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My imagination led me further afield. In my several years with llamas, I’d met many people who had a striking natural affinity for llamas. Often, their understanding of the animals was profound. If reincarnation was a reality, might some of us have had past lives with llamas?

While I was open to the concept that a soul’s journey might take it through many lifetimes of learning and growing, I also thought it possible that some kind of linkage between people of different times and places could exist without implying that we had lived the other lives. Being the daughter of a science fiction writer had accustomed me to the vividness of the human imagination.

“I had a past life with llamas,” a friend said to me on the phone one day.

“How do you know?”
“When I went to South America, things just seemed so familiar. I met an old Indian man who knew some Spanish, and we talked about llamas. The connection was incredible. It felt like I was remembering it more than anything.”

Nobody else I’d spoken with had been so convinced of a past-life connection, but several had speculated upon it. They weren’t necessarily the people who looked like they would be into new age ideas, either.

“Just suppose,” I said to my friend on the phone, “Just imagine that there was a group of people and llamas at some time back then, and they agreed to get together in another land and another time–now, in North America.”

He took up the idea. “I see them as a group who were together for the joy of it,” he said, going on to talk about the total chaos and confusion of the 1500s, when the Spanish came.

“I can’t even read about that time,” I said. “I start crying.”
After we hung up, I continued thinking about how the arrival of the Spanish led to the end of a world. And here we are now, faced with another possible world’s end. We surely live in perilous times ourselves. Could we learn anything from those Indians, and from those llamas? They had been decimated, but some had survived. Many of the old ways had remained.

I moved into a fantasy. As I sat dreamily, I found my imagination creating a North American woman, a llama breeder. She lives in the Sierras in California, rugged earthquake country somewhat like the Andes, and there she and her businessman husband raise their family and their llamas. She has a llama to whom she has given a name which turns out to be close to a mythical llama name, and the wool colors match up too. In a dream, this llama begs her to go to South America. He doesn’t tell her why before she wakes up.

She and her twelve year old son do go to South America. This boy has grown up with llamas and is very attuned to them. There’s an artifact in a museum that draws the boy to it. When he looks at it, he feels that he can almost remember something. It intrigues him. A guard at the museum notices his interest, and refers the gringos to a cousin in a llama-owning village high in the Andes.

Somehow there is danger, and there are ancient prophecies–which the villagers believe to be true–about a blond boy child finding a long-buried artifact. They give the boy some information but it isn’t enough for him to find this thing. Somehow it will contain important clues as to how the ancient culture survived the destruction of their world and how we too can survive.

It turns out that the missing essential information has been passed down for centuries through the llamas, from one generation to the next. The boy and his mother together learn, bit by bit, how to communicate telepathically with the llamas. They find the artifact and with the llamas’ help, decipher the message that in order to survive, people must learn to live as the llamas do, attuning far more to each other and their common good, experiencing the deep serenity that comes from knowing one’s connections with all of nature and the universe. They are taught some ancient rituals. At the end of the book, they return home, to begin the work of sharing the message on the artifact and learning to truly live it themselves.

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