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If Find Yourself in Tepotzlan, Be Sure to Catch Tonya

In Tepotzlan, Mexico, Batya Reads the Palms of and Old Friend


On the way back to DF (the Distrito Federal, or Federal District which is Mexico City) from Taxco, where I went to have some silver jewelry made up from images of goddesses I have been collecting in my research over the years, I took a slight detour. I hopped a bus to Cuernavaca, then another one to Tepotzlan, a small Mexican village I had not visited for many years.

As we rounded the corner to the town and I saw the cerro (mountain), I broke out into a smile, remembering the power that was here. Minutes later I was so exhausted from dragging my suitcase, albeit on wheels, and two bolsas brimming with silver and beads, some strung and some unstrung, that I stopped for a juevos tortilla and ordered another of papas. I told the woman who made them that they tasted just like latkes, and consulted my Lonely Planet. Then I dragged on down to the zocolo, the main plaza, right on Revolution, the street. Several blocks down I called the cell phone number posted on a gate.

A woman with a mask on her face for the grippa (she was heaving with the flu) took me to a room, told me it was 300 pesos and that I would have wait until she cleaned it. I was so tired. I asked where I could sleep in the interim. She let me lie down.

In an hour and a half I was up searching for coffee to take home and drink in the morning. A nice shop, Olim, was right up the block. I noticed there was Wi-Fi (no Wi-Fi in Tepotzlan’s cafés when I last visited 20 years ago), and looked up Hueyhueycoyotl, a community in Tepoztlan, in which I had stayed. I sent a message, copied down the phone number, took the coffee in the thermos the nice guy (Sasha) had offered me, and dragged myself home.

The next day I called the community. Andres, a poet I remembered, answered. “Sure,” he told me. “Come on up.” I figured out how to take the bus, got off where the bus driver showed me, rang the bell on the gate, and wandered into Hueyhueycoyotl. Hueyhueycoyotl is a little ecovillage The Illuminated Elephants—a group of artists and ecologists—started the community 30 years ago. One of the cleaning women in one of the houses (at midday the place seemed deserted) showed me to climb up the hill to the last house.

Oh yes, I remember the cabin on the top of the hill, I thought as I huffed and I puffed my way up. There I saw Tonya. She was kneeling in a garden, along with the help (who stay in her house, no longer a cabin, in exchange work). As soon as I got there we began to talk. Soon we were preparing dinner. At dark I took the bus back to town, and the next day, after trying to get my jewelry into shop after shop, we met in (another) Internet café, where I read her palms.

Tonya has a strong Saturn line (or ambition line), which comes down from her spiritual mound, curves, and wanders, bursting, all the way up into the mound below her left hand’s middle finger. This strongly shows her destiny to manifest in the material world something about transcendent teachings. But she often changes the medium she might use to do so. Oh yes, I thought to myself as I read this palm. I remembered that Tonya was a documentary filmmaker. But now she is painting, and she also has a writing project on which she requested my help.

What is she painting? She’s painting large corn goddesses, both a crone and a maiden, on cloth. She carries them to be placed on altars and at demonstrations as people in Mexico protest the invasion of synthetic corn, which displaces lifelines of traditional communities. As I read the line, I remembered her having spoken very emphatically about all this; how the goddesses (which I photographed, hoping to use on the cover of Femspec someday) helped to revitalize buried traditions and to mobilized people to get the message across. She had just returned from a large demonstration in Cancun, which protested a governmental gathering.

Her palm also indicates that she has leadership abilities—shown by triangles. Not surprisingly, she also has a watery mind line, making communication between us easier.

“What does a watery life line mean?” she asked.

“Well, you think in images, like you paint the corn goddesses, to get your point across.”

“And why,” she asked next,” do I have so many more lines on my left than my right?”

“The left in the western tradition shows what you are born with, and the right, what you do with it.” I had already told her about how Hindus read only right for men and left for women. She examined each hand carefully, and found her right hand to be so wanting. It had less.

“Well,” I answered, “since you paint, think of your left hand as the palette, and your right hand as the canvas. You don’t want to dump all the paint on the palette to make a painting. You just want to use enough of what you have to make the painting work right. I see similarities. Many little lines under the Mercury finger showing you have ability to draw in money from various sources—which you do. A long pointer finger that crosses the base of the fingernail of the Saturn. You just didn’t pour all the paint out yet, and make a mess. But you know what is there to use when you need it.”

“I like your images,” she confessed.

“Well that is because I am speaking to you in images that I know you will get. If you had a different Head Line, I would communicate differently. I would say 1, 2, 3, like a PowerPoint presentation if I was talking to someone with a staccato Life Line. Those people currently rule the world. We don’t. But we will some day.”

Then she selected one of my Hebrew goddess necklaces, straight out of Taxco. I had offered her a palmistry book because it mentioned in the beginning the palmist in Tepotzlan to whom she had introduced me, and I felt beholden to her. But she wanted a necklace instead. She advised me that the way to sell was individually: just have them out on the side, and sell them one by one.

She looked so magical when she put on the necklace that I knew my life as a salesperson of my own jewelry had indeed begun.

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