Occupy Quemado: Holy Mountain or Holey Mountain?
When the multi-billion dollar investment bank Lehman Brothers collapsed in 2008 starting the current economic decline – the biggest ever US bankruptcy case and the first of the mighty dominoes to lose dominion – the echo of a Hopi ‘prophecy’ lingered in the air, little more than a whisper in the breeze.
Back in the 1960s Peabody Coal had insisted on extracting all they could of the several billion tons of coal from the sacred Black Mesa, but when Hopi elders objected to the exploitation of their holy mountain, their lawyer and one of the elders disappeared, and documents were essentially forged to permit Peabody to desacralize the most divine and, unfortunately, the largest coal reserve in the USA. The Hopi objected, to no avail, but announced that if the unsanctified act occurred then not only would Peabody go under, but that a wide reaching catastrophe would ensue. At the turn of the millennium, Lehman Brothers bought Peabody Coal, amidst outcries form Hopi elders, and then shortly after imploded in the bedrock of its own greed, loosening up other capitalist monoliths for the greatest financial landslide since the 1930s Great Depression. While it may have more to do with subprime mortgages than subterranean machinations, the Hopi prediction rang clear and true for those with ears to hear, but was drowned out in the cacophony of despair that erupted across the globe as stock markets went into meltdown. The Hopi had the last word, sure enough, but there’s no profit for prophets in this equation either – everybody looses, and an icy chill stops up the blood of humanity a little more, as our species burns coal instead of karma.
It’s said that any civilisation that cannot learn from its history is destined to repeat itself. Some way south of the Hopi nation the so-called Huichol “indians” live safely cradled between four states in the remote mountains of western Mexico. A truly unique people, the Huichol were never infiltrated by outsiders in almost 500 years since the Spanish conquest, but instead fled from their ancestral lands in the desert of San Luis Potosí and headed for the mountains far away towards the setting sun. Hiding out in the dry and dusty highlands and adopting a veneer of Christianity, over the years they held strong against conquistadors, missionaries, slavers, settlers, ranchers, and the murderous Catholic fundamentalists, Los Cristeros. For half a millennium they have remained true to their shamanic pagan origins, embarking on a month-long journey each year, walking back to their original habitat, the desert of Wirikuta, to harvest their true sacrament, the psychedelic peyote cactus, which is venerated in an organic holy trinity along with the maize and the deer. Like the Hopi, the Huichol take peyote for its extraordinary shamanic properties, such as aiding prophecy and communing with Nature, but the Huichol have been doing it for much much longer.
Stalwart to their tradition of harmony with nature, the Huichol also pay homage on their annual pilgrimage to their ancient holy mountain in the eastern desert, El Quemado. Like the Black Mesa, El Quemado is both spiritually endowed and minerally rich, loaded as it is with over a billion dollars worth of silver, enough to make modern men mad with greed in the glint of its terrestrial moonlight. Like Peabody Coal, the Canadian First Majestic Silver Corp wish to extract the precious minerals therein to plate their own pockets and rob another indigenous group of their rightful spiritual topography, and in the process level over 6,000 hectares of unique virgin wilderness with dynamite and cyanide, destroying endemic flora and fauna in the process. The peyote plant, known to have been used by indigenous people in the region for at least 5,000 years, is one of these threatened plants, and if it gets obliterated for sake of the developed world’s rapacity, then so does the spirit of the world’s oldest, most culturally intact psychedelic community. And if we let this geocultural genocide happen, then the extraordinary mystery tradition that resisted 500-years of conquest may die with it – a unique psycho-phyto magico-spiritual cultural cosmology, probably as old as civilisation itself.
But if so, then so what? Having only just started seriously researching psychedelics some 60 years ago, during the last 40 of which they were prohibited to mainstream science and medicine, we are only now in the modern world starting to ‘discover’ the incredible healing qualities of these plants and substances, which are potentially capable of curing a whole swathe of 21st century ills – divorce from Nature and our own nature being chief among them.
I count myself incredibly privileged to have been able to spend time living with the Huichol for their week-long religious festival. I was overwhelmed by a people who, to a man, a woman, an elder, a child, have pure open hearts, extreme honesty, zero bullshit, a genuine spiritual focus, utter reverence for Nature, and who exist in a permanent and instantly tangible magical reality. I fasted, I danced, I processed and I ate peyote with them, I met their Gods, I gave libations, I prayed and I wept for a people so true of spirit and clear in intent, and I wept even more for all the poor souls of the modern world who value money more than nature. The Huichol’s truth is beauty, and a thing of beauty is a joy forever. If this holy mountain falls then the world becomes so much more an ugly place – forever. We cannot let this destruction happen: No amount of sadness can reverse the damage of greed, nor tears rebuild a mountain. No amount of shopping malls can bring back a killed off culture. The fate of the Huichol way of life and of humanity’s ancient psychedelic rights, rites and heritage hang by a stick of dynamite from the empty heart of capitalism. Must it be said… Occupy Quemado!
For more information and to offer your support please visit here: http://frenteendefensadewirikuta.org/wirikuta-en-bk/