It All Starts With Pachamama

(Q’ero Paqo Shaman Don Sebastian Pauccar Flores, video courtesy of http://www.takiruna.com)

In our western society, having a relationship with the Earth is a rare topic of discussion or thought. Perhaps, due to technology, we have distanced ourselves so that now we are being challenged to renew our relationship with the Earth. It is a challenge well worth pursuing as I have discovered in my learning about the indigenous Andean teachings of the Q’ero people.

For the indigenous Q’ero of the Andes, I have noticed that it all starts with Pachamama.  In J.E. Williams’ book Light of the Andes: In Search of Shamanic Wisdom in Peru, he describes Pachamama as “the earth mother in space-time, the all creative cosmic mother”.  Pachamama is very important to the Q’ero and they frequently make offerings to her. When they say, ‘Gracias Pachamama’, you can hear their heartfelt gratitude echoing through each syllable. I have tried to emulate this concept when I offer thanks to Pachamama, whether through a tobacco ceremony or when I am praying to the Mesa (the Andean Medicine Bundle). I have noticed that the more I feel in my heart the love for Pachamama (as one would feel for a loved one), the deeper my connection. This has most certainly led me to a deeper relationship with the Earth.

Stay tuned for the next blogpost about sacred sites or huacas, in Cusco, Peru.

 

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A Native Wisdom Sampler: World #IndigenousDay

Indigenous Worldviews-August 2015

In honor of World Indigenous Peoples Day, here is a sampler of indigenous wisdom teachings from the Q’ero (Peru) and Onandaga (NY).  Click above to enjoy more videos and quotes in magazine format.

Ayni is a Quechua word meaning reciprocity. Ayni permeates daily life among the indigenous people of the Andes Mountains as it is not just a sustainability principle but is also practiced in despacho (offering) ceremonies to the Apus (mountain spirits), Awkikuna (nature spirits) and Pachamama. To learn more about Ayni, watch this video from Dr. J.E. Williams at Ayniglobal.

Seven Generations Principle  Native North Americans honor the sacredness of all life through the seven generations principle.  “Seven generations ago somebody was looking out for me and that’s why I am here. Seven generations from now, I hope, there is somebody there.”-Oren Lyons of the Onondaga Nation

 

Step Into Their World With Respect: Promoting Indigenous Travel

It is difficult finding indigenous travel experiences that communicate the importance of indigenous wisdom within the tourism framework.  Ayniglobal.org is a great example.  They are “dedicated to preserving authentic traditions and passing on indigenous wisdom.”  Unfortunately, most indigenous travel day trip itineraries are too superficial.  They usually include a dance/artisan display, authentic food, meeting local people and exploring nature; but, many trips usually do not include information about the indigenous group’s spiritual beliefs and practices, their cultural philosophies or even their views about everyday life.

There can be a conscious effort to talk about the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of indigenous peoples’ beliefs even on a day trip.  For example, instead of travelers learning just about food, also talk about the cultural and/or spiritual symbolism of certain types of food.  When out walking through nature, instead of just showing travelers a mountainside important to indigenous people, explain why it is important!  Many indigenous people revere all nature as sacred and certain areas of nature are equivalent to a church or temple.  There is a direct personal relationship to nature and everything in it.  Some indigenous people, like the Q’ero people in the Andes Mountains, “have individual names and uses for all plants, grass, birds and animals” (Williams,100).

When planning indigenous travel, it is important for tourism businesses to learn how to communicate with indigenous communities in a respectful way.  Dr. Susan Guyette, in a webinar about Sustainable Cultural Tourism, suggests asking these questions:

“Are sacred sites being protected?  Are welcoming songs being practiced and documented?  Are indigenous entrepreneurs being assisted, being trained and given promotion?  Is ecological restoration taking place?” Have respect by listening.  Listening is a central aspect of communicating with indigenous community.  Make sure that decisions come from within a community.”

Indigenous travel has the potential to empower indigenous communities economically as well as culturally and spiritually.  If done in a respectful manner, indigenous communities have the opportunity to preserve culture as well as alleviate poverty.  Dr. J.E. Williams from Ayniglobal, shares his thoughts on how social businesses can empower indigenous people:

“A social business for indigenous people gives everyone in the community the opportunity to participate, just like they would in growing crops, in creating the kind of lifestyle they deserve. They have the opportunity to mobilize their innate talents and to employ their creativity and skills for solving their own problems, for determining their own destiny, for banishing poverty from their lives by their own efforts, and freeing their children from the damaging effects of generations in poverty.”

References:

Guyette, S. (2012, November 12). Sustainable Cultural Tourism [Webinar]. Retrieved from https://vimeo.com/53652132

Williams, J.E. (2005). The Andean Codex: Adventures and Initiations among the Peruvian Shamans. Charlottesville, VA: Hampton Roads Publishing.

Williams, J.E. (2013, May 19). Social Business: Not Just a Dream, a Reality – Founding of a Q’ero Run Tour Company [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://ayniglobal.org/social-business-not-just-a-dream-a-reality-founding-of-a-qero-run-tour-company/