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Just One Thing To Do This Week: Be Enchanted

on December 1, 2017 - 8:57am
By MARY BETH MAASSEN
Los Alamos

The Land of Enchantment is a fitting moniker for New Mexico. The towering red rock mesas, the snowcapped peaks, dramatic cliffs and canyons.

Of all the activities and destinations that New Mexico has to offer, not one envelopes my heart and spirit quite like Light Among the Ruins, at the Jemez Historic Site (formerly the Jemez National Monument). It is always a mind-blowing, magical evening, and my favorite tradition.

It usually goes something like this:

We arrive in the Village of Jemez Springs in mid-afternoon to take advantage of the community activities and to enjoy an early dinner. Darkness comes early in the canyon and soon thereafter we take the short walk over to the Jemez Historic Site (a shuttle also is available).

As I approach the venue I hear the rhythmic pound of the drum and catch the ethereal lilting notes of Native American flute echoing in the canyon. I love the drum. The percussion is primal and the pulse is remarkably physical. The flute elevates the experience to a higher plane.

As I enter the site, 1,400 faralitos illuminate the ancient remains of Giusewa Pueblo and San José de los Jemez Mission in the cold dark night. I wander the pathways in and around the massive stone and mud walls by flickering candlelight, imagining all that happened there centuries before. The spirits are palpable.

As I move toward the larger bonfires, I see the drummers. Dancers from Walatowa Pueblo attired in striking regalia create shadows as they move to the drumbeat. The fire is hypnotizing, the dances are captivating, and the singing is mesmerizing. I am transported to another, long-ago time. It is truly magical, mystical, and yes, I am completely enchanted. As far as holiday traditions go, this beats any encounter I have ever had with Santa.

The Village of Jemez Springs and the surrounding mountains have long been a magnet for a wide variety of spiritual and religious beliefs. The ancestors of the present-day people of Walatowa Pueblo lived in the village of Giusewa long before the Franciscans arrived in 1621. That was when the San José de los Jemez Mission was built. Although that mission was only occupied for a few decades, the Catholics returned to the Jemez to build a monastery and a convent. The Jemez also is home to Rabbi Shefi Gold and the Center for Devotional, Energy and Ecstatic Practice.

It is also home to the Bodhi Manda Zen Buddhist retreat center. It is also home to Ardantane, a school for sacred living and pagan spirituality. The Jemez also is home to a variety of Christian churches. Apparently I am not the only one who is comforted and uplifted by the spirits in the Jemez.

The Light Among the Ruins is Saturday, Dec. 9. There are food and arts and crafts booths. Events begin at 3 p.m. in the Village and 5 p.m. at the Jemez Historic Site.


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