This time of year reminds us that death remains a natural and important part of the cycle of life. In our Nahua tradition of the Central Highlands of Mexico, November 1st is named the Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos), a time in which the veil between the living and dead is at its thinnest and an auspicious time to honor and celebrate our loved ones who have died. Amy Haynes, Quiatlzques in the Nahua tradition, will lead us in creating a traditional altar to provide us with an effective opening to express our gratitude and love for those who have crossed, to share in any lingering grief and to receive their blessings and wisdom.
Day of the Dead Celebration
Thursday, Nov 1 st, 2018
Led by Amy Haynes, Quiatlzques (worker with weather for the benefit of her village) in the Nahua tradition
(RSVP by October 30)
We will gather at the Sacred Fire Asheville Council House to create a traditional altar to celebrate the lives of our loved ones who have passed on. After opening the space, we will share a potluck meal inside the home of our firekeepers, Lisa Lichtig and Patrick Hanaway. The rest of the evening will be spent back at the fire sharing our stories or listening in silence. Prema Sheerin, one of our community’s traditional healers and head of the Sacred Fire Community’s Death and Dying Council, will be in attendance to share her wisdom.
If you wish to honor a family member or close friend who has died more than 1 year ago you may set a place for them on the altar. Place settings must be for adults who passed prior to November 1, 2017.
4 – 6 pm: Arrive to set up your section of the altar. You will create a place setting to entice your loved one to join the celebration. Bring a photo of the person to be honored along with a sample of their favorite food and/or beverages. You may also bring miniature representations of their hobbies and passions. An example would be if they had a favorite car or truck you could bring a matchbox version of it. In discerning what to bring – be guided by the image of a place setting at a festive banquet. Some cut flower bouquets and candles will be on the altar but you are welcome to bring your own in addition to those provided.
6 pm: Share a potluck meal. Please bring a dish.
After dinner: Time around the fire to share and to listen. At a certain time we will depart the Council House together leaving the altar intact until Saturday morning.
Nov 3rd (Saturday)
10 am: The altar will be formally closed. This will be the time to retrieve your altar items. If you cannot be present for the closing you must let Amy Haynes know in advance so other arrangements can be made. Items will not be held after the clean-up on Saturday.
RSVP by Oct 30 so the space can be prepared as needed. You are welcome to come to the potluck and spend time around the fire without setting a place for a loved one.
RSVP to: Amy Haynes, firstname.lastname@example.org. There may be a delayed response to your RSVP as she will be away from email until Oct. 19th. If you need directions to Sacred Fire Asheville, please let Amy know this when you contact her.
HELP will be needed so please indicate your willingness/ability to help with set up Thursday or clean up Saturday when you RSVP.
DONATIONS to defray costs and support the Council House will be gratefully accepted.
By Erin Everett
A few weeks ago, I got into a discussion with my old friend, a long-time environmentalist. He made clear that sustainable solutions for today’s problems of environmental degradation, like climate change, will come from more and more advanced human-created technology.
I admit that I’m generally of a different opinion.
If our human mind has gotten us into the pickle we’re in, doesn’t it follow that we need some help? Where is the wisdom we’re seeking? Someone’s got to know how to solve the problems that more and more growth, production, industry, technology have gotten us into.
When I go for a walk outside, I experience ancient trees in a beautiful, balanced relationship with the ants that crawl up their bark, the lichens that make their home there, the rain that falls and the sun that shines on them. I learn from more recent modern scientific discoveries something that ancestral people have said before: forests, trees, streams, sky, mountains and more are interrelated in a way that shows a special livingness. Plants host a type of awareness that enables them to protect each other, nourish each other, support each other and die with something that seems like grace.
Where is this wisdom and balance for my human brothers and sisters? Is it just for plants, weather and animals? Or is there a way for us humans to find balance, too?
Our culture as modern people seems to have a different trajectory than what’s going on with the trees, stones, and the other animals in how they are in the world. For example, you won’t find a tree saying to its neighbors, “I know! Let’s create a new way of photosynthesizing that will innovate the food market!”
Those ways, both for trees and human people, that have worked in the past are sublimely suited to this world that we share. Those ways are successful because, over countless years, these interrelationships have been naturally established. When we speak in these terms regarding what we learn, and when we conserve for a good future, we call that wisdom, which represents something similar to those tried and true ancient tree-ways.
When I went to Mexico for the first time, I brushed up against village people who were living in similar ageless ways, the tried and true ones that have worked for millennia for human beings. As I return to those vibrant, dynamic villages, I continue to learn a great deal. These are not wealthy people, trying to make their lives more comfortable by the minute. Instead, they live simply and sometimes ruggedly, with lots of relationships with others who have their backs. They learn relationship skills early, in order to ensure that they will be taken care of well and can care for others.
And, how do they interact with the divine natural world? At certain occasions of the year, when the feeling of those living, natural times of intersection are near, such as the begin-rain time or the begin-corn-planting time, they put their time, comparably meager resources, and energy into celebrating and honoring those key relationships through ceremonies, engagements with the world around them to which nature responds in turn. And for them, the ceremonial cycles are like breathing. Why would you cut yourself off from your exchange with the world that happens when you receive oxygen from the plants around you? Why would you refuse to exhale the carbon dioxide that is needed by other living creatures and which is your natural exchange for the gifts you’ve received?
My brush with ceremony on that first trip south changed me. It was hard to integrate with the world-view that I had been taught. But, as the years have gone by, this work, like the ancient but ever-relating dance with life has become as welcome and natural as my breath.
So, back to my old friend. He seems to be saying that more technology will solve things like climate change. After all, in his mind, without technology, what do we have?
My response is that technology is our reaction to something missing in our lives. It seems like we need to build something artificial, like an artifact, to solve a problem. However, these solutions often produce new problems which then need additional solutions, and so forth. What if we go back to something tried and true by seeing that some things may not need artificial solving? Maybe we need to just understand “nature” and therefore move into relationship with it as those sustainable and wise cultures did before. I find, like the elders, that this works amazingly well.
And if you would like to experience this, please join us at our annual Traditional Weather Harvest Festival on Saturday, October 6 at Sacred Fire Asheville. My husband, Adam, and I, along with my fellow quiatzlques (ones who work with weather for the benefit of their people) who are part of this time-honored tradition from indigenous Mexico are hosting this event. We will be celebrating the rains and the bounty these great living expressions as wind, clouds, lightening, sun and rain have produced through the bounty of crops and water for drinking.
This event is free, kid-friendly, and open to all. And it is our birthright to be in good relationship with the living, aware world around us. When our dance with the world is a joyful, coordinated one, our fields and farms thrive and our people are fed and live together in good community once again.
Learn more about our Harvest Festival, including what to bring to offer back to the Weather Beings, who have been so kind to us this year. When you want to share true, practical sustainability, the simple act of giving thanks makes all the difference.
Erin Everett and her fellow quiatzlques are taught and initiated in the Nahua weather working tradition from the central highlands of Mexico. They work during the year asking for beneficial weather for the Asheville and western NC area, and they return to their spiritual homeland in Mexico every year to renew their connections. Their fall Harvest Festival is an opportunity for people from all walks of life in the Asheville NC, USA area to join them in celebrating the weather and the harvest.
Learn what to bring to our upcoming Harvest Festival, and invite your friends and family to this free event. Donations to support our work are appreciated.
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.”
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
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.
Harvest Festival 2018 Details and Directions
2018 Traditional Weather Harvest Festival
Saturday, October 6, 2018
Please arrive at or before 11:30 am for the ceremony, which goes from 12 noon to 4:30 pm.
Offerings for the Weather Beings. Each person attending, please bring all three of these: fresh whole fruits, cut flowers, and bread. Local is great, if you can find it.
A potluck item to share reflecting the abundant harvest. You may choose to bring a mug for your use to save on paper cups.
Clothing to fit the weather throughout the day and afternoon.
Family and friends who want to celebrate with us. This is a kid-friendly event!
Your interest and open heart.
Please bring a donation for the Harvest Festival.
Please bring a donation for our beautiful Sacred Fire Council House, the venue for our festival.
Directions to Sacred Fire Asheville and the Sacred Fire Council House:
Please park at 90 Rocky Hollow, Weaverville NC.
• From Asheville, take I-40 to I-240 to 19-23 (aka I-26) North towards Weaverville.
• Exit # 15: Jupiter-Barnardsville.
• Left off exit ramp onto Jupiter Rd.
• First right onto old 19-23 (possibly no road sign).
• Go ½ mile, veer to left onto Locust Grove Rd (blue sign for Baptist church).
• Go 1 ½ miles, turn right onto Rocky Hollow (gravel road).
• Proceed to the 5th drive on the left, # 90 Rocky Hollow. Marked with a "Park Here" sign to the Parking area to the left of the A-frame house. From parking area, walk left up to the fire structure on the hill to the left of the parking area. Someone will greet you there and tell you what’s next!
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!