Martin Prechtel

Author offers native view of modern ills



BAR HARBOR — Martin Prechtel will visit College of the Atlantic’s Gates Auditorium on Tuesday, Sept. 15, at 7 p.m. as part of a tour for his latest book, “The Smell of Rain on Dust: Grief and Praise.” Prechtel’s teachings derive from his own scholarship imbued with the indigenous wisdom and understandings of his native traditions.

Prechtel observes in his new book that intact traditional village cultures tend to be comfortable with strong and necessary individual expressions of grief, as well as of praise; and that they are understood and supported by the community. Whereas, he believes, our suppression of grief in modern cultures contributes to much of our illness, depression, addiction and violence; and he offers stories and suggestions that allow more room for our grief.

Prechtel grew up on a traditional native pueblo north of Albuquerque. As a young man, he wandered south until, in highland Guatemala, he met his teacher, Nicholas Chiviliu, a highly respected shaman of the highlands. Prechtel apprenticed to Chiviliu, married into the village, and in time became a sought-after shaman himself, as well as a respected village leader and chief, responsible for the traditional initiations of the young men. Prechtel never expected to leave his village. Even with the growing civil war and the government and death squad massacres of  native villages, he resisted his teacher’s admonition to leave, to preserve the teachings and carry them back to the U.S., “where the bullets come from.” Finally, after several close attempts on his life and threats to his family, and with a price on his head, Prechtel went into hiding with his wife and child until they could finally escape the country.

After many years, Prechtel is now internationally recognized as a teacher, writer, artist and an eloquent spokesperson for indigenous wisdom. “Martin is a spell-binding speaker and a great story-teller,” says Paul Weiss, director of The Whole Health Center in Bar Harbor, who has studied with him. “But more importantly,” he adds, “his insights can challenge the often sleepy and nearsighted assumptions of our civilized minds.”

Contact The Whole Health Center at 288-4128 or [email protected]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.