For those of you with RSS feeds, it can be subscribed to here
It's a little slow at the moment, something to do with my web host's handling of Wordpress blogs, but I shall remedy that when I am able.
For those of you with RSS feeds, it can be subscribed to here
It's a little slow at the moment, something to do with my web host's handling of Wordpress blogs, but I shall remedy that when I am able.
I started this weblog back in 2005, when 'blogging certainly had less of the ubiquity that it enjoys today. At that time there were fewer services for endusers, and I chose the Typepad platform as the one which offered me the most services with the least required technological expertise. Today the parent company who operates Typepad, Six Apart, announced their merger with another company and as my subscription falls due at the end of September, I felt it a good time to move on.
I've reverted the site to Typepad's free service [as is evidenced by the styling, or lack therof,] and will eventually port the blog over to www.quantumlifebodyworks.com site when I have the temporal resources that process demands.
In the interim, the information herein has been more or less mirrored at the News section of that site. Some of the media players are not yet functioning as they do here, but the majority of the information is preserved.
I shall report back here with any further news.
In this second instalment of the Quantum Life Podcast, I play a conversation with renowned Herbalist and Author, Susun Weed.
Susun has been a popular figure in US Herbalism for many decades, and it was delightful to hear some of her accumulated wisdom garnered in over 40 years of the study of herbs, and teaching what she terms the Wise Woman Way.
Susun's Website has a wealth of freely available information and I heartily encourage a visit to www.susunweed.com for anyone interested in learning how to empower, nurture and heal themselves through relationships with plants.
My own interest in Susun's work was in part how closely her experience of the necessity to form relationships with plants in a real and embodied fashion matches my own, and indeed the central tenets of Curanderismo and Vegitalismo in South America.
Please bear with me in the production of this podcast series. Audio production is something of an art and all of said production, as well as all of the associated web design and maintenance is performed by me with basic resources. This on top of the more immediate work of curing which is my daily responsibility.
These podcasts are offered in the spirit of healing, in the hope that they will open, illuminate and inspire. If you have any feedback please feel free to use the commenting system provided here.
The podcast with Susun is offered in mp3 form, as well as Apple's extended podcast format which provides images and links to relevant websites.
Last week I spoke with Dr Stephan Beyer, author of Singing to the Plants: A guide to Mestizo Shamanism in the Upper Amazon.
We spoke for an hour and a half about the themes in his book, and his knowledge of Curanderismo in the Upper Amazon. The conversation for me was an engaging one, although we barely scratched the subject matter in the book.
I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of reading the book, and my discussion with Steve, and would recommend the book to anyone who seeks to understand something of the modern work with the Sacred Teacher Plants in the Upper Amazon.
The interview is available to listen to directly below, or as a download here.
I have been recently working with a young woman named Teresa Schroeder. Teresa suffered partial quadriplegia after a snowboarding accident over 4 years ago. In her search for healing she made her way to Peru to meet and work with Dr Laura Pacheco, who had cured her own spinal injury using healing modalities of Peru’s Moche culture.
Not only has Teresa moved to Lima, Peru to continue her treatment with Laura, she also makes regular trips to the village of Jenaro Herrera, on the Ucayali river in the Peruvian Amazon to work with the medicinal and teacher plants there. In the course of this work Teresa has begun to learn not only of relationship with the plant medicines, but also with her body’s subtle mechanisms, to realise how emotional, mental and energetic blocks impede physical healing.
Teresa recently wrote kindly of her work with me here.
I am continuously amazed at the resources of courage, and capacity to will change in the people with whom I work. Both Lima and the Amazon jungle have their challenges for fit, able bodied visitors. To traverse these realms wheelchair bound, and physically dependent upon the assistance of others requires another degree again of strength and courage.
I applaud Teresa in her courage to find other alternatives when the medicinal methods of her native United States had reached the limit of their utility. It is of no surprise to me that she was introduced to me by Lakshmi, who this week returns to Iquitos to continue her own courageous journey. As these things go, she will cross paths with Teresa as she passes through Lima.
I wish them both love and support in their journeys.
In an age of viral media sent moments after it's capture, it was an interesting experience to be engaged in the crafting of a modern radio documentary feature. Over three weeks work in the ABC studios, as well of 100 s of hours of collecting, collating and editing material by Liz and myself.
Despite script compromises to allow broadcast in that particular manner, and a name I would not have chosen myself, I am pleased with the end result. I feel most comfortable in oral culture's but I think this piece makes a worthwhile contribution to aural culture, and hope people will continue to find a richness in it which contrasts the banality of much of that which washes through the ever broadening media ocean.
When I launched my website some years ago I expressed on the home page
"Quantum Life Bodyworks draws on a vast array of technologies, from those of archaic shamanism to hyper-modern media manipulation, manual body therapies and entheogenic ecstasies."
This program is another step in that project's realisation, and I am heartened that in the nations where the direct experience of the spirits of the Plant Medicines is prohibited, the spirit of the Plant Medicines can still touch the hearts of the people.
The program is available to stream or to download here. Additionally a number of visual vignettes edited by myself and conceived, directed produced and shot by Liz Thompson and I are here and here available for your viewing pleasure.
Recently I sent an email detailing a project in which, and in a very small way, I had the opportunity to participate.
The Yiriman Project was "conceived and developed by the elders from four Kimberly language groups: Nyikina, Mangala, Karajarri and Walmajarri. These old people were concerned for their young people about issues of self harm and substance abuse, and saw the need for a place where youth could separate themselves from negative influences, and reconnect with their culture in a remote and culturally significant place. Through this reconnection young people would gain strength and resilience, and build positive stories which they could take with them back to their towns and communities."
My engagement with the Yiriman project was not the primary reason for my visit to Jarlmadangah community. Some years ago Simon Coate discussed with me a potential for me to be able to assist that community, and the possibility of a mutual benefit in a meeting with John Watson, who founded Jarlmadagah with his brother Harry Watson in 1987. John is a respected elder in the region, having co founded the Kimberly Land Council and numerous other indigenous community organisations.
I saw the veracity of Simon's perspective, but an opportunity to visit the community did not present itself until 2009. I had been working with award winning author and film maker Liz Thompson on a number of film and radio projects, as well as offering technical and conceptual consultation on a number of her many projects.
She offered me employment for a week on her digital story telling project, Sharing Stories, to provide technical support during the course of that projects realisation at Jarlmadangah community. When it became obvious that many of the community leaders, young men and boys would be in country on a Yiriman Project walk, it was determined that I could best serve the interests of all there by participating in the walk and collecting various forms of media to document the event for a proposed film documentary Liz in planning.
As there were many members of the Jarlmadangah community present on the camp, there was a good deal of cross over of the two projects and many of the young men enthusiastically documented the event with equipment generously provided by Liz and the Sharing Stories project.
I was struck by the merit of these projects, their benefit to the communities they supported. This is not a story regularly received in the Australian corporate media where stories of intervention, dysfunction and abuse abound.
The purpose of this post is to recognise the efforts of all who make these projects work, both named and unnamed. A huge amount of time and effort is given by many, working with a fraction of the budgets that are thrown at Federal policies of intervention and control, and with a seemingly greater rate of success.
It was my great pleasure to meet and sit down with all the people I met in the course of my short time in the Kimberly. Thank you one and all. To John, Harry, Annie, William thank you for welcoming me into your Community. To Peter Clancy and Joe Green thank you.To Liz and Simon for making such a meeting possible, thank you. To Travis, Josh, Kenny, Hanky thanks. To Simon Keenan and Dave Palmer, to Julun thank you. To all the boys, all the men thank you. To all who's names I have not mentioned for lack of information about correct spellings and for any who's names I have spelled incorrectly apologies.
As these things go, moments after posting my reference to Terrence McKenna, i discovered in my in tray, a link to this article by David Suzuki. It interested me as it spoke to a lot of the subjects I have been endeavouring to address of late. David speaks of perceptual filters, references a story told by Wade Davis [who's inspiring TED talk I referenced here] of the cultural and geographical landscape I am currently inhabiting, and articulates an experience with loggers very similar to a historical one of my own.
If presented with the autopsied brains of a diverse array of people, no expert would be able to distinguish from the brains’ anatomy or neurocircuitry the gender, religion, or socio-economic class of the cadavers. Because we are members of one species, our brains, neurons, and sensory organs are similar in structure and chemistry. But if you were to ask both men and women about love and family, Israelis and Palestinians about Gaza, Catholics and Protestants in Belfast about British occupation, Republicans and Democrats about Karl Rove, and Shia, Sunni, and Kurds about U.S. troops, you’d think the respondents came from different planets.
What this demonstrates is that we learn to see the world through perceptual lenses formed by heredity, upbringing, personal experiences, religion, socio-economic differences, and so on. Even though we detect our surroundings in the same way through eyes, ears, nose, skin, and tongue, our brains actively filter that incoming information so that it “makes sense” according to our individual values and beliefs. This creates huge dissonance between fossil-fuel executives, environmentalists, and politicians when we discuss an issue like climate change.[From Our perceptual filters shape the world! | Sustainable Development and Humanitarian Causes: The Alternative Channel Blog]
Suzuki goes on to describe an experience with Davis which caused him to think about the profound manner in which a cultural perspective determines a people's relationship with their environment. He contrasts the vast difference between the attitudes to environment between a resident of a Peruvian mountain village, and a Canadian logger. In his account of a confrontation with one such logger, he says;
The confrontation made for good television, but I was frustrated at our inability to find common ground. Finally I told them, “I worked as a carpenter for eight years, and to this day, I love working with wood. No environmentalist I know is against logging. We just want to be sure that your children and grandchildren will be able to log forests as rich as the ones you’re working in now.” Immediately, one of the men replied that he’d never let his kids to go into logging. “There won’t be any trees left!” he said. And there it was. Those men knew that they were cutting the trees down in a way that ensured there would be no harvestable timber for future generations of loggers, but they saw the trees as the way to put food on the table day after day and make the house and car payments at the end of the month.
Some years ago whilst endeavouring to assist in the halting of an illegal logging operation in Central Victoria's increasingly scant state forest, I was greeted by the sight of an aging but virile, chainsaw wielding logger sprinting towards me with anger and frustration writ clear in his eyes and on his weathered face.
"Come 'ere ya f***ing hippy f***ing c***", he screamed, spittle flying from his mouth. He brandished his chainsaw maniacally, "I'll give ya a f***ing haircut"
I adopted my best Aussie drawl and met him calmly.
"Ah yeah, hippies mate, don't get me started! Look mate, I got no problem with logging mate, logging's an honourable trade. Me, I'm from three generations of rice farmers, mate, out Deniliquin way. That mob can't make a living any more because of the salt problem caused by too much clearing and over irrigation..."
Within 10 minutes we were sitting on a log, sharing a cup of tea and some organic chocolate donated by the local businesses, eager to protect their environment and the tourist trade it afforded them. George looked over his shoulder to see if any of the other loggers were within earshot and said to me sotto voce
"Yair mate, ya don't need to tell me we're killin' the forest, we know it. 50 year ago mate we used to look after this forest, I could fell two trees over the river and go down half a mile and drink a glass 'a water outta that stream, clear as crystal it were. This industrial loggin' mate, it's bullshit, but what am I gonna do? I'm 67 years old mate, and I got family to support."
There were tears in his eyes.
The operation was found illegal in the courts and the logging process halted, until such time as the corporations found a loophole or a less publicly obvious forest to exploit..
Suzuki concludes his article;
How can we resolve such differences in perspective? I don’t know, but I am sure that the challenge has to do with what’s locked inside our skulls. I have spent more than 40 years trying to use the electronic media to inform and educate, but I continue to be flabbergasted by the strength of those perceptual filters.
We have to find ways of overcoming those blocks so that we can begin to agree on some basic principles. We are not outside or on top of the web of living things; we are deeply embedded in and utterly dependent on it for our survival and well-being. Without that understanding, we will continue on our destructive rampage.
My experiences about the world, with people of all different ethnic backgrounds and socioeconomic situation has lent me to believe that our differences are largely illusory. Most people want to live happily, without fear or struggle. They want their children to be happy, to eat and be educated well. On the whole they want to be kind to their fellow humans. I believe few want consciously to destroy their environment or those with whom they inhabit it. Those that do, I feel have simply forgotten, or been taught by state or religion to see with a perspective too narrow to allow for the effect of their actions upon the web of life and consciousness around them.
My experience in working with the Sacred Medicines has consistently shown me the incredible power of these Teacher Plants to show each and every one of us that "we are not outside or on top of the web of living things; we are deeply embedded in and utterly dependent on it for our survival and well-being".
If, as Suzuki suggests, "without that understanding, we will continue on our destructive rampage", why, when we have the possibility of learning from teachers who can offer us precisely that understanding, are these plants outlawed in most countries in the world?
What cultural mechanism, especially in light of substantial scientific evidence that regular Ayahuasca drinking in the context of the UDV church leads to healthier, happier, more culturally cohesive individuals, can justify the continued prohibition of such substantially profound possibilities?
I will leave you to your own conclusions, and with a quote from a National Geographic article I referenced some time ago;
The taking of ayahuasca has been associated with a long list of documented cures: the disappearance of everything from metastasized colorectal cancer to cocaine addiction, even after just a ceremony or two. It has been medically proven to be nonaddictive and safe to ingest. Yet Western scientists have all but ignored it for decades, reluctant to risk their careers by researching a substance containing the outlawed DMT. Only in the past decade, and then only by a handful of researchers, has ayahuasca begun to be studied. At the vanguard of this research is Charles Grob, M.D., a professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at UCLA’s School of Medicine.
In 1993 Dr. Grob directed the Hoasca Project, the first in-depth study of the physical and psychological effects of ayahuasca on humans. He and his team went to Brazil, where the plant mixture can be taken legally, to study members of a church, the União do Vegetal (UDV), who use ayahuasca as a sacrament, and compared them to a control group that had never ingested the substance. The studies found that all the ayahuasca-using UDV members had experienced remission without recurrence of their addictions, depression, or anxiety disorders. Unlike most common anti-depressants, which Grob says can create such high levels of serotonin that cells may actually compensate by losing many of their serotonin receptors, the Hoasca Project showed that ayahuasca strongly enhances the body’s ability to absorb the serotonin that’s naturally there . 'Ayahuasca is perhaps a far more sophisticated and effective way to treat depression than SSRIs [antidepressant drugs],' Grob concludes, adding that the use of SSRIs is 'a rather crude way' of doing it. And ayahuasca, he insists, has great potential as a long-term solution in maintaining abstinence.
All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.
A few days ago I posted here about the disparate perspectives surrounding essentially the same phenomena. The force of culturally sanctioned ideas is tremendous when it comes to the suppressing of those which do not suit the dominant [and i use the word explicitly] cultural agenda.
Subsequent to that posting I came across a talk given by Terrence McKenna at a UFO conference. Whilst it is evident this is not his familiar audience, he makes very clear his position, and speaks very much to this issue of where it is and is not deemed acceptable to look in intellectual endeavours.
For those unfamiliar with his work, McKenna was known principally as a spokesperson for the Sacred Mushroom [although he would probably have not used the term] made known to the West by the work of Gordon Wasson, and his meeting with Eva Mendeza, [a pseudonym used to protect, unsucessfully, the privacy of Maria Sabina] a mushroom curandera of Mexico.
Terrence McKenna's ideas at the outset may appear particularly outlandish, but over and over he displays such erudition, and lays out his case so reasonably, with such voluminous insight into the history of science and it's methods, that he shows clearly the irrationality of science's position insofar as exploration of contact with other sentience in our biosphere. He remains for me one of the most sensible, interesting and amusing voices of the 20th century and, and although I do not agree with everything he says, I heartily recommend an exploration of his prodigious output if you would care to be delighted by the manner in which the word can stretch and shape previously constricting world views.
"Everybody knows this who has to do with this stuff [psilocybin], Gordon Wasson, Richard Shulties, Albert Hofmann, the giants know that this stuff is animate. This is not a drug. It’s something that’s disguising itself as a drug in order not to spread alarm.
I think that the alien will be so alien that your jaw will hang in the air. And expecting to meet an anthropoid-like alien with an interest in your reproductive machinery and gross industrial capacity is as culture-bound a concept as searching NGC-321 for a good Italian restaurant. It’s absurd on the face of it." Terence McKenna
I heartily recommend listening to the whole talk here, but Terrence's closing remarks demonstrate clearly the myopic view, with a tendency towards glorifying science and demonising nature, that prevent us as a culture from apprehending solutions and ways of addressing current cultural crises which are literally under our noses.
"When we want to understand something strange, something previously unknown, we have to begin with an entirely
different set of questions. What is it? How does it work? Are there recurrent regularities?" Margaret Mead
I wrote recently about the culturally sanctioned belief [and an incredibly resilient one at that] which flies in the face of ever mounting evidence to the contrary, that quantum effects occur at a quantum level and any observation of them in daily human life is evidence of "magical thinking", superstition or lack of critical facility. Now whilst I agree with Israel Regardie in the matter of their being a great deal of "new age cosmic foo-foo" to sift through in current popular literature around the subject, I believe the matter requires our urgent collective attention, if we are to have any hope of some manner of directing our personal and collective destinies.
Obviously I work in a realm where non human consciousness are not only conceptually considered, but interacted with on a regular basis. These are not abstractions, but rather conscious, self organising and determining entities, with particular personalities who, in certain situations, will interact with the human realm and share their particular wisdoms. By the definitions of a Western reductionist cultural model such ideas are quirky and amusing idiosyncracies to be tolerated at best, or dangerous pathologies to be medicated out of existence at worst, and yet,
"As if it wasn't bad enough for the military to muck about with mind control, they're also bent on creating an online, self-teaching artificial intelligence."[From Military AI Could Rule the Internet | Wired Science from Wired.com]
So notions of plant sentience are off limits for cultural examinations, but multi million dollar budgets to build the same thing in the machine are up for serious discussions in the rarified halls of the power elite? If nothing else, as the Wired writer suggests;
"there is something vaguely creepy about the idea of greater-than-human artificial intelligence unleashed on the Internet by the military"
Why is it that working in collaboration and harmony with the ecological systems we inhabit is a "fringe" solution, and hurling huge sums of money at technological replications of preexistent structures in nature [which inevitably function with more grace and efficiency] is the dominant course of action to try to ameliorate the damage wrought by our current oil addicted economies?
Again, a regular occurrence in the work conducted here in South America in collaboration with the plants, telepathy when examined in modern intellectual psychological models is largely discounted, unable to be statistically held up as a possibility worthy of serious attention. Again, it's examination by "fringe" scientists such as evolutionary biologist Rupert Sheldrake are often ridiculed by "serious" scientists and "skeptics". And yet from here , here and here
"A team of UC Irvine scientists has been awarded a $4 million grant from the U.S. Army Research Office to study the neuroscientific and signal-processing foundations of synthetic telepathy"
Why are these subjects allowable in the cultural domain to be examined for the agenda of dominance and control, for the facilitating of killing people? The use of the such technologies for malefic intent in the Amazon is considered brujeria, or sorcery, yet another notion discounted by modern psychology and philosophy as primitive superstition. and not to be taken seriously. Why are we not spending millions of dollars examining usage [such that has occurred in the Amazon for millenia] in the realms of healing, caring for community and society, and finding visionary means of navigating our way through what is widely held to be a very critical juncture in the evolution of the human species?
A widely quoted aphorism is "the devil's greatest achievement was to convince humans that he didn't exist". If we are to take responsibility for our own destinies [if indeed that is possible] then we must be aware of the possibilities and technologies of consciousness available to us, and be aware that to redress the significant imbalance in the current global mind, we must work actively with those technologies for the betterment of our individual ecosystems and the collective health of the incredible diversity of relations with whom we share this planet. We must have the courage to ask new questions, perhaps uncomfortable ones, if we are to break out of the stupor of our current spiral of self destruction and life denial, as it is clearly obvious that our habituated questionings are not providing us with the answers we need. I have no doubt that we are capable of such a leap of consciousness.
Aho Mitukuye Oyasin
After performing multiple tests on two entangled photons, physicists have yet again found that the photons seem to be communicating faster than the speed of light - at least 100,000 times faster. The researchers hope that their results might encourage theorists to come up with new explanations for the strange quantum mechanical effect.
The physicists, led by Nicolas Gisin from the University of Geneva, arranged their experiment by sending two photons down fiber optic cables to detectors in two Swiss villages located 18 km apart. Both photons started in Geneva, with one heading toward Satigny and the other toward Jussy. The study, which is published in Nature, builds on previous tests published a few months ago in Physical Review Letters.
When the researchers measured several properties of each photon at its destination, they found that the particles could instantly sense the other´s behavior without any known communication. Although this correlation obeys the laws of quantum mechanics, it seems to defy the nature of space and time, at least from humans´ everyday perspectives.[From Physicists Seek Answers to Quantum Correlations]
I would like to draw your attention to the final words in the excerpt above. The theoretical antecedents to this experiment have been around for nearly 50 years in the realm of Western Physics. In indigenous cultures and mystical traditions? Millenia.
I recently posted an account of a distance healing facilitated by me here . This is one account of 100's who have witnessed demonstrable physiological, emotional and mental changes as a result of healings conducted by me from 10's of thousands of kilometers away. Obviously this phenomena is repeated around the world and experienced by millions. These changes occur in minutes, hours or overnight in regards to conditions sometimes preexistent for years. This may seem miraculous, but in my opinion we must accept these things, with gratitude and respect of course, as part of the natural order of this universe. There is a huge body of evidence as to the existence of so called psi phenomena, yet it is continued to be regarded as "paranormal".
In actual fact human's every day perspectives, have been governed and informed by non local entanglement, engagement with unseen realms and higher orders of consciousness for the history of the species. We need to alter our language to accommodate that which many of us know in our hearts to be truth, rather than erode our own knowledge by using the language of a narrow minority who practice scientism.
I do not, in any way, encourage the dispensing of rationality or discernment in this, but in the face of the evidence of the immediate quality of felt experience, the positions of conservative science on issues of health and consciousness are definitively irrational.
In the words of an Ingano shaman from Colombia
"There are things that can be understood, and other things that cannot be understood. Invisible things…"
Just because things are invisible, or their causes can not be immediately gleaned, does not mean they do not exist, or should be dismissed out of hand as irrational and unuseful.
Mark Plotkin describes something of this thus;
It seems to me the way that Western medicine works is basically two fold: it’s chemical, what’s in the medicines, what’s in the prescriptions; and it’s physical, going in there and cutting out your appendix. It also seems to me the way these shamans work is two fold: it’s chemical, which is what is in the plants or the insects (since we know that they use insects), and the spiritual, which through the prism of Western science is nonsense, magic, mumbo jumbo, placebo, whatever you want to call it. But the fact of the matter is, sometimes…. it works! Sometimes, sometimes, sometimes, these guys can cure things that Western medicine cannot. Sometimes, sometimes, sometimes they can see things that Western medicine cannot. Don Fernando and I were in a meeting in Los Angeles recently and this fellow said to him, “So what do you know? You haven’t been to medical school.” And he says, “Look, if there’s a scientific cause to your ailment, like bacteria, you should go to a doctor. But many ailments,” he said, “are caused by sickness of the heart, mind and soul, and that’s what I cure.”
I am not a scientist, it is not my job to explain the mechanisms of my healings in terms of molecules and electrons. I do my best to tell the story which best fits the situation, which can be best integrated with "every day perspectives".
The evidence of efficacy is there, the stories need further development, both in science and in literature. I applaud all the brave people, scientists and poets alike, who set this task as their work to walk in the world.
Good news in Peru, with the following announcement..
Peru declares ayahuasca part of cultural heritage
[From Peru declares ayahuasca part of cultural heritage - A general introduction to Ayahuasca]
The Government of Peru declared the traditional knowledge and the use of Ayahuasca practiced by the indigenous communities of the Amazon forest to be national cultural patrimony. Ayahuasca is more commonly known in Brazil as Santo Daime. The decision of the peruvian Government, signed by the Director of the National Institute of Culture, Javier Ugaz Villacorta, was published on the Saturday edition of the country’s official daily newspaper, El Peruano.
This is a very welcome decision by the Peruvian legislature, as it makes it less likely that those treating illness using Ayahuasca will be charged for practicing medicine without a license, and will confer more legitimacy upon Ayahuasca as a medicine in other legislatures throughout the world. It also has relevance for the struggle of indigenous peoples to retain the usage of other traditional medicines without persecution. The traditional use of coca, legal only in Peru and Bolivia, is under threat from the international law making bodies, a subject which I will be soon addressing in this space. This decision as well as recent actions by Peruvian politicians may well bring recognition of these issues to the attention of the broader international community.
Particularly of interest is the distinction between traditional and touristic use, an issue of need for discussion with the rise of "Ayahuasca tourism", which is certainly obvious in Cusco, where I am currently living.
Peru’s Government states that the effects produced by Ayahuasca have been extensively investigated due to their complexity and are different from the ones usually produced by hallucinogens. Part of that difference consists on the ritual of consumption, that leads to several effects, however always within a culturally limited margin, and with religious, therapeutical and cultural purposes" says Javier Villacorta.
According to the Peruvian Government, "the practice of Ayahuasca ritual sessions and their ancestral use in the traditional rituals, guaranteeing cultural continuity, is tied to the therapeutical virtues.
There is a need for protection of the traditional use and the sacred aspect of the Ayahuasca ritual, differentiating it from the Occidental use, which is out of context, consumerist and with commercial purposes" allerts the statement of the National Institute of Culture.
As I say, the issue of Ayahausca tourism is a pressing one, and I have personally frequently attended to the needs of "occidentals" here and in Australia, who have partaken of Ayahuasca in circumstances less than ideal, or where the intentions of the facilitator have been unfocussed or actively malicious.
One aspect of the announcement, however, which is of concern for me personally is the use of the word "patrimony". For me it seems quite at odds with legislations pertaining to a plant regularly referred to as La Madre or La Abuela (mother or grandmother). Whilst I enter ceremonies with the utmost respect for the traditions of those who hold them, I believe that Ayahuasca has clearly moved beyond a construct of indigenous, jungle usage, and that the manner in which new cultures of Ayahuasca usage develop should not be limited by the limited world views of a particular patriarchy. I feel that Ayahuasca herself will determine how and when these new modes of working unfold, but any attempts to control the usage of Sacred Medicines should be diligently examined by all who care for the freedom and evolution of human consciousness.
Many people prefer to spend money on bottled water, believing that it is somehow safer. Now we’re learning that the stuff in plastic water bottles may be more harmful than anything in our tap water. Bisphenol A is just one chemical that’s been in the news – and in many plastic bottles – recently. This compound mimics estrogens (human female hormones) and has been linked to breast and ovarian cancers and childhood developmental problems. It is found in clear, hard polycarbonate plastic commonly used in household and commercial water coolers and some reusable bottles, and it’s just one potentially harmful substance associated with plastic containers.
The presence of chemicals isn’t the only reason we should try to wean ourselves from the bottle, though. For one thing, bottled water is expensive, costing more than a comparable amount of gasoline. Unlike most nations on Earth, Canada has vast quantities of fresh water. Have we so polluted our water that we feel compelled to pay a lot for it? And from beginning to end (and for plastics, that end is a long time away), plastic bottles contribute to environmental problems. To start, the manufacturing process is a factor in global warming and depletion of energy resources. It takes close to 17 million barrels of oil to produce the 30 billion water bottles that U.S. citizens go through every year. Or, as the National Geographic website illustrates it: “Imagine a water bottle filled a quarter of the way up with oil. That’s about how much oil was needed to produce the bottle.” It also takes more water to produce a bottle than the bottle itself will hold. Canadians consume more than two billion litres of bottled water a year, and globally, we consume about 190 billion litres a year. Unfortunately, most of those bottles – more than 85 per cent, in fact – get tossed into the trash rather than the recycling bin...
There’s also a danger that governments may use the growing reliance on bottled water as an excuse to avoid their responsibility to ensure we have access to safe drinking water. The federal government must address any existing concerns about drinking-water quality with enforceable standards designed to protect human health.
If you’re worried about chlorine in your drinking water, put it in a pitcher and let it stand overnight to allow the chlorine to evaporate – or consider buying a carbon activated filter for your tap. To carry water with you, fill up your stainless steel or glass bottle from the tap, and enjoy. Water is a precious resource that belongs to all of us. Let’s not take it for granted. And let’s not put it in plastic.
[From Message in a Bottle]
In the course of my day many thoughts and ideas arise, most of which I would like to share and I mentally file these for later expression. As is evidenced by the paucity of posts by me in the last 12 months, this strategy has not been particularly effective. One result of the observation of this is the acknowledgement that I act most effectively in the moment, and that long term planning is definitively not my forte. To this end, I am experimenting with a strategy of posting as thoughts and ideas arise, or as near as possible as is practicable.
Bear with me in this.
So, today I am inspired by the magnitude of possibility. Yesteday I attended to some clients that a friend in the Sacred Valley asked me to see. The actuality of their situations may be told at a later date, but suffice to say that both had been pronounced incurable by the medical systems available here to them and, whilst for many Peruvians the quality of medical treatment available is poor, the same diagnosis would probably have been made in Australia.
One of these clients has been resigned to her fate for some 10 years, and yet in 2 short visits over the course of a couple of weeks those around her have witnessed more change than in the prior decade. I am not offering this for the purpose of self aggrandisement, as I firmly believe such healings are a matter of grace, a confluence of events and people, a matter of right place and time. Nonetheless I feel that there are mechanisms at play which, if explored from a variety of perspectives, would offer much to our develpment of a more sophisticated language with which to point towards healing.
In both of these instances it is obvious that a large part of the capacity to effect change came about by virtue of my capacity to communicate non verbally, as neither of these individuals had, at that time, the capacity to communicate verbally. Probably the most common explanation of this manner of communication would be to refer to words such as clairaudience or telepathy, which may or may not be the case, but I find the common language available in this instance limiting and divisive because both have a pejorative weighting and are not seen as particularly applicable to "real world" curing.
Now obviously the real world is a culturally bound perspective, but there is quite obviously a weight given to the cultural perspective that we in modern western "democracies" adhere to. That this is so was clearly evidenced to me yesterday as I arrived at the small Peruvian town in which my clients lived. Just past the adobe gate to the town was a monstrous billboard which announced, in English, "Cash Available, ATM next left". Said ATM dispenses US dollars in a region where many live on two or three such dollars a day. US consumer culture is blatantly obvious here, and even by those who cannot afford to participate in it is considered some kind of natural progression. The cultural, economic and environmental cost of this is pronounced.
I can say that the healing afforded these people was a result of grace, and the assistance and direction of the Apus and Pachamamas, the spirits of nature, and celestial sentient beings, which indeed it was, and those who were witness to the events would concur that the winds assisted and the material realm was demonstrably altered by the processes of consciousness enacted therin, but that will not afford me much credibility if I want the cooperation of a mental health research institute in Florida. Nor in fact should it, because I am not Q'ero, am not Chinchero. My genes come from different continents, and my cultural antecedents are worlds apart from those who have for centuries cultivated relationships with the spirits of the mountains and of the elements. I cannot don the intricate weavings of a Q'ero p'aqo, take an initiation and expect to have mystical powers conferred upon me, but I am not so chauvenistic in the house [as it were] of these spirits to suggest that they are a fiction and because I do not believe in them, that they do not exist.
What I am suggesting, however, is that the suffering of two people people was alleviated by seemingly inexplicable means, the whistling of haunting tunes, waving of feathers and blowing of tobacco. In my view this has to be a good thing, and we could afford to spend more time and effort examining how to do this on a much broader scale than I am able to as one individual. In fact, it may be as Davis suggests, that the thoughtful (as opposed to romantic or fanciful) examination of the wisdom of other cultures that, along with our own culture's technological wizardry, offers us a way through the rather dire mess we as a species find ourselves in on a planetary scale.
My remuneration for my day's work was a small bottle of water offered by a grateful father [and produced by Coca Cola] and, as I say, the resulting joy and inspiration that such results offered me. I came home and, in the course of subsequent communications stumbled upon this statistic.
I am not suggesting that indigenous cultures are perfect, far from it, nor am I denying my enjoyment of the health and material prosperity which my modern culture offers me, but I am suggesting, as the picture above shows in no uncertain terms, that something is completely and utterly out of whack! If this is representative of a Darwinian evolution of cultural process, if modern western culture is, as Fukuyama suggested some time back, the end of history, then I think perhaps it will be.
I have seen many people come to disappointing realisations about the motivations and idealogies of mestizo curanderos in the last months, and I myself am under no illusions about the nature in which much old knowledge is applied today in Peru. Nor am I under any illusions about my own frailties or limitations, but equally I am not limiting my capacities to conform to a particular cultural framework. Whilst it is so that the old people, the carriers of wisdom in indigenous cultures have much to offer we in the West, so too have we much to offer their cultures insofar as manners in which they can limit the destructive elements of this culture which now touches every inch of the planet, and at an ever increasing pace. Rather than suggest that we can do nothing about the inexorable onslaught of totalitarianism, social surveillance and control, war and ecological and cultural destruction, let us set about building new cultural identities, new languages that reflect our experiences of possibility, not of limitation.
I do not know what to do, other than that which I do, but I am interested in mature, collective discussion about what to do, and I hold great hope for the bringing to the fore the noblest aspects of the human spirit.