This piece is an excerpt from our full moon contributor Eila Carrico’s new book, The Other Side of the River: Stories of Women, Water and the World.
The last time we visited the Navajo Reservation was just before I moved to California in 2012. My dad and I flew out to Albuquerque and rented a green Ford truck to pass Tohatchi and enter into the forgotten lands of the Native Americans. Most of the inhabitants live in trailers or mobile homes without heat and running water, but everyone I met called me sister or daughter. The roofs are covered with old tires to keep the heat in, but there’s always enough food for guests.
The temperature was hovering below zero degrees when we visited. My dad and I slept in the living room and took turns tending the fish-tank sized wood-burning stove every hour or two all night to keep the trailer warm. We slept in sleeping bags on the floor and shared our boiled eggs with the stray dogs in the morning. We chopped firewood from up on the mountain for most of the afternoon. At night we enjoyed filling dinners: deliciously greasy fry bread and fresh lamb and corn stew, while our host Tommy told stories about the turkey who saved all the animals from the flood or the coyote who got stuck in the stars. I decided to share a story of my own that had touched me deeply and cooked internally long enough for it to change me. And in turn I changed the story.
The Birth of Reina is inspired in part by my reading of Martín Prechtel’s The Disobedience of the Daughter of the Sun. I imagine a wide re-interpretation that shifts the main female character from a passive to active agent in her destiny, liberates the mother from her role as captor, and encourages death to be seen as part of an endless cycle of rebirth.
On one level, this story is the story of a family that gets caught up in shoulds and restrictions and forgets the power of beauty, love and magic. It is a story about losing what is most precious when we hold it too tightly—flowing water cannot be contained or ruled by the laws that govern the sun or the moon in the sky, and she is not a mountain; she is not meant to stay still. She follows her own laws. Families—whether the core family or our larger human family—often forget to celebrate the differences that make life possible, and in this way we scatter ourselves and doom ourselves to feeling perpetually lost.
Reina—like Oshun, Ariel, Tara, and Aphrodite—is a maiden goddess. This is profound in that it shows the importance and value of the young feminine energy. She is often overlooked, but her innocence and sensitivity are needed to bring the world back into balance. Finding the maiden in our psyche brings us optimism and reconnects us with play, wonder and joy. Her weaving is the magic of life itself, the reminder that we are not separate but deeply connected as the very fabric of what propels life onward.
The Birth of Reina
This story takes place a long, long time ago, when the Sun and the Moon first met. Theirs was a love unlike any other, it lit up the sky and brought songs to the birds, and it inspired love on the entire planet. The daughter of the Mountain and the Ocean was born as this divine love began to blossom. She was a being unique in the universe. The daughter of the Mountain and Ocean was the most beautiful girl who ever existed, having come from the strong, rich Mountain and deep, shining Ocean themselves. Her fresh waters bubbled up gently from a place high in the mountain, and she animated the face of the earth with green and gold. Her name was Reina and she was divine royalty, and as her parents were quick to tell her, no common man would ever be worthy of her. Any suitor would need to match her divine heritage, elegance, beauty and talent, but where on earth was such a man to be found? And so Reina was lonely, but she was happy.
Reina grew up in the land of her father and felt connected to her mother but had never seen her. She wondered what her mother was like and sometimes felt a sudden urge to seek her out. But the forest was her home for now, and she trusted she would find her mother when the time came. As she wondered, she often wandered through the forest on the mountainside and talked with animals and trees. On her daily meandering, she made friends with every living thing, and they each in turn adored her for the ease and peace she brought their spirits. As she walked, violets blossomed under her feet and peach trees released juicy, ripe fruit into her palms. She took care of creation, and creation took care of her.
One day, as she wanders through the forest she happens to meet a tiny man who lives in a mushroom. They recognize one another as two threads of one fabric and begin to meet regularly on her walks. The two create a world unto themselves, but Reina’s heart is sad because she knows her parents would never allow her to marry this tiny, common little man.
Eila Carrico is a weaver and wordsmith who delights in the mystery and magic of landscapes and memory. She grew up in rural central Florida, and was inspired by her studies in journalism, anthropology and religion to travel around the world and teach in Paris, Ghana, Thailand and India before settling in the Bay Area in 2008. Check out more of her work at: http://www.eilacarrico.com.