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Telas of Paoyhan: A Project for Peru

Updated: Dec 30, 2021


I’m thrilled to announce this fundraising and workshop combination in honor of the 2020 Movement Medicine Long Dance - I’m starting early this year! The Long Dance is a dancing/fasting/healing event happening this summer that requires participants to raise money for the cause of their choice.


Find out more about the Movement Medicine Long Dance here.


With love, a project in two parts, to double our impact and your good karma.


PART 1: TELAS OF PAOYHAN. Supporting the indigenous Amazonian Shipibo village of Paoyhan by purchasing traditional art.


PART 2: CONSENSUS FOR CHANGE. Supporting a second charitable cause, to be determined by the group via an online consensus decision making workshop.


Shipibo woman selling telas


PART 1: TELAS OF PAOYHAN


Paoyhan is one of the main settlements of the Shipibo people, located in the Amazon jungle 4 hours by boat from the city of Pucallpa, Peru. The Shipibo number about 40,000 and maintain rich traditions especially in plant medicine and shamanism. Many of the Amazon’s most renowned healers hail from this tribe and are premier providers of ceremony at the many healing centers across the region. Still, the Shipibo face many challenges common to the world’s post-colonial indigenous such as environmental degradation from logging and mining, poverty, illness, and loss of cultural cohesion with the effects of globalization.


Please see this touching video about Paoyhan and how climate change is affecting the village.


Shipibo arts are highly sought after. This is particularly true of their telas: hand-woven, hand-embroidered tapestries, often colored with natural plant dyes. Shipibo telas are truly a fine art of the jungle. They’re woven by the women, some older-generation masters, and are pieces of medicine work in themselves. They depict the energetic patterns of icaros - healing songs the shamans use like surgical tools in ceremony - as well as power symbols like snakes, flowers, and vines. The women sing icaros while embroidering and the finished telas pulsate with power and healing energy, you have to see them to believe it.


Selling traditional crafts is a main source of income for the Shipibo – it helps put food on the table in a community where people don’t always know where their next meal will come from and, importantly, contributes to the preservation of this global-heritage cultural tradition by making it profitable in the modern age.


I will be staying in Paoyhan this winter and will have the opportunity to purchase telas directly from their makers. No shop, no middleman taking a cut. 100% of the cost will go to the women and their families. I’m inviting you now to lend your support to the Shipibo by buying a beautiful, one-of-a-kind handmade tela of your own.


Use your tela as an altar cloth, or a wall hanging for a treatment or healing space. Put it at the foot of your bed to fortify your dreams, or drape it over your knees when you meditate. Some can even be worn as a wrap skirt! Your tela will surely become a treasured piece of magic kit, and an heirloom to pass down to your loved ones through generations.


DONATING, ORDERING and RECEIVING


Shipibo telas range in size and quality with the larger, finer ones taking months to make and costing up to around $300. Small can be beautiful and very fine for sure – though, with this unique opportunity, I highly recommend considering going big to get something really special. You will not regret it!


I will aim for the original cost of the item to be approximately 50-80% of the total donation. The extra proceeds will go to Part 2 of this project - more on that below. Here’s a rough guide to what you can expect:


A $50 donation = $25 tela

A $100 donation = $50 tela

A $200-250 donation = $100-$150 tela

A $300-400 donation = $200-250 tela


Donating in advance of my trip will help me so much to assess size, price, type and number of telas to get. This would be very much appreciated! I will purchase the choicest pieces available – and as a former architect now studying shamanism, I’ve got a pretty keen eye for both aesthetics AND energetics so you’re sure to get something amazing :)


Photos of the telas will be released in the spring of 2020. People who have donated in advance will be offered first choice, privately and in order of largest donation to smallest. Prices and dimensions will be marked.


The remaining telas will be offered to the public for purchase online. The stock left in July will be offered for sale at the Long Dance 2020 market.


Your tela will be mailed to you, or we can organize pickup if our paths will cross this spring/summer in order to save on gas and postage!


Minimum donation is $50.


Advance donations and online purchases of $100 and up make you eligible to participate in PART 2 of this project. You will also receive a small, surprise bonus gift from Paoyhan!


Advance donations must be received by NOVEMBER 8, 2019! To donate:


- Get in touch via private FB message or at contact@aghoraholistics.com


- Let me know the amount you are donating (I will send paypal info)


- If you’re moved to, send a few sentences about what you’d wish for in your tela – such as how you’d like to use it, the kind of energetic properties that would be best for you (protection, love, strength, etc), favorite color palette, or anything else about it (or you) that you’d like me to keep in mind.


Tela embroidery detail


Thank you so much, I hope to be selecting the perfect tela for you very soon! And now, read on for Part 2.


PART 2: CONSENSUS FOR CHANGE


The extra proceeds raised here (beyond the cost of the telas) will go to a second, Shipibo- related organization or project. Which one, you ask? Well, if you donate $100 or more, you get to participate in deciding that through an online workshop in consensus decision making!


Consensus decision making, otherwise known as consensus voting, is a tool to know for builders of the new, socially and ecologically just world order. Many of us have heard all our lives about the supremacy of democracy. Sometimes it works! Other times it causes problems and is perhaps not the ideal format to be using when there are other options. In direct democratic voting each person’s vote counts as equal and the majority rules, which sets up conditions where there are always winners and losers. Losers have no recourse and resentment can simmer under the surface, leading to unpleasant backlash later on. Voters can easily be manipulated through propaganda campaigns to achieve a desired majority, and results can be fudged by corrupt leaders.


Consensus works differently. This process creates an open forum where people discuss and develop solutions together, that honor the interests of everyone with a stake in the decision. Everyone is given the chance to be heard, and the group must agree on a suitable plan before moving forward.


An excellent guide to the consensus process is here.


Consensus takes a lot of personal responsibility, patience, communication skills, and willingness to seek a balance between one’s personal needs and what’s best for the good of all.


It encourages us to work cooperatively and have a hand in making decisions that affect our daily lives, rather than relying on distant representatives who may not have our best interests at heart.


This short online workshop is intended to be a fun way to learn through group experience about consensus, and send some money to a great cause. We will:


- Take a crash course in the basics of consensus voting, review its history and understand different forms.


- Practice together through a facilitated, step-by-step consensus process


- Complete a reflection exercise to help us absorb this new skill and take it forward in our lives.


This event will take place in the spring of 2020. Again, a $100 or more donation towards your tela secures your spot!


Here are a few example causes that we might consider (other suggestions will be accepted):


A project to secure clean water for the people of Paoyhan:


Alianza Arkana, an organization in Pucallpa working with the Shipibo on permaculture, health, education, language preservation and more.


Heroic Hearts Project, an organization that sends veterans of American wars for healing at Shipibo-staffed centers in Peru.


Thank you so much for your support! I’m really excited about offering this project. I hope we all learn a lot, have fun, enjoy some beautiful art and stand in solidarity with our fellow humans. Looking forward to corresponding with you!


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Why make Consensus Decision Making a part of this project? Read about it in this post.