Crowdfund Cihualpilli by Iris Rodriguez
Xica Nation Press | Xicana Chronicles
Over the past 500 years, six nations have imposed their governments upon our lands. Many of us no longer remember our family names or traditions as wave after wave of Europe has separated our hearts from our traditional life ways and millennial relationships with the earth and cosmos. Many have been born into assimilation and colonization. Many continue to resist.
For the past 14 years I have engaged in “digital resistance” to decolonize and fight oppression in my community. I have engineered digital strategies with resistance movements that have exposed “contamination” on the scale of genocide, reached into the family prisons and concentration camps in Texas, and displayed in the halls of the United Nations in Geneva for a week. These digital visions were birthed – and raised – in the barrios of the U.S. and Mexico and felt around the world. I firmly believe our power of communication as a digitized generation is unprecedented in human history and that our stories can transform the world.
But there is a story that I haven’t yet shared – my own. I haven’t been okay. A whole generation of womyn from my community and our sisters across the continent are not okay. And to be honest, we haven’t been okay for hundreds of years. As I sit to write down my stories and this book, I am reminded that all our struggles are connected; that my story is one of many. Battlegrounds for brown mothers and womyn exist in the physical and personal geography. What is happening to Mother Earth is akin to what is happening to my sisters and to me, behind closed doors and with the permission of the law – the abuse and control of our physical bodies, the disregard for our lives and spirits, and the legalized and institutionalized systems that result in our inability to assert jurisdiction over our own territory/ies. On top of the inside attack from colonized men.
I can no longer keep silent. In search of liberation, survival, and healing, I turn to my own words in order to set myself free. I choose to turn poison into medicine for myself, my kids, and anyone that finds strength in what I have to share. I sit in the midst of kindling ashes with my babies at my side and a journal in my hand, an open heart, and an obsidian tongue.
Four and a half years ago in 2013, I was forced to walk out of my life as I’d known it. I walked with my babies in hand across the border…south…to places I had never been or imagined. I left my car at a borderland Whataburger at 2 a.m. along with a lifetime of material possessions, memories, family, and friends in the United States. I have not returned since.
We often hear the stories of those crossing the border north. My upcoming book, Cihualpilli, is a story of what happened to me when I crossed the border south.
My mother picked cotton in the lands of her ancestors. I still struggle to break the chains.
Cihualpilli is written in English, Spanish, TexMex, and Nahuatl. I offer my stories and poems, stories from the elders I’ve met along my journey, stories about our life ways and the land, and stories of the queen Cihualpilli Tzapotcintli. My prayer is that Cihualpilli shines light across borders to disinfect the toxic legacies of colonization, white supremacy, patriarchy, and machismo.
I went from being a lost deer in the enchanted forests of Central Texas, across the border to a militarized drug war zone, the mountains of Nuevo Leon, and a concrete jungle that was once #1 on the list of dirtiest cities on the continent. I had grown up Texan with no family ties to Mexico, so I didn’t feel like I was returning to a motherland – I felt like I was leaving mine behind. Inside my home, I left one cage and walked right into another. Add machismo to the pain of white supremacist patriarchy and you have a deadly concoction that takes apart body, mind, and spirit on both sides of the border in English, Spanish, and the spaces in between. There is nothing like the pain of a stab that occurs from within.
I eventually found myself barefoot on the earth of a park on a hill we began to visit, crying more often than not as the kids got to play. Somewhere in the midst of the sadness I began to notice ayoyote trees growing. Sage, cedar, and copal trees began to present themselves. As the months went by, seemingly illogical dreams and nightmares of old turned into sacred visions. The kids and I planted ourselves into a danza circle and continue our prayer walk in search of answers, in search of healing. I began to make medicine out of venom. I began producing art and music, and bridges to my folks back home.
It turns out it was not a hill we landed on, it was a buried temple – a temple with a herstory too powerful to keep to myself, one that connects womyn hundreds of years and borders apart with a millennial ceremonial site that honors the cosmos, the water, and the sacred feminine.
El Cerro de la Reina is a buried teocalli (temple) that crowns the town of Tonallan, birthplace of the sun. Geothermal (earth) and sky, sweet and salt waters combine inside a natural belly-button-shaped rock structure of millennial ceremony and astronomical observation. The highest orders of Nahuales, priests/esses, and warriors from across the continent would come to this temple for study and ceremony. Its Nahuatl name is Xictepetl (“mountain of the belly button”) and it is said to be a place of time travel.
When the peoples descended from Aztlan, they arrived here and held the first New Fire ceremony nearby, before they arrived to Tula and Tenochtitlan. In 2016, we welcomed the Peace and Dignity Journeys here. In 2017, we will gather with elders from many nations to pray for the sacred feminine at this sacred site, which is pregnant with conocimiento and ready to give birth/dar luz.
And now I, standing in prayer with my heart bleeding upon this place, answer the cosmic call to restore my own sacred feminine, to document my herstory, and untangle this umbilical cord as I labor to birth and release my book, Cihualpilli, into the cosmos.
These stories can no longer remain buried. Help me unearth them and bring them to life.
Write yourself into this herstory >>> NOW <<< by sponsoring Cihualpilli
About the author
Iris Rodriguez is a digital strategist, multimedia producer, author, musical artist, healer, and poet from San Antonio, Texas. Since 2002 her projects have addressed issues such as environmental racism/justice, family detention, decolonization, cultural arts, guerrilla media, womynism, and public archives. She is the founder of Xica Media, a Xicana-powered network of six independent multimedia channels reaching over 120 countries in three languages.
She is a graduate of the (former) Center for Mexican American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. She is also a graduate of the Racial Justice Communications course by the Praxis Project (National Labor College, Washington, D.C.) as well as the Inter-University Program for Latino Research (George Washington University, Washington, D.C.) In 2009 she was awarded the Cesar E. Chavez “Si Se Puede” Award by People Organized in Defense of Earth and her Resources (PODER.) In 2015 one of her collaborations, Visions From The Inside, went on display at the United Nations in Geneva for one week.
- Disinfect the toxic legacies of colonialism, colonization, white supremacy, patriarchy, and machismo;
- Document, digitize, and disseminate a series of indigenous Tejanx/ MeXicanx oral herstories, which have never-before been shared;
- Own my story; and
- Create positive community work that also provides for me and my children.
Published by Xica Nation Press / Part of the Xicana Chronicles series