Who are we really?
One of the reasons I like indigenous people is the humility with which they harmonize with their surroundings and environments…but progress and modernity upset this natural equilibrium. Which is what I think we are witnessing in the world today. Have just finished Martin Prechtel’s (half native American from New Mexico who became a shaman in a Mayan village in Guatemala. And just started reading Bernard Lewis’s last book “What Went Wrong?” The clash between Islam and modernity in the middle east. But that’s another conversation.
In the most remote Mayan mountain village we visited, at 13,000 feet and 7 hours from the nearest city, I met a man, looking like he was in his 40′s and dressed norteno (brown leather jacket and levis) who had spent the last 9 years working all over the States. He was hungry for conversation. I looked at the villagers and at him, seeming so out of place, but knowing he was still essentially Mayan, and wondered how he feels about his place in his village now. I wondered about the younger ones too…having abandoned the traditional dress and the huipiles worn now only by the old women…huipiles that soon will only be seen in museums.
We all think about identity and the essential questions. There are no black and white answers. Martin Prechtel was the son of a Canadian indigenous woman who taught on their Pueblo reservation in New Mexico and a Swiss paleontologist. He felt lost but found a place and his identity in a traditional Mayan community. Then Guatemala’s generals (with the help of powerful interests including the United States) declared a brutal war on it’s own people that lasted for years and years until Prechtel’s village became paved over with tourists and false incantations for a fee. Prechtel carried the “Village Heart” back to the “land of the dead” and wrote three books at the request of his Mayan shaman teacher who could see that the traditional world view was being destroyed from without…due to the encroachment of Christianity in cahoots with big business and progress…and guns.
“Shamans say the Village Heart can grow a brand new World House if it is well-dressed in the layered clothing of each indigenous soul’s magic sound, ancestral songs and indigenous ingenuity. The wrecked landscape of our World House could sprout a renewed world, but a new language has to be found. We can’t make the old world come alive again, but from it’s old seeds, the next layer could sprout. This new language would have to grow from the indigenous hearts we all have hidden [within us.]”
Martin Prechtel, writer, teacher, speaker, musician and healer, in “Secrets Of The Talking Jaguar.”