Spiritual world in Latin America
Where do spiritual traditions come from? Which experiences young people live to connect body and soul? Are we only what we see? Other cultures are telling us something different. We are going to enter into this world.
Traditions and ceremonies
Incas, Mayas, and Aztecs were living in Latin America for a long time. We should know more about these civilizations if we want to understand how young people interpret life currently influenced by the past.
First, one to analyze is the Incas who were in Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Chile. They appeared at the end of the 12th century, a small tribe was established in the Cuzco Valley. They build the capital. After it became an extensive and powerful empire which keeps traditions, mites, and legends. The official languages is Quechua and Aymara, but the first one was stronger. The main economic activities were agriculture, commerce, metals, hunting, and fishing. The Inca’s calendar was very similar than the current one: 360 days, 12 months, 30 days per month.
Second, and probably the most popular ones, are the Mayas. They lived in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. They appeared between 300 – 900 after Christ, it was the named classic period. But on the cusp, they collapsed and disappeared. They resurfaced 200 years later in Chichén Itza, postclassic period. It is still a mystery why it happened something like that. Mayas managed arts and sciences, metallurgy, architecture, ceramics and writing. The calendar system was also very exact: 365 days, divided in 18 months, having 20 days per month.
Last one, Aztecs civilization, was living in Mexico. They were allies with other groups and populations. They expanded quickly dominating central area and south of Mexico between XIV and XVI centuries. People weakened in 1520 when Moctezuma II died. They had an extensive territory which couldn’t manage properly: intern divisions, independentist areas, etc. It made easier for Spanish, led by Hernan Cortes in 1521, the conquest of the empire.
All three are very interesting civilizations to study. However, South America is the only area in Latin America where it keeps a lot of ancestral traditions. That’s why we are going to analyze deeply the traditions of the Inca’s civilizations and the impact it has today in different areas focusing on the spirituality.
About the religion, they believe in the existence of a supreme creator called Viracocha. Nevertheless, they didn’t believe in a single God. Viracocha is the creator, the divinity of the sky; Inti is the God of the sun who is worshiped through various ceremonies; Pachamama is the Earth’s God, universe mother, anything related with nature. People didn’t offer sacrifices or gifts to the ¨main¨ God Viracocha, because they thought that being the creator of everything he didn’t need anything from humans, that’s why they just adored him. Another important figure in the culture is ¨Camaquen¨, a vital force which lived in everything that exists on earth included rocks, sea, trees, … The European colonizers didn’t understand it, they equated ¨Camaquen¨ to soul from Catholic religion. Obviously, they are different concepts: in the Catholic faith, the dead body doesn’t have a soul, nevertheless, in the Inca´s religion dead people got the same respect than the living being.
Ceremonies and rituals are numerous and complex. They were related to agricultural and health issues (healing of sickness). The Intip-Raymi is a journey to the East through a trekking while they celebrated the sun´s party; Citoc-Raymi is a ceremony which takes 9 days, acclaiming the rising sun in the Cuzco square which they waited in silence. Maria Rostvorowski investigated that the Inca cosmovision had the following belief: ¨The human being appeared spontaneously. So it means it didn’t exist a creator¨. She demonstrated that the God concept appeared with the colonized relating Catholic values with Wiracocha. It was kind of adaptation of Catholicism.
In the sacred Inca’s tradition, nature, the human being, the animals, any expression of life are connected through the transcendental view of Mother Earth, Pachamama. Everything originates from there, who gives us the figure of the mother, the seed of life which is developing all we have on the earth. It is the food we eat, the air we inspire, all nature around us. Pachamama treats us like its sons and daughters because we need to become the artists or architect of the creation. Mother Earth gives us the wisdom to learn how to manage the connection with nature and the universe. The mystic balance of the elements we have, body, soul, and nature is a need. We can considerate Pachamama as the first teacher on the spiritual school of life.
Young current people and central traditions
The personal satisfaction grows thought the energetic sharing with the environment like a plant which has a seed inside. The perception of the energies is very important. Why? Because they help to control and channel its flow and the constant exchange.
Spirituality XXI century
Luis Racionero, ¨Spirituality century XXI¨ (2016), claims a new spiritually in this connective world, more mature getting contributions from the past, asking a place in the world which considers life as something material. Spiritually consists to be receptive to the spiritual existence. We cannot deny it for the simple fact that it is not seen or touched. The soul is like the airwaves TV, the body is the TV tool who take them, interpreting them. He thinks that the problem of the Occidental philosophy is the fear of death. ¨We are all one¨, every living being is part of the universe, as everything we have around. When someone lives any kind of transcendental experience it is impossible to be afraid of death. The ALL doesn’t die, it is just transformed.
Ritual XXI century
Sonsofu Somé said ¨Ritual permits to connect with me, with the community and everything around us. It helps to eliminate the barriers between us and our real spirit. A ritual is for the soul as food for our physical body. Some people think the rituals take place just in the indigene's towns, but it is not true, the spirit language is a universal dimension¨.
Currently, there are many ways to connect with yourself and nature. They are not originating from South America, but people use there to liberate their souls, fixing other personal problems. Meditation and Yoga are the most popular ones. Meditation is very frequently in countries like Ecuador, Peru and chile. You can find courses, workshops, outdoor activities, etc. Even people organize meetings to meditate together. There are many types of meditation: astral, dynamic, dance movement… All of them are useful, it will depend on your taste.
The second one, Yoga, is famous in the world as we know, wherever you go you will find an academic or gym where you can get some classes. This is another way to get control of your body, mind, and spirit. The view of Yoga is quite different than the Occidental European one. In Europe, people use Yoga to play sports, sometimes people force the body too much to making positions not recommended without prior training. In South America, the spiritual factor is very important. Yoga is a way to connect with yourself and the environment around you, getting to relax your soul to feel satisfied and happier. Furthermore, the sports function is there, because these exercises are advisable for the body, but it is just one component else of the framework.
Every year more and more young people, some of them tourists, try these kinds of ancestral rituals. The sacred medicines were used by our ancestors to heal people. Some experts say that these drugs make you wiser, and the indigenes knew perfectly the secret of life. Probably everyone has heard the famous ¨Chaman¨ who was kind of doctor in these civilizations, it is still being in some tribes. They were the wisest people, everybody respected them. The medicines I’m talking about are extracted from plants called Mescaline, they used to make people understand what is life, solving the problems they had. Currently, in Ecuador and Peru, there are organized rituals where you can try this substance having someone who guides you through all process. Many people claim to have seen and spoken with dead family members, others admit having unfolded in time-space feeling the energy we are made of, others have seen lights and colors changing as well as very real hallucinations. Some people say that it is just a help to show us who we are and what we are made of. But it is not something objective, people have different experiences and point of views.
Many people are afraid of something like this because when you can´t control your body you realize there is something else inside you, but what? It is not easy to reach a conclusion about it, some people called soul, others spirit or the famous third eye. Maybe we are not ready for this or we don’t want to be ready. But many experts say that the reality we see-feel around us it is not the only thing we have, it exists much more. Spirituality and quantum physics are together, but maybe this is another report. Let’s leave it there. It would be an amazing experience if you let you go into this new world full of secrets and surprises.