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Tau My Relatives

Our Taino ancestors were attentive sky watchers and made accurate observations of the movements of heavenly bodies. These movements almost always express themselves in the form of cycles and the assessment of these cycles was as important to the Caribbean islanders as it was to their contemporaries living in the high Maya civilization near-by. One of the most important cycles observed by the astronomers of the Central American and Caribbean civilizations is the yearly cycle of the sun. To the ancient Tainos the sun itself and its cyclical movements accross the sky were associated with Yoka Hu, the male spirit of the yuca plant. The Puerto Rican scholar Eugenio Fernandez Mendez makes these comments on page 33 of his book Art and mythology of the Taino Indians of the Greater West Indies

"The sun is the most intense of the fires which burn in the heavens and no one can look at it. In conformity with this belief and in the last analysis, Yocahu is identified with Boinael, the sun."


"...the Tainian stone idols suggest it----- that the bird-like incarnations of...boinael, suggest the stages of the sun's progress through the heavens: the humming bird, the eagle, the turkey (guanajo), [and the owl] have the same associations as found in Mesoamerica, and there too, possibly represent the various positions of the sun."

We in the Caney Circle no longer identify the sun with the name "Boinael" as Fernandez-Mendez did in his book but we still agree with him that the cycles of the sun during the year played a very important role in ancient Taino tradition.
ancient Cuban wooden representation of YokaHu as a living deity

ancient Cuban Taino pictograph representing the sun spirit

Most experts agree that the ancient Taino recognized four major positions occupied by the sun in the sky during its annual cycle. These positions coincide with the four seasons of the year. Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter. Although the environmental changes that take place during these seasons do not manifest themselves as dramatically in the tropics as they do in temperate regions, the sun itself does assume very distinct and recognizable positions in the sky during each one of them.

The positions of the sun in the sky during the four seasons appears to have been of enough interest to the Taino for them to have gone through the trouble of aligning a number of important stone monuments so that they could indicate and predict those positions. The independent researcher Dr. Angel Rodriguez Alvarez suggests in his 2001 publication "Prehistoric Astronomy in Puerto Rico, Caguana Ceremonial Center: A ..." that the stone arrangements at Caguana Ceremonial Center in the highlands of central Boriken were positioned so that they would indicate the location of the sun during the important points of the solar cycle.

In the Caney Indigenous Spiritual Circle we recognize this cycle as a powerful spiritual element of our belief system. In it we recognize the annual life cycle of Yoka Hu himself. Yoka Hu is a manifestation of Life and Energy. In his role as the soul of the yuca plant and its resultant food product, cassava, he manifests a life cycle very much like that of a plant (see Ricardo Alegria An Introduction to Taino Culture and History 1997 Monticelli Press page 23 "..Yocahu was a supreme spirit associated with the growth of cassava"). He is born (he sprouts), he reaches maturity, then is harvested and when that happens he must die. In death this eternal being returns to the soil, the earth is his mother, Ata Bey. As in the case of the annual plant this return to the earth constitutes a re-planting. When re-planted, this plant spirit develops in the soil and then finally completes the cycle by sprouting anew and starting all over again.

Yoka Hu's life cycle mirrors the life cycle of a human being. In sprouting from the depths of Mother Earth he can be said to be "born" of her womb like a baby. When he reaches full maturity he can be said to have achieved "manhood". As he wanes he can be said to be aging and growing old. Finally when he is harvested he can be said to die and his soul can be considered to be on its way back to the womb from which it originally sprang. The return to the earth as a re-planted entity is the ultimate return to the maternal uterus, where his soul is re-conceived and where he begins to gestate. The cycle is completed when the fully developed fetus is born and begins the cycle all over again.

In the Caney Circle we associate each one of these important moments in the life-cycle of our supreme plant spirit with a particular position of the sun during its annual cycle. To understand this concept one must be totally acquainted with the four specific positions of the sun as it goes through its cycle in the caribbean region. This is a fundamental concept in the study of astronomy.

The fact that the earth is tilted on its axis causes the variations of solar appearances that we call the "seasons". At Winter Solstice the region of the Caribbean is tilted away from the sun in such a way that the path marked accross the sky by this heavenly body during the course of a single day appears to tilt significantly toward the South.

At this time of the year we in the Caney Spiritual Circle understand that this is the time when the soul of Yoka Hu has completed its journey of Death and has become reconceived within the womb of his mother Ata Bey.

A few months later we consider that the process of gestation comes to completion. At this time of the year, which is called Spring Equinox, the arch that the sun marks across the sky in a single day from East to West tilts much less acutely toward the South, and in fact is very close to crossing the point in the center of the sky straight up overhead known as the "zenith".

We in the Caney Circle perceive that Yoka Hu is born at that time, along with the sprouting of the spring plants.

Soon after that, later in the spring there is a day when the path of the sun across the sky crosses right through the Zenith. This is called "Zenith Passage"

After the Zenith passage the sun's path reaches the point in the sky that indicates the most extreme inclination toward the North. This happens to be the longest day of the year. It is called "Summer Solstice'.

After Summer Solstice the arching path that the sun marks in the sky begins to tilt back toward the south, eventually bringing it again right through the zenith.

This means that in the course of a year there are actually two zenith passages, one in Spring and one in Summer.

After the second Zenith Passage the tilt of the sun's path across the sky continues to lean further and further toward the South until it reaches the same position it held at Spring Equinox. This moment in the solar year is called Autumn (fall) Equinox and in Caney spiritual tradition we interpret it as being the moment of Yoka Hu's Death. This takes place during the hurricane season and also the time of harvest of several important plant foods. It is perceived as a time when there is loss of life (harvested plant and deaths from hurricanes). At this time of Death the soul of Yoka Hu is perceived as beginning its journey to the womb of his mother Ata Bey. We associate the womb of Ata Bey with Coai Bai the realm of the Dead.

Three months after Autumn Equinox the soul of Yoka Hu finally completes its journey to the Realm of Coai Bai and becomes re-conceived in the womb of his mother Ata Bey. This completes his cycle and right there in the Winter Solstice seclusion he prepares for a new re-birth three months later at Spring Equinox.

We call this cycle the Sun Path.

We associate the four seasons with the four cardinal directions of the Medicine Wheel.

South is associated with Spring because that is the direction from which the sun appears to travel in the Springtime.

East is associated with Summer because it is the place from which the sun rises each day and can be identified with the brightness of sunlight and solar heat at Summer Solstice.

West is associated with Autumn because the west is the place where the sun sets, leaves humans in the darkness of the night and reminds us of the fact that at Autumnal Equinox the nights grow longer and the days grow shorter. It is a time of Death and darkness.

North is the Winter Solstice, the time of Yoka Hu's re-conception with its promise of a new re-birth because the north is the place where the cool winds of winter come from in the Winter time. The winter time is associated with the dry season in the Caribbean during which time crops can not easily be planted. The ancient Taino took advantage of the fact that no planting was going on during this season and they busied themselves with the clearing of new farmland, cutting down trees and brush as well as burning it. The ashes fertilized the soil and got it ready for Spring planting when the rainy season started.

These are the four cardinal points in the Sacred Wheel

As we mentioned above, Fernandez Mendez indicates that there is a relationship between the four sacred birds and the four positions of the sun. We also associate them with the four cardinal directions around the Sacred Wheel.

At Winter Solstice we in the Caney Indigenous Spiritual Circle celebrate the arrival of Lord Yoka Hu's soul at the place of his mother's womb. We use an image of Yoka Hu that represents him as a lifeless entity. It is an image of Death. The image is a cemi that depicts his body as a fleshless bony form upon which only the vertebra of the spine, the ribs and the bones of the arms and legs are visible. He is depicted headless, with his head between his arms.

We tie this image to an oval sculpture that represents the ovoid-shaped uterus of Ata Bey. In doing this we recognize that Yoka Hu has been re-conceived in the uterus of his divine mother and will stay attached to that uterus until Spring.

This action of tying the three-pointed cemi image of Yoka Hu to the stone hoop is suggested by Jesse Walter Fewkes(1970, 167,170-172), and other scholars, and is mentioned by Jeffrey B. Walker in Taino Stone Collars, Elbow Stones, and Three-Pointers pages 87 and 88 "... three-pointers---either sculpted or simply incised--- were combined with stone collars to form one unified object...The three-pointer would have been tied to the frame of the undecorated panel."

Happy Solstice!

Taino Ti

Miguel Sobaoko Koromo Sague

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Comment by Medicine Woman on January 1, 2013 at 12:24pm

This is great information! It is amazing how different traditions have come to almost the same conclusions. The only difference in some of them is the names that they choose to represent their traditions. I have studied mostly the Celtic tradition, and this is very similar to what they believe. Of course being a different tradition the way they explain what takes place and the names of the ones involved in the process is different. However, is exactly the same conclusion. Awesome!

Now...... some might disagree with what I am about to say, but reading this post  closely it makes me think that this looks very similar to reincarnation.  We are born, we die, and we come back again. Our souls come back to earth. ..... LOL just my definition.

Comment by Juan Almonte on December 17, 2008 at 8:17pm
nanu, LOL , indeed. It be cheaper.
Comment by Anita Pagan on December 17, 2008 at 9:10am
you can start small- start where you are... see what is there first...
Comment by Juan Almonte on December 16, 2008 at 11:35pm
If I had the money and time I would start with the caribbean first. Then go to alaska and work my way down. See every mountain, forest, lakes, city etc etc in this continent.
Comment by Juan Almonte on December 16, 2008 at 11:13pm
Sabaoko, very well said. There is so much in this continent. No need to go somewhere else. The good thing about tainos is that we are linked to north, central and south american. We are admixture of many indigenous tribes.

Compai, You wrote"no se me a perdido nand alla!"

You had me on the floor with that one. I just pictured you saying this like one of the cibaenos from my parents village.
Comment by Miguel Sague Jr on December 16, 2008 at 8:54pm
Tau Brother
I agree with you. When I lived in Cuba in the early 1960's The Cuban government was in the midst of a promotional campaign in which the main motto was "Conozca a Cuba Primero y al Extranjero Despues" (Discover Cuba first and then go and discover abroad). I second that emotion enthusiastically. What is there for Indigenous people of the Americas in Paris, London or Madrid that they cant find in Mexico City, La Paz, and Lima. What turist attraction in the French Riviera can even dream od competing with the gleaming white sand beaches of Varadero, Cuba. What natural wonder in the valley of the danube in Germany can hold a candle to the breath-taking wonder of the Amazon River. Frankly on a very personal note, speaking strictly for myself there is too much America for me to explore. I just simply probably will never have time for anyplace else. Of course that's a completely personal choice and i don't mean to imply by this statement that Indigenous people sof the americas cant travel to Europe, or that its unethical for them to do so. I'm just speaking for myself... no se me a perdido nand alla!
Comment by Juan Almonte on December 13, 2008 at 10:11pm
Sobako, Ruben sent me the same link. Even though like I mentioned before I am very fluent in spanish (dominican campesino spanish, LOL) I do have a hard time reading and writing it.

The last two paragraph of that article really hit home for me.

¡Ellos son los dueños de la isla, así debemos reconocerlos!

Even though I have alway felt a connection to my kiskeya and to this continent. Reading the way this peson wrote it really affect it me. I mean, when people talk about seeing europe, asia etc etc. I alway talk about seeing this continent from tip to tip, this is were we are from. I care less how much admixture you have or you think you have. We are from here. I was talking to Jorge Estevez a while back about last names, via email. We both lauged how many of our people try to trace there ancestory threw last names. I forgot the name of the spaniord who recived order from the king to cencus tainos. But anyways this spaniord told all of the other spaniords to give the tainos spanish last names. This way they can keep good records. So unless your papi is from europe or you have recent admixture. Your last name mean nothing. You last name comes from the european who was beating the crap our of your great great great great grandpa. So people need to cut the crap with that. I am getting very frustraded when I see these nuckle head trying to trace there last name back to europe.

The same was done to the, south american indians and to africans. There amerdians in california who have no admixture and dont speak spanish. But have spanish last names. Later on the brits did the same to the african americans. But african american from the USA are smarter than thinking they are britanic. While we think we are from spain.
Comment by Anita Pagan on December 13, 2008 at 5:18pm
Bo'matum, Sobaoko- esta' to'hablao... We are all in this together.

My question was sincere. I have heard of traveling the circle clockwise and counterclockwise and the different reasons for that, but not this figure 8 pattern. It's interesting and different (to me).

I also like the acronym, TIE, it makes it so easy to remember.

Comment by Miguel Sague Jr on December 13, 2008 at 2:37pm
Tau Sister Anita Nanu
I hope you can accept my apology for the comment concerning "book-learning". I know that I quote a lot of published authors and I have been questioned in the past in reference to the validity of some of the traditions that are followed by the Caney Spiritual Circle because some of them can not be cross-referenced with anything in the existing literature.
The fact is that wisdom as we see it in the Caney Circle is acquired via three sources of knowledge:
We have an English language accronym for these three souces that my make it easier to remember them. We call it TIE and we say that these three sources of information are the "tie" that binds us together as a people.

The first source is TRADITION
It is the knowledge that never went away. It is the wisdom that connects us directly to the Taino ancestors because it is still being practiced in a practical way as it was practiced 500 years ago. An example of this wisdom is the ancient technology used by comtemporary Cuban guajiros when they build one of their thatched roofed homes. To this very day these people still call those houses by their original Taino name "bohio".

The second source is INSPIRATION
This is the source that is accessed through shamanic journeying and quiet meditation. It is the activity that allows you and me and many of our relatives to learn directly from the spirits, from the cemies. That can be information that has never been studied or seen before but that is just as valid and legitimate as if it had been read in a book written by the most knowledgable author.

The third source is "EDUCATION"
Although this word in a general sense can be defined to mean all knowledge that is acquired through all sources, we use it in this context to mean only that information that is accessed by reading, researching, and interpreting all kinds of pertinent literature, including the writings left behind by our own ancestors in the form of petroglyphs and pictographs.

Part of the wisdom of the sun-path accross the Sacred Wheel which you asked me about was given to us via this last source of information during a shamanic journey and also was acquired from my Taino teacher way back in the 1970's
Taino Ti
Miguel Sobaoko Koromo Sague
Comment by Miguel Sague Jr on December 13, 2008 at 2:15pm
Tau My Relatives
I have received a link from our brother in Spain, Ruben, that really captured my imagination in as much as it relates to the topic of Taino archeoastronomy. The text of the article is in Spanish and I have to apologize to my monlingual English-speaking brothers and sisters here who will not have the opportunity to enjoy it as I did. It speaks of recent archeological discoveries at a place in the Dominican Republic called Chacuy. This ceremonial plaza also contains standing stones that are obviously situated so that they can indicate the Solstice and Equinox positions of the sun during the course of the year.
Para aquellos que tienen la abilidad de leer en castellano DISFRUTEN!
La vida taina y la plaza astronómica de Chacuey

Por Franklin Domínguez Cruz
El autor es periodista

Durante varios años exploramos La Reserva Indígena de Chacuey en la comunidad de los indios, Municipio de Partido, Provincia de Dajabón. Esta Zona Pertenecía al Cacicazgo de Marién, dominado por Guagacanagarix y los sub. -Caciques: Chacuey, Guaraguanó y otros.

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La Plaza de Chacuey, es un instrumento Astronómico Megalítico, que marca la existencia de una civilización, anterior al impactante " descubrimiento de Don Cristóbal Colón" el 12 de octubre de 1492.

Al realizar estudios de Astronomía, a través del club Dominicano de Radio- Astronomía (CEDORA), para entonces; recibíamos lecciones del club CEDORA, con Titulares como este: Astro-Arqueología Taina.

Descendimos al lugar y encontramos que la construcción de una carretera destruyó parcialmente la Plaza.

Desde 1988, exploramos palmo a palmo, la zona de Chacuey, altiplanos y montañas. En el río Chacuey, encontramos el Charco de las Caritas, cotejado por el Museo del Hombre Dominicano y por el Antropólogo, el gran amigo; ido a destiempo Dr. Fernando Luna Calderón.

En el marco Histórico de este río, encontramos una visión representada en el arte rupestre, con bailes de Areitos.

Areitos es el baile tradicional de los indígenas, el cual guarda el "Secreto Taino" es la tradición de persona a persona que a través del tiempo, lo transmiten, manteniendo viva la cultura y la existencia Taina en la Isla de Santo Domingo.

Luna Calderón, " Establece que entre los huesos encontrados en el

Cementerio Indígena de la Caleta, en Boca Chica, con pruebas de laboratorio a varias personas de color Indio Dominicano, "se encontraron Cromosomas idénticos en la química del Ácido Deciserrenobonucleico (ADN)”.

Los Tainos del Caribe, tienen Tribus en franca civilización en Cuba y Puerto Rico, pero en Santo Domingo, se mantienen diseminados en la Composición Social Dominicana.

Sin embargo; en la Sabana de los Indios, en Partido, varias Familias; demostraron que son descendientes directos de los indígenas que poblaron esta zona de Haití, Quisqueya o Babeque*.

El Estudio, se realizó, revisando el árbol genealógico de las familias participantes, los cuales fueron Orientados por miembros de La Fundación Conservacionista Cubituarios. FUNDARIOS.

*¿Que desea en esta tierra? Eso quiere decir ¡Babeque! según el diccionario de la lengua Taina, en el "Diario de Colon".

Cálculos del CEDORA: Resultado del estudio Megalítico, resumen.

“La indiada Taina, del grupo cultural Arawac, localizada hace 514 años, en la zona Noroeste de la RD. , en el área que ocupan ahora las poblaciones de la provincia de Dajabón, utilizaban para sus ceremonias lo que hoy es conocido como la Plaza de Chacuey, la cual consistía en :

Una Calzada , un sector empedrado, Este Nordeste, el Portal llamado " del este u oriental", el Portal del " oeste occidental", Dos Camellones Parejos, que bajaban hasta el río Chacuey, " Los tres Menhires encontrados" y lo más concreto en este monumento, la zona petroglifica del charco de las caritas".

- Todo este complejo ha sido ubicado sobre una extensa sabana, por dos razones Fundamentales: su máxima cercanía al Charco de las Caritas y porque desde allí se tendría un horizonte mas amplio para estudiar las estaciones del año, que le servían a Marién y demás Cacicazgos, de las precisiones para la agricultura y la pesca .

Indudablemente, que esa gigantesca calzada cuasi elíptica fue construida con fines ceremoniales, de índole deportivo, religioso, junta Social festiva y Astronomía -.

La Plaza de Chacuey, fue un instrumento megalítico Astronómico, aunque; fuera objeto de otros usos.

Dada esta demostración, para los investigadores futuros; podemos indicar que estos petroglifos (pintura en las piedras) con los grabados de los Menhires, las Caritas, la Calzada, el sol, son ideogramas (representación de la plaza megalítica)

Realmente los Tainos estaban atraídos por las influencias ejercidas por la divinidad solar, así era practicado por los usuarios Tainos de la plaza de Chacuey, Estos Glifos (de lo cual hemos echo un levantamiento en video y fotos ) son concebido en el contexto animal- vegetal, las figuras en la rocas representan la plaza y sus actividades, veamos:

Interesantes grabados semicirculares, crestado en cortas líneas, 12 en total, encierran un circulo y entre ellos se destacan tres gruesos puntos, que pudieron resultar " Solsticio- Equinoccio - solsticio".

Otras figuras antropomorfas con prolongaciones radiales en el circulo de la cara, representa el Sol, la cual se repite, pero sin piernas retorcidas,

“Haciendo un ejercicio en la Plaza, tuvimos la satisfacción de ver corroborada nuestra hipótesis, cuando vimos salir el Sol, a unos 6 grados 30 segundos (6.5) desplazado hacia el este, de una trocha que fabricamos cercano al polo astronómico, precisión que puede considerarse exacta en los equinoccios, en un grado cada 71.62 años, o un grado,. 396 segundos por centurias, ese era; el solsticio de verano”.

La Plaza Indígena, virtualmente ha desaparecido, los curiosos, extranjeros y busca tesoros, han violado prácticamente este importante centro arqueológico, pese a la prohibición publica del Museo del Hombre Dominicano, quien tiene instalada una valla informativa, La cual rescatamos de la maleza que la arropaba , contando con el apoyo de los comunitarios de la Sección de los indios-.

Recomendamos leer: "Secreto Taino " libro que trata sobre la vida de los indígenas en la Isla, del Escritor Dominicano, Milton Olivo, de circulación reciente, el cual coincide en algunos puntos con la exposición nuestra y el CEDORA .

¡ Solicitamos al SEFA y Medio Ambiente, protección para que los ignorantes, no sigan desfigurando lo poco que queda de los petroglifos en el Charco de las caritas en el Río Chacuey de Partido !

Ahora nos falta, el rescate de los descendientes Tainos, que podamos identificarlos por regiones, para crear reservas protegidas para esas personas, quienes de manera Mística; han sobrevivido en la marginalidad entre indignados y orgullosos.

¡Ellos son los dueños de la isla, así debemos reconocerlos!

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