with Vivien Vilela
In 2012, Vivien Vilela had shifted away from a career in modeling and acting in an effort to address the “fervent urge to reconnect and explore the theatre within her.” Knowing it was more than a vacation she needed, she went full throttle, signing herself up for several vision quests over the course of the next couple of years.
By 2015 – cracked open by this native American tradition of journeying into nature without clothes, food, water, or sleep – Vivien had awoken to the transformative powers of nature and of ancient wisdom. This deepened when an opportunity arose to begin a crowdfunding campaign whose proceeds would go towards developing a water well for a Kaxinawa village in Vivien’s native Brazil.
After the success of this project, Vivien decided to co-found The BOA Foundation whose mission is to preserve indigenous culture, preserve and buy back wilderness areas, and to bring essential resources – clean water, sanitary solutions, and education – to tribes around the world, including this Kaxinawa tribe “in return for the opportunity of insight into their cultures and wisdom.”
Now, after working within this tribe for several years and seeing the beauty of connecting with their traditions, Vivien and the BOA Foundation are bringing members of this tribe – and 40 others from around the globe – together in one place. At the Aniwa Gathering of The Wisdom Keepers this June, guests will get the opportunity to participate in and learn from dozens of indigenous elders whose mediums may be different but whose messages are all the same: “love, unity and freedom.”
We sat down with Vivien to talk more about Aniwa, her firsthand knowledge of how an experience like this can transform the spirit, and some of the elders she’s most excited to share with us.
Tell us about the creation and mission of the Aniwa Gathering.
Many of us have forgotten that nature is a part of us. As a result, we see so many people suffering. We have become disconnected from ourselves, depressed, unable to find our true purpose in life, and are destroying our own home, the planet we live in.
Aniwa is a transformational movement, merging ancient wisdom with Western concepts, bringing 40 indigenous elders together to share their wisdom to help us thrive in unity and harmony with the planet. It was created to connect all people to the way of our ancestors, connecting back to nature, community and our own essence – to create the change and planet we want to live in.
What can guests expect over the 4 days?
Guests will experience the way of life and sacred practices of 22 different indigenous tribes from around the world, through rituals, ceremonies, workshops, discussions, music and art. Guests will learn priceless wisdom and receive deep transformational healing while having a lot of fun connecting with nature and a beautiful community of like-minded people.
How do you think this sort of experience expands us?
Whenever we receive teachings from embodied spiritual leaders, we are able to expand our consciousness. At Aniwa, we have 40 respected leaders and elders from all over the world, together in one place. Their ancient practices help us remove unnecessary weight we carry from energies and trauma we accumulate through life. This wisdom allows us to connect to our hearts and awaken empathy so we can be of service to the earth and gain the tools to thrive in our daily lives.
Being able to learn from the masters of indigenous healing traditions is undeniably a special experience. However, how can we do so without teetering on the edge of cultural appropriation?
Their rituals cleanse us energetically, mentally, emotionally. The elders share tools to keep that connection alive, which are always related to nature, which is something beyond culture. We found that all indigenous cultures speak the same language through their core teachings, the language of love, unity and freedom. For Aniwa, the most important thing is to give back and support the indigenous communities and the Earth. To actually practice their culture would be something different which would require years of initiation and training. Aniwa strongly believes that in order to take something one needs to give back.
Can you tell us about a couple of the healers you are most excited to see at Aniwa?
All of them are extraordinary, it’s hard to pick one. The Wixarika can suck disease out of one’s bodies, the Mayans can read our entire life in a tobacco cigar, the Ashaninka can see inside the body like an x-ray, the Dogon can see all of our ancestral lineages in a divination practice using shells. One of the ceremonies people are most excited about is the one to call in a romantic partner, facilitated by Mayan couple Nana Amalia and Tata Mario.
To learn more about all the tribes in attendance and all the events and ceremonies being held during the 4-day event, please visit aniwa.co