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article imageSister Judy Bisignano discusses 'Sister Jaguar's Journey' book Special

By Markos Papadatos     May 22, 2018 in Lifestyle
Sister Judy Bisignano chatted with Digital Journal about her new book, "Sister Jaguar's Journey." She also spoke about the benefits of digital technology.
Her book and the 20-minute documentary, is the story of a 70-something Dominican nun who stuffed her backpack with a lifetime of self-hatred and depression, then searched for herself in "the lost and found department" of Ecuador's Amazon Rainforest. During a shamanic plant-healing ceremony ,she ingested ayahuasca and found divinity in a moment of ecstasy.
While on her first of five trips, Sister Judy saw a black jaguar prowling at river's edge. That was the first and only time since 2000 that an "outsider" has seen a black jaguar in that part of the Achuar territory. The Achuar christened Sister Judy "Hermana Otorango" Sister Jaguar. The name stuck. In many ways she resembles this rarely seen, fierce predator that renews life as it guards the ancient portal connecting the under, middle and upper worlds.
As a child, Sister Judy forged herself into a very angry person as her response to ongoing physical and emotional family abuse. She eventually joined the convent to replace family life and its expectation of marriage and motherhood with religious life - to live in community with women who support each other and the planet. As a young nun, she unfortunately experienced brutal religious and institutional abuse and continued to fortified herself with anger and outrage poorly disguised as intense commitment to human good.
Sister Judy was assigned to teach in Tucson, Arizona, where she founded two alternative schools and became a national leader in America's Progressive Education Movement which views most conventional schools as too rigid, formal, and detached from real life. "Throughout my life as a nun, I slowly lost my soul and allowed events and circumstances to move me to a place of profound despair. Anger and depression controlled my thoughts, feelings and actions," she said.
Refusing to accept traditional forms of social, legal and religious authority, Sister Judy sought the help of Sandra Morse, an unconventional communications philosopher who became her mentor. Sandra soon saw that Sister Judy was her own worst enemy. She walked with a profound limp and relied on two canes to guide her forward fall through life. Perhaps her condition was simply the result of continuously shooting herself in the foot.
Sandra Morse knew it would take an unconventional protocol to push Sister Judy out of her uncomfortable comfort zone. She suggested they take a trip to the Amazon jungle to ingest ayahuasca and participate in its ancient, plant-healing ritual. Sandra had conducted many eco-retreats to the area. The pristine setting was perfect. It was far outside Sister Judy’s personal experience; too foreign for her to comfort and control.
Sister Judy knew instinctively that her Amazon journey would change her life forever, but frankly she had nowhere else to go. "I decided to ingest ayahuasca because I was at the end of my rope. I was simply out of options and wanted to die. I had no idea the end of my rope was anchored to wisdom, courage and joy. All it took was self-surrender," she said.
For the last decade, Sister Judy and Sandra Morse have been on a mission to help the Achuar with their goal of plugging into the modern world in appropriate ways. As the Achuar strive to protect their homeland from the threatening greed and over-indulgence of the modern world, they seek assistance from the very people they know can also destroy them. Perhaps the Achuar surrender into mutuality because they knew the end of their rope was anchored to wisdom, courage and joy.
Impact of digital technology on the Achuar
Here is the dilemma facing Achuar elders: How do they integrate themselves into the global community while remaining committed to preserving their history, language, culture and pristine environment? These interests need not be incompatible. Digital technology can actually help the Achuar tell the stories unique to their lives and heritage. Ancient wisdom, appropriate technology and current information and data can put the Achuar on a meaningful path to greater social awareness, environmental sustainability and historical preservation.
Today, the Achuar embrace ecotourism and education as a means of interacting with the modern world while becoming more assertive in sharing their wisdom and protecting their culture. With better knowledge of digital technologies, the Achuar can choose which media they actually want to let into their lives.
Digital technology can enable the Achuar to explain and claim these rights while preserving their customs and traditions. Having access to GPS mapping, social media platforms and other communication tools is crucial to making their voices more prominent in global discussions. The Achuar can use appropriate digital technology to tell their own amazing story to the world.
Sister Judy and Sandra Morse always knew that the path to peace was an inner journey. As a nun, Sister Judy engaged in a variety of practices for sixty-eight years with minimal psychological and spiritual return. Then, in a single, simple, life-changing shamanic ritual in Ecuador's Amazon Rainforest, the heart-opening plant medicine refer lovingly to as "Grandmother" suspended the clutter of her judging mind. As she puts it, "The anger and depression from my past collided with the worry and anxiety from my future. There I was, suspended in the forgiveness and peace of the present moment forever changed."
Her book, Sister Jaguar's Journey, is available on Amazon.
To learn more about the book Sister Jaguar's Journey, check out her official website.
More about Sister Judy Bisignano, Nun, Sister Jaguar's Journey, Book