Spiral Blog

Stories from the Land

I have just returned from the Breaking Convention Conference, a three day event in Greenwich, London- a cutting-edge symposium exploring consciousness, psychedelics & entheogens, transpersonal psychology, anthropology, law… a true interface of the topics and fields involved in the consciousness shift.  A moving experience in which people put themselves forward to share their work, personal stories and love. The science was awesome (slightly over my head), the energy was great, the mood sincere and progressive, but best of all was the humanity…the real stories and the open-heartedness.

A highlight for me was meeting  Huichol (Wixáritari) Shamans, living in central western Mexico near Ixtlan in the Sierra Madre Mountains.  Don Juan and Don Pancho were there to raise awareness of the plight to protect their sacred land, Wirikuta from silver mining.  The land in question is 140 hectors of desert in central Mexico.  Every year, the Wixáritari make a pilgrimage to Cerro Quemado the mountain, a place where they believe the Sun was born.  It is also the place where the people meet with and harvest their sacred plant Peyote (jikuri), a medicine that ‘fuels the waking dreams and holds the universe together.’

The Wixarika people are known worldwide for their unique visionary art and for proudly preserving their spiritual identity despite a destructive civilizing process of over 500 years.
The Wixarika on their annual pilgrimage, ‘the path of the ancestors’, to Wirikuta, the sacred mountain to harvest the sacred spirit cactus Peyote. Photo from Designformemos.org

In November 2009 the Canadian mining company First Majestic Silver, bought 22 mining concessions in the Real de Catorce area, in the state of San Luis Potosi. These concessions will allow First Majestic Silver to carry out what the company describes as “an aggressive drilling and exploration program” on 6,327 hectares of land.  Beginning in 2012, the famously mystical Huichol are trying to stop a $100 million, 15-year mining project from starting.  The Aztecs and other indigenous nations considered gold ‘excrement of the Sun’ and silver ‘excrement of the Moon,’ sacred substances representing day and night and life and death”. (Kurt Hollander, the Ecologist, May 2107).  The current situation bans mining however fears rise with the prospect of a new presidential election in 2018, the concern is that the current political party may race to reap as much benefit from mining as possible.  And of course there are no guarantees that the next president will be more responsible.

The situation in Mexico is not a solitary incident, all over the globe indigenous cultures and sacred sites are in danger from corporate greed, political corruption, desacralization and assimilation.  Whenever I come into contact with these ‘stories of the land’, I am reminded our own painful legacy in the British Isles, not least the on-going fracking of the land, and the recent (2008) M3 motorway development round the Hill of Tara, in County Meath, Ireland.  Tara is considered to be the ceremonial and mythical capital of Ireland, and is the centerpiece of a large archaeological landscape with hundreds of significant sites.  Nevertheless in 2008 the plans went a-head compromising the surrounding landscape including earthworks and other sacred features.  Only the hill itself is protected.

This story continue across the world -in the name of short sighted greed, irreverence for the sacred, and lack of care that comes from failing to realise the inter-connectedness of life, sacred sites are disappearing.  The writer Daniel Stone says, “Ceremonies that take place at sacred sites are not just for humans, they can be an act of healing for the whole planet like a kind of planetary earth acupuncture.”  This view is echoed in the work of writers such as John Michelle and Robert Coon talking about the planetary chakras from the 1960s onwards.  The planet as a sentient being is being confirmed by science, but it also finds its roots in ancient cultures.

The ecotheologian, Thomas Berry writes, “Awareness of an all-pervading mysterious energy articulated in the infinite variety of natural phenomenon seems to be the primordial experience of human consciousness.”

This being the case, what are the implications, not just culturally and economically of these devastations, but also spiritually and emotionally?  If these sites and geomythologies are eroded, what portals are left for future generation to connect past & present, spirit & matter, inner & outer towards expanded and embodied awareness of our part in the cosmic story?

For the full article by Kurt Hollander-


Battle in the Mexican desert: silver mining against peyote and indigenous spirituality Kurt Hollander 30th May 2017