The Andean Codex by Dr. J.E. Williams

The Andean Codex is an exhilarating first hand account of one man’s shamanic journey in Peru — written with warmth, simplicity and an eye for detail — the author fully captures the beauty of the sacred sites and the wisdom of the indigenous people with whom he trained. Loaded with spiritual and ethical guidelines from a culture that pre-dates the Incans, this book is a must read for anyone who is concerned about their own spiritual journey, or the environmental and ecological issues facing us now.

The author, J.E. Williams, is a medical doctor by training, but has spent years traveling the world and learning from various indigenous cultures about healing plants, herbs, and minerals, and the sacred rites used by shamans and medicine men for healing. For the last ten years, Williams returned over and over again to Peru to receive training, and ultimately initiation, from a Q’ero shaman. The Andean Codex is the story of William’s many trips to the sacred sites of Peru, including Machu Picchu, Cuzco, Moray, and the deep hinterland of the Q’ero tribe — along with the ceremonies and rites of initiation he went through along the way.

Most important though is the ethical principles and spiritual wisdom that he was taught by the Q’ero shaman who accompanied and trained him. The Q’ero are an indigenous tribe who are believed to hold the purest, most ancient forms of oral tradition and a culture that pre-dates the Incans. Because of their relative seclusion and isolation high up in the hills of eastern Peru, their culture was largely preserved from Spanish intrusion. The Q’ero are a conservative people not usually open to intrusion from others, and the author is one of the few outsiders to have received training and initiation directly from a Q’ero shaman.

The five main ethical and spiritual principles that the author learned are lovely in their simplicity and form the basis of the Q’ero way of life. They are based upon a love of the earth, a reciprocal respectful relationship with every living being, and an appreciation of all that the universe gives us. The author recounts great moments of ceremony and synchronicity, and shares with us the knowledge and mystical visions he received during his initiation journey. The central theme of a web of interconnectedness between us, the earth, and the nature spirits that surround us, will resonate for the reader long after the book is done.

In the book we read that the Q’ero people live in a constant state of connection with each other and the earth — they believe that respect and appreciation for natural beauty and the spirits in nature are what keep us and the earth healthy. The shaman who trained the author expressed the hope that Williams would spread the wisdom of his people to the rest of us — at a time when we and the earth need tremendous healing more than ever before. There is a beautiful message of hope in The Andean Codex, as well as simple guidelines for returning to our connection to spirit and the earth. If Peru is the mystical and spiritual center of our times, as the author believes, then we would be wise to heed this advice from these extraordinary teachers.

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by Cheryl Shainmark
J. E. Williams is a doctor of Oriental and naturopathic medicine, and his shamanic training spans almost 40 years. In 1967, he lived a winter with the Siberian Eskimo people of St. Lawrence Island where he was given the name, Yupik, meaning “Eskimo,” or a true man. While in the Artic, in a series of visions, he realized that a new, deeply mystical, eco-spiritual path was emerging. Born from the indigenous traditions of North and South America, it emphasizes balanced emotions, ethical discipline, wholesome conduct, and thoughtful discernment. He was given the name El Nahautl Santiago in Mexico in 1994, where he spent decades among brujas and curanderas. In Peru, he is know as Don Santiago, and it is with this name that he presents the shamanic and wisdom teachings learned over a lifetime. After 28 years in California, he now lives in Sarasota, Florida, but spends much of his time in the Peruvian upper Amazon and the Andes among traditional indigenous shamans.