The Unlikely Peace at Cuchumaquic: The Parallel Lives of People as Plants: Keeping the Seeds Alive

The Unlikely Peace at Cuchumaquic: The Parallel Lives of People as Plants: Keeping the Seeds Alive

by Martin Prechtel


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Martín Prechtel’s experiences growing up on a Pueblo Indian reservation, his years of apprenticing to a Guatemalan shaman, and his flight from Guatemala’s brutal civil war to life in the U.S. inform this lyrical blend of memoir, cultural commentary, and spiritual call to arms. The Unlikely Peace at Cuchumaquic is both an epic story and a cry to the heart of humanity based on the author’s realization that human survival depends on keeping alive the seeds of our “original forgotten spiritual excellence.”
Prechtel relates our current state of ecological crisis to the rapid disappearance of biodiversity, indigenous cultures, and shared human values. He demonstrates how real human culture is exterminated when real (not genetically modified) seeds are lost. Like plants that become extinct once their required conditions are no longer met, authentic, unmonetized human cultures can no longer survive in the modern world. To “keep the seeds alive”—both literally and metaphorically—they must be planted, harvested, and replanted, just as human culture must become truly engaging and meaningful to the soul, as necessary as food is to the body. The viable seeds of spirituality and culture that lie dormant within us need to “sprout” into broad daylight to create real sets of cultures welcome on Earth.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781583943601
Publisher: North Atlantic Books
Publication date: 01/31/2012
Pages: 476
Sales rank: 521,927
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.80(d)

About the Author

A master of eloquence and innovative language, Martín Prechtel is a writer, artist, and teacher who, through his work both written and spoken, hopes to promote the subtlety, irony, and premodern vitality hidden in any living language. A half-blood Native American with a Pueblo Indian upbringing, he left New Mexico to live in the village of Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala, eventually becoming a full member of the Tzutujil Mayan community there. For many years he served as a principal in that body of village leaders responsible for instructing the young people in the meanings of their ancient stories through the rituals of adult rites of passage. Once again residing in his native New Mexico, Prechtel teaches at his international school, Bolad’s Kitchen. Through music, ritual, farming, sacred architecture, ancient textiles, tools, and story, Prechtel helps people in many lands to remember their own sense of place in the daily sacred through the search for the Indigenous Soul.

Table of Contents

Preface xiii

A Note on Writing with Native Words xxi

Part I The Unlikely Peace at Cuchumaquic 1

Chapter 1 Always a Place at the Table 3

Chapter 2 Star Arches, the Lurching Earth, and the Seed-eyed God 12

Chapter 3 The Unlikely Peace at Cuchumaquic 35

Part II The Life of People as Plants 67

Chapter 4 In the Shade of the Fire Flower 69

Chapter 5 The Fiery Speech of Seeds as Time 86

Chapter 6 The Miraculous Return of the Tree of Time 109

Chapter 7 The Frenchman Gets "Everything" 126

Chapter 8 Checkmated by My Love 140

Chapter 9 People as Seeds, Their Youth as Chocolate, the Dead Echoing Back to Life 149

Part III Keeping the Seeds Alive 173

Chapter 10 Burning Up the Memory 175

Chapter 11 The Seeds Come Back Riding "Little Bald Gourd" 188

Chapter 12 Swimming Past the Dogs of Amnesia, the Seeds Disappear into the Redwoods 206

Chapter 13 The Six Donancianas 227

Chapter 14 Tunneling Past Centuries, Red Corn in Their Cheeks, the Old Ladies Scurry into View 257

Chapter 15 "Here's Your Damned Corn" 268

Chapter 16 From Their Motley Hands, the Motley Seeds Surprise the People into Beauty 287

Chapter 17 Seeds of Birth and Seeds of Death Return, Carrying the Whole World 298

Part IV Our Agreement with the Holy in Nature 305

Chapter 18 Our Ancient Seed Jar 307

Chapter 19 The Marriage Contract with the Wild 316

Chapter 20 Keeping Our Agreement with the Wild: 323

Our Ancient Seed Jars: Finding an Agreement to Keep 323

Sprout 1 There Has to Be Wild Land, Air, and Sea 324

Sprout 2 The Veld-Sacred Feral Land 327

Sprout 3 All Origins Must Be Known-Where the Seeds Go, So the Agreement Must Go 330

Sprout 4 When the People Marry, the Seeds Marry 341

Sprout 5 Kneel at the Feet of the Mother of the Food You Eat and Ask Her to Adopt You 348

Sprout 6 Beautiful Farming 354

Sprout 7 A Temple Called a Field 360

Sprout 8 The Majesty of Decay 364

Sprout 9 The Body of the Plants City 369

Sprout 10 Offerings-Farmers as the Jewelers of Vitality 375

Sprout 11 Kiss Your Pumpkins-Sacred Pantry Temples 381

Sprout 12 Learning to Live Beyond Our Time-The Dead Must Feed the Living 391

Chapter 21 The House of Origins 398

Chapter 22 The Famous Story of One Eye 415

Glossary of Non-English Words 423

New Words and Redefined Words as Understood in This Book 431

About the Author 445

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