:: Only One Track Leads Heavenwards ::

Seeds    Sewa    Track    Saminchaq    Hitcha    Ceremony    Light

:: 2018 :: 75cm x 150cm :: Acrylics, Inks, Markers, UV Lacquer and Coca Mambe on Canvas ::

Before I travelled to Colombia for the ceremonial gathering in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, I sought to learn a few words of the Kogi language, since we would be staying in Kogi territory, and perhaps some Kogi elders might be minded to attend. In the end, only one Kogi man, named Leandro, turned up, but one of the indigenous elders, Auimaku was half-Kogi, half-Wiwa, and spoke both languages, so I did manage to say hantsiga, 'hello', a couple of times! During the course of my researches I found the text of a Kogi prayer, which moved me very greatly, and which I carried with me on my journey as a deep intention to discover its meaning.

Iskími alúna hangu ité
     iskími hába guaselgukú hangu ité
     iskími mulyigába nici gataugénka
     iskími hiúngulda guxa nici naugénka…
Only one thought
     only one Mother
     only one single word reaches upwards
     only one single trail leads heavenwards...
from ‘Kogi Religion and Cosmology’, Tairona Heritage Trust

So many remarkable things happened in Colombia, not least the opening of the caminito de coca for me, that I never got the chance to ask a Kogi elder about this prayer, nor to explore it during the ceremonies: teachings, epiphanies, visions and wonderful moments came thick and fast enough that there was already enough to learn and integrate. On my return to Britain, however, I continued to sit ceremony, and one evening with the madre de ayu unfolded this prayer into a gentle visionary image.

:: Hover the mouse over the image to flip between daylight and UV images ::

Shape Of A Mind

:: Tablet Users - Tap the image to see the UV Image::
:: Tap outside the image to return to the Daylight Image::

I found myself by the side of a river - flowing water seemed to be a common element in all my coca visions - and as I looked upstream I saw an almighty mountain which I took to be the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. I began to move upstream, aware that the forest seemed to be alive with immanent presence, until deep in the forest I found a waterfall which stretched upwards to the far distant mountain tops.

Only One Track 1

Only one single trail leads heavenwards: the waterfall seemed to show the path. I began to rise and above me, standing on the edge where the water began to plunge downwards, I saw an androgynous figure whose hands were raised in a gesture of blessing. Only one single word reaches upwards: so I whispered gracias, thank you for everything.

Only One Track 2

This gentle vision formed the basis of this large format Dual Image artwork, but there is much more I have added. Every image, every feature and arrangement of both the daylight and UV images has been guided by ritually sitting with the coca plant, and I didn't include anything if it didn't feel as if it had been confirmed as part of a personal coca vision. Whilst unfolding the imagery for this piece, I was also reading a book called 'The Hold Life Has' by Catherine J. Allen, which narrates coca-based rituals, teachings and lifeways among a Quechua-speaking people in a village called Sonqo in the high Peruvian paramo above Cuzco: some of these teachings also found their way into the imagery.

Only One Track 4

The daylight image evokes the above narrated vision, depicting myself sitting at the foot of a waterfall, surrounded by sacred coca seeds seen in one of the visions which liberated Ayuzule ~ Mebeakún ~ Seeds of the Coca Mother. Either side of this figure are two other images from visions in Colombia: a padre de coca whose heart is open, and the madre de coca as a woman with coca leaves for hair.

Only One Track 6

Muisca tunjos spring from my head, evoking the artwork Chiguexica Muisca which took me to Colombia in the first place. The waterfall leads up to the high paramo of the Sierra where a madre-padre holds the sun, moon and stars in a gesture of world-embracing blessing. Either side of the waterfall are two forest spirits against a cloud forest background blowing samincha.

Only One Track 3

The samincha is a practice of blowing sacrifice among the people of Sonqo: the word sami in Quechua means ‘supernatural power, animating essence’ (like Polynesian mana), and samincha is a ritual of blowing on coca leaves to release the sami contained within them, to gift it back to the cosmos, and particularly to Pachamama in gratitude. And it is Pachamama who is the central feature of the UV image. She is flanked by eight women in coca seed boats bearing sacred gifts, as per another vision I had in Colombia.

Only One Track 5

Above these, at the very apex of the UV image, can be seen two hummingbirds coalescing above a dark representation of a pre-colonial Tairona house, the Tairona being the original civilisation of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. Far below, at Pachamama's feet can be seen an image of a Tairona bat motif along with some strange beings seen in another coca vision who I call the electric light people, and who seemed to want to find their way into the artwork somehow!

Only One Track 7

coca leaves

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