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stephen linsteadt

rite of passage, selk'nam, stephen linsteadt

Collective Unconscious (Rite of Passage)

Chile is a land where the conquistadors virtually wiped out the indigenous people. Today, Chile is mostly a mixture of Spanish blood and colonizing Europeans (Swiss and German). There was, however, a tribe of natives that the conquistadors could not eradicate. In fact, most often, it was the Mapuche who were doing the eradicating. In the early days of Santiago the Mapuches wiped-out the settlement. The Mapuches were eventually driven south but they remained in the area of Temuco and successfully resisted the Spaniards. The Incas also respected the Mapuches and left them in peace. Mapuche were highly spiritual and cohesive. They remained as independent tribes but would unite as one body when threatened.

As a people today their presence is felt in the native gift shops but their culture is elusive. There is something magical and ethereal or perhaps secretive about them that makes them intangible. In my quest to learn more about them we attempted to visit one of their villages outside Pucaon in a small town called Curarrehue. On our way we encountered a roadblock by a band of protesting Mapuches and had to return. We did visit a museum later that day and discovered the Gnostic cross Mapuche Style. I found postcards around town (Pucon) depicting native Mapuches. One captivated me in particular showing natives in a Hain initiation ceremony. It turned out to be Selk’nam Indians from the island of Chiloe. Again, the elusive Mapuche.

The collective unconscious is mostly not for public viewing when it comes to the Mapuche. The painting attempts to reflect this by not showing the Mapuche. Instead, I painted the Selk’nam in front of a veil, which one can presume obscures the hidden psychology of the Mapuche.

I have incorporated the interconnected web (karmic decision tree) to represent the synchronicity of the Mapuche quest.

The Hain ceremony entails the initiates to paint themselves in black. Reminds me of our common African ancestry. The painting is symbolic of the seen and unseen connection we have with each other. On the outside we all wear our socially acceptable personifications. The secret lies within in the unseen world.

 Copyright © 2009 Stephen Linsteadt. All rights reserved.