All the earth is a grave

17 11 2010

All the earth is a grave and nothing escapes it, nothing is so perfect that it does not descend to its tomb. Rivers, rivulets, fountains and waters flow, but never return to their joyful beginnings; anxiously they hasten on the vast realms of the rain god. As they widen their banks, they also fashion the sad urn of their burial.

Filled are the bowels of the earth with pestilential dust once flesh and bone, once animate bodies of man who sat upon thrones, decided cases, presided in council, commanded armies, conquered provinces, possessed treasure, destroyed temples, exulted in their pride, majesty, fortune, praise and power. Vanished are these glories, just as the fearful smoke vanishes that belches forth from the infernal fires of Popocatepetl. Nothing recalls them but the written page.

-Nezahualcoyotl, King of Texcoco, found on this site


3 08 2010

An interview of the director of a documentary on the shrine to la Difunta Correa in Argentina.


28 04 2010

Hay palabras que tienen sombra de árbol
otras que tienen atmósfera de astros
Hay vocablos que tienen fuego de rayos
Y que incendian donde caen
Otros que se congelan en la lengua y se rompen al salir
Como esos cristales alados y fatídicos
Hay palabras como imanes
que atraen los tesoros del abismo
Otras que se descargan como vagones sobre el alma
Altazor desconfía de las palabras
Desconfía del ardid ceremonioso
Y de la poesía
Trampas de luz y cascadas lujosas
Trampas de perla y de lámpara acuática
Anda como los ciegos con sus ojos de piedra
Presintiendo el abismo a todo paso

-Vicente Huidobro, del primer canto de su poema, Altazaor
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More “liturgically incorrect” music

12 03 2010

…that won’t make all of you snobs gag.


25 06 2009

duende altar

Notes on the folk theology of the limbus infantium

In a book about Guatemalan folk saints, I saw a prayer to Don Diego Duende, who is portrayed as a portly man with a red suit and a red hat. Poke around the Internet, and you will find more prayers to him (the difference between these and witchcraft are virtually non-existent). Poke around even more, and you will find many prayers to protect oneself from duendes. Their role seems to be a bit ambiguous, as I quote from one Mexican website that I found, a series of children’s stories that mention duendes:

A pesar de ser tan traviesos, los duendes también acostumbran ayudar a los que se vuelven sus amigos. Los que quieren sus favores hacen un pacto con ellos: van a lo más apartado del monte a llevarles regalos, como elotes, agua, carne… y les rezan la oración del encantado. Algún duende les contesta que está de acuerdo echando tres chifliditos; o responde mandándoles venados y dejando que encuetren los tesoros de las cuevas.

In spite of being mischevious, goblins also are prone to help those who become their friends. Those who seek their favors make a pact with them: they go to the most secluded mountains and take them gifts, like corn, water, and meat… and they pray to them the enchanted prayer. A goblin answers them affirmatively by giving three whistles; or they answer them by sending them deer or leaving them to find treasures in caves.

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Semana Santa en Huaraz, Peru

8 04 2009

Don Rufino Tibaldi

30 03 2009

This is the tomb of Don Rufino Tibaldi (+1976), in the town of Irarte, in Buenos Aires province in Argentina. He is said to have been a railway worker from Germany who was known for his religious talks and general help for the poor. He was also said to have had the power of healing, and was persecuted by the local doctor for practicing medicine without a license. Many people continue to make pilgrimages to his grave, and leave ex-votos as signs of a miracle granted by the folk saint. More information on this saint can be found at the following links:

Simplemente… historias de dos buenas personas de Iriarte

Rufino Tibaldi… Un santo popular

Santa Muerte Counterpoint

18 03 2009

Epidermal Macabre

Indelicate is he who loathes
The aspect of his fleshy clothes, —
The flying fabric stitched on bone,
The vesture of the skeleton,
The garment neither fur nor hair,
The cloak of evil and despair,
The veil long violated by
Caresses of the hand and eye.
Yet such is my unseemliness:
I hate my epidermal dress,
The savage blood’s obscenity,
The rags of my anatomy,
And willingly would I dispense
With false accouterments of sense,
To sleep immodestly, a most
Incarnadine and carnal ghost.

-Theodore Roethke

Escrava Anastacia

12 03 2009


…et non aperuit os suum sicut ovis ad occisionem ducetur et quasi agnus coram tondente obmutescet et non aperiet os suum

The above is an image of Brazilian folk saint Escrava Anastacia (Anastacia the Slave), the daughter of an African princess in colonial Brazil who was reputed to work miracles and be a model of virtue in her own lifetime. Renowned for her beauty and her beautiful blue eyes, she is said to have often exclaimed, “eu não sou escrava” (I am not a slave). The popular image is of her muzzled with an iron mask which many believe was a punishment for the refusal of her master’s sexual advances. She more than likely died of gangrene from wearing that mask, and is said to have forgiven her oppressors before her death.
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San La Muerte

23 02 2009


San La Muerte is the masculine equivalent of Santa Muerte in Mexico, this time having his origins in the northeast of Argentina. He probably has much more to do with indigenous belief than the cult of Santa Muerte. Speculations as to his origins range from his being the spirit of a Guaraní king who was given the task of being the Grim Reaper to a renegade Spanish friar who went native and was found dead in his cell after being imprisoned by ecclesiastical authorities. In any case, the cult to him is quite old and in places enjoyed unofficial sanction from some church officials. One man speaks of his grandfather’s devotion to the saint on this website (my translation):

There was a time, not more than thirty years ago now, when my grandfather would bring the little saint to church to have a Mass for him every 20th of the month. That would happen every month until one day they stopped it. I believe in all humility that it was a mistake for the Church to discriminate against us. We really don’t see the harm in believing in a saint who defends the poor… He would have to be accepted since he doesn’t do evil, on the contrary. And I’ll tell you more, before my grandfather found the saint, he didn’t even know how to make the Sign of the Cross, and towards the end of his life he prayed two hours when he got up and two hours before he went to bed for those who were praying for the intercession of San La Muerte.
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