Category Archives: nature photography

Butterflies – The Souls of Ancient Warriors

Photo I shot at Xochitla, Mexico.

For thousands of years native people in what is now Mexico, Central America and Southwestern United States had stories, epic accounts, and even religious beliefs regarding animals. One of such admired animals was the butterfly.

They revered nature almost to religious levels.

Who knew that people who admired fierce jaguars, stealthy snakes, and mighty eagles would have butterflies in high esteem — from all animals. And yet it is true. Once you know the ancient lore and culture of the indigenous people you can easily understand. For their reason in life wasn’t all about war — or inexistent human sacrifices. They revered nature almost to religious levels, or even more!

Such a society would respect the delicate.

The societies of Ancient Mexico were composed of poets, artists, performers, mathematicians, astronomers, dancers, and great teachers — but you won’t hear this in any Discovery Channel or National Geographic documentary (since they either lack historical knowledge or work on a biased agenda). Such a society would know and respect the delicate, the artistic, and the beautiful. We know that because their poetry and way of talking is full of empathy and care. They were no blunt warriors only — the vast diversity amongst the ancient native peoples of the Americas is not only impressive but still unknown.

Warriors carried a big butterfly symbol.

Motifs of butterflies adorned clothing capes, artisan’s clay figures, and even the glyphs written on deer hide or amatl paper by scribes. In Tula, Hidalgo (known back then as Tollan Xicocotitlan), the capital of the historical Toltecs, warriors carried a big butterfly symbol over their chests as part of their military attire. Also printing seals — a great tradition in Ancient Mexico not so much discussed — were also made with various butterfly shapes and sizes.

There are still traditions to honor the deceased.

But beyond the visible, butterflies were part of the ancient’s stories and beliefs. For instance one of the most famous one, which still survives to our times: butterflies being visiting souls. Although Day of the Dead traditions has been quite tainted and manipulated for centuries — I.E. Disney-Pixar’s Coco — there are still some original traditions who once honored or remembered the deceased. The butterfly story is one.

Now they come to bring joy to us, and for us to honor them.

It is said that if you see a butterfly pass by or visit you, it is in reality the soul of an ancient warrior visiting you. And it is probable that person died in battle to became a beautiful butterfly in the next life. We know from Tula the connection between warriors and butterflies, probably as if they knew that if they were to die in the fight a chance to become a peaceful and delicate butterfly awaited. So people respected and protected butterflies, because they may even have been a father or a sibling who perished under the spears and arrows at the chaos of the battlefield. Now they come to bring joy to us, and for us to honor them.



Wildlife at the Mexican deserts

Photo I shot of a Mexican prairie dog.

What one can find at the apparent desolate and barren deserts can be surprising. Is it because no one expects anything and suddenly you stumble upon life? Or is it because there is indeed a wealth of thriving life?

It has always surprised me to find beautiful flowers, bunch of critters, colorful birds and of course the occasional furry friend like this one.

Contrary to worldwide popular belief Mexico is not all desert. Central Mexico has pine forests, and South Mexico has jungles and swamps. I’ve visited all of them! The place that never fails to surprise me when finding little animals, or just life, is the Mexican desert.

Of course I won’t like to cross roads with a bear or a jaguar — probably won’t since they’re in near extinction. Sad. And still the lonely desert is a cradle of life.

These furry pals are could also face extinction. Prairie dogs along with other desert animals are in danger due to human activity (hunting or poaching). Until recent years the Mexican government has enforced protecting these animals, and hunt down illegal hunting. Especially in San Luis Potosi state I have seen it, people getting arrested for killing endangered coyotes or selling baby deer to passing tourists.

Still much has to be done. And I for one support hunting animals with a camera. It’s actually more fun, and like pretty gals say when we men foolishly drool at their beauty “take a picture, it lasts longer.” Indeed it does!

If you’re interested in Mexico and its riches, check out my ebook novel Till Stars Shut Their Eyes.


Worlds within worlds.

Mobile photograph I shot at a small patch of garden on the sidewalk, in Mexico City.

It is amazing how one can easily find worlds within our own world. As I was walking, an activity which I am so fond of, I discovered these mushrooms still with morning dew. Perhaps our own world is also embedded within a colossal one, one so large the entire cosmos wouldn’t suffice. After all, for ants their world seems large enough, ignoring there are supernovas and black holes bending space-time.

Worlds within worlds. Copyright 2015 Miguel Omaña.
Worlds within worlds. Copyright 2015 Miguel Omaña.

Summer rain at Central Mexico

Jilotepec is a town an hour-driving outside of Mexico City’s metro city limits. While visiting this place and its fields, it started raining. The daily afternoon rain is a trademark of a true Mexican summer, contrary to popular belief abroad.

Ominous clouds, roaring thunders, copious rainfall, a nightly coldness, and the once-a-week hail constitute a typical Mexican summer in Central Mexico and many parts of the country.

The idea of a desert nation comes from Hollywood movies and America’s mindset because of the huge desert located in the border with the United States. The rest of Mexico is a mosaic of isolated and differing climates. You could be in grassy landscape like this one in Jilotepec, and no one would guess that a 15-minute driving westward one will find a thick pine tree forest in El Ocotal area. It’s like saying all of America has all-Americana wooden red barns.

Just like the terrain of this nations is misunderstood, so the people. Mexicans can actually be more good than foreigners can think, and yet there are also far more dangerous ones — let’s say the spectrum is way off Trump’s mindset.

Jilotepec is a nice town to visit, nearby Tula’s archeological ruins left by the ancient Toltecs. In fact, all this area was once important in times of the Mexica Aztecs. Plan ahead if you’re staying in Mexico City, for it can be hard to leave the city due to traffic conditions of apocalyptic proportions — a bit of a joke, but it can be weary for someone not used to it.

Jilotepec means Hill of the tender (not ripe) corn.

If you’re interested in Mexico, its history and people, you may enjoy my novel Till Stars Shut Their Eyes.

Summer rain at Jilotepec, Mexico. Copyright 2015 Miguel Omaña.
Summer rain at Jilotepec, Mexico. Copyright 2015 Miguel Omaña.

Nature still stands

Photo I shot at the ruins of the ancient city of Teotihuacan.

Recently named the 5th largest city of olden times, the city’s gigantic downtown has been deserted for the last 1400 years. Everything about this city has faded into oblivion — even its original name. Only buldings, streets, and water works remain. All has withered, even its own memory. The little we know was written from ancient Maya nations far away in Central American jungles. And still only the tall pyramid-like temples remain. Why do ancient Mexican cities remain intact, when moden-day buildings tend to crumble when left unattended?

The reason is as simple as nature itself. Native peoples of Mexico and Central America discovered that following nature’s blueprints gave them extraordinary benefits in architecture as well as in other scientific areas. Instead of fighting off nature when building cities, they imitated it. So tall buildings, the first real skyscrappers way before New York’s, were erected in the form of mountains.

Man-made mountains towered ancient Mexican cities. We call them nowadays “pyramids” when in fact they’re not. Pyramids were those built by ancient Egyptians. But even they may be visually similar to a pyramid, the tall temples were actually mounds, mountains, or hills made by the hands of man… with stairs. A mountain is difficult to come down by earthquakes or hurricanes. Even ill-intended warring actions may leave scars on such buldings, but never dissipate the form of it (i.e. Mexico City’s Tenochtitlan).

And just like nature still stands amid the political chaos of people around the world, also these ancient structures. I shot this photo off the tourist path.

If you like ancient native Mexican history, you may enjoy my novel Till Stars Shut Their Eyes.

At the Empire nature still stands. Copyright 2015 Miguel Omaña. At the Empire nature still stands. Copyright 2015 Miguel Omaña.

Mamulique mountains.

Photo and text by Miguel Omaña.

Located in Northeastern Mexico, the small Mamulique mounatins, part of the Picachos mountain range, is the last elevation one leaves behind when going northward. As the hills and slopes of these mountains fade, the vastness of the plains make its presence covering a huge land area — the rest of Northeastern Mexico, the United States, and Canada.

It housed one of the most dangerous curves of the Panamerican highway.

Between the industrial city of Monterrey and the border town of Nuevo Laredo, Mamulique stands in the way. Long ago the highway communicating Mexico City to Laredo, Texas — the famed Panamerican Road — housed its most dangerous curves on these range, making it the stuff of legends amongst truck drivers and travelers. During the 1990’s a new high highway toll system was built here, in a time were the country did not have (but needed) a highway system.

In the state of Nuevo Leon, it is about 2 hours driving (or less) from Laredo, Texas.

Mamulique mountains. Copyright 2013 Miguel Omaña. Mamulique mountains. Copyright 2013 Miguel Omaña.

Forest at Mexican volcanoes

Photo I shot in one of the valleys of the western flank of the Iztaccihuatl volcano.

Iztaccihuatl means White Lady in Nahuatl native language. Ancient indigenous people named her like that because of the feminine silhouette created by the snowy glaciers on the top, resembling a sleeping woman.

If you enjoy Mexican scenery and history you may enjoy my novel Till Stars Shut Their Eyes.

Forest at Mexican volcaones. Copyright 2013 Miguel Omaña. Forest at Mexican volcaones. Copyright 2013 Miguel Omaña.

At the keep of the wicked.

At the keep of the wicked,
snarling to face it,
rise and rise, not once but thrice!
Amid the darkness and its skid,
Lies the night of this land dry.

Photo and text by Miguel Omaña.

Photo I shot at the Northern Mexican border.

At the keep of the wicked. Copyright 2010 Miguel Omaña. At the keep of the wicked. Copyright 2010 Miguel Omaña.

Bee on a flower.

Photo I shot of a gorgeous model I found in a lake in northwestern Mexico City metro area.

Not only are bees pretty, but of paramount importance for the balance of the planet’s ecosystem (and not because Doctor Who says so, by the way).

Illustrator Brooke Barker suggests in a joking way that if a bee is to be paid minimum wage, a jar of honey would cost $ 182,000! These little friends are so important!

Bee on a flower. Copyright 2013 Miguel Omaña. Bee on a flower. Copyright 2013 Miguel Omaña.