We are creatures of instinct, habit, spontaneity and creativity, in that order. Like a colony of bees or ants, we are led by an instinct that surpasses us. The sun and planets move us. Cultural trends shape us. Our social and economic status determines lifelong views, as do the values of our parents, sex, race and religion. Our educational system, friends, enemies, husbands, wives, and ultimately children influence our actions. Under such conditioning, what determines whether we follow the herd or express authenticity and independence? The infallible hermetic law that states, “like attracts like” has us being born at specific moments in history that colour our temperament and predict our inclinations.
I was born in 1943 in the midst of World War II. That year, Joseph Mengele became chief medical officer in Auschwitz and the Warsaw ghetto uprising ended. The Spanish Civil War was being fought, a coup d’état was taking place in Argentina, another in Bolivia, and Mexican riots arose in Central America. During the very same period of time that LSD became known, Chiang Kai-Chek took oath as president of China, and Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Stalin met in Tehran to plan the invasion of Europe. To express the complex and accelerated pace of the times, it was the year that Duke Ellington and Leonard Bernstein rose to fame.
I was a small child when the atom bombs were being dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the Nuremberg Tribunal was taking place. In those years, Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated in India and apartheid was introduced in South Africa. The consciousness of humanity was bursting at the seams and the cry for equality and freedom was piercingly real. I was seven when two Puerto Rican nationalists attempted to assassinate Harry S. Truman, a painful and tragic event that marked my own and my parents’ life in Brooklyn at the time: we were singled out in the same way the Japanese had been during the war. Then the Korean War started. An important deeper part of me was conditioned by imbibing the chilling climate of the Cold War, the upsurge of fear and mass paranoia. Another soaked up the dawning of the Computer Age and new possibilities of communicating.
I was eleven when McCarthy-ism, synonym to fanaticism, overtook the U.S.A. At thirteen, Elvis titillated the libido of the world. I was sixteen in 1959 when the Dalai Lama fled Tibet. A year later JFK was elected President, only to be assassinated three years later. I remember that the same year we were vacationing in Havana, Fidel headed towards the capital from Oriente. Coincidentally, Cassius Clay became Mohammed Ali and Sammy Davis Jr. shocked the social ethics by marrying all-too-white May Britt in the same year. Everyone was breaking moulds! Those of us maturing during those times were bound to do the same.
I was twenty when Nelson Mandela was sentenced to life in prison and twenty-two when the Vietnam War was declared. Meanwhile the structure of the DNA had been discovered, the first spacewalk had occurred, and the Beatles announced the coming of the Sun. Shortly afterwards, more protests in France and Italy, and more assassinations, this time that of Martin Luther King, Jr.
I was already a mother when Woodstock occurred and Greenpeace and the Peace Corps was conceived, when the first test tube baby was produced and when the Internet sprung. It was the precise moment when the Middle East started to take centre stage as Khomeini ousted the Shah and the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. What was not caused by political upheaval was triggered by chemical and natural means: the Aids virus was discovered, and both Chernobyl and the Challenger disasters occurred in 1986, followed by the world stock market crash a year later.
In 1989, just before returning from a decade in India and developing the Inner Alchemy system that would become my trademark, the Berlin Wall fell and two years later the Soviet Union collapsed. The atmosphere was warming and it was a lot more than global warming. The Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and the Gulf War continued to fester the ambience of the Middle East.
By the time I was in my fifties, I was used to the intensities both around and within me. The World Trade Centre was bombed in 1993, presaging the future in uncomfortable ways. More and more people were being attracted to New Age ideals and the world’s society seemed to split among the extremely needy, veteran pragmatists and airy-fairy idealists. Then 1995 was a remarkable year for everyone. A massive earthquake hit Japan, a bomb exploded in Oklahoma City, a surge of Ebola sprouted in Zaire, OJ Simpson was acquitted of double murder, and Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated – all in the same year! And children killed children with guns in schools. Whatever happened to Justice?
My sixties saw the shattering of the Twin Towers and bombings in Madrid and London, the decadence of the film and music industry, and the rise in pornography and paedophilia. The U.S. “allied” forces invaded Iraq and Afghanistan. Nature appeared to declare war against ecological abuses erupting with natural disasters of every type: droughts and floods, furious hurricanes, mining catastrophes, tsunamis and hair-raising earthquakes, uncontrollable oil spills into the ocean, without speaking of the severe wastefulness of the flora and fauna of the planet. And of course, the war of religion raises it monstrous face to the world again, with Al Qaeda and the soft-spoken but terrible Bin Laden. Terrorism in all its forms, including sexual abuse of women, children and men becomes profitable business with drugs, right-wing fanaticism, and unyielding communism. The world divides into two: the rich and the poor. The first get fatter and the second augment daily, together with unemployment, and the massive dissatisfaction with all political and religious systems of the last two thousand years.
While in the United States the unimaginable happens, and for the first time in history an Afro-American comes to occupy the presidency, as if to contrast to the renewed enthusiasm created, the world continues to crumble. In 2011 the spring awakenings in the middle-east are pressing for more than lip-service in democracy, all the while the India-Pakistani and the Israeli-Palestine conflicts continue. With the same intensity that the USA gloats over the murder of Bin Laden, it uneasily faces growing economic crisis, together with Ireland, Greece, Portugal, Italy, Spain and so many others. And people increase public manifestations demanding what is simply not possible! This is the climate under which I have lived my life.
Now, the world has shrunk; there is nowhere left to hide or find refuge. This is both a positive and a negative condition: positive, because it forces us to look for solutions, to try harder to understand the human condition, and truly communicate once and for all. Negative, because those who are unable to, drop by the wayside. For spirituality it spells a call to action, the need to update and concretize justly, coherently, and satisfactorily for the level of our growing intelligence. People have been “talking” about peace for as long as I can remember.
I share the same influences as Janis Joplin, my idol during my hippie days, who so poignantly screamed the pain of the time with musical background, with Vangelis who set the racing heart pulse of the moment, and Jean Claude Killy who outdid former ski champions. All were born in 1943, together with Mick Jagger, Johnny Hallyday, Jim Morrison, and Robert de Niro. There is a tension, a rebelliousness, an originality and tenacity that persists in my generation of baby boomers, born to break rules and set new trends, upset financial systems, discover new horizons and set unprecedented frontiers in space, medicine and technology.
On the inner, we would need to understand that once the lower astral doors were blasted open in the late thirties leading to World War II, superstition and logic intermingled, culminating in the Cold War years that foreshadowed the tensions and psychic control issues of today. Those doors are still open and the very same forces loosened at the time control our world. The apparent inoffensiveness of the “spiritual” or “Aquarian” New Age that heralds the coming of the Light contains shadows at the core. Old world teachers and occultists are reborn in this setting. I should know.
And it is in times like these when the sexual force is especially strong. Those of us who matured in the sixties upset sex, gender and religious norms. Each of us in our own culture around the world was a misfit, driven by the urge to expand beyond the known. Did we succeed? Our children suffered a forced and much too early independence, having to fend for themselves alone while in separate corners as a result of rising divorces, mommy explored new spaces instead of nurturing them, and daddy was obsessed with status, money, and a younger wife. As a generation, mine tore off masks but we also ripped the casing of the precious values of people like Nikola Tesla, Camille Claudel and Beatrix Potter who died the very same year I was born.
Mine is a story of the second half of the twentieth century, told by a daughter of a tiny island in the Caribbean who itself was undergoing the turmoil of an identity crises. Old versus new, North American versus old Spanish traditions, Christianity versus shamanic expressions… My particular task never seemed as difficult as it sounds as I write it: to unite, to restore and renew, to teach and to be an example.
The winds of karma combined with the winds of change bring titanic forces and climactic alterations into play. Close to the Bermuda Triangle, I was born of hurricane forces and I am its eye. Nowhere and everywhere in the planet is my home. I look to the stars and growl at the injustices and the suffering of humanity as I plunge ahead into my old age undaunted.
Today, July 19, 2011
Palma de Mallorca