The Message of the Kogi to the Younger Brothers

Published on: Ruhaniat Ziraat WITH PHOTO IMAGES  http://ruhaniat.org/index.php/ecospirituality/2766-the-message-of-the-kogi-to-the-younger-brothers

The Message of the Kogi to the younger brothers

Shafiya Majid Sharon Mijares

 

The message of the Kogi (translates as jaguar people) was directly presented in the early 90s when the Kogi (pronunciation: Kohi) mamas came out of their hidden village to warn that we, the younger brothers, were destroying the Earth, the Great Mother. They realized they (and other indigenous groups such as the Hopi) they could no longer protect the Earth on their own.

Therefore, the Kogi decided to come forward to briefly connect with the larger society. They consider themselves to be the “elder brothers,” and the caretakers of the Earth, as from their perspective modern civilization has taken us to the brink of destroying the natural world. The Kogi had hidden from society, since the Spanish conquest Santa Marta, Colombia around 1525. They are the descendants of the ancient Tairona culture that had fled deep into the Sierra Nevadas of Santa Marta after they experienced the destructive behaviors of those with the ambition to “conquer” all they saw before them. It is estimated that there are now at least 11,000 Kogi[1].

The Sierra Nevada mountains rise from sea level to 18,700+ feet. It is one of the most dangerous mountainous areas of the world. This allowed the Kogi tribe of the Tairona to remain separate from the threats of civilization, to preserve their way of life, and to give prayerful attention to protecting Mother Earth. They believe they are connected with the heart of the world and are convinced that the younger brothers lost this connection a long time ago.

In order for the Kogi to come out of seclusion and give their message to the world they decided to learn the Spanish language so they could talk to the younger brothers. They next established a relationship with the BBC. It provided the first major message to the younger brothers in a documentary titled The Heart of the World: The Elder Brothers Warning[2]  In telling about their way of life and reverence for as well as guidance from Mother Earth, they added

But now we can no longer look after the world alone. The younger brother is doing too much damage. He must see, and understand, and assume responsibility. Now we will have to work together. Otherwise, we will die[3].

They had been observing dying areas at the mountain peak as well as changing weather patterns. This observation added to their felt intuitive relationship with the Earth. The fact that waters were drying up was also troubling.

A Personal Journey

Before I write more about the Kogi, I would like to share how I learned about them and their message.  It began two years ago when I started co-designing an Ecopsychology course for National University’s new Integrative Psychology degree program. A colleague recommended I include something on the Kogi so I did a google search, and knew that their message needed to be included via embedded videos in the course.

Is it destiny that a few months ago I was invited to join with members of the Contemplative Alliance meeting in Orosi, Costa Rica? Once I learned that a Kogi man was going to be attending as well, I was convinced that this journey was a priority. He gave the opening prayer for the special event for invited guests. It was a prayer honoring Nature, the Elements, and life.  This prayer can be heard via this a youtube video I recorded[4]. (The feather he is holding was simply a gift from an attendee and not a Kogi relic.)

 

In this picture the same young man is holding a Poporo. These are very special sacred objects for the Kogi. It is a continual meditation and reminder of the relationship to the Great Mother that is given to the adolescent male as part of the initiatory guidance for becoming a more mature member of the tribe.  The Poporo is made from a hollow gourd and, also special shells from the ocean. It is filled with lime made from crushed shells.  One can see this thick white liquid brought out by the long stick that represents the umbilical cord linking to the Great Mother through the continual meditative remembrance. The Kogi regularly chew coca leaves, and a pocket of the coca is generally sitting in the corner of the mouth. The stick brings up a milky-white substance that is brought to the mouth to mix with the coca leaves[1]. All of this is a continuous reminder to stay connected with Aluna, the Great Mother. Notice how the young man has a bag at his side. Both males and females carry these bags. Traditionally, men are the weavers, but the weavers of the sacred bags cannot be males as it is the sacred task of the women. A bag may contain coca leaves, other sacred items related to the Elements, and perhaps some personal relics. All of this is according to the guidance of the Mamas.

The Cosmic Egg

Their cosmology is very rich. They believe Aluna, the Great Mother, created the cosmic egg. It nests in the center of seven directions, namely, East, West, North, South, Nadir, and Center. There are nine horizontal levels making up the nine worlds. We live in the middle, the fifth layer. The levels

embody the nine daughters of the goddess, each one conceived as a certain type of agricultural land, ranging from pale, barren sand to the black and fertile soil that nourishes mankind. The seven points of reference within which the Cosmos is contained are associated or identified with innumerable mythical beings, animals, plants, mineral, colors, winds, and many highly abstract concepts[2].

It is a very complex cosmology, and the tribal customs are based upon it at every level.

Sexual unions are planned, and, in preparation, the women make a bed of leaves as intercourse take place in Nature.

The Great Fabric of Life

The Kogi organize all of their endeavors around their cosmological beliefs. This includes weaving of clothes as well as where it is done, for example,

The Kogi do not buy ready-made clothes, but continue to grow their own cotton, spin their own yarn and weave their own cloth, and make their own clothes. The symbolism of weaving permeates all aspects of Kogi culture and serves as an unifying element to Kogi life. The sun in its daily cycles and between the soltices weaves the Great Fabric of Life on the loom that is the Mother Goddess. The narrow ray of light that is allowed to penetrate a temple’s roof traces in the course of a year a square ‘fabric’ on the floor, sanctifying the temple. The shape of the loom serves as a key pattern and mnemonic device for local geography, locations of ceremonial centers, lineage histories and relationships, and eschatological concerns. Weaving is also a metaphor for sexual intercourse and procreation: only men weave and the loom represents a women’s body with the uterus at its center.[3]

There are distinct tasks for each gender. Women weave the sacred bags. They pick and spin the wool and cotton. The men then weave the cloth. All clothing is white to honor the Great Mother[4].  They prefer not to wear shoes so that their feet connect with Earth, and the force behind it the Great Mother.

The Kogi are not governed by greed or accumulation of riches. In fact, when they discovered gold rocks, they simply transformed them into works of art to be returned to the Earth as a gift to the Great Mother. They see giving and receiving as part of a delicate balance.

Spirituality, Divination, and Aluna

The Mamas (translates as sun) are the tribal priests and curanderos (healers). Each of them was recognized at birth by a divination process. When an infant is recognized as a Mama through divination, he is then raised in a dark cave never to see daylight for the first nine years. The infant is raised by a Mama, although his birth mother comes into the darkness of the cave to breast feed. The cave symbolizes the womb. Mamas and the mother are both there guiding the growing child through telling stories and encouraging the child to feel and sense the Great Mother (Aluna). Occasionally the child might be brought out (blindfolded) at night to feel and sense its qualities. The child will grow up to be a Mama, a guardian and guide to the Kogi. Primarily the Mamas are men, but women are occasionally recognized at birth and raised to be a priest.

According to Alan Ereira there are “stories about them being masters of levitation and telepathy, with a direct link to supernatural powers in spirit world, and that they are the repository of a secret knowledge”[5]. They are recognized as a very spiritual tribe. The Wikipedia page on the Kogi is very good and relates that, 

Through deep concentration, symbolic offerings, and divination, the Mamas believe they support the balance of harmony and creativity in the world. It is also in this realm that the essence of agriculture is nurtured: seeds are blessed in Aluna before being planted, to ensure they grow successfully; marriage is blessed to ensure fertility; and ceremonies are offered to the different spirits of the natural world before performing tasks such as harvest and building of new huts.[6]

Through their understanding of the four directions, the elements, as well as their felt connection to the Great Mother, they believe that everything has its counterpart, and our work is to maintain this balance of complements. The fear is that the younger brothers have created an immense and destructive imbalance.

Balance and Reverence for the Great Mother

The young Kogi visiting Costa Rica explained how the training of the Mamas teaches young Kogis to listen to the rhythm and songs of the crickets to learn how to be at night. Likewise, when we hear the morning songs of birds we know how to be in the daylight.

Although the Mamas are men, there is immense respect for each and every woman of the tribe. Adolescent boys are taught by the Mamas to revere and serve the women. They are told never to harm a woman in any way, and see them as the representatives of the Great Mother. In fact, the stick stirring the Poporo is symbolic of the umbilical cord. In their cosmology, we are in the Great Mother’s placenta, and one’s birth placenta is a connection to the ancestors.

Leaving Costa Rica, I went on to the Sibundoy Valley of Colombia where I would stay for a week. A few days later a young Colombian family stopped by. The father had lived with the Kogi for seven years before marrying and having children. It is rare for the Kogi to take a person in as they have little trust in outsiders due to the damage and poor examples we have exemplified, but this man had been welcomed in.  He spoke some English, I speak some Spanish, and his wife spoke both so I was able to ask questions and then invited in the next day for more teachings about the Kogi Cosmology. Here is some of what I learned.

The Kogi believe that much of modern humanity’s disconnection from our ancestors is a result of “throwing away the placenta,” as though it was meaningless. The placenta is sacred!

The Kogi also organize their village with an awareness of the four directions and the elements. My new Colombian friend, Jorge, explained that the water and fire lines are particularly important. For example, the water line starts at the North Pole and ends at the South Pole. It comes down through the Americas, and all the conscious and active indigenous tribes are caretakers of this Water line. The Fire line stretches from Siberia through Japan, Four Corners into the area of the Hawaiian Islands. The indigenous peoples along this line are the caretakers of the Fire Element. The Kogi do not deem corporations to be evil, but recognize the great imbalance as companies such as Coca Cola and Nestles take the water from the earth—without giving back.  Companies such as Shell, represent the dark side of the fire line as they take the blood from the earth’s veins drilling for oil and frack gas, without concern for Her Body. The most serious problem is that we take from the Earth without giving back. The Earth is being prevented from Her natural balance. We are rapidly destroying Mother Earth. The human relationship with Mother Nature has been out of balance for the last couple thousand years.

My new friend Jorge explained that the Kogi are also in contact with the Hopi as well as many other tribes. He also showed me photos on his phone of numerous indigenous tribal chiefs meeting at the United Nations building. It was promising to know this had occurred. The indigenous are the ones who have maintained a living relationship with Nature. Their purpose is that we, the younger brothers, who have created such devastation in Nature, must learn from these wise indigenous guides before it is too late.

How Can We Give Back?

If one ponders how we can ever give back enough to make up for all we’ve taken, there is no easy answer. Yes, the Kogi are correct in that we have created what seems to be an insurmountable imbalance.  How can we restore balance between all forms of life as well as with our Mother Earth, especially given the continually growing population of seven+ billion people? The least we can offer is the dedication not to waste resources and all that we use.

Perhaps we can also give back through building a conscious and continuing felt connection to Nature. We can cultivate the flow of gratitude to our Mother Earth, notice the felt change of atmosphere at dawn and dusk, feel the magnetic currents of the ground that supports us. There are rituals we can hold to honor water and other elements in their tangible forms. Another act is to smell and remember the scent of rich earthy soil. Its memory lives within us. We can learn to listen to the crickets to be guided in night life, and learn how the songs of the birds can direct our days while holding the reverent awareness of the Great Mother behind each expression.

 

References

Ereikra, Alan. The Elder Brothers: A lost South American people and their message about the fate of the earth. New York: Alfred A. Knoff/1992.

 

Ereikra, Alan. Director, BBC/1990. From the heart of the world: The elder brothers warning. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hRgTtrQOiR0

 

Reichel-Dolmatoff, Gerardo. “The loom of life A Kogi principle of integration”. Journal of Latin American Lore, Vol. 4, No. 1/1978  5-27.

 

Kogi People: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kogi_people

 

Kogi People: Spiritual Beliefs  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kogi_people#Spiritual_beliefs

 

Kogi prayer. Orosi, Costa Rica/March 18, 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7tIXr4dtgE&t=21s


[1] The Kogi, as is true of all of the people of the Andes and the Sierra Nevada mountains chew sacred coca leaves. Coca leaves are not intoxicating, but are similar to the caffeine buzz that accompanies a cup of coffee.

 

[2] Gerardo Reichel-Dolmatoff. “Training for the priesthood in the Kogi of Colombia”. In Joannes Wilbert. (ed.) Enculturation in Latin America: An anthology. Los Angeles, CA: University of California/1976. http://www.sustainable.soltechdesigns.com/training-of-kogi-preisthood.html

[3] Gerardo Reichel-Dolmatoff. “The loom of life A Kogi principle of integration”. Journal of Latin American Lore, Vol. 4, No. 1/1978  5-27.

 

[5] Alan Ereikra. The Elder Brothers: A lost South American people and their message about the fate of the earth. New York: Alfred A. Knoff/1992. Page 20.

 

[6] Kogi People: Spiritual Beliefs. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kogi_people#Spiritual_beliefs


[1] Alan Ereikra. The Elder Brothers: A lost South American people and their message about the fate of the earth. New York: Alfred A. Knoff/1992.

 

[2] Alan Ereikra, Director, From the heart of the world: The elder brothers warning. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hRgTtrQOiR0

 

[3] Alan Ereikra. The Elder Brothers: A lost South American people and their message about the fate of the earth. New York: Alfred A. Knoff/1992. Page 10

 

[4] Kogi prayer.. Orosi, Costa Rica/March 18, 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7tIXr4dtgE&t=21s

 

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