Gonzalo ”Aguila” Garcia has been walking the Red Road of the sacred medicines and offering sweat lodges to his community in and around Medellin, Colombia for over 25 years. He is revered throughout the country as a traditional medical healer gifted in activating the healing power of Awakoya, Hikuri, and Yagé. During ECA retreats, he works primarily with the sacred medicines of Awakoya (Wachuma) cactus, the traditional sweat lodge of the Lakota-Sioux from North America, tobacco, ambil, rapé, and mambe.
Gonzalo embodies the spirit of a ”hombre puente”, or bridge man, who walks his path according to the unified wisdoms, traditions, and medicines from South, Central, and North America. At his home and in his maloka, or traditional house of healing, he regularly hosts healers from Bolivia, Argentina, Ecuador, Peru, Mexico, and North America in fulfillment of the Prophesy of the Condor and the Eagle.
Gonzalo Speaks About The Importance and Sacredness of Water (Select English Subtitles if Desired)
Gonzalo is the regional leader of the sacred Hanblecheyapi, or Vision Quest, in Antioquia, Colombia. He has introduced many Colombians to the Sun Dance and has himself been a dancer for many years. He heals through joy, love, tranquility, strength, and clarity, and under his guidance the sacred medicines inspire the resurfacing of these traits in his community members and his family.
Here is a recent article about Gonzalo published by our friends and family at Tomorrow´s Ancestors Speak, a global initiative that gives voice to ancient wisdoms regarding the role, state, and protection of water on Mother Earth.
Eyes full of light, a heart full of compassion, and a strong will to work, is Gonzalo Alonzo García, or ‘Papari de Umamda,’ (“Eagle of the Sun”) as his Embera friends call him. To his Spanish-speaking friends and many close to him, however, Gonzalo is better known as Gonzalo Aguila (‘Aguila’ being the Spanish word for ‘Eagle’). A Colombian native, Gonzalo Aguila is a middle-aged Sundancer, husband, and father passionate about living life in a ceremonial and harmonious way. He lives amongst the mountainous hills of La Verada el Plan within the Santa Elena region one hour’s drive from Medellin. Gonzalo calls his colorful and lively land, woven with a variety of ceremonial spaces and gardens, “Makha Wakan” – a Lakota (North American Native Tribe) expression for, ‘Sacred Land’.
Within a few minutes on the land, we all understood why it was named ‘Makha Wakan’. The ceremonies hosted on his land were only joining the ceremonies that the plants, the birds, and diverse wildlife were already rejoicing in. The tranquility was and is pervasive there. Aguila remarks how his favorite part of the land is the enchanting nature of the birds living there, as well as the connection that arises from this intimacy within what most call, ‘silence.’ With humor he comments on how this silence that so many find calming is actually the blissful sound of the wind blowing, the leaves dancing on the trees, and the birds and insects singing in rotation throughout all hours of the day and night. The sounds of Life’s symphony being the soothing “silent” song our senses were created to listen to. Throughout the time we spent at Makha Wakan we experienced this lovely avian spectacle unfold: birds of all sizes, colors, and shapes gracefully emerging for a song or snack just long enough to lift our spirits before floating back to their aerial homes. Adding the rhythms of light showers, drifting fogs, heavy mists, and beams of Sun piercing the skies, Life at Makha Wakan and other natural spaces surely ushers peace into one’s Heart.
Following the teachings of his Elders and Heart to continuously, without stop, honor the Sacredness of Life, Gonzalo and his lovely Family live a permanent prayer – a prayer he prays that more people will adopt. The prayer is one for the recuperation of the Mother Earth and the Ancestral Ceremonial Knowledge shown to cultivate care, respect and understanding. The prayer helps to recreate and/or sustain the cohabitation experience and nurture all whom our Mother Earth carries. Observing how Gonzalo and his Family lived, we saw this prayer manifesting through their daily activities. We noticed them collecting rainwater in buckets for all of our campfire-heated showers, consuming home-made, unprocessed, whole foods grown either organically in their own garden or locally from nearby small-scale farmers, cleaning with natural homemade cleaners, and living in an overall simple manner.
This respecting of the Sacredness of Life before anything else is part of Gonzalo’s Elders´ central philosophy. To resume this peaceful walk with Life, one’s Self, one’s partner, children, and the more expansive plant, animal, and human communities – as well as to responsibly listen to them all: to pay attention and listen intently, and then respond with great care; to be open to the constant Mystery and celebration of Life. He gives thanks to the mystery of Life present in our very blood-circulating heart, and all the infinite systems within us, and every organism that is always working and collaborating so that we can have life. We should celebrate life as the dawn comes and be happy because the cold and darkness are leaving, and the Sun is returning with his warmth and light. Gonzalo teaches us to be happy because we have fresh Water to drink and clean, and to be happy purely because we are alive.
This way of living is central within the prayers of the sweat lodge, the Maloka, and the Tipi that the Elders have brought forth – and they are all centralized around the care of the Water of Life. As demonstrated within the above video, Gonzalo has learned much from Water regarding how to live. What the video doesn´t mention, however, is Gonzalo’s observation that Water experiences many states of being based on the environment around her. We can observe her hardening when it becomes very cold – becoming as solid as ice; and how she evaporates when it becomes very hot. What I personally understood from this observation was that she – like us – flows easiest when there are no extremes. We too, as beings of Water can learn that when cold emotions and behaviors are experienced, we can harden and not allow the suffering to come in. Water teaches us not to be be careless, but to choose to stay solid in our beautiful balanced form and simply observe, not act.
Gonzalo believes that this tradition of gratitude and respect amongst today’s indigenous nations is at threat of being lost as people become disconnected from their land, languages, and culture. He remarks on how all nations once had indigenous peoples in their lands too – and that we are all indigenous of this Earth. Yet we have lost touch with the roots of our native cultures and hence the root of who we are. Consequently, we are becoming absorbed by an irresponsibly created culture of harmful consumerism. A culture that promotes the false belief that we need more than what we already have, and that we must compete to achieve that; a culture that fails to recognize the importance of valuing each part of the whole. This mindless consumerism has influenced both our internal and external landscapes to a point where our internal (mental) and external (environmental) climates have become aggravated.
This modern “culture” has become so disconnected from Nature that now many humans never rejoice in a mysterious hike through the wilderness, bathe within the frigid majesty of wild rivers or lakes, nor sleep within the beautiful cradle of Nature. Shoes are often worn to ‘protect’ against Mother Earth’s “dirt” – a mystical living material of which we are all constructed, and to where our bodies return at the end of our lives; and high-rise buildings are praised and constructed in mass – preventing any Earthly connection from occurring and causing much trauma as a result. Yet by living our lives as a permanent Prayer of Love, Gratitude, and Respect; by listening to our Elders; returning to Communities; returning our hands to work softly the Earth; remembering the importance, power, and connectivity of Water and the other holy Elements; and by taking care of each other, the Mother Earth, and ourselves, it is possible to reconnect with the roots of who we are.
With this connection, our great Family can fully blossom into our awakened human potential – a condition that is not only capable of creating, but sustaining true peace on Earth.
Aho Mitakuye Oyasin
(*) Even Makha Waken is experiencing many changes as the region’s climate becomes increasingly warmer. Gonzalo notes that ten years ago the area used to be too cold for the mosquitos to live – but that now, mosquitos, along with various types of birds and animals, are moving away from their original homes in the valleys and rising to escape the heat.