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Book Excerpt: Tehuelche-Mapuche spirituality and my grandfather

17 Mar

The Tehuelche-Mapuche hold a reverence for Mother God, and they refer to her as Pacha Mama. My grandfather, as far as I know did not speak about his spiritual practices, and in fact, he was not a man of many words. However, due to my native roots, Mapuche spirituality, although I realize it is difficult to capture all the strands of their faith. My grandfather, I observed appeared to have a deep attachment to nature, and this was evidenced by the vegetable garden he tended. He also cultivated his own corn, as I recall. I learned later on that the word Mapuche relates to people of the land. According to the organization, Fundacion Chol-Chol based in Chile, “Mapuche spirituality often mixes Christian teachings with Mapuche mystical ideas. Women have fulfilled important roles in indigenous religious life and in passing on cultural identity.

Women serve as community spiritual leaders, called “Machis” if they are connected to the Gods of life are called “Kalkus” if connected to the Gods of death.” My grandfather’s mother was called Anastasia, and from reports I heard, she abhorred what she termed “luxuries.” She often criticized my Basque grandmother for some of her European tastes such as her love of fine china, crystal, and linens. Anastasia would balk at my grandmother’s refined way of setting a dinner table. My grandfather’s occupation for most of his life was that of a horseman of the pampas, or gaucho. He tamed horses, and moved cattle from one end of the country to the other. I grew to understand that among gauchos like my grandfather, were those gauchos, or ranch hands of African descent. Many of the personages that I grew up hearing about were Santos Vega, a legendary gaucho and a payador, or minstrel. Gabino Ezeiza was not mentioned in my family, but I researched him on my own to find he was a black payador, and a famous one who became nicknamed “Black Ezeiza.”
Images: Creative Commons


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1 Feb

How Parents Can Help Their Kids Get Excited About Genealogy

1 Dec

When I was interviewed by radio host, Bianca Tyler on Let’s Talk Mom! Radio I was asked the question
: so what are some hands on ways parents can teach their children the value of exploring their ancestry?

Parents can begin by cultivating a positive relationship with their own parents for the simple reason that grandparents can serve as a fountain of information about family history. It’s an activity most grandparents love to do. But parents can also assist kids explore their past by encouraging them to develop an inquiring mind. You might show your kids photos of family members from a previous generation and allow them to ask questions about the people in the photo. If you don’t have all the answers, you have found a perfect opportunity to do some research.

In exploring the past, make sure you include both sides of the family. Remember, each side has a history that’s important and has the potential to reveal a world of insight. Be objective. Too many families form the bad habit of deciding they don’t prefer certain relatives over others and that kind of attitude only shuts the door to valuable information.

For example, my mother, now deceased didn’t feel good about some of my father’s relatives, and as a result, we lost contact with them until later on in my life, I did some research and re-connected with them in Argentina, the place of parent’s birth. Further, I only had limited information about my father’s father, or my estranged grandfather. Only recently after doing research on the genealogy site of the Mormon Church did I learn about my great-great grandmother, Rita Uso. She had never been mentioned by my father, and I believe I’m the only member of my family that has the information as a result of researching Census records from 1869.

On the spiritual side, this information meant a great deal to me. My friend, Yoly Macias, a psychic medium that lives in El Paso has once told me the name of my spirit guide was “Rita.”

If parents want to research as far back as the 15th century or earlier, I highly recommend the Mormon genealogy site Using the site as a tool can be a great benefit to learning about and creating a family tree. Direct your children to gather information from their grandparents on both sides. Encourage your children, once they begin to do research to form connections with peers working on the same task. This has become easier to undertake with the advent of social media, and the interest many teachers have in presenting genealogy tools in the classroom.

Divine help

14 Sep

I enjoyed “getting into myself” outside the confines of traditional therapy, and I already came to understand my exploration of identity was more of a spiritual quest rather than a psychological problem. Here is an excerpt that details my experience in working with a soul energy healer:

Her words were often metaphorical and contained layers of meaning that pointed me in the direction where I might find healing for my soul. I wanted to know more about the process of
cleansing. She said she envisioned green and blue water flowing and she asked Mother Earth and the Creator to help us. “Divine help is needed in this process and to transmute anything that was released from you during the session,” she said.
“I also called in the sacred violet fl ame to speed
up the transmutation. It was vivid, deep purple/
violet color that carried a special sensation and

I had read in Chinese painting, the color violet
symbolized the harmony of the universe as it is
a combination of red and blue- meaning Yin and
Yang respectively. But now more insight on the
powerful infl uence of the color violet appeared in
my soul energy therapy session.
It signaled I was releasing past feelings of hurt
and victimization, perhaps my ancestors had
endured, and I still carried in my cell memory.
Jimena also focused on my pineal gland during
the healing meditation.

“I took you through your third eye to another
place in the mental realm, and we opened a door
to move forward, crossing a path surrounded by a
garden with beautiful fl owers and many creatures,”
she said.

What I learned about myself while writing my book

29 Jul

My book BORN IN THE LAND OF THE TANGO is a memoir and a powerful self-discovery story with many facets. My cultural identity is multi faceted and so the narrative covers a great deal of terrain: from the 16th century Basque witch trials to my Afro-Indian roots.
The question gripped my mind for several years- coming from a diverse ethnic background- who am I? My book evolved into a collection of life stories drawn from my own experiences and research. As I began to delve into the narrative, I discovered my ability to visualize episodes of my life in fine detail. For example, in one of the sections of the book, “The Patagonians,” I sought to discuss the spirituality of the Mapuche Indians. Spiritually, I needed to walk into their world- my grandfather’s world- to appreciate their mystical ideas. I saw myself in a lush forest enjoying the sound of a drum as many voices sent up prayers in the quiet of the sacred space I was in. The mapuche beleive firmly that nothing on this earth, not even a flower, or a rock could exist without the infusion of grace from the Great Spirit. At the same time, they feel a deep inter-connected with their celestial family. I actually had a dream about a medicine man whom I saw in great detail- the contours of his face formed in my inner vision quite clearly. He lead me to newly fallen rain water. Swirling clors embraced me as he spoke to me. It was as if I was initiated into his tribe on the ehteric plane of existence. As a writer, I learned to be open to the messages brought forth from my dream life and gained insight into how to use them as tools for self-discovery.

A Spiritual Healer Appears

19 Jul

C.W. Leadbetter wrote: “Most people have no definite theory as to why they are here, nor any certainty to the future that awaits them.” The main problem exists because of a lack of recognition that they are souls and not just physical bodies, and that their development is part of the destiny of cosmic evolution. There was no awareness of these ideas in my upbringing, and so I became spiritually impoverished, not knowing my true destiny. Someone wise once said, “The great secret of secrets is to live your own life in your own world as well as you possibly can.”

As time went on, I found it necessary to work with healer, and spiritual teacher, Jimena Yantorno. Jimena pointed out to me that as a healer, she prepares the mind and body for healing, while it is one’s own universal consciousness that undertakes the actual healing process.

After the passing of my son in 2009, a long period of grief followed, which continues, and I was not aware fully that the tragic loss represented a sudden trend reversal I would need to confront. New ideas would soon be showing themselves as intuitive guidance as to what changes I would need to make in my life for the betterment of my soul. Slowly through the process of deep meditation each day I began to discover peace, renewal, and regeneration. I had a long talk with Jimena related to her practice of soul energy dynamics. I personally knew little about such holistic modalities, but was eager to learn, after all, I was starting to feel my soul depended on it. I wanted to know in all of her experience with soul energy which insights riveted her imagination the most. “Seeing how limited we have become in our thinking, and that we are actually more afraid of the light than of darkness,” she said. As I was newly discovering the value of having a soul energy session for the purpose of healing, I had the sense there had to exist a great deal of skepticism about its effectiveness versus traditional methods such as psychotherapy. So I asked Jimena to explain some of the common misconceptions about soul energy.. “All misconceptions about any type of energy therapy normally come from the fear some religions have created around it. So the most common misconception would be the belief that the soul energy practice is taboo, and even sinful.”

To learn more, and read a sample chapter, vist:

Fitting in

1 Jul

I had the honor of being interviewed by Dr. Beth Erickson, host of “Relationships 101” the other day. She has a way of shedding light on some important but esoteric issues.
Mine of course, whcih we discussed deals with identity politics. The question raised for the segment dealt with “What if you descend from several cultural groups, and yet feel you don’t fit in anywehre?”

In my own personal experience of being Afro-Indian-I’ve been called “Heinz 57 varietes,” directly by the ill educated. And that is the key, the more information you have about the ancestral groups you descended from, the more you will feel comfortable with who you are.

I hope you’ll tune in on July 4th to listen to Dr. Beth expound on this issue.