Bolivia hails summer solstice, calls for new relationship with Mother Earth

By Gabriel Romano

Tiahuanaco, Bolivia, Dec 21 (EFE).- The pre-Hispanic citadel of Tiahuanaco is the central site for welcoming the Southern Hemisphere’s summer solstice, this year marking the transition to a new agricultural cycle after a prolonged drought in Bolivia and where the ritual was used on Wednesday to present the “geopolitics of living well,” a proposal for a new relationship between nations and “Pachamama,” or Mother Earth.

Attending the ancestral ceremony on Wednesday was Bolivian President Luis Arce, Vice President David Choquehuanca, representatives from the diplomatic corps, local officials and leaders of assorted social and indigenous organizations.

Arce and Choquehuanca arrived at the archaeological site before dawn, to make an offering to the deities and ancestors as a way of “asking permission” before entering the Akapna pyramid and passing through a portal to descend some ancient steps cut into the stone.

Once at the lower level, they were welcomed by Aymara elders, wise men and women carrying on the Inca traditions, bearing braziers they fed with incense and leading them toward the Kalasasaya temple.

There, they placed the so-called “mesas,” carved wooden and colorful animals and other figures representing the good things mankind receives from Pachamama and to which they then set fire, feeding the flames with wine and alcohol.

That spiritual moment came to its culmination when the participants extended their hands, palms open, in the direction of the large bonfire that was lit as a symbol of receiving the energies that are believed to become manifest with the newly inaugurated temporal period.

In his speech at the ceremony, Arce emphasized that the Southern Hemisphere’s summer solstice “augurs for the production” of food, ensuring that “the rains will come” and that starting at this point a new period is under way that, according to the Andean cosmological view, provides hope for the rest of the year.

The president made reference to the prolonged drought that has affected the country for the past three years, although up until the recent past the annual cycle had included abundant rain followed by seasonal dry periods.

“Pachamama is telling us (with the solstice) that she’s going to bless us with rains and that we’re going to produce food for the people, (and thus it is) very important to come to Tiahuanaco,” he emphasized.

In turn, Choquehuanca said that the summer solstice is one of four “cosmic dates” that in Bolivia foster an “encounter” among people with Mother Earth, the sun, the rivers and with fire.

The Bolivian vice president said that with this new cycle “the rains will begin in March,” and that this also includes a significant energy element given that water is vital for “life” and “calmness.”

This year’s summer solstice is also the occasion on which the Bolivian government is launching a “geopolitics of living well,” that is understood to be a “decolonization from Western geopolitics,” he said.

Choquehuanca mentioned that the proposal includes “taking care of life,” “returning to equilibrium” and “finding consensus,” something that he said runs counter to the geopolitical model that implies “domination and subjugation.”

The new “geopolitical” model also implies a process of “reordering international relations,” said the vice president.

The idea of “living well,” a value enshrined in the Bolivian Constitution of 2009, is linked to the ancient knowledge of indigenous peoples and emphasizes certain other elements like complementarity and harmony among the members of the community and with nature.



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