The Turning of the Soil and Right Relationship With Plant Medicines – featuring Belinda Eriacho

Note: This is Episode 4 in a series of essays based on contributor chapters in the book How Psychedelics Can Help Save the World: Visionary and Indigenous Voices Speak Out.

Belinda Eriacho is from the lineages of the Diné (Navajo) and A:shiwi (Pueblo of Zuni). Among her numerous involvements and accomplishments, she is the wisdom carrier, healer, and founder of Kaalogii LLC—which is focused on cultural and traditional teaching and inner healing—and an international speaker on various topics impacting Native American communities in the United States. Additionally, Belinda is one of the founding members and a member of the board of directors of the Church of the Eagle and the Condor, which in a stunning breakthrough, has just (April 2024) reached a settlement with federal agencies in the United States affirming the religious right to use ayahuasca.

The Turning of the Soil” is both a concise and an encompassing metaphor for the central, overarching issue and concern of our time—a historical nexus moment of great and rapid upheaval and change. As with the three previous episodes in this series, the information is best transmitted by including the words of the author of the chapter in question. Belinda makes the issue crystal clear in her opening words in her chapter (Ch. 5) in How Psychedelics Can Help Save the World.

“YÁ’ÁT’ÉÉH SHIK’ÈÍ dóó shidine’è (Hello my relatives and people)

This chapter provides a basic innerstanding of the Prophecy of the Eagle and the Condor and this time of great change that humanity is experiencing. To innerstand is to have absolute, heart-centered knowledge from the core of one’s inner being or Source, and is the zero-point to knowledge and being. This is a time of reawakening to ourselves, and a time of the reemergence of the ancient wisdoms of Indigenous peoples across the globe.”

The Prophecy of the Eagle and the Condor is said to be an ancient prophecy from indigenous people of the Americas that tells of a time when the Eagle of the North will meet with the Condor of the South and usher in the return of original knowledge, leading to reconciliation, reunification, and healing of the land and its peoples.

There are several versions of this prophecy that basically all point in the same direction. In her chapter, Belinda quotes Don Oscar Miro Quesada, a curandero (healer) from the Andean tradition of South America. It doesn’t get much clearer than the following passage.

“According to the Prophecy, the essential feature of this nascent age is the extraordinary planetary crisis and upheaval. Tied to the cumulative effects of alienation, separation, and deep amnesia, this crisis increasingly characterizes both humanity and the world. The defining moment of this age is the “re-encounter” of all elements having suffered separation during humanity’s prior unfolding. It becomes a time of coming together of peoples, ancestry, and traditions, along with the restoration of harmony between humankind and Mother Nature. It culminates symbolically in the meeting of all races, and their “breaking bread” together at the table of the World Teacher. This event indicates the emergency of humanity from its illusion of separation.”

Also in her chapter, Belinda describes in moving prose her healing journey with ayahuasca, again, best told in her words.

“My first awakening to myself was during my first journey with Shima saní azééd (grandmother plant medicine, or ayahuasca). As Grandmother Aya worked on me, I was able to release the emotional connectedness to the painful memories, to forgive myself and others surrounding those experiences. My tears helped to erase the emotions from my consciousness and to find inner healing. This healing also included the healing of my ancestors and the intergenerational traumas experienced by the internment camps of Hwéeldi, or the Long Walk to Bosque Redondo, as well as to help clear the path for future generations of my family. From my own experiences, I know these beautiful relatives are here to awaken us and heal our inner being.”

There’s far too much wisdom in Belinda’s chapter to include in this relatively brief synopsis. I’ll just add a couple more key points.

Most of us in the large, urbanized, industrial societies of the “West” still have a long way to go toward realizing, embracing, and acting on the understanding that we are all related as active participants in an exquisitely intelligent and beautifully interdependent, interwoven web of existence. For those of us working with plant medicines, this recognition is essential. In Belinda’s words:

“This interconnectedness also applies to our plant relatives. If we use our personal relationship with a family member as an analogy, just as we would take great care of our elderly grandmother, with reverence, so too should we take care and have reverence for all plants, including the sacred plant medicines. This care and reverence should occur throughout the entire cycle of life, from cradle to cradle of the plant, and not just pertain to the consumption of it.”

I’ll close this episode with a brief reference to three points Belinda makes under the chapter sub-heading “The Intersection of Ancient Wisdom and the Psychedelic Renaissance.” Each one of these points is fleshed out over a couple of paragraphs in her chapter in the book.

“First, we must not see ourselves as human beings separate from the universe and everything that exists around us. In the Andean tradition of the Q’eros people there is a spiritual principle, ayni, which translates into “sacred reciprocity.” . . . In order for Western society to appreciate sacred plant medicine, everyone will need to come to this innerstanding.

“The second point I’d like to make is that the field of psychedelic medicine will need to embrace the concept associated with spirituality and healing. We can no longer teach those in the helping professions about healing without a conversation and lessons about the interplay that spirituality has on human beings. It has been my personal experience in my travels that researchers, psychologists, therapists, and medical doctors are afraid to incorporate spirituality into their practices.

“My third point is that much can be learned from Indigenous and Native American ways of healing. The wisdom of these rituals and ceremonies is based on the practical experiences of our ancestors over millennia. It is a true model of wholeness.”

“This is a time to replace our fears with compassion. It is a time to come from our hearts and not our minds.” – Belinda Eriacho

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Next episode in this series:

Homesick for a Place We’ve Never Been: The Cosmic Orphan and the Wound of the World

featuring Jamie Wheal (Ch. 5 in How Psychedelics Can Help Save the World.)

Jamie Wheal is one of our most insightful and articulate culture commentators on the present and future of human society. He is the coauthor of the global bestseller Stealing Fire (2018) and more recently Recapture the Rapture: Rethinking God, Sex, and Death in a World That’s Lost Its Mind. He is also the founder of the Flow Genome Project, an organization dedicated to the research and training of human performance. Jamie’s work and ideas are in great demand and have been covered in numerous leading publications. 

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