Updated: Oct 24
"Our history is a living history, that has throbbed, withstood, and survived many centuries of sacrifice. Now, it comes forward again with strength. The seeds, dormant for such a long time, break out today with some uncertainty, although they germinate in a world that is at present characterized by confusion and uncertainty." ~ Rigoberta Menchú Tum.
Greetings from Kuntur Wasi in Santa Rosa, Cusco, a little place where the Q'ero family who trained me to become a Ñusta have been hosting us for the past 10 days.
Back in 2016, when I met the man who would become my teacher in the Q'ero Inca tradition, I didn't know my path was about to get re-directed and my multiple studies would make sense as different perspectives of a single focus.
Since then, I've understood much about trauma and how my work can contribute both to increased awareness and to its integration.
I realized most of us have experienced Individual Trauma, Transgenerational Trauma, and Collective Trauma. Which means we have a lot of work to do.
This is why I have developed two programs as part of my Trauma Healing work:
2017 - Soul Trauma Healing: to integrate individual traumatic experiences.
2018 - Ancestral Trauma Healing: to integrate the transgenerational shadows in family lineages.
When we heal a layer of Individual Trauma, we find ourselves at the doorstep of our inherited generational or Ancestral Trauma. When we heal a layer of family shadows, we find ourselves at the doorstep of Collective Trauma.
One of the main issues we speak about in Collective Trauma, is the disconnection from nature, which is considered a fundamental developmental trauma. I call it our "Primal Trauma" because we experience it as individuals, and we experience it as a collective.
Do you remember a time when we were children, playing outside? We had the feeling that we were one with everything: the soil, the wind, the birds, the trees. There was no doubt that we belonged.
As we grew up, our natural belonging in the world was replaced with separation, so we were immediately lost. We no longer trusted the Earth to provide for us, or that there is enough. We forgot we are part of the sacred interdependent collective whole.
This is something indigenous tribes around the world have not yet forgotten. They remember we are all brothers and sisters, not just "we" humans, but "we" everything in Nature.
Disconnection from Nature also alienates us from natural processes, like death. Without a deep connection to and acceptance of death in Nature, we live in fear of dying, which creates additional adaptations to avoid death.
Our collective cumulative adaptations to this disconnection from experiencing ourselves as Nature leads to false beliefs of not having enough or not being enough, and so the strive to rule. This has led to cultures of consumerism, militarism, and ecological disasters.
We are designed to live as part of Nature’s ecosystem, we belong as part of a system.
We aren’t separate from our planet: what happens to our planet, happens to us. What we do to ourselves, we do to our planet.
Spending these days with Q'ero people reminded me how important it is for us to go back to Nature, to live in community, to be part of a family...
Our days were spent weaving –something I'm not particularly good at–, cooking –peeling so many potatoes helped me ground a bit–, doing laundry, and eating together. We also visited some archaeological sites like Sacsayhuaman and "Apu" (Sacred Mountain) Humantay –see picture above– with its beautiful lake at 4,200 mts / 13,779 ft, where we offered a "despacho", an ancestral ceremony to give thanks to "Pachamama" (Mother Earth).
As my young friend Daniel (he was visiting them from Israel) recorded everything for a video he is working on for his thesis in Medical Anthropology, I noticed several bits of wisdom being shared by Q'ero:
D: What happens when a relationship between Q'ero doesn't work? Do you get a divorce?
Q: We marry for life. If there is a problem and she gets upset, we go outside, take a walk, and by the time we are back it is most likely she will be feeling better, then we talk.
D: What are the values in Q'ero tribe?
L: I studied at school that Incas believed in 3 precepts: "Ama Sua" (don't steal), "Ama Llulla" (don't lie), "Ama Quella" (don't be lazy), which have now been incorporated by UN. As you are Inca descendants, would these be your values too?
Q: We descend from the Incas, but we were not colonized by the Spaniards because we lived high up in glaciers where they didn't go. So what you have studied in Spanish books about the Inca tradition is not our history. We live in respect, we live in community, we do not need those precepts you mention.
It had not occurred to me: People belonging to the Q'ero Nation haven't inherited the collective trauma resulting from the Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire. Their ancestors didn't experience the Spanish execution of the last Inca leader, Túpac Amaru, in 1572, because they were hidden at 4,800 mts among glaciers. They were never forced to mine for mercury and silver. They were never coerced to convert to Catholicism. They never experienced loss of territory as a result of relocation to settlements, which is why their ethnic origin is still intact, not forming families outside their cultural group.
Maybe because they haven't inherited the collective trauma resulting from the Spanish invasion, they live in peace and love with one another. Maybe because they never lost their land –their ancestors relocated from the Inca Empire territory to live among Apus as a choice, not by force– they still preserve that oneness with Nature.
Seeing their happy and peaceful faces while we spent time with them reminded me how important it is to heal trauma.
Why? Because unless we heal trauma, we will keep repeating the same patterns we have inherited, without knowing we have the freedom to do otherwise, to live otherwise, to be happy.
Also, because the unconscious patterns resulting from traumatic experiences not only affect us, our loved ones, and our community, but also our planet, Mother Earth, and the environment we live in.
Unless we heal trauma, what will we be inheriting our children?
Here are a couple of questions to ponder on:
How does connection with Nature live in you, as you?
How does separation from Nature live in you?
Where does nature estrangement, ecological disruption, or climate change live in you?
Who would you be if you changed your habits, your story of separation?
From this reconnection, we can create a committed collective focused on restoring our human an environmental ecologies.
There is another way. We can all get there, together, through Trauma Healing.
~ L, xx.
PS: I want to share with you a picture of our stay, which I feel is epic... this is my "little brother in arms" –as I like to call him–, Daniel, who introduced me to Eduardo, my Q'ero P'aqo teacher, back in 2016; and Don Francisco Chura Apaza, Eduardo's father, and President of Hatun Q'ero, one of the 5 Q'ero communities in Paucartambo, Cusco –he insisted we move a little so Machu Picchu (in the back) could come out in the picture too, now I see why :)