November 2013 I was arrested in then Representative Eric Cantor’s office in Washington D.C. during a sit-in protesting for immigration reform. While I was processed I spent eight hours hand cuffed to a bench in the police station. I remember thinking to myself ‘This is how a coyote must feel before it chews its leg off’.
It was Coyote time (October – February) which is always a strange time. People talk about “Spirit Guides” a lot but seldom discuss “Spirit Mates”. What Jung called the Anima or Animus. I feel Coyote is my spirit mate. He is completely different than me. I am a Jaguar, I am literally going extinct because I refuse to adapt or change or compromise myself from my nature. Coyote has no nature, no way, he is polymorphic, a wearer of many skins. When I married myself to my art the following spring I took the name Coyolxauhqui, Rattles-in-her-cheeks, The moon, the keeper of the first sound, Coyote’s howl.
As I said earlier I’m a survivor. The older I get the more I am starting to think all women are. When we experience shocking and traumatic things in our lives they can cause one of our 4 souls to splinter off. Susto, it is called, is one of the worst soul sicknesses a person can have. Since so much of your health is dependent on keeping your spirit intact a soul retrieval ceremony is performed. Which is what is depicted in my print Soul Retrieval. The image I took from the Codex Borbonicus, which shows someone dying. In the piece a woman’s Nagual, the Jaguar, takes the place of her head, as it roars Bees, the tonalli into the sky. Her chest is ripping open and dozens of birds wings, Teyolia, are emerging and finally snakes, Ihiyotl come from her gut.
Alicia Smith’s interview continues on February 25th on Ladyblog. View part of her gallery here.