Spirituality and Materiality

Ramon Gil has been trained as a spokesman for Gonavindua Tairona. In this text, he explains the relationship between the spiritual source of things, and the material world.



For more than a week the Advisory Mamas of Gonawindua Tairona gathered together with the other organisations and authorities of the whole Sierra, analysing and developing the work to which they committed themselves in a meeting at Cañaveral. Their task was to study in depth the way in which we have been organised since before the dawn of time, and thus to trace the tasks, activities, programs and projects called for by our indigenous vision, to achieve true development in the Sierra Nevada.

Consulting the zhátukwa, our advisors conclude that the core of everything is . The original laws, the fundamental principles, are in Sé. Sé has no beginning, it has always existed. It is spiritual existence, the spiritual principle of existence. Sé is not a person, not a thing. It is the sum of things. Sé is complex. Sé brought the material world into being, but it embraces far more than that. Sé organises everything so as to create harmony.

When everything was dark, in the plane where our view can not reach, the first spiritual Parents originated spirit and thought. They were Kaku Sé, Zaku Sé, Ade Sé, Abu Sé, Jawa Sé and Jate Sé. They created everything in spirit, in the non-material world. They were not people, not air, not anything, just idea.

The law of Sé is the spiritual world that transforms material being. The law of Sé legislates everything in harmony from the beginning to the end of things. That is why our first step must be to recover the law of Sé, to fulfil it, to pay tribute according to the law of Sé, to direct our thought toward Sé. Sé is spiritual existence.

There are diverse forms of existence; there is the material world that arose from Sé and there is much that exists only in spirit. The law of Sé is to build with thought. That is why we must ask permission to use what we need. It is necessary to educate people in the law of Sé. This law was given to the Elder Brothers and that is why it is our responsibility to protect all that exists.

Sé is the spiritual world and from it arose all that exists. It had no corporal being - no body, no organs. The first spiritual Parents began to study the organisation of spiritual diversity so that what now exists could materialise. Each species was given a specific function and a tribute to pay. When the Mamas meditate they are communicating with Sé, that is how they answer to the original spiritual law.

Sé has ultimate power over the world. It can end everything and re-build the world again because Sé does not die, it is always in charge, demanding obedience. When the law is not carried out Sé can destroy this world and make another, because Sé contains much that has not yet materialised. That is why the Mamas make this demand today for confession and spiritual offering. In other words, the spiritual world must be sustained by working in spirit: otherwise nothing could exist.

Sé signifies many things, for example;

Many things come from the law of Sé, many of our principles like that of Sentura Gwiawimundwa. It is good to know what that means, syllable by syllable:

So Sentura Gwiawimundwa is the law. It is knowledge of the law of Sé and its execution in spirit . The indigenous people of the Sierra were given the law and the task of paying tribute for all that exists, the trees, the water, the stone, the rain, the sky, the lakes. All the Mamas were given this obligation. Sentura Gwiawimundwa is the principle and the creation of the original spiritual law, it is the thought that shapes our original law, the protection, the permanent construction for our strength, it is ultimately the cycle of the life.

Sentura Gwiawimundwa is the first step in thought, in the building of strength in diversity to make a single spiritual road. Life is built on the basis of Sentura, the variety of life was harmonised in the original law, before it the dawn of time. There, in Sentura, everything evolved in the spiritual depths before the first light, before the invisible became visible. When we are in Sentura we learn how to fulfil the law of Sé in spirit, to take care of water, wood and stone by making spiritual payments. Then thought dawns, the material world arises.


To Serankwa was given the task of organising the material world, this world, according to the law of Sé. The first thing that had to be done was to organise Gwi, the rock, the structure, the support, the column to give it consistency and strength. Then Serankwa crossed a thread of thought to make the centre and he lifted it. The peak Gonawindua appeared. There was a peak above and a peak below and it began to work as the motor of the world. Then, at each of the cardinal points, at each end of the world, he placed the kadukwa, shukwákula, shendukwa who would sustain the material world. At each of the four corners he put a guardian so that the material world turns with a cycle that constantly revitalises life.

Serankwa is the main organiser, the principle of authority. Serankwa gave each of the beings of the natural world their functions, the rules and right principles for harmony and coexistence. But at this time there was no masculine and feminine, no fertility in the material world. Then Seynekun appeared, much later, to find Serankwa. Seynekun is fertility - the woman, the fertile mountain. That is when Serankwa was able to give shape to the spiritual Parents of everything and of all that exists. It is Seynekun who organises the earth. Seynekun Sé was given the seed to organise the earth and all that exists. In her, in Seynekun are the books shishi and punkusa - the books that contain the law, the behaviour and functions of each species and also the ways to make payments to each being’s Parents, what offerings, what tributes.

In the conjunction of Serankwa and Seynekun, of masculine and feminine, of positive and negative, the spiritual world becomes this material world. That is where each of the Fathers are assigned functions and responsibilities, giving them the character of authorities. There are, among others:

Sé, Serankwa, Seynekun are fundamental principles that only the Elder Brothers know how to fulfil and our task is to do so. Neither Serankwa nor Seynekun organise the material world, nor do they maintain it. It is our task to do that, that is why we exist and that is why we conserve the knowledge and practices of the Mamas. We are the original inhabitants of this Heart of the World, we have the duty of doing this work. Order and harmony is in the law of Sé; authority and organisation is in Serankwa; handling things, the business of daily life, the use of our land is in Seynekun; these three combined summarise our vision of development, our ordering of this place.


When we speak of the law of Sé, of Serankwa and of Seynekun, we are speaking with ancestral knowledge of a territory that was left to us as our own from the beginning of the world. That is a reality plain to all, indigenous and non-indigenous. The Colombian State recognised this when it published a resolution demarcating the Black Line, after consulting our Mamas.

Times are not the same as 500 years ago, when the Younger Brother made contact with us and began to interfere in our territory and our destiny. Many things have changed. For example, we have already lost a large part of the sacred sites fundamental to carrying on the law of Seynekun - to the continuance of nature and culture. This is not some capricious indigenous complaint, it is a problem that involves the whole of humanity. Why do we say this? The Sierra Nevada is the Heart of the World, here are the origins of all that exists, in accordance with the law of Sé. Spiritually we continue revitalising life, we carry on the practice, so far as we can, of communicating with the spiritual Parents of each and every one of the beings that make up the life of the world. Tragically, many of the places necessary to continue our work have been lost, or we do not have access to them, or because of the Younger Brother’s concept of development (more and more mistaken) they have decayed.

When our Mamas explain the fundamental principles of harmony and coexistence, that is to say, the law of Sé, of Serankwa and of Seynekun, they simply confront us with the obligations and rights that as we have, as indigenous people with knowledge of these principles, concerning the survival of all that exists. And the only way we can act is to follow these guiding principles.

At the moment, our territory is dismembered into 14 municipalities, three departments, three autonomous corporations, two reserves, two parks and numberless entities and NGO’s. Each one has its projects and its own development perspective. They all impact on our territory, confusing the work of our Mamas to apply the basic principles. Our elders have always maintained that the best help, is, in fact, to support the task that they were given in the beginning: to fulfil the principles of Serankwa and of Seynekun, principles that we alone know how to fulfil. That is the command that we were given.

It has been shown, and is accepted by the State, that indigenous people are the best experts in the territory of the Sierra Nevada. We believe that at the current time this assertion is beyond dispute. That is why our response to any development plan is to press that indigenous culture and the indigenous environmental vision should be the fundamental axes on which the Sierra can be made the territory that we all want: a territory that is been conserved and is producing life.

This means that one of our tasks is to press for indigenous autonomy, political pressure. In fact it is the main task, when seeking to transform the worn-out schemes that have been functioning in the Sierra up to now. In indigenous thought no part of the world, not even the smallest, can be detached from everything else, which is how the Younger Brother thinks of things. This must be the conductive axis of any deep transformation set in motion to save the Sierra. We also have much to say about urban development, and about the so-called “megaprojects”, since each and every one of these plans affects, in their combined impact, the indigenous traditional territory that is the Sierra Nevada.

Let us make clear that we are not demanding that all things should be done just as we want them, but to develop mechanisms and strategies that allow our voice to be heard, listened to, and, as much as possible, taken into account in the Younger Brother’s perspectives of the future.