Page 51. " Because Coatlalopeuh was homophonous to the Spanish Guadalupe "

Our Lady Of Guadalupe:  A Mexican National Symbol, by Brother John M. Samaha, S.M., provides an accurate and interesting account of how an Indian woman became assimilated with the "dark virgin" of Spain.  And the extensive Wikipedia entry on Guadalupe offers many details and images, along with a discussion of historical and interpretive issues. 

The Virgen de Guadalupe is traditionally depicted with an array of celestial symbols, as shown in this early representation.


Page 52. " Today, la Virgen de Guadalupe is the single most potent "

Here are some examples of contemporary devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe.  Her famous image is available on almost every kind of object for sale in Mexico (such as this cloth), and shrines are common both in churches and in homes.

Guadalupe Statuette
Creative Commons AttributionGuadalupe Statuette - Credit: Rennett Stowe
Guadalupe Shrine
Creative Commons AttributionGuadalupe Shrine - Credit: Tim Tolle
Guadalupe Cloth
Creative Commons AttributionGuadalupe Cloth - Credit: Sarah Kinnon
Page 54. " The changes that led to the loss of the balanced oppositions began when the Azteca "

Anzaldúa's account of pre-Columbian history is compressed--and it's written from a specific viewpoint.  For much more detail and debate, there are several great online resources including Ancient Web and  In this photo, Aztec-style dancers perform in modern-day Chapultepec Park, which is built on the site where the Azteca-Mexica settled in 1248.

Chapultepec Park Today
Public DomainChapultepec Park Today 
Page 55. " La Llorona's wailing in the night "

The folk figure of La llorona is well-known throughout Mexico and the Southwest--there is a good account of the tale in the Handbook of Texas Online.  And her sad story has  inspired many work of art and music.  Visit these videos for two very different examples:   La llorona by Beirut and La llorona by Lila Downs.

Page 57. " Once, in my bedroom, I saw a cobra "

The cobra's gaze makes it one of the most fascinating and mysterious snakes.  Looking at this picture, one can easily imagine Anzaldúa's vision of a room-sized cobra, "her hood expanding over me."

Indian Speckled Cobra
Creative Commons AttributionIndian Speckled Cobra - Credit: Kamalnv
Page 59. " the participation mystique of the mind "

Marie-Louise von Franz, one of the most influential figures in the development of Jungian psycho-analysis, defined participation mystique as "a psychological condition in which various inanimate objects and people participate with each other in a mystical manner, are connected with each other beneath the surface of consciousness." The concept--and the experience--are very important in Anzaldúa's writing.  For an accessible exploration, read Perspectives on Indigenous Healing by Jurgen Kremer.  

Page 64. " mirrors of volcanic glass called obsidian "
Obsidian Mirror
Permission Granted by Copyright Owner for Use on Book DrumObsidian Mirror - Credit: Trustees of the British Museum

According to the British Museum, home of the obsidian mirror pictured here, "mirrors were also associated with Tezcatlipoca, the Aztec god of rulers, warriors and sorcerers."  Read more at their site

Duke University magazine notes: "Both reflective and translucent, the obsidian mirror was seen as a threshold between two worlds, with the obsidian conceptualized as a membrane or tissue separating this earthly world from the beyond."


Page 67. " Soy nopal de castilla "

Nopal de Castilla
Creative Commons AttributionNopal de Castilla - Credit: Van Swearingen
This cactus variety--which grows to a height of ten or twenty feet--is one of the few members of the "prickly pear" family that has no thorns.  It is cultivated for its fruit.  Nopales of all types are used for food and for medicinal purposes.


Page 68. " the powerful images, or archetypes "

In the note for this phrase, Anzaldúa explains that her thought has been influenced by the book James Hillman's book Re-Visioning Psychology.  Hillman--former head of the Jung Institute in Zurich--is the foremost theoretician of archetypal psychology.   A good overview of Hillman's ideas can be found in The Depth of the Soul: James Hillman’s Vision of Psychology by Sanford L. Drob. 

Page 69. " I first saw the statue "

The statue of Coatlicue that made such an impression on Anzaldua is 2.7 meters (8.9 ft) tall and made of volcanic rock.  Discovered accidentally in the early 19th century, it now resides in the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City. 

Coatlicue, the "Mother of Gods", is the Aztec goddess who gave birth to the moon, stars, and the god of the sun.


Coatlicue Statue
Creative Commons AttributionCoatlicue Statue - Credit: Xuan Rosemaninovich
Page 73. " my thousand sleepless serpent eyes "

The chapter about the "Coatlicue state" culminates with the snake imagery that has run throughout this section of the book. In an essay on The Serpent in Literature, W.H. Hudson writes:  "But the first and chief quality of the snake—the sensation it excites in us—is its snakiness, our best word for a feeling compounded of many elements, not readily analysable, which has in it something of fear and something of the sense of mystery." And so we see snakes appear as symbols throughout literature, art, and myth--perhaps most famously in the form of the Medusa. This stunning portrayal by Rubens seems to eerily illuminate some of Anzaldúa's experiences. 

Rubens Medusa
Public DomainRubens Medusa - Credit: TAnthony