Sustaining traditional culture
Ñawpa Ñan (Ancient Path in Quechua). This cultural work began in 1993, fourteen years before Pachamama’s Path came into being, and the amazing grassroots work throughout these years still serves as the strong foundation for all the projects that have come to fruition since, such as The Kusi Kawsay Andean School, and the most recent Kusi Ñan Organic Products. This collaborative work was initiated by a core group of local families in Pisac, Peru, with each individual contributing years of dedicated investigation of their ancestral heritage, as well as personal experiences in surrounding highland traditional communities that practice their traditional way of life to this day. These individuals consciously share an interconnected and interdependent life commitment to preserve their ancestral indigenous culture. Communally they weave their experiential knowledge, and together practice their traditional culture and values; serving as an inspiration as a viable path. They help find ways to make it all possible through local and global outreach. This work is strongly rooted in traditional music, dance and ceremonial practices, which was activated through practicing and celebrating the Andean Calendar. As the work grew, and their own personal resources and life dedication could no longer sustain growth, they identified the need to find funding, so in 2007, fourteen years later, Pachamama’s Path was formed for this purpose. Today these programs are still alive with great potential for growth but need support as priority was given to the Kusi Kawsay Andean School which still absorbs most of their time, energy and resources.
All of these cultural programs and events have been and are still made possible to this day thanks to the dedication, commitment, perseverance and sacrifice of the founding families, that have never received any economic compensation for this cultural revival work. For them it is a way of life, an eternal commitment, and their life calling and vision. From this is born The Kusi Kawsay Andean School.
History of activities through workshops and special events: after-school classes and workshops focused on textiles, painting, music & dance, theatre, games, arts & crafts, ceramics, medicinal herbs, nutrition, parenting skills, women empowerment, and martial arts; sauna and herbal baths; festivities and ceremonies according to the Andean calendar (Solstice, Equinox, Southern Cross sighting, etc.); intertribal gatherings; healing work; cultural outings including excursions to ancient archeological sites to celebrate and honor the function of the sundials and other astronomic accomplishments, and learn true history; oral history and storytelling; activation of ancestral agrarian practices called faena and minka, traditional communal work.
The Andean Legacy
The Andean Legacy gathering, celebrations and events take place in various parts of Peru. The Andean Legacy was instituted to honor the community’s traditional culture while standing up for their rights and self-direction in their own land and resources. This is the opportunity needed to protect both their culture and the sacred land and plants of the Apus.
The Andean Legacy initiative is the foundation of the Kusi Kawsay Association and involves music, dance, art, weaving, and practicing environmental consciousness through agriculture and education to preserve and celebrate the indigenous Andean culture and identity. Students are in direct connection with the arts that gave birth to their culture, with the land that they care for and nurture while receiving intricate weaving skills that produce beautiful textiles. For the Andean culture, the earth is the most important relationship to nurture and reciprocate.
The initiative seeks to protect and conserve the Andean cultural identity and the resources that are vital to the cultural survival. There are nine major annual events in the Andean calendar – all of which involve the observation of astronomy, the sharing of locally grown food and home made corn drinks, walking and dancing through the mountains in traditional clothing while using important elements and resources to practice the Andean philosophy “Ayni” or reciprocity. Preserving the Andean cultural identity goes hand in hand with preserving this fragile environment and landscape – one cannot exist with out the other; they are interdependent.
Our long-term goal is to empower and equip a new generation of young indigenous Andean children and youth with the tools, music, dance and respect for the land that will allow them to sustain the Andean cultural identity and continue to pass these beautiful traditions along to future generations.
The Andean Calendar
It is through the practice of the Andean calendar that we comprehend traditional knowledge based on human integration with the natural cosmic cycles, and through that a profound understanding of life in balance.
These celebrations, activities and events are held at cultural centers, sacred archeological sites, among various locations, and are the essence of all of our cultural revival work. These celebrations are interconnected and interrelated, and serve as our strong framework and rooted foundation for everything we do in our communal life. Intergenerational participation of adults, youth, children, and babies celebrates the essence of ancestral Andean social structures of inclusion and community.
The activation of the Andean Calendar includes:
Machu Qhaswa / November – December
This is an ancestral dance that awakens primal beings to call for rain, and honors the elders as the strong ones because they posses wisdom and experience.
Kapac Raymi (Summer Solstice) / December 21
Time to celebrate the sun in its most potent point. Receive strength from the sun.
Pukllay / February – March
Couples dance for four days celebrating, honoring and promoting fertility and abundance for all beings including plants, animals and humans.
Equinox / March 21
Celebration of the sun as it is in the middle of its path.
Harvest Time / May – June
Celebrations for harvest time.
Chakana (Southern Cross) May 3
Time to honor the Southern Cross while in its zenith.
Coylloriti / May or June
Three day pilgrimage to the sacred source of water, the glaciers, and the sacred meteorite.
Inti Raymi (Winter Solstice) Junio 21
Honor the sun in its lowest point, offer the sun strength in reciprocity.
Reciprocity Offerings / August
This is the time of year to make offerings to the Pacha before planting; reciprocity with Pachamama.
Equinox / September 21
Celebration of sun in the middle of its path.
Tarpuy (Planting Time) September
This is the calendar used in our educational and agrarian projects. Winay Taki Ayllu offers an amazing presentation following this calendar, and recently was presented in Cusco as Nuestras Raices, Our Roots, by the Kusi Kawsay Association to raise awareness and funds.