Guest speaker biography

Peter Cloudsley

Musicologist and Peruvianist writer

After Studying architecture he later became a harpsichord maker in Clerkenwell London. In 1980 he became fascinated with Peruvian culture and began his field research in Andean fiestas, visiting many highland communities, recording their music and rituals, making interviews and collecting musical instruments for the BM.
Published: ‘Peruvian Fiesta – the Inca Inheritance’ 1984, ‘A Survey of Music in Peru’ 1993, ‘Medicine in the Andes’ 1996, CD ‘Fiesta Music from Peru’ 2000, CD ‘Shamans of Peru’ 2003, co-author of ‘The Ayahuasca Visions of Pablo Amaringo’ 2011.

Founded the Amazon Retreat Centre in Mishana on the Rio Nanay in 2003, founded the Retreat Centre in partnership with Howard G Charing one of the first centres dedicated to the Dieta.

Conference session

Celebrating the time of the ancestors in the Peruvian Andes

In this talk, illustrated with slides and recordings, we will piece together an understanding of ‘the time of the ancestors’ and how we can restore health and balance in our lives through participating in ancient mysteries.

Connecting to our ancestors through myth and ritual is equally important for us as for people from ancient cultures such as the Andean campesino.

Rituals often recreate events in the past and, while being conservative in form, their content is highly creative. Crucially everyone participates and for a moment the past becomes present and we are united with our ancestors and we feel a part of primordial creativity.

Sacred times and places resonate for us, hold memory, and facilitate an alteration of consciousness, the restoration of balance between the individual, community and the environment. We will journey to such places as Las Huaringas, Marcahuasi and Qoyllor R’iti using slides and recording.

Andean cosmology centres around periodic times of change when catastrophes separate transitions between eras of stability – Pachacuti – means literally when the ‘world turns on its head’, as for example a natural disaster or the arrival of the Spanish for the Inca Empire.

At Fiesta time, with abundant coca leaves, maize beer or ‘chicha’, dance and a lot of noise, Pachacuti is recreated and it is totally opposed to the austere everyday life in the Andes. Pachacuti was the name of the ninth Inca and depicted by Pablo Amaringo in his magnificent painting which we will explore along with some of his narratives.