Monday, September 10, 2007

The Sad Case of Ramoncito Gonzales

Two posts back Laws of Silence ended with a synopsis of the story of Ramoncito Gonzales, a young boy brutally murdered by a person or persons unknown in such a way as to suggest an occult or ritual murder. According to a local newspaper, police are moving away from the theory that the murder had to do with "Satanic rites" and focusing instead on the no less shocking but less sensational underworld of child prostitution and exploitation.

The fate of the two women arrested, mentioned in our previous post, remains unclear from subsequent articles related to the case, but it would appear that more arrests have been made since the beginning of August.

It is also clear that strong pressure to resolve the case is leading to perhaps hasty arrests and wild speculations which only add to an atmosphere of fear and confusion.

In any event, those who know some Spanish might be interested in checking out the Mi Mercedes website, which is following the case closely.

One of the articles links to a blurb about the celebration of Ramón Nonato on his feast day, 31 August. St. Raymond (1204-1240) is the patron of pregnant woman, childbirth, children and the unborn. "He is also a patron of secrecy and anonymity, and a protector against slander and captivity. His name means "not born" and comes from his own entry into the world: his mother having died during labor, he was delivered by from her dead womb. "Cut out of her dead body in a spontaneous emergency operation performed by the Viscount of Cardona with a dagger he carried in his belt" according to Fausto's Art Gallery in Ojinaga, Chihuahua. He became a Mercedarian monk, working for the release of Christian prisoners held by the Moors. He was sent to Algeria in this capacity and at one point he traded himself for a prisoner. According to Wikipedia:

"He suffered in captivity. A legend states that the Moors bored a hole through his lips with a hot iron, and padlocked his mouth to prevent him from preaching. He was ransomed by his order and in 1239 returned to Spain."

Although his cult was reduced in status in 1969, he's apparently becoming more important again as a Church tool against abortion; he remains especially popular in Latin America and appears to be well-known in New Mexico as well.

Mexican believers pray to him in order to silence malicious gossips. A red candle is lit by a votive image of the saint, which is then "silenced" by means of a coin affixed over the saint's mouth while prayers are recited.

In any event, he may have suffered like his namesake in Mercedes, but he seems to have been sleeping on the job when the poor little fellow needed him most. He might be pretty busy these days, however; with the demand for arrests and justice mounting, many people might be asking for help with any number of his various specialities, falsely and legitimately accused alike.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Sacred Waters

How we take care of the water is how it will take care of us
Eddie Benton Benais, Grand Chief of the Mdewiwin (Medicine) Society, Anishinabe spiritual elder

“She keeps men faithful to their wives and will judge and kill men who violate the sanctity of marriage if called upon to do so, because her husband was unfaithful to her, causing her to commit suicide, and to hate and punish all unfaithful men.” So writes Cat Yronwode on Santisima Muerte, going on to note similarities with La Llorona, ghostly haunt of the North American southwest. The tales of La Llorona are wideflung and varied, adopted to regional cultures and landscapes. “At any rate,” Wikipedia noting the common thread that strings these tales together, “La Llorona chooses to murder her children, almost always by drowning, either to spare them a life of poverty, to free herself to seek another man, or for revenge against their absent or stray father.”

This turned our minds to the tale of Ampato Sapa—whose name is Dakotan for “Dark Day”:

“A young Indian woman sat in a little canoe with her two small children, and rowed it out into the river in the direction of the falls [...] She sang in lamenting tones the sorrow of her heart, of her husband's infidelity, and her determination to die. [...] Her voice was soon silenced in the roar of the fall. The boat paused for a moment on the brink of the precipice, and the next was carried over it and vanished in the foaming deep. The mother and her children were seen no more. The Indians still believe that in the early dawn may be heard the lamenting song deploring the infidelity of the husband; and they fancy that at times may be seen the mother, with the children clasped to her breast, in the misty shapes which arise from the fall around the Spirit Island.”

Today these falls—the only on the upper Mississippi river—lay in the heart of Minneapolis, but numerous native traditions imbue this region with Geomantic sacredness. Let your imagination flow with Sapa’s spirit downstream: After crashing over the falls, home to Oanktehi, a Dakotan god of waters and evil, you gust past Spirit Island, where legend has it that Dakotan women came to give birth; a few miles tumble by rushed before the rapids slowly subside as the bluffs rise above you; a few lazy miles further and you feel Minnehaha’s cold splashing into the river; Minnehaha Falls, revered as “a sacred place, a neutral place, a place for many nations to come,” babbles through the hills on your right, hidden by trees and terrain; floating on another mile or two, you carve through a deep river gorge and far overhead flows Cold Water Springs “from which the sacred water should be drawn”; you spin, sailing by Pilot Knob, “considered to be the center of the world by the Dakota,” curving sharply as the Minnesota River (“Mdote Minisota”) confluence shoves the powerful Mississippi northwest; crossing into modern-day St. Paul you drift a few miles further, passing Carver’s Cavern (now gone, destroyed for a railroad), where the Dakotans held tribal councils, their burial grounds soaring above you on Dayton’s Bluffs.

Jump forward in time and the first white face on the scene adds a new sacred tie: Father Hennepin, Franciscan explorer, christened the falls St. Anthony after his patron saint Anthony of Padua, “Hammer of Heretics,” bilocationist, and finder of things lost. (Ampato Sapa knew the falls as Minirara, or “curling water.”) As time marches forward, the city of Minneapolis slowly erects itself around Minirara, harnessing the fall’s power to drive sawmills, textile plants, and grain mills; progressively taming the falls with locks, dams, skirts, and bridges; and eventually obliterating Spirit Island in the process of civilizing Old Man River.

Pause for a second. Consider the drownings of La Llorana and Ampato Sapa, the sacredness of water across so many cultures, and the theme of revenge. Faithful readers will recall that recently, while reporting on Gargantuan (who “lived at the bottom of a well where people came to throw stones at him, hitting him in the head”), we told of “a young woman, a bread maker, [who] once went to a sacred fountain to get water for her dough and as she lifted the bucket the water turned to blood.”

“Folklore has it that sacred water used for profane purposes leads to punishment and pollution of water,” we wrote, asking, “was she the last remnant of a pagan culture?”

We found our answer in an echo. Check this out: “A Minneapolis city employee got a gruesome surprise as he was cleaning the city's sewer line. A manhole near a medical laboratory began spraying human and animal blood into the face and mouth of Ron Huebner […] ‘Blood just all over my face, in my mouth, I could taste it. It was terrible. I had it in my mouth and I kept spitting and I couldn't get rid of it’.”

The Associated Press goes on to report that “the Metropolitan Council, has confirmed that the blood was indeed a combination of both animal and human matter […and that] nearly fifty different organizations possess permits allowing them to dispose of those kinds of wastes.”

Just to recap: That’s human blood, dumped by permit into the Mighty Mississippi, just upstream from Oanktehi’s sacred home in Minirara Falls (now both dammed and sainted) where Ampato Sapa killed herself and her children before haunting Spirit Island (obliterated by engineers), a few miles up river from the Dakotan tribal council caverns (sheered away for a rail road) and burial grounds (now a city park).

July 26, approximately four months following the bloody baptism, a storm raged in drought-ridden Minneapolis. A crew repairing the sewer fled to the surface for their lives. Two didn’t make it out alive; their drowned bodies washed into the Mississippi.

Six days later, the interstate 35 W bridge, spanning the river a few blocks south of the falls, collapsed: Cars, rebar, people, concrete strew into the river; thirteen killed, a hundred more injured. A “main artery,” President Bush said. Severed. Curiously, few seem to have noticed that another artery has also been severed: River traffic, barges, no longer course through the heart of Minneapolis, blocked by the ruins—though the water continues to flow, churning through her breast.

Love, too, courses through the heart. Sever this artery, and answer to La Llorona—a familiar tale of coursing love, broken promises and broken hearts, and appeals for revenge. La Llorona—“the weeping”: Vengeful saint for the jilted; her tears continue to flow.