Shamanism, Indigenous People, and Climate Change

In the Dreaming Mother Earth glows in her perfection. In the Dreaming the Ancestors live happily. In the Dreaming Pachamama reminds us we may embrace Life in all its inexhaustible complexity and feel joy. Yet, also in the Dreaming we are shown the suffering that occurs when we no longer honor and sustain Mother Earth. Shamans, Medicine People, and  Seers of many First Nations cultures have seen these things, and tried to share them, only to have their words largely ignored. Even as I write this,  the living green of Amazonia, the Heart of the Earth, is shrinking (as is the permafrost of the bright, white North) as a direct result of our cold hearts.

Here in Vermont, the weather here has turned cool. This is a relief, as the past few weeks have been quite warm. Indeed, in much of the Northern Hemisphere the summer has been record-breaking in its heat. Temperatures in Siberia and Russia have been as much as 20 degrees Celsius above the long-term norms.  Climate studies out this week, and not challenged by most climate change skeptics, suggest conditions will only worsen in the next few decades. North Americans seem likely to be among the least effected, yet even here the heat will be excessive. Continue reading

Amazonian Shamanism, Part Three: Easter

In the past few days I have been thinking about a story told to me by my teachers Bernardo and Jenny. The story is this: Maybe twelve hundred years ago a teacher appeared in he Amazon basin. This teacher traveled throughout Amazonia, including Peru. He is said to have had scars in his side and around his head. He taught peace, and encouraged the people to stop their warfare and other violence against one another. He healed many people and was revered as a great shaman.

This teacher  warned the peoples of the Amazon that in the future a light skinned race would come from the east, bringing much suffering and destruction. He also promised that despite centuries of persecution and genocide, the peoples would rise again to teach their traditional values and vision to the world.

Soon after the European colonizers arrived, the people began to understand the time of hardship was upon them. They remembered the teachings of the great shaman, and recognized him in the Biblical stories of Jesus told by the Friars. Although the population of First Nations peoples declined precipitously, some people remained. Many remembered the stories of the great shaman and held them close to their hearts. Although they listened to, and recognized, the stories of the Friars, they were often confused by the behaviors of the Europeans, both soldiers and Friars. These men seldom followed the teachings of the great shaman as they professed. Their words and promises were empty.

Today many indigenous people in the Amazon continue to remember and honor the teachings of the great shaman. These courageous women and men, through the elders, medicine people, and shamans, are bringing their traditional values and knowledge, and the teachings of the great shaman, to the world.