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Visiting a Sociable Movement, the MST

Visiting a Sociable Movement, the MST

Posted by on Sep 2, 2013 in all posts, Brazil, ENFF | 0 comments

In the next few posts we pick up our journey once again in South America…

The bus from Rio dropped us off on the highway 70km before arriving in São Paulo. The highway passes through small towns, farms and factories. Getting our bags before heading down the small country lane we are greeted by a large sign with colourful dancing M & Ms in front of the chocolate factory across the highway, the banner reads: ‘A diversão começa aqui’, ‘The fun begins here’.

Escola Nacional Florestan Fernandes, São Paulo, MST, outer wall mural. photo by Udi

Escola Nacional Florestan Fernandes, São Paulo, MST, outer wall mural. photo by Udi

We did not know what to expect as we came to visit the Escola Nacional Florestan Fernandes ENFF, the Florestan Fernandes National School, named after an eminent Brazilian sociologist and activist. This place of higher education (they do call themselves a university), is a flagship and central learning space of the Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra, Landless Movement of Rural Workers, (or also known as the acronym, MST).

Founded in 2005 through the collective effort of the MST and funds from eminent supporters like photographer Sebastião Salgado, musician Chico Buarque and many others, the ENFF has been created to act as a central learning hub for the MST and other like-minded social and ecological movements in Brazil and Latin America.

Escola Nacional Florestan Fernandes, São Paulo, MST, arial photo of school. photo by Udi

Escola Nacional Florestan Fernandes, São Paulo, MST, arial photo of school. photo by Udi

Our communication with the coordination team of ENFF had been sporadic and brief so we did not know how we would be received and if people really understood what we were doing. We also were not sure what, if anything would be happening at the school as courses do not run all year round but happen in blocks at certain times of the year or else in one-off events. Any unease we had about being here soon dissipated as we are warmly received and shown to our accommodation by our friendly hosts who were in charge of organising this place.

Sao Paulo, ENFF

Escola Nacional Florestan Fernandes, São Paulo, MST, Still from film. photo by Udi

Landless Rural Workers, like other marginalised social groups, such as those from the favelas which we wrote about in the last posts, tend not to be fairly represented in the mainstream media in Brazil. The MST in particular, because of their struggle for an overhaul of the country’s intensely unfair land ownership system and the proposal for a socialist and redistributive state, tend to receive a particularly negative representation from the right-wing leaning printed press, such as Veja magazine and from Brazil’s largest media conglomerate, the Rede Globo Network.

Sao Paulo, MST, poster of school

Escola Nacional Florestan Fernandes, São Paulo, MST, Poster. photo by Udi

Against this hostile media background the movement has also always suffered from violent attacks and threats by landowners. The most notorious of such episodes was the massacre of 19 MST activists in El Dorado dos Carajas in the state of Pará by military police in 1996. During our days visiting the School, a regional MST leader, active in promoting more environmentally sound agriculture, was murdered in the state of Rio de Janeiro. Many at the school knew him and on hearing the news an emotional celebration of his life took place.

With threats, the actuality of violence or death and the symbolic violence of the media, it is no wonder that the MST can be guarded to outsiders. But it did not take long, as has been our experience in all the places we have visited, to feel warmly welcomed by those we met: people coordinating, running, teaching and learning at the school.

During our time in the School we were shown around and talked to coordinators and activists from the MST, a couple of university lecturers who were teaching classes here, a group of teachers working in schools across the country who also came here on a course on Education, Literature and Music and Rural Education. We also talked to younger MST members who were studying at public universities across Brazil in courses designed in partnership with ENFF. We will talk more about what we learned from them and from being there in the next post.

Whilst here we also talked to people like Cléia who had a degree in agriculture and was working in the gardens demonstrating various aspects of cultivation and who was especially keen on bringing more ecological principles into the movement (which has historically used a more chemical-based and industrial approach to farming and food processing so as to make production more commercially viable). Agro-ecology is taking over as an important agricultural view and practice in the Movement.

Sao Paulo, MST, garden

Escola Nacional Florestan Fernandes, São Paulo, MST, Garden. photo by Udi

We learned about the international dimension of the Movement talking to Leo, who was here at the School waiting for the rest of his team from the MST who were going on a two or three year posting to Haiti to work with local partners on a water capture, storage and irrigation project in communities affected by the 2010 earthquake. Leo, from the northeast of Brazil, had already been to Haiti on this project for two years and spoke Creole, he loved his time there and was keen to go back. He was here to also teach others from his team Creole and about the project.

We learned about the experience of children in Movement from two delightful guides, five and eight years old, sons of families who were living here at the School. They showed us around the place: where the pre-school children organised themselves to have a camp night, away from their parents in the premises of the school; the large cafeteria where people ate all meals together; a frog swimming in the swimming pool. We loved their curiosity, confidence and ease at engaging with grown ups. The MST also has its own children’s groups and events, the Sem Terrinha, or Little Landless People, at each camp and settlement which also has its own publication.

Sao Paulo, MST, kids feet

Escola Nacional Florestan Fernandes, São Paulo, MST, The feet of our guides. photo by Udi

(This experience we had elsewhere in our journey when we met children who were being raised within a learning environment that gives young people more autonomy, encourages their own initiative and curiosity in defining what they want to learn. We want to write about this in later posts).

Combined with the warmth of the people we talked to, their optimism and deep motivation and commitment for a better world what moved me the most whilst visiting the School was something more subtle which I had not read or heard described elsewhere about the MST. This has to do with the strong affect between members of the movement, their care and warmth for each other and the ties of solidarity that bound them.

The stereotype about people who are highly politically committed, especially those subscribing to a particular ideology, is that there is a kind of hardness, a righteous anger, a future orientation and single-mindedness that is incompatible with tenderness and a gentle cultivation of interpersonal relationships. But here at the School the deeply political and gently interpersonal were interwoven. There was a beautiful softness between people along with playful laughter in between the discussions of politics.

Perhaps this is the result of the physical proximity through which many in the Movement must have at some point in their lives lived through with other activists in the temporary camps where they occupy unused and unproductive land across Brazil. Living in a camp means living close together and cooperating across all aspects of life so as to ensure survival, like nomadic bands do in so many parts of the world.

Escola Nacional Florestan Fernandes, São Paulo, MST, Teachers Play Performance, photo by Udi

Maybe these bonds of affect and solidarity are also the result of the cultivation of a deeply democratic culture within the movement. Decision-making across various aspects of day to day life and about the direction of the movement are taken through constant deliberation, debate and voting. This democratic ethos is promoted across levels of the Movement, from camps to regional and national secretariats, from pre-school children to university study groups. The aspiration for a participative culture is infused in the movements’ very pedagogy, the way they practice and understand the role of teaching and learning. I will write about this in a following post.

Sao Paulo, MST, dinning room

Escola Nacional Florestan Fernandes, São Paulo, MST, Dinning Room. photo by Udi

But beyond the living in close proximity and cooperating in camps and settlements and the democratic ethos of the movement there is another important catalyst that weaves the ties of affectivity and solidarity. This is the mística.

Mística can be translated as the ‘mystic’ or maybe more faithfully the ‘mystery’. This is the ceremony that members of the MST are involved in daily, often early in the morning, and at specific events. Though the MST is deeply influenced by Liberation Theology, the popular movement that swept Latin America’s large Catholic community from the 1960s and interpreted Jesus’ message through the lens of social justice and Marxism, mística is not a Christian ceremony. In fact, in the ceremonies we attended whilst we were there, no Christian symbols were seen. Instead the ceremony is a celebration and evocation of a living thread of those who have struggled for freedom and justice across history.

In one of the místicas we attended, for instance, the images of Zumbi dos Palmares, the 17th century African prince and runway slave who led a colony of former slaves in their battle against the Portuguese crown in Brazil, was placed. This picture, surrounded by flowers and candles, sat along that of Steve Biko, the South African activist and intellectual who fought against apartheid and who was murdered by the police in the 1980s. The mística also involved singing and poetry and even some dancing.

classroom with Biko

Escola Nacional Florestan Fernandes, São Paulo, MST, Classroom with Biko and Via Campesina flags. photo by Udi

Like other ceremonies we have taken part along this journey (see Quechua post) we enter them shy, awkward, self-conscious of the theatricality of the performance, yet keen to participate with an open heart and mind. We try to soothe the over-analytical and distancing mind and feeling academic training and irony-loving post-modern culture has cultivated. Instead we try to join in song and dance and the spirit of the event, opening ourselves to the experience. Soon a warm feeling of solidarity emerges amongst us in the group and a sense historical continuity with others also striving for a better world. This thread in the mística is probably not far from what Gandhi called Satyagraha, truth or soul-force, a spiritual strength that overcomes injustice in the world seeking to show the true nature of things.

My experiences here, where I have spoken of the strong affectivity, warmth and solidarity at the ENFF are not necessarily reflective of the Movement as a whole, a very broad and diverse collection that includes hundreds of thousands of families spanning the continental scale of Brazil and its many local cultures. But at least here in this place of learning these qualities of friendship and solidarity, so often absent or repressed in more traditional academic spaces, where very much present.

These are qualities we have also been experiencing in other learning places we have visited, teaching us a great deal about a whole sphere of being in the world and being together (of emotional, social and spiritual intelligence to put it crudely) that is painfully lacking in conventional higher education spaces. Experiencing how learning spaces can accommodate and nurture these dimensions of our being, as we have tasted along this journey, has been inspirational for us showing that there are some powerful ways of re-imagining higher education.

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Arriving at the Marvelous City, a cidade maravilhosa

Arriving at the Marvelous City, a cidade maravilhosa

Posted by on May 23, 2013 in all posts, Brazil, on the road | 0 comments

Over the past few months we have written a lot about land and landscapes and forms of learning that emerge from these. It might then seem strange to write about enlivened learninga learning that tends to reconnect to place and communitywithin an intensively urban and highly unequal setting which is the city of Rio de Janeiro.

rio, leme beach sunset .jpg

Rio sunset, Copacabana Beach, Leme, photo by Udi

We have also been writing about identity, often about indigenous identity, about the traumas of colonialism and the role of learning in healing, in re-signifying and strengthening identities and providing the space and tools for creating other stories and possibilities. All these ingredients, in their particular way, can be found in this vast and complex city of Rio. As groups, say for instance those living in shantytowns, who have been historically marginalized seek to be more fully a part of the city, of its economy, its infrastructure, its culture and its production of knowledge, innovative forms of organization, social action and culture have been created which provide possibility and inspiration.

Of importance to us in our visit here were exciting initiatives emerging in Rio de Janeiros favelas or urban shantytowns, the occupied settlements that pepper the cityscape climbing up the granite hills or stretching outwards in the peripheries. In Rio around 1 million people from its total population of 6 million (1 in 6 people) live in these settlements, some of which date back to a hundred years ago.

rio de janeiro from cristo.jpg

Rio, classic view from Cristo, photo by Udi

I have worked with different groups in favelas since my postgraduate work in Rio more than ten years ago. During this time I focused on children and young people who were living or had lived on the streets of the city, with the incentive of understanding more about how they managed to leave this way of life. I then focused on how young people living in the favelas organise in different groups and projects and create art, media, music in their struggles against inequality. Over the next few posts we will explore an initiative that has been at the vanguard of innovation in developing creative forms of media literacy and production from favela communities and in broadening access to higher education, for its residents.

rio, jesus flying.jpg

Rio, Cristo in the clouds, photo by Udi

I was very excited to arrive back in Rio. It is also my home, the place I grew up. The city could not have contrasted more to the loud animated tranquility of the forest we had left just a few days before at the Peru/Brazil border. There in the National Park we walked through rain-drenched jungle paths in search of giant otters, stayed in an eco-lodge with a tarantula hanging out in the bar and had one of my socks stolen by a forest rat in the night. (I still imagine fondly my disappeared sock serving as bedding for a rat family somewhere in the jungle).


Rio city map

Landing in Rio the murmurs of the forest were replaced by hum and beat of city life, increased manyfold by the coming new year party which draws hundreds of thousands of people from across Brazil and beyond.

On the night we arrived we attend another ceremony, this time with around two million other people, gathering on the shores of Copacabana beach to greet the new year under a shower of fireworks.


New Year at Copacabana beach, photo from http://www.emirates247.com/news/emirates/world-welcomes-2013-in-style-2013-01-01-1.489400

This ceremony started decades back when a few groups from the city’s Afro-Brazilian religious communities (Candomblé and Umbanda), predominantly living in the favelas, gathered dressed in the traditional white to lay offerings to the sea deity Yemanja to bring good fortune in the coming year.

Although members of the Candomblé and Umbanda communities have declined in numbers across Brazil, in particular due to the growing strength of evangelical churches, the outer form of the ceremony remains as most people still dress in white and many light candles in the sand and offer flowers to the sea. Despite the mass concentration of people and the loud music thundering from the stages and the mesmerising firework display, all sponsored by the city council and various corporations, a calm prevails in the sandy stretch as we wait for the Gregorian calendar to tick over at midnight.

I imagine a great global penumbra, a sweeping shadow of time, of midnight, traversing the planet greeted by cheering crowds, each place at midnight. A festive Mexican wave of fireworks and champagne and hugs and kisses. I imagine that festive wave only works in places with a Gregorian calendar or the mass media has penetrated. I guess we all celebrate the passage of big cycles of time somehow and here in Rio we have the help of Yemanja. Maybe that is why people come here, to feel her gentle embrace along these shores as we send her gifts in the hope of a good and peaceful coming year.

rio de janeiro rain.jpg

Rio downpour gets people off the beach during Carnival, photo by Udi

For me it also feels good to be where I grew up, know people, feel embraced by the language and recognise the thickness of the air, the smell of sea, plants and car fumes. Actually, I am reminded now that at least two people in this journey, both carvers, one a First Nations person from Canada the other a Maori from New Zealand, have told me of how the thickness of the air gives them a sense of home. I suppose it is the same for me, shame it had to be such a strange mixture of fumes! But despite the chaos, the inequality, the pollution and lack of security something creative stirs in this place between the hills and the sea and animates the city and its vibrant and hospitable people.


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Learning in a Quechua ceremony

Learning in a Quechua ceremony

Posted by on May 12, 2013 in all posts, Peru | 0 comments


Ceremonies can be somber or festive.  They can mark the passage of time, celebrate people, places, significant events in the life of individuals or historical episodes. As Judy Atkinson, a wise Aboriginal scholar has written in her wonderfully engaging book, Trauma Trails: Recreating Songlines, the purpose of ceremony is “uniting hearts and establishing order”. Ceremonies may also involve, often quite subtly, the transformation of the person, initiating them into new cycles, perspectives, connections. On a larger scale this may also mean the transformation of communities.

The relationship between ceremony and community has been especially visible in places where ceremonies were banned through colonial occupation and religious intolerance. For the Blackfoot, prohibited to leave the boundaries of the reservations ascribed to them on their own territory, they were banned from visiting their own sacred sites and holding ceremony for more than a century.  For the Quechua, it is only during the last few years that ceremonies are once again allowed to be held in the places created by their ancestors, used freely hundreds of years ago for this purpose of connecting to place and to the cycles of the earth, moon and sun.

Within each place we have visited so far along this journey, we have listened to the importance of ceremony of past and present. We have also experienced and participated in many ceremonies that have enabled our bodies (hearts and minds) to become more fully immersed in the places we are visiting, to connect more deeply with the people we are meeting and the land beneath our feet.

We had not expected that ceremonies would be such an important ingredient in enlivened learning and in transforming identities. We want to explore this dimension of ceremony over subsequent posts. As a way of beginning, this post describes a ceremony in Cusco, Peru.  We write this through both of our experiences.  Each of us have unique experiences of the same event. The significance of ceremony is collectively yet uniquely felt, bringing us closer to each other and also to each of ourselves.

The pictures in this posting are not our own.  They are from other sources on the internet as indicated on each photo.  We did not bring our camera into the ceremony.  The experience, rather is imprinted quite strongly in our minds and hearts.

A view of the series of walls that characterize Saqsayhuaman.  Cusco is visible in the background.  This photo is from KimMacQuarrie.com - The Last Days of the Incas Peru Tour 11

A view of the series of walls that characterize Saqsayhuaman. Cusco is visible in the background. This photo is from KimMacQuarrie.com – The Last Days of the Incas Peru Tour 11


It is the 20th of December, the day before the Southern Hemisphere’s Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year here. We walk up the winding path from the edges of Cusco towards the temples of Saqsaywaman on the steep hills above the city.  Our steps are dimly lit by the overcast night sky. We see no one along the way until we meet a family of four, waiting to by the edge of the site of the ruins equipped with bags of offerings and blankets.  We introduce ourselves and they invite us to join them as they make their way into the site.

We were invited here by Elena Pardo, the Quechua education activist from CEPROSI, one of the smaller organizations associated with Pratec.  In our conversation she mentioned other activities she is involved in beside her work on the rejuvenation of Quechua culture in the education system. This entails working with a number of Quechua groups and organizations to revive Quechua ceremonies related to the Quechua Calendar and in the places that were important to these communities. Saqsaywaman was such a site in Incan times and we are here to join others in greeting the new cycle of the sun.

We arrive with the family in a natural grassy amphitheater and walk around a semicircle of some thirty Quechua persons clad in colorful ponchos and hats. The group faces East and on the ground are blankets covered with offerings of drink, foods, leaves and incense. Our sense of foreignness is soon dissipated as we are warmly greeted. The night grew colder and sitting on plastic sheets we were offered blankets.

Over the course of the next few hours we sang, instruments were played and we walked around the ruins in a line with the masters of ceremony offering incantations at various points around the site. Unable to resist the cold and damp of the evening we retired to bed promising to return in a few hours before the sun came up.

This is wider view of the flat and open area in the middle of Saqsayhuaman where the majority of the ceremony took place and where we greeted the sun.  The photo is from Melissa, posted on  the 20th June, 2011 'In Awe of Cusco and Machu Picchu' on the CIEE Study Abroad in Peru blog - http://study-abroad-blog-lima-la.ciee.org

This is wider view of the flat and open area in the middle of Saqsayhuaman where the majority of the ceremony took place and where we greeted the sun. The photo is from Melissa, posted on the 20th June, 2011 ‘In Awe of Cusco and Machu Picchu’ on the CIEE Study Abroad in Peru blog – http://study-abroad-blog-lima-la.ciee.org



I feel apprehension climbing the steep path leading up to the ruins of Saqsaywaman.  I am not clear if the tenseness I feel through my body, particularly the bottom of my stomach, is due to us sneaking onto the site after hours, the possibility of us encountering a gang of thieves as we had been warned, meeting a group of people for the first time during a spiritual ceremony and/or the lack of certainty I feel about whether we were genuinely invited (I could not communicate directly with Elena due to language constraints).  Perhaps it is a combination of all of these.

The path climbs more and more steeply.  The dim light blurs the sharp edges of the stones placed beneath our feet.  Suddenly, on our left, mammoth stones come into view, in the shape of high walls.  I stop to admire the beauty in their carefully planned (at the time), yet not fully understood irregularity.  Peru, especially Cusco, has experienced many earthquakes over the past several hundred years.  These stones, many of which are at leas twice my height and width have remained intact through all earthquakes.  There is nothing gluing them together.  They rest together like a perfectly fit glove.

Photo demonstrating the size of some of the largest stones and their perfect fit - from http://www.ancient-mysteries-explained.com/ancient-inca-vestiges.html

Photo demonstrating the size of some of the largest stones and their perfect fit – from http://www.ancient-mysteries-explained.com/ancient-inca-vestiges.html

The moonlight and the dim electric lights create a glow around the interlocking giant stones.  I am in awe.  It is my first time into these ruins.  My anxiety lessens.  I feel a gathering resolve amidst the excitement to be attending a ceremony in such a spiritual place.  My nervousness drifts into the thinning clouds resting in the silvery moonlit sky.

Udi gently reminds me of time and we walk further.  The path flattens and we encounter a group of 4 people closely gathered.  They are all female – one child and three adults.  They are awaiting further notice as to the exact site of the ceremony.  Many minutes later a call comes.  We are invited to follow them into the centre of Saqsaywaman, one of the most spiritual sites of the Incas before us and for the Quechua with us.

Walking through tall boulders at first, the view from inside Saqsaywaman becomes more visible as we enter a large empty field-like area.  There are chanting sounds, many people are dressed in ponchos and woven hats.  I notice many people are barefoot in spite of the cold.

There is a blanket with dried flowers, candles, a couple of large shells and other objects spread across the blanket.  One of the large shells is picked up and blown.  We are beckoned to come and sit closely to the four women we followed in.  They hand us an extra blanket for us to keep warm.  I notice we are the only non-Quechua people present, but I feel a strong feeling of inclusiveness amongst all of there together, as human beings, rather than as separate identities.

We walk in a circle several times around the blanket as a large drum beats, keeping our pace.  The elder man beating the drum is also carrying the drum.  We stop and form a semi-circle around the blanket.  An elder Quechua women deliberately approaches each person, waving feathers and slowly blowing incense smoke on each of down our bodies and chanting spiritual wishes.  I feel an incredible rush of warmth and strength as she stops briefly in front of me.

Photo of a Quechua man blowing into a shell.  Photo taken from a flickr site - peace-on-earth - taken on the 8th January, 2006

Photo of a Quechua man blowing into a shell. Photo taken from a flickr site – peace-on-earth – taken on the 8th January, 2006



We got up at 4am after a couple of hours of sleep and made our way up the hill again. Dawn was starting to break over the surrounding hills of Cusco. Reaching the site again the semicircle had doubled in numbers and we were no longer the only non-Quechua. After more music and incantations people were invited to offer their prayers to the rising sun Inti and to the earth Pachamama – both sources of life. Some spoke and expressed their gratitude in Quechua others in Spanish, offering libations of drink to the earth and to a small fire lit in a clay pot.

The ceremony was concluded with every member of the group hugging everyone else and wishing them well. The master of ceremony, a Quechua Elder, also expressed his gratitude for everyone being there including the non-Quechua, reaffirming our common humanity and the importance of working together to bring renewed spiritual life to the earth in these times of crisis. As we later hugged he addressed me as ‘little brother’.

We walked down the hill with Cusco looming larger with each and our hearts reconnected to something larger than ourselves, and to others, brothers and sisters from these Andean mountains also wanting a better world where we live in more harmony between ourselves and with the web of life that sustains us.

Photo taken in 2011 at the International WINHEC (World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium) Education gathering.  An international ceremony took place at Saqsaywaman to celebrate the occasion with indigenous (and non-indigenous) peoples from all over the world.

Photo taken in 2011 at the International WINHEC (World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium) Education gathering. An international ceremony took place at Saqsaywaman to celebrate the occasion with indigenous (and non-indigenous) peoples from all over the world.



I awaken startled, my heart racing from the shock of the alarm we had set just three hours earlier.  Udi and I want to return to the blanket and circle, to join the ceremony once again, up at Saqsaywaman, before the rays of the sun become too pronounced over the horizon.  Ev and Pepe join us – the four of us venture back up the steep path to Saqsaywaman.

The haze and rhythm of the last couple of hours during which we were walking around the ruins together, was running through my mind like a slow motion film.  After a few hours sitting and walking around the blanket, two of the elder men had started playing Quechua flutes and we formed a sort of queue with each of them at either end, all of us between them.  We had walked in silence, with the exclusion of flutes and a drum leading us around the ruins, stopping us at different points to offer prayers of gratitude to ancestors and Pachamama.

As the first rays of sunlight hit the huge Inca stones that morning, we step into the open center of the ruins where we had first followed the four women to, 9 hours earlier.  It was around 5am.

This time, there are at least 50 people – possibly twice as many people as we had first encountered.  Many non-Quechua people had joined the original group.  Everyone is facing us and I feel a bit shy, hoping we are not interrupting too much.  As we move closer, we are welcomed with warm smiles and motioned to join the far right side of the semi-circle.

One of the Elder Quechua men I recognise from the evening before walks to a small fire that has been lit in front of the blanket.  I can now see the colours of the clothing, the blanket, visibly.  He is wearing one of those hats that have a tail on top with an explosion of the bright colours that are woven beneath the exquisite beading that covers the hat. He is still barefoot.  This is particularly noticeable with his trousers  reaching just past his knees.

Photo taken of the preparation of a Quechua Pachamama (Earth) ceremony - from the blog culturalimmersion.org taken the 13th October (not sure of the year)

Photo taken of the preparation of a Quechua Pachamama (Earth) ceremony – from the blog culturalimmersion.org taken the 13th October (not sure of the year)

One of the elder Quechua women, I assume the same woman who had given each of us blessings the night before, joins him at the fire.  They put incense as offering on the fire and toward toward the sun’s rays welcoming the new day, the Solstice.

I am unable to understand much of anything that is spoken, but I feel expressions of love – there are many tears of emotion and warmth from many of the people that approach the fire to offer gratitude to the sun and Pachamama, the Earth.  My whole body feels alive, pulsing with energy.  I feel a profound sense of gratitude from within the community gathered for the ceremony.  It takes root in me.  I also feel deeply connected to every single person present and yet I have no idea who they were, where they were from, anything about their stories…

An image of Pachamama from http://chicagocares.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/pachamama.jpg

An image of Pachamama from http://chicagocares.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/pachamama.jpg

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