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June/July 2011 Volume 69

Welcome to this bi-monthly edition of our newsletter! You will find these columns contained in our June/July issue:

Metaphors for Life
Special Events

I hope you enjoy this issue of Kenosis Inspirations...

Carla Woody, Founder

Metaphors for Life
Many traditions understand the power of teaching through stories. Our minds find a special repository for them. We unconsciously draw from this metaphorical resource bank when we need it most — to guide and nourish us. Here you will find such tales, quotes and prose. As they have come to me, I pass them on to you just as our ancestors have done since the world was young.

We need the tonic of wildness — to wade sometimes in marshes where the bittern and the meadow-hen lurk, and hear the booming of the snipe; to smell the whispering sedge where only some wilder and more solitary fowl builds her nest, and the mink crawls with its belly close to the ground. At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be infinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.

— Henry David Thoreau

Life is nothing if but levels of learning, whether or not we freely enter the Perpetual School. We actually have no choice in the matter. In this column, I offer you philosophy, musings and information that you may take with you as they fit into your own lyceum.

Paqo: Shaman or Mystic?

By Guest Columnist: Dr. Oakley Gordon

Reprinted with permission from his Salk'a Wind blog.

My work in the Peru has been with the paqos who live in the high Andes. The term "paqo" (sometimes spelled "paq'o") does not have an exact equivalent in our culture, some people translate it as "shaman" and others as "mystic". It is not a particularly great choice, it is like trying to describe a bear to someone who has never seen one and having to choose between saying that it is somewhat like a large cat, or that it is somewhat like a large dog.

Siberian Shaman

Siberian Shaman
Photo credit: Smithsonian Archives

The word "shaman" comes from an indigenous culture of Siberia where it refers to people who have special powers and a correspondingly special role in their society. The term has since been adopted by our culture and applied to people with similar roles and powers in cultures across the globe. While this has diluted the meaning of the term somewhat still there are basic elements to being a shaman. Shamans typically enter into altered states of consciousness through the use of psychoactive plants, drumming, or chanting. While in these states they may journey into spirit realms not normally accessible in everyday life, and there they gather needed information or take actions to heal people whose afflictions have their root in these spirit realms. The role of the shaman in society centers around their ability to perform these special actions.

Mystics, on the other hand, are those who seek to know, through direct experience, the essential nature of the Cosmos. Thoughts, concepts, and to some degree perception, are interpretations of reality, not reality itself. The experience, for example, that we are separate entities moving through time is a product of our mind, it is our experience of reality after the mind has translated it into something that makes sense, it is not the essential 'suchness' of reality itself. When we experience reality before our mind has had chance to interpret it we find an eternal, seamless whole, we find the Sacred. This place of deep knowing is the goal of the mystic. The various outcomes we may ask a shaman to accomplish may no longer be of importance once we take a stance beyond our mind-based ego and its needs, thus a possible distinction between a shaman and a mystic is that of power versus wisdom.

Paqos have some of the attributes of both shamans and mystics. The paqos are mystics in that they nourish an interactive and mutually supportive relationship with the rest of the Cosmos, it is a relationship that is only possible through the direct, mystical, experience of the interconnectedness of all things. While it is this relationship that is paramount, the relationship does make it possible to ask favors from the Apus (the great spiritual beings who are the majestic mountain peaks) and from the Pachamama (the great spiritual being who is our mother earth) as well as others, and it allows for the manipulation of the energy that underlies all existence.

Andean Paqoa

Andean Paqos
Photo credit: Elaine Nichols

Paqos differ from traditional mystics, however, for mystics tend to be solitary figures who may have found it necessary to withdraw from society to pursue their path. To be a paqo is to be of service, both to the great beings of Nature and the Cosmos and to the community. This service is always performed within the context of ayni, the Andean principle of reciprocity, where giving is balanced by receiving, and receiving is balance by giving.

Like shamans, the paqos have abilities that fall outside the ken of our culture's conceptions of reality. These abilities, however, are not 'powers,' they involve neither controlling nature nor being controlled by nature (neither mastery nor servitude). They stem instead from having an experiential understanding of the essential nature of reality and from nourishing a mutually supportive and loving relationship with the rest of the Cosmos.

Paqos are not exactly shamans or mystics, or they are both. If forced to choose (to avoid long explanations) I usually go with 'mystic', and thus I label what I am studying as 'Andean Mysticism' rather than 'Andean Shamanism'. Few people would know what I meant if I called it 'Andean Pagoism' and I am reluctant to be held responsible for introducing a term like 'paqoism' into our vocabulary.

There is one thing I would like to add before bringing this to a close. One of the more engaging and fulfilling aspects of studying a new culture comes from entering a world unlike the one with which I am familiar. If I insist (consciously or unconsciously) on fitting what I experience into the categories I have learned from my culture (e.g. categorizing paqos as either mystics or shamans) then I miss seeing what is really fresh and new about the culture, and instead of looking into a fascinating new world I end up simply seeing a reflection of my own. This is something that has arisen over and over again for me, finding that I have interpreted something about the Andean culture in terms of my own culture's view of the world and have subsequently missed something of great interest and beauty. In what I write in this site I will try to help you learn from my mistakes.


Oakley Gordon serves as the Vice-President on the Kenosis Spirit Keepers Board of Directors. He received a Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from the University of Utah in 1984 and states he was originally drawn to psychology by an interest in the psychology of consciousness. Carla Woody counts him as her good friend, having shared a common journey of studies in Andean mysticism, largely through Don Américo Yábar, since 1994.

Oakley's website Salk'a Wind is a product of his studies with Don Américo Yábar and other paqos of the Andes. Subscribe to his blog to receive notice of periodic entries, valuable information and musings, relevant to these interests.

© 2011 Carla Woody. All rights reserved.

Special Events
For more information call Kenosis at (928) 778-1058 or e-mail to request a flyer. If you are interested in sponsoring a book signing or a workshop with Carla Woody, please contact us.

May 30-June 12   The Heart of the Andes. Spiritual travel to Peru working with internationally renowned mystic Don Américo Yábar, Gayle Yábar, Carla Woody, as well as Q'ero shamans and other healers. A Spirit Keepers Journey co-sponsored by Kenosis and Kenosis Spirit Keepers bringing Hopi Spirit Keepers from the US Southwest to share traditions with their Quechua relations. For more information, contact Kenosis at 928-778-1058 or Very limited group size. REGISTRATION CLOSED. WATCH FOR THIS PROGRAM IN 2012.

September 24-25   Spirit Keepers Series event featuring Wachan, Martika and Shiqwarkenty, traditional Wisdom Keepers of the Andes. Sponsored by Kenosis Spirit Keepers, the nonprofit arm of Kenosis, for Saturday evening talk and Sunday circle. Held Prescott, Arizona. For complete information on the event and how to purchase advanced discounted tickets, go to the Spirit Keepers Series page.

November 12-13   Spirit Keepers Series event featuring Eli PaintedCrow and Gregoria Molina, Wisdom Keepers of the Yaqui Nation and co-founders of Turtle Women Rising. Sponsored by Kenosis Spirit Keepers, the nonprofit arm of Kenosis, for Saturday evening talk and Sunday circle. Held Prescott, Arizona. For complete information on the event and how to purchase advanced discounted tickets, go to the Spirit Keepers Series page.

January 13-25, 2012   Entering the Maya Mysterieswith Carla Woody, Alonso Mendez, Carol Karasik and Chip Morris. Spiritual travel to Chiapas, Mexico visiting ancient sacred Maya sites and participating in nearly extinct traditions. Through clearing rituals and ceremonial circles we engage with authentic Spirit Keepers living among their people: Doña Panchita, curandera of Palenque; Don Antonio Martinez, the last elder of the Lacandón Maya maintaining his traditions; Tzotzil Maya religious leader and healer Don Xun Calixto; and Doña Andrea Ruiz Lunes, practitioner of Tzotzil Maya women's medicine ways. This is an immersion experience in Maya cosmology, ceremony, medicine and arts. Group size limited.

A Spirit Keepers Journey co-sponsored by Kenosis and Kenosis Spirit Keepers. Bringing Hopi emissaries to reconnect with their Maya relations. Limited number partial young adult sponsorships available. Early registration until October 22: $2595. After October 22: $2695. Registration costs include automatic donation (tax-deductible for U.S. taxpayers) of $295 toward Kenosis Spirit Keepers programs. For more information, contact Kenosis at 928-778-1058 or

Note: Private groups may be arranged. If you have a group of 8-15, contact us for more information.

This is an adventure of the spirit!

February 25-26   Spirit Keepers Series event featuring Flordemayo, Maya visionary healer and member of the International Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers with Mz. imani. Sponsored by Kenosis Spirit Keepers, the nonprofit arm of Kenosis, for Saturday evening talk and Sunday circle. Held Prescott, Arizona. For complete information on the event and how to purchase advanced discounted tickets, go to the Spirit Keepers Series page.

Ongoing   Spiritual Travel to France: La Source of Provence is available with Carla Woody. By special arrangement for small groups of five to six persons. May be booked up to one year in advance subject to availability. Integrates sacred sites of Mary Magdalen, art and old Provençal culture. Contact Kenosis at 928-778-1058 or

Ongoing   Private Consultation is available with Carla Woody in-person and via telephone or Skype. Addressing life direction, relationship, spiritual emergence and whole health. Integrating NLP, subtle energy work and sacred world traditions to make a lasting positive difference.

Contact Kenosis at 928-778-1058 or

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.

Film directed by: Martin Provost and co-written with Marc Abdelnour
In French with subtitles

Séraphine Louis Feuilles

Séraphine Louis, also known as Séraphine de Senlis, is the subject of this intense biopic — both inspirational and tragic — of a relatively unknown but brilliant artist who teetered between one reality and another. Her paintings were the product of creative and spiritual rapture, induced by spirits, and her love for nature. She was employed as a housekeeper doing the most menial labor and thought by the people around her to be quite odd and slow. But at night she disappeared into another world and turned out extraordinary works using pigments she made herself from unusual sources.

Her break came when Wilhelm Uhde, German art dealer and critic, saw a painting at his neighbor's home and was astounded to discover that it had been done by his cleaning lady. At a time when avant garde artists such as Picasso and Rousseau were coming on the scene, Uhde became Séraphine's sponsor encouraging her and finally including her in a show that he organized of the Sacred Heart painters. Sadly, his partronage would come to an end with the advent of World War II. Séraphine became increasingly isolated and was finally committed to a hospital for the mentally ill. She passed in 1942.

Few of her paintings survive but some may be viewed here. This is the story of a woman who found deep meaning in life and was unusually resourceful, even in the face of periodic ridicule and little support, save one person who proved to be her angel.

This haunting film was a sleeper when it came out in 2009 but later won seven French Academy Awards. Available through Netflix, the trailer may be viewed here.

— Carla Woody

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