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Yanantin and Masintin in the Andean World: Complementary Dualism in Modern Peru Hardcover – March 15, 2012
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From the Inside Flap
Yanantin and Masintin in the Andean World is an eloquently written autoethnography in which researcher Hillary S. Webb seeks to understand the indigenous Andean concept of yanantin or “complementary opposites.”
About the Author
Hillary S. Webb is the managing editor of Anthropology of Consciousness, the peer-reviewed journal of the Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness.
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The Yanantin can be defined as follows: Because existence itself is believed to be dependent upon the tension and balanced interchange between the polarities, there is a very definite ideological and practical commitment within indigenous Andean life to bringing the seemingly conflicting opposites into harmony with one another without destroying or altering either one. Among the indigenous people of Peru and Bolivia, the union of opposing yet interdependent energies is called yanantin or "complementary opposites." Masintin is what is materialized. It is what is self realized, not what stays in theory. Masintin is to enter into the spirit and the essence of anything, of the thing. Of what has been materialized. Of what has been imagined. You must enter into the spirit of it. Masintin is to create, recreate, and procreate.
These concepts may sound complex but as Webb experiences and shares them they are sound and credible. Her own participation in the healing ceremony - partaking of the San Pedro cactus - provided her access to the utter simplicity of the philosophical aspects of these Andean peoples and it is that experience she so adeptly shares that makes this such a powerful read. Grady Harp, September 12
The book is an auto-ethnography, meaning that rather than studying a distant culture from the perspective of an "objective" observer, the author treats herself as the subject of study as she endeavors to live the Andean worldview first-hand. This makes sense because in the Andean worldview, learning occurs through practice and action, not through ideas abstracted from lived reality. From this perspective the experiences themselves feel vivid and close. This means receiving intimate accounts of the author's thoughts as she "downloads" cosmic teachings from the stars or sneaks into ruins to encounter ancient the ancient "lanzón" idol, as well as frequent conversations with spiritual masters. Still, the ethnographic content, building from many decades of Andean anthropology literature, is extremely rich, well researched, and well presented. What comes through is a narrative that weaves together the big concepts of the indigenous Andean philosophy and spiritualism in a way that feels fresh and tangibly real. While making this a very readable ethnography, Webb still does justice to the complexity of Andean thought, while her shaman teachers come to life as intricate characters and brilliant spiritualists.
This is an excellent book for anyone interested in Andean culture, or for anyone interested in learning about non-western spiritual traditions.