Primavera Madre

20 04 2009


¡Madre mía, tierra,
otra vez más verde,
más plena, más bella!

(Y yo, mientras, hijo
tuyo, con más secas
hojas en las venas).

¡Madre mía, tierra,
sé tú siempre joven,
y que yo me muera!

(Y tú, mientras, madre
mía, con más frescas
hojas en las piernas).

-Juan Ramón Jiménez

Popular Sufism in South Asia

19 04 2009


From the December 18th, 2008 issue of The Economist, on popular Islam in Pakistan and India:

Pakistan’s southernmost state of Sindh, a vast desert bisected by the Indus river, is perhaps best known for its shrines. A few miles outside the city of Hyderabad, in sight of the Indus, a middle-aged dwarf called Subhan manages one of them. She found the shrine deserted a few years ago, and moved into it. It is a small shack, with a low doorway hung with cowbells, in the tradition of a Hindu temple. A dusty green shroud covers the grave. Incense burns at its foot. Subhan says it holds the dust of a medieval saint called Haji Pir Marad. Sometimes, she says, he wrestles with the Indus to prevent it from changing course. In fits of terrible rage, he has caused pileups on the road. She advises passing motorists to propitiate the saint with a modest gift of rupees. On a good day, she collects around 50 rupees (60 cents) from the travellers who stop to pray.

All the traffic, on that recent sunny day, was bound for the nearby town of Sehwan Sharif, where Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, one of Pakistan’s most prominent Sufi saints, is entombed. It was the 734th anniversary of his death, an event marked by an annual festival attended by several hundred thousand devotees. This event is known as Qalandar’s urs, or wedding-night, to signify his union with God. A three-day orgy of music, dancing and intoxication, literally and spiritually, the urs at Sehwan is one of the best parties in Pakistan, or anywhere.

Outside Qalandar’s shrine, a white marble monument, decorated with flashing neon, pilgrims work themselves into an all-night ecstasy. Tossing their long black hair, a dozen prostitutes from Karachi or Lahore have a place reserved by the shrine’s golden doorway, to dance a furious jig. It is the dhammal, a rhythmic skipping from foot to foot, for which Qalandar’s followers are well-known. Thousands are moshing to a heavy drumbeat. The air is hot and wet with their sweat. A scent of rose petals and hashish sweetens it. In a flash of gold, out in the crush, a troupe of bandsmen in braided Sergeant Pepper uniforms are blowing inaudibly into brass instruments, then lifting trumpets and trombones into the air as they dance the dhammal.

Fighting through the crowd, a stream of peasant pilgrims flows into the shrine. Many carry glittering shrouds, lovingly embroidered by a wife or mother, as an offering for the tomb. They will be bestowed with a poor man’s prayer, for a good harvest, debt relief, or a son. “Last year I told my master [Qalandar] that I would bring him a goat if he gave me a son. I have come to honour that promise,” said Muhammad Riaz Rahman, a shopkeeper from Multan, tugging a calm-looking billy, daubed with pink dye, through the crowd.

Read all of it here. Special thanks to a reader of this blog who provided the link.

More on the Cult of Maria Lionza

19 04 2009


17 04 2009

In order to stay in the same area of the world…

Santa Librada

15 04 2009


Or St. Wilgefortis. Her origins are obscure, but the most common story is that she was a daughter of a pagan king in Portugal who prayed to be made ugly by God in order to prevent her marriage to another pagan king. She instantly grew a beard in response to her prayer. She is said to be the patroness of women stuck in bad marriages The Wikipedia article is very informative, and here is another image I found of her there, this time in Prague:


Also, on another website, I found the following information about her:

In the Middle Ages Santa Librada was the patron saint of prostitutes and by extension became the patron saint of women in labour. Apparently pregnant women (would) go to Siguenza cathedral to recite the following:

Santa Librada,
Santa Librada,
que la salida
sea tan dulce
como la entrada!

… which means:

Santa Librada,
May the way out
Be as sweet
As the way in!

Felix Coluccio, in his book, Cultos y Canonizaciones Populares de Argentina, describes the cult to Santa Librada in the north of that country. She is generally invoked to find animals, and also to escape authorities after having committed a crime, using the following prayer:

Santa Librada, ayúdame en esta disparada (Saint Librada, help me in this mess)

..after which the criminal should run and hide.

As in the case with many saints of this region, a miracle granted is compensated with a feast thrown by the devotee, preceded by a novena. The dance is the most important part, and can be a rowdy occasion, often put to an end, according to the author, by someone firing a revolver in the air.

La novia de Lázaro

14 04 2009

-finale of Mahler’s Second Symphony

A mi hermana Flor

y el que había estado muerto, salió
atadas las manos y los pies con vendas
y su rostro estaba envuelto en un sudario

Vers. 44, Cap. 8, Evang. S. Juan


Vienes por fin a mí, tal como eras, con tu emoción antigua y tu rosa intacta, Lázaro rezagado, ajeno al fuego de la espera, olvidado de desintegrarse, mientras se hacía polvo, ceniza, lo demás.

Vuelves a mí, entero y sin jadeos, con tu gran sueño inmune al frío de la tumba, cuando ya Martha y María, cansadas de esperar milagros y deshojar crepúsculos, bajan en silencio lentamente la cuesta de todas las Bethanias.

Vienes; sin contar con más esperanza que tu propia esperanza ni más milagro que tu propio milagro. Impaciente y seguro de encontrarme uncida todavía al último beso.

Vienes todo de flor y luna nueva presto a envolverme en tus mareas contenidas, en tus nubes revueltas, en tus fragancias turbadoras que voy reconociendo una por una…

Vienes siempre tú mismo, a salvo del tiempo y la distancia, a salvo del silencio: y me traes como regalo de bodas, el ya paladeado secreto de la muerte.

Pero he aquí que como novia que vuelvo a ser, no sé si alegrarme o llorar por tu regreso, por el don sobrecogedor que me haces y hasta por la felicidad que se me vuelca de golpe. No sé si es tarde o pronto para ser feliz. De veras no sé; no recuerdo ya el color de tus ojos.


To my sister Flor
And he who had been dead came forth,
his hands and feet rolled in bandages,
and his face was wrapped in a shroud.
John 8:44


You come to me at last, just as you were, with your ancient emotion and your unspoiled rose, Lazarus the straggler, a stranger to the fire of hope, forgetting disintegration even as it burned to dust, ashes, nothing more.

You return to me, in one piece and not even out of breath, with your great dream immune to the cold of the tomb, when already Martha and Mary, weary of waiting for miracles and plucking the leaves of twilight, have slowly descended the slope of all the Bethanies in silence.

You come, relying on no more hope than your own hope, no more miracle than your own miracle. Impatient and sure of finding me still yoked to the last kiss.

You come all flowers and new moon, quick to wrap me in your pent-up tides, in your stormy clouds, in your confused fragrances which I begin to recognize one by one.

You come still yourself, safe from time and distance, safe from silence, and bring me like a wedding gift the already-savored secret of death.

But here I am, a bride again, not knowing whether I rejoice or weep at your return, over the terrifying gift you give me, even over the joy which strikes me like a blow. I don’t know whether it is late or early to be glad. Truly, I don’t know; I no longer remember the color of your eyes.

-Dulce María Loynaz (translation taken from this site)

Home Altar

13 04 2009


The sacred is saturated with being.

-Mircea Eliade

The more time passes, the less certain I am of things. The good part about that is that I feel less need for that certainty now. No one is more certain than a twenty year old firebrand full of piss and vinegar. Having been one, I can assure you that this is the case. But life has a way of polishing the rough edges of your certainty and making you into a smooth, tolerant, and at times, indecisive person. There is too much complexity in life to jump into the fray of the chaotic street. Sometimes, you just want to sit on the porch and watch it go by, not knowing where it is all going, but knowing that you will survive all of this as you have survived it before. You also know that you not nearly as in-expendable, or nearly as important, as you sometimes think.
Read the rest of this entry »

Easter Oratorio by J.S. Bach

12 04 2009

La Virgen de la Soledad

11 04 2009


Virgen de la Soledad:
rendido de gozos vanos,
en las rosas de tus manos
se ha muerto mi voluntad.

Cruzadas con humildad
en tu pecho sin aliento,
la mañana del portento,
tus manos fueron, Señora,
la primer cruz redentora:
la cruz del sometimiento.

Como tú te sometiste,
someterme yo quería:
para ir haciendo la vía
con sol claro o noche triste.
Ejemplo santo nos diste
cuando, en la tarde deicida,
la soledad dolorida
por los senderos mostrabas:
tocas de luto llevabas,
ojos de paloma herida.

La fruta de nuestro Bien
fue de tu llanto regada:
refugio fueron y almohada
tus rodillas, de su sien.
Otra vez, como en Belén,
tu falda cuna le hacía,
y sobre Él tu amor volvía
a las angustias primeras…
Señora: si tú quisieras
contigo le lloraría.


Tomado de este sitio

El Señor de la Peña

10 04 2009

A video from the Argentine province of La Rioja, about a rock shaped in the face of Christ: the object of pilgrimage during Holy Week