The White Bird
I was receiving a traditional spiritual reading from a shaman visiting from the jungles of Peru. We sat on the floor with an altar of bones, feathers, stones, and foreign objects between us. As he stared at the placement of each item I wondered, “What is he seeing?” All of a sudden he looked up, and with eyes clearly connected to another realm said, “Bring an offering of red flowers for Pachamama.” And then, “You will see a white bird.” This was in 2006.
During that time of life, a layer of my soul storing unexpressed emotions from childhood trauma had surfaced. I felt suffocated, highly emotional and desperately needed to shed that layer and move forward. Guadalupe came to me in a shamanic journey and showed me a healing path. I did some research, made calls, and bought airline tickets for Mexico City. My first stop was the Basilica of Guadalupe, Her physical home. My questions at the reading that day were focused on my upcoming trip; a pilgrimage of personal healing that would hopefully set me free.
Before I flew to Mexico, I carefully placed some beautiful, red flowers in wax paper and pressed them in the center of a book. My friend Emily met me at the airport when I arrived, and the very next day we went to visit Guadalupe.
Who is Guadalupe?
By 1531, the Spanish conquest of Mexico was complete. Believing their god to be the only god, the Spaniards massacred thousands of indigenous Aztecs and destroyed as many spiritual shrines and temples as possible. Their goal was conversion. Take away the earth-based spirituality of the native people, get them into the church, and convert them to Catholicism. One of the sites eradicated was the cave/temple of Tonantzin, the ancient and revered Aztec Mother Earth Goddess. Her shrine had been located inside of Tepeyac Hill near what we now call Mexico City.
Early December that year, a Lady appeared to a simple Indian named Juan Diego. She called to him three separate times from the top of Tepeyac Hill and asked that he persuade the Bishop to build a sanctuary “….where I will give people all my love, compassion, assistance, and protection.” The Lady said she was “the Compassionate Mother of you and your people here, in this land and of all the other people who love me, call to me, search for me, and confide in me.” She said she would “listen to their pain, suffering, and crying, and heal them from their misery.”
Juan Diego was unable to convince the Bishop of his experience and pleaded with Guadalupe for help. Almost immediately, out-of-season Castilian roses grew and blossomed upon the hilltop. Juan gathered the perfect roses, placed them inside of his tilma/poncho and brought them to the Bishop as proof. When the Bishop opened the tilma to see the roses, he discovered this imprinted image.
The Bishop was finally convinced of the miracle and had a small chapel built on the top of Tepeyac Hill, the spot where the apparition, called Guadalupe by the Spaniards, appeared to Juan Diego.
Guadalupe and Tonantzin are the same to many people. Her true name, Tecuauhtlacuepeuh, translates from Nahuatl, the original language, as “She Who Comes Flying From the Regions of Light Like an Eagle of Fire.” The Spaniards achieved their goals, and more people began going to church, yet they were secretly worshipping Tonantzin, not the Christianized Guadalupe. The two cultures finally united, yet under an illusion.
There are many temples at the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City, although only one houses the tilma. Being in the presence of thousands of devotees, also known as Guadalupanas, and the energy of the tilma is an experience beyond words. I wish everyone on the planet could feel and receive it.
Emily and I slowly walked up the many steps leading to the top of Tepeyac Hill. I lit a candle, placed my red flower offering beside it, and walked inside the original chapel. It was small. Beautiful old paintings depicting the story of Juan Diego and Guadalupe lined the walls on both sides, yet my eyes were magnetically drawn to an image directly in front and above me.
A mosaic mural covered an area of the rounded ceiling. The Aztec artists, most likely slaves, purposefully incorporated their culture within the Catholic religion. Aztec Archangels are dancing and playing large native drums, an image so energetically powerful I could almost hear the beat. And in the center of it all was Jesus, God, and – the white bird!
I’ve visited the Basilica many times yet never with a professional photographer, so unfortunately, I haven’t been able to capture the tile work in its entirety or even find a postcard or replication.
I call the “white bird” an eagle/dove. She’s a unifier that brought together Christianity and indigenous wisdom and spirituality. Guadalupe is Tonantzin. The dove is an eagle. Aztec gods dance as archangels. All are examples of duality merging into oneness/unity, unseen by the power elite. Not unlike what’s happening today.
The eagle/dove is my logo because she symbolizes Unity, as well as my Path of Faith and Trust. When I was in need of big healing, Guadalupe came to me. I trusted my experience. I trusted Her. Then I was given a prophecy by the shaman. That trip to Mexico led me to the healing and personal freedom I needed, and I believe the white bird is a palpable gift from the Universe.
“She Who Comes Flying From the Regions of Light like an Eagle of Fire” is my Spiritual Mother. Remember what she said, and know she’s here for you too.
(Guadalupe’s quotes are from “The Aztec Virgin,” a wonderful and authentic book by John Mini.)