On a pilgrimage high in the Andes Mountains, filmmaker Jeffrey Wium was inspired to explore animistic consciousness, that sense of a larger spirituality that binds all living things — a sense from which he feels Western society has lost its connection.
“In the Northern world, we specialize in developing our intellect,” Wium said. “In the ancient world, they maintained their animistic consciousness with all aspects of the natural world. We’ve forgotten or are not focused on that in the Northern world. It can complement the skill sets that we’ve developed in the North and bring a wider vision for people who are looking for deeper meaning in their life.”
Wium’s documentary, “Wisdomkeepers, Paqo Andino,” is a legacy piece about a lineage of “earth-keeping” people in the Andes, the Paqo Andino, a culture Wium has been a part of for eight years. The film follows the lives of the Paqos, without supplemental narration or explanation, to offer insight into their spiritual journey and holistic consciousness. The film will screen at Colorado Mountain College in Breckenridge on Tuesday, March 25.
Living a holistic life
The concept of holistic living can be tough for us to grasp, with our focus on the tangible and all of the distractions in our lives, both from our environment and within ourselves.
“Holistic living means that one is aware of all the inputs in their life,” Wium said. “Looking at what we put into our body and the environment we live in, the music, the people, the entertainment we use, the distractions we place in our lives — this is all outside of judgment, right or wrong — do they support our journey of awakening or do they distract us?”
Wium said many people pursue spiritual connections, from yoga to meditation to religion, but even those practices can become mere distractions without a deeper knowledge of what’s inside of us and how we are linked to the world around us. He said that rather than being holy people, we should seek to be wholly people, aware not only of our personal environments but of how we behave in those environments.
“It’s not so much what you do for yourself and other people but how you are in every moment, especially when the chips are down,” he said. “It’s how do I hold that loving presence when someone is screaming out for love through a violent interaction in front of me? How do I see beyond the friction of right and wrong and take the highest parts of what’s being offered here and kind of bring it forward? Holistic means taking all things into consideration.”
Teaching through film
“Wisdomkeepers” examines the concepts of animistic consciousness and holistic living through the lives of the Paqo Andino, a lineage that has remained unbroken for 13,000 years. Wium said that while the Northern world has been going through its arguments and temper tantrums, the Paqos have been nurturing the tenets of kindness, unconditional reciprocity, sustainability and the sanctity of daily life.
“Love, kindness, forgiveness, collective awareness — those are the constructs we’ve set aside but that allow us to come back together,” Wium said. “When we portray a culture that is firmly rooted in that, we get a firsthand view of (those constructs).”