A Bardic Bioregional History – Blue Corn by Cristobal Wells

About two weeks ago I received an email from a long time permaculture/sustainability focused friend up in Massachusetts. Tad sends out all sorts of emails on progressive politics, humor, animal photos, etc, on a regular basis. But this one was different. It included a photo of a blue Katchina doll and a long rambling story/poem about blue corn. It was fascinating and I asked Tad about contacting the creator of this intriguing work. There was just so much earth-based wisdom in the piece.

So Tad gave me Chris Well’s email address and instructed to contact him directly. Which I did… and long story short, Chris edited his Bardic piece a little more and then gave me the okay to put it up as a guest blog piece.

But in meeting Chris via email and then visiting his website, I had a glimpse into an amazing man’s life – a man who was guided by a dream and Rolling Thunder (a Native American teacher) to evade the Vietnam war draft and go to Latin America, not knowing anyone there when he got off the plane.

And from there over the years, Chris has a created a life of music, community, eco-awareness and joy (from what I can sense) wherever he went all up and down South and Central America. He still lives ‘south of the border’ in Mexico now.

This is a man of deep convictions, courage and beautiful gifts.

I’m am in awe of his life and his work in these communities. And you can even listen to some of his music on his website.



A quote from his website:

“All these years since then I have lived and worked up and down the Western Hemisphere , able in my adult life to put on small grass-roots collaborative programs of ecology and arts for communities through creating public studios — Wherein we  keep alive  a cultural arts  exchange mixed with science activities exploring themes of place and creating small festivals of ecology for towns and barrios.”

[Note – I have not edited Cristobal’s piece. It seemed right exactly as he wrote it.]

A Bardic Bioregional History 

by Chris/Cristobal Wells


for Louisa,

where I keep my blue corn gardens in the Upper Rio Grande Watershed

Corn~Maiden~Mother of Arco Iris ~ (this response came upon receiving this photo from you of a corn Katcina puppet you recently got from the Hopi craftsman who made it – wonderful Thanks!

(Have you been to that Rainbow Dance at Santa Clara ?-the most sublime was last summer “2011” -Grandmothers, Daughters, Granddaughters dancing scooping up the rain w/ rainbows  – on the sandy soil of the plaza)

I hope you gave some of our blue corn to this KaTcina maker

so beautiful this – blue visual poem from you – new/old blessing


~So Lost & Found Histories ~ Corn Katcinas Report #1 – “Corns Uphill 7000 year dance”

Feathers lifting Corn

Fly prayers to the field heavens

The Guadalupana sang over the cornfields as Tonanztin

for thousands of years  before the Church came to these little

Upper Rio Grande Watershed Religious Theater Towns

These Rattle Dancers, these Drum & Light~Foot Dancer/Farmers

Corn Maiden brought us Civilization” , They say that over and over

as did the other Continental Grains & Seeds in their respective bioregions

At the same time of Earth

Wheat of Mesapotamia

Rye of Europe

Barley of the Highlands

Corn from Oaxaca

Quinoa, Amaranth of Andes

Millet of Africa

Brown Rice of Asia


Each  multi~breasted long~haired maiden bringing to men  ,   the requirement & inspiration of Kind Collaborations,     of Endurance,

of Arts  & Sciences,  of the intelligence of the Hulls! ~ amino-hulls

When we ,who are from monkeys – (I know some are Scended  from others: Bear, Fox ,Swans ~ I’ve seen them ~ I met an Elk Man ~ and a  Rolling Thunder~ Some humans  origins are other~wise but I agree that I am a Monkey man.  Yesterday I sat on the bus with  two smooth aquiline people, a Morena & her fella – They were so unique, exotic – I  wanted to just stare at them &  then it dawns on me, they are Dolphin people come up on land , their  profiles unmistakeable , silhouetted by the sea out the bus window, long slanting forehead, wide slack smile )

So when we monkey-humans came down out of the trees into the Savanas – and foraged quantities of available Seed & Grain for the first time

(I got this from Paul Shepard, the great evolutionary-ecology scholar, while drinking  well made beer one night  in Santa Fe)

The Amino-acids , the magic just-right nutrients in the hulls of the un-“refined” seeds  caused the expansion and growth of the layer of brain around the mammal brain, which is around the bird/reptile brain on the brain stem – and well Open Sesame! ~ the fat Neo-Cortex & Corpus Callosum made us complex Dreaming & Receiving human minds emotions.

Now & for milineums  before the hair of the corn maiden – flys in many colors : purple, magenta, pearl, pollen yellow, green

She travelled South & North from Oaxaca and ruled two continents for thousands of years

Before the other GrainSeed Maidens came from the post PanGaiaic Tectonic /Bioregional redistributions by boat and bird

The ancient seeds still rule over men ,”refined” grains & corn syrup feeding the planet diabetes

The long-time first agricultural civilizations all danced incessantly, those long slow planting whole grain trance dance –

those joy of life breathin with a rythym  ,those rolley-polley holydays,  many many many offerings throughout the year & milleniums.

This was a good and abundant and productive life of many heartfelt and brilliant and complex societal collaborations – weavings of water-fields designs , farms on the side of  steep mountain in the highlands , drop through 3 or more ecosystems by altitude ,

so people have farms within running distance with crops of amazing variety

– in those days it was easier to feel the back-beat of the earth- and the musics grew in bioregional rythyms –

The great pre-Incaic ruins and Machu Pichu itself were built on 1-3% fermented corn Chica drink –

It made all that carbohydrate so much more digestible , and gives a lift – the grain & root ciders –

some lowland quechuas called it the breast milk of the mother amazon  -& we give thanks

Strange routes carry us and the original seeds along these recent centuries

Traveling seeds in the cuffs of trousers

Settlers coming west brought a wheat from Europe in the 1800s

In 1920 Mora County New Mexico won the Worlds Fair for best (organic) wheat

and then it languished with the disinterest of the post war times which brought cheap steaks & tropical fruit in airplanes – and was nearly lost  by the 60s

– as the cargo cults took over the world

the native Corns too were almost lost – In the hybrid era , in the commodity food era- between 1850 & 1970

There were and are now more corn dancers than growers – hmm?

almost lost – Except that Kokopellis illegitimate children ,

Stepped in : John Kimmey who started the Seed Bank Talavaya in 1978

out at then San Juan /now Okiwenge village by Espanyola NM

Which basis of work eventually turned into Seeds Of Change Inc.

So along with Robert Marion the macrobiotic chef born on Tobaco Rd who started American Spirit Organic Tobacco company in Santa Fe in 1981.( and passed on already)

and Kimmey & Martin Prechtel & Gabriel Howearth , with myself as producer

All Species Projects  threw two events in 1984 & 85  at the Santa Fe Deaf School – called the “Kokopelli Natural Law Revivals”

We have it all recorded on still good “cassettes” – Peter Warshall, David Haenke, Joan Price, Juanita Espinosa

to which came Tellis Goodmorning 93 year old Peyote Church elder of Taos

so Tellis brought this Blue Corn

That I grow at Arco-Iris now – to the seed exchange of the Kokopelli events –

Kokopelli had been unknown to the modern world except for archeologists  before that – His cleaned-up penisless image was not on Insurance company business cards or real estate agents signs as it is now in the New Mexico. –  But Nanao Sakaki the vagabond poet had seen the petroglyphs and taken pictures of the humped back flute player with an erect penis – What was this ancient grafiti ? and we looked it up at UNM archives – and Kokopelli had been  seen dancing at Hopi by Kimmey – and on his back was a bundle of Seeds !

and Wilem Maltin who is SFs original natural Baker was at the Kokopelli Natural Law Revival –

and then went to Mora County and found the lost wheat and contracted growers to plant it out and it’s in now in Cloud Cliffs “Nativa” bread

and Wells planted the blue from Tellis at Upaya Bhuddist center for 17 years  starting in 1992

and Talavaya started by John Kimmey grew into Seeds of Change and then was sold to Mars Bars son

who patented the seeds  and moved the farm to California – shutting down NewMexicos principal heritage seed farm in 2010

So its time for new seed banks – every generation must fight this battle

& this summer several showed up : one in Tesuque Pueblo with the help of Emigdio Balon , Bolivian seed agronomist

& Chrissie Orr the Scottish visual artist started one in Las Vegas NM

& Miguel Santisteven the Chicano permaculture teacher with his youth group

& now Robert Mirabel the Taos poet/singer has a seed farm near the Pueblo

& others, as fresh as this Blue Corn Kachina puppet born out of time who watch over the traditional seed as well –

& one of Kokopellis illegitimate sons got astro-cartographically  re~stationed from the northern highlands of New Mexico after 30 years

and has taken the Blue (and Red) Corn Back to Oaxaca – Birthplace of corn~

After thousands of years of walking north, dancing north, Blue Corn Katcina & Kokopelli – who came from the tropics & crossed Pine Mountains & large deserts to the highlands of The Anazazi , a walking-stick and a burden bundle full of osha-sprouted corn & beans & squash & a bamboo saxophone all the way to Alaska , and other Kokopellis danced South to the Patagonia and to the Amazon and Virginia and much later sailed across the Seas always carrying blue corn katcina carefully in his basket woven burden bundle

Now Suddenly, after 7000 years – Blue Corn Katcina is flown South

to its place of Origen,  Oaxaca , Mexico

– A metal bird , an Ejido communal water system on a hill , a large strong son , the corn which looks amazingly like it’s local blue corn ancestor – begins to grow again

Coincidentally to this – this same corn is  spread in 2010 & 11

10 kernals, 7 , 5 , 3, 2 per gardeners hand

through the 300 pairs of hands at Consejo de Visiones = Vision Council

at the annual Chalma pilgrimage – people came from all over the Indian Americas

One Columbian man at the council had written his thesis on the “emotions of corn” – and they threatened to kick him out of his university if he persisted

In the end they published his book

& The Caravana Arco-Iris – In its Mazorca bus – painted as corn – Alberto Ruz & his Mexican & international family

traveled with the Bioregional Rainbow message for 13 years to every country in South America

and brought all the people I sent them , because I lived 12 years in SA ,from around South & North America to gatherings in Cuzco & Mexico, who then received this corn

And I didn’t do this – Corn did this, I take no credit for these truths – It’s an ongoing story that I was drawn into

Wheat maiden made me do this , JohnBarleyCorn did it , Kokopelli the Seed-Bearer , the Pan man, the fertile horn-blower, The Priapic Singing Seed-God

mate & friend of Mother Earths fertile daughters & sons , seed and soils, humus and humans

Through the amino-inteligence of the hulls of grainboats sailing our minds ocean

In the hems of gypsys dresses the seeds & gems

This Symbiosis Culture

in the face of the dayly destroying of the native seed strains

Their strength and memory of thousands of years

Is not to just go – it’s Embers burn in afterglow !

waiting for the winds of time to re-in-vent the tamale of the soul – el  Tamale del Alma , that we see  it makes sense even in migration to grow some corn, to keep old seeds vitally growing –

like the Mixtec do when the heart of the turkey is wrapped in corn husk, cooked in the horno , and then buried in the fields

with prayers for the next thousand years of harvest : making tamales dayly together kindly laughing for a lifetime,

making the tortilla of the round universe story,

grinding grains together, braiding corn husk mid winter wreathes & brooms with grandma , planting corn in a window on Christmas Day w/ Chalo,

the tortilla flys from Mothers Comal terra cotta stove to the childs plate,  the corn meal offered as  the results of a mans toil offered in prayer

the white posole , the grits , the farafa toasted corn meal of squash soup ,

you can feel your bones growing stronger , giving strength for the digging~mounding up on the corn roots in the late afternoon sun – not alone

– whistling with the birds

in the sand by the spring

As we push the fishes buried strength

toward the bamboo-like grass-roots on the river shore

fattening the seed into = TioCintle, Uncle of Corn!

Wow, so good to see you – It’s been a long time

Come In , Lets talk about it all

Hey, I just remembered an old corn field chant- Want to hear it?  Thousands of  years old , maybe in the top 10 of the Oldest Songs still walking yearly around the agricultural Earth – around Ocean Earth

It’s Quechua from the Andes “Apus” =The Grandfather mountains

“Beautiful Corn ,I am Planting/It makes ,Beautiful Corn, I am Planting / It Makes ”

“Sumachta Sara, Parwaycha Parwaycha” -I learned it from Kokopelli in a village field ,

as they danced with flute players in the cornfields and tied colored yarn on the corn & the ears of the llamas,

40 years ago above Cochabamba in the highlands ~ and I taught it to these city kids

Whew! – that was along hall – time for Chicha! mas luego –


About Mare Cromwell

Referred to as “The Voice of Earth Mother” by a gifted Shoshone elder, Mare Cromwell is a multi-award-winning author, Medicine woman/Lightworker and healer. She has also been told by another gifted elder that her work with Earth Mother is in the prophecies. Her books include: "The Great Mother Bible"; "Messages from Mother.... Earth Mother"; and "If I gave you God’s phone number.... Searching for Spirituality in America". She has studied with Native American teachers for twenty-two years and sat on the World Council for Wisdom Gatherings for three years. Mare leads workshops on our Sacred Planet-Earth Mother, Womb Wisdom and Sacred Silliness and more. She is the visionary and producer of the 1000 Goddesses Gathering in Washington DC. Mare loves to be involved in Ceremony. She is also a former worm herder. She calls Western Maryland home. www.marecromwell.com
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