As I prepare for my August Omega workshop Sacred Plants: Touching the Jaguar and trips that I guide where participants learn from indigenous shamans in Latin America, I think about the messages that nature and the immigrants attempting to enter the US and Europe offer.
Our first reaction to environmental problems and those associated with immigrants often is to cast blame:
Fossil fuels, mining, food production, etc. are destroying the environment;
Corruption and brutality in other countries, climate change, gangs, cartels, etc. trigger immigration.
We tend to avoid the tough questions:
Who uses fossil fuels, aluminum, plastics, sweat-shop made clothes, and food?
Who does the corrupting, supports brutality, causes climate change and drug use?
We look for band-aides to stop the bleeding; we turn a blind eye on the virus that opens the lesions.
The fact is that most environmental degradation is the result of predatory capitalism. Most immigrants are people who are miserable, desperate, and fearful for their lives.
Our hearts break to see children separated from their families at the US-Mexican border. It is time to ask ourselves what we can do to stop people from feeling a desperate need to flee to the US from Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Mexico and to Europe from parts of Africa and the Middle East.
Answering the tough questions is essential because if we can’t cure the disease that is destroying the world environment and forcing people to leave their homes, all our children will face crises that dwarf those of today.
I spend time in Central America. I speak Spanish. I used to be an economic hit man (EHM) whose job was to corrupt government officials so our corporations could exploit natural and human resources. I see that what has happened in Central America during my lifetime is a microcosm for much of the world. Predatory capitalism, global corporations, and US government agencies have used the stick and carrot–– EHM methods–– to coerce governments to promote economic systems that enrich the wealthy and drive the Poor and what used to be the Middle Class deeper and deeper into poverty. The Titans of industrial agriculture and infrastructure projects, and the retailers of sporting goods, clothing, and other sweatshop-oriented industries have ravaged and chemicalized lands that once supported thousands of small farmers. At the same time, they’ve created working conditions akin to slavery.
Here are a few more questions to ask ourselves:
Where does corruption originate?
Who buys the drugs?
What motivates young people to join gangs or become terrorists?
What drives the businesses that are ransacking the environment?
Who benefits from political instability and warfare?
It is the perfect time to ask such questions because there is a new consciousness rising in the world. People are waking up to the fact that we live on a fragile space station. The problems in Central America and other parts of the world that are behind the waves of immigrants and those that ravage our ecosystems are symptoms of the virus that has infected the navigational system of our space station. It’s time to reboot that navigational system.
The answers to those essential questions involve the stories behind the official stories. I’ve told some of those stories in my books. Indigenous shamans and the plants themselves are working hard to open our hearts and minds to new realities. During upcoming workshops and trips to Latin America, we will explore these questions in depth and tune in to the new consciousness that is evolving through the wisdom of ancient cultures and the plants.
You and I are fortunate to be living in this extraordinary time of great challenges and amazing opportunities. Let us look at each of the problems we face as a message that it is time to transform a failing economic system into one that is itself a renewable resource.
When we come together, we can solve seemingly insurmountable problems.
We recently celebrated Independence Day. The American Revolution. Let it inspire us to feel our connection to the growing community that sees through the veil of false rhetoric and is dedicated to transforming destructive patterns into positive ones. Let it inspire you to participate in the Consciousness Revolution. Commit to action. An easy, inspiring, and fun way to do this is to join me and other like-minded people here.
The question has been asked: Why does a guy who writes books on global economics also give workshops on shapeshifting and sacred plants and guide people on trips to experience such things with indigenous shamans in Latin America?
The answer is one that is best experienced for yourself – although I offer a short version below. For the real answer, I invite you to join me at an experiential workshop or trip – limited to 15 participants. A few spaces are still available:
August 22-24, 2018 Sacred Plants: Touching the Jaguar, Omega Institute, NY Learn more.
December 4-15, 2018 A Journey To The Land Of Transformation: The Mountains, Jungles, Kogi, & Caribbean Coast Of Colombia Learn more.
January 2-19, 2019 A Journey To The Lands Of The Maya: Guatemala – Shapeshifting into Higher Consciousness Learn more.
January 10-18, 2019
Raising Consciousness – Magical Plants In The Costa Rican Jungle Learn more.
The short answer to the question: Once I dropped out of my economic hit man job, I committed to doing everything in my power to transform the type of failing economic system that I’d helped create to one that will work for my daughter, grandson and future generations of all species around the world. Since I’ve written extensively about the need to convert a Death Economy into a Life Economy, I won’t go into details about that here. Suffice it to say that the key point is to change perceptions, mind-sets. A Consciousness Revolution is waking people across the planet up to the need for systems that maximize long-term benefits for all (Life Economy) – rather than short-term gains for the few (Death Economy).
The indigenous people we visit during our trips to some of the most spectacular forests, mountains, and coasts on the planet have prospered for thousands of years in Life Economies. Their shamans tell us that we can focus on systems that clean up pollution, regenerate destroyed environments, and utilize technologies and processes which rejuvenate resources. Traditional economies are themselves renewable resources. We’ve moved a long way from that; now it is time to create a Life Economy that is itself a renewable resource and that maximizes long-term benefits for all.
It has become apparent that the plant world is participating in the global Consciousness Revolution. Recent interest in ayahuasca and other consciousness-raising plants, as well as organic foods, natural medicines, and nature in general is a necessary part of this revolution. It is also something indigenous people understand and advocate.
In his ground-breaking book How to Change Your Mind, Michael Pollan discusses “the critical influence of ‘set’ and ‘setting’” when taking consciousness-altering substances. He writes: “Set is the mind-set or expectation one brings to the experience, and setting is the environment in which it takes place.” This is evident during trips to Latin American shamans – ayahuasca is taken in natural environments where it is a native and among people who prepare participants with mind-sets that benefit from centuries of interconnectedness with the plant.
I teach workshops on shapeshifting and lead trips to indigenous shamans because those teachings are so powerful and so needed at this time in human history. They are guiding us into the Consciousness Revolution.
I also do it because it is fun! I love the rain forests and the gigantic pyramids of Guatemala, horse-back riding through the forests of the Colombian mountains and tubing down rivers into the Caribbean, and rafting and psychonavigating on the magical Punta Mona (“Monkey Point”) peninsular in Costa Rica. I love the birds, the monkeys, the butterflies, the jaguars, the plants – and the people!
I’ve written in previous newsletters that you and I are incredibly blessed because we are part of the greatest revolution in history: The Consciousness Revolution.
This revolution has come none too soon. Because humans are navigating our fragile space station, Earth, towards disaster, it is imperative that we reboot our navigational systems – our consciousness and perceptions about what it means to be human on this planet.
Many years ago, as I’ve written in several of my books, my life was saved and forever changed by plants served by a Shuar shaman deep in the Amazon rain forest. I’d never heard of ayahuasca at that time. All I knew was that it had a profound impact on my consciousness. For me, the most important thing I learned that first night and many afterwards, as I trained to be an ayahuasca shaman, is that plants have a consciousness and they are insisting on sharing it with us humans.
Plants teach us to alter objective reality by changing our perceptions of reality, making the impossible become possible – to shapeshift. Just as a tiny seed breaks through cement, we can break through the ‘cement’ that has imprisoned us in destructive patterns – individually and globally.
In recent years, ayahuasca has become popular in many parts of the world. While I have deep appreciation for the plants that are used to concoct the tea that is ayahuasca, I also am concerned that many who partake are missing the real point: Plants – all plants – are our teachers. They do not have to be ingested or transport us to hallucinogenic states in order to teach.
Some plants teach us about art (roses, tulips). Some teach about nutrition (avocados, almonds). Some about healing injuries and diseases (aloe, turmeric). Some teach us respect for nature (poison ivy, thorns). Some about consciousness (ayahuasca, San Pedro). Every plant is a teacher if we are just willing to listen.
Plants, like the seed that breaks through cement, empower us to do what the Shuar and other indigenous shamans refer to as “touching the jaguar.” We confront our obstacles, our blockages, and use the energy of those obstacles to make the “impossible” become possible.
When I was in school, everyone I knew – except my parents and grandmother who were plant lovers – scoffed at the idea that plants had consciousness. The plants themselves have since shown us otherwise. A few of many examples:
Plants illustrate that energy, nutrition and everything needed for life can be created directly from water, air, and sunshine in the sustainable processes known as photosynthesis.
Scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) discovered that plants in the wild medicate against pain by emitting methyl salicylate – a form of aspirin. (1)
Research published in the journal Oecologia conclude that plants warn each other against predators and potential enemies. A plant network receives external signals of impending danger and transmits it to other members of the network. (1)
Studies indicate that some plants emit chemicals that deter herbivores from eating them. (1)
Experiments have shown that plants learn to use musical scales and are able to make music with the use of a synthesizer. (2)
It seems that, during this moment in history when our space station is starting to spin out of control, the plants have stepped forward to help us save ourselves – and them. Our scientists are legitimizing plant intelligence and confirming that they not only have consciousness but can also help us touch the jaguars that have kept us caged in unsustainable life-styles. Plants are becoming our allies in making the transition into global systems that are themselves renewable resources.
In January 2019, I will guide people to plant shamans on a trip, “Raising Consciousness – Magical Plants in the Costa Rican Jungle.” Although I’ve been taking people to Latin American shamans since the late 1980s, this is the first time to this amazing place of enchanted plants, in one of Costa Rica’s most impressive primary forests. Participants will have the opportunity to experience ayahuasca and delve deep in plant consciousness.
Also, in January I’ll be teaching at Rythmia in Costa Rica, a healing center/spa where ancient traditions are combined with modern healing techniques. Ayahuasca is not only used as a sacred teacher plant but is also studied; statistics are kept about its impacts on participants so that records can be used in scientific studies.
I look forward to meeting some of you at one of these venues. We will employ shamanic journeys and other consciousness-raising approaches to help us communicate with and learn from the plants. For those of you who can’t do any of these or join one of my other trips, please take the time to get to know your teacher plants – inside your home, in nearby gardens, fields, or forests. Appreciate them. Learn from them. Let them help you touch your jaguars, rise to higher consciousness, and transform yourself and the world.
Recent marches, demonstrations, news reports, editorials, and blogs detailing the urgency of new gun laws have brought to light the extreme and insidious powers of the National Rifle Association (NRA). We have learned that it isn’t just about mass shootings in schools, churches, theaters, and other public areas. It isn’t just about Stephon Clark and the other victims of police guns.
The problem goes deep. Gun violence is rampant across the nation. On an average day, 96 people are killed by guns in the US (seven of these are children or teens). For every one person killed by a gun, two more are wounded. (1) Nearly two thirds of all firearm deaths are suicides. Although less than 10% of general suicide attempts result in death, 85% of gun suicide attempts are fatal. (2) People kill themselves with guns in moments of deep depression or anger and without thinking. When they don’t have a gun and do have time to “cool off,” they are much more likely to realize that they want to live.
The problem goes still deeper. Nearly everyone in the US wants to stiffen gun control laws – 95% of us favor background checks for all gun sales, and 68% support banning military-style assault weapons. (3) Yet nothing happens. Why?
We all know the answer. The NRA is extremely powerful. It cares nothing for democracy. It has a national budget of some quarter billion dollars and a record of outspending its opponents (fifteen times as much on campaign contributions as gun-control advocates between 2000 and 2010) (4). However, that’s just a fraction of its insidious power.
The NRA is a metaphor, a symbol, for the biggest problem facing the US, one that is quickly transforming us from a respected world democracy (or at least republic) to something that resembles a banana oligarchy ruled by narcissistic autocrats who don’t give a damn what the people think or want. It is representative of the extreme power exercised by a relatively few in the name of profits and greed. Although it portrays itself as a defender of the Second Amendment, the NRA is a marketing and lobbying tool for gun manufacturers.
The NRA is just one of many. It has become apparent to all of us that the US government, including our elected officials, has become the servant of Big Business and the few very wealthy people who own and run the global corporations.
On March 13, 2018 Josh Sugarmann, executive director of the Violence Policy Center, spoke with NPR's Sarah McCammon about the gun industry and its ties to the NRA.
SUGARMANN: The industry's history is one of peaks and valleys. And now they're running into a very deep valley. The industry is constantly trying to find the next big thing to sell to this traditional cohort of gun owners who are aging white males who are dying off. And to borrow a phrase from the tobacco industry, they're not finding the replacement shooters to take their place. At the same time, they work to exploit any opportunity to sell guns, whether it's passage of a gun control law, whether it's the election of Barack Obama - his re-election, whether it's 9/11.
One of the most drastic miscalculations the industry made was they assumed that Hillary Clinton was going to win the presidency. So when she didn't, the sales demand dropped precipitously. And that's why you're seeing the situation today with these leading gun manufacturers.
MCCAMMON: So what does that mean for the total market?
SUGARMANN: It means that the industry has to go find new markets. And once again, following a trail blazed by the tobacco industry, they're continuing to focus on women and also now very aggressively targeting children. (5)
President Eisenhower, in his last major speech as president, warned about the dangerous powers of a growing military-industrial-complex. He told us that we were faced with the very real possibility of becoming an oligarchy where a few wealthy individuals control government. The NRA is just one example of how that has happened.
Let us continue to march, demonstrate and blog for new and much stricter gun control laws. And let us also recognize that in doing so we are opening the door for a bigger movement – one to take business out of government. Let the NRA, Stephon Clark, all the other tragic gun-related deaths, as well as the courageous young people demonstrating in the streets, motivate us to truly become a country by, for and of the people.
Visiting ancient sites of the Aboriginal people here in Australia, I am struck by both their deep connection with nature and their fascination with the mysteries of the universe. The cave drawings and glyphs carved into stone cliffs that I have seen tell stories similar to those still told today by my indigenous friends, the Shuar and Achuar of the Amazon, the Kogi of Colombia, and the Maya of Central America.
Throughout the world, we see that ancient peoples had a deep fascination with Orion, Pleiades, and ideas around mysterious visitations from other planets. We also see that they enjoyed rich traditions centered on the spiritual and healing powers of animals and plants.
All of this is a confirmation of our inherent feelings of oneness with the natural world and the universe. The Hubble telescope has shown us that there are over 100 billion galaxies and an extremely high probability of intelligent life out there among the stars we see at night. In other words, modern science has confirmed what indigenous people have known for millennia.
Perhaps we should conclude from all this that we do not need to take care of our home, this beautiful place we call Earth. We can lay waste to it and then move to one of those other habitable planets. Some people take solace in the idea that Elon Musk and his SpaceX might transport us to another world that we can make more sustainable than our own planet. But, of course the response to that is: If we destroy our world why won’t we destroy any other we inhabit?
As I stood staring at the ancient drawings and glyphs, I could almost hear these people from the past warning us to change our ways. I had the feeling that when they spent all those hours chiseling into the rock, they were aware that their progeny – thousands of years in the future – would need to respect the natural world and the mysteries of the universe as much as they did.
Today, nature herself is speaking to us in a powerful voice. Cities, like Miami, and islands around the globe are being flooded. Glaciers are melting. One-hundred-year storms are striking every year. Animal and plant species are going extinct at astronomical rates. We humans are steering our fragile space station toward disaster.
The messages we hear from ancient voices, contemporary indigenous cultures, and modern science, along with the signs from nature herself, are screams for change. There can be no question that this is the time to convert failed economic and political systems into ones that will work, to transform a Death Economy into one that is a renewable resource, a Life Economy.
John will take participants deeper into the sacred world of plants in a special facility devoted to plant healing at the Omega Institute, August 22-24, 2018. Very limited space for a few special people. Sign up now.
The Harvard Business Review recently reported that, since the October allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, nearly 100 other powerful people – “names you probably recognize” – have been accused of sexual harassment, rape, and other misconduct. (1) These revelations follow the avalanche of accusations against Catholic priests and their superiors that have been sweeping the press for years.
The stories of crimes involving sex accompany revelations about police brutality across the United States, a slew of leaked documents concerning covert and illegal CIA and NSA activities from WikiLeaks and Edward Snowden, exposures of illegal financial dealings of some of the world’s richest and most powerful people in the Panama Papers, and numerous other exposes by whistleblowers who have revealed criminal activities in politics, healthcare, technology, media, education, banking, pharmaceuticals, hospitality, and entertainment.
All of this is extremely important. It also highlights the significance of transparency throughout our institutions. It shouts at us all, a loud and clear call that it is high time for the United States and the rest of the world to hold responsible those who use their positions of power and prestige to exploit others or to perpetuate illegal activities.
Let this be the time then when we also demand that those in Congress and the White House come clean. While applauding the revelations mentioned above, at the same time we in the US seem to be tolerating a darker side of politics.
Why, we must ask ourselves, do bankers and Wall Street executives not just escape punishment when their companies are found guilty of crimes that impact millions of people, but in fact get rewarded with huge bonuses? Why is a US President allowed to refuse to share his tax statements? Why is our media unable to report body counts or show the corpses returning from the Middle East – when such images had a powerful impact during the Vietnam War. Why do we know so little about what our sons and daughters – men and women in the US military – are doing in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Latin America?
One recent example of a significant step backward in transparency was reported by CBS News on January 30, 2018:
The Pentagon has ordered an independent federal auditor to stop providing the public with key information about U.S. war efforts in Afghanistan. . .
The auditing agency, established by Congress and known as the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, or SIGAR, revealed the new gag order in its latest three-month assessment of conditions in Afghanistan. The restrictions fly in the face of Pentagon assertions over the past year that it was striving to be more transparent about the U.S. war campaigns across Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. (2)
As I’ve written often, we are at the beginning of a Consciousness Revolution – and part of this is an awakening to a new sense of conscience – both personal and collective. We are understanding that transparency is required of individuals and institutions if we are to succeed on a planet that is a fragile space station dominated by a species that has shown itself capable of tolerating leaders like Hitler, Stalin, and Pinochet, and of turning a blind eye for so many years on the Harvey Weinsteins and Larry Nassars of the world.
Let us learn from those who tolerated the mass-murdering dictators, the sex criminals, and the corporate robber barons that we cannot tolerate our own inclinations to remain silent. It is up to each and every one of us to speak out and to take action. In the words of a woman – an executive at a Fortune 100 corporation – who attended a workshop where I recently taught:
What I struggle with is the “how.” How do we demand transparency from our elected officials? It seems to many of us that our politicians don’t really have to do anything – except win the next election.
The real power is for each of us is to begin to step up, like one person starting the #MeToo movement. The power of individuals is to speak out, whether in corporate America, your hometown, or family. It seems that politicians seeing the fall of others, or the risk of hiding, is the only way to make change.
The challenge for each one of us who has turned away from disclosing something, out of fear of retribution or the belief we cannot make a difference, is to step forward and speak out. Maybe it’s about our city government when we suspect corruption, or national policies in the Middle East – or a local school board issue. . . The important thing is to speak out.
I know people fear losing their jobs, but what happened with Weinstein shows that speaking out can work. It requires us to be brave. Courage is not the lack of fear; it is facing and overcoming fear, because we know that it is the right thing to do.
It’s interesting because I see some of it at my work. The equal pay and opportunity for women is an issue. I hide behind the fact that I have done well, I get paid a decent salary, it’s a good company. . . so don’t complain. Besides, it would be really uncomfortable and there would probably be retribution. But I’m observing and wrestling with the excuses I make. I look in the mirror and I see that it is up to that facing staring back at me to make change happen. I owe it to my daughters. I owe it to myself.
At this historical moment of revelations, let us each look in the mirror. Let us each identify an issue that bothers us. Let us speak out.
The participants in the December 2016 Colombian Journey, led by Daniel Koupermann and John Perkins, collectively raised $9515 USD to support the Kogi indigenous people. The primary goal for these funds was to purchase land for the community of Tayku.
I (Farrah) was the only representative from our group able to return to Colombia to oversee the distribution of our funds and participate in the pilgrimage with the Kogi. Daniel arranged the logistics for the pilgrimage, caring for all the details of transportation, accommodations and meals. Our friend and local guide Jaruen also played an important role, coordinating directly with the Kogi to prepare the paperwork and make arrangements for gathering the Kogis for the pilgrimage.
PURCHASING LAND FOR TAYKU VILLAGE
On December 13, 2017 the four joint owners of the land and a representative of the Kogi community, Juan, met at the notary office in Santa Marta, Colombia to transfer the deed of ownership to the Kogis. Daniel, Jaruen and I were also there.
Two plots of land were purchased using the money raised by the 2016 group. One plot will be used primarily for agriculture. The second plot of land sits at the base of a hill that is sacred to the Kogi community. The Kogis will use this land to gather materials to build a ceremonial structure on the hill, and also as a buffer so that no other construction can compromise this sacred area.
Our funds enabled the Kogi to acquire 19.77 acres of land in total (8 hectares).
KOGI PILGRIMAGE TO SACRED SITES
According to tradition, it is important for every Kogi Mamo—trained spiritual leader—to do ceremonies at particular sacred sites a certain number of times in their lives. Unfortunately, in these modern times, it has become very difficult for the Mamos to fulfill this obligation.
The Kogis expressed that they would like to enable the Mamos of several communities to visit these sacred sites. With our financial support, ten Mamos were able to embark on this pilgrimage. The Mamos were of various ages, from late 20’s to 60’s.
On December 14, 2017, the Kogi pilgrimage began. We rented a large van to transport the Kogis and another Jeep to transport the organizers, as well as drivers for each vehicle.
The first sacred site was on the northern coast of Colombia in the city of Riohacha. We parked the cars and crossed the street to walk towards the mouth of a river. To reach it, we walked through a homeless camp with trash strewn all over the ground. We gathered together under a bridge to do the first Pagamento (payment). It seemed an ironic place to begin this pilgrimage to sacred sites, and yet it was rich with meaning. For me, it was a reminder that sacredness is all around us, even in the most unlikely places, and that the beauty of this earth always remains, despite the degradation imposed by modern society.
Mamo Manuel (maybe some of you remember him from our visit to Tayku?) passed out small, woven cotton pouches to each person. Inside the pouch were several balls of cotton. Holding the pouch in our right hand, we put our thoughts and intentions into it. After a few minutes, we removed half of the cotton and passed both the pouch and the cotton back to Manuel. He then released the cotton into the river, completing the transfer of material from the mountains to the sea, as well as the release of our thoughts. To close the ceremony, we spun in a complete circle first to the left, and then to the right.
This Pagamento ceremony was repeated at each of the nine sites we visited together. Despite its simplicity, the Pagamento, or Payment, is a powerful transfer of energy, intention and appreciation. Through the ceremony we acknowledge our gratitude for the earth and all she provides for us, offering a reciprocal payment in the form of our focused thought and the material released at the site.
Subsequent sacred sites included the mouth of the river at Dibulla, large “Guardian” rocks on the beach in Tayrona, the stone of Duanama (or creation stone), Bahia Gayraca, the mouth of the Gaira River, and the hot springs at Volcan.
At the Gaira River, the Kogis looked in silence at the several cranes and machinery above us on the hill. A large building was actively being constructed, despite the Kogis having won an order in court to halt the construction. It is being built directly on what they call “Father Lightning” or Jate Matuna. The Kogis are deeply concerned that the disrespect with which the builders are treating nature will ultimately harm the site and that it is not safe. So far, the builders are not heeding the warning.
The Kogis are deeply committed to continue to honor the earth and all its inhabitants. They live lightly and make offerings to help heal her of the damage being inflicted. The Kogis carry their message to us, the Younger Brothers, through their actions, their example and their relationship to nature.
On the final day, each of the Mamos were presented with a gift, which was chosen by Juan. The gift included white cloth for new clothing, white thread, panela (sugar cane), salt, oil, rice and batteries. They also received a large quantity of shells, which were collected by the Wayuu tribe on the coast. The shells are ground up and used in the poporos (the special gourds that the Mamos carry and work with meditatively).
In our closing circle, the Kogi expressed their appreciation for being able to participate in this pilgrimage. For those that had grown up hearing the stories about these sacred places, it was powerful to finally be in those places, just as their ancestors had been. Several said that they learned a lot through this experience and they are grateful for our generous support. They expressed that this fulfills part of a prophecy that says that the Younger Brothers will support the Elder Brothers in doing their ceremonies and that the Younger Brothers will start to participate with them, side by side.
In closing, one Mamo also said that each of you that contributed your money (which is your energy and your time) were also there with us. When we put our intentions into the cotton, your intentions were there as well. We released all these intentions as an offering to the earth, so that we all may heal.
A Solar Panel for Duanamake
At this point, our fundraising initiative was already a huge success. We purchased land for Tayku. We enabled ten Kogis to do ceremony at their sacred sites on a pilgrimage. But we still had funds left over. Daniel communicated with Juan about what else would be beneficial for the Kogi community. What other projects to do they wish to accomplish?
Juan explained that the village of Duanamake, which we visited last year by 4-wheel drive, wishes to build a school. The school would also be used by the women at night for their crafts. The women are very busy during the day, so it is mainly at night that they have time to weave the bags and make the clothes for the village. Because light is needed for this, a solar panel would be very helpful.
And so we purchased a solar panel and the necessary cables and inverter for it. We rented another jeep and drove it up to the village. It could not be installed at that time, but we are very fortunate that Jaruen has experience with this work and agreed to return a few days later to do the installation. Thank you Jaruen!
The Children of Nueva Venezia
Even after the purchase of the solar panel, $1000 USD remains. This will be the seed money for another beneficial project that is taking shape.
Some of the participants of the 2017 Colombian Journey with Daniel and John are affiliated with a school in Washington state. They expressed that it would be wonderful to facilitate a cultural exchange in which children from the US would visit with Colombian children. Daniel wholeheartedly agreed and already had a particular community in mind—Nueva Venezia.
Nueva Venezia means “New Venice”. We went to visit this community to discuss the possibility of such an exchange next year. It took one hour by boat to reach the community, which is entirely built on the water. Every building is on stilts and city “streets” are traveled by canoe. The young children can be seen kneeling on what looks like large garbage can lids and paddling themselves to school and back. It is a poorer community, and yet the joy and energy of the people and the children there were remarkable.
I can imagine what a life-changing experience the American children would have seeing this other way of living and interacting with these children, so different from them, yet so much the same.
What a beautiful experience this was! I am honored that I was able to play a small role in helping the Kogi community. The help we provided feels real and I believe it will make a difference in their daily lives. I am also so grateful that I was able to participate in these ceremonies and experience the message of the Kogi’s.
And I wish to express a deep, heartfelt gratitude for Daniel Koupermann. He is the bridge that enabled these projects to manifest. He was the foundation that this could be built upon. Without him, none of this would have been possible.
A couple spaces left on John’s trip to the sacred sites, ceremonies, and shamans of the Maya. Sign up now.By John Perkins
News about civilian casualties in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, and other countries where US military forces are involved takes us back to the Vietnam War. Makes us ask: how stupid are our leaders?
A relevant question as we end this year and begin a new one.
2017 saw the airing of Ken Burns’ PBS series “The Vietnam War.” It leaves no doubt that massive air strikes, bombings and napalm that killed civilians turned the citizenry against the US. Even those people whom we purported to be helping grew to hate our presence in their country. Our military commanders and political leaders came to understand that we were so despised by the Vietnamese – including our allies in the South – that ultimately, we could not win and had to get out. Perhaps more than anything else, it was the killing of civilians that brought about the US’s ignominious defeat.
Yet, here we ago again! The numbers are debated, but the fact is that our drones, planes, missiles, bombs and on-the-ground soldiers are killing thousands of innocent civilians throughout the Middle East.
Although estimates vary, even the most conservative suggest that for every civilian killed at least ten more people turn against the US. Disillusioned by Washington, they look to others – ISIS, China, Russia. Not only are we losing another war (wars), we are also strengthening the very people we profess to oppose.
Are our leaders really that stupid? Or is there another motive?
There is a great deal of talk these days about cutting back on Big Government and trying to balance the budget. Strikingly absent from such talk is the simple fact that Big Government’s most impressive office is the Pentagon and the most effective budgetary items to cut are the incredibly wasteful amounts spent on military equipment and strategies that fail to accomplish the goals and instead turn millions of people against us.
Washington’s recently passed 2018 military budget was touted as $700 billion; however, it actually surpasses $800 billion when relevant sections of the State and Energy Departments and intelligence agencies are included. This is bigger than the combined military budgets of the next seven – nine (depending on how it is measured) largest countries. (1)
Where does that money go? Who profits from these expenditures? How many of our elected officials own stock in Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, General Dynamics and the other merchants of death, as well as the banks and Wall Street firms that finance them? (2)
You, Ken Burns, and I may think that we lost the Vietnam War. But investors in war profiteering corporations came to a different conclusion. They did then and they do now.
Just a few spaces left on John’s January trip to the sacred sites, ceremonies, and shamans of the Maya. Sign up now.
By John Perkins
I prepare to return to the sacred sites of the Maya and join their shamans in life-changing ceremonies and personal readings and healings, and I think about the lessons their history has taught us. Our world today is threatened by crises similar to those experienced by them many centuries past. Although I wrote about them more than 20 years ago, the lessons are relevant today like never before.
The great Stone pyramid rose out of the jungle like a volcano into the morning sky. A monument to endurance, it had defied gods who sent hurricanes across the Gulf of Mexico to destroy it and grave robbers who hacked away at it for countless centuries, picking it clean of all its jade and gold, leaving only the rocks, the plants that took root along its precipitous walls, and the carved figure at its summit.
It seemed part of the landscape, a cousin to the forest; but the pyramid had been conceived by people, every stone set in place by human hands. It was the creation of a civilization of magicians who had transformed the Yucatán from a tangled jungle into a land of agricultural bounty, splendid cities, and architectural masterpieces.
The Maya drained the swamps. They constructed massive island-like platforms in the marshes that allowed human culture to flourish where crocodiles once had reigned. They devised a calendar more accurate than the one we use today, created their own written language, built temples as graceful as any found on Athens’ Acropolis, and pyramids that, in beauty and majesty, surpass the best of Egypt.
Then these magicians performed their most mysterious act, one that has baffled archaeologists and philosophers, anthropologists and poets ever since.
It was an incredible feat of transformation. Like a wizard who flicks his wand and returns to the nest of his mother’s womb, this entire culture, this civilization of people who had toiled for centuries to rise up out of the swamps, transported itself back to the time of its ancestors. The Maya abandoned their cities and deserted their monumental pyramids, leaving their brilliantly illustrated books, sophisticated calendars, and architectural secrets to the mercy of the jungle. They returned to the forest.
Shapeshifting (Chapter 1) by John Perkins
The Maya abandoned their magnificent pyramids and cities because their culture, climate, and economy collapsed. In building those cities, they devastated nature and exhausted the resources that supported their lives. The result was climate change, hunger, desperation, violence, and warfare. The people lost faith in their leaders. They returned to the jungles and the mountains.
The year 2012 marked a watershed moment for the Maya. Their very accurate calendars told them that an old epoch that dated back more than 5,000 years had ended. It was a period characterized by greed, selfishness, exploitation, and brutality. The new calendars invited them – and us – into an epoch with the potential for cooperation, compassion, spirituality, and peace.
Potential. That is the key word.
Mayan shamans – both women and men – invited me many years ago to bring people to them who want to hear the pyramids’ message and learn the lessons their calendars teach. They told me that we have entered a portal and that the lessons that will allow us to realize the potential of the new epoch can be taught – “experienced” is a better word – in just a few days.
While traveling with these shamans and sharing ceremonies and personal readings and healings in their sacred sites, the groups I’ve brought over the years have learned that it is up to us to abandon systems that are failing us. Since we can’t flee to the jungles and mountains, we must create new systems that will serve us and all life on this magnificent planet.
“Like the caterpillar in the cocoon,” a Mayan teaching goes, “the old system must die, so that the butterfly, the new system, can soar into life.”
As I read the words I wrote more than 20 years ago in Shapeshifting, I think of the many people who’ve come back from these trips and performed magic. They have written books, made films, created businesses and organizations, and participated in a myriad of other activities that are opening that portal. They are changing consciousness and leading us into the new epoch.
If you are interested in being such a person, please:
Join me January 11-18, 2018 in the lands of the Maya, experience the teachings, personal readings and healings of their shamans. Click here to book your spot.
What do you suppose people in high positions at the FBI, CIA, Pentagon, State Department and other branches of government are thinking these days? And feeling? What actions are they considering around the “Trump Issue”? How about Congress?
I ask myself these questions a lot.
How are people in high positions dealing with the idiosyncrasies of President Donald Trump? How do they justify their reluctance to take the actions required to protect their constituents, us, from the vicissitudes of a president who, at the very least, lacks the qualities of good diplomacy and leadership and is the laughing stock of much of the world and, at worst, is launching us toward nuclear holocaust?
In the movie Mark Felt, Liam Neeson plays the Associate Director of the FBI (second in command), a man who struggles with these very questions during the Nixon administration. His conscience and sense of duty force him to expose the truth behind the Watergate break-in. He musters the courage to put his job and life on the line. He becomes “Deep Throat,” the source behind the media reports that overthrew President Richard Nixon.
These are the times that call for such a person again.
It seems as though every time I turn on the radio or pick up a paper I learn of another person who is speaking out against this White House, an administration that seems determined to cut taxes on the rich while increasing them for the rest of us, divide the country, and incite North Korea into launching a nuclear warhead,
And it isn’t just Democrats who are speaking out.
Republican Senator Jeff Flake (Arizona), addressing the Senate on Nov. 24, blamed the Trump administration for “reckless, outrageous and undignified” behavior and the “casual undermining of our democratic ideals.” Senator Bob Corker (Tennessee) a senior Republican who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called Trump’s policies, the “debasement of America.” Republican Senator John McCain (Arizona) referred to Trump’s political ideology as “half-baked, spurious nationalism.” As Senator McCain was awarded the prestigious Liberty Medal, he lamented that America’s global reputation and influence are shrinking under Trump’s leadership.
The words are being spoken. Sen. Flake to the Senate:
“We were not made great as a country by indulging in or even exalting our worst impulses, turning against ourselves, glorifying in the things that divide us, and calling fake things true and true things fake. And we did not become the beacon of freedom in the darkest corners of the world by flouting our institutions and failing to understand just how hard-won and vulnerable they are. . . we must be unafraid to stand up and speak out as if our country depends on it, because it does.” (nytimes.com/2017/10/24/us/politics/jeff-flake-transcript-senate-speech.html)
Yes, the words are being spoken. But where are the actions? Isn’t it time for those who speak out – and those who have not yet spoken – to do something?
Mark Felt was not a speaker. He had been trained as an FBI Special Agent. Silence was part of his code. He never even admitted to his acts of heroism until 30 years after Nixon left office. But he did listen. He listened to those who spoke. Not just those in high positions. Not just the media. He listened to his constituent, We the People – women and men like you and me. He understood what needed to be done and he did it. He took the actions necessary to save his nation from allowing a man who undermined the very principles of the office of President of the United States to remain in that office.
It is time for all of us to send the message to the Mark Felts who are waiting in the wings: the people in high positions at the FBI, CIA, Pentagon, State Department and other branches of government. Including Congress. You and I have the power of social media on our side.
Please join me in letting everyone in your social media circle know that it is time for Donald Trump to do as Richard Nixon did.
December 31 – January 8:
New Years celebration and week at Rythmia in beautiful Costa Rica