Teaching forgotten things, endangered excellent knowledges, but above all a grand overview of human history as seen from a particular Martín Prechtel way in the search for a comprehension regarding the survival of unique and unsuspected manifestations of the Indigenous Soul in overlooked pockets of peaceful living during isolated times throughout the world as well as the worldwide historical displacement of indigenous people, plant and animal life-ways and the subsequent survival of core vestiges of these deep life and culture respecting understandings that still live in various everyday life styles among many of today’s mixed peoples and ecosystems. A way of hands-on village-style teaching in hopes of developing a language, consciousness and way of living that feeds and gives life to the Indigenous Soul of the Earth whereby scientific discovery working on behalf of a true spirituality of the Holy in Nature could give humans a real usefulness within the whole, instead of a fearful rationalist synthetic flight away from life into depression and extinction.
My experience has always been if you love something or someone passionately enough you will amplify your heart, eschew ancestral biases, open your mind, train your hands and go to any extent to learn the language of what you love, to comprehend and be comprehended, in order to converse with the Divine in the thing you love.
Since I was a child, it has been my own love of the Divine in Nature and my constant wanting, like a suckling child for the life-giving milk of her ever-changing conversation, that has led me to passionately learn as many of the intricacies of her vast and wild life-giving nature as I could, fearing otherwise to lose her relationship with my own undomesticated soul. Though she lives on inside the nature of every small magnificent thing, it is our attempted understanding of the way these intricacies are brilliantly and multi-dimensionally entangled, in which each containing a uniqueness of its own and an independent quality of her whole, are yet utterly interdependent and reliant on the other’s diverse natures and staggered existences in order to maintain their own and live on, that I call education.
Love is always a matter of learning how to live in an unknown land. It is not just translation or about being secure in what one knows, but about learning how to give a true gift to what one loves by learning what it loves. Love is always about learning the Nature of things.
A people who do not want this kind of education are a drifting ship of sleeping orphans, a culture numbed by a lack of stories. But orphans can wake up and those who do, hungry for this kind of education, could apply themselves to it and replant the world with life-giving culture. As a people we must learn this to continue as a people.
Learning should have a diligence that comes from love. That no matter how much pain one bears or to what lengths one has to go in the process of learning what one needs to know to speak and listen to one’s love, it will have all seemed as a simple minor event compared to the delicious inundation of one’s soul by the fascination of our heart’s desire.
Like an obstinate great hard green boulder of cultural assumptions and literalist intractability pounded down into a beach of jade sand by the persistent pulsing waves of one’s divine desire, once achieved, the hardship of what seems to anyone outside of love an awful toil, becomes to anyone in love a vague fulfilling memory inside the ecstatic swirling and swimming our hearts do finally have when the distance between what we love and what we have become in order to understand it, finally inextricably mix to form something more extravagant and beautiful than either of its parts.
Because the world is a boundless compendium of stories told in as many languages as there are things to know, the language of galaxies, of rocks, the languages of weathers, plants, and rivers, languages of animal and human cultures, I have never understood knowledge as a finite possession but more like a corral of wild language horses, with an ongoing responsibility to sustain and maintain them, upon whose unruly backs we must learn to ride; sometimes into the heart of twelve layers of holy stone, or into the heart of an old Jewish steel vendor in Armenia, or into the language of the tears of the Divine Female whose ever-birthing womb is a mouth that speaks this natural teeming earth and universe into tangibility at every present moment.
This is something of the kind of approach I am trying to plant here in New Mexico, to cultivate a "never-before-seen school" from my own ongoing learning, stemming from my search for the Divine conversations with my love of the Holy in the Natural and cultural earth of humans, animals, plant and the geological-astronomical.
From a dry objective point of view, this "never-before-seen school" of mine would probably be classed as a "school of spiritual ecology." But to me this sounds about as exciting as a rusty, dented, mud-clogged exhaust pipe spewing monoxide into the crisp desert air, while clanging off its brackets under the backend of a cold, over-sized reservation school bus dragging all the tense Pueblo kids through the winter’s rutted mud to the beating rooms and Anglocizing indoctrination pens on a slushy January day when we should have all been on adobe rooftops deftly cracking and spitting piñon nut shells, simultaneously chewing and swallowing the delicious meats while we were wrapped in smoky old Pendelton blankets watching a Buffalo Dance and thereby continuing our true education into the great conversation with the Holy in Nature.
As anyone can sense, the word "school" is something of a problem to me and applying any semblance of the word to this wonderful learning get-together we have been able to keep alive here in my native New Mexico leaves an evil aftertaste in my mouth. Therefore I did not call my new school a school, but by the more cryptically beautiful name of Bolad’s Kitchen. In keeping with the focused love of learning and spiritual way of thinking that I wanted to engender in the school, I left, in the beginning, the meaning behind the title of Bolad’s Kitchen as a riddle whose comprehension and discovery by the first person who then made the effort to correctly research the meaning and my reason for using it as the name was to be given free tuition to the first sessions. Every new yearly session of Bolad’s Kitchen ever since has begun with students applying themselves to one of my riddles, which takes them to a place so delicious and amazing that I actually teach from the annual riddles.
Bolad’s Kitchen classes are a four year courses where people can continually pursue their interest in learning more in depth, with more time to do so, the connected overview of all the things I teach and believe, in a continuous way, picking up where we left off, without the limited geographical framework and time restraint of my annual workshops, conferences, etc. This of course includes a more in-depth participation and development of what I wish people to understand by reading my books, and the tangible learning of many indigenous and ritual life skills that I have always considered basic necessities for living on the earth, but which are rarely taught anymore.
The beauty of such a school lies in the fact that though there is no way to pass the grade, failing is also irrelevant. Just like Indigenous thought the world over, which having no priority for human success, knows that humans are here to give the juice of their unique beauty and grief to cause the Holy in Nature to succeed; what we do might fail, but magnificently, for it would never fail miserably because in this scared industrial age failing magnificently in any attempt to feed the Holy and keep large rare thoughts alive creates culture in the process and reinstates the nobility of the natural soul a soul so beautiful it is like a wild horse, something worth feeding and trying to ride, even if in the end he, like what we learn, just runs off thundering back to the pastures of the Divine, healthier than when we started.
Blessings on all of you.
artwork copyright©2009 Martín Prechtel, all rights reserved 2014.03.17 rev
Some of the “Nuts and Bolts” of being a student at Bolad’s Kitchen
As mentioned above, Bolad’s Kitchen is a four-year commitment on the part of student and teacher alike, with Martín teaching each class through ten-day sessions here on his ranch in Northern New Mexico, with sessions falling every six months. Martín's teaching is intense and cumulative, so each session builds on the teachings from previous sessions, and after the first two or three sessions of a new class, we will no longer be accepting new students to allow the existing group to further coalesce into a unique village of hopeful learners for the remainder of the first four years, or longer as the case may be. Currently The Singing Seeds and Flowering Hands is accepting new students, with its first session scheduled for May of 2020 (please see The Singing Seeds and Flowering Hands class page for more information and to register). The Tule Pond, the Flowering Vines, and the Salamander’s Hand are each distinct classes that have been coming for two, five and at least seven years respectively (some students in the Salamander’s Hand have attended regularly since the school’s beginning 15 years ago!) and these classes are for ongoing students.
Those making the intention to enroll in a new class at Bolad’s Kitchen are committing to attending all of each of these ten day sessions twice yearly for the first 4 years of a class, or a total of 8 sessions. During a session (which commence on a Thursday evening and wrap up late morning on a Sunday, 10 days later), the days are divided up between mornings and afternoons, which run anywhere from 3-5 hours each, with a 1.5 to 2 hour break in the middle of the day to have some food and take a few draughts of clean mountain air.
Students make their own arrangements for food, lodging and transportation while they are here, renting houses, casitas or hotel/motel rooms in Ojo Caliente and surrounding towns or arranging to camp (depending on the time of year) nearby on private land that locals make available to students or in Carson National Forest just north of here. Folks lodging near the school will often return to where they’re staying for lunch each afternoon, coming back in time for the afternoon teachings, or are welcome to bring a lunch each day and find a good spot in the sun or shade around the hall or under the cottonwoods to eat. All other meals are taken wherever folks are staying. In addition to a few local restaurants, there is a wonderful little general store in town for essentials, and as the majority of students choose to cook for themselves, folks will often do a bigger grocery shop in the larger towns/cities of Taos, Espanola or Santa Fe before the session begins, with an opportunity to re-stock on the day off that usually falls midsession. It is also very useful to have a car or access to a vehicle while here (often students who are flying in will get together and share the cost of a rental for the 10 days, making the cost quite reasonable), as the school is located wonderfully rurally with no consistent public transportation, and most places to stay are not within walking distance of ‘the Lady’ (what we call the school’s adobe hall). We do offer a simple shuttle service at the beginning and end of each session to help folks who are flying or taking the train get from Albuquerque to here and back again. We happily send out more details on some of our recommendations for places to stay in the area, along with transportation and shopping tips, once students have fully registered and begin making their plans to attend.