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The State of Cal
15ornia has officially begun the multi-year celebration of its sesquicentennial or 150th anniversary celebration. This year, keynote events like the 1848 discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill and the 1848 Treaty of Guadeloupe Hidalgo where Mexico ceded control of California and much of the West to the USA are highlighted. Explore with us now the mysterious sea story of the island of California ruled by the black amazon Queen Califa.

See Queen Califa (aka Queen Califia) featured in our
2003 SF Carnaval Flash Movie

Black Madonnas or dark goddesses like Queen Califa are often central Carnaval figures associated with feminine wisdom and powers of the earth, moon and water. Near the beginning of Brazil's Carnival season are many Iemanja (ee-mon-jah) festivals where flowers are cast into the sea, the most popular icon in Latin America is the Lady of Guadeloupe whose miraculous first appearances were upon the ruins of the temple to the Aztec Earth goddess. Historically, many great stars have played this enchanting role from the bible's Mary Magdalene through art's Frida Kahlo and of course the chameleon pop singer Madonna whose most memorable moments often relied on the hidden power of this timely archetype.

<IMG SRC="califatxt.gif" WIDTH=248 HEIGHT=293 BORDER=0> Hernando Cortez, the conqueror of Mexico's great Aztec civilization is considered by most to be the one who named California after a mythical paradise ruled by Amazon warriors. In 1520, having pushed through Middle America to the Pacific Ocean, he sent many expeditions north and south in the name of his God, Spain and gold. Proceeding North along today's California coast, at the right hand of the Indies Cortez would have found the planet's best version of terrestrial Paradise (the Garden of Eden) where for 10,000 years California Indians had enjoyed an environment which made shelter, clothing, and other trappings of civilization unnecessary. The Baha Peninsula now creates the Sea of Cortez but could have at first appeared as the island named California home to dark Queen Califa and her vast treasures.

The fascinating and forbidding queendom of California was a central part of one of the first tales of chivalry to receive wide circulation in Spain. In 1510 the Spanish Editor Ordónez de Montalvo added his own sequel, starring a gallant warrior, to his translation of the popular Amadís de Guala by Portuguese writer, Vvasco de Lobeira. This sequel, written in Seville and published in Toledo, was titled Las Sergas de Esplandían and its hero Esplanadian sought to be a perfect, noble knight throughout his many crusades and adventures.

In our adventure the City of Constantinople is under attack by the pagan Turks. Esplandia and his father King Amadis are part of the Christian forces defending the City. The Christians were winning the battle until the pagans acquire an ally, Queen Califa of California.

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Queen Califa commanded not only Amazon forces but also an airforce of five hundred griffins, powerful creatures with the wings and head of eagles and the body of a lion. The griffins had been trained to keep California free of men and were sometimes fed human males by their Amazon keepers. Queen Califa ordered the griffins to swoop down on the Christians and then pick them up and drop them to their death on the rocks below. However the griffins were unable to tell the Christian men from their pagan allies and attacked the Turkish forces as well. Queen Califa having lost the trust of the Turks and was soon captured by the Christians.

Eventually Califa is married to a Spanish knight, instructed in Christianity and her vast treasure of gold and jewels became the property of her husband and his Spanish countrymen. This was the same one-sided happy ending the Spanish Empire sought among their many colonies for the centuries to follow. Eventually, all the many Latin American offspring of the union between the motherland and the conquered lands would reject the exploitive economic relationship. It is only now, after 500 years of turmoil. that a consensus is being reached by the nations of our hemisphere on how to build just democratic societies where the rights of individuals are not abused.

It is told that the legend of Queen Califa was so powerful among the adventure seeking Spanish Conquistadors that a wise Mayan village elder could successfully avoid an unwelcome visit with tales of a far-away Amazon tribe of golden splendor. Dark, earthy goddesses had long been a source of much fascination in medieval Europe, particularly in Spain.

califiaThe first known recordation of the name California appears in the journal of Cabrillo's voyage along the coast in 1542. The only state in the United States of America named sooner is Florida and amazingly enough, California is the only one of the fifty states named after a deity, saint or mythological figure. Some think the world California is derived from Greek. For example Kala pho nea, Kala phora nea, Kala phor neia, and Kala chora nea are translated as beautiful woman, moonshine, adultery and fertile land. More likely is the possibility that the name is derived from the Spanish word Califa, which in turn is derived from the Arabic name Khalifah, meaning successor. This would appeal to the ideals of chivalry where a man becomes a knight to serve higher ideals and return as a hero.

Also Spaniards love for the Virgin Mary was passionate. The Bible, by saying little about Mary, leaves much to the imagination of a devotee. Artists have responded by consistently depicting the Virgin Mary as a beautiful young virtuous mother. The historic patriarchal Christian pattern of avoiding and suppressing the divine feminine led to secret shrines throughout Spain and southern France devoted to the mysteries of the dark goddess. Good authors often seek ambiguity and the obvious association of Queen Califa with Kali, the most powerful east Indian goddess of creation and destruction, is one which author Montalvo would likely approve.

<IMG SRC="califatxt3.gif" WIDTH=227 HEIGHT=279 BORDER=0 align="right" alt="Queen Califia"> It would be 250 more years before the threat of Russian colonization would spur the Spanish King to invest in California by creating the 21 Missions along a great road still called El Camino and Mission Street in many parts of the state. In 1776, at virtually the same time the signers of the Declartation of Independence were creating our country, Mission Dolores was established as the first settlement in the San Francisco Bay Area and the 6th Mission. The priests wished to named the church after Saint Francis but the people prevailed and Mission Dolores was named after another Black Madonna, Our Lady of Sorrows which was also the name of a small nearby lake.

Today, much as the pre-Columbian prophecies foretold, the phoenix or Quezecotl of a New World appears to be rising for the pace of change in our new global culture continues to accelerate. As we enter the 21st century, Black Madonnas like Queen Califa seem ready to step into the light of consciousness and insist we embrace the chaos of the changing world.

The world is made of stories and which shape our dreams and hopes. Once upon a time Queen Califa and her great virtues were suppressed. Now it is Carnaval time, a time for release of the repressions. A time for the Carnaval spirit to once again ask you: Will you dance with me? (Carnaval-San Francisco's 1998 theme is Creatures of the Sea. The Grand Parade is on Memorial Weekend Sunday May 25)

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