Many years ago I read a book by Inge Bolin titled “Rituals of Respect: The Secret of Survival in the High Peruvian Andes.”  I no longer remember why or how I came upon this book but I have never forgotten this teaching.

“Respect is the essence of life, and like the life force itself, it knows no boundaries.  Respect is owed to other human beings, to animals, to the deities…and to all sacred places, including rocks, springs, lakes and meadows.”

“Animals are not considered inferior beings, but are also treated with kindness and respect.  When a llama or an alpaca must be slaughtered, the owner holds its head in his or her lap, giving the animal coca leaves and comforting it while its soul soars to Apu Ausangate, the mountain god who is implored to return the animal’s spirit in the form of a new-born.” 

In a previous post I wrote about the abrasion burns
this deer received as it was presumably dragged from the forest.

The hide was badly cut and scared, perhaps from inattention.

And yet, a beautiful drum emerged with a deep resonant voice.

I decided to keep this drum that had so transformed, at least for a time, and spent many days staring into its mottled surface.  More and more, it seemed I was gazing at the deer itself as a fawn.

The deer grew up slightly as I added a few faint lines and brushed areas of raw earth pigment.  Most of the shading resulted from the drum surface, and not from my hand.

“In the remoteness of their mountain retreat, the herders of Chillihuani recognize that respect for others is the central and most significant element of all thought and action.  Without respect, no society, no civilization, can flourish for long.  Without respect, humanity is doomed and so is the earth, sustainer of life.”

You can hear this drum being played with a padded drumstick by clicking on this youtube link: