Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Review of "Masai: The Rain Warriors" - as submitted to

""Masai: The Rain Warriors" is a beautifully, sensitively shot and rendered film that seems to have its feet firmly and fluidly grounded in the warm red earth of Kenya. All too often, when a film produced in Europe or North America about Africa or indigenous people reveals itself on screen, it exposes so much of the patronizing nature of the dominant political and cultural colonial discourse, telling more a story about the teller than the subject. The lens of "Masai" at once becomes the viewpoint of the Masai themselves, showing their challenging and tender, intimate indigenous life in the context of being the subject of deep consideration and not the object of brash, patronizing scrutiny for the sake of assuaging neo-colonial guilt (e.g., "Dances with Wolves") or for mere financial gain (e.g., "Avatar").

This look into the life of the Masai is refreshing, empowering and informative, enabling the viewer to genuinely feel as if they have "been there" for a time and had a common experience, if only through a cinematic window. There is much of the indigenous experience of life that is illuminated AND validated here, not held up for narrative and audience ridicule in conflicting cultural statements (done very well in "Avatar").

The story is simple, compelling, ultimately human and spiritually-inspired. The journey of the young warriors at the behest of their wise elders is a powerful connection to the legacy of respect for those who have earned life's tenure on this earth. It is immediately heart-warming to see youth not only carry their traditional culture with genuine and functional passion, but to also acknowledge deeply their elders AND their youngers, seen so beautifully in a ritual scene before they head out into the savannah to hunt down Vitchua, the uber-lion that embodies their supreme god. The path of these warriors is marked well by a masculine sensitivity unconventional only to modern colonial (this includes the USAmerica!) and colonized mindsets.

In addition to this newly empowering, though antique, way of being and becoming men, the positive story of womanhood and femininity is also embedded in the dreamy awakening of one of the lead warriors' into the troupe's desert salvation. The confirmation of the wise woman healer and her importance to the life of not only the village, but our world, enlivening the divine feminine in real-time, is very entrenched in this film.

"Masai" is an important cultural statement. Though we are still in need of validating and distributing widely the stories of indigeny by indigenous people in a modern world that does not yet remember itself and see itself as the progeny OF indigeny, "Masai" is a tactile and real expression of a part of the indigenous experience that is not only enlightening, but entertaining and emotionally moving. This is a good story told well about a subject often not represented with compassion and clarity.

Expect to have a cinematic experience that deepens understanding of the human experience. We need more of that."

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Energetics: A Fiery Perspective

In "The Healing Wisdom of Africa", Malidoma Some' writes the following:

"When a culture is caught on fire,...they rush ceaselessly forward with a consumer's mentality, they pollute everything in their way, conquering and destroying anything that interferes. Fire culture promotes consumerism and cultivates scarcity in order to increase restlessness, then uses the restless, burning psyche as energy water to increase production and consumption. Meanwhile the culture on fire is fascinated with violence. As a matter of fact, violence proves to be highly marketable and stimulates the fiery nature of the culture as a whole. Consequently, a fire culture is a war culture. It sees solutions in terms of fire and conflicts as fire that can be resolved with more fire. Such a culture will require a lot if water to heal." (pg.171)

Some''s perspective is important, salient and functional as it shows the genius of the indigenous mind/heart-set in understanding the emergent nature of social conflict and the path forward to true resolution of some of the deepest problems presented to us by modernity, that which has deemed itself more important than all of that that has come before it, which, again, for the record amounts to a quantitative deficit of about three million years. The qualitative deficit is of a more voluminous nature.

Fire carries within its physical, physiological and meta-physical make-up an energy that has a particular imprint on the environments, material and ideological content and systems that come into contact with it. Modern science actually does a good job in quantifying some of the effects of fire, heat and other manifestations of molecular excitation. Where modern science and, thus, modern culture falls short is in the validation and engagement of the deeper understandings of the effects of fire in our bodies, our spirits, the World of Spirit (which science is just beginning to sheepishly acknowledge, mostly due to the residue of it showing up on their machines and meters) and our productive and social systems. The above quote points us powerfully to a more expansive understanding of the role of energetics in sensing pathology, hopes for healing and resolution and providing a context for a deeper spiritual understanding of our presence and processes in the world.

Energetics, the sum total of knowledge and embodied practice of spiritual work in the indigenous context, is well defined by the Dagara perspective as shared by Some'. The nature of fire is clear in the increased freneticism that capitalism and it's number one son, consumerism, creates. One can see this in the rapid pace in which capitalist production creates and manufactures new and often unnecessary items for the sake of itself, for the sustenance of its own life, just as a fire will quickly heat anything close to it and will find ways of turning it into new fuel, bursting it into flames within minutes. If we are victims of this fire out of balance, and the Dagara perspective would say just that, then it stands to reason that the rapid pace of urbanization would be a concomitant result of capitalism as it wants us, its willing kindling, to be as close to each to each other as necessary, so that the heat growing in one of us can effect the energetic nature of others around them. Another element to consider in this urbanization is the increased occurrence and acceptance of violence. Not that urban centers are the only bastions of violence, for lynching of Africans in America happened in the blessed bosom of nature's rural surroundings and the physical debasement and destruction of women has tragically known no societal barriers, but we can see, if we choose, how urbanization fits neatly into the incendiary plan of capitalism.

One need look only to the increasing occurrence of new software, digital technologies and pharmaceuticals into the limited social consciousness. All three of these industries suffer from sometimes fatal and oftentimes debilitating outcomes born out of the lack of proper testing, consideration of side effects, research and even quiet consideration and observation that would come from a more watery energetic perspective that Some' suggest is the hope for healing in this larger sense. Most members of modern society would clearly agree that these technologies and products are rushed to market without proper and sensible consideration, but an understanding of the energetic nature of fire would help us see why we feel to busy, too rushed, too driven to engage the fleeting remediations of spark-fast instant gratification that keep us from engaging the cooler prospects of a slower, larger, broader, intelligent understanding of ourselves and the forces that effect us so deeply and fatally.

We might look to the humbly short, but provocative animated documentary, "The Story of Stuff", to help to ground our connection to the reality of Some''s offering here. This challengingly simple expose of the process of natural resource extraction, manufacturing/processing, commercialism and disposal makes surprisingly accessible the view of capitalism's blind and insatiable burning consumption of all that it can get into its factories and big-box stores. On that note of consumption, consider that even capitalism is agrandizing the process of consumption of small stores, banks, media systems and markets by larger, hotter, more mean and mean configurations of capitalist power and uber-masculinized prowess, much like the nature of any fire, looking for any opportunity to find and be fed by more heat, more fuel, more powerless kindling (and what is kindling, but the small disembodied pieces of wood cut off from the tree of life) that can be subsumed into the combustive fracas and made into an inferno with no hope of release into the cool waters of peaceful sanity. We could also go to sources such as Nkrumah, Rodney, Nyerere, Shakur, Chomsky, Perkins, Zinn and many, many others for this, but we needn't unchain those coyotes here. Annie Leonard's discourse is deep enough to get us to the next level of the game.

Mythology and pop culture "news" is full of fire metaphors with respect to war. One would have to fully understand the energetic of fire to see how difficult it truly is to turn around the war machine (probably a combustion thank you, Daimler), what energies are necessary to abrogate and remediate it and also what would a world without dependence upon war and fire look and feel like. An energetically informed perspective is necessary to fully assess the energies at play, to find their sources and to effect change in a serious and fundamental way. If we don't understand fire and its energetic nature, we don't understand ourselves.

Though we can gain much from a look at the Dagara perspective, we must see also that many other cultures contribute to our understanding of the energetics of fire. We can find much insight from the cultures of the Quichua in Ecuador with their embrace of the sacred volcanoes, many if not all of the indigenous peoples of Turtle Island (north America), the indigenous people of Hawaii, China, India. Where there is a fire god, goddess or spirit revered, there is also fire energetically understood with a deep, embodied understanding I define as "informed intimacy". Modern thought would still suggest that indigenous people, "primitive" people engage nature and especially fire out of some sort of ignorant-childish, primal fear, but anyone on the receiving side of that sort of brazen, ignorant disrespect would clearly say they've been...well...burnt.

Energetics recognizes the spiritual power that defines and animates all things, abstract or concrete, corporeal or esoteric. Energetics expresses and seeks to give context to the power and importance of the indigenous perspective on the spiritual, inspired nature of the universe and that it, in and of and because of itself, is a key and indivisible part of the indigenous conception of life, nature and All That Is. Energetics is inseparable from indigeny. Indigeny is inseparable from the human experience. Indigeny is inseparable from the future of humanity on this earth.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Indigeny and Energetics: The Why of It...

There are (at least) two important and related reasons why Indigeny and Energetics is important to me and hopefully, as an idea and more than an idea, to others. It is simple in its intellectual abstraction and quite complex in the projection of its present and future manifestations to engage the old, tested, tried and true concepts that surround and ground indigeny and spiritual underpinnings that have kept it in its state of balanced power for the millions of years that it has been developing, growing and defining itself. At the moment, these two dynamics present themselves as a key binary or juxtaposition that helps us to understand the necessity of embracing the fundamental indigenous nature of humanity and how the break from that relationship to land, nature and Spirit, the dissolution of the "naturo-spiritual (human) dynamic", has affected us as a global human body and a universal Spirit embodied.

1) Indigenous cultural life and spiritual traditions have been interrupted, distorted, distracted, destroyed, dismembered and derailed by the colonial, mercantilist/capitalist, patriarchical, secularizing process of modernization set in motion by Europeans and others in the last more than five hundred years. Even current news and other reports about indigenous people show clearly that issues of biopiracy, environmental abuse and land misappropriation, of intercultural violence and oppression, capitalist pathologies, of racism, sexism, homophobia and classism are indeed, still, weighing heavily upon the compromised resources of indigeny all over the world.

Whether it is the attacks upon Ngobe life and culture by the mining companies, the brutality of the neo-colonial police against the Samburu, the continued dissolution of Dagara culture by French-led imperialistic modernity or the sustained and criminal holding of land, resources and intellectual property of the Native American peoples from Tierra del Fuego to Baffin Bay, the insidious nature of modern, scientized, capitalist anti-life wreaks havoc on a body of culture, a humano-spiritual legacy that is the life-blood of our existence. This life-blood pumps powerfully driven even in the presence of the medium-techism of computers, artificial intelligence (boy, that title should tell you something about its efficacy!), virtual reality (and isn't THAT a hint and a half?!), android phones, iPads, ebooks, genetic engineering and other forms of materialist, scientific god-ism. This life-blood is pumping, though, with great difficulty, through neo-pseudo-cultural veins impacted with narrow discourse, confusion, distraction, media-deification and the onslaught of secular cultural practices that devalue life, devalue and desacrate nature and humanity all at once - as all is related, all are related.

It would be one thing to be able to confidently go along with the modern, liberal, christo-secular assertion that modernity is a natural(ized) development out of the primitivism of inferior indigenous realities. How many times have we had to listen to the cruel joke anthropological insult that indigenous people are simple, child-like (as if that is actually a negative thing to be?!) and without "industry" and proper modern accumulative motivations? After all, when the European invaders were showing up on the shores of Amerique, many saw 'nothing' being done with the land, that it was empty of mercantilist conjurings and machinations, that it was devoid of the death-kiss of their currency-god.

It is another thing to recognize that modernity is being pulled into the intellectual and spiritual vacuum of its own creation, drawn back to the rainforests of South America to beg cures for modern-made diseases of excess and sinful imbalance that run rampant despite the stated power of the information super-sidewalk. So many modern people are turning toward indigenous spiritual traditions for healing, for socio-spiritual change, to balance the madness and sometimes to make themselves look good in front of their friends or to soothe their own subconscious selves for the sins of their forefathers and foremothers. So much of the work around global cooling is dependent upon recognizing that the indigenous people had it right before "we" made it wrong. Even though we generally aren't admitting it, sustainability is an indigenous concept at its core, in its essence and modern myopia and obnoxious intellectualism prevents us from acknowledging that FACT and, thus, truly enabling ourselves to manifest the concept in a grounded and conscious, informed and humble way. Modernity is turning to indigeny for its own salvation, but at this moment, is doing so, in many ways, as a slaveholder would turn to its captives to help it put out the fire in the master's house. And there are many people engaging Native American and other indigenous traditions for the absolute right reasons, in the best of ways. For this, we can be truly grateful to Spirit and the Ancestors for leading back onto the path Home.

2)The power-in-balance legacy of indigeny is a continuous timeless river of incontrovertible life-giving water. Indigeny is still here. Indigeny is not going away. Indigeny is not just a good idea, but the best way for us to be and become. Modern narratives revel in the last of things like "Mohicans" and "Dogmen", as if the positive valuation of those last, disempowered, but glamorized, romanticized relics were the primitivized reincarnations of the god of individualism that is the lyrical hook in the chorus of the swan song of it anti-creation narrative. Modernity and all of the containers and contained that it has spawned is the historical anomaly, even in the face of the beautiful artifice it has kept up (you've seen "Matrix", right?) and the intellectual bullying that keeps us saying 'yes' to its constant insanity. Modernity is the alternative to the conventions of indigeny and energetics. It is, again, simple and correct to say that, popularly, indigeny is 3 million years in the research, development and implementation process, that it is a system that not only DID work, but DOES work, hence the harried and humbling searches for the "new" (and improved?) in the old, for the "hot" in the cool river of timeless circularity that indigeny represents and is. Indigeny was not only a good idea, but it was and is good practice. It is that philosophical and practical way of being defined by a full-frontal, deep-immersion engagement of the balance of All That Is, of all the things that we have been trying to capture on hard drives, in coded computerese, in his-story books and our modernized minds in the interest of regaining, again, that balance that was there before modernity set it on its historicized, temporal ear in the first place.

Indigeny in general, as I've always said about Africa in particular, would have been fine without the criminal incursion of the "new idea", the "improved" and christianized concept of the European business model, which USAmerican corporatocracy is just a more organized synthesis of. Indigeny didn't need to be destroyed or deterred to be proven "right". It did not need the burden of such proof...and did not deserve the pain and horror of such proof, still being played out in the villages and towns of developing and developed (can we really call them that?....seriously?!?) machi-nations. What indigeny represents is much bigger than the substance of modernity and capitalist patriarchy. The image of modernity seems much bigger and it must be understood in that perspective. What we are seeing is sleight of man, the artificially intelligent virtual fooling of the senses through quantitative overload and overstimulation (see what Mander has to say in "Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television) which actually shuts us down, numbs us and is exactly what is sending us running roughshod into the eco-tourized rainforests and sweat lodges and African villages (or worse, into the glamorized African "safari" because Africa is just a hell-hole of humanity with some really great animals to look you see how functional this modern mind and eye-set is?) for our dear and waning lives.

Indigeny and energetics would still be alive and well today if modernity had never been thought up and thrust upon the world, upon the loving Earth Mother, like the hyper-masculine phallo-weapon that it is. And not just because of this gendered energetic imbalance, we are called to re-engage, re-value, re-validate, re-empower the feminine in all things, in men, in women, in those that entered humanity on multiple sacred points on the gender continuum, the gatekeepers. We must bring indigeny back to its original and then a new vitality. It will never be the same, but it must ever be. To allow it to be destroyed is to allow ourselves to be destroyed. We must allow the life-blood of humanity to flow powerfully again.

And what is one of the greatest causes of death in the modern world, other than the metastasization of unexpressed grief? Heart disease.

If indigeny dies, humanity will die. Energetics, the sum total of all of the spiritual praxis of indigeny, is the heart of indigeny.

Indigeny must live. At the very, very least, modernity must get out of the way.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Spiral Dynamics at First Glance: The Twisted Linear from the Circular Perspective of Indigeny

My first awareness of spiral dynamics came out of conversations with two respected colleagues/friends who are both on powerful spiritual and social paths of growth and work. Initially, there were perceptions that spiral dynamics was a helpful tool to navigate at least some of the challenges that our modern world faced us with. As the core of this work became exposed, there were certain ideas explicit and implicit in these conversations that were troubling with respect to indigeny and energetics. Interestingly enough, both colleagues stated a disdain for how indigeny rebuffed modern technology and scientific advancement, fallacious in one instance and apologetic and short-sighted in another, suggesting that modernity is without fundamental flaws and that acceptance of such and its outcomes must be assumed. Upon closer observation of the writings of the creators of spiral dynamics, it became quite clear that there were many more short-comings than grounded progressive ideas. The main SD website ( does state that “this is not a hierarchy of wisdom or decency or even intelligences, much less happiness and worth”, suggesting a universal nature of it’s way of seeing the world through “ways of thinking about human nature”, already defining universality by a narrowing filter of intellectual cognition born out of the modern euro-center. Indigeny incorporates, truly wholistically, the core human facets of intellect, spirit and emotion as indivisible, though understandable as separate entities. Indigeny does not base its growth on disintegrating one from the other. Energetics requires that they be unified. Spiral dynamics, according to the website, states that, “it reflects a variety of worldviews and conceptions of what life is about, but it doesn’t suggest any one as the ideal”. It seems to elude the writers that this actually does represent a particularity of European, modernized ideology that thinking in and of itself is primary for human development, with all due respect to the important writings and work of John Trudell (Trudell focuses much on the practice of clear, independent thinking, but most always assumes its presence in the larger wholistic indigenous context of human experience). The focus on the cognitive and psychological is in itself a limiting and damaging factor, particularly when connected to their application of the cultural/personal developmental levels or memes in a vertically defined spiral. Spiral dynamics is a twisted linear system of thought-bias, literally and figuratively and presents particular problems when looked at through the perspective of indigeny and energetics.

Spiral dynamics presents itself as being largely ethno(euro)-centric in nature as it speaks presumptively about the value of cognition (as opposed to emotional and spiritual value) and the importance of the psychological understanding of human thought and behavior. SD seems overly dependent on the eurocentrically defined modernistic concept of thought and the brain as the highest form of human development.

In addition, there are impressions of SD as short-sighted, narrow-minded and degrading to the indigenous genius that had driven the human relationship to the world for most all of human history and its highest levels of communal and ethical thought and practice. At another level, spiral dynamics presents itself as bordering on being racist (due, in part, to its relegation of indigenous ideas to lower thought form categories, seemingly straight out of colonial/christian ideology) and, at the very least, patronizing. It is, by design, highly derivative, but insensitively so since it does so without the courtesy of acknowledging the indigenous so-called memetic presence throughout the spiral’s upward contortion. Though the website states that any society might hold numerous elements of the spiral at any given point, the hierarchy of the spiral devalues, also by design, elements (particularly in the purple “indigenous” meme) that must be held in some state of equality with other levels if any society is truly to be understood and projected into the future as viable and/or desirable. If the spirally-defined hierarchical effluent is an unconscious outcome, it is even worse for those seeking clarity through its rose-colored (and turquoise-colored and purple and green and beige-colored) glass.

The ever-expanding spiral is reminiscent of the capitalist idea of unlimited growth, a blight upon the discursive and practical history of humankind and key to the blinded arrogant nature of capitalist globalization. It could be easily surmised that spiral dynamics is even a doomed hypothetical exercise simply because there is no practical resolution to the growth dynamic. Indigeny places a high value on the circular, the cyclical, not the twisted linear idea that is the core of SD. It is this cyclical, circular understanding that enabled indigeny to sustain life for so long through it’s understandings of the close relationships of life and death (ancestral continuum), energetic and material reciprocity, shared abundance and communalism. Linear thinking allows cultures (seemingly those that glorify the elements of the upper tier memes) to extract enviro-benefits (natural resources) without thinking of or caring about the consequences of such beyond the consolidation and proliferation of monetary profit. It is this way of thinking that allows workers to be patently used as means to the end instead of circularly understanding the need to truly provide security and abundance out of their labor. Linear thinking allowed christian domination of indigenous peoples worldwide without looking back at the presumptive core tenets of love, compassion and “doing unto others...” enough to notice that their own claims for religious, if not spiritual, ascendancy were impossible, negated by their own destructive cultural and political actions and inactions in the face of imperialism and colonialism. One need only look at the linear process set in motion by the christian-inspired political and economic schemes of the criminal Cristobal Colon amongst so many others.

With reference to indigeny and energetics, spiral dynamics belittles and devalues the sweeping, expansive nature of the indigenous dynamic. Modern society is already dangerously biased against the “primitive” and “superstitious world” of spirit beings, “ancestor worship” and nature-love, afraid of the transformative nature of the embrace, again, of the intensely spiritual life, one that calls one to attention in all spheres of human endeavor, a truly and deeply cultural integration of ones ethics that leaves you no real choice, but to walk on your correct path. SD also defines emotions as being of the lower order. Emotions are at the center of healthy and sane indigenous life, expressed beautifully in the eagle and the condor prophecy that comes out of indigenous south America, stating that the world will not be in harmony unless the intellectual focus of the North (read “west” or capitalist/industrial) learns to fly in unity with the heart focus of the South (read indigenous, wholistic, integrative). In the light of this, it seems as further insult and even more pointed separatist, disintegrative discourse that spiral dynamics relegates indigeny to one of the lowest, earliest memes (even though some of it’s core concepts are in the turquoise meme), seemingly clucking it’s all-knowing tongue at this lesser expression of human ability. This statement of Clare W. Graves is not only deeply implicit in the (downward) spirally bombastic text, but is explicit in statements such as the following:

“...what I am proposing is that the psychology of the mature human being is an unfolding, emergent, oscillating, spiraling process, marked by progressive subordination of older, lower order behavior systems to newer, higher order systems as man’s existential problems change.” (

This statement is glaringly self-serving, pompous, short-sighted and intellectually immature as it relegates the historically and temporally voluminous experience of human development and endeavor to an old, “lower order behavior system”. This hierarchical myopia comes screaming out of the deleterious philosophies and praxis of European capitalist-imperialist hegemony, even from the more genteel rantings, but injurious behaviors of the christian cartel. The cultural disdain of indigeny is astounding and is made worse by the statements of some of spiral dynamics’ adherents that take issue with how indigeny rejects modern technology. Even those ungrounded reactions are short-sighted and uninformed. Indigeny has never patently rejected modern (read electronic/digital/materially productive) technologies. On the contrary, indigeny has made good and productive use of the computer platform (Zapatista, Tibetan use of internet, Hawaii-based indigenous people’s server initiative, Sami youtube videos,...), the modern media (Four Directions Media, Mayan and other indigenous radio programming initiatives/,...) and even the burgeoning area of indigenous-concept t-shirts increasingly showing up on the internet, in retail stores and at powwows.

Spiral dynamics, as formulated and expressed, is unacceptable as a functional, sensible, expansive, integrative way of seeing the world. At another level, and I might add that according to spiral dynamics this is a lower order behavior to look at the universe of life as integrated as unified as this was developed and given foundation in what is called the purple meme (stage 2 of human development!), this reductive anti-system splits away from indigeny some of the elements that indigenous people have held sacred for thousands of years and have brought bravely into this modern construct of cultural dog-eat-dogism. For example, the orange meme (3 steps up the ladder of consciousness according to spiral dynamics’ developers) claims that the “brain/mind coping capacities” and now able to “test options; maneuver” ( U3wc*eXIx*aWcb6vs3K5FZ*89qHLby-6lFhVfnyRY2QXjYTViRxgS9* cGCeqgOhdy4LXJXztS8-DtiI4k9-UrUYtyY3OxfSF/Spiral_Dynamics.jpg) in some way heretofore unseen or unexpressed in early historical memes (though they claim fluidity of these memes, they are all marked by historical time periods). If indigeny has been anything, it has been able to test and put into perspective a mind-boggling host of material, social and spiritual options and maneuvered itself through time and space in harmonious and challenged/challenging ways for millennia. To simplify and disempower the indigenous idea and praxis by lowering it and its wholistic (emotional, intellectual, spiritual) nature to a lesser and lower order “behavior” is defining the very ignorance inherent in spiral dynamics’ position. That some of their “higher order” elements are actually elements held in high regard and practice by indigeny, particularly in the so-called turquoise meme, shows the uninformed character of this work.

Spiral dynamics also falls short, and this is a major and glaring flaw, in not validating indigeny as the container/remediator for two of modern society’s greatest ills and current challenges. First, it is increasingly a common awareness that many modern scientists, chemists, biologists and medical doctors and desperately seeking the aid and knowledge of indigenous people (IK) who have always been aware of working with plants and other beings of nature for healing purposes. It is modern life and culture that has created the increase in cancer, diseases of excess and imbalance and other environmental and physiological pathologies beyond its own ability to bring them under control. It is these very same professionals who lament how important it is to document this knowledge before all the rain forests are gone at the hands of the very ideology that sent them scurrying into the bush in the first place. Second, it is now becoming clear, based on United Nations reports and other sources, that understanding and best practice with regard to human-accelerated global warming/climate change is to be found in the culture of indigeny and energetics. Somehow, indigenous people and their spiritual traditions, rife with “ritual ways”, “tribal”, “animistic” practices and “tradition” around nature, society and cultural production are somehow able to help modern folk with their most pressing psycho-social-spiritual challenge that they’ve ever created by their own hubris. The indigenous concepts of informed intimacy1, born out of the historic, spiritually-based and familial relationship with land and nature, the primacy and sacredness/inviolability2 of nature and parity3, respecting the diversity of form and function in nature (and, therefore, humanity) as a truly integrative ideological and practical process all express the foundational and powerful way that indigeny and energetics provide modern culture with a (if not the) way through the moral and behavioral impasse that modernity finds itself so deeply mired in at this key time in history.

Spiral dynamics is truly a newly developing “hypothesis”, a toddling concept in its first (..., second or third) awkward stage of defining itself, steeped in its own biased cultural grandiosity. It may yet, though, prove to be useful in some intellectual, theoretical way. It remains to be seen if it can fulfill the social mandate for change, congruence and dynamism that SD’s progenitors state is possible. Problematic in this projection is that the developers of this system seem tied to what they call “higher levels” of existence, understood by this writer to mean modern, scientific and technological means of thought and production as opposed to the wholistic ways of being and doing given long life in the conventional, indigenous world. Spiral dynamics is clearly apologetic of the modernistic shortcomings that the last 150 years of industrialism and capitalist intellectualism has wrought. That their website claims that SD is NOT “a religion, nor a doctrine, nor a dogma rooted in matters of faith” ( overview.htm) is probably a great thing since most mainstream intellectual/ideological works make fallacious assumptions that “faith” and “religion” (usually a christian bias) are necessary for human sustenance without incorporating the more core values of spiritual engagement and circularity grounded and developed in the indigenous milieu of energetics. We are better off not having the christian bias become explicit in the statements of spiral dynamics, though it is still implicit, as it would further narrow the possibilities for universality of application, an assumed goal of this work.

Even though it’s creators state that we shouldn’t get too bogged down in some of the more superficial engagements of the symbolism, it would be sophomoric to suggest that these symbols don’t have meaning in and of and possibly despite themselves. What they have done IS set up a system of symbolic representations that they say help others to manage relationships. That they dismiss off-hand the negative potentialities of this symbolic system, especially since they claim to be containers, not content, is again short-sighted and speaks more to the particularity of their own cultural filters than to any real and grounded engagement in the experience and needs of humanity. All of our experiences are connected to the universal, but not all of the ways by which we have experienced and processed human life and work are worthy of further propagation. Accepting matter-of-factly the presence of capitalism does not mean we should continue its programs and processes into a projected future.

If you have to have had taken their courses to understand the deeper intricacies of this system, then they were woefully mistaken in providing misleading and confusing symbolic materials that they knew would be misunderstood. In fact they claim it has happened in numerous ways, hence their “Caveats” page on the main site.

The “Caveats” page claims the following with regard to SD:
“programs depict complexes of flowing systems within people as life conditions in their worlds and internal neurobiological systems interact—our approach never puts people into pigeonholes or boxes”

It might be correct that these memes actually represent fluid models of “biopsychosocial” systemic application, but the symbolic representation of their twisted linear structure, though they make claim that it is so much more than the memetic categories which make up the spiralized dynamism (which, again, is the very name of the process), does not speak to fluidity at all. Possibly the fluidity exists in the historicity of the memes’ development, but even that suffers from a lack of accuracy, unless even the years/periods attached to the memes are actually so fluid as to make them devoid of temporal characteristics at all. And then, what is one of these memes, if not a pigeonhole or box. It seems the progenitors of SD want it both ways, categories/containers AND fluidity/non-judgement. What they may actually have is non-clear. They go on to say, “Much attention goes to the superficial categories rather than the engine that drives human nature”. That may not have been the case if it weren’t based upon, however superficially and theoretically and hypothetically, memetic containers or, if you will, boxes.

“The models are elegant and sometimes others represent them as wrapped in details that contribute little of substance and only add confusion.”


It took only a three minute segment of the Link TV Global Spirit program, “Earth Wisdom for a World in Crisis” to define the ideological framework of indigeny and point to why SD falls far short of being able to, first, bring clarity to our understanding of indigeny and, second, to provide a cogent way to apply important indigenous concepts in a dominant industrialized, capitalist world and worldview faced by so many problems of its own making. Chief Oren Lyons of the Onondaga Nation, relating a story about having been asked, “what’s your bottom line?”, simply, though after much reflection, stated, “There is no bottom line”. In the worldview or “cosmovision” of indigeny and energetics, there is no economically-defined hierarchical level at which all accounts and assets organize themselves into some profit-loss statement. Chief Lyons said, “We live in the cycle”. This cyclical (circular) nature of the indigenous understanding and practice was underscored by Thomas Alarcon, advocate for the Aymara tribe in Peru, who stated, “Everything turns. Everything revolves. It cycles.”

Spiral dynamics represents the modern, “western” inability to allow or actively bring resolution to fundamental problems. If its creators/developers had been able to conceive the temporal element in a circular formation, they might be able to enact more fluidity in their own understandings of human dynamics and the value of the purple meme and other “lower order” concepts. It is exactly this idea of unlimited growth, symbolized by this upward-spiraling “open-ended” theory, like a plant that grows and then divorces itself from its roots, that is the crippling mindset that fights its own need to resolve itself, to see itself from a different point of view and then act as though it has actually learned something or experienced a substantial level of enlightenment. No matter what the deeper levels of SD are, they are indelibly linked to the devolutionary energetic of their own dominant symbolism. With regard to indigeny, it remains to be seen if spiral dynamics has the scope and ability to treat indigenous concepts and culture with respect or any level of clarity. If it can not do even this, it becomes even more doubtful that it can then hold the rest of the human experience in correct perspective, enough to support and enact real change and resolution in the world as opposed to prettified reform of failing social and political processes.

Indigeny can use all the allies that it can get. It seems unlikely that spiral dynamics is one of them.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Indigenous People Fighting Back Against the 2010 Olympics

Reprinted from the facebook page of the Olympic Resistance Network:

The 2010 Winter Olympics will take place on unceded indigenous land from February 12-28, 2010. The effects of the upcoming Winter Games have already manifested themselves- with the expansion of sport tourism and resource extraction on indigenous lands; increasing homelessness and gentrification of poor neighbourhoods; increasing privatization of public services; union busting through imposed contracts and exploitative conditions especially for migrant labour; the fortification of the national security and military apparatus; ballooning public spending and public debt; and unprecedented destruction of the environment.

The Olympic Resistance Network is primarily based in Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories and exists as a space to coordinate anti-2010 Olympics efforts. In doing so, we act in solidarity with other communities across 'BC' - particularly indigenous communities who have been defending their land against the onslaught of the Olympics since the bid itself. Our organizing is largely being done under the slogan of "No Olympics on Stolen Native Land," while creating an opportunity for all anti-capitalist, indigenous, anti-poverty, labour, migrant justice, environmental justice, anti-war, and anti-colonial activists to come together to confront this two-week circus and the oppression it represents.

In addition to building ongoing educational and resistance efforts, we are organizing towards an anti-2010 convergence based on the call for an international boycott by native warriors - particularly at the Indigenous Peoples Gathering in Senora, Mexico in October 2007. We hope to see you all in 2010 to demonstrate our indignation and resistance!

ORN website (under construction):


While so many are reveling in the legacy of what we perceive to be the Olympics, there is a courageous group of indigenous and non-indigenous activists, anti-capitalist/colonialist resisters and supportive people raising voices and serious questions about the socio-political and cultural effects of that legacy. There is a powerful statement being made, largely outside of mainstream media sources, that is informative on the capitalist, expansionist, globalizationalist, neo/settler-colonialist dynamic that underlies the presence of the Olympics in Vancouver and beyond this month.

The Olympic Resistance Network (ORN) and the Tent City residents have come under great pressure from the Vancouver Police and other authoritative forces during their occupation of the area near the olympic village. In addition, Democracy Now!, through Free Speech TV, has reported that numerous independent journalists deemed by the Vancouver and Canadian government to be supportive of the ORN and Tent City have been stopped at the Canadian/USAmerican border, detained and sometimes had their equipment seized. Amy Goodman, internationally know and respected anchor for Democracy Now!, was even detained and mistreated at the border. On one of the recent Democracy Now! broadcasts, a Canadian resident being interviewed on the show apologized on behalf of the government, moreso out of personal solidarity with Goodman, the journalists and the protestors than as any sort of official representative of the Canadian government.

Exacerbating the popular confusion around this issue of sport and indigenous sovereignty/human rights and justice, the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN), the Roman Catholic cable tv channel reported in their "Rome Reports" program that the Pope had sent a letter to the archbishop of Vancouver stating, "sports can make an effective contribution to peaceful understanding between peoples and to establishing the new civilization of love." Two things become clear in the light of the ORN's stance against the presence of the olympics. One is that the pope and all of his minions are ignorant of the olympic impact on human life and welfare in Vancouver. That might not be so surprising when we understand how closely related to capitalist and colonialist expansion the concomitant expansion of Roman Catholicism (in particular) and christianity (in general) is. Secondly, the pope and his vatican crew may be well aware of the effect of the olympics on the indigenous and poor populations in and around Vancouver. This would be even less surprising since the vatican has a history of intolerance and outright disrespect toward indigenous people. It is one of the political structures that has been forcibly ripping indigenous people from their lands and cultures all over the world, raping, pillage and killing indigenous people, physically, emotionally and spiritually. It clearly marks the vatican as, at the very least, a disingenuous socially retrograde structure. At worst, the vatican has a program of aiding and abetting the disintegrations of indigenous life and the spiritual energetics systems that indigeny has brought such deep foundation to around the globe over the last few million years. Equally as alarming, that the vatican has come out in support of the olympics' negative existence in Vancouver may help to obfuscate the populace's ability to see the necessity of supporting the Olympic Resistance Network and the indigenous people that are being actively and openly oppressed by the olympics, the Canadian government and other colonialist/capitalist structures (like the vatican).

Thursday, January 14, 2010

"Vatican critical of Avatar's spiritual message" at CBC News

The following is a comment left at that CBC News article page, 1/14/10:

Though the vatican did not write the review, per se, it has the implied nod and support of the vatican which carries a lot of influential weight for a lot of people. This is the important issue here - the INFLUENCE of the vatican and the Roman catholic ideological corporate bureaucracy. The vatican, the rcc AND the author would do well to respect the 3 million year old (at least!) tradition of indigenous culture and spirituality that has sustained human life for so so very long in complete harmony with what they call "God's creation". The rcc has borrowed/misappropriated so heavily from indigeny along with the vatican's oppression and exploitation of indigenous people and spiritual practice that continues to this very moment. We know clearly that the rcc and the vatican and the author of the review know nothing of intellectual clarity, ethical humanity nor the fundamental importance of cultural depth and necessity of the indigenous soul and it's place in the foundation of a functional system of spirituality, governance and cultural production upon this earth, past, present and future.

It is indigeny that has the duty of critiquing christian and roman catholic ideology and actions in the world, not the other way around. Once christian polity and its many followers finds enough clarity and humility to look inside itself and resolve its own deep, dangerous and violent contradictions and confusion, then we might be able to rely upon their inspired and enspirited input.

Peter Buffett's "Spirit" dance video - "Misleading..."

This entry is a copy of the review posted on about Peter Buffett's "Spirit: A Journey in Dance, Drums and Song" submitted on 1/14/10.

Peter Buffett is an accomplished musician and music producer. While we can appreciate his attempt to form a musical and conceptual communion between indigeny (indigenous culture and spirituality, lifeways) and modern angst and challenge (born out of the divergence from the indigenous human developmental path), some of the resonance of the real that exists in his album, "Spirit: The Seventh Fire", is lost in the translation to video and to the physical/visual form of dance and movement. The album that inspired this video allows us to form a healthy process of exploration into the complex, yet simple conflict between indigeny and modernity and the disconnection of modern life and society from spirit, tradition and earth-based community and culture. The video starts off in a promising manner in the exposition of "Urban Overture", a creative and thought-provoking look into the modern machine-life that corporate sub-culture has created. The blockish movements of the European/USAmerican dancers are instructive for anyone seeking to have the gift of their awakening eyes and heart validated. This piece readies us for a deep journey into the inter-relationship of Western modernity and indigenous tradition - that never materializes or grounds itself in the performance. The performances of the "modern dancers" never equals the passion or the indigenous dance, not even with some other form of bitter-sweet beauty, framing the degradation that modernity has wrought upon indigeny and traditional societies. The European male modern dance lead never is given an intelligent, poignant or historically savvy way of kinetically relating to the presence and power of the Native American dancer(s) and thus never brings to the forefront the real engagement that needs to take place in the minds and heart of modern citizens. At one point, he literally and physically is left just taking up space as the weakened narrative suggests that some sort of inner and important transformation is taking place within him. It was sad to watch him sit cross legged in the middle of the stage, spotlit, as the power of the Native America dance and sound took flight around him, his fingers uncomfortably, ignorantly fondling a fake eagle feather. It was much more sad than thought-provoking in a moment that should have brought tears of initiatory joy to our hearts. Even the easy cliche of Native and modern dancers moving together as one was never cashed in on. Extra footage at the end of the tape revealing an interview with the choreographer left one thinking that the dance never had a chance to meet up with the great responsibility of the provision of clarity and learning about the conflict between the two cultural dynamics. "Tony Award Winner Wayne Cilento" was poorly chosen for this multi-plexed choreographic job. All in all, it seemed that Buffett's team knew more about it's own narrow viewpoints (however unconsciously), technically, creatively and conceptually - historically, than it did about how to gracefully, powerfully and insightfully create a union of thought and movement and sound that would truly be transformative and separate itself from the myriad of failed and flawed attempts that many Europeans/USAmericans engage in to voice a functional and instructive presentation of a relationship that still has so many dynamics to be resolved. Maybe one could have seen this coming with their use of Kevin Costner to introduce the video/dance recital. I'm sure none of the producers had read, or better yet understood, the deep levels of "white" power privilege and concomitant guilt that played itself out in "Dances with Wolves".

In addition, this presentation never gave voice or vision to the presence of indigeny living with and often in spite of modern culture. A Native American wearing blue jeans does not necessarily have to also be shown with a liquor bottle. There was no statement, other than the verbal/lyrical....eclipsed by the dazzling lights and mediocre movements...that indigeny belongs or lives in current time. It seemed to always show up as a flashback that all the modern-Costners of today could (mis)appropriate again and again for their own use, not for the highest good of all, all people, all living things, all our relations. Seemingly, Buffett and his team could not carry this one off, less so once they moved it from the much stronger statement of the purely musical presentation.

I was highly disappointed and will have to relegate this video to my robust and growing pile of cultural media studies samples that give us a more powerful idea of what and how not to create cultural communications than how to manifest creative and functional ideas that are validating to life, progressive social change and cultural clarity.