barely let up. Plagues such as AIDS seem incredibly convenient for the forces that have enslaved and abused us over the centuries and who today are as blatant in their attempts to seize our native homelands and their resources as Columbus was five hundred years ago. Following the suffering and exhilaration of the sixties, a pharmacopia of drugs suddenly appeared just as we were becoming used to enjoying our own minds. “Citizen Television,” which keeps relentless watch over each and every home, claims the uniqueness and individuality of the majority of our children from birth. After the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Che Guevara, and so many other defenders of humanity, known and unknown, around the globe, we find ourselves with an unelected president who came to office by disenfranchising black voters, just as was done, routinely, before Martin Luther King, Jr., and the rest of us were born. This is a major suffering for black people and must not be overlooked. I myself, on realizing what had happened, felt a soul sickness I had not experienced in decades. Those who wanted power beyond anything else—oil and the money to be made from oil (which is the Earth Mother’s blood)—were contemptuous of the sacrifices generations of our ancestors made. The suffering of our people, especially of our children, with their bright, hopeful eyes, is of no significance to them. George Slaughter—the surname would have been his master/father’s, and deadly accurate —was not killed, we intuit, because his “saddle horse was too fine”; he was killed because he was too fine.

This is the bind we are in.

There is a private riddle I ask myself: Why did Europeans enslave us in Africa and take us to the United States?

The answer: Because we would not go voluntarily.

The African Americans who are aiding and abetting the rape and pillage of Earth, helping literally to direct the bombs that fall on the innocent and the exquisite, are still another cause of our suffering. We look into their eyes and experience a great fright. They appear so familiar, and yet, somehow, we feel they are not. I do not call their names because essentially they are, as we are, energies. They are familiar because they have been around just as long as we have. It is also necessary to acknowledge that some of those energies we find so frightening exist within ourselves.

This poem, which I think of as one of my “bitter” poems, expresses something of their position, when they can bear to acknowledge it, throughout the long centuries:

They Helped Their Own

They helped their own
They did not
Help us

We helped
Them
Help
Themselves

Beggars
That
We are.

Underneath what is sometimes glibly labeled racism or sexism or caste-ism, there lurk covetousness, envy, and greed. All these human states can, through practice, be worked with and transformed. This is the good news for our oppressors, as it is for humans generally, since we all have these qualities to a degree. The equally good news for us is that we can turn our attention away from our oppressors—unless they are directly endangering us to our faces—and work on the issue of our suffering without attaching them to it. The teaching that supports that idea is this:

Suppose someone shot you with an arrow, right in the heart. Would you spend your time screaming at the archer, or even trying to locate him? Or would you try to pull the arrow out of your heart? White racism, that is to say, envy, covetousness, and greed (incredible sloth and laziness in the case of enslaving others to work for you), is the arrow that has pierced our collective heart. For centuries we have tried to get the white archer even to notice where his arrow has landed; to connect himself, even for a moment, to what he has done. Maybe even to consider apologizing, which he hates to do. To make reparations, which he considers absurd.

This teaching says: enough. Screaming at the archer is a sure way to remain attached to your suffering rather than easing or eliminating it. A better way is to learn, through meditation, through study and practice, a way to free yourself from the pain of being shot, no matter who the archer might be.

There is also the incredibly useful assurance that everything is change. Everything is impermanent. The country, the laws, the Fascists and Nazis, the archer and the arrow. Our lives and their lives. Life. Looking about at the wreckage, it is clear to all that in enslaving us, torturing us, trying to get “ahead” on the basis of our misery, our oppressors in the past had no idea at all what they were doing. They still don’t. As we practice, let this thought deeply root. From this perspective, our compassion for their ignorance seems the only just tribute to our survival.

Who or What knows what is really going on around here, anyway? Only the Tao, or Life or Creation or That Which Is Beyond Human Expression.

Sitting quietly.

This place of peace, of serenity and gratitude, does exist. It is available to all. In a way, this place of quiet and peacefulness could be said to be our shadow. Our deserved shadow. Our African Amerindian shadow. In European thought the shadow is rarely understood as positive, because it is dark, because it is frequently behind us, because we cannot see it; but for us, ultrasensitive to the blinding glare of racism and suffering daily the searing effects of incomprehensible behavior, our shadow of peace, that we so rarely see, can be thought of as welcoming shade, the shade of an internal tree. A tree that grows beside an internal river that bathes us in peace. Meditation is the path that leads to this internal glade. To share that certainty is the greatest privilege and joy.

I am grateful for the opportunity to join you in this first-ever African American Buddhist retreat in North America. Though not a Buddhist, I have found a support in the teachings of the Buddha that is beyond measure, as I have found comfort and support also in those teachings I have received from Ancient Africans and Indigenous people of my native continent and from the Earth itself. The teacher who has been most helpful to me, in addition to Pema Chödrön, is Jack Kornfield, an extraordinary guide and human being, whose books and tapes, among them A Path with Heart, After the Ecstasy the Laundry, and The Roots of Buddhist Psychology, I would recommend to anyone who seeks a better understanding of the enspirited life. Sharon Salzberg’s book Loving-Kindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness has been an incomparable gift. In a book called Knee Deep in Grace, I discovered the teachings of the Indian female yogi, householder, and mother Dipa Ma. Her instructions and observations seem endlessly potent.

I am deeply grateful to all the teachers who came before these four that I have mentioned. Teachers from Vietnam (Thich Nhat Hahn has been a beloved teacher), Thailand, Burma, India, China, and especially Tibet. I thank the Dalai Lama for allowing himself to be a symbol of good in a world that seems, at times, hopelessly tilted toward evil. I thank Martin Luther King, Jr., for the warm, brotherly touch of his hand when I was young and seeking a way to live, with dignity, in my native land in the South, and for the sound of his voice, which was so full of our experience. I thank him for loving us. If he had been able to live and teach, as the Buddha did, until the age of eighty, how different our world would be. It is such a gift to have his books and recordings of his words, and to be able to understand his death as a teaching on both the preciousness of human existence and impermanence.

And, as always, I thank the ancestors, those who have gone on and those who are always arriving. It is because our global spiritual ancestors have loved us very dearly that we today sit together practicing ways to embody peace and create a better world. I feel personally ever-bathed in that love.

Let us sit for ten minutes.

Let us bring our attention to the life of our young brother, our murdered ancestor, George Slaughter. We know he was a beautiful young man, and that it was this beauty and his freedom expressing it that caused his father, himself unfree, to seek his death. We can see George sitting on his stunning saddle horse. We do not know if his half-sister, white, confused by her liking for her darker brother, gave it to him. We do not know if his mother, dark and irresistible, as so many black women are, gave it to him. We do not know if he bought it himself. All we know is that he is sitting there, happy. And the horse, too, is happy.

George Slaughter, an English name. We might think of Bob Marley, half-English, with his English name; perhaps George had a similar spirit. A kindred look and attitude.

May you be free
May you be happy
May you be at peace
May you be at rest
May you know we remember you

Let us bring our attention to George’s mother. She who came, weeping, and picked up the shattered pieces of her child, as black mothers have done for so long.

May you be free
May you be happy
May you be at peace
May you be at rest
May you know we remember you

Let us bring our attention to George’s father. He who trails the murder of his lovely boy throughout what remains of time.

May you be free
May you be happy
May you be at peace
May you be at rest
May you know we remember you

Let us bring our attention to those who rode with the father, whose silence and whose violence caused so much suffering that continues in the world today.

May you be free
May you be happy
May you be at peace
May you be at rest
May you know we remember you

And now let us bring our attention to George’s horse. With its big dark eyes. Who drank George’s blood in grief after the horror of his companion’s bitter death. We know by now that the other animals on the planet watch us and know us and sometimes love us. How they express that love is often mysterious.

May you be free
May you be happy
May you be at peace
May you be at rest
May you know we remember you

I cherish the study and practice of Buddhism because it is good medicine for healing us so that we may engage the work of healing our ancestors.

Both George and his father are our ancestors. What heals ancestors is understanding them. And understanding as well that it is not in heaven or in hell that the ancestors are healed. They can only be healed inside us. Buddhist practice, sent by ancestors we didn’t even know we had, has arrived, as all things do, just in time.



This is not a time to live without a practice. It is a time when all of us will need the most faithful, self-generated enthusiasm (enthusiasm: to be filled with god) in order to survive in human fashion. Whether we reach this inner state of recognized divinity through prayer, meditation, dancing, swimming, walking, feeding the hungry, or enriching the impoverished is immaterial. We will be doubly bereft without some form of practice that connects us, in a caring way, to what begins to feel like a dissolving world.


In addition to contemplating the Hopi message “Know your garden and where is your water,” we must also ask: What is my practice? What is steering this boat that is my fragile human life?
Take some time to contemplate what sort of practice appeals to you. If you are Christian, the words and actions of Jesus are excellent guides; especially the words and actions discovered during the past century in the Gnostic Gospels and the Nag Hammadi Scrolls. If you are an animist, there is all of Existence to be inspired by. Everything has life, everything has spirit! Perhaps singing in the choir of your church or trance dancing with friends is a connector to the All for you. Whatever it is, now is the time to look for it, to locate it, definitely, and to put it to use.

Excerpted from Alice Walker’s We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For: Inner Light in a Time of Darkness (The New Press, 2006). Reprinted by permission of The Wendy Weil Agency, Inc. © 2006 Alice Walker.












Alice Walker's poems, novels, and short stories deal with themes of violence, isolation, troubled relationships, multi-generational perspectives, sexisim and racism.

Suffering Too Insignificant for the Majority to See, Alice Walker, Shambhala Sun, May 2007.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Michael Jackson - Earth Song




"Earth Song"

What about sunrise
What about rain
What about all the things
That you said we were to gain...
What about killing fields
Is there a time
What about all the things
That you said was yours and mine...
Did you ever stop to notice
All the blood we've shed before
Did you ever stop to notice
The crying Earth the weeping shores?

Aaaaaaaaah Aaaaaaaaah
Aaaaaaaaah Aaaaaaaaah

What have we done to the world
Look what we've done
What about all the peace
That you pledge your only son...
What about flowering fields
Is there a time
What about all the dreams
That you said was yours and mine...
Did you ever stop to notice
All the children dead from war
Did you ever stop to notice
The crying Earth the weeping shores

Aaaaaaaaah Aaaaaaaaah
Aaaaaaaaah Aaaaaaaaah

I used to dream
I used to glance beyond the stars
Now I don't know where we are
Although I know we've drifted far

Aaaaaaaaah Aaaaaaaaah
Aaaaaaaaah Aaaaaaaaah
Aaaaaaaaah Aaaaaaaaah
Aaaaaaaaah Aaaaaaaaah

Hey, what about yesterday
(What about us)
What about the seas
(What about us)
The heavens are falling down
(What about us)
I can't even breathe
(What about us)
What about apathy
(What about us)
I need you
(What about us)
What about nature's worth
(ooo, ooo)
It's our planet's womb
(What about us)
What about animals
(What about it)
We've turned kingdoms to dust
(What about us)
What about elephants
(What about us)
Have we lost their trust
(What about us)
What about crying whales
(What about us)
We're ravaging the seas
(What about us)
What about forest trails
(ooo, ooo)
Burnt despite our pleas
(What about us)
What about the holy land
(What about it)
Torn apart by creed
(What about us)
What about the common man
(What about us)
Can't we set him free
(What about us)
What about children dying
(What about us)
Can't you hear them cry
(What about us)
Where did we go wrong
(ooo, ooo)
Someone tell me why
(What about us)
What about babies
(What about it)
What about the days
(What about us)
What about all their joy
(What about us)
What about the man
(What about us)
What about the crying man
(What about us)
What about Abraham
(What was us)
What about death again
(ooo, ooo)
Do we give a damn

Aaaaaaaaah Aaaaaaaaah



Im writing an article about death and wanted to find something that would invoke how heartbroken we are about our planet and the earth changes happening now.Death of a relationship divorce losing something or someone you love very much. After my divorce, there were so many days of absolute grief and wailing. Nothing had ever hurt me so much.I wasnt sure I was gonna make it. Yeah what about us? what about me?

What about all the dreams
That you said was yours and mine...

I have been trying to feel this hurt and this song is a good start. Thanks Micheal. It must of hurt you so much you had to leave us.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Whenever I Say Your Name



This is how I always feel about you... even if ......we have a sacred contract.


Whenever I say your name,
whenever I call to mind your face
Whatever bread's in my mouth,
whatever the sweetest wine that I taste
Whenever your memory feeds my soul,
whatever got broken becomes whole
Whenever I'm filled with doubts that we will be together

Wherever I lay me down,
wherever I put my head to sleep
Whenever I hurt and cry,
whenever I got to lie awake and weep
Whenever I kneel to pray,
whenever I need to find a way
I'm calling out your name

Whenever those dark clouds hide the moon
Whenever this world has gotten so strange
I know that something's gonna change
Something's gonna change

Whenever I say your name,
Whenever I say your name,
I'm already praying, I'm already praying
I'm already filled with a joy that I can't explain
Wherever I lay me down,
wherever I rest my weary head to sleep
Whenever I hurt and cry,
whenever I got to lie awake and weep
Whenever I'm on the floor
Whatever it was that I believed before
Whenever I say your name, whenever I say it loud, I'm already praying

Whenever this world has got me down,
whenever I shed a tear
Whenever the TV makes me mad,
whenever I'm paralyzed with fear
Whenever those dark clouds fill the sky,
whenever I lose the reason why
Whenever I'm filled with doubts that we will be together

Whenever the sun refuse to shine, whenever the skies are pouring rain
Whatever I lost I thought was mine whenever I close my eyes in pain
Whenever I kneel to pray, whenever I need to find a way
I'm calling out your name

Whenever this dark begins to fall
Whenever I'm vulnerable and small
Whenever I feel like I could die
Whenever I'm holding back the tears that I cry

Whenever I say your name,
whenever I call to mind your face,
I'm already praying
Whatever bread's in my mouth,
whatever the sweetest wine that I taste
Wherever I lay me down,
wherever I rest my weary head to sleep
Whenever I hurt and cry,
whenever I'm forced to lie awake and have to weep
Whenever I'm on the floor
Whatever it was that I believed before
Whenever I say your name, whenever I say it loud, I'm already praying

Whenever I say your name,
No matter how long it takes,
One day we'll be together

Whenever I say your name,
let there be no mistake
that day will last forever

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Stevie Wonder - Overjoyed




Ah Stevie Wonder...I thought this song would make me cry. I hadnt heard it in a long time. I used to listen to this in my early twenties and think of the person I longed to meet that I would finally call HOME. And how in love I would be and was already in love with long before we had met. There are some connections we have with another soul like that. In such moments if we are lucky to meet them in our lifetime, we connect in the 4th dimension where time and space are irrelevant unimportant ..time and space seem to stop linger slow and is in a ever present NOW.
If such a connection should change form or energy what should remain is a love that is deeper but is not about possession or ownership but more about freedom.
Now there are friends and then there are companeras.Companeras or Companions on the good red road as my teacher would say. And so today I find myself more in love and overjoyed .....

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Con Toda Palabra

It is so rare that I meet humans that live a full authentic expression of themselves. I am in awe and long to be in such peoples presence. They are like flowers in full bloom. A flower doesnt hold back its color or scent.It simply IS what IT IS and has no limits in its expression. Its not afraid to be what it is. Such is what this song speaks about. Con toda palabra means with all meaning and expression of THE WORD.



Con toda palabra
Con toda sonrisa
Con toda mirada
Con toda caricia

Me acerco al agua
Bebiendo tu beso
La luz de tu cara
La luz de tu cuerpo

Es ruego el quererte
Es canto de mudo
Mirada de ciego
Secreto desnudo

Me entrego a tus brazos
Con miedo y con calma
Y un ruego en la boca
Y un ruego en el alma

Con toda palabra
Con toda sonrisa
Con toda mirada
Con toda caricia

Me acerco al fuego
Que todo lo quema
La luz de tu cara
La luz de tu cuerpo

Es ruego el quererte
Es canto de mudo
Mirada de ciego
Secreto desnudo

Me entrego a tus brazos
Con miedo y con calma
Y un ruego en la boca
Y un ruego en el alma


Lhasa de Sela (September 27, 1972 – January 1, 2010), also known by the mononym Lhasa, was an American-born singer-songwriter who was raised in Mexico and the United States and divided her adult life between Canada and France.

Friday, April 23, 2010

WOMEN SEX ADDICTS

From http://www.sexualrecovery.com/resources/articles/women.php

Adapted from The National Council on Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity

A fine line exists between what may be considered by most people acceptable sexual behavior and what is sexually addictive or compulsive. This is especially true for women in a society such as ours where sex is often treated as a commodity. Our culture discourages women from being assertive and direct in the expression of their sexual needs, thereby encouraging a less direct and potentially seductive or manipulative style. Some women go beyond these culturally-sanctioned behaviors and use sex compulsively as a means of gaining power and love.

The idea of being "love addicted" may be preferred by sexually addicted women because it fits the romantic, nurturer model of woman, whereas the term "sex addict" connotes an image of a "nymphomaniac", "slut", or "whore". The "love" that these women describe is often an addiction to the yearning or euphoria of romance, but has little to do with love.

The elements of sex addiction in women are the same as in any addiction: compulsion, continuation despite adverse consequences, and preoccupation or obsession.

The following behaviors when taken to excess are suggestive of sex addiction in women:



1. Compulsion, or unsuccessful attempts to control a sexual behavior:

changing relationships to control sexual fantasy and/or activities
swearing off relationships, only to give in to the next "right" lover
breaking promises to self or others to stop abusive fantasy or sexual behaviors
switching to caretaking others, workaholism, overeating, or romance novels to take the place of a sexual relationship
2. Continued behavior despite negative consequences:

unplanned pregnancies, abortions, sexually transmitted diseases, or violence
terror or shame resulting from sexual activities
decreased productivity at work due to sexual behavior with self or others
relationship problems resulting from extramarital affairs or excessive time spent on sex-related activities
depression related to inability to change sexual patterns or their consequences
substance abuse or eating disorders to numb shame and other negative feelings related to sexual activities
3. Obsessive thoughts in planning or obtaining sex:

neglecting family, relationship, or career because of time spent preoccupied with sex or sexual partners
Some sexually addictive behavior patterns in women may include: excessive flirting, dancing, or personal grooming to be seductive; wearing provocative clothing whenever possible [a form of exhibitionism]; changing one's appearance via excessive dieting, excessive exercise, and/or reconstructive surgery to be seductive; exposing oneself in a window or car; making sexual advances to younger siblings, clients, or others in subordinate power positions; seeking sexual partners in high-risk locations; multiple extramarital affairs; disregard of appropriate sexual boundaries, e.g. considering a married man, one's boss, or one's personal physician as appropriate objects of romantic involvement; trading sex for drugs, help, affection, money, social access, or power; having sex with someone they just met at a party, bar or on the internet [forms of anonymous sex]; compulsive masturbation; and exchanging sex for pain or pain for sex. For most people, sexual relationships, fantasies, and activities are normal behavior, but for the sex addict, they cause problems.

Most sexually addicted women have not had parental role modeling for how to have emotional intimacy in nonsexual ways. Research has shown that there often is a combination of rigidity and lack of emotional support in the sex addict's family of origin. The majority of women sex addicts were sexually abused in childhood -- 78% in one study.

Women sex addicts may have long periods of inactivity in their sexual addiction. At such times, they may become sexually anorexic, the opposite end of the sexual dysfunction spectrum. During periods of sexual anorexia, they may become excessive in other areas, for example eating.

Many sexually addicted women have sought professional help for psychological problems, but their sexual compulsivity was never addressed. Therapists who understand sex addiction, believe the client's sexual history, and can help the client stop the behaviors and deal with the underlying feelings, are the most helpful. In addition, 12 step programs such as SLAA, Sex Addicts Anonymous (SAA), Sexual Recovery Anonymous (SRA) and Sexual Compulsives Anonymous (SCA) can help women manage periods of abstinence and can teach them how to integrate healthy sexual behavior into their lives.