Posts Tagged With: Americo Yabar

Documentary Review – Peru: A League of Their Own

This inspiring documentary short by Rodrigo Vazquez is a true look at Quechua gender roles and the devastating effect of natural disasters in Peru. It tells the story of a young woman named Juana in the village of Churubamba, located in the Cusco region, who took an unprecedented step outside roles traditional for a Quechua woman. She organized a women’s soccer team, which served as a model that spread across a number of the communities. The teams weren’t only about soccer but also served as a forum for the women to talk about their problems and band together to work for the benefit of all their families.

In the village of Kalla Rayan, a young woman named Felicitas gained entry into meetings reserved for men where she was voted as representative, along with the community president, for a special mission. The two were to find their way to Lima and, with no introduction, seek an audience with the next president to seek aid for the devastation wrought on their village by the floods.

It shows what can happen when any of us take a step off the beaten path. In this film, the starting point was one woman who wanted to play soccer, something taken up by some of the women in other communities and became huge; introduced more equality and potentially has saved one village. It reminds us to follow our dreams and trust the path where it leads – even if we can’t see beyond the next footfall.

Mollamarka Women Singers

Mollamarka women singers inside Salk’awasi, the ancestral home of Don Americo Yabar.
Photo courtesy of Mark Jericevic.

On another note, the landscape and villages in the film looked so familiar to me that I did a double-take as I watched. I must have traveled through some of the very same areas on my way to Mollamarka for so many years during our Heart of the Andes program.

Film length is 25 minutes. View for free via Karma Tube: Peru: A League of Their Own .

Categories: cultural interests, Film Review, Indigenous Rights, Spiritual Travel | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Review – Sacred Reciprocity: Courting the Beloved in Everyday Life

The Poetry of Jamie Reaser

The beauty of Jamie Reaser’s poetry causes my heart to thrill, to ache, to still—with each turning of lyrical phrase. In Sacred Reciprocity she is both transparent seeker, sitting in deep communion, and gentle guide, gracefully leading us to those innermost places where the Soul revels.

The Sacred Way of Giving and Receiving

Sacred Reciprocity by Jamie Reaser

Sacred Reciprocity by Jamie Reaser
Newly published by Hiraeth Press

Jamie and I have a mutual connection through Andean mystic Don Américo Yábar where, many years ago, we were both exposed to the life-affirming practice of reciprocity—in a vastly different way than when we think of that word in our culture. The Quechua word ayni has no exact translation but can be understood as a sacred sense of giving and receiving, a balanced energetic exchange. You see, in the Andes, all is related to energy and respect. Ever since I learned of ayni, its my daily intent. I’ve taken it to heart.

So has Jamie; she offers this further distinction in the introduction to her new book: “…Ayni can be established among people, between humans and all other beings, and between all beings and the animate Cosmos…What is given may not be anywhere near as important as how it is given. In ayni, it is the heart that counts.”

Jamie Reaser is a naturalist who has worked around the world as a biologist, environmental educator, eco-psychologist and much more. But the aspect that allows me to know her true nature—and devotion to ayni—is her ability to: sit in silence where she lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia; take in the glory she experiences…and transmit it back in such beautifully accurate ways that speak of our common condition. Here is just one sample.

 Dawn Kiss

The Sun,

dressed in dawn robes,

rose with time enough

to kiss the Moon, his beloved,

on full, wanting lips.


still distinguishing themselves from

the wings of dreamtime,

looked abashedly at each other,


How often had they

failed to seize

a precious passing moment…

A moment that could have

united the transiting heavens.

That was the morning birds

decided to sing.

Jamie will be joining us for our Winter Solstice “Entering the Maya Mysteries” journey to the highlands of Mexico and Guatemala. I’m delighted that she has consented to share her poetry during sacred periods of those travels because—I know—it will add to the deep meaning of that time.

Sacred Reciprocity: Courting the Beloved in Everyday Life is a new title published by Hiraeth Press in August 2012; also available via Amazon. My review of Note to Self, her previous book of poetry, is located here. And be sure to visit her poetry blog Talking Waters.

Categories: Book Review, Meditation, Spiritual Evolution, The Writing Life | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Review: The Spirit Hunters

Alto Madre de Dios

Rio Alto Madre de Dios flowing through Manu.
Photo: Oscar Panizo

This 1994 film documents the beliefs, traditions and everyday life of the Matsigenka—The People—an isolated tribe of the Upper Amazon in the Manu region of Peru. The documentary opens with breath-taking scenes of the rainforest and moves into the story of a particular village. It relates the communal focus, hunting practices—and a matrilineal culture, unusual for most parts of the world.

We’re provided a look into exchanges between Glenn Shepard, an American anthropologist then living with the Matsigenka, and elder healer Mariano, who is also a gifted storyteller, an important role since their tradition is completely oral. In a walk through the rainforest, Mariano points out medicinal plants and shares their use. The film is packed full of interesting material on the ritual use of plant spirits: how shamans leave their bodies to gain knowledge and see the future. Even the dogs are given plant medicine to help in a hunt. And it relays warnings on how witches can steal people’s souls. One of my favorite jungle sounds is the primeval roar of the howler monkey. So I was particularly taken when I discovered here that the Matsigenka believe they carry a shaman’s soul.


Don Pasqualito and his newly made flute.
Photo: Alonso Mendez

Another interesting note was contact the Matsigenka had with the Inca. For me, that piece of information brought back fond memories. I arranged for half my 2009 spiritual travel program in Peru with Don Américo Yábar to be spent in Manu. I invited three Q’ero spiritual leaders to accompany us; the Q’eros being the descendants of Inca priests and holders of that ancient tradition. Since my friends live at very high altitude, going to the jungle took them way out of their element. They were quite excited and it was a delight to watch them, particularly when they found bamboo. They spent much of the time making flutes and testing them out! We didn’t meet any Matsigenka but it was a return trip to the rainforest for these Inca descendants.

But back to “The Spirit Hunters.” Truly, this film is worth your time. It’s a glimpse into an Indigenous people who live a simple life, but it doesn’t romanticize the lifestyle or protect our Western eyes from the perils. More than anything it reveals a rich imprint, a complex belief system that guides their days.

Written and produced by Kim MacQuarrie. Narrated by James Earl Jones. The film is 50 minutes. Watch the complete film on Culture Unplugged. To learn more on the Matsigenka here’s an article by Glenn Shepard: “The People of Manu.”

Categories: Arts, Film Review, Healing, Indigenous Wisdom, Spiritual Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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