Cover image for Long life, honey in the heart : a story of initiation and eloquence from the shores of a Mayan lake
Long life, honey in the heart : a story of initiation and eloquence from the shores of a Mayan lake
Prechtel, Martín.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam, [1999]

Physical Description:
ix, 362 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BF1679.8.P73 A3 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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"The Mayan gods, who hold eloquence above all else, must surely be pleased with this soul, who in this lifetime is named Martin Prechtel."--Clarissa Pinkola EstesIn Secrets of the Talking Jaguar, Martin Prechtel told of his fourteen years as a shaman in the ancient Mayan village of Santiago Atitlan. Now he continues his story, describing his role as village chief and initiator and examining the complexity of the Mayan religious and social universe against a backdrop of political and social intrigue.During the period in which this book is set (the 1970s), Guatemala was in the midst of a brutal civil war. Prechtel's coming-of-age memoir relates his personal experience of the war, describing how Guatemala's ruling government outlawed the thousand-year-old traditional rites of the Maya, leading to the dissolution of Santiago Atitlan and ultimately forcing Prechtel to flee the country in fear for his life.It's an amazing tale--and Prechtel is a spellbinding storyteller. His writing has been acclaimed as "colorful and revelatory in its insights . . . leagues beyond any ethnography I've ever read" (Common Boundary). At once a page-turner and a profound work of cultural anthropology, Long Life, Honey in the Heart makes a lasting contribution to our understanding of one of humankind's most significant ancient civilizations.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Prechtel grew up on a New Mexican Indian reservation, but, in search of a place to belong, moved to a small Guatemalan village. There, he was accepted by the Mayan people, married a Mayan woman, and was made a member of the tribe. But just when life seemed good, political and military strife hit the land. Much of Prechtel's memoir details how Mayan culture survived wave after wave of cultural conquistadors, of which the Spanish were only the first. By the 1940s, the invaders included priests, doctors, health care workers, and tourists who share variations of the same message: your Mayan past is bad, so embrace Western culture. Although the Mayans have experienced many painful changes (including a shift toward more violent behavior), Prechtel finds them a remarkable people, who ultimately hold on to their intrinsic sense of community. --Brian McCombie

Library Journal Review

Prechtel, whose earlier memoir, Secrets of Talking Jaguar, described his initiation as a shaman among the Tzutujil Mayan of Santiago Atitlan in Guatemala, now takes his readers back to that village, this time focusing on initiation rites--which were meant to renew the culture and the earth itself. As a youth of Native American and European ancestry who grew up on a New Mexican reservation and was searching for a new home, Prechtel won the generous acceptance and trust of these people. He lived their everyday life, married a Tzutujil, and served as a respected Elder. He was, therefore, uniquely positioned to document their culture. His lyrical prose captures not only the intricate details of these complex rituals but also their spiritual meaning for the Tzutujil, whose traditions were on the verge of extinction, as well as the humor and wisdom they brought to their lives. During the 1980s, the violence and horror of Guatemala's political situation overcame the ancient traditions of the villagers, and Prechtel left after attempts on his life. But he keeps those traditions alive in this vivid and devoted memoir. Suitable for both anthropology and biography collections, this work should appeal to a wide audience.--Joan W. Gartland, Detroit P.L. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.