If you missed Sister Jaguar on today's show, listen here.
“Sister Jaguar’s Journey” tells the story of Sister Judy Bisignano, a Dominican nun, who spent sixty-eight years looking for God in all the wrong places. A lifetime of prayer and public service as a fierce and renowned educator failed to bring her the peace and divine connection she had always sought.
Over the years she started several unique and very successful alternative schools in Tucson, Arizona. Yet, after the Cesar Chavez Learning Community, a school in the Mexican-American community, closed she was forced to confront the devastating effects of her lifelong anger about her life, her work, and those around her.
Divine intervention comes in the form of Sandra Morse, a friend and professional communication philosopher, who invites Sister Judy to visit the Achuar community in the Ecuador’s Amazon rainforest; this trip forever changes Sister Judy’s life, launching her onto a path toward reconciliation with her turbulent, abusive, and angry past. There she eventually found the peace and forgiveness she sought through native plant medicine of the gentle Achuar people.
They encouraged her to turn to “Pachamama” - Earth Mother - and participate in the Achuar ayahuasca plant medicine ceremony to heal her soul. Her decision to take part in the ceremony was a pivotal moment for her, and offered a new beginning. Yes, a Dominican nun drinking ayahuasca - and it changed everything.
There on the banks of the Pastaza River with the Achuar, she found her true self. While sitting alone in a canoe along the river bank, she and two Achuar guides witnessed a black jaguar devour a white bird. According to the Achuar shaman, seeing a black jaguar in the Amazon jungle is a good omen, one that empowered Sister Judy to experience a series of cultural, environmental and spiritual shifts that ultimately transformed her life. It also gave her the nickname ““Hermana Otorango” or “Sister Jaguar”.
The film was directed and produced by Sande Zeig, written and edited by Melody London, and executive produced by Sandra Morse, the 20 minute documentary stars Sister Judy Bisignano and was shot on location in both the US and Ecuador. Since its initial release, the documentary has been an Official Selection on the festival circuit including the Illuminate Festival in Sedona, the Arizona International Film Festival, the Bisbee Film Festival, and the Female Eye Film Festival, in addition to the LaFemme International Film Festival.
There is an accompanying book with the same title written by Sister Judy and Sandra Morse; Sister Judy also does book signings around the country, and publishes a blog on her website http://www.sisterjaguarsjourney.com.