The Tree of Life
Directed by Bruce "Pacho" Lane
The Tree Of Life grows
circa 1430 CE"
"Los Voladores" (the Flyers) is a 1500 year-old rite sacred to Quetzalcoatl,
the Morning Star. From its origins on the Gulf coast of Mexico, the ritual
spread throughout Mesoamerica: a special square was reserved for it in
Tenochtitlan, the Aztec capital, and a variant is still known among the Quiche'
Maya in Guatemala.
At the home of one of the Voladores, we watch the preparation of the characteristic seven-branched wax candles, crowned with a representation of the Volador pole (a mayordomia obligation, part of the cargo system). Intercut with the candle-making, children learn the ritual of the Voladores by re-enacting it from start to finish. In the forest, the Voladores bless the tree chosen for the rite. The tree is felled and dragged by 300 Totonacs along mule trails into the village, where it is wrapped with vines and raised entirely by hand to its new place in the churchyard. Preparations are completed as the Voladores bring the hub, the sacred symbol of dynamic change (Olin), from its place at their home altar, set it on the tip of the pole, and thread the ropes which will bear them on their flight carefully through the hub and around the pole.
Dressed in costumes drawn from 18th-century European models,
the Voladores join the statue of San Salvador, the Risen Savior, in the fiesta procession.
As the capitan of the Voladores dances on the narrow bub, high above the flagstones, other
dance groups perform: Huehues, Quetzales, San Migueles, and Negritos. Then the Voladores
descend head down, arms spread, in a slow spiral, to the sound of drum and flute...
You have become the Tree of Life.
Awards: First Prize, Festival of Films on Native Americans (Mexico);
First Prize, International Festival on Culture & Psychiatry; First Prize, The American Film Festival;
Berlin & London Film Festivals, Musee de l'Homme, Smithsonian, Corcoran, MOMA, Museo Nacional de Antropologia.
The "Tree of Life" DVD includes "The Tree of Knowledge" & "Democracia Indígena",