Altar Makes Art

Legacy and Story

When the Reyes Católicos, verbatim the “Catholic Royals,” unleashed the full weight of the Spanish Religious and Military Industrial Complex upon the Americas in the era of the Conquest, encountered the word…


The Spanish felt it necessary to create conqueror’s lies around it. They labeled it heretical and witchcraft, immediately condemning those with the title. Our people became the newest victims of the Holy Inquisition.

Our ancestors found ways to preserve the true meaning of the word and its philosophy of art. Their struggle demanded the ultimate price and continues to this day, but in the end, it just made us that much stronger. We’re still standing, and the word and its practice are not only alive and well, the very concept is emancipating many around the world.

To be tlamatinime means you make art of your life, in whatever role or circumstance you find yourself, you make art of it.

Defining the word “art” is like defining “love”. It gets millions of answers, non which cover the total meaning of the word.I found a fresh definition of art, during the time we were writing this piece. The author, Seth Godin, turns the word art to fit our times.

Art is the work we do where there is no right answer – and yet the journey is worth the effort. We might make art with a keyboard, with a paint brush, or with our actions. Mostly we do it because we lean into a practice, trusting we have a shot to make a difference.

We emphasize practice because it is practice that makes the art real. To be tlamatinime, to make an art of one’s life, one must act upon it, consistently.

The word, the essence of the word, came to us before we could pronounce words at all. We knew it, heard it, sought it without knowing what it was. Eventually we followed it so far, it alienated family, friends and peers, and brought resistance our way, wherever we chose to stand free.

As we learned the true nature of adulthood, the resistance we faced in career and community were something fierce. We found ourselves, yearning for the confidence of the circle, the warmth of the fireplace and the wisdom of the stories. No matter what was happening we knew that if we got to the fireplace, we’d find warmth and wisdom.

Long story short, our inheritance held the answer, but not as a history we had to preserve, but as a dynamic to be lived. We found again the joy and strength of making art of our lives, plumbing our deepest potentials, polishing our spirit, during our time on Earth. Being tlamatinime.

The resistance we, personally, experienced, much like the resistance you face, drove us to seek the security and the confidence of the fireplace, the circle, the stories, especially once we realized we’d be facing resistance the rest of our life, also much like you.

Of course, society, government, public opinion and so forth, has other ideas of what an “altar” should be, and who should have altars or not. When we decided to go with our ideas of what is sacred, the resistance really came at us.

Over the last 35 years we continue to deal with the resistance, as you do, whatever it is you do or wherever you are, we all face resistance. Anyone reading this knows what that Resistance is. Every time you want to make something better, it resists.

I can’t say that we love the resistance. Who actually likes it? However, the struggle itself brought many benefits. Among those benefits, and something for which we are most grateful, it brought many quality spirits to grace our altar, both those in the flesh and those not of flesh, as well. Some were seeking, some were stealing, and some came to save us.

We come at art anyway we can. We hit it and we miss it, but meanwhile there is healing, magic, learning, relationship building, and making ends meet, to name only a few of our art projects.

You’ve drawn a couple of little miracles, or at least found some tough answers, out of those types of projects over the years, haven’t you?

It’s only recently that we’ve caught on to the fact that no one, not the mainstream, not our elders and not any one teacher had actually authorized our work. They all had plenty of input, no doubt, but we made the art here, our way.

It is from this unauthorized altar that we welcome you to

We’ll talk about turning superstition into science, we’ll cover how to do limpias (traditional Mexican spiritual cleansing), and we’ll talk about handling the invisible entities that surround us.

We’ve been sharing our experience over the years in various ways. Many have drawn something from our Legacy Experience. We hope you will.

In the struggle and in recuperating from it, Stories began to rise, as they do in a culture who values the oral tradition. Many adventures have truly been inexplicable and without realizing it our stories are more myth than straight fiction, a way to express the truth of something we can’t explain.

Most of the stories will have authors listed, but they rise from the people who hang around here, so we hope to offer a wide selection. We will be asking for your stories of art-making as well.

Coming soon: What Does New Moon’s Eve Have To Do With Anything? Days later: Dead People in Cyberspace. Meanwhile,


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