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Spirit Guide

Art and Soul

Alebrijes

An Alebrije is a spirit guide or protector. There are two stories of how these came to be, one is from an artist, Pedro Linares. Pedro had some issues with his mental faculties at one point and had very vivid dreams about hybrid, mythical creates. He began creating these creatures out of papier mache. Another story is that the Alebrijes originated from the indigenous populations of Mexico who believed that these spiritual guides came to babies at birth, protected them, and guided them in life and then in death to the underworld. Remember Disney's Coco?


I was lucky enough to find yet another amazing experience on airBnb's experience page. In this particular outing we traveled to the old, artistic town of San Angel. This town was a haven for artists like Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. San Angel has a rich history; as well as; beautiful, original, Mexican architecture and cobble stone streets. On weekends indigenous populations come here to sell art and other hand-made goods as a way to support their tribes and families. I highly recommend bringing cash pesos as there are many innovative and lovely things in this beautiful town that can be purchased and treasured forever.


We walked into a little shop filled with inspired, vivid colors, fabrics, and little figurine animals painting in intricate and wild patterns. Upstairs was a little attic studio where our host, Maria, showed us to our painting area and told us the story of the Alebrijes. She works with a company called, Origen, which helps to support indigenous peoples of the region maintain their vast, beautiful cultures and economic stability by telling their stories, and sharing their culture through interactive experiences like the Alebrije experience featured on airBnb.


Each wood figurine is carved out of a tree that is said to contain spirits and healing powers. The carver lets the wood tell them what shape is hidden within. Once the wood has been carved it is soaked in gasoline to remove any bugs from the wood and dried for several weeks before it is able to be painted. How does one know which spirit guide is theirs?


How To Choose Your Spirit Guide

There are many different ways that Maria explained.

  1. Which animal do you like best? Likely you are leaning towards it, because it is your guide.

  2. Have you had a recent dream or reoccurring interaction with a specific animal in the past? Likely this is your guardian.

  3. Some Indigenous populations leave their baby out in the evening time, and whatever animal paw or hoof print is in the sand around their crib, this is determined to be their protector.

I chose a pegasus, because I believe my creature needed to best represent the magic of Alebrijes...okay and also I really just think they are majestic and AMAZING!


Painting

Once selected, you are free to paint you guide as you may. Some common trends are bright and energetic patterns. We were surrounded by brilliant examples of past work, that created such inspiration for us.


Though I found an example piece with raw wood I really liked, I chose to let my biggest and best, "My Little Pony" dreams run wild. I picked an eye-catching mix of purples, pinks, neon oranges, teals, and whites! Once I had my color pallet selected I picked a base-coat and then just let me imagination take me away, painting my own spin on various patterns I was seeing on the pieces laid out in front of me.


I have a great appreciation of the craftsmanship that goes into creating these Alebrijes, and the origin story behind them in alluring and other-worldly. This was a great cultural experience that gives back to the underserved communities of Mexico. Maria and Origen are doing some really important work keeping the community and culture alive. I highly recommend signing up for this experience if you are at all curious about what you have heard or even just painting one these mystical creatures!


To be able to sign up for this experience in Mexico City's San Angel please click the link here.



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