Sunday, June 26, 2011

Beads in the Southwest, Part I: Mythic Turquoise

     Bluebird wore a robe of blue beads and on his head a bright blue cloud.  In his right hand he held a rattle made of blue turquoise and in his left a stalk of blue corn.  When the people asked what he had brought, Bluebird said: I bring you blue sky, summer rain and soft corn. --Old Navajo Myth

     Turquoise is the sacred stone for Native Americans of the Southwest.  It is the vehicle for the creative force which awakens and animates all life, both temporal and spiritual.  Coming from the womb of earth where all life emerged, according to Pueblo legend, it possesses the power associated with the color blue.  The Hopis tell of an all-pervasive spirit, Whuring Whuti, or Hard Beings Woman, mother of the universe who is always identified with beads of turquoise and shell.  Like turquoise, she is of the earth, but like the color blue, she is also of the skies and all the earth's waterways.  It is she who created the Male Earth-Spirit of crops and the Childbirth Water Woman, dual symbols of human fertility.  The Sun Spirit, ritually dressed in eagle feathers and beads of turquoise and shell, crosses the sky each day and finishes his journey at her home in the western ocean.
     The Navajos have many myths concerning the birth of the Turquoise Goddess or Changing Woman.  When Mother Sky and Father Earth came together they created her, born as a small turquoise image who grew in beauty, an ever-renewing life spirit.  In some myths she has her island home in the western ocean where the sun-bearer rests at the end of the day.  In other stories, she has a twin, White Shell Woman, who has her home in  the ocean from where she sends spring breezes and summer rain.  Turquoise woman made the sun with turquoise beads taken from her right breast and created the moon with white shells from her left breast.

Coming Sunday, July 3, 2011: Part II, Turquoise in Pre-Historic Ceremonial Offerings

Monday, June 20, 2011

Books I'm Working On

Here's a blurb about the first two books in my trilogy.  They are finished and in the hands of a publisher at this moment.  If I don't get a contract, I'm going to publish them as e-books.  Stay tuned!

Waiting for Mr. Wu: A Novel of Intrigue, Cultural Clashes and Desire
The eccentric relationship between a patrician Chinese ex-patriot and a young girl from rural Arizona form the crux of this book.  The yin-yang of imperial China juxtaposed against pop America, the frustration of lovers separated by years, culture, and distance set up a dynamic tension that plays out in the American Southwest and Beijing.  Mr. Wu, the illusive millionaire and occasional spy, didn't plan on mixing it up with rednecks and cowboys, but most of all, he didn't plan on falling in love with an erstwhile flower child.

Fearless Frank's Last Chance Dance: A Novel of Rednecks, Rage and Redemption
Ex-cop Frank Toscanni is living in a Doc Holliday kind of world, shooting off a lock if he can't find the key and bullying people into submission.  In the middle of an ugly divorce and drinking heavily, harassed by the Civil Liberties Union for policy brutality and agonizing over his future, he runs into Mallory Hamilton, a careless heiress searching for her biological mother in Arizona.

She fuels his jealousy and desire, using him as a part time plaything while they look for her family.  After traversing a  trail of white supremacists, Harley-riding ex-cons, undocumented Mexican immigrants and Barbie doll collectors, the search culminates in a postmodern remake of the gunfight at OK Corral and Frank finds redemption where he least expects it.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Why The Hopis Have So Few Beads, Part Two

The Chief asked him why he had come. “I have searched for the path,” the young man replied, “and thought about the water running and knew I had to come this way that it runs. I search also for a woman, the Huruing Wuhti, goddess of all hard substances who is owner of many turquoise, shell, and coral beads.”

“You will get there because your heart is right,” the Chief told him, “but now this night you must sleep here.” During the night the Chief instructed him about the Snake cult, the altar, and the ceremony he would perform when he returned to his people.

In the morning he went with Spider Woman and made a rainbow road to the home of Huruing Wuhti high on the cliffs. They went in and found a withered old hag. All the walls were hung with beads and shells. The young man gave her a baho and she thanked him in a faint, far-away voice. At sundown she went into a side chamber and returned as an alluring young woman carrying many robes with which she made a bed. Then she commanded him to sleep with her. Spider Woman whispered that he most comply. Thus he remained four days with the goddess, but after that he wanted to return to his people. She went into a room on the north side and got a turquoise bead and from the west room the same. From the south room she brought a coral bead and from the east a hard white bead made of shell. Then she gave him all kinds of other beads and put them in a bag for him, instructing him not to open the bag or all the beads would be gone and could never increase.

He returned to the Snake kiva and stayed four nights, taking the beautiful girl who had been the most ferocious snake as his wife. Then he made ready to take her and the beads to his people waiting in the Grand Canyon country. As he was leaving the Chief said, "This woman will bear you children and there will be many. They will hold the Snake ceremony with you."

So they started on their way. Spider Woman also warned him not to sleep with his wife during the journey or she would disappear, along with the beads. As they started, the beads were not heavy and the first night they slept separately. The next three nights were spent in the same manner. The beads increased and the bag became very heavy. As they approached his home, the young man was overcome with desire to see the beads and sleep with his wife, but she remained strong and forbade it. They were almost home and had but one day’s travel to fill the bag completely with beads. During the last night the man opened the bag, although his wife begged him not to. As he took them out he saw they were the finest beads and shells. He spread them on the ground and hung them around his neck and was very happy. But in the morning all the beads had disappeared except the few original ones that the Huruing Wuhti had given him. Hence the Hopis have so few beads at this present time.