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Coyolxauhqui Mourning: Chicana Healing Practices Through Re-connecting and Re-membering Indigenous-based Spirituality


My Master’s thesis project explores the ways Chicanas negotiate an indigenous-based spiritual practice centering the experiential knowledges of women who participate in full moon healing circles. Specifically, this research focuses on Omecihuatl, from Orange County, California, and Coyolxauhqui Full Moon Circle from Los Angeles, California, to demonstrate how Chicanas understand their individual and collective healing. By conducting oral histories of six participants, I trace their healing journey as well as how they came to participate in the full moon circles. In this research, the questions I raise are: how do Chicanas’ spiritual and healing practices inform their journeys toward healing? What are the experiences of some Chicanas participating in healing circles? What are the relationships between these women with Indigenous and Native American peoples, practices, and knowledges within healing circles?

While some of the women I interviewed have a connection to indigenous ancestral knowledge, most women experience detribalization. Inspired by Gloria Anzald�a’s concept of Coyolxauqui Imperative, and Maria Josefina Salda�a Portillo and Maria Eugenia Cotera’s concept Mestizo Mourning, I use Coyolxauhqui mourning to articulate a detribalized Chicana experience. This works in two ways. The first, in attempting to put an indigenous-based spiritual practice, detribalized Chicanas are missing practices and links to indigenous ancestry. Like the pieces of Coyolxauhqui that are lost in her dis-memberment and cannot be recovered, Chicanas face the same dilemma—they can re-member pieces, but something will be lost in their re-connection. In the case of detribalized Chicanas, they must mourn those lost pieces. For some Chicanas, this means grieving the loss of a direct tie to an indigenous ancestry. Second, Coyolxauhqui mourning means a re-connection to an indigenous identity and practice through honoring native and indigenous ceremonies, disrupting indigenist iconography, and honoring elders’ and ancestors’ epistemologies to attain healing and wholeness. I argue that Coyolxauhqui mourning works to understand a possible path to re-connect an indigenous-based spirituality and healing of detribalized Chicanas.

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