Tag Archives: mapuche nation

Book Excerpt: Tehuelche-Mapuche spirituality and my grandfather

17 Mar

The Tehuelche-Mapuche hold a reverence for Mother God, and they refer to her as Pacha Mama. My grandfather, as far as I know did not speak about his spiritual practices, and in fact, he was not a man of many words. However, due to my native roots, Mapuche spirituality, although I realize it is difficult to capture all the strands of their faith. My grandfather, I observed appeared to have a deep attachment to nature, and this was evidenced by the vegetable garden he tended. He also cultivated his own corn, as I recall. I learned later on that the word Mapuche relates to people of the land. According to the organization, Fundacion Chol-Chol based in Chile, “Mapuche spirituality often mixes Christian teachings with Mapuche mystical ideas. Women have fulfilled important roles in indigenous religious life and in passing on cultural identity.

Women serve as community spiritual leaders, called “Machis” if they are connected to the Gods of life are called “Kalkus” if connected to the Gods of death.” My grandfather’s mother was called Anastasia, and from reports I heard, she abhorred what she termed “luxuries.” She often criticized my Basque grandmother for some of her European tastes such as her love of fine china, crystal, and linens. Anastasia would balk at my grandmother’s refined way of setting a dinner table. My grandfather’s occupation for most of his life was that of a horseman of the pampas, or gaucho. He tamed horses, and moved cattle from one end of the country to the other. I grew to understand that among gauchos like my grandfather, were those gauchos, or ranch hands of African descent. Many of the personages that I grew up hearing about were Santos Vega, a legendary gaucho and a payador, or minstrel. Gabino Ezeiza was not mentioned in my family, but I researched him on my own to find he was a black payador, and a famous one who became nicknamed “Black Ezeiza.”
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