I was greatly honored by our Taino brother Rodney Guatushina Rivera, member of Yukayeke Guainia and the UNITED CONFEDERATION OF TAINO PEOPLE to be allowed to officiate the Crossing Over Ceremony for his father Don Jose Miguel and his brother Joseph Michael in a ceremony of the Caney Indigenous Spiritual Circle at Brook Park in the South Bronx on the afternoon of Sunday June 2 2013.
Don Jose Miguel and Joseph Michael both passed away recently leaving the family understandably grieved.
I arrived in Brook Park at around 3:30 PM and found a number of members of Yukayeke Guainia, members of the UCTP, and other friends already there. Our dear Taino sister Lourders Kalichi Lebron had prepared awesome Boricua food and the children frolicked in the warm Spring sunshine. Among the friends and relatives was the president of the UCTP, our kasike Roberto Mukaro Borrero and his family.
I promptly prepared the sacred space spreading the white sheet on the ground and positioning the cemies of Father Yoka Hu, Mother Ata Bey and the four sacred birds that represent the four cardinal directions of the Caney Circle Guaiko Medicine Wheel.
As usual, the ceremony began with purifications and the chanting of the songs to Lord Yoka Hu and Lady Ata Bey to the rythm of maracas and mayohuakan drum.
The chants to the spirits were followed by a tobacco ceremony using the official clay Taino pipe of the Caney Circle. After that came the ritual of burning the small corn enclosure which symbolizes Coa Bay and contains symbolic objects that represent the presence of the deceased among his loved ones. In this case that symbol was a plain piece of paper upon which our spiritual brother Rodney had written some significant words and phrases about the loved one. Also in the corn enclosure was some sacred tobacco and Taino tabonuco insence resin from Boriken.
This corn enclosure was then placed on a tiny wooden raft and floated on the surface of a container full of water that represents the ancient primordial ocean of Taino legend. This ocean is symbolic of the watery underworld realm within the womb of Ata Bey which is the real identity of what we Tainos know as Coa Bay the land of the ancestors.
The corn enclosure was set on fire and as it burned I sang a beautiful song taken from the Indigenous tradition of our relatives in South America whose lyrics say "Yo quiero que a mi me entierren como a mis antepasados".
Once the "Coa Bay" corn enclosure with its contents had been reduced to ashes, a process that calls to mind the tradition of our Taino ancestors of partially cremating some of the bone remains of deceased loved ones, I separated the ashes into two parts and placed half of the ashes into a small gourd and the other half into a small clay bowl. This harks back to the ancient Taino tradition of interring part of the bone remains of the dead in a clay bowl under the house and hanging other portions of the bone remains in a large higuera gourd on cords from the rafters of the house.
(actual Taino burial of a skull in a clay bowl)
I then presented the family of my spiritual brother Rodney with two of our Caney Circle memoral tablets where he can place photos of his loved ones and hang the little gourd from a hook at the top and place the little bowl upon the wooden platform at the bottom.
Our ceremony culminated with a powerful group rendition of the song DAKA NABORIA ATABEYRA led by our kasike Roberto Mukaro Borreiro.
I am infinitely grateful for the opportunity to share these sacred moments with my Taino family and especially with my spiritual brother Rodney.