It is said that Pastaza province contains 15’000 sacred sites that are now at risk of destruction due to petroleum exploitation.
Such sites are gathering places of the supay – the spirits of the land. Over generations ceremonies have been undertaken at these sites to solidify pacts with the spirits, who in turn bring abundance to the land, health to the family, power to the healers, and to the defenders of territory. It is these relationships, between the people, runa, and the spirits, supay, that maintain the great balance of Creation.
These sites are also used for teaching and initiating youth. The power of such sites affirms the teachings to the youth – teachings of the beauty and mystery of Creation, and of our humble and vital role here as stewards, guardians, and seekers of Understanding. The spirits participate in this power, and in this Teaching. An initiate will meet them in dreams and visions – a critical part of Understanding.
As spiritually significant places, the sites are of course ecologically significant also. These two trails of Understanding are entwined. The sacred sites may be water sources, waterfalls, caves, lagoons, certain large rocks, or places of mineral deposits such as gold. Scientific studies of sacred indigenous sites around the world often show them to be of critical ecological significance to broader ecosystems.
It is taught that if the gathering places of the supay, i.e. the sacred sites, are protected, the spirits will remain, and the abundance of the land, and the health of the culture, will be maintained. If such places are contaminated, or destroyed, the spirits will flee, and very much will be lost.
In Pastaza province, the yachaks, or shamans, of many different clans have long foreseen the invasion of their territories, and the resulting impacts upon the land and its abundance. In the Ayuy Yu clan, since the time of Virgilio Santi, it was foreseen that certain territories would be lost, and also that certain sites must be recovered, and protected.
Those sites include Pasu Urcu, Wild Fruits Mountain, Tijun Urcu, Walks Alone Mountain, and Chili Urcu, Palm Fibre Mountain. These constitute a low ridge above the city of Puyo that will be the local site of the Wayusa School project. Other sites include the territory of the confluence of the Llushin and Kuyuimi rivers amongst the foothills of Chulluwalli Urcu, Harpy Eagle Mountain. 1200ha of this territory have been recovered and protected as an Ayuy Yu clan reserve, named “Eternal Forest of the Children,” abutting the Sangay National Park.