From a Thread in the Sky – The Ese Eja People
The Esa Eja are an endangered indigenous community in the PeruvianAmazon. Their lives are connected to the forest. Walking through the forest with the Ese Ejja or the ‘the real people’ brings us closer to this connection and opens a window into their life and struggles too.
The Ese Eja have inhabited the lands within the Amazon for centuries. It is said that they climbed down to Earth from a thread in the sky, to protect the forests. In fact the elders will even point out the exact spot of this descent! The Ese Eja were originally nomadic and to date have a spiritual connection with the Amazon. They believe the jungle has its own spirit whose power can be seen everyday, if you know how to look. It is by connecting with these spirits that local healers do their work too. But since the late 19th century, with the discovery of rubber, things changed for these people. With rubber tapping and then other developments like mining, permanent settlements started sprouting up in the Amazon. Today with ‘modernisation’ and all the “frills” that come with it, the Ese Eja believe that excesses like alcohol, is blocking their ability to connect with the forest spirit, amongst other things. 70 years ago there were about 40,000 Ese Eja while now, barely 700 live in Peru and with limited access to their ancestral lands, they worry about losing their rich indigenous wisdom, their customs, all of it. When we meet them in the Amazon, we are getting a window into and a chance to respect their beliefs, appreciate and acknowledge the origin of varied cultures, in a humble, simple, raw and natural way. Nothing is set up nor played out. Just an interpreter to help them tell their truth for us to take back and share with our worlds, as we all laugh and learn together. And then there just might be a message for you too from the spirits along the trail…if you listen!
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AYNI : Reciprocity, solidarity and humanity in all.