Secrets of the Talking Jaguar

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Overview

This powerful memoir of an American who was adopted by a shaman and allowed to study the secrets of a Tzutujil Mayan village in deepest Guatemala "offers readers a privileged and rare glimpse into [the village's] complex and spiritually rich life." (Rocky Mountain News)

Twenty-five years ago, a young musician and painter named Mart'n Prechtel wandered through the brilliant landscapes of Mexico and Guatemala. Arriving at Santiago Atitlan, a ...
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Overview

This powerful memoir of an American who was adopted by a shaman and allowed to study the secrets of a Tzutujil Mayan village in deepest Guatemala "offers readers a privileged and rare glimpse into [the village's] complex and spiritually rich life." (Rocky Mountain News)

Twenty-five years ago, a young musician and painter named Mart'n Prechtel wandered through the brilliant landscapes of Mexico and Guatemala. Arriving at Santiago Atitlan, a Tzutujil Mayan village on the breathtaking shores of Lake Atitlan, Prechtel met Nicolas Chiviliu Tacaxoy--perhaps the most famous shaman in Tzutujil history--who believed Prechtel was the new student he had asked the gods to provide. For the next thirteen years, Prechtel studied the ancient Tzutujil culture and became a village chief and a famous shaman in his own right.

In Secrets of the Talking Jaguar, Prechtel brings to vivid life the sights, sounds, scents, and colors of Santiago Atitlan: its magical personalities, its beauty, its material poverty and spiritual richness, its eight-hundred-year-old rituals juxtaposed with quintessential small-town gossip. The story of his education is a tale filled with enchantment, danger, passion, and hope.

"The picture [Prechtel] creates of idyllic Indian life is so beautifully drawn that his delight in their culture becomes contagious, as does his grief when civil war creates havoc in their village." --Publishers Weekly
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
As late as the 1970s, among the Tzutujil Indians of Santiago Atitlan, in Guatemala, there was no word for "time," and the concept closest to the verb "to be" was the state of "belonging to"--in this case, to their village, which these descendants of ancient Mayans believed was the center of the universe. At the core of their philosophy was a rejection of progress--everything of importance had happened in the past. Their religion, which relied on communion with animal and plant spirits to understand daily existence, appealed deeply to Prechtel, a half Native American who grew up on a Pueblo reservation near Santa Fe: "The new aromas, the new sounds, things that I'd never seen before, spun me into a trance, amplifying my already well-established erotic relationship with the landscape, my verdant quest to find a way to merge and mate with the spirit of the world." In his engaging first book, Prechtel describes his apprenticeship to Nicolas Chiviliu Tacaxoy, a shaman who taught him healing and divination skills, and his 13 years living as a Tzutujil. While his view seems at times romanticized, the picture he creates of idyllic Indian life--of the Indians' well-being, colorful rituals and rapport with nature--is so beautifully drawn that his delight in their culture becomes contagious, as does his grief when civil war creates havoc in their village. (Aug.)
Booknews
An intimate view of contemporary Mayan village life, describing the sights, sounds, personalities, rituals, gossip, shamans, and spiritual values. Prechtel, who grew up on a Pueblo Indian reservation, apprenticed himself to a Mayan shaman, married a Mayan woman, and became a village chief and famous shaman. He now leads workshops and gives lectures in the US and Europe. The brief introduction is by Robert Bly. No index or bibliography. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780874779004
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 8/24/1998
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.28 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.02 (d)

Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 22, 2013

    This is one of the best books I ever read. It is a story of a tr

    This is one of the best books I ever read. It is a story of a true seeker finding his way to an authentic life in language that enchants along the way. 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 1999

    An amazing account of spirituality in its purest form

    This book is an AMAZING book of spirituality in it's purest and most direct form. A must for any person interested in spirituality and central/south america. A great account of a shamans journey with all the wisdom that he learned along the way.

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