The Magical Cactus

Just over a year ago, I found a large cactus being given away for free online. I begged my husband to go get it for me. When he brought it home, our toddler started digging around in the sand that the cactus had been planted in. He kept saying something about the cactus being magical and suddenly pulled a bunch of things out of the sand, including a very large tooth. I was embarrassed that I was terrified of the inanimate objects, so I posted on Facebook to see if anyone had any ideas why these things had been put in the container with the cactus. It seems that the cactus was probably initially used in a healing ritual that is common in certain areas of Mexico. The cactus happened to be called a San Pedro cactus.

Once I learned all of that, I felt ashamed that I had been so scared by the discovery. I could tell by the reactions I got on Facebook that other people were also equally terrified about the tooth and other findings. My grandfather always told me that people are conditioned to be afraid of things they don’t understand, and the more we spread awareness of our own individual truths, the more we can grow as a community. I loved the coincidence that the cactus happened to be called a San Pedro cactus, and my grandparents’ love of the community of San Pedro, CA ran very deep. I remember my grandpa telling me about how his father fell in love with the community of San Pedro when he worked on the artwork for King Kong, and that started our family’s bond to this area.

I’ve been waiting anxiously for the cactus to bloom again this year, and today it finally bloomed. Cactus blooms are always amazing but this one is extra special to me. Receiving the cactus pushed me forward on a process of growth and transformation that forced me to realize that I need to get more comfortable in my own skin. I also realized I have a deep desire to create artwork that is much more personal, and that’s something I’ve been procrastinating for a while. I’m putting this out to the world to hold myself accountable. I’m going to start sharing a series of photos that will tell a lot of stories about my own life. I hope in sharing it will help spread a little awareness and understanding of how even though we are all different, ultimately we are all united as a global community.

It pains my heart that we are currently in a society where religion is currently being used as a weapon to disperse hatred. People always look at me strangely when I tell them that my own religious education growing up made me a strong advocate for equality and human rights. When you study world religions, you start to realize that ultimately we are more alike than we are different. At their core, all of the world’s largest religions and belief systems have one very similar common core message (with variations in wording)…basically that it’s all pretty simple…all we need to remember is to love your neighbor. The story of the Good Samaritan in the Christian Bible was a story told to demonstrate that when Jesus says we are called to love our neighbor, it means everyone…even those who worship differently or are from a foreign land. That’s what Samaritans were to the Jewish people at that time. We live in a society where religion has often become synonymous with hatred and I’m working on a series of photos that I hope will help spread even a tiny bit more understanding and compassion.

Instead of being terrified of the objects that came with the cactus, I decided to drill holes in some of the pieces and turn it into a piece of garden art. Now when I see it, it’s my daily reminder to be more accepting, of myself and of others. <3

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