The Q’ero Mystics of Peru

There is a lot of mystery that surrounds the Q’ero mystics of Peru.  Some say they are direct descendants of Incan high priests. Some even purport that they live in the Andean mountains at altitudes where no normal human can survive.  Such claims may be hearsay but the fact remains that due to the high spiritual life that the Q’ero have become known for, there is a lot of wiggle room for people to weave fantastical stories in.

The Abode of the Q’ero

Another factor contributing to the mystery that surrounds the Q’ero is the place that they call home.  They live in an extremely remote region of the Peruvian Andes just outside the province of Paucartambo.

The elevation is indeed very high in this region but it is definitely not unfit for humans.  The region is mountainous and the trails that lead between the estimated six major Q’ero villages can be dangerous to trek.  Still, this is the abode of the Q’ero mystic of Peru and perhaps does more to shroud these people in secrecy than any other aspect.

The Q'ero Mystics of Peru

The Q’ero Mystics of Peru

What the Q’ero Mystics of Peru Believe

There is no dogma among the Q’ero like in most of the religions we practice in developed countries but the Q’ero most certainly have beliefs.

Their spiritual history, so to speak, is broken up into ages.  The first age brought the moon and the first men.  Within this age, the sun emerged and burned away the men of the moon.  The sun begat a son called Inkarri and he founded the city of Cusco and performed other miraculous deeds.

The Spanish came but the Q’ero claimed to have triumphed over them with the help of the mountain spirit or Apus as it is known to the Q’ero.  The Q’ero believe that a new age is approaching and will be marked by the return of Inkarri who will burn the wicked and cause the good to ascend to the heavens.

The Q’ero pass all of this history down through generations through oral traditions and story-telling.  They believe in the Cosmic Mother which some have taken to mean the universe or nature.

The Q’ero do not have an organized religion, rather a set of traditions and loose beliefs that influence their daily lives and culture. For example, they pay great respect and homage to nature and try to do good among one another because they believe that doing good for others will eventually bring rewards to themselves.

The Wisdom of the Q’ero

Peru is a place filled with magical stories and peoples, some examples are the Nazca Lines of Peru and the Q’ero mystics of Peru  who have much wisdom to share with the modern world.

Unlike Evangelical religions, the Q’ero promote harmony with all living things and thinking nothing of a person’s religion. Balance to them is an individual virtue that must be maintained in order to live a good life.

The Q’ero mystics of Peru have survived all this time in a harsh terrain by living modest lives and finding their sustenance in the earth.  Their homes are small, often single-room huts and they raise llamas and alpacas and farm corn and potatoes.

There has been a great deal of interest in the Q’ero mystics of Peru and there is even a documentary about them in the works. Perhaps this interest stems from the fact that these people have survived for centuries in an unorthodox manner that boggles our modern minds and challenges the modern comforts we believe we cannot live without.

At any rate, they are a vital link to our collective history as humans and should be respected accordingly.

Top 6 Latin Music Genres

Latino music, just like Latino food is flavorful and evokes emotions of warmth and spice.  The Latin world has given us many different genres of music –some more popular than others.  Still, I found that there is something to appreciate and take away from all of the genres of music that I intend to share with you.  Here are the top 6 Latin music genres.

Salsa

Salsa music may very well be the most popularized and branded genre of Latino music in the world.  Whoever you are and wherever you live, you have probably heard at least a sampling Salsa music.

Salsa is an umbrella term that may in fact refer to other genres like Cha Cha, Mambo and Pachanga.  While all of these musical styles make up the body of Salsa, one must also recognize the infusion of Jazz and R&B in Salsa music. Celia Cruz is one of the pioneers of Salsa music and is an excellent starting point if you want to start delving into this genre.

Merengue

Merengue music is probably what most people think of when they think of Latin dance music.  It is a fast paced style of dance music (accompanied with its own style of dance) that is performed with traditional Dominican instruments like Tambora and Guira.

Modern Merengue incorporates elements of EDM as well but for a traditional taste of Merengue, check out Juan Luis Guerra or Chichi Peralta.

Bachata

This genre has an interesting history.  It is essentially distinguished as a music that tells a sad tale of heartbreak or sorrow.  It emerged from the Dominican country side with traditional Spanish guitar being the main instrumentation. Today however, Bachata music has been electrified and can blend easily into Latino pop.  Some Bachata artists of note are Aventura and Monchy & Alexandra.

Top 6 Latin Music Genres

Top 6 Latin Music Genres

Tango

If you can’t place Tango music in your head, here’s a hint: think about a woman in a flowing red dress, a man with a rose in his teeth and almost a military marching theme playing as they trade moves with one another in rhythm.

Tango originated in Argentine where artists like Astor Piazzolla and Carlos Gardel rose to prominence within the genre. Tango of course, yielded its own dance and is extremely popular all over the world with many different countries forming their own variations of the traditional dance.

Reggeaton

Reggeaton may as well be the official genre of Puerto Rico where it was cultivated.  I remember being in high school when reggeaton seemingly ruled the airwaves here in the states.  Acts like Pit Bull and Daddy Yankee soared to superstardom at that time, making the Reggaeton sound pop culture fodder.

Raggaeton blends Jamaican dance hall music with elements of Salsa and bomba.  It is probably the most electronic music of the ones I have listed thus far and can be rapped or sung over.

Latin Jazz

Last but most certainly not least, there is Latin Jazz.  This is most definitely my favorite genre of Latin music.  It swings with saxophone solos, sultry trombones, you can dance to it thanks to the consistent backbeat, you can sit and snap your fingers along with the cool electronic keys or simply sway your head to and from along with its almost macabre but certainly playful melodies.

It resembles Jazz as we know it, the main difference lying in the percussion.  Whereas Jazz uses a traditional drum kit, Latin Jazz relies on traditional percussion of the Caribbean and South America like the congas and many songs feature a prominent cowbell maintaining the beat.  Tito Puente is by far the most famous artist to emerge from this genre.

5 Traditions Amongst Latino Moms

An interesting thing happened to my perception of different cultures when writing about 5 traditions amongst Latino moms and talking to people in my life who could give some insight on the topic.

Instead of finding ‘5 traditions amongst Latino moms’ that distinguish them from mothers of other ethnic backgrounds, I found that such differences were superficial to say the least.  In a way it is affirming for me as writer, a Hispanic and as a human to know that we are not as different as we, if not careful, tend to think we are.

Many of the practices and mannerisms that I remember my mother exhibiting, it turns out are not very different from those of the mothers of my non-Hispanic friends who were a valuable source of information and perspective.

Still, let us not forget that we are still talking about Hispanics so read the following list, remember fondly your own childhood, perhaps learn something new and most of all, let it be a reminder that we are all linked together by a stronger bond than we realize.

5 Traditions Amongst Latino Moms

Cariños

This tradition is probably the one that has left the largest impact on my life.  My life with my mother was so full of cariños (little affections) that I often do cariños in some form or another myself (mainly to dogs since I have no children of my own).  I would hear cariños directed at me and whenever my mother encountered a baby, small child, my nephews, or really, anything she found adorable.

Cariños are basically little nonsense sayings usually spoken in a baby voice to infants and small children when a mother is so filled with love and warmness; there is simply no other way to express it.

Vicks

If you are a Latino, then you probably know what I am talking about right off the bat.  Latin moms use Vicks VapoRub as a cure-all when their child is sick.

5 Traditions Amongst Latino Moms

5 Traditions Amongst Latino Moms

For me personally, I believe the healing powers of Vicks is firmly limited but more than anything, it was the ritual of my mother gently rubbing it on my chest when I had a cold that was so therapeutic. It is a loving connection between mother and child and love is always healing.

Folk Tales

Telling spooky tales can be fun and Latino mothers often share the satires and morals of our Hispanic heritage with their children.  Tales like El Coco and La Llorona are some of the most common, the former of which is one I heard personally as a child.

Teaching Spanish

My mother never formally taught me Spanish but I can’t count the number of times that she off-handedly let me know what my grandmother would call certain people or household items.  She loved to tell me the little home-spun phrases of our grandmother and what they meant.

Many Latino moms do take time to make sure their children are fluent in Spanish which acts as a cultural and maternal link. Read here about Marcela Hede’s son and how to Plan Your Spanish Language Immersion.

Quinciañeras

Possibly the most well-known Latino tradition, the Quincienera celebrates a girl becoming a woman.  This is an important time for a Latino mother and daughter to bond.

There are versions of these traditions present in cultures around the world but there is a definite Hispanic flare in the ones I have described here.

Some of the most interesting traditions are in the way Latino moms name their children because Hispanic baby names mean a lot to them.  Hopefully this has interested you in finding your own correlations between your respective culture and that of the Hispanic culture.

Why Do Latinas Marry Gringos

While the matters of the heart can never be quantified (the heart wants what the heart wants) the increasing number of Latinas opting to marry gringos is a very interesting phenomenon that invites much speculation and pondering.

If you don’t know what a ‘gringo’ is, take this opportunity to educate yourself by reading this article

Why do Latinas love gringos so much?  I don’t believe that this is warrants a general answer.  It’s not that Latinas love gringos just because they are gringos.

I think for the most part Latina women are drawn to Caucasian men because they represent the antithesis of Latino bravado.  Not that all Latin men are so stereotypically haughty, but such characteristics have for better or worse become inexorably associated with Latin men.

Caucasian men seem to be more mild-mannered by and large, although there are always exceptions to the rule.  Imagine this: you are a young Latina who grew up in a house of boisterous Latino men.  You will more than likely react to this upbringing in one of two ways.

The first; you will seek out and value what there is to be admired about the confidence, strength and surety that exists in the characters of the Latino men you were raised by and grew up with.

The second response may be that you are repelled by such characteristics so that in your adult life, you will seek out the exact opposite in your significant other.  If you are of the latter ilk, and you live in America, guess what, you are probably going to be attracted to and even marry a gringo!

Why Do Latinas Marry Gringos?  Simple Cultural Differences

I have talked to many Latina women who have either dated or are married to Caucasian men and a common theme that comes up is the differing cultures.

At first glance, you would think that deep cultural differences would only serve to drive a wedge in a marriage but I have found quite the opposite when talking to these women.

In fact, they say that the differences in their cultures are what bring them closer together with their spouses.  Those Latinas who have made it last with their gringo partners say that the prominent aspects of Latino and gringo characters actually complement each other.

For example, I know a Latina, a Chilean to be exact who (I will say this as gently as I can) has a tendency to make a small matter into a big one.  She recognizes that about herself and says that her gringo husband is excellent at calming her down and getting her to see situations in a milder manner.

She swears that if she ended up with a Chilean man, tempers would go unchecked and there would be explosions of monumental proportions in their marriage.

Why Do Latinas Marry Gringos

Why Do Latinas Marry Gringos

Another reason that I have observed and may serve to explain why more Latinas are marrying gringos today than ever before is a more modern level of equality in the home.

Latino culture is such that the men are the bread-winners and don’t do housework and other domestic activities.

For better or worse, it seems that Latinas are shying away from this dynamic and gringos are much more likely to be amenable to this household role.

Successful Latinas may also be drawn to gringos who are more likely to be supportive of a career that could outshine their own as well.

All of this may be reading too deep into things that may not even be there and the answer could be much simpler in reality.  After all, we live in America and a Latina growing up in America may value a partner who could be something of an usher to her in this American life.

It makes me happy to see Latina/Caucasian marriages work because I believe it can be a benefit for all parties involved.  On a purely biological level, species thrive when they intermingle as it brings the favorable characteristics of both to the surface and phases out that which is detrimental.  So it goes with Latina/Caucasian marriages.

The Mate Ceremony

Simply called the mate ceremony the Yerba Mate tradition has become something of a fad in recent years. You can even walk into a grocery store here in the states and buy a pack of a branded Yerba Mate tea. This drink however has very deep and significant roots especially in Argentinian culture.

What is Mate

The word Mate in this case refers to the vessel from which Yerba Mate has been drunk for centuries.  The Mate is actually a gourd that is hollowed out and filled with the tonic.  The Mate gourd is then passed around in a circle so that friends and family can drink from it.

What is Mate Drink

Mate drink is essentially tea made from the Yerba Mate leaves. The leaves are dried and chopped up which form the basis of the mate. Other herbs can be added to the dried leaf mixture but the mate leaves are the main ingredient.

The leaves themselves come from holly trees which are common in South American rain forests.  These leaves are rich in caffeine and natural antioxidants.  This is why in many ways, Yerba Mate is compared to coffee and other mild stimulants.

Once the leaves and herbs have been grounded, they are very carefully placed inside the hollowed out mate gourd.  The placing of the yerba inside the gourd is considered very important because you never want to put too much or too little Yerba into the mate gourd.  Both circumstances will produce undesirable effects. The leaves are then steeped by pouring hot water into the gourd.  A metal straw called a bombilla is inserted into the gourd and the mate ceremony is ready to commence.

The Mate Ceremony and the The Gauchos

Mate ceremony

The Mate Ceremony by Marcela Hede

The gauchos were essentially cowboys or farm workers.  They lived simple lives, labored and wanted for very little.

Gauchos are credited for popularizing yerba mate in Argentina and the mate ceremony itself.  After a long hard day in the fields, the gauchos whom you can read more about here would prepare their Yerba Mate in the manner described above and sit in a circle with their friends and family.  This was a somber time of rest, reflection and fellowship.  One person would drink from the mate gourd and pass it to the next person in the circle.

The gauchos of old would sit in a circle around their campfire and drink the mate which was very important to them culturally and physically as mate drink holds many health benefits and replenishes the body of a worker with essential nutrients.

The mild stimulating effects of the mate are supposed to induce a sense of euphoria and as the gourd is passed around, conversations are started amongst close friends and relatives.  Everybody drinks the mate and everyone bonds with one another.

Though this tradition is centuries old, it still permeates everyday life in modern day Argentina and regions all over the world including Europe and Northern Asian countries.

Today, traditional mate ceremonies like the one aforementioned are still practiced but every Argentine observes this rite in their own way.  Workers, students and families incorporate the mate ceremony into their daily lives, sometimes with just a couple of participants.

The mate ceremony has become very important in the Argentinian culture as it serves as a vessel in which loved ones and fond companions can pass into communion and deep discourse with one another.  To say that the mate ceremony is social in nature would be something of an understatement.  What underlies the mate ceremony is a deep sense of community, a tuning of one’s spirituality, and an alignment of the mind and the body.

Meaning of Cuaresma in Christian Latin American Countries

Cuaresma in Christian Latin American countries has a somber meaning and it takes on special significance to all who practice it.  First of all, it follows the period of Carnaval in some countries, the celebration period before Cuaresma.

You have probably heard of the raucous celebrations of Carnaval that countries like Brazil have become known for but Cuaresma is something much different.

The meaning of Cuaresma in Christian Latin American countries from a religious standpoint reflects the 40 days and 40 nights that Jesus spent in the wilderness.  The observation begins on Ash Wednesday.

During cuaresma, one is supposed to reflect on his or her spiritual life-taking time to forgive those who have wronged them, repent for transgressions against their Lord and their fellow man and make sacrifices in the manner of Christ.

Abstaining

It is a common practice in Latin American countries to give something up during the 40 day period of Cuaresma.

In Mexico, Colombia and Venezuela for example, the common practice is to abstain from eating meat on Fridays. This has become an important tradition because certain foods have become associated with such acts of abstinence.  Since we don’t eat meat on Friday’s during Cuaresma, we eat seafood like fish and shrimp.

It is hard to separate food from a tradition (even a religious one) in Latino culture so there are even more types of foods that are commonly prepared during Cuaresma.

In Mexico special foods for Cuaresma like Empanadas de vigilia which are a pastry stuffed with seafood and vegetables are also a staple of the Cuaresma period.  Capirotada, a bread pudding desert and its ingredients are made to represent Christ’s crucifixion on a cross.

Meaning of Cuaresma in Christian Latin American Countries

Meaning of Cuaresma in Christian Latin American Countries

Activities for Cuaresma in Christian Latin American Countries

If you are in a Latin American country during Cuaresma you may see people walking around with a black cross smeared onto their foreheads, also common amongst Catholics in the United Staes.  This is an act of humility and a time-honored tradition on Ash Wednesday which begins lent in Hispanic countries.

Domingo de Ramos (Palm Sunday) lands on the fifth Sunday of the Cuaresma period and in many Latin American countries, a procession is held to mirror Christ’s arrival in Jerusalem atop a donkey. These parades feature life-sized statues of Christ and actual palm leaves.

The Holy Week which begins on Palm Sunday is known in Latin American countries as Semana Santa.  During Santa Semana, the last days of Jesus are represented in gigantic floats that are paraded through South American towns and cities on the backs of men who consider this an honor.

Pascua is the final day of the holy week and is cause for great celebrations.  In some countries the streets are adorned with colorful rugs called alfombras like in Holy Week in Guatemala, Mexico and Brazil.

Cuaresma Here, Today

The meaning of Cuaresma in Christian Latin American countries definitely takes on a more traditional role than it does here in the states but the spirit is the same.

While we may not have parades and vivid processions, those who celebrate lent state side sacrifice something that is near and dear to them for 40 days and many Christians and Catholics bear the mark of the ashen cross on their foreheads. In this way, Cuaresma transcends spiritual meaning while not divorcing itself from religion and it comes to mean something very personal for each individual who observes it.

Hispanics and The Virgin Mary – Our Great Devotion

Have you ever wondered about the strong connection that Hispanics and the Virgin Mary have? Going beyond simple Catholic faith, Our Lady and Latinos have a special bond.

Perhaps the most important reason that Latinos are so devoted to the Virgin Mary is due to specific apparitions that she has made in Latin America.

Many devotees attribute miracles and other interventions to the Virgin they revere, they have a direct, powerful connection to the Virgin.

Beyond personal miracles, another common theme that joins Latinos and the Virgin Mary is the protection of the poor and the marginalized, a group which unfortunately has historically encompassed many throughout the continent.

Hispanics and The Virgin Mary: Apparitions

Your opinion about the accuracy of the appearances of Mary depends much on your personal belief. Catholics in Latin America feel that they are the truly the representation of the Virgin Mary.

Although the Catholic church does not officially recognize every reported apparition of the Virgin, those it recognizes are considered to be authentic expressions of divine intervention.

The instances remind believers of some aspect of the Christian message. These apparitions are evidence of the Virgin’s continuing presence and intervention in the life of the Church in Hispanic religion.

Importance of La Virgen in History

An altar to la Virgen de Guadalupe.

An altar to la Virgen de Guadalupe.

Apparitions of the Virgin Mary can inspire such devotion that, in fact, they change history. The biggest example in Latin America is the Virgen de Guadalupe. When Juan Diego reported this vision in 1531, the church leaders in Rome didn’t pay much attention.

However, devotion to the Virgen added some eight million new Catholics in Latin America in only six years, at a time that Catholicism in Europe faced great challenges.

The Virgen de Guadalupe continues to have a major impact on Latin Catholicism. The basilica dedicated to her is the most significant for Hispanics and the Virgin Mary, and is actually the third largest Catholic church in the world.

There are others, however, who consider apparitions an example of religious syncretism, or the combining of contradictory schools of thought into one system of belief.

Apparitions of the Virgin in Latin America

While Latin American Catholics tended to be Marian (devotees of Mary) no matter which country they are from, there is a unique cultural and national aspect to that devotion: most Latinos venerate “their” Virgen.

Even the Virgen de Guadalupe, the Patroness of the Americas, is for the most part venerated primarily by Mexicans.

Many countries or regions have been blessed by the apparition of the Virgin Mary: in Costa Rica, the Virgen de Los Ángeles (also called La Negrita); in Venezuela, Nuestra Señora de Coromoto; in Paraguay, the Virgen de Caacupé; in Argentina, Nuestra Señora del Rosario de San Nicolás; and in Colombia, Nuestra Señora del Rosario de Chiquinquirá.

These Virgins are the source of much devotion, often inspiring pilgrimages which draw thousands of people. In many cases, they are the patron saints of the country where they appeared.

Not surprisingly, the bond between Hispanics and the Virgin Mary continues in Latinos in the United States. Visiting a primarily Latin area, you are likely to see numerous images venerating the Virgin.

Which Virgen do you venerate? Tell us about it in the comments!

What Is the Story of Mariachis?

If you’ve ever been to Mexican restaurant with live music, there is a good chance that you’ve gotten to hear the famous mariachis. These roaming musicians, easy to spot in their sombreros and black and silver charro clothing, are the best-known of all kinds of Mexican music.

In fact, mariachis and their music may be one of the most recognized Latin art forms worldwide. Since 2011, this form of music has been recognized as part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.

Importance of Mariachi

Mariachis themselves are an important part of any Mexican celebration: weddings, quinceañeras (15th birthday parties), birthdays, celebrating Mother’s Day in Mexico, etc. They even play in churches on feast days in celebration of saints and the Virgin Mary.

here is the story of mariachis, they figured heavily in the movies of the Golden Age of Mexican cinema, spreading their popularity throughout Latin America.

You can find mariachis as a significant part of celebrations in many countries outside of Mexico, including the southwestern United States and other regions with large Hispanic populations. Indeed, the festival Mariachi USA is over its 25th year.

Origins of Mariachi Music

Mariachis in their traditional black outfits.

Mariachis in their traditional black outfits.

As a form of mestizo folk music, its origins are not fully known. Jalisco is often considered to be the home of mariachi, although it is possible that it originated throughout the entire region of western Mexico: Jalisco, Zacatecas, Guanajuato, Nayarit, Aguascalientes, Colima, and Michoacán.

The first written mention of mariachis is in the mid-1800s, in a letter by a priest. In it, he complained about the noise that these folk musicians made.

The most common instruments in a mariachi ensemble are: guitarrón (bass guitar), guitar, vihuela (small guitar), violin, and trumpet.

Although for many of us, the horn section of a mariachi is one of its most iconic aspects, they were only added to the mariachi ensemble in the early 1900s, due to the influence of recording devices and radio.

Origins of the Word “Mariachi”

There are actually a number of theories about the origins of the word “mariachi.” For many years the word was thought to come from the French word for marriage (mariage), due to the popularity of mariachis at weddings. This explanation has now fallen out of favor.

The word is now considered to be of indigenous origin.

One explanation holds that The Coca tribe, which spoke a version of Nahuatl, had a religious song called “María ce son,” which eventually became Mariachi and “son,” or song.

“Mariachi” itself came to mean “el indio está contento” – the Indian (native American) is happy.

Other possible origins of the name include derivations of the name of a local wood, which, according to theory, was used to make either guitars or the dance platform for the groups.

“Mariachi” is unique word because it can refer to the group of performers, to an individual musician, or to the music they play (son de mariachi) even though, mariachis play a number of kinds of music, including polkas, corridos, rancheras, boleros, and huapangos.

If you have a favorite traditional Mexican song, don’t hesitate to ask: there is a very good chance these accomplished musicians will know it.

Have you had Mariachis at an important family event? Tell us in the comments!