Participate in an Original Way of Celebrating the Harvest
What is the traditional Nahua quiatlzques (“bringer of water” or “weather worker”) Harvest Festival about?
First of all, it’s for everyone, no matter your faith or non-faith, tradition or non-tradition. This type of celebration is for all human beings. Led by Asheville-area folks who have been initiated, trained and steeped in an ancient way of interacting with the world, it’s an opportunity for the people of Asheville and western North Carolina, from all walks of life, to join together and celebrate the bountiful harvest in the very old-fashioned way of our ancestors.
Who should we thank for the abundant rain and its dance with the sunlight? How should we show our appreciation for the rich soil that has blessed us with food for our tables this season and always?
In our Nahua tradition—a living, unbroken spiritual lineage with its center in the Central Mexican Highlands—the answer is as crystal-clear as the rain that has blessed our land this season. Since the Rain, Thunder, Wind, Sun, Clouds and Earth are so generous in bringing us the nourishment we need, we look forward each fall to this Harvest Festival, where all attending take a moment out of our busy lives to celebrate and thank them.
If you look back in history, all of our ancestors had reciprocal relationships with the living world around them.
That includes both the Cherokee and other ancestors who lived on this land and each of our own great-great-great-great grandparents in our bloodlines. Living on the land in their communities, they intimately knew the Sky who brought the Rains so the food plants and animals would grow healthy to feed their village. These were the most practical of people, not distracted by technology or global events. They knew that, if their relationships with the Weather were ignored, their villages would lack the basic human needs that would ensure their survival and thriving. For us human beings, today as it has always been, our well-being depends on good relations with the living community of beings.
In a world of reciprocal relationships, when human beings once again remember their place in the cycles of life, does Climate Change have a place?
Perhaps the pendulum swings of hot/cold, flood/drought and species destruction around us today can be seen as a reaction, in a way, to an imbalanced relationship between human beings and the living world. We’re waking up to realize: we depend on the help of the Weather. The Rain, Sun, Clouds and Wind can be seen as benefactors whose generosity allows our lives to continue.
The good news is that beginning to turn the tide can be easy and lots of fun: it doesn’t take much effort on our parts to lend our voices and hearts to being grateful for the inherent wisdom and balance expressed by the natural world. That’s what our Harvest Festival is all about: a traditional celebration and giving-back to the living world around us for our lives, for our harvest, for the nourishing food and clear water that we human beings cannot produce ourselves.
We all benefit from the abundance of the world. So, please join us on October 6 to give thanks, in a simple and ancient way, to “all our relations.”
What a celebration! Photos from our 2017 Harvest Festival
Bringing our community together to share our gratitude for the Rain, Sun, Clouds, Thunder and Wind is one of the highlights of our busy year as Nahua-tradition weather workers. Our Harvest Festival only happens once a year, but it's an important event. From our perspective, it is a valuable moment in the lives of a sustainable community. There are many perspectives on what defines the word "sustainability." For us, true sustainability occurs when our community is in good relationship with the Weather Beings.
On Sunday October 1, 2017, the Asheville Weather Workers (known as quiatlzques in the Nahuatl language) gathered with Asheville-area community to, once again, bring our traditional offerings of appreciation to the weather for its generous gifts to our region. These traditional offerings have been made for many generations in the central Highlands of Mexico, the homeland of our Nahua tradition. And, offerings to give thanks for the gifts of Earth and Weather have been made by countless traditions across the world, in a very similar way.
In our experience, during this ancient but simple ancestral ceremony, everyone participating does their part to forge good relations between the human people and the Weather Beings. And...we get to have a warm, joyful time together sharing food, music, stories and emotions while we do it!
Special thanks to virtuosos Alexi and Eli Haynes for providing the fiddle music for our event, and for all of the community members who helped in so many ways to make this event a success. Thank you to our Firekeeper Lisa Lichtig and to the Sacred Fire Council House for holding us so well.
And, of course, thank you to the Sun, Wind and Clouds for dancing with us in our ceremony.
Photos: Lisa Lichtig and Patrick Hanaway
Casa Xiuhtecuhtli - Our Home
By Amy Haynes
Home is a powerful expression and can evoke feelings of being held and nourished. Home is the sanctuary where we drop our outer facade and show ourselves as we really are. In our modern world, not all of us experience that sense of home with our birth family, but many of us can relate to those ideals of home and seek to create them for ourselves as we grow older.
An ancestral home provides that grounding, that sanctuary for people who are part of a spiritual tradition. It provides to the tradition-holders a place to stand, to be rooted in and supported by that tradition. Casa Xiuhtecuhtli, in Tepoztlan, Mexico, is just such a home for those of us initiated as weather workers in the Nahua tradition, with don David as our caporal mayor (ceremonial leader). Each year we journey to Casa Xiuhtecuhtli, where we open our hearts, come before the Weather Beings as we really are, pray for our people and our lands and return home with the blessings of the Weather Beings to be shared throughout our local communities, helping all our relations. This cycle of gratitude, of giving and receiving is what allows us to belong, to be at home.
Prior to 2006, don Lucio de Campos was the caporal mayor; the ceremonies were held on his land, at his altar. He died in 2005, passing the title of caporal mayor to David Wiley. There was a period of transition before the new caporal mayor’s altar was firmly established at Casa Xiuhtecuhtli. Since that time, we have built a beautiful temple to house the altar. We continue to make enhancements and to maintain the land in a way that is welcoming to the larger community. The altar is no longer the personal property of one man or one family but now belongs to a community, enlivened by the deep connection of don David to the Weather Beings.
In order to purchase and maintain this special – and now sacred – land, each weather worker personally made a pledge to help sustain it financially. We are doing so in conjunction with the mara’akate, members of the Huichol-lineage medicine path, whose sacred temple (tuki) also resides on the land, bringing its blessings of connection and healing to the community.
At this time, we are reaching out to you, our beloved community, asking you to connect to that sense of home within yourself, to honor the strength of what that foundation brings to us and to our communities. And in doing so, if you feel called, we would welcome any and all contributions to our donation bowl.
All monies collected, minus the costs of hosting the Harvest Festival, will be donated to the Casa Xiuhtecuhtli fund to meet our pledge and help pay for this special land. We greatly appreciate any help you can give us.
I look forward to seeing you at the Harvest Festival!
Amy Haynes for the Asheville weather workers
The Asheville Weatherworkers are a group of Asheville-area people who have been called, initiated and trained in the unbroken lineage of weather workers of the Nahua people of central Mexico. For a traditional experience of gratitude and celebration of the bountiful weather, come join us for our Harvest Festival. For more info or to make a donation to Casa Xiuhticuhtli, email email@example.com
What is a weather worker?
Douglas Haynes, an Asheville weather worker since 2003, offers his comments on his path and his work.
What is a weatherworker?
A weatherworker is a conduit between the weather beings and the community of people in an area. Weather moves toward and through an area. Each area has a personality that attracts certain flows of weather. Weatherworkers give gratitude for the rains and the abundance of the weather.
Another part of this: weatherworkers ask for temperance and livable conditions and for there to be abundance for the people. Every year, each weatherworker goes to Mexico to be rejuvenated. It takes about ten days of ceremony and ritual to accomplish this. We get energized and ask that our areas have another year of gentle and beneficial rains. We ask that the weather beings go easy and work with the people.
What's the point of being involved in a traditional path?
A traditional path is one that moves me closer to nature – a place that allows me to know myself in my surroundings. My traditional path helps me understand my role in community. This brings me the understanding of the beauty and importance of nature which feeds my people physically and emotionally. When I see how nature interacts with the people, I see the embrace of a great being giving and receiving, I see our people able to live and breathe and eat and have abundance. When I experience the simple beauty that stands outside my window, I also experience a vast and awesome entity that controls our fate and freely allows me to live in what ever way I choose. I find that nature allows that as long as I respect the consequences of my actions. Take, deplete – give, receive more.
Traditional Wisdom for Sustainability in Our Times
By Erin Everett, with Amy Haynes
On Sunday October 1, 2017, I hope you'll join us in gathering to celebrate the Rain, Clouds, Sun, Wind, and Thunder. Recently, all of us in our area and those south of here had a close brush with a very expressive Weather Being. This force in the world was known as Irma. With storms before and after her affecting so many, she got my attention since early predictions had her heading for Asheville, my home town.
As Irma approached, I felt many things. Fear came up (especially when I saw the trajectory predicted to be heading right toward Asheville!). That fear was also like a thrill, knowing that this storm had something for us. Concern for our relatives who were directly in Her initial path came up. As my emotions flowed through me, then came the engagement. “Hello, Irma, what are you saying? What gifts do you have for my people? Are you just here to wreak havoc, or is there something more?” Most of my conversation was with feelings and impressions, not words. As the discussion continued over the days the storm was building, I deepened my understanding of my place in relation to the storm.
Similar to many traditions, the wisdom in our Nahua weather work path is that the world is speaking to us and is actually in dynamic relationship with us all the time. How do we open to these interactions?
It starts with listening and feeling. Every time we stop and breathe deeply the living presence of the world, every time we give thanks for rain and feel the support of that beneficial weather soaking into our bones, we're taking a beautiful step in that dance with the alive, aware world.
That's what our Harvest Festival is all about. The Weather is speaking to us, all the time. In coming together as a community to feel and acknowledge the gifts of weather that we receive in our prosperous land, we are speaking back. Perhaps that conversation is the most sustainable thing we can do to bring balance in our times.
Erin Everett is one of a group of people in the Asheville area who have been called, initiated and trained in the unbroken lineage of quialtzques (weather workers) of the Nahua people of central Mexico. She has been a weather worker for over 15 years.
Give thanks for our beautiful weather: Join us for our Harvest Festival!
Mark your calendars for Sunday October 1!
In the times of our ancestors, communities benefited from those who specialized in creating mutually supportive relationships between human people and the forces of weather - Wind, Cloud, Thunder, Lightning, Rain, and Sun - also known as the Weather Beings.
The Asheville Weatherworkers are a group of Asheville-area people who have been called, initiated and trained in the unbroken lineage of weather workers of the Nahua people of central Mexico. For a traditional experience of gratitude and celebration of the bountiful weather, come join us for our Harvest Festival.
Western North Carolina is a lush, beautiful land. Let's give thanks!
Join us Sunday, October 1, 2017.
The wind, rain, sun, lightning, and clouds are forces so much bigger and more powerful than we are, and changes in weather directly affect our lives and health. We all feel this. How do you relate with the weather?
When rain comes after a dry time, do you go out and dance as your garden is watered? Does awe and respect hit you as thunder rolls and lightning flashes? Do you feel helpless and shaken by the weather extremes we're seeing in many parts of our world? The weather is varied and expresses many emotions. Come to our Harvest Festival, bring all of your feelings about these tumultuous times, and offer them in this gratitude ceremony to the ones who most need to hear them: the Weather Beings.
The Weather Beings are speaking - let's let them know we're listening and acknowledging their voices. Join with us to do what human groups across the world have done throughout time. At this event, we'll pray with all our Hearts, offering our gratitude for what we have – community, connection, and beautiful, nourishing, abundant weather.
About this year's ceremonial leader, Erin Everett
Erin Everett was initiated as a quiatlzques (person who makes water arrive) in the Nahua tradition of weather work in May of 2003 with her husband, Adam Laufer, and also with her Asheville compadres Amy Haynes and Douglas Haynes, among others.
Like the other weather workers in this tradition who live across the USA and in the UK and Mexico, she returns to the homeland of the tradition in Mexico each year, often twice, to participate in ceremonies to "turn on the rain" at the spring beginning of the rainy season and to "turn off the rain" in the fall. In addition to learning to be a ceremonial leader and temezcalli (sweat lodge) leader, she is being trained by her teacher, don David Wiley, to be a tepahtiani (medicine healer) in her Nahua tradition.
In addition to her work in Mexico, like the other Asheville-area weather workers, she works ritually with the weather of our local area to ask for balance and abundance for our crops, forests, animals, plants and people. Community support is crucial to the work of all of the weather workers, and the yearly Harvest Festival brings a wonderful opportunity for people of the community to participate with the weather workers to give thanks for the generous abundance of the Weather Beings.
At 2017's Harvest Festival, hosted by all of the Asheville-area weather workers, Erin will be the ceremonial leader at the altar. Please come out and support her and all of us weather workers. We look forward to seeing you at our Harvest Festival on October 1!