"I don't believe in anything, but I believe in the Guadalupe..."
A phrase for thought by a writer and friend.
A writer said this to me, but I'm tempted to say that I have heard this same phrase from at least two other people this year. It is a phrase with which I fully identify, and a guiding principle in painting this Virgin of Guadalupe for Reverend Winnie and St. Mark's in the Bowery in gratitude for her support of Song of the Magdalene. And in gratitude to Guadalupe Tonantzin. It was at St. Marks where a few years ago I attended a dedication of an Aztec dance group to the Virgin of Guadalupe. I had never paid much attention to her, but that day she was there as the invocation for the Elements began and continued with the ancestral dancing that the group would perform in her honor. That night I brought her flowers.
I think we are all willing to bring her flowers because we can also call her Tonantzin, which in Aztec mythology and among present day Nahuas,means 'Our Revered Mother'. The faith and reverence so many people place on her is transmitted even to those of us who have a hard time believing in anything concrete.
And even when we don't believe in anything (or when we believe in everything, which is more or less the same thing...) mythologies and the truths they contain, whether they come in the context of organized religion or of personal realization, are as valid as any other belief system when they provide hope and comfort, sight and wisdom. Tonantzin is revered for her wisdom in knowing the hearts of her children.
I painted her with the colors I associate with wisdom and with the Earth: yellow, brown, terracotta, and gold, and a bluish green for hope. She is the Mother (Earth), and she is meeting the Father (Sky, White Light) without taking her gaze away from those who look up to her. Whether we dance or paint, play music or write, whether we believe or don't believe, we know that with her loving smile she will accept our gifts of joy.