Peace Corps, Peru and Pachamama: One woman’s journey

TWH – Imagine for just a moment giving up life as you know it. You put your career on hold, sell most of your possessions, and move thousands of miles away to a remote world as foreign as anything could be.  Scary?  Exciting? That is just what Alane Brown did. In the summer of 2012, she sold or gave away most her possessions, rented out her home, took a leave of absence from her job at Fort Lewis College and joined the Peace Corps. Alane was sent to Peru and has been living high in the Andes Mountains ever since.

Updates: Georgia School Harassment Case, Saudi Arabia’s Sorcery Beheading, Peruvian Shaman Slayings, and Dan Halloran

Today I have some updates and new developments in stories previously covered here at The Wild Hunt. Georgia School Harassment Case: Last week I reported on an official joint statement sent out by the North Georgia Solitaries, Dogwood Local Council of the Covenant of the Goddess, Lady Liberty League, and its parent organization, Circle Sanctuary, on the difficulties faced by the Turner family of Bowden, Georgia, whose son, Christopher (11), was facing religiously-motivated harassment by his school (as originally reported by the Atlanta IMC). Now, that coalition, The Turner Family Support Task Force, has sent out an update calling for ongoing spiritual and fiscal support. “Please send your prayers, your energy, and your personal messages through the Facebook page. They are being read by the Turners throughout each day.

Who’s Murdering Peruvian Shamans?

Last week the government of Peru issued a statement saying that fourteen shamans in the country’s north-eastern region have been killed in the span of twenty months. The provincial prosecutor’s office alleges that these killings were ordered by Alfredo Torres, the mayor of Balsa Puerto, and carried out by his brother. Author and indigenous leader Roger Rumrrill claims these killings are part of a wider witch-hunt by the brothers, who are members of an unnamed protestant Christian sect.

“The provincial prosecutor’s office said that the murders were allegedly ordered by the mayor of Balsa Puerto, Alfredo Torres, and carried out by his brother, Augusto, locally known as “the witch hunter.” Only seven bodies have been found, however —either shot, stabbed or hacked with machetes. The seven other shamans have been reported missing. Rogger Rumrill, a leading researcher on Amazonian issues, said the murders are related to “protestant sects” that Torres and his brother belong to, the daily said. “For these protestant sects, the shamans are people possessed by demons, so they have to be killed,” Rumrill said.”

Let Us Convert Uncontacted Tribes!

A major news story making the rounds has concerned photos of an “uncontacted” indigenous tribe in Brazil, sparking debate over the treatment and rights of these isolated communities. While some, like Peruvian oil and gas interests, contest that there is no such a thing as an “uncontacted” tribe, others, most notably Survival International and CIPIACI, have urged the Brazilian government to ensure the protection of their territory.Uncontacted Indians in Brazil, May 2008© Gleison Miranda/FUNAI”There are more than one hundred uncontacted tribes worldwide, with more than half living in either Brazil or Peru. All are in grave danger of being forced off their land, killed and decimated by new diseases. Survival has launched an urgent campaign to get their land protected…”Now a third party, evangelical Christian missionaries, have weighed in on the subject of these tribes. Unsurprisingly, they want to foray in and “contact” them with the love of Christ, damn the consequences (such as decimating them with disease).

Indigenous and Native News

There have been some stories of note concerning indigenous faith and politics that have been popping up recently that might be of interest to my modern Pagan audience. Starting off, Reuters has a wonderful article about the Bolivian celebration of Alasita (which, according to some, translates as “buy me”), the festival of abundance that takes place on January 24th. “Bolivians are crowding the steep cobbled streets of La Paz these days to pay homage to Ekeko, the squat mustached Andean god of abundance. They load down colourful Ekeko statues with tiny items representing prosperity, something elusive in South America’s poorest country. It’s the annual festival of Alasita, the time when Bolivians like to buy trinkets representing their wishes for the new year in the hope Ekeko will make them come true.”In addition to giving symbolic offerings to Ekeko, people also have their gifts blessed by a local shaman or Catholic priest (and very often, both).