HOLDING ON TIGHT WITH ISKUKUA
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We gathered, we prayed, we sang, we danced, we laughed, we rejoiced in Buddha, the neighborhood canine, jump around the fire chasing sparks escaping from the fire pit and then we prayed some more. That was how we spent our Friday night from sunset till sunrise the next morning.
Then we did it all over again the next day. Iskukua, chief of the Yawanawa village of Nova Espernaça, with his lighthearted essence and beyond deep wisdom led us through hundreds of rounds of prayers, songs and invocations. Rudy Randa, co-founder of Aniwa and the Boa Foundation urged all of us to stay on our feet and join the prayerful dance around the fire pit or at least sit up to continue honoring Mother Earth, the water and all that exists, instead of slipping into a delirious sleep. It was a beautiful night of prayerful stomping in the desert amidst giant boulders as we were simply “massaging Mother Earth with our feet” expressing thanks for all her gifts to us, as Iskukua said.
He traveled thousands of miles from his community in the Brazilian Amazon and has been gone for months. We were fortunate to have his guidance during his last prayer circle on US soil. The rainforest was calling him back to continue the work of building a community and educational center in his village, where they will teach the Yawanawa traditions, the songs, the medicine way and the way to honor Mother Earth.
We were fortunate, all close to 100 of us to be praying together, to be dancing together and rejoicing in the good fortune to have taken human form that will help shift the old paradigm of constantly taking from Mother Earth disregarding her heartbeat and her needs. We were all there to step into being the good guardians we were all born to be, just that some of us, due to societal conditioning, lost our way and lost our connection to Mother Earth. Now we were all together to plug back in. To hear her heartbeat, to honor the stars, Father Sun, Grandmother Moon, all the elements, the beings of the plant kingdom, the animal kingdom, the winged ones, the rocks, one another and ourselves. All in service of Mother Earth and the future generations to come. As the sun crept up on the horizon, we marveled at Buddha, King of the Fire, in ecstatic joy, continue to chase the whimsical sparks. Rudy reminded us that water was sacred, as he sang the Lakota song so impassioned that the rocks around us moved with each of his words. Mni Wiconi - water is sacred. Every drop of it. And the desert all around us emphasized that sacredness.
“Hold on tight” we heard Iskukua’s voice echo against the rocks each time he sensed that a few of us drifted into sleep and instantly the drums got louder, the beat faster and his voice deeper as we staggered to the fire pit in prayer, swinging to the ancient, sacred rhythms.
As the stars disappeared into the daylight, I saw Raffael, the little boy with golden hair and deep brown eyes, who came with his mother to pray. And I knew that with youth like him the future was bright and that there’s much hope because more and more of us are awakening and praying and caring and doing good and honorable things for Mother Earth with the lead of indigenous voices. As for me, I found my tribe, the tribe, I’ve been looking for, since my first journey deep into the Peruvian Amazon six years ago. The tribe I always wanted to be a part of but somehow, through my own fears and ego-fueled judgements I was kept apart from. Until this weekend.
“Although the ritual is over the ceremony continues, the ceremony of life, so treat life as such, sacred, all life.” said Iskukua in closing as the sun hid behind random clouds, yet her glow on our faces and in our hearts remained.
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