The eagle and condor prophecy is an ancient First Nations tale from South America that describes a situation eerily similar to the world in which we find ourselves today. It was foretold that the Eagle people, who are described as masculine, industrial, and mind-oriented, would come close to destroying the Condor people, those who are based in the feminine, nature, and the heart. The interplay between the colonial Western world and the indigenous world over the last few hundred years seems to resonate perfectly with this vision. The prophecy states that just as the Condor people neared extinction, the Eagle people would change their ways and reunite with the Condor, flying together in the same sky again and dawning a new era for the human race.
Despite how you feel about ancient prophecies, it is clear that the industrialized Western world is wreaking havoc on the natural and indigenous worlds, and is plagued by epidemic levels of depression, anxiety, and existential malaise. It could be argued that one of the main reasons psychedelics are re-emerging as such powerful healing tools for Westerners is because they carry the wisdom of the Condor: putting people back in touch with nature, their sense of spirit, and their feelings of interconnection with other beings.
Mario Gómez Mayorga is the founder of Con Ciencia Indígena, a group that essentially teaches Condor ways learned from Mazatec and Huichol tribes to Eagle people, aka Westerners. His perspective on how to reunite these two ways of life is invaluable, and as you will see, hard won.
Thank you again for speaking with us, Mario. You have worked closely with indigenous tribes for many decades now. What did you learn from them that you did not expect to?
Working with these indigenous tribes, I saw things that I could have never imagined. We believe these people are primitive, but once you see how they live, the respect they have for nature, how they are in a permanent relationship with life and the elements, they have so much to teach us Westerners. One day, I realized that in our quest for self knowledge, for a path, for spirituality, for magic and all these things, we are actually looking forward to what they have always had: to be in a harmonious relationship with nature and life and ourselves. So that’s the future for us. We are so lost. So one day, I began seeing indigenous people as people of the future who live in harmony with life. That’s what we all really want, isn’t it? For me, that’s the future. And I’m sure if humanity would be like that, we would have an incredible world, for sure.
[Laughs] Yeah, people of the future! They traveled in a time machine and they’re here to teach us something. But they are here knowing something that is very important.
I’m curious- which tribes in particular did you work with, and are you still in contact with them and involved in their communities?
There are several groups that I got involved with. The one that for me is the most important is the Huichol people. They are really extraordinary people. In Mexico, we have around three hundred different indigenous groups, but I chose to be working only with three of them: the Huichols, the Mazatecs– probably you’ve heard of Maria Sabina- and the Mayas. I choose those three.
When I began working with indigenous people, I was studying anthropology and indigenous culture and found out that these three groups have a direct lineage to the original Toltecs. I came to learn that the Toltecs were the main root culture in Mexico. From the Toltecs, all the rest of Mexico came- it all branched from that main trunk. So I got really interested in the Toltec culture because it’s like the essence of Mexico. Then I figured out that these three groups were still alive and preserved parts of that antique culture. Getting involved with them and seeing them in their ceremonies and rituals, I began understanding what that knowledge was. I recognized it when I was able to compare it to that of other indigenous groups. When I found similar behaviors in the Mazatecs and the Huichols, who are separated by a thousand kilometers, and they have no way to be exchanging information, then I said “Ahhh, look at this. Ok, this must be Toltec, and this and this.”
I’ve lived in Maya lands for about 40 years now. You see these archaeological sites and they are incredibly impressive, and you see the engravings and the vases and the drawings… there was something giant going on there. I sought and sought, went to different towns and talked to elders and medicine people and herbalists, and damn- I found nothing. I found glimpses of rememberings of what was at one time, but I couldn’t find anyone living based on their knowledge. I found them completely polluted by the New World. I found them keeping traditional houses, traditional clothing, some recipes, their language somewhat, so for me it was upsetting just to find small remains here and there. Eventually I gave up with the Maya people and I stayed only with the Huichols and with the Mazatecs.
The Huichols are the most preserved indigenous nation that we have in Mexico. Eventually, through the years, we found that their biggest fear was the civilized invasion. They were very, very worried about becoming extinct and getting dissolved in modern life: cell phones, TV, Levis, Ray Bans, and Casios. The elders, especially, were the ones who made us understand their concern. They said “We’ve been for 4,000 years preserving this, and all of a sudden, like a popcorn that’s going to snap out, we might lose it overnight, and we’re kind of freaking out. We don’t want to disappear, we don’t want to die.” Our commitment with them is to protect them against ourselves. So in that promise, in that commitment with them, I have tried, from the moment I understood, to be as far away as I can. I get as close as needed, but no more- only when they ask for help, only when they invite me. I would never go visit them because I miss them, even when I miss them. I would never dare to invite them to my world, because it’s helping to pollute them. If I bring them to my world they’re going to see things, they’re going to hear and experience things, and then they go back home polluted. Even when it was with all of my heart, even when I give them the best, it damages these people.
I remember, when we didn’t understand these things, there was one extraordinary artist who made yarn paintings, the things they draw with string. They put wax on wood and then stick the lines, and they draw their visions they have on peyote. And you cannot believe your eyes, these things are incredibly psychedelic. If you know how to read all the symbols, it’s like big books, just one painting.
So one of these artists was just mind-blowing, the best I’ve seen in my life. And we wanted to let the world know about him, so we were promoting him. We were like crazy selling his paintings to everybody we knew. When he said he wanted whatever amount, we would tell to the people it cost five times more, to pay this guy! And, oh my God, I’m so sorry we did this, so so sorry, because we made the guy go crazy. He lost the floor completely. He didn’t know what to do with money, because he didn’t know what money was. He could just go and buy whatever he wanted without any restriction or measure. He became very rich, and became alcoholic, and then got into girls, and he died of liver cirrhosis very young. He was an incredible talented artist, that we white people contributed to destroy somehow. Very, very shocking experience, terrible. Because also he was a beautiful person. So it was like this slap of life to never ever do anything like that again. And now our way to help is to basically not be there, and avoid everything that tries to get close.
The Huichols are separated into five groups because they have ideology differences. The group that we are most concerned about and the ones who we work with, I call the orthodox group because they are the most preserved. They live almost exactly like they did 4,000 years ago. The only modern things that they allow in their world are machine-made cotton cloth, yarn, thread, and glass beads for the incredible bead art they do, and no more. They still grow their food, they still speak their language, they still follow their music, make their instruments, and so on. They don’t have a TV, a cell phone, a store to buy cans, plastics, anything like that.
The other four groups are more and more polluted, and then the fifth one is completely invaded. They live in concrete homes, they have TV, a truck outside, they use Macbooks, they speak English, they’re very ashamed of their traditional clothings, and they are very ashamed of their language. They think that to be indigenous is something inferior and horrible; they feel ashamed. So we see the whole range, and we see the process- what happens when they are polluted. So we are very worried about this group that has basically been untouched and have been in a battle to remain untouched. Those are the guys that I worked with, the ones that I love the most, and the ones that I miss the most, and the ones that I don’t want to get close to, because of these heavy lessons that we experienced.
That makes perfect sense. Thinking about the interplay between the indigenous and colonial worlds, one thing that I’ve come across is the eagle and condor prophecy. Is that Toltec in nature, or is that something else?
I think that comes from further down in South America, because in Mexico we don’t have condors. It’s probably something Peruvian, or something like that. But yes, I’m familiar with it.
I couldn’t help but be reminded of this, because of your work with these “Condor” people, almost being wiped out by the “Eagle people”, and being in this fight to preserve and understand and protect them, seems to be in alignment with this prophecy.
Yeah, yes exactly.
What you’re doing is part of this reunification. As an Eagle person, or some hybrid of the two, you’re bringing forth the wisdom to transmute and transform the Eagle people, i.e. Western culture or colonial culture.
Right, yeah, thanks for that reflection. I think it makes sense. And you know, all the time I get people trying to take me to indigenous people, but I have to say no, please don’t. On the other side, the Mazatecs with whom I work a lot are very interesting people because they are open to receiving people- but it doesn’t matter how much you visit them, how much stuff you take there, how many people- they are untouchable. We don’t distort them, and I admire that very much. They don’t get greedy to have more- if you leave them some money, they will use it and when it’s gone, they don’t care. They are not going to crave more. And that’s beautiful. If you take them a t-shirt they will use it, and when it’s worn they forget about it- it doesn’t matter. They are beautiful because they help to open our hearts and our minds to their sacred plants, and they allow us to be in their ceremonies. That’s a very interesting branch of the Toltec that’s not pollutable like the Huichols, who right away are affected. So sensitive, so delicate, so fragile. These other guys kind of know that “The thing is there, but it’s not going to touch us.”
We are very grateful to Mario for sharing his insights and wisdom with us. You can read our first interview with him here, and stay tuned for a future interview with Mario about the role of sacred plant medicines in Huichol and Mazatec cultures.