Book Review: Light of the Andes by Dr. J.E. Williams

Mountain at Machu Picchu

Ever since I came back from my trip to Peru, I’ve been looking forward to the release of Light of the Andes by Dr. J.E. Williams.  While visiting the Andes Mountains, I felt a deeply spiritual connection to the land of Peru.  Reading Light of the Andes helped me understand and place my experiences in Peru within a broader context.   It was a feeling of being in a land that I had never visited before, yet it felt like home.

While every person experiences things differently, there may have been similarities between what I experienced and what Dr. Williams experienced upon his first trips to Peru years ago.  Perhaps it was this feeling of being home, that led him to the very special Q’ero people, and his his soul brother, Don Sebastian Pauccar Flores.  Dr. Williams has chronicled his initial encounters with Don Sebastian in his 2005 book, The Andean Codex.  Light of the Andes continues this journey with Don Sebastian to the great Andes mountain, Apu Ausangate.

While storytelling is a very effective form of communication, it is the principles interwoven within the stories that create a deeper understanding.  This is the very difficult technique that Dr. Williams employs in his writing style in both The Andean Codex and Light of the Andes.  While there are many principles within the Q’ero tradition, I was most interested in the concept of ayni (reciprocity).  In the preface to Light of the Andes, Dr. Williams writes:  “Ayni is the touchstone of the Q’ero worldview who hold it as the code of life, an innate imprint discoverable in nature and ever present in the universe where it forms the content of every thing—the matrix of all being.”

In The Andean Codex, Dr. Williams ventured into the land of the Q’ero to experience life from their perspective.  Most importantly, the relationship between Dr. Williams and Don Sebastian forms a basis for their journey.  In Light of the Andes, Don Sebastian takes his first trip to Lima, the capital of Peru, and experiences urban city life.  When I returned from my first trip to Peru, I  experienced some of the same culture shock.  Once I felt the deep spiritual connection with the Andean world, it felt very disjunct and spiritually barren when I returned to the US.  While I had missed the familiarity of modern 21st century Florida,  I instantly felt a longing to have the spiritual energy of the Andes with me as well.

Most of all, I was impressed by Dr. Williams’ profound spiritual, physical, emotional and mental preparation. His initiation process at Apu Ausangate was the result of years of dedication.  He had to integrate the Q’ero principles into his life before venturing up the mountain.   It is because of his dedication over many years to this process that we as readers have been given a gift.

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Commuting in the Amazon Rainforest

Comedy Travel Writing

I bet you take roads for granted. You use them in your car, on your bike, hell, you might even skip down the middle of them at 4 a.m. after a particularly frivolous night out. You don’t think anything of them unless there are potholes and roadworks and traffic lights that are conspiring against you. You only notice roads when something goes wrong.

Well, what if there were no roads? What if, instead of that rush hour junction on the A10 and that cyclist who always cuts you up at the lights, you had two rivers to cross and a three-mile stretch of undergrowth to hack through with a machete? That was the reality I faced when I spent three months in the Manu National Park in the Amazon Rainforest in Peru.

Admittedly, I didn’t have to make that four-hour journey every day, but I did it enough for it…

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