I held an open house in the neighborhood and had a visitor who lived down the street. We started talking. Per usual, my conversations always stream back to God-talk and my spiritual work. I’m called The Spiritual Realtor for a reason. I mentioned I had this column, Soul on Fire, that talks about people, places, and things of a spiritual nature.
The young man told me I should look up the work of his dad, Victor Villaseñor, that he has been bringing this kind of message through his literary offerings for years, particularly his acclaimed best-selling novel, “Rain of Gold,” an ancestral journey with sweeping family drama and history.
I remembered now, having lived in South O for years, hearing about this famous author who lived in a big rancho — a family that owned most of south Oceanside back in the day. I excitedly called Joseph, Victor’s son, to arrange an interview with his dad.
What a treat! What stories! What history!
Esther Sanchez, mayor of Oceanside, said, “Victor captures a very special time in Oceanside’s history, culturally and spiritually, in his many works.”
You can say that again.
Stepping onto the grounds of Rancho Villaseñor is like time travel, and one can sense the idyllic past that also exists mystically in the present. Having lived in Mexico for a time and visiting often, I have an internal sweet spot in my heart for all things Mexican culture. Hospitality is one of the main traits, and spirituality is a part of daily conversations.
This culture believes you cannot be separated from God and openly speak of the miracles occurring all around us. I could envision gatherings on the grounds and within the walls of the spacious home, and I felt the spirits of familia past welcoming me.
I enjoyed hearing of the history of this property that was purchased shortly after Pearl Harbor when fear of a Japanese invasion to the California shoreline allowed Victor’s father to purchase 160 acres for $20,000 from Fire Mountain down to the ocean off Cassidy. Avocado, orange, and lemon groves on the west, tomatoes, and other vegetables to the east.
All the farm animals resided here, supplying eggs, milk, and meat. Dozens of horses grazing on the open fields. Everything that was ever needed was within this rancho, along with sweeping ocean views. A time when reverence was all around and the simple pleasures one experiences down south were at hand —heaven on Earth.
I was more intrigued when he started talking about his grandmother, or abuela, who taught him that when the sun, the right eye of God, and the moon, the left eye of God, come up, this demonstrates that God is always with us. That God is a male and female. He was raised to understand that all humans come with a guardian angel from the stars. We come to Earth to help Father God plant heaven on Earth.
“That’s our job,” smiles Victor. Now we’re talking my language. We all know the language of the heart if we can only be still and remember our purpose. It’s a beautiful thing to be reminded of this by such a legendary soul, Victor Villaseñor, as he reflects on the bi-cultural influences that have shaped his life and art.
His vast understanding and beliefs around spirituality and the human experience on Earth have a message for those who have ears to hear. “We need to help heal our Mother Earth and be a part of her healing in any way we can.”
His grandmother taught him to face the sun each morning as the flowers do. That God created the universe — one united verse. A symphony can be heard from trees, rocks, flowers, and all creation. Sacred good. He was advised to go out and plant the garden wherever he was, or Eden, as heaven can be attained on Earth. “As soon as I went through the gates of our ranch, I felt the power and magic of my family and our beliefs.”
“We take what we plant with us to eternity. So if we plant hate, rage, and anger, that’s what we carry with us. It’s so important to be happy and share happiness,” Victor says.
The importance of his grandmother in his life and her spiritual influence and stories of the family will inspire his next book. He discussed the importance of female wisdom.
“Where do you think we would be if we had a woman as pope or if women had written the story of humanity?” she would ask him. “She taught me to see I was an earth angel. That each tomorrow is a miracle gifted to us by God.”
She would come to him in his dreams after her death, and he would often meet her on the shores of the rich riparian habitat below the rancho. He began to understand how to forage healing herbs learning that all disease can be cured by natural remedies provided by Mother Earth and home remedies passed down for centuries from the wise elders.
“Indigenous language has no word for nature because we are nature. We are a multisensory species — we actually have 13 senses. When you grow up with that information, we don’t believe in God, where God can be debated, we live with God.”
He quotes Emerson, saying, “ ‘What lies before you or behind you are tiny matters compared to what lies within you. And when you bring what lies within you out, miracles happen.’ That is the premise for my living and writing and what my parents and elders taught me.”
“Who am I?” He answered my query with another quote.
“Lydia Whirlwind Soldier taught me this, a keeper of sacred wisdom from the Lakota Indian tribe:
I am a hallow bone; I am a buffalo bone.
With my left hand facing up
I receive with my heart hand and receive, receive and receive from the entire universe — the furthest reaches of the universe.
With my right hand facing down, I give, give and give, flooding mother earth with healthy, loving energy.
And mother earth is no larger than a grain of sand on the seashore of the universe. A human being is an instrument of our Supreme Being, and I am as large as the entire universe. My hand reaches the furthest depths of the universe and brings it back to the Earth.”
“How do I want to be remembered?
We are God’s instruments planting heaven in the universe. Harmony. One song. One symphony. We need to get into tune and spread the song of the symphony of creation. And when we finish our life here, we should be empty vessels, having given all that we can of God’s blessings.
The only reason we come to Earth is to give birth to God. How do we give birth to God? As Emerson said, miracles happen when we bring out what’s within us. As Jesus said, the womb of creation is within us.”
Fondly remembering his father’s words of wisdom, he leaves me with this final nugget:
“Bring your unique best to life. Be relaxed and happy and enjoy your life—plant love, peace, and harmony. Watch it grow. Give it until you are an empty vessel. Be grateful for all you already have. Heaven is here on Earth if you notice all the blessings. Angels and miracles surround you.”
And so it is.
Watch this KOCT interview with Victor Villaseñor: