One thing about me is that I love to learn about other cultures. Everything…. Yet, I am mostly fascinated when I come across a culture’s Spiritual beliefs, their mythology, and their symbols. It has always intrigued me. Most of what I do know comes from independent learning. I really didn’t pay attention in high school, I regret to say.
I did pay attention in religious studies, especially in my third year. Father Corey was his name. His lectures and explanations for the miracles in the Bible really excited me. The meaning of these symbols were not what I was taught at home, nor what I had been taught in elementary and Sunday school. I even got punished for repeating one of his explanations: how Moses parted the sea. My grandmother became enraged at my comment and said out loud, “So, this is what I pay tuition for? Blasphemous teachings…?” Yes, I was in trouble and I learned not to share Father Corey’s stories. What he said was not as important as what I learned: we understand things depending on our experience. A symbol that means something to me may mean something entirely different to someone else. It can offend as well as delight.
In college, it all started to change. History became my favorite subject! I had this amazing professor who made it all come to life! It felt as if we were a part of it. Our lectures were conversations with the players in the historical story. In this class I was learning about the history of Puerto Rico. I did not know much about it because most of my studies were done in New York. So to me, this was all brand new. This man did what no other teacher had been able to do with a subject like History. He turned me on! I learned to follow history as a story, one full of rich characters, plot, and symbols.
The way the History professor taught history was by making it a novela. A novela is like a soap opera on television. They are filled with drama, cheating, violence,,, you know what I mean. So history was less about dates and treaties and became more about the complicated relationships that existed throughout the history we were learning about. I was sold and became an avid history buff!
This new love also turned me on to the Spiritual aspects of cultures: their Cosmology, Religions, and traditions. I was able to use what I learned in high school from Father Corey and what I learned from my college professor. It became the best way for me to make sense of all the information.
I learned a lot during this period of my life. By this time, I was in graduate school and decided to focus on Adolescent Literature. It all fell into place! It was the interwoven symbolism that drew me into the study of cultures and history. As a school teacher, my students are exposed to contemporary as well as classical literature. So it is imperative that we explore the historical background and culture of the pieces we read. They must understand the context in order to comprehend the content. I try to do this by using symbols.
Symbolism is my vehicle to have them fully internalize the message of the piece; but also, I hope they can connect these symbols to gain a better understanding of the human experience at the time the work was written. Only by understanding the time period, I believe, can one truly understand what an author is trying to convey to his readers. Here is where symbols become so important; some symbols take on the meaning of that time while others continue on strong throughout mankind’s history. That in it of itself says a lot about us as a unit. There are certain things that are constant in our experience, no matter who we are and where we come from. They are Universal! We are more alike than we are different.
All cultures have their symbolic pieces. They are meant to represent what would take many words to express. And, that meaning may metamorph for an individual. Maybe it will have added context. Maybe it will connect them to a loved one. Or maybe it holds the meaning that their own family has given it. Whatever the case, symbols are invaluable to us.
In my Tesoros pieces, I use symbols from around the world. They manifest through the shapes, the stones, the crystals… Any and all of the elements are born from cultural symbols that manifest Spiritual and Cultural beliefs, and bring about Prosperity and Positive Energies. I want you to feel the positivity from the Universe!
So the pages that follow focus on Symbols and hope to bring you some of what I have learned throughout my studies. Some are from living Cultures; others have been forgotten by many because they are not part of the mainstream. For example, the use of Taino symbols in my jewelry is new to many people who may never have heard of these Native Americans.
I hope the message is clear: one symbol is worth a thousand words.