The Achuar go so far as to equate “reality,” what they consider their “true life,” with the state of dreaming rather than the state of wakefulness.
The Achuar [pronounced in three syllables as A-chu-ar] are a primitive and clannish semi-nomadic people whose name means “the people of the aguaje palm.” They are believed to be the last of the Earth’s once-hidden indigenous people who currently number at about 11,000 individuals. The Achuar first made their acquaintance with Western man in the late ’60s when Catholic missionaries entered the deepest recesses of the jungle along the border of Peru and Ecuador to the Amazon basin, one of Earth’s harshest and most unforgiving ecosystems — a land of punishing humidity, floods and all manner of deadly reptiles, poisonous plants and insects. The fact that the Achuar have not only managed to survive but have actually thrived in the jungle for approximately 5,000 years is proof, they say, of their ability to commune with and receive guidance — often including detailed instruction — from the spirit world while dreaming.
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