Journey to the Amazon 2014 – updated June 2018
Journey to the Amazon- By Susannah Darling Khan
January 2014. Episode I:
It was ‘business as usual’ as Maria and her mother, Mukasawa, the laughing, loving, enchanting grandmother of this Sapara Amazonian tribal community showed us women how they make their clay pots. A few moments before, we’d all been together, men and women, for a cultural sharing. Wonderfully unexpectedly, each dance or song they shared with us seemed designed to reduce everyone to hysterical laughter. At one point our whole group were asked to become hungry baby parrots, flapping our folded ‘wings’ and squawking for food, whilst the Sapara women fed us chewed up manioc root. In another dance, the Sapara men became scary jaguars, doing a jaguar dance accompanied by a growling chant which ended with them rushing towards us, as we screamed in mock terror whilst they ruffled our hair. Inspired by this, Ya’Acov and I showed them a laughter yoga practice to turn an argument into laughter, which we sometimes manage to do for real.
Later, the Sapara men had taken the men in our group off to teach them how to use the blow dart gun, and we women had gone off to learn how they make the clay pots. Maria and Mukasawa were answering our questions about where they got the clay (at a spot on the river bank quite a distance away) and the dyes (from different plants) and the glaze (a tree resin) with which they make and decorate their pots.
Some of us had begun to have a go at the coil pot technique, which Mukasawa’s demonstrations made look deceptively easy, when Maria looked up, her eyes shining, as words burst out of her. “Stop!” she said, “Please listen! I have something important I need to say to you as women.” We could tell that this was a big moment. “Yes” we said, “please talk us, speak to us”.
Here is Maria’s message:
“I speak to you as a woman of the Amazon. I speak to you as sisters. We do not want the oil companies here. Our government has already sold the oil rights for this territory where we live. We do not agree. We will protect this forest with our lives. This is the forest where we have always lived, and we want to keep it clean and uncontaminated, for ourselves, for our children and for all life on earth, which we know also depends on the Amazon. We stand with and behind our men, who are ready to give everything to defend the forest and to defend life. But we, as women, for the first time, are also stepping forward to lead, to speak. Recently, I walked, with 300 other women and our children from the Amazon to Quito (the capital of Ecuador) to speak to the President. He would not speak with us, but our actions did speak. We know we cannot do this alone. Please stand with us, as women, as sisters, and ask your friends to tell their friends. I am just learning to find the courage to speak and to lead, and I ask you to help us, we need the world wide web of women, as sisters to hear us and stand with us. We are doing this because we love the forest and we will protect it with our lives. And we are doing this for the sake of the entire world. We all need this forest. Will you stand with us?”
“Yes!” we said. We asked her if we could video her message to share with the wider world which, between us, we were connected to. They gave us these messages to reach out to the women and all the people of the world.
Later that night, as we went into deep meditation together, Maria held my hand for several hours, and later told me that in this quiet sharing, her heart had been given the courage she needs to move into her new role as a leader. In the morning I gave her a crystal angel. This angel has a twin, which is in the hands of a dear friend; Julie Rose. We have had these angels for years, always with us in times of ceremony and prayer. In every Movement Medicine ceremony I have ever been in, one of these angels has been present. Every so often Julie and I swop angels. Julie was with us when I gave birth to our son, and at many other times of transition. So the angel I had with me was the best representation of sisterhood and solidarity I could imagine. I knew that Julie would totally agree with giving our angel to Maria, and that it went to Maria with her the beauty and strength of her love for the earth as well.
When I gave the angel to Maria slipped it into her pocket, but weeks later, when we by good fortune met again, she told me that the angel is appearing in their dreams, offering good medicine and helping her feel connected with all the women and men who either are, or will be, standing with them. I was so touched by this and by how she and her people experience the vibrations of our people.
I have now found another, similar angel who has taken up residence on my altar, and I feel has quickly gone into resonance with Maria’s angel, supporting us to stay connected.
There are many other extraordinary moments, teachings, learnings, experiences and discoveries in the journey we just underwent. I feel changed in a way that I am only beginning to understand. Its going to take a while to share this with you all, and we are delighted that we have begun to do by adding an hour’s talk called “Journey to the Amazon” to all our weekend workshops. These are free (donations to the Pachamama Alliance) and all are welcome, whether or not you are attending the workshop. Big thanks to our organisers for being so enthusiastic about this!
If you want to support Maria and Mukasawa you can get involved with the Pachamama Alliance, the organisation which supports them www.pachamama.org, (see their INDIGENOUS RIGHTS page). Come to or support the Long Dance, which supports the Pachamama Alliance. https://schoolofmovementmedicine.com/long-dance.php
And of course, in order to create the kind of world in which the forest stands and we are not driven to destroy our living planet by our thirst for oil, economic growth and power, needs many changes on many levels. Nothing is too small to make a difference, and maybe the time to stand up tall together and make a tidal change has come.
Movement Medicine stands for the necessary linking of micro (personal) and macro (big picture) transformation. If you see yourself as a Movement Medicine practitioner, it does not mean that you are expected to get involved with the Pachamama Alliance, or to become a supporter of the Sapara and the Achuar, though of course we invite you to do these things if they sing in your heart. The point, though is to follow your own star, and trust your own offering. Our world needs love on many, many levels. And all of them are important.
Like Maria, like me, we all need support and encouragement. I wish you the giving and receiving of good support and encouragement to follow what is true.
I thank all the people of the forest who received us with such warmth, as friends and allies, I thank the forest itself, and its immense vibration, and I thank the Pachamama Alliance, integrating vision, wisdom and service, both from its indigenous partners and from its partners in the modern world, and I thank David Tucker, the man behind the Pachamama Journeys without whom none of this would have been possible,
With my love,