Monthly Archives: September 2012

Tales from the Golden Cabinet: Carla Woody on NLP and More…

Bali Pond

Bali Pond
Photo: Carla Woody

I was honored to be interviewed once again by host Teresa Maijala on Tales from the Golden Cabinet on KOOP Radio streaming live from Austin, Texas on 91.7 fm. Our conversation was broadcast on September 15, 2012. You can listen to it here or go to the archive on KOOP Radio. We discuss Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), indigenous wisdom traditions, spiritual travel—and the dynamic effect of integrating these aspects. The interview is 52 minutes. I hope you enjoy!

Here’s what Teresa has to say about Tales from the Golden Cabinet:

It’s…”sharing stories about natural medicines and holistic lifestyles, from qualified practitioners. Every culture on earth, has their own traditional medicines and healing ways. Traditions that have been handed down from generation to generation. I feel it is important for us to remember the wisdom of our Ancestors, and share them so we can keep the natural medicines of our cultures alive, it’s one of my passions. We are now pod-casting our shows for you to enjoy at your convenience. Please follow the link at the bottom of each blog entry to get to the Internet Archive of the show!

The name of our show Tales from the Golden Cabinet, is my way of honoring an ancient Chinese Doctor and Alchemist by the name of Ge Hong. Ge Hong is the author of a famous ancient text on Chinese Herbal Medicine called Essentials from the Golden Cabinet, hence the name!”

Categories: Healing, Healthy Living, Indigenous Wisdom, NLP, Spiritual Evolution, Spiritual Travel | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

October 24 Lifepath Dialogues Gathering

Lifepath Dialogue Gathering

Exploring the many threads that weave together an expressive, celebrated life.


You are invited! Please pass to friends and family.

OCTOBER 24, 6:30-8 PM

FREE Monthly Gathering on Fourth Wednesdays

Creekside Center, 337 N. Rush Street, Prescott, Arizona

October’s topic:

Is Genetic Engineering Life-Affirming?

Based on the collaborative post: What Legacy GMOs?

Author of Calling Our Spirits Home and Standing Stark
Founder, Kenosis and Kenosis Spirit Keepers



Guest Host:

Lesley McKeown, Vice Chair, & board member of GMO-Free Prescott,

a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, seeking to raise awareness of

genetically modified organisms (GMO’S) and encourage nourishing food options.


Email: or call 928.778.1058


Contact GMO-Free Prescott via email.
Carla Woody will return to hosting in November with another special guest.

Categories: Healthy Living, Indigenous Wisdom | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

What Legacy GMOs?

The Effect on Tradition, Health and Individual Rights

The pervasive nature of GMO (Genetically Modfied Organism) foods and the corporations who benefit is subject matter that affects us all. I became aware of just how pervasive this issue had become when I was at a conference several years ago. A Zuni man told of the danger to his Native corn crop; he feared cross-contamination from GMO-planted fields nearby or even seeds blowing over from trucks transporting them. Should it happen then his corn would no longer be that grown by his ancestors for centuries. Crop purity was his concern as his right to maintain tradition. The Zuni man isn’t alone as farmers all over are fighting to keep their heritage crops.

Native Corn

Native Corn
Photo: Carla Woody

Kenosis Spirit Keepers is collaborating with Grandmother Flordemayo of the International Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers to help fund her Native Seed Temple for just that reason—preservation of tradition. Elders are already bringing her seeds for safekeeping and propagation.

We Are What We Eat

Learn about GMOsBut beyond that the use of GMOs in our food boils down to real questions about our health and individual rights to actually know what we’re eating. There’s so much media coverage about the amount of fast food in the American diet. The proliferation of GMOs must be equally as concerning.

The following paragraphs were provided by GMO-Free Prescott, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, promoting grassroots efforts that encourage informed and nourishing food options and choices through education and public awareness.

Is the Genetic Engineering of Food Life-Affirming?

Let’s begin by asking: What does “life-affirming” mean? Life-affirming means that it gives you a new faith in life. It reminds you that life is good and that everything will be fine; something that promotes life or celebrates life rather than the destruction of it.

If these statements ring true, as they do for many of us, then a follow-up question to be asked about the genetic engineering of food is:  Is the patenting of life…life-affirming? Since the patenting of life forms goes hand-in-hand with genetic engineering this is an important query.

The patenting of life forms has become the subject of a growing worldwide campaign by citizen groups, environmentalists, scientists, farmers’ organisations and also religious leaders. They believe that animals, plants, humans, microorganisms and their parts such as genes and cells, should not be patentable as these life forms are creations of God and Nature.

—    From Third World Network

A further inquiry might be: Does our experience with genetic engineering and GMOs over the last twenty years align with the previous statements?

October is National Non GMO Month. The October 24 Lifepath Dialogues Gathering will be guest hosted by GMO-Free Prescott as an educational outreach to the community—and it happens on National Food Day. Held 6:30-8 PM at Creekside Center, 337 N. Rush Street in Prescott as usual.

Categories: Healthy Living, Indigenous Wisdom | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Sacred Reciprocity – Part II

Excerpted from Navigating Your Lifepath by Carla Woody.


In Part I, I wrote about ayni, which can be loosely translated from the Quechua as “sacred reciprocity.” In my estimation, it bears exploring over and over again, as we can dip more deeply into the meanings that rest beneath the surface. Ayni is not merely a concept, something nice to talk about, to the people of the Andes and other Native peoples. It is an actual day-to-day practice so embedded that they don’t even question it.

Carla and Q'ero Waikis

The author greeting Doña Carmina and other Q’ero waikis (friends) before a despacho (blessing) ceremony outside Cusco.
Photo credit: Oakley Gordon

In Western culture we think more in terms of giving and receiving. I give you something. You owe me something in return. In the Andean tradition there’s a much different flavor to giving and receiving. It has to do with the support of the entire community, not just one person.

If one person knows how to do something very well and the other person doesn’t, the one who has the skill automatically shares the teaching. The reciprocity comes to the first person in two ways. First, the teacher is validated for her knowledge base and may also learn more through the teaching. Maybe even more importantly, the entire community benefits because there are now two people with added value instead of just one.


In 2004 I heard a radio program on global cultural change called “Andean Harvest” on Worlds of Difference that lent a further distinction to ayni and its influence. The interview took place in one of the mountain villages in Peru and had to do with the potato crop, of which there are a few hundred varieties. The challenge had to do with the farmers growing more of the different kinds of potatoes and getting them to market. To do so would give the opportunity to increase their livelihood. As a part of this undertaking, they were being advised by outside sources.

But the farmers rejected most of the sources’ advice. In the interview one of the elders said, “We will do nothing that would put one of us in competition with the other.” He went on to explain that introducing competitiveness would negatively impact the overall health of the community. What he said gave me pause and a great deal of consideration by contrasting it with my home culture.


In Western culture, competition is considered healthy, naturally a part of our capitalistic society. Sports teams compete. Sportsmanship behavior is encouraged. But there are a few other strange, although familiar twists, which get in the way and preclude the practice of true ayni as yet.

The programming of our society says that success means we have to “be somebody.” That translates to a profession: doctor or lawyer but not “merely” a mother or father. If we define our worth and identity through career choice, or lack of thereof, there’s a huge convolution to the psyche; it sends the ego scrambling. The natural follow-on is one of competition, individual gratification, the need to “win” in order to be validated. The behaviors that come of this particular mindset produce not community, but a fractured society generating discordant energy.

Competition introduced into locales such as those in the Andes would create confusion, disrupting their underlying spiritual tradition. People there are known not so much by what they do, but by who they are. Many of the shamans and mystics that I have come across in Peru and elsewhere can determine who we are by seeing our energy field. That tells everything. A light energy field and the intent to evolve are what garner respect, not a livelihood.

Witnessing our own thoughts and actions is a slippery slope at best. The ego has all kinds of rationale to convince us that what we do is for our own good and that of those around us. Coming from the culture we do, unconsciously ingesting what we have, we perform a service to ourselves, and ultimately our communities, by being alert and wiser than the ego mind. The Core Self insists on it. Here are a couple of questions to consider.

– How do you find the level of competition around you?

– How can you make space for and “sponsor” others?


Go to Sacred Reciprocity, Part I.

Categories: Indigenous Wisdom, Personal Growth, Sacred Reciprocity, Spiritual Evolution, Spiritual Travel, Travel Experiences | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sacred Reciprocity – Part I

In the traditions of the Andes, ayni is a way of life. This Quechua word has no real translation but loosely summarized means sacred reciprocity, merely one of the life-affirming teachings about balance and flow. I’ve taken it to heart—and attempted to pass the teaching on in my home culture. I say “attempt” because it’s been a real challenge where, in Western culture, it’s so much more about “winning” on an individual level. In other words: What’s In It For Me? When I was a fledgling organizational development consultant decades ago, I even remember being taught to appeal to people through “WIIFM”…in teambuilding workshops, a paradox for sure.

A Marker in Spiritual Evolution

My sense is that when a person reaches certain markers in their spiritual evolution there’s an inherent understanding of the circle of life—that to hoard interrupts a natural flow, not only to the individual, but affects global wellbeing detrimentally. Instead, there’s an automatic desire to give in whatever ways can be given…and there’s no obsession about how something will be received in turn—what is “due” on the other side.

Connection Mixed Media by Carla Woody

Connection, Mixed Media
©1996 Carla Woody

How Sacred Reciprocity Connects Us

In a recent post, I reviewed Jamie Reaser’s new book of poetry Sacred Reciprocity: Courting the Beloved in Everyday Life with beautiful verses about exchange with the Infinite through nature. Ayni touches many places in our lives.

In my review of the documentary El Andalon I introduced you to humanitarian healer Don Sergio Castro, who works with impoverished Maya communities around San Cristóbal de las Casas in Chiapas, Mexico. It was an act of ayni on the part of filmmakers Veremos Productions to have produced it and are donating part of the proceeds to his mission.

Without that film I wouldn’t have known about Don Sergio’s work. As a result of that introduction, audiences with Don Sergio are now part of the itinerary of my spiritual travel program in Chiapas. I’ve asked travelers to bring simple first aid supplies to donate, along with a monetary amount I will make as an offering.

Don Sergio attending young Maya girl

Don Sergio attending young Maya girl.
Photo: Patricia Ferrer

But it doesn’t stop there. One of my subscribers, who lives in France, contacted Patricia Ferrer, who is in Tucson and connected with Don Sergio, alerting her to my review. Patricia has been volunteering with Don Sergio for a few years now, spending between two to five weeks per year. She gives of her skills selflessly. We corresponded and I had the good fortune to meet her in person when I was recently in Tucson for a speaking engagement.

Don Sergio and Patricia working.

Don Sergio and Patricia working.
Photo: Patricia Ferrer

Here are some of Patricia’s words from the article The Circle of Life posted on Meg Pier’s blog View from the Pier:

…Many of the Indios do not want to go to the hospital as they feel discriminated against, they don’t trust the hospital system, and they don’t understand the system nor does the system understand them. Many times they wait too long to go to the hospital and when they finally do go they die as their condition has become too severe…

 …Don Sergio knows these people well and even when he recommends they go to the hospital they are still reluctant: some do, some don’t. The one constant is if they come to Don Sergio he will do his best to help them although he knows the outcome is not good.  The unwavering trust from the Maya is clear when they arrive to his museo, which is also used as a clinic…

Another Opportunity for Ayni

We currently have six more openings for the January 13-25, 2013 Entering the Maya Mysteries program in Chiapas. A portion of tuition is tax-deductible and already designated toward Grandmother Flordemayo’s project to preserve Native seeds.

However, I have promised Patricia that, for each person she refers to me for registration through this blog post or otherwise, I will donate an additional $100 to Don Sergio’s work, aside from what I’ve already planned to personally donate. So, if you are someone who is called to practice ayni in this way while having a life-enhancing experience yourself, please contact Patricia through her blog, or me. When registering for the January program mention her name to ensure the additional donation will be made.

This is one way the circle of life continues to expand.

Ayni has a flow all its own.

Go to Sacred Reciprocity, Part II.

Categories: Healing, Indigenous Wisdom, Sacred Reciprocity, Spiritual Evolution, Spiritual Travel, Travel Experiences | Tags: , , , , , | 8 Comments

What Is Renewal? – Part II

In the Part I of What Is Renewal I relayed my experience at a conference back in 2007 put on by the Bali Institute of Global Renewal when a young man asked me…

Do you think it’s time for some traditions to die

so the next thing can come along?

And after my initial shock at his question I recovered enough to answer…

The thought of that happening hurts my very soul.

I don’t remember what else I said and it probably wasn’t as coherent as I’d have liked just because of the powerful emotions washing over me in that moment. But I do know that I thanked him for his question; I said it was personally quite significant to me. He looked perplexed.

Don Antonio lighting the godpots

Don Antonio Martinez lighting the godpots during the sacred balché ceremony of the Lacandón Maya.
Photo: Carla Woody


Do I understand about cycles, death and rebirth, seasons? Of course. Transition is the nature of the work I do every day. Is it time for these traditions to return to the ether? No! At least, certainly not yet.

Through my experiences with Native peoples over the years, I’ve learned these things: They are people who touch the earth, live close to it, who understand the nature of connection of all things…energy…sharing in community…a global consciousness. They hold these threads sacred in their now fragile traditions.

If you’re reading this article, then you probably belong to a culture that has largely forgotten these things. And we’re hungry for these aspects that are so rare or fleeting in our present-day societies—especially because the pendulum swing seems stuck toward destruction of these values.

Part of my involvement at the conference was to help facilitate a track called “Language of the Soul.” On the final day of that forum, and as a culmination to our activities and discussions, I guided a despacho ceremony—learned from Q’ero spiritual leaders— with those who had chosen that track, about forty people. To my knowledge only one other person there was familiar with the blessing ritual. But all actively participated: folks from such far-flung places like China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Zimbabwe, Australia, United States and others. Afterwards, they made comments about the effect it had on them, such as feeling moved and the sensation of energy for the first time.


Hopi Harold Joseph sharing traditions in Don Antonio's godhouse

Hopi elder Harold Joseph (left) sharing traditions in Don Antonio’s godhouse after the balché ceremony.
Photo: Darlene Dunning

I fully believe that if we honor Indigenous traditions such as those I discussed in Part I…if we’re willing to sit in circle…to take part in these deeply held spiritual rituals…then we touch what’s timeless. We’re injected. A transmission takes place that gets integrated into who we are in the world.

And when we hold sacred witness to those who have had the difficult and usually thankless role of holding these filaments—and honor them for the stake they’ve held—a sacred reciprocity occurs. There is a ripple that goes out. When there are enough of us engaged in this way, then perhaps it’s time for some traditions to relinquish themselves. That’s hardly yet though, is it?

Isn’t it ironic that this consideration came to me at a conference whose subject matter was global renewal? Maybe it’s easier to create a careful cocoon, to insulate ourselves, to stick our collective heads in the sand and ignore what’s happening around us. I can’t do it.

My soul won’t let me.

I offer spiritual travel journeys with the premise of supporting Indigenous traditions that are so in danger of decimation through influence from Western culture. Through Kenosis Spirit Keepers, the nonprofit extension of my organization, we sponsor Native Spirit Keepers living in the US so that they may sit in circle and reconnect with Maya, Q’ero and Quechua spiritual leaders and community. Through this intangible process I have witnessed the important effect it has—spiritual beauty and strength.

For Western travelers who accompany me, I view our participation and witnessing as a gift of respect, aside from the transformational aspects it has on us.

And the long-term effects are forever carried in our souls.


For those who are moved to support this work in preservation of Native wisdom traditions and well-being of the Maya people, please join us for Entering the Maya Mysteries, January 13-25, 2013. Your participation matters. Also see my post on the humanitarian work of Don Sergio Castro. Grandmother Flordemayo of the International Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers will be with us in January blessing our travels with prayers.

Categories: Healing, Indigenous Wisdom, Lacandón Maya, Spiritual Evolution, Spiritual Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

What Is Renewal? – Part I

(Original article written in 2007 with additions here.)

Recently I had the good fortune to be invited to participate in a conference on global renewal sponsored by the Bali Institute. It was held in Ubud, considered to be the cultural and spiritual center of Bali. This was a significant gathering bringing together people from many countries with at least one thing in common — a vision for a better, kinder world and the strong desire to make it happen now. I’m still digesting all that happened for me. Part of it I will share with you here.


Balinese temple figure

Balinese temple figure.
Photo: Carla Woody

It was the second day of the conference and I had arrived early to the Bali Classic Centre where it was held. It’s a site too beautiful for words with temples, lush foliage and meandering pathways throughout. I was standing in the open-air pavilion where people tended to gather during breaks, just enjoying my surroundings, when a young man approached me asking if he could speak to me. He indicated he had seen some literature on the programs I’m doing with the Maya in the Chiapas region of Mexico. In particular he was interested in Don Antonio Martinez, the last Spirit Keeper practicing the ancient sacred traditions of the Lacandón Maya. Then he said something I didn’t at all expect.

 Do you think it’s time for some traditions to die

so the next thing can come along?

 Whether his question came out of earnest interest or a flip attitude didn’t really matter. His words hit me like a shock wave that reverberated in hidden, interior places. This was a question I had come to Bali to hear.


Don Antonio and Balche Ceremony

Don Antonio Martinez of the Lacandón Maya during the balché ceremony.
Photo: Carla Woody

While I’m fairly sure the effect of the missile wasn’t apparent from the outside, my mind was immediately flooded with images. I replayed a time earlier that year with Don Antonio in the middle of the rainforest village of Najá, in his lone god house, burning copal in two of his god pots, chanting, invoking connection with Hachäkyum, the principal deity of the Lacandón, and another god in honor of our visit. He’d chuckled softly when the copal in one of the pots had at first refused to light saying that god was shy that day.

There was evidence of hundreds of such ceremonies in the burnt residue in his god pots, mounded to overflowing. He needed to retire these god pots and replace them with new ones. When asked why he hadn’t, he said that since the road had cut through the jungle to Najá it brought too much noise for the sacred renewal ritual. I remember remarking to myself how very little disturbance there was in contrast with what we visitors had at home. But still, it was an affront to the gods.*

Q'eros of Peru

Sitting in circle with Q’ero spiritual leaders.
Photo credit: Monty DeLozier

Another image came to me in the next split second, this time in the high mountains of the Andes in Peru, sitting in circle with Q’ero paq’os, or shamans, and other members of the Q’ero Nation, participating in a despacho, or blessing, ceremony. The absolute sense of collectively touching something beyond what is ordinarily presented, my eyes swept the circle of travelers who had come with me; I noted the ceremony’s subtle and sometimes dramatic effect on them.

These experiences are precious and will perhaps soon border on extinction just like in the Lacandón rainforest and the myriad other places where the footprint of modern society has been placed. A road is planned to Q’ero, which, until this time, has remained isolated at 17,000 feet in altitude with traditions pure and intact.

Hopi Spirit Keepers 2007

The author with Hopis Clarence Washington (lft) and David Washington (rt) at Salk’awasi, Mollamarka, Peru.
Photo: Darlene Dunning

Then my mind came to rest on the memory of the Hopi father and son that we sponsored to the Andes that past summer. I recalled the gratitude they expressed frequently, through tears, to be gifted with the opportunity to be in circle with their Quechua brothers and sisters and what it meant to them.

As I absorbed the ultimate meaning of the young man’s question coupled with these recollections, I was surprised to find tears welling up from my heart, through my throat, discovering moisture in my eyes. And in a cracking voice, this is what I said to him.

The thought of that happening hurts my very soul.


Go to Part II.

*In an area now thoroughly infiltrated by missionaries and decimated by logging companies, Najá was the last hold-out until Chan K’in Viejo, their powerful Spirit Holder, passed in 1997 at about 105 years old. Don Antonio, his son-in-law, is now the last Spirit Keeper maintaining the traditional beliefs and ceremonies.

If you are called to support preservation of these fragile traditions—and have a life-transforming experience yourself—I invite you to join us for Entering the Maya Mysteries, January 13-25. Among other opportunities to engage with authentic Maya spiritual leaders, Grandmother Flordemayo, a member of the International Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers, will travel with us…lending her prayers to our circles.

Categories: Healing, Indigenous Wisdom, Lacandón Maya, Spiritual Evolution, Spiritual Travel, Travel Experiences | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Review – Sacred Reciprocity: Courting the Beloved in Everyday Life

The Poetry of Jamie Reaser

The beauty of Jamie Reaser’s poetry causes my heart to thrill, to ache, to still—with each turning of lyrical phrase. In Sacred Reciprocity she is both transparent seeker, sitting in deep communion, and gentle guide, gracefully leading us to those innermost places where the Soul revels.

The Sacred Way of Giving and Receiving

Sacred Reciprocity by Jamie Reaser

Sacred Reciprocity by Jamie Reaser
Newly published by Hiraeth Press

Jamie and I have a mutual connection through Andean mystic Don Américo Yábar where, many years ago, we were both exposed to the life-affirming practice of reciprocity—in a vastly different way than when we think of that word in our culture. The Quechua word ayni has no exact translation but can be understood as a sacred sense of giving and receiving, a balanced energetic exchange. You see, in the Andes, all is related to energy and respect. Ever since I learned of ayni, its my daily intent. I’ve taken it to heart.

So has Jamie; she offers this further distinction in the introduction to her new book: “…Ayni can be established among people, between humans and all other beings, and between all beings and the animate Cosmos…What is given may not be anywhere near as important as how it is given. In ayni, it is the heart that counts.”

Jamie Reaser is a naturalist who has worked around the world as a biologist, environmental educator, eco-psychologist and much more. But the aspect that allows me to know her true nature—and devotion to ayni—is her ability to: sit in silence where she lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia; take in the glory she experiences…and transmit it back in such beautifully accurate ways that speak of our common condition. Here is just one sample.

 Dawn Kiss

The Sun,

dressed in dawn robes,

rose with time enough

to kiss the Moon, his beloved,

on full, wanting lips.


still distinguishing themselves from

the wings of dreamtime,

looked abashedly at each other,


How often had they

failed to seize

a precious passing moment…

A moment that could have

united the transiting heavens.

That was the morning birds

decided to sing.

Jamie will be joining us for our Winter Solstice “Entering the Maya Mysteries” journey to the highlands of Mexico and Guatemala. I’m delighted that she has consented to share her poetry during sacred periods of those travels because—I know—it will add to the deep meaning of that time.

Sacred Reciprocity: Courting the Beloved in Everyday Life is a new title published by Hiraeth Press in August 2012; also available via Amazon. My review of Note to Self, her previous book of poetry, is located here. And be sure to visit her poetry blog Talking Waters.

Categories: Book Review, Meditation, Spiritual Evolution, The Writing Life | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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