Monthly Archives: August 2015

Those Who Carry Planetary Consciousness

In 2008 Kenosis Spirit Keepers sponsored Hopi Harold Joseph on my spiritual travel program to Peru. The intent being an opportunity for two relations—Q’ero and Hopi—to share a journey from Cusco to Lake Titicaca along their common migration path. Two videographers also came along to document the nature of this work of the heart. Jacob Devaney, of Culture Collective and now blogger for Huffington Post, was one of them.

Last week Jacob contacted me via email related to writing about his experience and said, “My time in Peru was so profound it took me 7 years to even start writing about it… Thanks, Carla! The magic continues to unfold.”

Hopi and Q'ero

Hopi Harold Joseph with Q’ero Wisdom Keepers. Photo: Darlene Dunning.

I can tell you those were quite the momentous times. We fellow travelers were privileged to be there and participate in the circle with these Wisdom Keepers still so committed to their core traditional values. Those who carry consciousness for planetary wellbeing are becoming an endangered strain of humanity.

Thankfully, the track that called me back in 1994 has continued, deepening in so many ways I couldn’t have predicted. In this year’s program Hopi Marvin Lalo from First Mesa will be meeting his Q’ero relations for the first time. Our journey begins at Tiwanaku, the legendary Creation Place in Bolivia, and travels along an initiation path all the way to the Manu rainforest in Peru. Marvin is so excited.

Jacob’s article is titled Wisdom of an Andean Mystic:

This is not your usual story of going to the jungle to try Ayahuasca…

Few people realize that the Hopi Tribe of Northern Arizona have clans that are descendants of tribes from the northernmost to southernmost tips of the Americas (and quite possibly beyond that). The Q’ero are believed to be descendants of the Inca, who fled high into the Andes where they successfully hid from outsiders until recent decades. Kenosis Spirit Keepers had created the cultural exchange program, and Don Americo Yabar was playing a central role in translating between cultural leaders. I was brought along by Carla Woody to help document and assist my Hopi friend, Harold Joseph…

Read the entire article on Uplift.

Categories: cultural interests, Indigenous Wisdom, Spiritual Travel | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Through the Dark in Still Point Arts Quarterly

Fire flute

Xavier playing the fire flute, his own translation of a ceremonial experience. Courtesy photo.

I was privileged to interview Xavier Quijas Yxayotl, who grew up on the streets of Guadalajara, Mexico. Until adolescence he was spurned by peers, misunderstood by teachers and family alike, often abused. Then an unlikely benefactor came forward whose support opened possibilities. But it was the boy who stepped up, seized them, grew his talents and embraced the Huichol Indian lineage his family denied. Especially notable, he resurrected ceremonial instruments of his homeland that were lost to time; the way to do so came through dreams. His is an inspirational story of a boy who answered his calling—against all odds—and went on to become internationally known as a composer, ritual musician, artist and spiritual healer.

I’m delighted to announce that my article Through the Dark is being published in the Fall 2015 issue of Still Point Arts Quarterly, a literary arts journal, with much appreciation going to Xavier for indulging me. Here’s the preview of a story of true intent.

The boy fidgeted. He was in foreign territory, held prisoner by his mother’s hand on his arm. They sat side-by-side in matching chairs before the great divide of a massive desk. His mother’s voice rose and fell. Words tumbled over each other as though, if she didn’t get them out fast enough, the man considering them would summarily swat them out the door, no different than pesky insects.

An hour before, his mother pulled him along inner city streets into a massive building. They finally stopped in front of one door among several down the long hall. She smoothed her skirt and combed fingers through his black hair. With a deep breath, she opened the door. The secretary looked up.

“Please, I would like to see the director,” his mother said.

“Do you have an appointment?” The secretary appraised them, noting their dusky skin and worn clothing. When she shook her head, the secretary motioned them to a row of chairs against the wall and picked up the phone. They waited.

The man behind the desk was impeccably dressed in a gray suit matching the color shot through his dark hair and mustache. The lines in his face softened as he listened, shifting attention from the Indian woman before him to the boy, eyes downcast, clutching a notebook in his lap. “Maestro Caracalla, I am Señora Isabel. This is my son Xavier. He’s different, a good artist. In school he always fights because no one understands him, not the teachers, not the other kids. He’s always thinking. Since he was old enough to hold a pencil, he always draws and writes about everything. He’s like an old person in a little boy’s body!”

The woman continued at length relating how, in the last two years, her son kept running away to live on the streets. Xavier slept in parks, skipped school, survived by selling newspapers and shoe shines. Terrified, she would search and drag him home, if she was fortunate to find him. But the next day he’d be gone again. He wouldn’t do what his father wanted: to set aside these silly pastimes, to work making shoes to help support the family.

“We have seven children. Xavier is the youngest boy. We are very poor. But he is so different and I’m afraid what might happen to him. Is there something you can do?” She finished softly.

Maestro Caracalla gestured to the boy’s notebook, “Is this your work?”

Xavier froze in his chair and prayed to disappear. He didn’t think the Maestro would hit him like his father did, but he dreaded the reprimand he knew would come. He whispered, “Yes.”

“Show it to me then.” The room was silent save the sound of Maestro Caracalla slowly turning pages after scrutinizing each one. Finally he closed the book. Looking over wire-rimmed glasses, his eyes seemed to bore into Xavier’s very soul. He gazed at Señora Isabel then back at the boy, whose reddened face was moist with sweat. “Señora, I don’t think you have any idea what a beautiful child you have. What ideas! His writing doesn’t match his age. He’s not a normal child. You have to do something with him. We have to help him!”

Maestro Caracalla told her to bring the boy back the following Monday, handing over a long list of art materials to buy. There’s not enough to eat! How can we buy art supplies? Guilt flooded Xavier’s mind. He was certain of a dead end. But at the appointed time his mother delivered him to the Maestro. She could only muster a clean new drawing tablet and 6B pencil, keeping even that small expenditure hidden from her husband. The secretary ordered a sandwich for Xavier, although he said he didn’t need anything.

“Ah, there you are,” the Maestro swept in from his office. He took Xavier by the hand and led him down the hall. They stopped in all the classrooms where he spoke to the teachers, “I want to introduce Xavier. He’s coming to take classes.”

That is how an eleven-year-old Huichol Indian boy from the streets came to attend Escuela des Artes Plásticas, the art school in Guadalajara, Mexico—the youngest pupil ever to sit alongside regular university students. They became his peers and friends. Maestro Caracalla continued as his benefactor for six years, making sure he had all the classes he needed: writing, painting, art history and more.

Still Point Arts QuarterlyTo obtain the Fall 2015 Still Point Arts Quarterly—a beautifully illustrated journal featuring art portfolios and featured articles—and read the rest of his fascinating story, go here.

Categories: Arts, Creativity Strategies, Indigenous Wisdom, Spiritual Evolution | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

When the Fire Speaks

cave ceremony

Cave ceremony with Apab’yan. Photo courtesy: Apab’yan Tew.

Apab’yan Tew is an Ajq’ij, a Day Keeper, traditional dancer, musician and spiritual guide of the sacred K’iche Maya tradition from the village of Nawalja’ in Sololá of the Guatemalan highlands. His ceremonial work most often takes place in caves, engaging with resident energies of the natural site and timing of the TzolkinCholq’ij in K’iche’—calendar in conjunction with needs of communities or individuals. His gifts evolved from childhood until he ultimately answered the call through a series of difficult shamanic challenges.

Apab'yan in ceremonial dance. Photo courtesy: Apab'yan Tew.

Apab’yan in ceremonial dance. Photo courtesy: Apab’yan Tew.

In the last few years, Apab’yan has become an important, integral part of our Maya spiritual travel program. Being a spiritual guide himself, he’s able to connect with the other Maya leaders and healers in such a way that provides even deeper openings for all of us.

To extend a brief introduction on the Maya worldview…here’s an excerpt of an article I wrote in which he’s quoted, drawing material from an interview we had, speaking eloquently about natural laws.

We cannot be who we must be without the land. Another principle is that the body we have is not really ours. It is lent from the Mother Earth herself. So if you create any kind of danger to your body, you are also hurting the Mother Earth. What the Earth produces and what we produce is part of the same cycle, the same system. We are not separated from the Earth—and the Earth is not to be thought of as just another provider of goods. The term that is used in the West is ‘natural resources’ as something to be taken, something to be transformed. For us, we don’t use this term. We use the term ‘elements of life.’ It is our life! It is not a resource…

…It is our purpose not to take more than we can give back. But it is also our purpose not to change. We must not touch what is not ours. It is not ours from the beginning. It is ours to have a dialogue…

For this additional article I’d asked Apab’yan to offer a summary on the Maya fire ceremony of his homeland, a very special engagement—a portal really—probably unlike what most of us would have experienced as a fire ceremony.

Fire altar

Fire altar before lighting. Photo: Carla Woody

Everything is alive. Everything has a form of communication. Everything has meaning and belongs to a natural system.

The Maya ceremony consists of preparing a ceremonial pyre. It is called a gift but also a payment in the sense of reciprocity. The K’iche’ ceremonial pyre is not a bonfire; it does not burn a long time. It does not need to last. The importance has to do with what happens while the fire is active: There must be a dialogue.

When the fire starts to burn, the sky and the earth begin to speak. The clouds are speaking. The wind speaks. The birds talk and sing. Everyone…everything…participates in that moment.

It’s only the human being—especially the adult—that needs to be pushed to believe this is possible. I must repeat again and again that it is possible to understand everything… anything…to just hear, feel and communicate in that unique moment.

Nothing—apart from humans—offers so much resistance.

For millennia selected specialists dedicated to maintaining culture and spirituality have continued the work of consultation, healing and reading messages of the form of intelligence that is not human. It is translated through what is seen in the moving flames, not in a human scale. What is hidden in the past, present and future can be accessed by the cadence of the voice and poetry of the ceremonial language.

Ajq’ij is the name given to the specialist, woman or man, devoted to the study of time measurement and time as a substance.

The fire is alive, speaks and does so with discernment. That is, it allows negotiation because it is listening, too. The sacred fire opens up possibilities. One can review decisions, consult your own heart, enter into an affinity with nature, interact with the ancestors, experience communion with the universe.

I am inviting you to be participants in our ceremonies and travels.

For any reader skeptical about the potency of the fire and Apab’yan’s ability to call forth and read its messages: During a fire ceremony in our January 2015 spiritual travel program in Chiapas, Mexico he said to the group, “The fire is speaking.” Indeed, to my eyes it appeared to suddenly be dancing. After a few moments he continued, “Carla, this is for you. The fire says in a few months you will be going on a very long journey, not a normal one.” He went on to tell me what the fire had to say about that journey.

I had not told Apab’yan that at the end of April I was leaving my home to walk the Camino Francés, the ancient 500-mile pilgrimage that begins in Saint Jean Pied-de-Port on the French side of the Pyrenees and culminates in Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain. Certainly not one of my normal journeys… and the fire’s advisement related to it turned out to be true.


I join Apab’yan in inviting you to join us for Entering the Maya Mysteries in January 2017, an immersion experience in Maya cosmology, arts, medicine and sacred ways of the Living Maya. A very special journey with authentic spiritual leaders who serve their communities and the opportunity to participate in religious festivals and ceremonies in Maya rainforest and highland villages. I’m so pleased that once again Apab’yan will be accompanying us sharing ceremonies and teachings throughout. A portion of tuition is tax-deductible to support a Hopi Spirit Keeper traveling with us and Don Sergio Castro’s humanitarian healing work in impoverished Maya villages.

For more on Maya worldview, and that of other Indigenous traditions, read my complete article Seed Intelligence: Indigenous Perspectives and Our Collective Birthright originally published in Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) Farming Curriculum developed by Honor the Earth for Tribal Community Colleges, 2013.

To listen to my complete interview with Apab’yan go to You Tube.

Categories: Indigenous Wisdom, Maya, Sacred Reciprocity | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Interview in 5enses Magazine

5ensesBack in April before I left to walk the Camino de Santiago, Jacques Laliberté made the trek out to my place to interview me for 5enses Magazine, a local publication featuring the arts and science in the Greater Prescott, Arizona area. Jacques is a fellow artist, and over the 20+ years he’s lived in this area has had regular columns on art and related subjects. Even so, we were barely acquaintances; our paths had crossed just a couple of times. I’ve been interviewed several times. But not like this. Before I knew it nearly three hours had passed. And I’d spoken of things I normally keep to myself on the deeper elements of my life and work, not usually the stuff for mainstream consumption. This was more like a chat between friends sharing life experiences and some of those things that are unexplainable in the spiritual realm.

The interview has just been published in print and online. Somehow he was able to condense all the ground we’d covered into a quite readable story…and kept some of the most personal things I’d disclosed to himself. Thank you very much. It’s an apparent talent.

Here is a bit:

 Wisdom through stillness: Carla Woody integrates indigenous ideas in art, life

‘Set your intent and let it go. Your intent is your beginning. Worrying about the details detracts from the intent . . . the attraction will take care of the details.’

Thus — in her ‘The Lifepath Dialogues’ blog — Prescott artist Carla Woody imparts the first of many lessons in a way of living. Artwork and writing are two of the primary ways she’s integrated her far-flung experiences circumscribing a circuitous path around the globe.

‘I was fortunate to spend a significant portion of my 1960s childhood living in a suburb of Paris influenced by French culture where the arts are valued,” Woody writes on her website. “We traveled all over Europe. I remember spending a lot of time in art museums and exploring narrow cobblestone streets with my parents.’

With her childhood mercifully free of the influence of organized religion, Woody was primed to encounter mystic traditions whenever they showed themselves. First, though, came a potential — perhaps vital — obstacle: her service in the military as a consultant in leadership development. Perhaps full immersion in her culture created the momentum to fling her so energetically toward subsequent events…

If you’d like to read the entire article, please go to 5enses.

After many years in Prescott, Jacques moved down the road a bit. He now considers himself a Paulden artist, writer and graphic designer creating book covers for those who self-publish. His first novel The Fictional Autobiography of the 21st Century’s Greatest Artist Andienne Brünsilder was published in February. It’s available locally at the Peregrine Book Company. I haven’t read it yet. But if he writes fiction the way he puts an interview together…it’s got to be good. I noticed the foreword was written by Mick Jagger, which has got my curiosity up.


Please note a couple of corrections to the 5enses article: Kenosis Spirit Keepers, founded in 2007 to help preserve Indigenous wisdom traditions, is the nonprofit extension of Kenosis, the mother organization I founded in 1999. The mission of Kenosis is to serve human potential—as an assist to live through spiritual values and hold the vision “One tribe, one world.”

For more information on the mission of Kenosis Spirit Keepers, events and what we support, go here. For more on Kenosis spiritual travel and other programs, go here.

Categories: Arts, Interview | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Watching a Kingfisher on the Waveney at Bungay

I am touched through stillness. Or by moving slowly. Pausing. Often. Awareness heightens. Energy receptors open. The mind becomes silent enough to usher insights. Tom Hirens poem expresses this discourse with perfection.

Coyopa : words by Tom Hirons

You need to stay still to learn
Anything worth learning.
In the forest, by the river,
At dawn, or dusk or midnight,
Sit down, be quiet and
Soon enough, you’ll hear
And see your fill.

Sit longer and your body
Will begin to speak to you;
Longer still, your heart;
Sit four days, your soul,
Maybe, or the soul of the place,
If you’re lucky.

Dream in the same spot for a month or two
And perhaps there’ll be something to report.
Those that live their lives
In one place, with eyes to see
And ears up for hearing –
They’ll have something to say
To pay attention to.

We fly-by-nights and flit-by days
Hear only the crash-bangs and thunder,
See only the lightning-flash and fireworks,
Don’t notice the darkening river or
The pale-becoming Earth.
Full of our own chattering,
We cannot hear the long
Slow roar of the oak…

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Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Film Review: Beyond Right and Wrong


Beyond Right & Wrong: Stories of Justice and Forgiveness. Co-directed by Lekha Singh and Roger Spottiswoode.

Directors Singh and Spottiswoode have taken the beautifully hopeful line from a Rumi poem…

 Out beyond ideas of right and wrong doing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

 …and shown us examples of people who have done just so. I will give you this warning: It’s a difficult documentary to watch. But the rewards of doing so are many.

Some of it is inconceivable. How do those we would think of as victims—or their families—set aside horrendous acts done to them and move on? How do those guilty of such acts face what they’ve done…and the survivors…and live with themselves?

The documentary features acts done in the name of war:

It focuses on the personal stories of selected individuals who entered the tricky area of forgiveness and resolution. They came together in person, the one who undertook the act and the one who was devastated by it. The film uncovers raw emotion and struggle. Initially, a couple of the perpetrators put up defenses…justifications. In the beginning, some of the victims just could not face the gut-wrenching grief, fresh all over again in their presence. But all found the courage and finally a sense of forgiveness and resolution through various means begun through first coming together.

In watching their stories, I immediately thought of the places in my own life that were relevant. I’ve never had experiences to the level these people have. Many of us haven’t. But we’ve all had loss in some respect. We’ve all done things we regret.

The film subliminally invites personal consideration and the act of letting go. While war is the rationale here, each one of us is the instrument within our own lives as to how we respond to circumstances, what we do with what occurs.

I’m certain that forgiveness is not for the one who performs the wrongdoing, although they will benefit through being forgiven. If we don’t forgive then our lives remain tainted with the act—emotionally, mentally and even physically—and we pass the effect on. The same is true for the weight of guilt carried through a lifetime.

It’s not common knowledge that I’ve been a conflict mediator on a professional basis for nearly 30 years. I’ve always done it as a sideline. I believe in mediation and the magic that can happen within its forum. Years ago I mediated victim-offender cases, in this case juvenile first-time offenders. I still mediate parenting plans for divorcing parents for the county where I live. I can think of no better reason to come to forgiveness and collaborate than for the sake of children and interrupt a pattern.

Resolution can be a long, slow process. But it doesn’t have to be. From my private practice I’ve found Neuro-Linguisitic Programming (NLP) processes and rituals addressing forgiveness, grief and loss to be highly effective whether the other person is physically present or not. Here’s an article of mine published in an NLP professional journal back in ’95 that gives a case study example. (Go to subtitled material under “The Grief/Loss Process” and “The Forgiveness Process”.)

You may view the film for free here. You can purchase the documentary within a kit, which also includes a group and self-study guide, as well as a book The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict by The Arbinger Institute that brings the core material in the documentary into our everyday lives for personal and global effect.

The 2012 documentary has received the following prestigious awards: Best Social Impact Film by Sundance Collective, Best Avant Garde Film by the American Psychological Association, Official Selection of the Hamptons International Film Festival, Introduced United Nations Resolution on Mediation by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and more.

Film length: 1 hour, 22 minutes.

Late-breaking news! Jo Berry, who is founder of UK-based Building Bridges for Peace and one featured in the documentary, is coming to Arizona in late September-early October for speaking engagements and film screenings.

I am pleased to announce Kenosis Spirit Keepers and the Quad City Interfaith Council are co-sponsoring a film screening and talk “Making Peace with the Enemy” by Jo Berry to be held on September 28, 6:30-8:30 PM, at Prescott College Crossroads Center, 215 Garden Street, Prescott. Admission is free will offering at the door with no one turned away.

Other currently scheduled venues in Arizona are below.

Categories: Compassionate Communication, Film Review, Healing, NLP | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

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