October/November 2008 Volume 53Welcome to this bi-monthly edition of our newsletter! You will find these columns contained in our October/November issue:
Carla Woody, Founder
Metaphors for Life
by Carla Woody
About thirteen years ago, I went to the Chiapas region of Mexico for the first time. The place and the people captured my heart. I was especially taken with the Lacandón Maya who live in the rainforest between Palenque and the Usumacinta River that serves as the border with Guatemala. They are very different in appearance, dress and spiritual practices than other Maya. This fact offers at least a couple of possibilities. They migrated to the area from some faraway land. Or, perhaps because they were sequestered deep in the rainforest for eons, their culture developed uniquely.
Such gentle people, their beliefs are based on inclusion instead of exclusion. Within their pantheon of gods, there is one named Aykantho who is the god of the foreigners responsible for commerce. When the Jesuits showed up centuries ago with stories of Jesus Christ, they incorporated Hesuklisto as Aykantho's son. Each is represented through a godpot and may be chosen for use during the traditional ceremonies.
I was fortunate to be introduced to elder Don Antonio Martinez through Alonso Mendez. We began bringing small groups for exposure to the Lancandón traditions that are nearing extinction. Don Antonio, a sweet man displaying much humility, is the last Spirit Keeper practicing the timeless traditions of his ancestors. I could tell that initially he really didn't know what to think about us. While he was absolutely welcoming, I could sense he was hesitant to engage fully with us at that time. And I can understand that perfectly - because his people have been told that their ancient practices are evil.
Back in the 1950s a slow influx of missionaries began making headway in the Lacandón Rainforest. Only the hardiest would venture into that then dense environment which for centuries kept outsiders at bay. Now, due to greatly increased accessibility via roads cut by loggers, evangelistas are gleefully overrunning the place. And they teach a message of exclusion only their way is true. Others are sinful. It's an aggressive dogma. I tend to think that the peace-loving Lacandones have simply been overwhelmed by it until they gave in, after years of its messengers chipping away one person at a time from the outlying hamlets to the most interior jungle settlement. And also offering food and medicines in return for their allegiance.
Lighting the godpots. Photo credit: Darlene Dunning
But perhaps there's hope. Aside from my original intent in sponsoring small groups to this jungle enclave to undertake a heart-opening experience, there's another I hold dearly. That is, as we continue to come showing our great respect for the teachings and practices, the younger Lacandones would begin to note that there must be great significance in the beliefs of their ancestors if visitors are so interested. Perhaps then they wouldn't completely abandon their values based on the interconnection of all things. They could at least engage in a syncretistic approach as most other Maya have finally done.
After the balché ceremony. Photo credit: Darlene Dunning
There are small signs that my intent may be unfolding. After the first time with Don Antonio, he began to trust us, understanding our reverence. As a result, he has increasingly offered us more in the way of his rituals, stories and perspective on the world. We are now fortunate that we can engage in the full balché ceremony during our upcoming program in January. This is indeed an honor since it's a ritual that historically has been closed to anyone outside the community, except those who are most trusted. And last time there were younger Lacandones taking part just as I'd envisioned.
If any of you have ever experienced a crisis in your life where how you lived and everything you ever believed was somehow called into question, you know the confusion that sets up. Imagine if you were told that not only what you, but your entire ancestry, believed is untrue and even evil and you ingested the missal.
There is a silent war still going on as it has for centuries. This one gets little coverage, if any, except through publications like this, because much of the time it happens in remote areas to native people. It's the struggle to claim the 'soul' of a population. When the perpetrators are fully successful, the spirit of the targeted people is lost. Historically, the worst aspects of human nature take its place: despondency, forms of addiction and violence, a sense of helplessness. It can be equally as devastating as a war whose weapons kill the physical body. The body will usually follow the state of the mind and spirit anyway.
I absolutely know that the health of the world community depends on integrating the beliefs from native spirituality that say there's a web of life that connects us all and everything on the planet. What you do here will have an effect there. To the mainstream population, it may seem as though the work we undertake by engaging with native traditions, supporting their preservation, learning through them, is inconsequential or even meaningless. I see otherwise. The positive effect on all who are involved in these undertakings is pronounced. Ours is a way of peacemaking through honoring, a quiet antidote that contains its own powerful influence one that is carried on the wind.
You are invited to join us for Entering the Maya Mysteries in January 2009. I do not know how much longer I'll be able to bring you the chance to experience Don Antonio Martinez and the vanishing traditions of the Lacandón Maya. For more information, go here.
© 2008 Carla Woody. All rights reserved.Carla Woody is the author of the book Standing Stark: The Willingness to Engage and Calling Our Spirits Home: Gateways to Full Consciousness and founder of Kenosis, an organization supporting human potential and global consciousness. Carla has long been leading people toward mind/body/spirit wholeness using integrative healing methods blended with world spiritual traditions. She may be reached by e-mail at email@example.com or by telephone (928) 778-1058.
More often than not, the publications or music you will find reviewed here will not be new or "bestsellers." Websites or organizations may not be well known. But all are spotlighted by virtue of their impact and value.
Byron Metcalf is an international recording artist who happens to live in my area. I had the good fortune to sample Nada Terma in his studio with all its high-quality sound technology and the effect was memorable. The music itself was mesmerizing. What was so surprising were the vibrations it produced in my body, and the field surrounding it, that took me even deeper into the experience. Something totally unexpected.
I confess that I have about a 20 year-old sound system and no headset. So I was skeptical that the music would produce anywhere near the same result in my own home, but I was wrong. It was close in comparison and different segments of the CD generated energy movement focused in separate chakras.
Nada Terma is an immersion in mysticism through sound and vibration. The merging of ambient music, Tibetan-like toning and bansuri flute has an undulating quality that delivers the listener to a threshold. So that, when the gentle drumming finally appears, it's a vehicle that delivers you into a sacred inner landscape. And then its rising insistence keeps you there.
Just as a writer or artist must embody their subject in order to convey it masterfully, it's evident that Metcalf, Seelig and Roach have experienced deep states of consciousness themselves. We are fortunate that, through their grasp of these inner realms and trance music, we can be guided to such a place ourselves.
Nada Terma is translated as discovering spiritual treasures through the world of sound - and it is that. It's just being released, but is available now through Byron's music website.
Luckily for us, Byron and Mark (coming in from Germany) will be producing an inner journey for our Kenosis Spirit Keepers' benefit concert on November 8. It will indeed be quite the event.
Next issue I'll review Byron's new Shaman's Heart Program offering sound technologies to balance the brain intertwined with shamanic practices. You can also check it out ahead of my review here.
- Carla Woody
Kenosis LLC - PO Box 10441 - Prescott, AZ 86304 - 928.778.1058 - www.kenosis.net