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A Review of “The Unlikely Peace at Cuchumaquic” by Martín Prechtel

March 22, 2012 4 comments

I recently finished reading Martín Prechtel’s latest book having preordered it and received it on its publication date. My long anticipation of the work and excitement to devour it in wholly massive gulps was only tempered by its importance and my savoring each bite as I moved through the elegant prose poem word by precious word treating each one as a seed for growth and understanding. This is a giant of a book unlike anything else out there. This work is itself an instruction manual for humanity to find an “unlikely peace” in this post-modern, post-everything chaotic world we are waking up to.

In the interest of full disclosure I first met Martín in 2002 at the Minnesota Men’s Conference. I had at that point read his first book, Secrets of the Talking Jaguar, published in 1998. I have since read everything he has written multiple times and will continue to read his books for the rest of my life. Each is built of many layers of information, knowledge and wisdom. And I am currently a participant in his school, Bolad’s Kitchen, in his third group known as the New Sprouts.

That said, The Unlikely Peace at Cuchumaquic is Martín’s most important work yet. It offers me many additional readings as I absorb each layer of the stories and the wisdom much like an archeologist peeling back the compost heap levels of ancient communities to reveal the underlying meaning and cultures that instruct us in ways to build a new community and a new culture in order to keep the seeds alive! These seeds are our seeds if we can find them. In fact these seeds are us. And they are vital to the very survival of humanity.

At first blush the part of the subtitle: The Parallel Lives of People as Plants, sounded a bit strange to me, and intriguing. Martín explains his meaning here very clearly, again in the extraordinarily multivalent way he has of bringing together complex thoughts and concepts into juxtaposition to deepen the understanding of his meaning. Read the book to discover for yourself how true this exploration of people as plants is!

As I read this book I found myself chuckling at the humor in the stories and anecdotes from his time in Guatemala. More often the tears would come as I went through both grief and inspiration as the words sank slowly into my psyche, almost at once plunging me into the depths of despair and rising to the heights of confidence and optimism as I with Martín consider the human condition and our future.

If you have had the privilege of meeting Martín you will hear him, see him and sense his very presence as you read his words. It is so good to have him close, just here on my shelf! And if you have not yet met him this is a wonderful opportunity to begin your journey toward an “unlikely peace” with yourself and your fellow humans! You will meet Martín on this journey.

The Unlikely Peace at Cuchumaquic ended much too soon for me. The work is totally satisfying and certainly complete meeting all the promises of the delicious title and the enticing Part and Chapter titles. I just wasn’t ready to let Martín go; I wanted to keep his voice in my head. So, I went back to his earlier book: The Toe Bone and the Tooth (now published as Stealing Benefacio’s Roses) to again savor that sumptuous feast and retain his voice echoing through my whole body down to the very core, that seed within!

If you have any sense that the indigenous cultures of humanity have something to teach us, if you are interested at all in how we can resuscitate a culture from the mess we are now in, if you have ever prayed for peace, if you love stories, if you are intrigued by the title, if you find yourself wondering where the human family is going, then read this book. It is important. It is powerful. It will make you cry – and laugh. And you will love yourself just a little bit more for having read it!

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Balance – Part 2

March 19, 2012 Leave a comment

We have come half a cycle since my last post on “Balance.” The Sun is once again approaching the half-way point in His journey through the heavens, moving back toward the North. He will reach the mid-point of this journey on Tuesday, March 20 at 1:14 am Eastern Daylight Time. And it is at this point that He enters the Astrological House of Aries.

Have you felt the heat? Here in the Northern Hemisphere we are moving rapidly into Spring. Do you feel the energy of the climbing Sun as He moves higher and higher in the sky each day? As I write it is only a few hours now until He approaches His balance point with Mother Earth as They lock up in the dance of this balance creating the equal parts of night and day for our world, for our bodies.

It’s a good time to check in with our physical bodies and to check their balance. Are we a little wobbly, still recovering from the storms of Winter? Are we a little low on energy still restocking an impoverished larder here at Winter’s end? Are we still standing in the shadow of Winter’s weak Sunlight? It is time to move toward balance, replenishment and the Light as we track with the Farther who revitalizes the Mother and all of us, Her children.

Personally I have begun a new practice of Qigong this Spring, learning the Wuji informal style from a creative and capable teacher. She is going well beyond teaching the forms, explaining why Qigong is so powerful, how it works, offering anecdotes of healing and bringing this ancient Chinese form into a modern context. I like this balance of the Old and the New, the physical movement with the exercise of the brain and spirit. And I feel like I’m doing a Spring cleaning of all of me, pushing out the old stagnant chi and filling me with freshness!

Stand tall and firmly planted seeking the grounding and centeredness of the Mother who supports you so generously. Build your strength and energy through a new practice you bring in with the coming energy of Spring. Seek the Light of the bright burning Father who shines for us all feeding us and the Mother with all of His power and Love. This is the balance we all seek. And we can feel it strongly at this time of year as we face the Sun, away from our shadow, and soak up the healing rejuvenative Light and Love He offers us.

The brand-new leaves of the trees
Form a lovely soft green halo of Light
Bathing the still visible dark branches
Of these stately trees in a wash of
Liquid Sunlight misting all around.

Celebrate the New Season. Celebrate you!

Life

March 18, 2012 Leave a comment

A few days ago the dear rescue cat, Buddha, beloved of our daughter’s family, died quietly in the night. Mindy found him the next morning curled up in his favorite kitchen chair as if asleep! He had been having some health issues, expensive ones, but the vet thought none of these to be life threatening. But Buddha never wanted to be a burden. I sensed he left his body to do his work from the other side.

We are so frequently reminded of mortality, of the temporary nature of everything. I have been through my own set of losses over this past year, so Buddha’s untimely death brings all of this to the foreground. A young friend with a brain tumor, a brother-in-law with open heart surgery just behind him, another dear friend struggling (and winning) against cancer!…life is indeed so fragile.

But it is this very fragility that reminds me of the cycles in life: the seed-to-sprout-to-flower-to-seed and dead, dried plant, repeated infinitely in response to the universal impulse toward this energy we call life! What an awesome power this is, a power toward good, light, love. We are all light beings. We all have this core as strong as a steel rod and as soft as the down of a baby bird, as hard as diamonds and as gentle as the shy hummingbird, this life urge that never dies, that cannot be killed by any force in existence no matter how many attempts are made. The shadow can be fiercely dark and still not overpower the light. The life force of love is the strongest thing in existence.

And this is the foundation for hope. Standing on this foundation death can never have dominion. Forces of darkness will shatter on the solid foundation of love – life force  – every time.

The song of the day may be a funeral dirge, but there is still life in song. There may be longing and melancholy in the notes, but there is also love and that is the power behind life. This has never been clearer to me than now, facing all this loss and grief. No matter what happens life goes on.

I just finished reading the latest book by one of my teachers, Martín Prechtel: The Unlikely Peace of Cuchamaquic, The Parallel Lives of People as Plants: Keeping the Seeds Alive. (Watch for a review post here shortly.) I have a sense that this notion of life and love is exactly what drives Martín. This is what empowers him to “keep the seeds alive” – the mandate from his teacher. At the base of that steel rod that supports life is a seed. And the pent up potential at the heart of that seed is love. That heart contains the sprout, shoot, stalk, bud, blossom, stamen, pistil, pollen, ovum and next generation seed, and every future generation seed as a time capsule nestled in the cozy confines, protected and alive, waiting for a turn beyond our own in the great cycle. The echo of every generation is there forward and backward, no end, no beginning.

Buddha’s death is just another reminder of this great wheel of time that rolls out and back. His life may have been fragile at the end. But that was not an end. The story, even his story, goes on. Life goes on all around. Life powered by love goes on.