“Oi Mamâe, ‘ta bonita hoje você!”
“Bom dia, minha filha, ‘tava esperando-a.”
My salutations to my Oceanic Mother Iemanjá go something like this every day. As I approach her blue majesty, I am overcome by a sense of reverence and beauty, and it is then when I feel a strong urge to communicate my love to her. I talk to her in Portuguese, as I was introduced to her in Brazil, as a teenager, when my family and I vacationed in our beach house in Florianopolis.
“’ce si lembra, mamâe, do dia dois de fevereiro cuando eu conheci você na festa dos navegantes?”
“Eu lembro, minha filha, e sei que isse dia você ficou prendada de mim pra sempre…”
I sure did. Ever since I witnessed the celebrations for my mother Iemanjá on her day, February 2nd, o dia de Nossa Senhora dos Navegantes, honoring “Our Lady of Seafarers,” I became her true devotee. The fishermen’s homage to the bounty of the ocean–that opulent womb that sustains them daily– resonated deeply in me. I knew there was an ancestral memory activated when I saw the white-garbed participants, their colorful wooden barges ready to go out into sea, their offerings of flowers, fruits, candles, mirrors and other objects that a Mâe uses to adorn herself. Salve Rainha do Mar!
My current proximity to my beloved Oceanic Mother has helped me develop a close relationship with her. I bathe in her waters daily, I honor her with offerings on special occasions and I share with her the ruminations that haunt me in this transition…
“I have told you, Mamâe, that my intention in this new phase of my life, after letting go of so much baggage that was stunting my growth, is to fully express myself from my authentic voice, to travel and write…
Since I was a little girl, I loved to write. I think I was eight when I wrote my first poem to impress my mom after she had scolded me for something I had done. Writing has always been easy for me, and I was able to professionalize this skill as a professor and a scholar. My challenge right now is to be able to authentically integrate these skills with a more personal voice, that undercurrent that has been emerging silently every morning for decades, the voice that seeps through at the break of dawn, when everything is still dark and quiet. The voice of my journals, the secret voice that has been unheard until now, those whispers hushed since my youth, waiting patiently to be used as the raw material for the memoir I’ll write one day…
I find it challenging now to professionalize in turn that intimate voice that expresses my vulnerability and my longings, that recovers the poet/mystic in me, a baroque voice with traces of my maternal Spanish, inspired by the lushness and magic of my native continent and its beautiful cultures and literatures.
How do I express the stirrings of my soul, my true identity with a voice that is my own? How do I transition from the need to quote authorities to validate my point of view, to just note the singing of the birds in the morning, the constant shrill of the cicadas on warm evenings, the music of falling green mangoes, the buzzing of the mosquitoes in my ear? How do I capture the cadence of the waves breaking on shore persistently, constantly, patiently?
How do I communicate this bursting of emotions, dreams and desires to my readers in an effective way? How do I stay true to myself while at the same time capturing their imagination?”
“Minha filha, o que voce perguntar, ‘ce ja sabe mesmo. I appreciate your questions, as I know they’re coming from a deep desire to be sincere, speaking clear words from your open heart. And I also know that the answers are within you.
Expressing ourselves is like breathing. As we rest in the assurance that who we are is enough, whatever we do or say will be an expression of our true self. It just requires our total self-acceptance and approval of what our intuition guides us to say or do. You might need to be reminded of that now.
For me, it’s just allowing our Grand Mother Moon to work through me, to let her changing energies to move me in that constant swelling and retreating that is the essence of her nature, of my nature. Just flowing with the contractions and expansions. It is also holding space for the currents that run deep within me to take their course. I’m a flexible container for all that life that manifests as the divine Ocean. It is enough for me to balance in a continuous aquatic flow of birth and regeneration, creating a viable place for all kinds of marine creatures to grow and prosper.
My breath is deep, and so should be yours. Deep and sincere. As you tap into that core, that pristine quarry within and turn your back to external distractions, you will confidently be speaking from your authentic voice.
You have consciously chosen to take the high road, minha Filha, and thus become entitled to see through the veil of this material reality. That takes work and sacrifice, making each and every moment of your existence sacred to honor what you are meant to see.
It is my charge to you to release the fear, the doubt. Have the courage to go through the pains of birthing once again your beautiful texts of realities, images and concepts that will stir something very deep inside your readers. That’s your way of serving me. That is what you are summoned to do as an appointed Sirena.
Pay attention to what this place is teaching you and write “from the present,” as Jane suggested. Breathe the abundance of this generous nature, the life that pulsates continuously as birds and bugs and the intense greenery of the jungle. See how simple life is, how easy it is to celebrate it by just being in tune with its flows; how the monkeys delight in their roaring and the dutiful surfers just wait patiently to ride the right swell on my back. You yourself bask in my warm waters as you are embraced in my foam, diving into the breaks as the Divina Sereia that you are.
Write from that place of celebration and devotion. Breathe your words and they will be good enough to express yourself authentically. Now go do your work, Minha Filha, you have my blessings. Abençoadae é você.”