Friday, 24 July 2015

dance in the waterfall

waterfall at Palenque National Park

"this is the shamanic dance in the waterfall...this is how magic is hurling yourself into the abyss and discovering that it's a feather bed...there's no other way to do it..." Terence Mc Kenna

nature loves courage

"nature loves courage, it will remove obstacles, you make the commitment and nature will remove impossible obstacles, dream impossible dreams...and the world will lift you up..."


Thursday, 23 July 2015

mining of human spirit

“the being spirit part of humans is being mined through the human experience and through the logic and emotions of the human. This is the purpose of technological civilisation. One of the purposes is to erase ancestral memory. We are all descendants of tribes, our memory is coded in DNA, our experience of lineage...a religious sense of reality replaces the spiritual sense of reality, had to submit to dominator chain of command...the earth was no longer the mother, they had to create sexism, earth was property, spiritual value was away from the earth, a major perceptual reality change, word believe may not be in harmony, take our imagination back"'

take back the earth

"they have put us out of balance so that we know longer have the power to deal with them they have separated us from our spiritual connexion with the earth. we are energy, we need to evaluate how we use our own energy..we are alternative energy, never give up hope, we live in a natural world, the earth is power, America attacked flower power children with drugs, we are power, we are spirit, we are the people, we must pick our way of life and stick to it "

delights of travel

“To waken alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.”  Freya Stark, British travel writer

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

we are people

John Trudell talks about the label Native American and that they and we are all people. We were all here before there were any countries. Modern Americans are descendent of tribes too, it’s in the genetic memory. We are all the descendants of tribes, they were just destroyed in Europe earlier in history.  A thought provoking talk from the heart

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

i have no country

The Earth is my home.

In this powerful lecture, John Trudell describes how our perception of reality has been distorted by imprinting and programming,  We perceive ourselves in terms of inabilities which leads to doubts fears and insecurities, fuel for the machine.  Reality is our power, our personal power.  We cannot think and believe at the same time.  We need to think for ourselves and question everything,

Monday, 20 July 2015

sumidero canyon chiapas

The bus trip took us through the clouds in the hills, mountains that are still covered in trees, so beautiful. Then onto a boat through the canyon...

A feeling like you could be anywhere on the Earth.

baby crocodiles

Sunday, 19 July 2015

mayan medicine museum

The amazing Museo de la Medicina Maya in San Cristobal de las Casas shows some of the traditional medicine of the Chiapas highlands including many of the plants used.  Connecting with the earth and the soul of the person are key features.  Basil is an important plant in healing and the good feelings it brings are deeply appreciated.  You can watch a video of a tribal birth (not explicit) and find out about the customs of the midwives.  

This is one of my favourite places I have visited.  So many aspects of Mayan life I already resonate with before I came to Chiapas, the use of basil, the love of corn, the way they make chocolate, the beadwork, the style of dress, the love of flowers, the plant medicine, the appreciation of the movements of the sun and the moon, it goes on, maybe it's just innate humanness.

garden of the Mayan Medicine Museum

Saturday, 18 July 2015

puberty vitamin d connection

The age on onset of onset of puberty has been falling historically, and probably for longer than has even been documented.  There are modern reasons as described here, also deeper reasons related to the decrease in activity of the pineal gland over millenia.  Bascially the pineal gland is producing less than optimal levels of melatonin.     Prepuberty is a valuable time of brain growth  before the big drop in melatonin levels which occurs at puberty. This is yet one more reason why later puberty might be better in general,. This Guardian article looks into the phenomena and gives one example of the statistics - the onset of puberty in girls has fallen by five years since 1920.

There seem to be many factors.  Dr Mercola highlights some of them here, an interestingly vitamin D levels seem to be involved:

He mentions:
Avoiding Hormone-Disrupting Substances is Crucial for Children and Adults Alike
Vitamin D Also Linked to Early Puberty
What You Should Know About Obesity, Stress and Exercise

In this video he explains how in order to get the UVB rays we need to make vitamin D  in the skin, the sun needs to be at an angke of at least 50 degrees,  He goes on to describe how just getting UVA ad not UVB could be counterproductive.

At this website you can type in your location and the date and see the angle of the sun at hourly intervals during the day. It's a really interesting exercise.

Add to this that so many of us spend so much tome indoors and it's highly likely we would benefit from more vitamin D.  Dr Mercola recommends 8000 units a day,  Traditionally in places such as British Isles, renown for it's low light and cloudy days, people acquired extra vitamin D in lanolin through handllng sheep and their wool.  To be honest I don't measure units f I am not getting plenty of middle of the day sun I take a few drops of our lanolin based vitamin D supplement.

Also of course, going back tot the melatonin issue, the increasing levels of ambient electromagnetic radiation further reduce melatonin levels.  This is because naturally melatonin is secreted more when it is dark and helps us sleep.  Although only visible rays are detected by the eyes, the rest of the electromagnetic spectrum reaches the pineal gland or third eye and it takes these as signals of daytime and reduces melatonin output.

Earthing, by sleeping on an earthing sheet and using an earthing mat when on computer helps counteract our electromagnetic exposure and increases melatonin levels.

Friday, 17 July 2015

weight loss at high altitude

mountains near San Cristobal de las Casas

This topic caught my attention as I have been staying in San Cristobal de las Casas in the Highlands of Southern Mexico for two months now and have noticed a weight loss in spite of feeling like I am eating like a horse.  I seem to have so much more need for food than I did living in the south west of England at near sea level.  At the same time I have noticed that my appetite is less, I eat because I really I feel I need to and it seems to be more considered choices of food.  I will be writing more about the food in this is quite a inspiration, very healthy and also suitable for this environment. Meanwhile I am sharing this intel about weight loss at high altitude.  It seems that the increase in red blood cells caused by the drop in oxygen, reduces levels of the hunger hormone leptin. At the same time, our metabolism needs more fuel.  And there is a residual effect after returning to lower lying land.  It has made me think about the possibilities of organising retreats in this kind of area,  It also acts as   kind of athletic training because the body has to adapt to less oxygen.  

Dreams can become more vivid because the change in oxygen levels affects the sleeping cycles making them shorter, with changes in breathing during the night, and you are more likely to be wakeful in the night. 

Of course at very high altitudes there are formidable challenges.  I am talking here from the experience of living at a very liveable 2.200 metres above sea level.

"A 2013 study found that Americans who live at sea-level are four to five times more likely to be obese as those who live in the highest altitude communities in Colorado -- even after they controlled for other factors like exercise level, socioeconomic status and family history.

What's more, a totally unrelated 2010 study showed that even if you don't live in a high-altitude area, simply going to one could lead to weight loss.

Was their weight loss the result of a quickened metabolism? Yes, but that doesn't tell the whole story. As Wired reported, in addition to getting a revved up metabolism, the men experienced hunger and satiety differently up on high:
They may have felt less hungry, in part, because levels of leptin, the satiety hormone, surged during the stay, while grehlin, the hunger hormone, remained unchanged. Their metabolic rate also spiked, meaning they burned more calories than they usually did.

According to the research, the men ate an average of 730 fewer calories per day while up in the air and that shift in appetite remained after they came back down.
“What is nice about this paper, is that it clearly demonstrates that there’s a lasting effect of decreased caloric intake, that people eat less even a month after they come out of high altitude,” altitude expert and Massachusetts General Hospital anesthesiologist Kay Leissner told Wired at the time of the study's publication.

There's no denying that the low-oxygen environment of high altitude has some effect: As LiveScience points out, in vitro studies show that human cells produce more leptin (the hormone that helps you feel fuller) when exposed to air that replicates high-altitude."

More at these links:

"At higher elevations, you inhale less oxygen per breath. Your body compensates for the decreased O2 by producing more red blood cells, which carry oxygen to your tissues. Previous research suggests the surge in red blood cells may cause your body to churn out more appetite-regulating hormones. The result: You eat less and keep your weight in check."

"Interestingly, the participants maintained their reduced weight after they had returned to normal altitude and stayed there for four weeks, a finding the researchers did not expect."

"Just a week at high altitudes can cause sustained weight loss, suggesting that a mountain retreat could be a viable strategy for slimming down.
Overweight, sedentary people who spent a week at an elevation of 8,700 feet lost weight while eating as much as they wanted and doing no exercise. A month after they came back down, they had kept two-thirds of those pounds off. The results appear in the Feb. 4 Obesity.
“What is nice about this paper, is that it clearly demonstrates that there’s a lasting effect of decreased caloric intake, that people eat less even a month after they come out of high altitude,” said Massachusetts General Hospital anesthesiologist Kay Leissner, who studies high altitude physiology, but was not involved in the study.
Since a 1957 study, scientists have known that animals lose weight at high altitudes. Mountaineers also shed pounds during expeditions to 12,000 feet or more, though the exertion of climbing a mountain clearly played a role.
But the obese are more likely to suffer severe altitude sickness, in which low oxygen pressure causes dizziness, nausea and more serious problems like edema or heart attacks, Leissner said.
So a  team at Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich wanted to see if the pounds also melted away with a safer, sedentary stay at somewhat lower altitude.
The scientists ferried 20 overweight, middle-aged men by train and cable car to a research station perched 1,000 feet below the peak of Germany’s highest mountain, Zugspitze. During the week-long stay, the men could eat and drink as much as they liked and were forbidden from any exercise other than leisurely strolls. The team measured the men’s weight, metabolic rate, levels of hunger and satiety hormones before, during, and after their mountain retreat.
After a week up high, the subjects lost an average of 3 pounds.  A month later, they were still 2 pounds lighter. The sceintists’ data showed this was likely because they ate about 730 calories less at high altitudes than they did at normal elevations. They may have felt less hungry, in part, because levels of leptin, the satiety hormone, surged during the stay, while grehlin, the hunger hormone, remained unchanged. Their metabolic rate also spiked, meaning they burned more calories than they usually did"

Of course at very high altitudes there are formidable challenges.  I am talking here from the experience of living at a very liveable 2.200 metres above sea level.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

the meantime

meantime n. the moment of realization that your quintessential future self isn’t ever going to show up, which forces the role to fall upon the understudy, the gawky kid for whom nothing is easy, who spent years mouthing their lines in the wings before being shoved into the glare of your life, which is already well into its second act.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

obscure sorrows

The awareness that you are not at home in the wilderness...

25 Emotions People Feel, But Can't Explain

1. Sonder

The realization that each passerby has a life as vivid and complex as your own - populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness - an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you'll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.

2. Opia

The ambiguous intensity of looking someone in the eye, which can feel simultaneously invasive and vulnerable.

3. Monachopsis
The subtle but persistent feeling of being out of place
4. Énouement

The bittersweetness of having arrived in the future, seeing how things turn out, but not being able to tell your past self.

5. Vellichor

The strange wistfulness of used bookshops - filled with thousands of old books you'll never have time to read, each of which is itself locked in its own era, bound and dated and papered over like an old room the author abandoned years ago, a hidden annex littered with thoughts left just as they were on the day they were captured.
6. Rubatosis
The unsettling awareness of your own heartbeat.
7. Kenopsia
The eerie, forlorn atmosphere of a place that is usually bustling with people but is now abandoned and quiet.
A school hallway in the evening, an unlit office on a weekend, vacant fairgrounds - an emotional afterimage that makes it seem not just empty but hyper-empty, with a total population in the negative, who are so conspicuously absent they glow like neon signs.
8. Mauerbauertraurigkeit
The inexplicable urge to push people away, even close friends who you really like.
9. Jouska
A hypothetical conversation that you compulsively play out in your head.
10. Chrysalism
The amniotic tranquility of being indoors during a thunderstorm. Listening to waves of rain pattering against the roof like an argument upstairs, whose muffled words are unintelligible but whose crackling release of built-up tension you understand perfectly.
11. Vemödalen
The frustration of photographing something amazing when thousands of identical photos already exist.
12. Anecdoche
A conversation in which everyone is talking, but nobody is listening.
13. Ellipsism
A sadness that you'll never be able to know how history will turn out.
14. Kuebiko
A state of exhaustion inspired by acts of senseless violence.
15. Lachesism
The desire to be struck by disaster – to survive a plane crash, or to lose everything in a fire.
16. Exulansis
The tendency to give up trying to talk about an experience because people are unable to relate to it - whether through envy or pity or simple foreignness, which allows it to drift away from the rest of your life story, until the memory itself feels out of place, almost mythical, wandering restlessly in the fog, no longer even looking for a place to land.
17. Adronitis
Frustration with how long it takes to get to know someone.
18. Rückkehrunruhe
The feeling of returning home after an immersive trip only to find it fading rapidly from your awareness.
19. Nodus Tollens
The realization that the plot of your life doesn't make sense to you anymore.
20. Onism
The frustration of being stuck in just one body, that inhabits only one place at a time.
Imagine standing in front of the departures screen at an airport, flickering over with strange place names like other people's passwords, each representing one more thing you'll never get to see before you die - and all because, as the arrow on the map helpfully points out, you are here.
21. Liberosis
The desire to care less about things. To loosen your grip on your life, to stop glancing behind you every few steps, afraid that someone will snatch it from you before you reach the end zone - rather to hold your life loosely and playfully, like a volleyball, keeping it in the air, with only quick fleeting interventions, bouncing freely in the hands of trusted friends, always in play.
22. Altschmerz
Weariness with the same old issues that you've always had – the same boring flaws and anxieties that you've been gnawing on for years.
23. Occhiolism
The awareness of the smallness of your perspective.
24. Heartworm
A relationship or friendship that you can't get out of your head, which you thought had faded long ago but is still somehow alive and unfinished, like an abandoned campsite whose smoldering embers still have the power to start a forest fire.
25. Anemoia
Nostalgia for a time you've never known.
Imagine stepping through the frame into a sepia-tinted haze, where you could sit on the side of the road and watch the locals passing by. Who lived and died before any of us arrived here, who sleep in some of the same houses we do, who look up at the same moon, who breathe the same air, feel the same blood in their veins - and live in a completely different world.
See more at Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows.

Monday, 13 July 2015

temple of the smoking mirror and tonina

at the temple of the smoking mirror

Toniná means the House of Stone. In Tzotzil ton means stone.

I love this site, it is very evocative with an amazing history and also less well known so less overrun, than some of the other sites. It's free on Sunday - there were probably more people there because of that but it was still very tranquil.  The views from the bus to Ocosingo from San Cristobal de las Casas are stunning, you make your way down from the mountains and through the Lancandon jungle, corn and palms growing by the road. The temperature rises too as you come down from the mountains. Then there is a local collectivo bus from Ocosingo to Tonina through equally gorgeous scenery.

My guide taught me a few words of Tzotzil such as chac for rain,  you couldn't ask for more for a Sunday outing.

The people at Tonina believed we are living in the last of four eras of human history, represented by four suns.  This one is the fourth sun of winter, mirrors, the direction north and the end of human life in the form we know it.

Toniná's pyramid has seven platforms, crowned by thirteen temples. A central stairway leads up to the Temple of Smoking Mirror. Smoking mirror refers to obsidian. There are palaces for the ruling families in the acropolis. This area was lavishly decorated, in contrast with the acropolis' western section, From the four temples of the seventh platform, priests and nobles managed the four regions of the sky, fought battles against darkness and observed the stars and planets.

Tonina is beween Palenque nd San Cristobal In 711 CE Tonina conquered Palenque; in 900 AC Tonina was abandoned and it’s inhabitants disappeared.

The pyramid at Tonina is now thought to be bigger than the Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacan.

Underneath the temples is the palace of the underworld,  a labyrinth of 11 vaulted passageways where shamans did their work.

cacao sculpture in the museum

The Zapatistas a have a lot of support in this area.

EZLN poster

Sunday, 12 July 2015

chamula indigenous village

Chamula, a large indigenous village or pueblo near San Cristobal de las Casas is known for it's crazy (in the nicest possible way) mix and clash of Christian and traditional religion in it's beautiful church. To go inside the church is a breathtakingly beautiful experience.  When I was there it was decked with an abundance of beautiful white flowers, the floor was strewn with pine branches, copal incense saturated the air and zillions of candles were burning which lit the whole place up.  

At first glance it would appear that people were praying to the Catholic Saints but it turns out the pictures are there to represent ancestors!  There are three 'negatives' that have been demoted to the back of the church: a depiction of hell, the cross and the baptism font.   Apparently the worshippers now accept baptism but not mass.  Photography is forbidden inside the church, which further adds to the mystique. I am not sure it would be possible to capture the ambience there anyway.

I was just as fascinated by the sheep and wool at Chamula.   Sheep were introduced to Mexico through the Spanish conquest.  People in the colder highland regions began making clothes from wool at this time.  In Chamula the women wear amazing thick wool skirts which they make from the wool of these black sheep.  The sheep are never killed for meat but are sheared carefully and kindly. They also knit cardigans and jackets from the wool, which still naturally smell of the lanolin.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

zinacantan indigenous village

weaving in traditional house

garden of traditional house

Zinacantan is an indigenous pueblo (village/town) near san Cristobal de las Casas.  There you can visit a local family and take photographs, something not possible in general as many indigenous people do not like to have their photographs taken, understandably.  You can see their amazing weaving and embroidery and learn a little of their lifestyle.  In Zinacantan 31,000 people speak Tzotzil only, no Spanish.  For the indigenous people here Spanish is a second language too, which is comforting for me to remember when shopping in the markets here with my stumbling rudimentary Spanish.

The dietary staples are corn, beans and pumpkin.  There are four colours of corn:
white representing the north
yellow representing the south
red representing the east
black representing the west

We  were given corn tortillas with some beans, powdered dried pumpkin and a little cheese.  They tasted amazing, very different to 'Mexican food' I had previously encountered.

iboga nights

ibogaine molecule

British documentary about the amazing healing power of iboga/ibogaine, a powerful remedy for addiction and trauma as well as having other psychotherapeutic benefits. Recommend that treatment be done under the care and medical supervision of an an experienced professional licensed provider, in order for it to be both safe and effective.  This film is gripping viewing and also very informative.

IBOGA NIGHTS from David Graham Scott on Vimeo.

An important point to make is that while ibogaine can shift addiction and trauma, there is more work to be done afterwards to make a fulfilling life.

Friday, 10 July 2015

why people don't heal and how they can

“many people (not everybody) are addicted to their wounds … wounds are a form of street currency … a comfortable social addiction”
Caroline Myss Why People Don't Heal - and How They Can

drama addiction

"Drama causes the pituitary gland and hypothalamus to secrete endorphins, which are the pain-suppressing and pleasure-inducing compounds, which heroin and other opiates mimic... since drama uses the same mechanisms in the brain as opiates, people can easily become addicted to drama. Like any addiction, you build up a tolerance that continuously requires more to get the same neurochemical affect.In the case of drama, then means you need more and more crises to get the same thrill."

finding our purpose

and how our intuition can, surprisingly, give us pain

Thursday, 9 July 2015

mayans remain

These atmospheric 'ruins' at Palenque more than live up to expectations.  We were there at the beginning of June. I went there with a feeling that I was going to receive some guidance.  It came in more tangible way than I had imagined.   Rather than intuitions rising from the stones (though perhaps they did!) the guidance came from a real Mayan guide, a tour guide in fact (descended from, yes, the Mayans who lived here long ago) who gave us a wonderful tour and a description of life in those times, even what they ate.  He said go to San Cristobal (de las Casas).  Soon after we did and we have been here ever since.

pyramid of the moon

almond, avocado and mango tree at the Mayan ruins, Palenque

Prior to this we had gone along with the storied that the Mayan people had in some mysterious way 'disappeared'.  No, many were killed in the Spanish conquest, many also escaped, probably mostly to the Lacandon jungle, the mountains and to what is now Guatemala.  The 'ruinas' at Palenque were deserted before this though and no-one is quite sure why and where to.  The surrounding jungle is so magical.  We tasted mumo leaf growing there amongst other edible plants.  The Mexican dish of tamales is made by wrapping mumo leaf around the corn dough with a filling, so delicious and loved by Mexicans. and me too.  More on Mayan Mexican food later.

unexcavated ruins in the jungle

On reaching San Cristobal we found ourselves immersed in wonderful Mayan culture.  Sixty per cent of the local population is indigenous and the culture permeates the town.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

jaguar magic

jaguar at Na Bolom

Jaguars have special significance for the peoples of southern Mexico, you see models of them everywhere, and I have been feeling pretty inspired about jaguars too.

This article about animals using psychoactive substances describes how jaguars eat the ayahuasca vine.
According to this Discovery article, humans aren’t the only ones that use Banisteriopsis caapi (one of the two plants used to make ayahuasca) as a psychoactive. This Amazonian jungle vine contains several compounds called beta-carbolines that potentiate the DMT in the ayahuasca brew by inhibiting bodily enzymes that would otherwise be responsible for breaking down the DMT. It turns out that jaguars also seek out the leaves of this jungle vine.
Higher doses of harmala alkaloids often result in vomiting and diarrhea characteristic of ayahuasca, so one possibility is that they consume the vine to purge the intestinal tract of possible parasites; a study of the Amazonian Piaroa tribe published in theJournal of Psychoactive Drugs suggests that eating the leaves grants the jaguar heightened sensory perception, helping them hunt. However, the jaguars are also known to roll around in ecstasy after consuming the vine, suggesting to some that its use is primarily for pleasure.

You can even see a jaguar on ayahuasca here.

This article tells of  jaguar symbolism:
'The Jaguar’s medicine includes seeing the roads within chaos and understanding the patterns of chaos, moving without fear in the darkness, moving in unknown places, shape shifting, psychic vision, facilitating soul work, empowering oneself, reclaiming power.
The Black Jaguar’s medicine includes the same as jaguar but in addition keeper of the circular time continuum, gatekeeper to the unknowable.'

Sunday, 5 July 2015

na bolom house of the jaguar

 Na Bolom was the home of Trudy and Frans Blom.  The name means Jaguar House in the language of the Lancandon people whom the Bloms befriended.   The Lancandons were the last remaining peoples not to be be conquered by Spanish culture and religion.  Frans explored and surveyed ancient Maya sites all over Chiapas (including Palenque, Toniná and Chinkultic), Trudy researched, photographed and fought to protect the Lacandón people and their homelands in the jungles of southern Mexico. The museum contains enchanting photographs, archaeological and anthropological relics.  It’s a highly atmospheric and beautiful place in the old colonial town of San Cristobal de las Casas.
Chan K'in, the last spiritual leader of the Lancadon
Lancadon in  jungle

shrine in Mayan house

replica of Mayan house

By the way Mayan crosses carry a different nuance to the Christian crosses that arrived with the Spanish conquerors.  They denote living trees and are decorated with flowers.