Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Healing the Gene Pool

You know that feeling you get when you are reading a good book and it takes you far, far away from reality? Yeah well the journey that I began on February 26 has been even better than that, it has taken deep into a wealth of ancestral information. My trip has taken me from Texas to Andalucia Spain and New Mexico then back, discovering clues to my family heritage. I have even come across scientific studies about DNA that have boggled my mind. This experience has changed me forever.

My journey began with the discovery that during in the Spanish Inquisition "The Fajardo Army" joined forces with the Catholic Monarchy, to expell the Sephardic Jews from Spain. My brother Phillip and I have researched our Sephardic Jewish heritage over the years so this took me by surprise. We even had DNA testing. How could I have missed that tidbit of information? Phillip's first thought was "Well just as our family is currently divided on family issues, I am sure we were divided back then too." I agreed. So that of course, lead to more research.

I have spent a month on google, combed through Wikipedia, reading Spanish documents then finally joined ancestry.com and a facebook group called "New Mexico Genealogical Society." I found pages and pages of information about my mother's side of the family, the Valdez and Padilla lineage. My research confirmed what I believed. My mother's side of the family, the Padilla and Valdez families arrived in New Mexico in the late 1400's early 1500's during the Spanish Inquisition.

Like any other project that I take on, I have given it my all. When I finally fall asleep after hours of research, I have intense time travel dreams. One night I fell asleep on the couch wearing some flat dangling earrings. I woke up clutching one of the earrings that had fallen off. I had been dreaming that it was my coat of arms and I was afraid of losing it. The surreal part of my life for the last month has been when I actually go out in public to meet friends for dinner.

Fortunately I have found that I am one of many Sephardic Jews that longs for information about my ancestors. One of the most informative finds came from an article I read on "The International New York Times Website" by Doreen Carvajal.

“The Forgetting River:
A Modern Tale of Survival,
Identity and the Inquisition.” 


In her article she mentioned a book called "The Ancestor Syndrome." It describes what I had suspected all along but there were a very few people I could talk to about it.... okay 2 friends, 1 son and a brother. The book is written by a French psychologist Anne Ancelin Schützenberger. She has spent decades studying what she calls the Ancestor Syndrome. Her research concludes that we're all links in a chain of many generation of our ancestors. Memories are carried in our DNA much like our physical features. We are therefore unconsciously affected by the suffering and unfinished business of our ancestors UNTIL we acknowledge the past. In other words, we revisit the events and traumas experienced by our ancestors in our lifetime, until the trauma is faced head-on and healed. I just read an article published today stating there has been research at Emory University in Atlanta that proves that memories are passed down to later generations through genetic switches that allow offspring to inherit the experiences of their ancestors.

To say this was an Ahh Haaa moment is an understatement. One of my first clues that my life had been consumed by a a trans-generational issue was about 6 years ago. I went to have a reading done by a woman who did Akashic Record Readings. At the end of our session she asked "Is there anything else you would like to know?" I flippantly asked her why I seemed to always pick men that didn't really pick me. She asked "What does that make you feel and when was the first time you had that feeling?" Long story short, it went back to my dad favoring my sister. She asked me how old I was the first time I felt it. I said "When I was 3, 7, 15 and 18." I had no idea how I remembered those ages but it was true. She said "There is one more time after that and it is huge, do you remember?" I started to cry and said "Yes... when I was 32." She then explained to me that my dad and my sister had formed an alliance in a past life, she had taken care of him, therefore, in this lifetime, he took care of her. She affirmed that my dad asked to be forgiven. At the time I assumed she was talking about reincarnation.

Here's the issue with my dad and my sister when I was 32 in a nutshell: I had fallen on hard times after a break-up. I was a single mother of 2 young children, unable to make the mortgage payments on my a house that I had designed and built. Because I had borrowed $5,000 from my father to pave my circle driveway, his name was on the deed to the house. My sister's husband called a meeting with his attorney and over night they became proud owners of my home that I had poured my heart and soul into. Lock, stock and barrel. My daughter's piano, my china hutch, appliances, personal photos, dishes, my children's toys... everything. I had no choice but to leave my son with his father while my daughter and I moved from Austin to Amarillo so I could go to art school.

How does this relate to a trans-generational issue. We carry the memories, the traumas of our ancestors in our DNA. I had just suffered my own personal Spanish Inquisition. My father and sister have an alliance, she looks like my his side of the family, she was named after his mother and later took on his sister's name. I look like my mother's side of the family. Take that information a step further. My mother's ancestors were expelled from of Spain during the Spanish Inquisition. My father's side of the family were in cahoots with the Catholic Monarchy. The Sephardic Jews were given 4 months to leave, having to sell their homes for little or nothing, leaving all their belongings behind. My father was very pleased to help his daughter who had for years, run off to California for months at a time with her abusive boyfriend, leaving her son with our parents. Before my sister and I were born, my father's sister died at the hands of an abusive husband. My father was not going to stand by and watch that happen again. She was now settling down with someone he could trust after all, they were married in the Catholic church. So he did everything he could do to make life easy for her. I on the other hand, was practicing mysticism with crystals and incense, doing yoga, meditating and working at Whole Foods Market. Where was the good in that?

I called a truce when my niece was born by taking her a teddy bear to the hospital. After a couple of years, I moved back to Austin to be with my son again. My sister and her husband allowed me to stay with them for 2 days, then promptly on Monday morning, she took me out to rent an efficiency before my furniture had even arrived. Even at that, I just accepted this as status quo. For years the whole family participated in sweeping the reality right under the rug as I numbed myself to the atrocity of my children and I being kicked out of our home by my family. Looking back, I can see that it was an extremely dysfunctional family unit. I took my children there for holidays, never saying a word as we ate Thanksgiving dinner off of dinnerware that was once mine. Shamefully, for over 20 years I was under the impression that my sister and her husband had paid my father the $5,000 that I owed him up front as a down payment on the the house, only to find out later that they paid him a measly $100 monthly. So the obvious question from an outsider would be why would he do that for her and not me?

Then 4 years ago I rented a duplex from a friend of a friend. I poured my heart and soul into yet another house, completely remodeling it with customized mosaic floors and cabinets.. He refused to renew my lease when my 2 yr lease was up, knowing he could get more than double what I was paying. This eviction hit me like a ton of bricks. I realized that there was no logical reason for it. My rent was never late and I made massive improvements on the property. This time there were no family ties, therefore I was able to feel anger towards a landlord who had wronged me. This experience helped me to get in touch with the deep rooted family betrayal I had felt for over 20 years. I felt the pain of the unseen webs created in our family, the underlying family secrets that made it hard to deal with what was emotionally difficult to look at. By this time both of our parents had passed away. I thought it would became easier to escape from the invisible threads and the unspoken secrets and deal with the established alliances but very quickly realized dead or alive, the scenario was repeating. Now my sister was, and still is, in charge of the family estate.

My brother Phillip and I talk almost daily about healing, especially the healing of our family. We both have heart problems. Why? We are heartbroken. I'm not sure at this point what healing would even look like. I have, however, been reading a lot about about trans-generational healing and invisible loyalties within families. There is a therapeutic method called "Family Constellations" founded by Bert Hellinger that attempts to reveal a previously unrecognized systemic dynamic that spans multiple generations within the family unit. In the mind-space, where memories and images come alive, a powerful transformation occurs. You feel the presence of an ancestor whose trauma is at the root. When they are seen, acknowledged and honored for what they endured, the thread of trauma dissolves. In its place comes a feeling of love and connection.

I have experienced first hand how well this might work because it wasn't until my son was in rehab in recent years that my ex-husband realized that I had no other choice but to divorce him years ago. He had put me and his children through the same thing that he was watching his own son do to his family. He had spent all those years blaming me. These days my son is constantly taking inventory and attempting to make better choices and he and his father are now closer. Being able to openly communicate honestly seems to be key.... or there is alway Constellations Therapy!

Here's to healing the gene pool!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Fajardo Heritage.... Musical and Cultural

Last week on February 26, while drinking my morning coffee, I felt compelled to do some research on my Fajardo ancestry. The week before I had written about Anthony Bourdain's trip to Spain and his interview with the flamencos. I was still pondering their definition of "Duende." I was listening to "El Duende Flamenco de Paco de Lucia" to see if I could gain insight into what the word "Duende" meant to Paco, the most famous of Flamenco guitarists.

In my research I found that Paco was from Algeciras, Andalucia, Spain. Andalucia being the most populous and the second largest of the 17 autonomous communities in Spain. Then I found a castle in Andalucia called "Castillo de los Fajardo." I will tell you more about the Castle later.

Much of the information was in Spanish but I felt like I was being guided by spirit to dig deeper. I took a break to get more coffee and rest my brain. I opened the CNN website to read a little morning news and discovered that Paco de Lucia had died of a heart attack that morning. What are the chances that I would be listening to his music and researching the region of Spain where he was born on the morning of his death? I was really blown away by the synchronicity. As I read on, I realized Flamenco originated in Andalucia, as was bull fighting.
This photo of Paco de Lucia is haunting
to me because he looks so much like my father. 
Click here to see music by ----> Paco de Lucia

My father, Felipe Montoya Fajardo, at the age of 80.

The Meaning of "Duende"

The original meaning of duende is a fairy or goblin-like creature in Spanish mythology. The artistic term was derived, in the spirit of the fairy, as a mysterious power that everyone senses, not everyone has and no one can explain.

Duende is equal parts irrationality, earthiness, heightened awareness of death and a dash of the diabolical. It's an innate power... not requiring work or thought. It lives within, only requiring spontaneity that allows one to feel connected through one's DNA to become aware of their bitter root existence. The place where pain is felt, has no explanation yet allows us to create music, art, poetry, and drama. It is the craving to live the life of a genuine artist, no matter the cost.

Duende is an introspective emotion that materializes only when one can let go of frustrations and the need for perfection, allowing raw art to infuse the soul. Duende-fueled artists and performers capture worlds of passion, energy and artistic excellence in climatic shows of spirit while living on the edge.

For a musician, duende means playing your guitar until your fingers bleed, taking yourself as far as you can go and then going one step further. As an artist, it means dipping your paintbrush into your soul and painting your truth on a canvas, baring your soul to the world. It is a heightened state of authentic emotion, expression and authenticity that creates the mysterious power to move others to tears. A woman with duende can dance and she is magical. Yet a performer with technical skills with a lack of the invisible presence of this unexplainable force will leave his audience unmoved.

To say a person has duende is the highest compliment.

So the story goes....

The Fajardo family originally came from Ortigueira, a seaport in the province of Coruna, Galicia in the northwest of Spain. The Fajardos arrived in the Kingdom of Murcia during the invasion by Ferdinand II de Aragón between 1296 and 1304. During this era, Spain had not yet become one country, it was comprised of a number of kingdoms. While the Fajardo dynasty began to rise in power during the 13th century, the height of power and influence for the Fajardo Dynasty was from the 15th to 16th century at which time they were not only in power of Andalucia, they had also taken over Murcia as well.

In 1469 Spain was united by the marriage of Isabella de Castile and Ferdinand II de Aragón. The Catholic Monarchs conquered Granada, expelling the gypsies who had arrived in Andalucia around the year 1425. Along with the Jews and the Moors, they were persecuted in the Spanish Inquisition. At that time the Catholic Monarchs established the basis of the modern state:
  • One True Faith of Catholicism 
  • One Army 
  • One Territory 
Upon the Catholic Monarchs ascent and successful defeat they consolidated their power by rewarding their supporters, among them was the Fajardo Dynasty. The Fajardos played an important roll as late as the 19th century.

On October 15, 1507 "Marquis de los Vélez" was the title was given to the Spanish Military Fajardo family by Queen Joanna I de Castile. Pedro Fajardo, the oldest son of Luisa Fajardo y Manrique was the first to hold the title.

The Fajardo Crest Earned October 15, 1507 

The name Fajardo is frequently seen throughout the regions of Andalucia and Murcia, linked with castles, cathedrals and various municipalities all showing the importance of the Fajardo Dynasty and the role played in shaping the region's history. I mentioned earlier that my search began by finding a photo of the "Castillo de los Fajardo." It took me days to discover that it was built for Pedro Fajardo when he was appointed the first "Marqués de los Vélez" and Governor of the kingdom of Murcia by the Catholic Monarchs, Isabella and Ferdinand. (Yeah, Isabella and Ferdinand and I are now on a first name basis)
Castillo de los Fajardo 

This is a fortress in Murcia that is still owned by the Fajardo
Fortuezela Fajardo

List of "Marquises of los Vélez"
1st Marqués de los Vélez - Pedro Fajardo y Chacón
2nd Marqués de los Vélez - Luis Fajardo y de la Cueva
3rd Marqués de los Vélez - Pedro Fajardo y Fernández de Córdoba
4th Marqués de los Vélez - Luis Fajardo y Requeséns
5th Marqués de los Vélez - Pedro Fajardo y Pimentel
6th Marqués de los Vélez - Fernando Fajardo y Álvarez de Toledo
7th Marqués de los Vélez - María Teresa Fajardo y Álvarez de Toledo
8th Marqués de los Vélez and 9th Duchess of Montalto - Catalina Moncada de Aragón y Fajardo

So... with that being said... let me back up a bit. A couple of years ago my brother, Phillip and I did a little genealogy research.... and I do mean a little. We discovered that both our mother's name (Padilla) and our father's name (Fajardo) are Sephardic Jewish surnames. The word Sephardic comes from Sefarad, Hebrew for Spain. We even did DNA testing. I personally spent a couple of years feeling like I had to do something to undo the wrong, appalled by the infamous Spanish Inquisition of the 15th Century, when the "Reyes Catolicos" (Catholic Royalty) conquered Spain and ordered Spanish Jews to convert to Catholicism or leave the country or face execution without trial. I was taking it very personal. I had personally lost ownership of my home more than once in circumstances beyond my control and then just in the last couple of years, I have been experiencing the gentrification of my city, Austin, Texas. I didn't even own a home by this time. I sold my last house 7 years ago and a month later I was laid off from my job of 15 yrs. There is no financing available for fifty-something year old, self-employed artists. I rented a run down house, personally spent thousands of dollars remodeling. I spent months creating customized mosaics in the bathroom and kitchen with Italian and Spanish tile and wood floors throughout. I thought I would be there for a while. I was expelled after 2 yrs., when my lease was up. The landlord was able to doubled the rent with my artistic renovations.This issue was at the core of my being! I had to leave my beloved Austin for 6 months to regroup. I was feeling the pain of the Spanish Jews that had 3 months to leave Spain and were ordered to take no gold, never to return!

Then on February 11 (last month) I was ecstatic that the Spanish government announced it would grant citizenship to the descendants of Sephardic Jews... okay .... it has been 500 years .... but I suppose better late than never. Right? But wait, now I have discovered that the Fajardo Dynasty was in cahoots with Isabella and Ferdinand... That is just too weird! Hummmm..... what is the bible quote about the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children's children, to the third and the fourth generation.

...and on that note...Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. It is a reminder of human mortality, and as a sign of mourning and repentance to God. The ashes used are typically gathered from the burning of the palms from the previous year's Palm Sunday.

I am guessing yesterday many of you celebrated Fat Tuesday. One of the most notable celebrations being in New Orleans. Well guess what, Lgio Fajardo was the first Fajardo to arrive in the US and he landed in New Orleans in 1825.

I am taking a break.... these darn Fajardos are wearing me out!