Grief, Prechtel says, is something that we usually experience in private, alone, and without the support of a community. Our collective inability to grieve properly, he says, is the cause of many of the social, cultural, and individual maladies that we are currently experiencing.

“When you have two centuries of people who have not properly grieved the things that they have lost, the grief shows up as ghosts that inhabit their grandchildren,” Prechtel says. These ghosts, he says, can manifest as disease in the form of tumors, which the Maya refer to as “solidified tears,” or in the form of behavioral issues, addictions and depression.

Prechtel will speak on the subject and read from his new book, The Smell of Rain on Dust: Grief and Praise, beginning at 7 p.m. in McCormick Lecture Hall on Tuesday, Sept. 15.

Prechtel, who is trained in the Tzutujil Maya shamanic tradition, shares profound insights in the book on the relationship between grief and praise, showing how the inability that many of us have to grieve and weep properly for the dead is deeply linked with the inability to give praise for the living. He explains how many modern woes are the long-held grief of our ancestors manifesting itself, and illuminates the work that can be done to liberate this energy so we can heal from the trauma of loss, war, and suffering.

“Grief expressed out loud for someone we have lost, or a country or home we have lost, is, in its self, the greatest praise we could ever give them,” Prechtel says. “Grief is praise, because it is the natural way love honors what it misses.”

A leading thinker, writer and teacher in the search for the indigenous soul in all people, Prechtel is a dedicated student of eloquence, history, language and an ongoing fresh approach. He teaches at his international school, Bolad’s Kitchen, in New Mexico.

Prechtel describes his new book as “a companion of encouragement, a little extra light for those deep and noble parts that inhabit us all.” He will sign copies of the book following the event.

The Human Ecology Forum is a weekly speaker series based on the work of the academic community, which also draws on artists, poets, and political and religious leaders from around the world. The forum is open to the public and meets Tuesdays at 4:10 during the school term in the McCormick Lecture Hall. Prechtel’s appearance is co-sponsored by the Whole Health Center.