We made our way through Tayrona Park, which is on the Caribbean coast of Colombia. The hike was lush and mostly uphill towards the Pueblito– home to a small group of Kogi Indians. As we proceeded with this leg of the trip– about 3 – 4 hours hike– I began asking our Wiwa Indian guide (named Lorenzo) about some of his native religious understandings and rituals.
I asked “Do you have a word for ‘the God of everything’?” I waved my arms in the air gesturing to the magnificent nature around us, and pointed to our bodies–‘you and me.’ He explained that–YES–there are two ways to say ‘the God of everything’ in his native tongue. One way–‘Serankua’ (pronounced Serankooaahh) refers to the masculine presence of God and the other- ‘Sewa’ (pronounced Sewahhh)— refers to the Feminine presence of God.
To make sure I had the spelling right, I had Lorenzo write the names in my sketchbook. The meaning of the word ‘Sewa’ reminded me of ‘Shekkinah’– Hebrew for the feminine presence of God. I also was delighted, but not surprised to hear the “Ah” sound in the two native ‘names’ of God. One of the concepts exemplified in the Oneness Project is the notion that the sound ‘Ahhhh’– (as the first sound chanted when saying Ohm) is prevalent when speaking a name of God over a surprisingly diverse collection of world religions. Both of his pronunciations fit this understanding. Here’s an excerpt from the Oneness proposal where I visually explain this concept:
Although knowledgeable, our guide was quiet and shy. He barely said a word about our surroundings, until I asked a question. But when I asked, his responses were sometimes lengthy, warm and genuine. Recalling the Oneness Project in my mind, I was wondering how Indian spiritual wisdom could bring an even deeper truth to the existing art and ideas. As we hiked, I thought of the part of the Oneness exhibit proposal which lays out plans for a ‘Sanskrit Fire Temple and Holocaust and Genocide Memorial Space.’
I asked Lorenzo if they used fire in any of their rituals. More on this in the next BLOG post…..