Here’s a Gem on the Medicine of Grief and Praise from the magnificent Martín Prechtel, a half Swiss-American, half Canadian Cree Gem of a Man who grew up with the Santo Domingo People of New Mexico before finding his way down to the shores of Lake Atitlán, and the Heart of the Tzutujil People in Guatemala. There he apprenticed to an extraordinary Tzutujil (pronounced “zoo-to-HEEL”) Mayan shaman, Nicolás Chiviliú. He eventually became a carrier of Response-Abilities, both in the Village Hierarchy, as well as a Healer among the People of Santiago Atitlán.
Martín Prechtel has a profound respect and appreciation for Peoples of ALL Ancestries. He lends deep insight to the sources of trouble, confusion and alienation that beset so many people today as so many of us live “lives” far removed from the Life Logic that is far closer than many imagine.
Martín’s books are True Treasures of Indigenous Wisdom. They are magnificent, profound, and wise. I recommend ALL of them. But first, here is a three part series that guides us to a very different relationship to both Grief and Praise, and how they BOTH Root us to something far Greater and more Continuous than what many of us imagine “our lives” to be, and Feed all aspects of the Whole.
Martín brings profound insight on the ravages of depression in modern societies, and how mental illness becomes epidemic, especially among immigrant communities from village or tribal cultures. That includes most everybody that has moved from the country to a city, and most of us.
Martín invites us to an entirely different relationship to our capacity to Weep, to Grieve, to Praise, and to make Beauty. Few of us appreciate that Grief is a Blessing and a Skill, and the absence of this capacity is a curse.
In many of my articles I speak of care, and care-FULL-ness. “Care” comes from Old English carian, cearian “be anxious, grieve; to feel concern or interest,” from Proto-Germanic *karo- “lament,” hence “grief, care” (source also of Old High German charon “to lament,” Old Saxon karon “to care, to sorrow”), from Proto-Germanic *karo (source also of Old Saxon kara “sorrow;” Old High German chara “wail, lament;” Gothic kara “sorrow, trouble, care;” German Karfreitag “Good Friday”), from Proto-Indo-European root *gar- “cry out, call, scream” (source also of Irish gairm “shout, cry, call;”
As Martín Prechtel says “Grief is a skill that will KILL you, so that you don’t DIE.” I see a lot of people who avoid Grief, no matter the cost to the rest of what’s Living, and the more they do, the more they are Dead. I know what that’s like from the inside. Grief, REAL, HEART-WRENCHING, CONNECTED, NO-BULLSHIT GRIEF set me FREE to start Living, FOR REAL.
To care depends on our capacity to connect to a Greater Context than the smallness of just our side of what we think is “our good deal.” To care is a requisite for functional adulthood, and functional ancestry, living in a Way that brings enough care to Living that there’s actual recognition and room for the rest of what’s living with us. That care is grief, and the courage to truly feel what is happening on the other side of our “good deal.”Praise is another Skill that helps the World to Live. Living on the Land, I begin to Hear how much of Life is Singing the Praises of Life Itself. I don’t mean that as some romantic idea. I point to something that living in the Living World makes very clear to. The snort of a buck, the dance of its hooves, geese flying southbound along the river I have been living next to for the last seven months: Life lives in Song.
Before Conquest and the debasement of humans into “human resources,” ALL Places had Human Beings SINGING to them. For the Mayan People the World is sustained and enlivened by our Praise of it. I remember many years ago visiting the Sacred Pascual Abaj and the Stone People on the Sacred Hill above Chichicastenango, in Guatemala. A Mother-Father Daykeeper was making Offerings to Life up in that Holy Place, that Place of Wholeness. He was offering candles, alcohol and, especially, PRAISE, in mixed Quiché Mayan and Spanish and he was singing the praises of everything, including the People gathered there with him. It was powerful to feel what was happening there. Words can’t describe it, but it is not so far away. When we begin to SEE Life DEEPLY then we can become moved to Praise. Martin’s way of speaking is full of this quality and I hope you not only enjoy it, but make an Offering of Praise to what lives in you, with you, and all around you.
We begin to dis-cover the Indigenous Reality right under our Feet and in our Hearts, instead of only covering Reality, and our selves, with “who we think we are” and “what we think we are up to.”
Enjoy the ride! Gather Seeds – of Wisdom, that we may find our Way in a Way that’s Truly Living!