on 11 February 2001
This book is a "must read" for anyone concerned with the future of our planet and/or the worrying state of white Western society. A companion volume, rather than a sequel to Secrets of the Talking Jaguar, the story describes Martin Prechtel's demanding and extraordinary duties as part of the village hierarchy of Santiago Atitlan. Co-opted into this body of elders approximately forty years before someone normally would be, he went on to uphold traditional ceremonies and life values in a wholehearted and life-changing way. Of particular relevance to our spiritually impoverished society are the descriptions and explanations of the various levels of initiation considered normal in the hard working, gritty reality of life in a traditional (pre-revolution) Guatemalan village. This is the story of a community that actually has a wholesome place for its teenagers, and whose older members appear to remember being young themselves. Consequently, rather than the: "Young people nowdays....(tut,tut)" routine, the adolescents are rounded up for initiation, and take a huge, conscious leap forward in their lives, which in turn leads them to a more conscious adulthood, and consequently they also will have a more clear recollection of youth for those who follow. Anyone who asks why people in the Western world are in such a depressing mess would gain a great deal of insight and hope from reading this inspired account of a very beautiful way of life. And no, it's not all a rosy-spectacled view. The author is very clear about hardships and shortcomings amongst the villagers, but he is equally clear about the ways these are dealt with. In addition to writing an engrossing account of modern/timeless Mayan society, Martin Prechtel adds the gift of a true poet. He writes beautifully, engagingly and with enormous humour and humanity.
on 5 October 2007
Look, just keep it between us. If the whole world came alive to Martin Prechtel and his writing and broader message, turmoil would ensue. Dear God - we might all come to our senses! Can't have that; bad for business. The market place needs its steady supply of fools. Schtum, now.
But seeing as how you've made it this far, you'll need to know that here is writing of the most compelling calibre. Martin Prechtel's books display the power, urgency, quality and poignancy of the very greats. Very. Greats. Tolstoy, Chekhov, Orwell, you name 'em; and in more recent times, Primo Levi, Norman Lewis, Gary Snyder, select your most favoured.
History shows us clearly - the true greats are rarely appreciated at their outset. Sometimes never. The idiot winds of modernity are too easily blown off course by the prevailing marketing noise. Follow the credulous herds if you want to, but be advised, here real treasure lies.
Equally, bear in mind the injunction from one whose name escapes me (could've been a jew, well jew-ish, anyway a rabble-rouser, troublemaker, best forgotten) that you take care not to cast your pearls before swine lest they trample on them, then turn to attack you.
This is powerful stuff. Handle with care.