I had a very full weekend, beginning Friday with a very early work day and continuing on with several errands after work. Then I had several other appointments and obligations which took up the bulk of Saturday. So yesterday I decided to just relax, and realizing that I had arrived at the last disk of my six-dvd set of the Mystic Lands, popped it into the player to finish it up.
This last disc contains two programs, Anasazi: The Ancient Ones and Haiti: Dance Of The Spirits. I found it extremely interesting because, in the case of the first program, I love anything dealing with the Native Americans, proudly having Cherokee blood in my veins; and the second program examined a subject that has always fascinated me, Vodou (voodoo).
Who were these mysterious Anasazi, or Ancient Ones, who flourished from 100 to 1300 A.D. and then suddenly and inexplicably vanished? The only extant writings of the people, stone carvings known as petroglyphs, hark back to their reverence of the sun and the moon. Peter Pino, a leader of their descendants, the Pueblo, explains:
Everything has a spirit. A rock, a tree, humans, animals. As a result, we treat everything with respect. We know that there is a source of being beyond what the eyes see. The sacredness of the earth, we refer to as mother earth. We have the sun, that's the father, and the father that comes out at night is the moon.
This programs introduces the viewer to the lore and legends of the Anasazi. It speculates that a severe drought in 1276 to 1299 A.D. may have forced the relocation to the Jemez and Rio Grande Rivers of New Mexico. Crumbling ruins provide a backdrop for a study of the religious and cultural backgrounds of these people.
And the narrator closes with:
Even in their worn, eroded condition, the ruins still rise like stone altars, monuments to the spirit of the ancient ones.
Many questions remain unanswered, but this journey was, for me, truly fascinating and worth the time invested.
Turning towards Haiti, I wonder how many associate Voodoo with black magic and Satanism? This program explodes this stereotype, established chiefly in modern times by the overwrought imaginations of Hollywood movie producers and writers as well as writers of horror comics and stories. We are shown that not only is Vodou a religion in its own right, it is also an all encompassing worldview for the Haitian people. And even though Christianity has attempted to stamp out the practice, Vodou survives and even thrives. We are even told that in Haiti, 80 percent of the people today are Roman Catholic, but 100 percent espouse Vodou - the religious symbolism and iconography simply being appropriated and reinterpreted.
It is explained, in case you are wondering, that
The roots of Vodou go back hundreds of years to west and central Africa. During the 17th and 18th centuries, European settlers forced thousands of slaves across the Atlantic to work the plantations of Haiti.
This programs gives a good if concise overview of the worship among the Haitian people and concludes:
Haiti is a land of contrasts. Poverty and oppression are facts of life.
Politics are uncertain. Crops are meager, and hunger is commonplace. Yet through faith, people have found the will to survive.
Some rejoice in the soulful passion of Protestant Christianity; others, in the prayerful visions of Catholicism. But more than anything else, Haiti is alive with the powerful mysteries of Vodou - the "Dance of the Spirit."
This program held my attention from start to finish and all points in-between.
As a bonus on the disc the director Chip Duncan is interviewed and gives a brief background of what went into the producing of this series. He gives his views about man's enduring search for spirituality and how he attempted to document it. This is a rather short bonus but worth watching for a general overview. Sacrifices and compromises were made, corporate interests were a part of that, and Duncan explains the hows and whys, In the end, he was still able to pull together a helpful and enlightening series.
And now I am happy to unreservedly recommend this set to anyone who finds the human spiritual quest interesting. If you just want to know more about the world around you and the people who share this splendid planet with you, this will serve those ends as well.