There are times at Sachaqa Centro De Arte when magic really happens. Sachaqa is much more than just a center for artist residency programs. We, of course, offer some really amazing programs: painting, sculpture, photography, ceramics etc But what I would like to talk about in this article is the healing side of Sachaqa.
We are not pretending to live in the Amazon.
Now I do believe that if you are going to sign up to do a residency in the Amazon rainforest, you are a special kind of person. Not everyone is brave enough to go so far out of their comfort zone. We are not pretending to live in the Amazon because we have planted a few trees and have log cabins on some fake holiday camp. This is the real deal! As an artist myself, it has been my life mission to figure out WHY? So within that question, comes some real living and in the end, that journey ended up in a small jungle village in the Amazon rainforest, Peru.
The Smartest Giant In Town – ecosystem services
There is a children’s storybook called ‘The Smartest Giant in Town’ which I read to my son, about a giant, who buys a nice new suit. The giant is so kind and provides a type of ecosystem service to the animals he encounters along the way – as he felt like he had more than he needed. Although ends up giving away all of his brand new attire until he was almost naked and cold. He eventually finds his old sandals and gown and realizes his lesson – that his old clothes are all he ever really needed.
A poem from the book,
My tie is a scarf for a cold giraffe,
My shirt’s on a boat as a sail for a goat,
My shoe is a house for a little white mouse,
One my your socks is a bed for a fox,
My belt helped a dog who was crossing a bog,
But look me up and down I’m the smartest giant in town.
Well living in a small jungle ecosystem is a little like this poem. Artists usually end up giving away stuff they brought to the local people of San Roque De Cumbaza. Just because, they realize they have far more in life than what they really need. Often people from Western countries think that the people of San Roque village are poor, but they are not really so poor. Only compared to the way we are accustomed to having too much stuff. Local people are wearing the old gown and sandals, they accept that they have all they really need. So it is nice when we can share our ‘brand new attire’ with our jungle community.
It’s not just physical, energetically too, the jungle helps you to shed your superficial layers. Until we find ourselves feeling like children, standing naked in the forest.
I chose the word ecosystem services as it is an expression of how we rely on the generosity of nature’s new suit. We can learn from how she provides for humanity in this way. We rely on her ecosystem services for our needs and isn’t it time that we learn to do the same.
Mother Earth is the smartest giant in town!
Enjoy being a part of a biological community.
My home is a living ecosystem and over the years I have learned to accept it and enjoy living in harmony with our: creature, bird and animal community. You can not come to the jungle as a Kung Fu master and try to karate kick the mosquitoes into shape. You can not spray all the ants to death and scream when you see a spider as harmless as a newborn baby. You can not go to the fumigators because of a small wasp, who has taken to your kitchen. These living creatures are part of the family. In my experience, it is only the scared that bring the scary, the transformers that bring the butterflies and the shamanic birthers who bring the snakes. The jungle is talking to you.
The Blue Morpho butterfly is dancing around the garden.
So luminously blue, positioned next to the jungle green. A butterfly that jumps out of the canvas, in a way that makes you think, am I dreaming? The Sachaqa cat family reminds me of the story of Bagheera in ‘The Jungle Book.’ If you invite them in they will be by your side, for protection. They run around the house looking for things to eat. There are geckos living in the roof, such a treat – although they always poo in the same spot and the biodegraded insects smell a bit.
Photography – Leticia.Ruth.Borrego
What is the key to healing yourself and your community?
So before I send you all away as you drink your tea in your safe, comfy space. I ask you this question, what is the key to healing yourself and your community? ‘Well, not living with all that’ I hear you say. But my dear, all that life is your greatest teacher, your greatest healer. All those small things are the stars in the universe. You are always looking for signs in your head, so why not look in your garden. Talking of the stars we got plenty in the jungle, although I don’t know the names of them all. The moon is crazy colors here ‘Mama Killa,’ she is another master teacher you know. You don’t want those kinda teachers I hear you say. Well, you miss out if you don’t want to hear the hummingbird in your house, you miss out if you didn’t see a rainbow serpent, ever. Do you know how sacred that is? If there was a reincarnation of Jesus he sure would love to come back in one of those creatures. It’s like having a real-life rainbow and all its gold in your grasp.
I know you like yoga and quinoa. You may have taken a few psychedelics, but do you know what it is like to have an Amazonian conservation area to play in? Do you know what it is like to live in a place when you have to respect the territory of the wild? I know you are used to protecting your own, not used to sharing space with the dragonflies. You don’t have crazy looking insects that turn into a wizard if you kiss them? Join us in our biological community, you will feel connected to the universe, invited in by the divine. You will learn to play by nature’s rules, which respects and loves and peels away at the layers of your onion. Healing at its deepest, healing at its breathing, you will go home changed, you will go home looking at your land and wondering why it’s all wrapped in clingfilm. You can be yourself here, feel yourself.
There are some who come to Sachaqa and they just put their feet up and accept it all. Those people are in such a cocoon of healing contemplation, that the world of woes are filed away in an orderly way, not acted upon in a pain way. Where all that is and around is your friend. Time stops, the rain pours loudly and the leaves are all dancing and glowing, like my baby girl just thrown lots of glitter in the garden.
Kechwa Lamista masters of living in unity
The kechwa Lamista community of the District San Roque De Cumbaza, still live like they were a perfect player in the ecosystem and are masters of this jungle teaching. Masters of harmony, masters of living in unity. You can visit them and be a friend, but don’t forget to be – The Smartest Giant in Town.
To visit the communities – Roots Of The Amazon
One month healing contemplation
This month we have been four women, each in our own separate space on the Sachaqa grounds. Our residents have been hiding, all together, licking painful wounds. Come on life is life, we all have them. Sometimes you wanna talk so we are all here if you’re ready. Sometimes cuddling the cat is enough, or the canvas is your friend. But when you are digging deep, and no one is calling your phone and you don’t need to get up to pay for the bills. You have given yourself this time to play in the universal garden. You know you are not alone in your tiredness, in the jungle we are anything but alone. Hawks can be watching and the owl is talking. Yeah, yeah Tucan you noisy bird with your long nose pointing down at me.
Job 12:7-10 The Bible
7 “But ask the beasts, and they will teach you;
the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you;
8 or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you;
and the fish of the sea will declare to you.
9 Who among all these does not know
that the hand of the Lord has done this?
10 In his hand is the life of every living thing
and the breath of all mankind.
“You think of yourself
as a citizen of the universe.
You think you belong
to this world of dust and matter.
Out of this dust
you have created a personal image,
and have forgotten
about the essence of your true origin.”
alāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī