"She is dark," I whispered when I first saw our Lady of Guadalupe at the Ponce Cathedral.
"Yes, she is morena and small. This is why she is called La Morenita (little dark skinned female)." Abuela continued: "Most of the Virgins are blond, blue eyed, and white. But La Morenita is all-powerful."
I still remember that moment as if it was yesterday. I was nine years old when I first encountered La Guadalupe. I traveled with Abuela from my hometown Yabucoa, a small town on the southeast coast of Puerto Rico, to Ponce, the island's second major city. We were going to visit Abuela's relatives.
"First things first, " Abuela announced when we arrived. "We will go the Ponce Cathedral to pay our respects to the Virgin of Guadalupe."
It used to be my kid’s room, on an upper floor, the last one to be vacated. I moved in then, and my books and icons, idols and altars seemed to merge happily with the stuffed animals and old toys. Now I’m the one who plays and dreams here, reading about ancient religion and history, writing about how trees and stars, elements and animals, all bear their own deeper meanings, all play their part in the poem of the world.
One day I called this place “my ivory tower” and the words rang a bell of joy in me, calling up my love of academia, footnotes and learning, gothic arches and leather-bound tomes — the ivory tower as splendid isolation from the practical cares that are clearly not my forte. But I also felt there was more to it than that.
A few winters ago, I was lucky enough to spend the end of December in Europe, and one of the most beautiful, sacred sites of my trip was the Chartres Cathedral in France, outside of Paris. I’d long been fascinated with this spot, since it turns up again and again in Grail lore and stories of the Magdalene heresy, but what I didn’t know before making this pilgrimage was that the cathedral stands over a holy well, and before the current stone structure was built, the site was possible a Druidic grove or Celtic holy site. Wherever the magic comes from that infuses Chartres, it’s tangible, and the visit lingers with me as one of profound peace and personal exploration.
Selene, the Moon Goddess, on a Roman sarcophagus. About 210 CE. Getty Villa. Photo by Harita Meenee.
To a Greek person, the word “August” brings two things to mind. One is the August moon. Captivating and erotic, we observe it with awe as it spreads its glow on the dark sea waters. It keeps on striking a chord. Strange? Not at all since the moon is a powerful archetypal symbol. Myths, which speak the language of the soul, adore it. Almost all peoples and cultures have created traditions and beliefs related to it.