8.31.08 ... Gustav's Visit

Gustav the butterfly sipping at the lantana.
No wind, no power outtages and very little rain ..
so no worries @ Zuni Spirits.
Hi everybody! Just a brief note to let you know that if Gustav takes the projected path, he'll likely pass just over our heads here in Houston County. (We are about 45 minutes from Lufkin, Texas.) At this time we aren't expecting anything more than tropical storm wind and lots of rain but we might lose power and since we are in a very wooded, rural area it might be out for a few days. We'll be back online as soon as we are able!

Here's the best interactive hurricane map: MSNBC.

08.28.08 New stuff at noon!

We're posting new Zuni fetishes to the website at noon (CDST) today and we hope you'll take a look. This will be our last posting of the month but we'll be back around next month with more beautiful Zuni fetishes. We've also restored a sale section to the site, so be sure to check that out as well!
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Here are some group shots of some of the fetishes that have arrived on their trip toward Nepal. We cannot thank you enough for your participation!

Click to view larger

IT'S NOT TOO LATE! If you would like to donate a fetish to this worthy cause, please send it carefully wrapped to Zuni Spirits, P. O. Box 337, Grapeland, TX 75844 by the end of October. We are hoping for 100 donations so more are needed! Thank you for your consideration!
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Yesterday, even though I still had writing to do, I needed a break. And despite the fact that the heat is stifling there are times when I just have to get outside. So Maggie and I went for a gator ride through the woods.
In the last couple of weeks we've had over ten inches of rain so I was thinking I would find some great mushrooms to photograph. (I have an amazing photo-file of fungi! But I won't bore you with it here! Ha!) I found a lot of them but most of them had already grown gangly and some had been toppled over by the creatures who snack on them. (Most likely (ugh!) feral pigs.) I did find one, intact, not overgrown bonafide-looks-like-a fairy-house mushroom. I guess it wasn't the tasty kind but it sure is cute.
It was the beauty berries, though that were stealing the show. Callicarpa americana (American beauty berry) grows with wild abundance in our woods. It's a beautiful shrub that produces the most gorgeous magenta berries in the late summer. The berries (birds love 'em!) hang on even after the foliage (reportedly a favorite of deer) has dropped off. Reportedly, this plant even repels mosquitos! So it looks like the beauty berries are more than just beautiful!
There's been a hummingbird population explosion at our house! Most of the time we can see at least 20 (okay, some are blurs!) so I know there are at least twice that many sharing our woods. We have eight feeders all around the house and I have to refill them about twice a week, going thru at least two gallons of nectar a week! This was the first year our hostas bloomed so we didn't realize how much we and the hummingbirds would enjoy them. Between them and the bumblebees, there was constant daytime activity.
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Okay .. that's it for August! See you next month and thanks, as always, for your continued interest! Dave and I wish you all the best!

08.26.08 Thursday posting @ noon - NEW STUFF!

Thursday at noon we're going to add fourteen new Zuni fetishes to the website. This will be our last posting of August and we have at least two planned for September. We appreciate your continued interest and hope you'll tune in on Thursday.
Here's the new guys coming up!
It appears that the blog posts publish immediately to this site, but your emails are about 12 hours behind the publishing time. So I will post another notice Wednesday evening so that it is delivered just prior to "showtime".
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... has begun. So far we have received 45 of the over 79 Zuni bears, mountain lions, wolves, etc. promised by the generous collectors participating in our special project in conjunction with the Madhave Ghimire Foundation. This organization supports over 60 impoverished girls in Nepal who might otherwise not be able to go to school. It costs about $100.00 a year to provide tuition, uniforms and books to a young girl. An uneducated girl is more likely to be sold into slavery by her family if they have no means of supporting her. On his next trip to Nepal in December, Dr. Jeffrey Kottler, the founder of the organization, would like to gift each of the sponsored girls and their teachers with a Zuni fetish to congratulate them on their efforts and to empower them to continue reaching to achieve their full potential.
If you would like to donate a fetish to this worthy cause, please send it carefully wrapped to Zuni Spirits, P. O. Box 337, Grapeland, TX 75844 by the end of October. We are hoping for 100 donations so more are needed! Thank you for your consideration!
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EVER WONDER ABOUT PICASSO MARBLE? Picasso marble is the most widely used carving material for Zuni fetishes.
A variety of Zuni fetishes carved from Picasso marble.
Raw Picasso marble
Picasso marble was formed during prehistoric times when lava enveloped limestone. The colors and wild patterning are from magma being forced through fractures in the limestone, coloring the stone with gray or tan streaks and black lines. It is an extraordinary combination of intertwining blacks,browns, and tans that looks much like a cubist painting at first glance (hence, the name Picasso.)

Picasso marble can vary from specimens exhibiting fairly uniform colors of beige to brown or highly dramatic specimens may have black, grey and brown with bold veins of white color. We've even seen specimens that have some green inclusions. Most Picasso marble comes from Utah.

With a Moh's hardness of 3 to 5-1/2, it's perfect for carving and perhaps the most readily available and inexpensive carving material purchased by artists in Zuni. Just about every carver we can think of has used Picasso marble. They all also use other, more dramatic, prettier stones but Picasso marble is the most commonly used material for Zuni fetishes and has been since the 1980's.
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Well, I guess that's it till Thursday. Thanks for your support and kindnesses. Not a day goes by that I don't find another reason to believe that the folks who love Zuni fetishes are the nicest people on the planet. Till next time ...

NEW Zuni fetishes @ Zunispirits.com - 08/20/08 NOON

Greetings! Thank you so much for the responsive answer to our "please sign up for this e-blog thing". Most of our old mailing list has now re-enlisted for the new Zuni Spirits e-blog. And we thank you! So here's hoping it works perfectly to let you know that we're adding 16 new Zuni fetishes to the website at noon (CDST) today. Here's what is coming up: There are some nice stones in this showing and carvings by Lena Boone, Hayes Leekya, Calvert Bowannie, Herb Halate, Bernard Homer, Jr., Carol Martinez and others. We hope you'll tune in.
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Madhav Ghimiri Foundation scholarship recipient THE JOURNEY OF THE BEARS I am so pleased and grateful to announce that we now have promises of over 70 Zuni fetishes which will be enroute later this year to Nepal. Your generosity and compassion for the young girls sponsored by the Madhav Ghimire Foundation is making this possible. Dr. Jeffrey Kottler, founder of the organization will be traveling to Nepal in December. And with him -- 100 of your beloved Zuni fetishes which will be distributed to the teachers and students in celebration of their achievements and to encourage them to continue their studies. These young girls come from the poorest of families and often the cost of educating them is too great a burden. Many times, the young girls are sold because the family simply cannot afford to feed and house them. For one hundred dollars, the Madhav Ghimire Foundation can pay the tuition, purchase uniforms, books and supplies for one school girl for a year. Just that nominal amount of money will provide her with an education and a more secure future for herself, her family and ultimately, her community. We encourage you to read more about this important volunteer organization and assist them in their efforts. Dr. Kottler has promised to send us photos of the recipients with their Zuni fetishes and we'll be posting them here early next year.
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PUEBLO BIRDS AND MYTHS by Hamilton Tyler 1991 Northland Publishing Co., Flagstaff, AZ This is a book that I have had for years and really enjoy reading. If you are a bird lover (and I already know that you appreciate puebloan culture!) I think it is a book that you would also enjoy. It's available at amazon.com and you can even purchase used copies very inexpensively. Birds are very important in Zuni. Their feathers are used for prayer sticks and other ceremonies. Only native species are used for sacred purposes but other introduced birds (guinea, peacock, macaw, pheasant) may be used on masks and costumes. There are 73 birds that migrate through the Zuni region. Sixty-six are used ceremonially, three are taboo and sixteen are used only by religious elders. Boys are taught at an early age which birds are used for specific purposes so that their "collections" go to the proper person in the Pueblo. Eagles were once captured and kept for their feathers but now feathers are collected at the Zuni Eagle Sanctuary and dispensed for religious purposes. Macaws were traded from Mexico and during excavations at Chaco canyon, entire rooms were found with the carcasses of macaws that were kept for ritual use by the priests of these ancient communities. The last Zuni captive macaw from Mexico was given to a Sun Priest in 1920. It spoke Zuni and knew the names of about a dozen members of the community. Though they are rarely used today, Edmund J. Ladd presents diagrams in his master's thesis from 1963 (published in STARS ABOVE EARTH BELOW, 1998, Roberts Rhinehart Publishers, Niwok CO in association with the Carnegie Institute, Carnegie Museum of Natural History) the various snares used to capture the required sacred birds. For example, horsehair loops were tied to the mountain bee plant to ensnare the feet of hummingbirds. Dr. Ladd goes on to say in the conclusion of his thesis that "objects made for ritual and ceremonial use by the A:shiwi were never meant to be preserved, replicated for exhibition or collected for other uses. These offerings are made to the spirit beings, the ancestors, in the belief that they will be received in the afterworld only by disintegrating into the earth and air. In this way they benefit the individual and the world and provide spiritual protection, abundant rain, snow, good harvest, and, most especially, "a long and healthy road." Here's wishing you all a "long and healthy road." Till next time!


Many of you have written to say that you've loyally subscribed to the new e-blog and I thank you! But the statistics aren't showing that's the case so this is a test run to see if this is going to work. I apologize -- truly, I do -- but IF YOU GET this -- drop me a quick email saying "I GOT IT" and I promise to leave you alone the rest of the day. Really, I will! But while I have your attention, here's an update on the number of Zuni fetish donations for THE JOURNEY OF THE BEARS: 63! SIXTY THREE! Only thirty seven to go and that's a doable number. Thank you all, so very much, for your generosity. Elahkwa, in Shiwi. Have a great day!


Okay, I may have this page just about like I want it (for now -- you know I have a low boredom threshold!), so I am about to email all of you who normally receive our site updates to let you know you'll need to subscribe here in order to be notified when we add new Zuni fetishes to ZUNI SPIRITS in the future.

There are several reasons for the change, not the least of which is my own ISP who's giving me grief over the number of emails we're sending each month. Hopefully, the transition will go smoothly and you'll all still get your update notices. I promise not to write here everyday and inundate your inbox! In addition to subscribing via email (and you may unsubscribe at any time), those of you have RSS readers, may opt to get it in RSS form.

Our next posting of NEW ZUNI FETISHES will be early next week. We have a bundle of 15 new guys to show you and among them:

  • Bernard Homer
  • Ed Lementino
  • Gale Lucio
  • Troy Sice
  • Debra Gasper
  • Calvert Bowannie
  • Fitz Kiyite
  • Cheryl Beyuka
  • Carol Martinez
  • Fabian Tsethlikai
  • Edison Bobelu
  • Lena Boone
  • Hayes Leekya
  • Herb Halate
  • and Juana Homer

And we're planning another small posting later in August.

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THE JOURNEY OF THE BEARS HAS BEGUN! And the first of the donor fetishes arrived yesterday! So far we have been promised 54 Zuni fetishes to share with the teachers and scholarship girls of THE MADHAV GHIMIRI FOUNDATION. I am hopeful there will be more and I am thinking I will contact some of our carver friends in Zuni to see if they will be so kind as to donate a few carvings. I may even hit up some of the other traders!

Here are a few videos you may watch to see the children and the good work of Dr. Jeffrey Kottler and THE MADHAV GHIMIRI FOUNDATION.

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My friend Wells Mahkee, Jr. who is the Managing Editor of the Navajo Hopi Observer, sent me photos of the 2008 Gallup Ceremonial parade. Check it out!

Thanks for your time!

Journey of the bears

If you've been following what's going on at ZUNI SPIRITS in the last few days, then you know that we are collecting Zuni bears (and wolves and mountain lions and ...) for a project that we're calling "THE JOURNEY OF THE BEARS".

Dr. Jeffrey Kottler, the founder of THE MADHAV GHIMIRI FOUNDATION has enlisted our support to gather at least 100 Zuni fetishes to be taken in December to Nepal. THE MADHAV GHIMIRI FOUNDATION was established to help provide educational opportunities for the most neglected children of Nepal, especially young girls from the lowest caste who would otherwise be unable to attend school.

Girls are selected based on financial need, as well as academic potential and performance. It costs just $100 to sponor a child and that provides fees, school uniforms, books, and supplies for one year. Since the founders and administrative staff volunteer their time and expertise, there are few administrative costs and little overhead--90% of all money donated goes directly to the children's education. Dr. Kottler and THE MADHAV GHIMIRI FOUNDATION are now supporting over 60 children in 6 different villages and have plans to increase this number significantly in coming years, expanding the opportunities to many regions of the country.

In December of this year, Dr. Kottler and staff will be returning to Nepal and he wants to share the beauty, spirituality and power of Zuni fetishes with the teaching staff and the scholarship girls. So we've asked you, our family of collectors, to join us in this endeavor. As of this writing (and only since Friday !), we have been promised 54 Zuni fetishes to share with the girls of Nepal. We're hoping for at least 100.

If you've not visited THE MADHAV GHIMIRI FOUNDATION site, we sincerely URGE you to do so. Most of us feel overwhelmed by the need in the world. There are so many who have so little. But here is an easy, affordable way to educate and protect a young girl from what might be a life of utter despair. By keeping young girls in school we lessen their chances at being sold by their families to what may be a life in a brothel.

Then, if you feel like we do, that this is a most worthwhile project, email us and let us know how many Zuni fetishes you're willing to donate. We look forward to hearing from you!