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Experiencing the eclipse through the Mapuche worldview

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In the Mapuche Lafkenche Mateo Nahuelpán community, located in the Monkul wetlands on the coast of the Araucanía region, the total solar eclipse was experienced as a moment of reflection and recollection, in accordance with the beliefs of this ancestral culture.

According to Estela Nahuelpán, president of the community, among the Mapuche people there are different interpretations of this astronomical phenomenon. On the one hand, it is conceived as a struggle between the moon and the sun, so the Mapuches performed rituals to send energy to the star so that the light would return. But there is also a vision based on the understanding of the harmony that exists in nature, and the necessary existence of both light and darkness, as part of the balance.

"Our ancestors observed nature and built what is today the basis of Mapuche knowledge," says Estela, who invited everyone to go to the top of a hill to see the eclipse, and officiated a ceremony of thanksgiving to the sun and nature. Although the cloud cover did not allow the eclipse to be seen in its entirety, for a few minutes the skies over Monkul were darkened and, when the sun returned, the sounds of birds took over the scene.

Photo: EFE

Scientists and academics also came to Monkul to take advantage of the opportunity to study the astronomical event. René Garreaud, PhD in Atmospheric Sciences from the University of Washington, traveled from Santiago to study the effects of the eclipse on the atmospheric balance. "This eclipse gives us the opportunity to understand how the atmosphere works and to validate our models. Each eclipse is a bit particular and these overcast conditions give a bit of mystery to what is going to happen", explained the scientist.

Thus, Monkul was a day that brought together the knowledge of the Mapuche people and western science, based on observation and respect for nature.

Photo: EFE
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