March 24th, 2021

Episode #16 of the psychedelic leadership podcast

Ep. 16 Cultural Appropriation Vs Appreciation & The Wisdom Teachings of “Hozho” with Navajo and Zuni Elder Belinda Eriacho

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Laura Dawn speaks with Navajo and Zuni elder, and wisdom keeper Belinda Eriacho about cultural appropriation, the prophecy of the eagle and the condor and healing intergenerational trauma.

Belinda Eriacho is a wisdom keeper from the Diné (Navajo) and Zuni lineage. She was born and raised on the Dine’ reservation. In this episode, Belinda shares that from a Diné perspective, the goal in life is walking through life in “Hozho”, which means living in balance and harmony. We talk about the difference between cultural appropriation versus cultural appreciation and how we can’t move towards healing unless we acknowledge that hurt has been done. Belinda shares her own story of healing intergenerational trauma and also shares the powerful prophecy of the Eagle and the Condor.

Full transcript for Episode #16 of the Psychedelic Leadership Podcast featuring Belinda Eriacho.

Audio File Size: 01:04:36 

Laura Dawn (10:38): I’d love to start by inviting you to speak to or honor the people, lineages or even places from which you come that have planted seeds of wisdom within you.

Belinda Eriacho (10:53): Sure. First of all, before I get started, I do want to do a land acknowledgment. I currently live in the Phoenix metropolitan area, and I do want to acknowledge the people, the original people of this land, which are the Powwow come and the autumn people, they are not knowing any English as a Pima and the Papago people. And I want to honor their ancestors of this land for allowing us to…allowing me to be here and allowing for so many to be here as well. In addition, I want to also thank all of my hand sisters from my Diné Lineage, my mother’s lineage, and then my father’s lineage, the Asherway people. Diné means the people and in the Asherway means the skin tone because in their original teachings of where they came from that was what they were known as. And so, I want to acknowledge it, acknowledged both of those lineages. And I acknowledged just for interests. I acknowledged my mother’s lineage first because both my lineages are match linear societies and meaning that a lot of who we are and who we identify ourselves as comes through our mother’s side and so it’s always appropriate to acknowledge that lineage and where we come from. So, I want to acknowledge that, and I am born for the HANA Omni people which is the one who walks around. There are four major or four primary clans that come from the Diné people. And this clan that I belong to is one of the original clans. And my mother’s, my grandparents on my mother’s side are from the black sheep clan and then acknowledged my father and my father’s parents, which are from the sherway who are north Asia people. And so that is how I identify myself as a Diné woman.

Laura Dawn (13:00): Beautiful. And I’m curious to know a little bit more about the Diné and Zuni lineages. How did these lineages differ in their worldviews and what are some of the similarities that they have?

Belinda Eriacho (13:15): If you go back in history, the Diné and the Zuni people, never from my understanding, they never really got along. the Diné people were always seen as warriors and people that were raiders, I guess, is a way that most people identify them with. But they never really got along with one another and they live close proximity geographically to one another. My mother’s people, there are, well, first of all, me back up a little bit in the United States, there are five-hundred-and-seventy-three native American tribes throughout the United States and the Diné people are the largest population of native American people. There are over three hundred thousand tribal members. When I say tribal members is every single tribe individual that belongs to a tribe, has to be enrolled in that tribe and be identified and that’s where we come up with the little over three-hundred-thousand population for the Diné people in terms of the cultures themselves they’re completely opposite of one another and when I say that, I’ll take an example. 

In the Diné culture, when we talk about the dying process or death, it is seen as something that’s very taboo. And in my father’s lineage the Zuni people, it is something that is embraced and it’s very beautiful because in the Zuni culture, they still do the old-fashioned wakes where they’ll bring the body home and they’ll prepare it, and family will come to visit and pay their respects for the evening. And then there’s a lot of ritual and ceremony that goes along with that when a person is actually laid to rest. And so, that is an example of it. In addition, another example is hunting and in the Diné culture, it’s primarily the men that will go out and do the hunting whereas in the Zuni culture, it’s somewhat similar, but there are certain for instance, in the Navajo culture, if you’re hunting for deer only the men can do that and the reason why they allow the men only to hunt in a Diné culture is because they say that the energy and the medicine that comes from a deer is very strong and that a female can’t handle it and it will cause one to go crazy. That’s kind of the story that goes behind that. Whereas in the Zuni culture they’re more open to allowing people to go along, women to go along not necessarily to actually do the hunting, but they’ll actually be involved in a preparation. And the other thing that happens is with the trophies that come from. Usually, they have people that will cut the heads off and make them as trophies. And the Zuni culture, when we do our winter scent ceremonies, one of the things that happens when you walk into, it’s a ceremony called Shalako, it’s part of the winter solstice ceremony. When you walk into a home that is a Shalako house, they’ll have the heads of the deer and the Buffalo and the antelope all on the walls and they’ll dress the animals up in jewelry. So, they’ll have earrings, I’ll have necklaces on, and it’s really just a beautiful place to be in. And what that is acknowledging the sacrifice of the animal, but also to acknowledge it as a being and honoring it for giving its life. So, the cultures are very different.

Laura Dawn (17:18): Well, these are such divided times, and I would like to embark through a little bit of taboo territory around this conversation that feels highly divided and so reactive. And so, I’m curious to get some wisdom and perspective from you on this. There’s such a big conversation unfolding around race and equality and cultural appropriation and colonization. And I’m curious if, how you feel about this movement of sort of glorifying indigenous cultures and just wanting to find more common ground to stand on. And it seems like the conversations are becoming so much more and more polarized and divided, and yet even from hearing you speak, it seems like there was warring amongst tribes and not everyone agreed on everything and there was many differences.

Belinda Eriacho (18:18): Right.

Laura Dawn (18:18): So, I’m curious for you to just speak to this from your perspective,

Belinda Eriacho (18:23): It’s interesting, you talk about cultural appropriation. I was just doing a talk a couple of weeks ago on this particular topic, and as it relates to psychedelics and first of all, let’s kind of go back and kind of define what cultural appropriation is, because I’m not sure that people really understand the definition of what cultural appropriation is and kind of the historical background that relates to that. And then I want to talk a little bit about cultural appreciation and what that means. 

When we talk about cultural appropriation, it’s really about taking a symbol or a cultural practice out of its original context. And part of that taking is taken of the intellectual property from which it originated from and so, when we talk about it in context of native American wisdom and culture, you lose the essence and the meaning behind the original teachings and wisdom implies that it’s gone through this maturation, if you will, through generations to generations, because a lot of the wisdom that is carried in indigenous cultures is passed down orally. There are no books that are written on it. There are books that are written by anthropologists that either lived among the people to study them for a small brief period of time. And then the books are related to their perspective on how they see things. 

One of the things that’s really interesting about indigenous culture and indigenous wisdom is we have in the United States, a standard legal framework in which we talk about, and we frame intellectual properties around so we have copyright laws, we have trademarks but there was really nothing that really speaks to the framework when it comes to indigenous wisdoms and cultures that can be applied to it and really who owns the knowledge and the wisdom that has been passed down from generation to generation. 

And I did a little bit of research, and I understand that there is an interlock international movement that’s really trying to come up with some, not necessarily legal documents, but some guiding principles so that some of these intellectual cultures and wisdom can be captured and protected in a way that keeps them safe and of integrity. And from my understanding, this started back in 2000 and there from my understanding, they’re really focusing on intellectual properties that relate to cultural wisdoms that relate to Diné of indigenous people and this framework is an organization that’s an international organization. And for the first time, one of the things that’s different about this organization is you actually see the involvement of indigenous people that are really making a voice and saying, this is what we think will work for everybody. And when you look around the globe, that’s one of the biggest, I think one of the biggest battles is that typically the people that are the holders of these wisdoms and ancient knowledges are not always the ones that are brought to the table to have a seat at the table to create these frameworks or create these policies that then get implemented which brings me to the other point that I wanted to talk a little bit, or the concept is really about cultural appreciation. And cultural appreciation is when someone seeks to understand and learn about another’s culture in an effort to broaden their own perspective and to connect with the others cross culturally, granted that you have to have permission to sometimes be in a ceremony to be in that ritual to allow that sharing to happen.

And so, there’s that exchange rather than just a taking of those wisdoms and to dive into this topic a little bit deeper, we got to really look back at our share history as Americans. If you look back in American history, have the rivals of the Europeans in their mind when they came to the United States, they were operating under the premise of the doctrine of a scope of discovery. And for those folks that are listening, if you don’t know what the doctrine of discovery is, I would suggest you take some time to understand that because that was kind of the impetus behind how our country was created and for native American people that gave the Europeans justification to take our ancestral homes, homelands that we all knew, where we got our medicines from where we have made that connection with, Pachamama with the earth. And then, by the time you get into the eighteen-hundreds, and even into the nineteen-hundreds, you have the creation of the U.S. Policies that placed native American people on reservations, our children were forced into boarding schools at a very young age, where they were abused and they were not allowed to speak their native language, nor look…nor were they allowed to actually express themselves as native American people. My mom was one of those children that was put in a boarding school and so there’s some implications that go along with it and so when we came into her life she never really taught us our Navajo Diné language because she was afraid that she was going to…we were going to get our mouth washed out with soap, or we were going to get punished for speaking our language and so, there’s a lot of trauma, intergenerational trauma that goes along with it. 

And I don’t know if you know this or not Laura, but the native Americans were not allowed to vote until around nineteen-twenty-four and this was the passage of the Indian civilization or citizen act. And in some States, we were still also forbidden to vote in it that didn’t get resolved until nineteen-sixty-five under the voting rights act. And so, there’s a lot of history and so when it comes to cultural appropriation, when someone is emulating a sweat lodge or a traditional ceremony that we hold sacred without understanding the origins of it, or why you do certain things, it bothers us, it raises that anger, like you’ve taken everything from us and now you’re going to go down that road to take that culture, those cultural aspects, those religious practices away from us and that’s kind of why there’s a lot of resistance for native American people that live on Turtle Island. And I remember recall someone once saying to me, “culture is medicine and medicine is culture”. And I think for me that really helped to define and put things in context around this particular topic.

Laura Dawn (26:26): And I’m just curious though, to bring in this perspective of zooming out and also looking at the way that other cultures have been doing this to other cultures for so many years. And I’m just curious about how we can move forward in a way that finds true equality and unity. When we look at other cultures like the Aztecs or the Mongolian culture, some African empires, even the Hawaiian cultures, there was a certain level of cultures trying to take over other cultures. And so, it seems to me that humans have been hurting other humans for far too long. And I’m curious about what your perspective is on how the movements are unfolding right now around these conversations. And if you believe that this is helping, like is racial trauma perpetuating more racial trauma right now or is what’s unfolding. And the polarization that we’re seeing is this, in your perspective, necessary to mend the divide between people on this planet right now?

Belinda Eriacho (27:37): Yes. I think it is. One of the things I think that happens when this happens between different groups of people. I think one of the biggest things that does not happen is the acknowledgement of these particular crises or events or genocide. And I know that for speaking from a native American perspective, one of the things that’s always frustrated me is our government has never acknowledged what has happened to native American people and that’s not only native Americans, it’s to native Hawaiians, it’s to other people. I think about world war two, when Japanese were put in internment camps and our government actually try to make mends with that by compensating some of these Japanese Americans and actually coming out with news release, et cetera, that apologize for those types of events. So, I think that’s one of the things that helps when you’re able to get to a point where you can acknowledge that hurt has been done then you can start to begin to have a conversation about that and how do we begin to work and to live in a more harmonious way and care for each other. And unfortunately, or fortunately in these times that we’re going through right now, I think it’s making people realize that we need each other, and there’s this interconnectedness that we’ve forgotten about as a human race. And so, it’s really causing us to really be concerned about our neighbors which is something that was fundamental to just being human and making sure that your neighbor was okay to check on the elders in your community that are living at home by themselves and just making sure that they have what they need to get through things. And so, it’s really causing us as human beings to get out of our minds and get into our hearts. When an elder once told me that she said the longest journey, and she was probably close to ninety-something years old, she said, “the longest journey that we’ll ever have to make is traveling from our minds into our heart” and that’s only eighteen inches away. And I truly believe that she knew what she was talking about.

Laura Dawn (30:17): I’ve heard that before. I love that saying. And I really do hold this prayer that one day the government can acknowledge the wrongs that have been committed amongst so many people, and that real planetary healing can happen. And I’m just seeing so much division and reactivity and rage that I have been really questioning. Like, is there a better way to bring healing towards the conversations that are happening that are just so hurtful?

Belinda Eriacho (30:50): One of the other things that this relates to is just this whole transition that we’re having to go through at this particular time. And this particular time of change is something that many of our indigenous ancestors spoke of. And there is a prophecy called the prophecy of the Eagle and the Condor. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of this particular prophecy. But the prophecy essentially says that the coming together of North, the people of the North, which is typically referred to as Turtle Island, which represents the mind and the South, the people of the South, which is really the Heart Island, which represents the heart center. When these people come together then humanity can be begin to heal. And in the kitchen traditions, which are the Inca people, there’s a term called Pachacuti, which means the turning of the earth or turning of the soil. And this particular turning really refers to in the Pachacuti Mesa traditions, it refers to the period of change and the great cosmic Turney. And according to the prophecies, it’s a time when we all are going to be going through this great remembering.

And some of the features of this particular event include extraordinary planetary crisis and upheaval, which is that’s what we’re going through right now. It’s also tied to the effects of alienation and separation and deep amnesia and people forgetting who they are and what they came to this earth for. And it’s really causing us to reawaken to ourselves. And it’s also remembering that this is a time of reuniting humanity and all ancestry lineages and traditions and to restore human time to save the planet, to resave mother earth, we call her Unci Maka, which is mother earth and so, to break this illusion of separation. So, that’s really the teachings behind this and many of us have been taught that the answer to lives is outside of ourselves. I went to grew up on a reservation, I went to college, I went to started working for a big investor on utility and spent twenty-six years of my life doing that. And then when I finally had the opportunity to retire, I took that. And what I realize now is that wasn’t the truth. That’s not where you find happiness and it really started to get me thinking about what is it and what is my purpose on this earth from the spiritual and a soul level perspective. And, when we go through these types of experiences that we’re all going through right now and with the Diné people, we are one of the populations that’s getting really hit hard with is with this virus and for a lot of reasons. And so, it really teaches us to really find that resilience within ourselves and to bounce back and again to figure out how we can live on this earth together.

Laura Dawn (34:31): So, what do you say to the social justice warriors who really are fighting for a cause of equality, but they’re coming from a very angry place and they’re hurling more hate towards other people who don’t believe what they believe? What do you say to those people?

Belinda Eriacho (34:51): I think when I look at that, because I was there too at a young age, I reflect back on those times when I was angry and what I was angry about. And a lot of times for individuals, and again, I’m coming from more of my own personal experience. When I look back and reflect back on those experiences, that anger was really hurt that I was trying to deal with. And, for a lot of these individuals that are coming from a place of anger, rather than stopping and saying, where’s this anger coming from? And for me, a lot of the anger and the bitterness that I had against non-native people was really intergenerational trauma and the experiences that my ancestors had to go through. And I never realize and recognize that intergenerational trauma is something that the next generation can inherit. And if we don’t take the time to heal that then we just continue to perpetuate that type of energy.

Laura Dawn (36:01): And so, what was the process of healing that you went through and then what was that transmuted into the way? How did you change the way you showed up in the world?

Belinda Eriacho (36:12): For me, my journey to that path was when I was working for the investor-owned utility. One of the things that happened to me was I was working seven days a week – ten, twelve hours a day and it got to a point where my job got really stressful and then I was diagnosed with systemic lupus and I was in….I got very ill and it took me to a place where essentially being a person that was very independent, getting my feet knocked out from under me. And then I really had to evaluate my priorities in my life. And when I went through that experience, a lot of this inner healing that I needed to do started to surface. And as I become older, I’m still doing with that. It’s a lifelong journey that we all have to go through to really look at the things that make us feel uncomfortable.

And so, what that looked like for me is I try to do a lot of counseling and really look at the dysfunction that I grew up with as a child, because that is a place that we come from and really to take a look at how we are all socialized because a lot of times we bring that into our current life. And so, if we were raised to be prejudice against another race, we bring that into our relationships with other people. So, for me, what I recognize even just a few months ago when this whole issue about black lives matters came up and I’m sitting at home with my mom and my mom is watching TV and I could just hear the TV going in the background and black lives matter and then my mom started to say, “well, why don’t these people, if they’re not happy here, why don’t they just go home?” And I started to think about that. And it was like, and it dawned on me that, wow, this is where I was getting it from, again, it was a way that I was socialized in my own family. 

And then from my father’s perspective, when you go back into the eighteen-hundreds and when colonial, the Spaniards came over and went through the different Colonialism in New Mexico. In history, they talk about a Blackmore, his name was Esteban. And when Esteban showed up in one of the Zuni villages, from my understanding is always two sides of the story. And then there’s the absolute truthand not being on any one of those places. I don’t know what the truth is, but what ended up happening was the Zuni people up to that point had never seen a black man and then he was coming with the Jesuits who were the ones that were actually creating the churches and demanding things. And the people, the Zuni people didn’t feel that, they needed to oblige him and so they ended up killing him. 

And as I was growing up, even when I went to college, I could still hear my father’s voice and my uncle’s voice saying, “when you come home, don’t bring back home a black one”. And I was kind of thought that was just kind of funny and as I started to be thinking about this and I thought that’s really not a very good way to bring up a child with that kind of outlook on life and I really had to sit with that and I really had to…I have a Mesa sacred altar that I use, and I had to sit with that one and I had to go inside and saying, “okay, now I understand where that’s coming from and how do I transmute that energy and give it back to the earth to allow it to transform and trans mutate into good energy of love of those types of things. And so, that’s kind of what it looked like for me to kind of heal that wound that had been there for generations.

Laura Dawn (40:44): It’s interesting because it seems to be that part of the conversation right now is only white people can be prejudice. And even just hearing you say that it was like, wow, anyone can be raised prejudice. It doesn’t matter the color of your skin or what cultural background you have. And I listened to this amazing podcast episode on the Rebel Wisdom podcast called “Identity and Empathy with Ayesha Canby”. And she also mentions this and that if we’re really looking at true equality, we really need to go beyond this division of skin color. And I really do hold the prayer that we someday get there.

Belinda Eriacho (41:26): And I think, one of the hardest things for us as human beings is to really sit in that discomfort and really start asking ourselves, where is this coming from? And so, if we have a dislike for another person, what is it that you don’t like about that person? And then the other part of that question and that review is also then to ask yourself, is that the way that I look at myself.

Intermission (41:57): #Song played – Love is the Medicine#

Belinda Eriacho (42:55): So, the only things that we have control of are those things, our thoughts, our feelings. We can’t change the way another person perceives us, but we need to start with ourselves first. And I truly believe that when we start to do that healing within ourselves, then we emulate that. Then people start to notice that, Hey, wow. And to also teach others that’s not really. And so with myself, when I’m really trying to be careful about the way that I describe people when I’m with my granddaughter, we’re out getting an ice cream cone or something and not to put color on people that if there’s a little boy having an ice cream and she wants that particular kind to say, Oh, that little boy got such and such and instead of saying the black little boy has a certain kind of ice cream cone. And really just trying to be mindful about that. And sometimes it just takes us as adults to just stop and look at what we’re saying and what we’re doing and be careful of our actions. And so, to kind of sum up this piece, I think to me, the way that look at it is everything is energy. And the energy of love can heal everything. And I truly believe that. And that is really what prayer is all about is when we’re able to tap into that energy of love and that frequency, everything is possible.

Laura Dawn (44:35): Yes. I agree. Thank you for sharing that. I’d like to shift gears and before I do, I have one more question that relates to cultural appropriation, and I love the way that you said cultural appreciation, because it was only three days ago that I was sitting down having a conversation with somebody who said that, and said, wow, what if instead of the words that we’re using around taking an appropriating, what if we started framing the conversation about how much we appreciate all these other cultures? And it really struck me as this, as it dawned on me, that our words are powerful, the way that we frame the narrative is so powerful. And it also will change the way that we approach the conversation and the way that we find common ground.

Belinda Eriacho (45:23): Absolutely.

Laura Dawn (45:23): And so, I really wanted to just highlight that. And I’m curious if you have the perspective that certain plants belong to certain cultures. What is your perspective on specific plants and the usage of some plants and what if some people aren’t claiming to be doing it like a traditional culture? So, what’s your perspective on that particular topic?

Belinda Eriacho (45:48): I guess my viewpoint about plants in general is that they are here to heal humanity. But what a lot of people, again, I think fail to understand is that a lot of native American people and indigenous people were placed on this earth for the sole purpose of being the stewards of these plants. And so, there are the protectors, they’re the voice for…I think of grandma Aggie, she’s an elder that I know she always used to say that she’s the voice for the voiceless. And we as indigenous people around the globe, they use these plant medicines. I differentiate when people talk about psychedelics and entheogens, I don’t really like those words to me, they’re sacred plant medicines. There are here to heal us and as indigenous people, we are the ones that are carrier of the wisdom of these plants. We know the songs, we know the prayers that go along with them to, if you will, to amplify that highest energy for healing. And that’s what people forget about and so when they use these sacred plant medicines, I always cringe when people say, they’re their drugs or I want to go out and get high or those kinds of things to me, that’s disrespect for something that is so sacred. And I think when people can start to demonstrate that they understand that reverence for these plants, I think people of indigenous nature or native American traditions will start to see things in a different light. Typically, when we use plants for healing the use of the plant is really sitting in prayer. So, if I’m talking to somebody and they say they want to…They having some health issues and I have plants in mind that I can use. Before I even go out and start to collect and harvest these plants, I pray for the person and I asked for guidance for what it is that they need. And then when it comes to the harvesting, I talk to the plants. I tell them why I need their medicine to heal this person because X, Y, and Z. And then I give something back in return which is usually an offering of cornmeal or tobacco. In the Indian traditions of South America, there’s a term called Ayneni (A Y N E N I), and Ayneni means sacred reciprocity. And what that really means is “today for me tomorrow for you”.

And so, it’s always this exchange back and forth and caring for one another. I look at things in a different light but also from the standpoint of the sacred plant medicines, we also need to acknowledge that there’s not an endless supply of them to help everyone. We got to allow for them to grow and to nurture and to mature before we start taking and a great example of that comes to mind is NDMA and NDMA is actually comes from the oil from Assasa fresh tree. And I believe in the Pacific, if I’m not mistaken, where they harvest a lot of the…they’ve essentially cut down the whole forest just to make these particular medicines. And that is definitely not what we want and so we’ve got to have a meeting of minds and saying, what’s going to work best rather than trying to take and consume it all at one time.

Laura Dawn (49:57): Bringing the awareness of ceremonial use and the ceremonial aspect and the sacredness of the container is so important.

Belinda Eriacho (50:06): One of the things that I find as well is that a lot of young people, because they’re…Most of them are younger than I am. One of the things that I find is that they use these sacred plant medicines we can, after we can, after we can, and what they do not do is they don’t take the time to integrate those experiences and the teachings that these plants are trying to give them. They’re looking for an easy fix to fix their problem when a lot of it is that we have to do our own inner work, as well, as you will know.

Laura Dawn (50:42): Yes. Integration is so important. So, thank you for speaking to that. I like this notion that the stories and the narratives that we collectively, we’ve created our reality, and they act as sort of like the scaffolding that from which reality is built upon, and you spoke to this narrative around the prophecy of the Condor and the Eagle. And I don’t know if you’re familiar with Charles Eisenstein’s work, but as he so succinctly put at once, he says, it really in order to shape this future, that we want to see a future more beautiful than our hearts know is possible, that we must become the storytellers of a new world. And so…

Belinda Eriacho (51:24): I strongly believe that. That is so true.

Laura Dawn (51:27): What do you think is an empowering story that people can adopt and embody about the breakdown that is happening all around us right now, especially when I see so many people are overwhelmed and confused and times are so chaotic and so many people feel so disheartened about what’s happening on the planet right now, what’s a narrative that people could internalize to help us get through this time with more strength and resilience?

Belinda Eriacho (52:03): Resilience is really a powerful word and that’s what really makes me think about when I think of resilience, I think of my ancestors and we all at this particular time on this planet. We all come from lineages of very strong people, otherwise we wouldn’t be here, and I truly believe that resilience is really the ability to identify and use ourselves and others, whether that’s our families or communities to embrace the present moment. And I think when you can come away from the chaos that is going on around us, the crisis that we’re having to deal with and to be focused on the present moment, it helps us to get through the managing the tasks of daily living. For example, Gabor Montay is someone when he talks about resilience, he talks about in way that as a social function and being more than just surviving from our experiences and really being able to figure out how to adapt to things. And, part of the resilience piece is also really taken a look about how we are socialized, which we talked about a little bit and being able to listen to that. 

And what I think about when I think of resilience in our Diné culture, there’s a word called Mahjong. Mahjong means beauty and balance but it’s part of a much more bigger concept than just beauty and balance. It actually is…Mahjong is actually short for [inaudible 00:54:05] Navajo Mahjong, which means Navajo is very difficult to translate into English, but the essence of it is that old age walking the trail of beauty or according to old age, may it be perfect. And so, you’re looking that is your ultimate goal. And that is my ultimate goal as a Diné person, is to live life to its fullest, but to always try to be in that present moment. In a lot of our cultural teachings and our traditional Haylings, they say that when we get too far ahead of ourselves and we start focusing too much about tomorrow and next year, ten years from now, or we focus too much in the past and what hurt we have gone through, it gets us out of balance and that’s when we create this ease in ourselves. And so, the whole idea is to really come back to this present moment. And sometimes when there’s so much going on around us, sometimes if we can just take a breath because when we’re in a midst of crisis and trauma we forget to breathe and that is so important to us.

And when we are able to just kind of be in just that those few seconds, to take that few seconds to be in that experience and helps us to reconnect in our mind so that then we can clear our minds to make the right decisions for us. The other thing about this word Mahjong is that we are come into a place, I strongly believe that it’s no longer about me. It’s about we and how do we move through this collectively as a human race.

Laura Dawn (55:53): When I first met you Belinda in Costa Rica for the plant medicine panel, your presence really struck me, actually. I had this very palpable sense from you that you were grounded and centered, but also so strong. And I really appreciated that about you. And then when I heard you speak on the panel and the wisdom that you shared, you just have a very grounded approach to navigating through this life. And that’s something that I really admire about you because it feels like the chaos is tossing and turning so many people off center, so this notion and linking this concept and the story, the narrative around Mahjong, is that how you say it?

Belinda Eriacho (56:37): Yes. Mahjong. I think the other part of that too is, if we can come and look at life as experiences that are here to teach us about ourselves even though we might go through good times, we might go through happy times, but we also may go through very difficult times. And in the difficult times, there’s always…I always believe that there’s a gift to that difficulty that we need to learn for ourselves. I read a lot of and I listened to a lot of podcasts and training from Carolyn Myss and I love her work because she really forces you to push yourself. And one of the things that I think about is she says, when we are brought into this physical realm we are brought in as spirit, and that is kind of…is somewhat similar to what the Navajo people and to Diné people, we believe is that you still are in spirit form. And so, prior to your incarnation into this physical place is that we are shared and when we were sitting there with the masters creating what our life will look like, they’ll have a drawn-out plan that, okay, this person is going to go through this, that, and the other and we’re sitting right there next to them planning this out. And when we come into this physical lifetime, what happens is those memories that we have of what our plan of our life is to be get shattered into ten million pieces. And that is, I guess, a representation of what happens to our soul. And so, then we go through our whole life picking up these fragments of learning about grief, learning about love, learning about happiness, and we start to pull ourselves back together again. And so, that’s one of the analogies. And one of the things that I was comes to my mind when I talk about this particular subject.

Laura Dawn (58:53): According to the Condor and Eagle prophecy, how long do you think this time of extreme separation and chaos and collapse will continue for? And does the prophecy talk about the other side of what it’s going to look like on the other side.

Belinda Eriacho (59:11): It doesn’t really talk about what it looks like on the other side. If you can recall back in two-thousand-and-twelve, when the Mayan calendar ended, and everybody was thinking, Oh God, the world’s going to end. But it was just a continuation of a cycle. And that was the end of the five-hundred cycle, which is part of this, Pachacuti turning of the earth cycle and it’s the beginning of a new cycle. So, you can look at it from that perspective. The other perspective, I guess, that I want to bring in is also the perspective of the dimensions. So, the old way of doing things was really functioning in that third dimension where it’s really the physical labor risk types of things. Where were you when you started getting into the fourth dimension and the fifth dimension and higher, we start moving to more of an energetic perspective. And when you can come from a mindset that our bodies are like made up of magnetics and electrical energy and these were old teachings that ancient people knew the Egyptians, the people like the Anna Nucci, and all of the ancient beings that were here way before us. That was the knowledge that they carried and we forgotten about that. And to me, it’s an opportunity to reinvigorate these wisdoms and these teachings, and to apply them where they may fit into this time that we are in. We are creators of our own destiny and how we envision that is really up to us. I believe.

Laura Dawn (01:01:01): What’s the vision that you’re holding for humanity?

Belinda Eriacho (01:01:08): One of the things that I envision is a coming together of humanity as one global and cosmic family. Many indigenous, this is not just a world issue, a global issue. There are implications for our cosmic realm as well and we need to also consider that. And what I hope for is a brighter future for our children and our grandchildren for the next seven generations. And I think if we can come together as human beings to evolve to a point where we look at things through the lens of everything being sacred and treating it as such, I think it will make a lot of strides in where we are right now. I think my biggest concern is that, if we don’t change, what are the repercussions of that? And to me, it’s very bleak when we don’t do anything, and we continue to go through these differences of understanding and not understanding each other. That I worry about because I don’t want my grandchildren to be in a place where they are not welcome. I want them to be in a place where their voice is just as important as the next person, they feel equal and in a part of that society that embraces them.

Laura Dawn (01:02:45): Thank you for sharing that. I hold that vision too. We can live in a world where equality is real.

Belinda Eriacho (01:02:57): And I think one of the biggest ways that people can get to that is…I think we have all gone to a place where we have allowed our ego to control our lives and we really need to do our own inner healing and allow ourselves to remember who we are as divine human beings. And when we can come from that place, it helps to and we show that in our communities, in our inner circles that just kind of ripples out around the globe.

Laura Dawn (01:03:36): I just really appreciate you, Belinda.

Belinda Eriacho (01:03:40): Thank you so much, Laura, for having the opportunity to come and speak.

Laura Dawn (01:03:45): Hi friends. Thank you so much for tuning into another episode of the Psychedelic Leadership podcast. If you’ve been enjoying the show, I would so appreciate it if you could subscribe or share it with a friend or leave me a review on iTunes. If you’d like to be in touch with me, please feel free to reach out through my website, Livefreelaurad.com, where you can also swipe your free eight-hour music playlist for Psychedelic Journeys and Beyond, or my free eight-day Micro-dosing Course. As I mentioned, I also have my three-month Micro-dosing Mastermind program coming up and I’m also on clubhouse at Live Free Laura D you can also send me a message or connect with me on Instagram at Live Free Laura D. I’m going to leave you with this song by Alie Maya called “Waters of forgiveness”. Once again, I’m Laura Dawn, and this is the Psychedelic Leadership podcast until next time.

Full transcript for Episode #16 of the Psychedelic Leadership Podcast featuring Belinda Eriacho.

Audio File Size: 01:04:36 

Laura Dawn (10:38): I’d love to start by inviting you to speak to or honor the people, lineages or even places from which you come that have planted seeds of wisdom within you.

Belinda Eriacho (10:53): Sure. First of all, before I get started, I do want to do a land acknowledgment. I currently live in the Phoenix metropolitan area, and I do want to acknowledge the people, the original people of this land, which are the Powwow come and the autumn people, they are not knowing any English as a Pima and the Papago people. And I want to honor their ancestors of this land for allowing us to…allowing me to be here and allowing for so many to be here as well. In addition, I want to also thank all of my hand sisters from my Diné Lineage, my mother’s lineage, and then my father’s lineage, the Asherway people. Diné means the people and in the Asherway means the skin tone because in their original teachings of where they came from that was what they were known as. And so, I want to acknowledge it, acknowledged both of those lineages. And I acknowledged just for interests. I acknowledged my mother’s lineage first because both my lineages are match linear societies and meaning that a lot of who we are and who we identify ourselves as comes through our mother’s side and so it’s always appropriate to acknowledge that lineage and where we come from. So, I want to acknowledge that, and I am born for the HANA Omni people which is the one who walks around. There are four major or four primary clans that come from the Diné people. And this clan that I belong to is one of the original clans. And my mother’s, my grandparents on my mother’s side are from the black sheep clan and then acknowledged my father and my father’s parents, which are from the sherway who are north Asia people. And so that is how I identify myself as a Diné woman.

Laura Dawn (13:00): Beautiful. And I’m curious to know a little bit more about the Diné and Zuni lineages. How did these lineages differ in their worldviews and what are some of the similarities that they have?

Belinda Eriacho (13:15): If you go back in history, the Diné and the Zuni people, never from my understanding, they never really got along. the Diné people were always seen as warriors and people that were raiders, I guess, is a way that most people identify them with. But they never really got along with one another and they live close proximity geographically to one another. My mother’s people, there are, well, first of all, me back up a little bit in the United States, there are five-hundred-and-seventy-three native American tribes throughout the United States and the Diné people are the largest population of native American people. There are over three hundred thousand tribal members. When I say tribal members is every single tribe individual that belongs to a tribe, has to be enrolled in that tribe and be identified and that’s where we come up with the little over three-hundred-thousand population for the Diné people in terms of the cultures themselves they’re completely opposite of one another and when I say that, I’ll take an example. 

In the Diné culture, when we talk about the dying process or death, it is seen as something that’s very taboo. And in my father’s lineage the Zuni people, it is something that is embraced and it’s very beautiful because in the Zuni culture, they still do the old-fashioned wakes where they’ll bring the body home and they’ll prepare it, and family will come to visit and pay their respects for the evening. And then there’s a lot of ritual and ceremony that goes along with that when a person is actually laid to rest. And so, that is an example of it. In addition, another example is hunting and in the Diné culture, it’s primarily the men that will go out and do the hunting whereas in the Zuni culture, it’s somewhat similar, but there are certain for instance, in the Navajo culture, if you’re hunting for deer only the men can do that and the reason why they allow the men only to hunt in a Diné culture is because they say that the energy and the medicine that comes from a deer is very strong and that a female can’t handle it and it will cause one to go crazy. That’s kind of the story that goes behind that. Whereas in the Zuni culture they’re more open to allowing people to go along, women to go along not necessarily to actually do the hunting, but they’ll actually be involved in a preparation. And the other thing that happens is with the trophies that come from. Usually, they have people that will cut the heads off and make them as trophies. And the Zuni culture, when we do our winter scent ceremonies, one of the things that happens when you walk into, it’s a ceremony called Shalako, it’s part of the winter solstice ceremony. When you walk into a home that is a Shalako house, they’ll have the heads of the deer and the Buffalo and the antelope all on the walls and they’ll dress the animals up in jewelry. So, they’ll have earrings, I’ll have necklaces on, and it’s really just a beautiful place to be in. And what that is acknowledging the sacrifice of the animal, but also to acknowledge it as a being and honoring it for giving its life. So, the cultures are very different.

Laura Dawn (17:18): Well, these are such divided times, and I would like to embark through a little bit of taboo territory around this conversation that feels highly divided and so reactive. And so, I’m curious to get some wisdom and perspective from you on this. There’s such a big conversation unfolding around race and equality and cultural appropriation and colonization. And I’m curious if, how you feel about this movement of sort of glorifying indigenous cultures and just wanting to find more common ground to stand on. And it seems like the conversations are becoming so much more and more polarized and divided, and yet even from hearing you speak, it seems like there was warring amongst tribes and not everyone agreed on everything and there was many differences.

Belinda Eriacho (18:18): Right.

Laura Dawn (18:18): So, I’m curious for you to just speak to this from your perspective,

Belinda Eriacho (18:23): It’s interesting, you talk about cultural appropriation. I was just doing a talk a couple of weeks ago on this particular topic, and as it relates to psychedelics and first of all, let’s kind of go back and kind of define what cultural appropriation is, because I’m not sure that people really understand the definition of what cultural appropriation is and kind of the historical background that relates to that. And then I want to talk a little bit about cultural appreciation and what that means. 

When we talk about cultural appropriation, it’s really about taking a symbol or a cultural practice out of its original context. And part of that taking is taken of the intellectual property from which it originated from and so, when we talk about it in context of native American wisdom and culture, you lose the essence and the meaning behind the original teachings and wisdom implies that it’s gone through this maturation, if you will, through generations to generations, because a lot of the wisdom that is carried in indigenous cultures is passed down orally. There are no books that are written on it. There are books that are written by anthropologists that either lived among the people to study them for a small brief period of time. And then the books are related to their perspective on how they see things. 

One of the things that’s really interesting about indigenous culture and indigenous wisdom is we have in the United States, a standard legal framework in which we talk about, and we frame intellectual properties around so we have copyright laws, we have trademarks but there was really nothing that really speaks to the framework when it comes to indigenous wisdoms and cultures that can be applied to it and really who owns the knowledge and the wisdom that has been passed down from generation to generation. 

And I did a little bit of research, and I understand that there is an interlock international movement that’s really trying to come up with some, not necessarily legal documents, but some guiding principles so that some of these intellectual cultures and wisdom can be captured and protected in a way that keeps them safe and of integrity. And from my understanding, this started back in 2000 and there from my understanding, they’re really focusing on intellectual properties that relate to cultural wisdoms that relate to Diné of indigenous people and this framework is an organization that’s an international organization. And for the first time, one of the things that’s different about this organization is you actually see the involvement of indigenous people that are really making a voice and saying, this is what we think will work for everybody. And when you look around the globe, that’s one of the biggest, I think one of the biggest battles is that typically the people that are the holders of these wisdoms and ancient knowledges are not always the ones that are brought to the table to have a seat at the table to create these frameworks or create these policies that then get implemented which brings me to the other point that I wanted to talk a little bit, or the concept is really about cultural appreciation. And cultural appreciation is when someone seeks to understand and learn about another’s culture in an effort to broaden their own perspective and to connect with the others cross culturally, granted that you have to have permission to sometimes be in a ceremony to be in that ritual to allow that sharing to happen.

And so, there’s that exchange rather than just a taking of those wisdoms and to dive into this topic a little bit deeper, we got to really look back at our share history as Americans. If you look back in American history, have the rivals of the Europeans in their mind when they came to the United States, they were operating under the premise of the doctrine of a scope of discovery. And for those folks that are listening, if you don’t know what the doctrine of discovery is, I would suggest you take some time to understand that because that was kind of the impetus behind how our country was created and for native American people that gave the Europeans justification to take our ancestral homes, homelands that we all knew, where we got our medicines from where we have made that connection with, Pachamama with the earth. And then, by the time you get into the eighteen-hundreds, and even into the nineteen-hundreds, you have the creation of the U.S. Policies that placed native American people on reservations, our children were forced into boarding schools at a very young age, where they were abused and they were not allowed to speak their native language, nor look…nor were they allowed to actually express themselves as native American people. My mom was one of those children that was put in a boarding school and so there’s some implications that go along with it and so when we came into her life she never really taught us our Navajo Diné language because she was afraid that she was going to…we were going to get our mouth washed out with soap, or we were going to get punished for speaking our language and so, there’s a lot of trauma, intergenerational trauma that goes along with it. 

And I don’t know if you know this or not Laura, but the native Americans were not allowed to vote until around nineteen-twenty-four and this was the passage of the Indian civilization or citizen act. And in some States, we were still also forbidden to vote in it that didn’t get resolved until nineteen-sixty-five under the voting rights act. And so, there’s a lot of history and so when it comes to cultural appropriation, when someone is emulating a sweat lodge or a traditional ceremony that we hold sacred without understanding the origins of it, or why you do certain things, it bothers us, it raises that anger, like you’ve taken everything from us and now you’re going to go down that road to take that culture, those cultural aspects, those religious practices away from us and that’s kind of why there’s a lot of resistance for native American people that live on Turtle Island. And I remember recall someone once saying to me, “culture is medicine and medicine is culture”. And I think for me that really helped to define and put things in context around this particular topic.

Laura Dawn (26:26): And I’m just curious though, to bring in this perspective of zooming out and also looking at the way that other cultures have been doing this to other cultures for so many years. And I’m just curious about how we can move forward in a way that finds true equality and unity. When we look at other cultures like the Aztecs or the Mongolian culture, some African empires, even the Hawaiian cultures, there was a certain level of cultures trying to take over other cultures. And so, it seems to me that humans have been hurting other humans for far too long. And I’m curious about what your perspective is on how the movements are unfolding right now around these conversations. And if you believe that this is helping, like is racial trauma perpetuating more racial trauma right now or is what’s unfolding. And the polarization that we’re seeing is this, in your perspective, necessary to mend the divide between people on this planet right now?

Belinda Eriacho (27:37): Yes. I think it is. One of the things I think that happens when this happens between different groups of people. I think one of the biggest things that does not happen is the acknowledgement of these particular crises or events or genocide. And I know that for speaking from a native American perspective, one of the things that’s always frustrated me is our government has never acknowledged what has happened to native American people and that’s not only native Americans, it’s to native Hawaiians, it’s to other people. I think about world war two, when Japanese were put in internment camps and our government actually try to make mends with that by compensating some of these Japanese Americans and actually coming out with news release, et cetera, that apologize for those types of events. So, I think that’s one of the things that helps when you’re able to get to a point where you can acknowledge that hurt has been done then you can start to begin to have a conversation about that and how do we begin to work and to live in a more harmonious way and care for each other. And unfortunately, or fortunately in these times that we’re going through right now, I think it’s making people realize that we need each other, and there’s this interconnectedness that we’ve forgotten about as a human race. And so, it’s really causing us to really be concerned about our neighbors which is something that was fundamental to just being human and making sure that your neighbor was okay to check on the elders in your community that are living at home by themselves and just making sure that they have what they need to get through things. And so, it’s really causing us as human beings to get out of our minds and get into our hearts. When an elder once told me that she said the longest journey, and she was probably close to ninety-something years old, she said, “the longest journey that we’ll ever have to make is traveling from our minds into our heart” and that’s only eighteen inches away. And I truly believe that she knew what she was talking about.

Laura Dawn (30:17): I’ve heard that before. I love that saying. And I really do hold this prayer that one day the government can acknowledge the wrongs that have been committed amongst so many people, and that real planetary healing can happen. And I’m just seeing so much division and reactivity and rage that I have been really questioning. Like, is there a better way to bring healing towards the conversations that are happening that are just so hurtful?

Belinda Eriacho (30:50): One of the other things that this relates to is just this whole transition that we’re having to go through at this particular time. And this particular time of change is something that many of our indigenous ancestors spoke of. And there is a prophecy called the prophecy of the Eagle and the Condor. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of this particular prophecy. But the prophecy essentially says that the coming together of North, the people of the North, which is typically referred to as Turtle Island, which represents the mind and the South, the people of the South, which is really the Heart Island, which represents the heart center. When these people come together then humanity can be begin to heal. And in the kitchen traditions, which are the Inca people, there’s a term called Pachacuti, which means the turning of the earth or turning of the soil. And this particular turning really refers to in the Pachacuti Mesa traditions, it refers to the period of change and the great cosmic Turney. And according to the prophecies, it’s a time when we all are going to be going through this great remembering.

And some of the features of this particular event include extraordinary planetary crisis and upheaval, which is that’s what we’re going through right now. It’s also tied to the effects of alienation and separation and deep amnesia and people forgetting who they are and what they came to this earth for. And it’s really causing us to reawaken to ourselves. And it’s also remembering that this is a time of reuniting humanity and all ancestry lineages and traditions and to restore human time to save the planet, to resave mother earth, we call her Unci Maka, which is mother earth and so, to break this illusion of separation. So, that’s really the teachings behind this and many of us have been taught that the answer to lives is outside of ourselves. I went to grew up on a reservation, I went to college, I went to started working for a big investor on utility and spent twenty-six years of my life doing that. And then when I finally had the opportunity to retire, I took that. And what I realize now is that wasn’t the truth. That’s not where you find happiness and it really started to get me thinking about what is it and what is my purpose on this earth from the spiritual and a soul level perspective. And, when we go through these types of experiences that we’re all going through right now and with the Diné people, we are one of the populations that’s getting really hit hard with is with this virus and for a lot of reasons. And so, it really teaches us to really find that resilience within ourselves and to bounce back and again to figure out how we can live on this earth together.

Laura Dawn (34:31): So, what do you say to the social justice warriors who really are fighting for a cause of equality, but they’re coming from a very angry place and they’re hurling more hate towards other people who don’t believe what they believe? What do you say to those people?

Belinda Eriacho (34:51): I think when I look at that, because I was there too at a young age, I reflect back on those times when I was angry and what I was angry about. And a lot of times for individuals, and again, I’m coming from more of my own personal experience. When I look back and reflect back on those experiences, that anger was really hurt that I was trying to deal with. And, for a lot of these individuals that are coming from a place of anger, rather than stopping and saying, where’s this anger coming from? And for me, a lot of the anger and the bitterness that I had against non-native people was really intergenerational trauma and the experiences that my ancestors had to go through. And I never realize and recognize that intergenerational trauma is something that the next generation can inherit. And if we don’t take the time to heal that then we just continue to perpetuate that type of energy.

Laura Dawn (36:01): And so, what was the process of healing that you went through and then what was that transmuted into the way? How did you change the way you showed up in the world?

Belinda Eriacho (36:12): For me, my journey to that path was when I was working for the investor-owned utility. One of the things that happened to me was I was working seven days a week – ten, twelve hours a day and it got to a point where my job got really stressful and then I was diagnosed with systemic lupus and I was in….I got very ill and it took me to a place where essentially being a person that was very independent, getting my feet knocked out from under me. And then I really had to evaluate my priorities in my life. And when I went through that experience, a lot of this inner healing that I needed to do started to surface. And as I become older, I’m still doing with that. It’s a lifelong journey that we all have to go through to really look at the things that make us feel uncomfortable.

And so, what that looked like for me is I try to do a lot of counseling and really look at the dysfunction that I grew up with as a child, because that is a place that we come from and really to take a look at how we are all socialized because a lot of times we bring that into our current life. And so, if we were raised to be prejudice against another race, we bring that into our relationships with other people. So, for me, what I recognize even just a few months ago when this whole issue about black lives matters came up and I’m sitting at home with my mom and my mom is watching TV and I could just hear the TV going in the background and black lives matter and then my mom started to say, “well, why don’t these people, if they’re not happy here, why don’t they just go home?” And I started to think about that. And it was like, and it dawned on me that, wow, this is where I was getting it from, again, it was a way that I was socialized in my own family. 

And then from my father’s perspective, when you go back into the eighteen-hundreds and when colonial, the Spaniards came over and went through the different Colonialism in New Mexico. In history, they talk about a Blackmore, his name was Esteban. And when Esteban showed up in one of the Zuni villages, from my understanding is always two sides of the story. And then there’s the absolute truthand not being on any one of those places. I don’t know what the truth is, but what ended up happening was the Zuni people up to that point had never seen a black man and then he was coming with the Jesuits who were the ones that were actually creating the churches and demanding things. And the people, the Zuni people didn’t feel that, they needed to oblige him and so they ended up killing him. 

And as I was growing up, even when I went to college, I could still hear my father’s voice and my uncle’s voice saying, “when you come home, don’t bring back home a black one”. And I was kind of thought that was just kind of funny and as I started to be thinking about this and I thought that’s really not a very good way to bring up a child with that kind of outlook on life and I really had to sit with that and I really had to…I have a Mesa sacred altar that I use, and I had to sit with that one and I had to go inside and saying, “okay, now I understand where that’s coming from and how do I transmute that energy and give it back to the earth to allow it to transform and trans mutate into good energy of love of those types of things. And so, that’s kind of what it looked like for me to kind of heal that wound that had been there for generations.

Laura Dawn (40:44): It’s interesting because it seems to be that part of the conversation right now is only white people can be prejudice. And even just hearing you say that it was like, wow, anyone can be raised prejudice. It doesn’t matter the color of your skin or what cultural background you have. And I listened to this amazing podcast episode on the Rebel Wisdom podcast called “Identity and Empathy with Ayesha Canby”. And she also mentions this and that if we’re really looking at true equality, we really need to go beyond this division of skin color. And I really do hold the prayer that we someday get there.

Belinda Eriacho (41:26): And I think, one of the hardest things for us as human beings is to really sit in that discomfort and really start asking ourselves, where is this coming from? And so, if we have a dislike for another person, what is it that you don’t like about that person? And then the other part of that question and that review is also then to ask yourself, is that the way that I look at myself.

Intermission (41:57): #Song played – Love is the Medicine#

Belinda Eriacho (42:55): So, the only things that we have control of are those things, our thoughts, our feelings. We can’t change the way another person perceives us, but we need to start with ourselves first. And I truly believe that when we start to do that healing within ourselves, then we emulate that. Then people start to notice that, Hey, wow. And to also teach others that’s not really. And so with myself, when I’m really trying to be careful about the way that I describe people when I’m with my granddaughter, we’re out getting an ice cream cone or something and not to put color on people that if there’s a little boy having an ice cream and she wants that particular kind to say, Oh, that little boy got such and such and instead of saying the black little boy has a certain kind of ice cream cone. And really just trying to be mindful about that. And sometimes it just takes us as adults to just stop and look at what we’re saying and what we’re doing and be careful of our actions. And so, to kind of sum up this piece, I think to me, the way that look at it is everything is energy. And the energy of love can heal everything. And I truly believe that. And that is really what prayer is all about is when we’re able to tap into that energy of love and that frequency, everything is possible.

Laura Dawn (44:35): Yes. I agree. Thank you for sharing that. I’d like to shift gears and before I do, I have one more question that relates to cultural appropriation, and I love the way that you said cultural appreciation, because it was only three days ago that I was sitting down having a conversation with somebody who said that, and said, wow, what if instead of the words that we’re using around taking an appropriating, what if we started framing the conversation about how much we appreciate all these other cultures? And it really struck me as this, as it dawned on me, that our words are powerful, the way that we frame the narrative is so powerful. And it also will change the way that we approach the conversation and the way that we find common ground.

Belinda Eriacho (45:23): Absolutely.

Laura Dawn (45:23): And so, I really wanted to just highlight that. And I’m curious if you have the perspective that certain plants belong to certain cultures. What is your perspective on specific plants and the usage of some plants and what if some people aren’t claiming to be doing it like a traditional culture? So, what’s your perspective on that particular topic?

Belinda Eriacho (45:48): I guess my viewpoint about plants in general is that they are here to heal humanity. But what a lot of people, again, I think fail to understand is that a lot of native American people and indigenous people were placed on this earth for the sole purpose of being the stewards of these plants. And so, there are the protectors, they’re the voice for…I think of grandma Aggie, she’s an elder that I know she always used to say that she’s the voice for the voiceless. And we as indigenous people around the globe, they use these plant medicines. I differentiate when people talk about psychedelics and entheogens, I don’t really like those words to me, they’re sacred plant medicines. There are here to heal us and as indigenous people, we are the ones that are carrier of the wisdom of these plants. We know the songs, we know the prayers that go along with them to, if you will, to amplify that highest energy for healing. And that’s what people forget about and so when they use these sacred plant medicines, I always cringe when people say, they’re their drugs or I want to go out and get high or those kinds of things to me, that’s disrespect for something that is so sacred. And I think when people can start to demonstrate that they understand that reverence for these plants, I think people of indigenous nature or native American traditions will start to see things in a different light. Typically, when we use plants for healing the use of the plant is really sitting in prayer. So, if I’m talking to somebody and they say they want to…They having some health issues and I have plants in mind that I can use. Before I even go out and start to collect and harvest these plants, I pray for the person and I asked for guidance for what it is that they need. And then when it comes to the harvesting, I talk to the plants. I tell them why I need their medicine to heal this person because X, Y, and Z. And then I give something back in return which is usually an offering of cornmeal or tobacco. In the Indian traditions of South America, there’s a term called Ayneni (A Y N E N I), and Ayneni means sacred reciprocity. And what that really means is “today for me tomorrow for you”.

And so, it’s always this exchange back and forth and caring for one another. I look at things in a different light but also from the standpoint of the sacred plant medicines, we also need to acknowledge that there’s not an endless supply of them to help everyone. We got to allow for them to grow and to nurture and to mature before we start taking and a great example of that comes to mind is NDMA and NDMA is actually comes from the oil from Assasa fresh tree. And I believe in the Pacific, if I’m not mistaken, where they harvest a lot of the…they’ve essentially cut down the whole forest just to make these particular medicines. And that is definitely not what we want and so we’ve got to have a meeting of minds and saying, what’s going to work best rather than trying to take and consume it all at one time.

Laura Dawn (49:57): Bringing the awareness of ceremonial use and the ceremonial aspect and the sacredness of the container is so important.

Belinda Eriacho (50:06): One of the things that I find as well is that a lot of young people, because they’re…Most of them are younger than I am. One of the things that I find is that they use these sacred plant medicines we can, after we can, after we can, and what they do not do is they don’t take the time to integrate those experiences and the teachings that these plants are trying to give them. They’re looking for an easy fix to fix their problem when a lot of it is that we have to do our own inner work, as well, as you will know.

Laura Dawn (50:42): Yes. Integration is so important. So, thank you for speaking to that. I like this notion that the stories and the narratives that we collectively, we’ve created our reality, and they act as sort of like the scaffolding that from which reality is built upon, and you spoke to this narrative around the prophecy of the Condor and the Eagle. And I don’t know if you’re familiar with Charles Eisenstein’s work, but as he so succinctly put at once, he says, it really in order to shape this future, that we want to see a future more beautiful than our hearts know is possible, that we must become the storytellers of a new world. And so…

Belinda Eriacho (51:24): I strongly believe that. That is so true.

Laura Dawn (51:27): What do you think is an empowering story that people can adopt and embody about the breakdown that is happening all around us right now, especially when I see so many people are overwhelmed and confused and times are so chaotic and so many people feel so disheartened about what’s happening on the planet right now, what’s a narrative that people could internalize to help us get through this time with more strength and resilience?

Belinda Eriacho (52:03): Resilience is really a powerful word and that’s what really makes me think about when I think of resilience, I think of my ancestors and we all at this particular time on this planet. We all come from lineages of very strong people, otherwise we wouldn’t be here, and I truly believe that resilience is really the ability to identify and use ourselves and others, whether that’s our families or communities to embrace the present moment. And I think when you can come away from the chaos that is going on around us, the crisis that we’re having to deal with and to be focused on the present moment, it helps us to get through the managing the tasks of daily living. For example, Gabor Montay is someone when he talks about resilience, he talks about in way that as a social function and being more than just surviving from our experiences and really being able to figure out how to adapt to things. And, part of the resilience piece is also really taken a look about how we are socialized, which we talked about a little bit and being able to listen to that. 

And what I think about when I think of resilience in our Diné culture, there’s a word called Mahjong. Mahjong means beauty and balance but it’s part of a much more bigger concept than just beauty and balance. It actually is…Mahjong is actually short for [inaudible 00:54:05] Navajo Mahjong, which means Navajo is very difficult to translate into English, but the essence of it is that old age walking the trail of beauty or according to old age, may it be perfect. And so, you’re looking that is your ultimate goal. And that is my ultimate goal as a Diné person, is to live life to its fullest, but to always try to be in that present moment. In a lot of our cultural teachings and our traditional Haylings, they say that when we get too far ahead of ourselves and we start focusing too much about tomorrow and next year, ten years from now, or we focus too much in the past and what hurt we have gone through, it gets us out of balance and that’s when we create this ease in ourselves. And so, the whole idea is to really come back to this present moment. And sometimes when there’s so much going on around us, sometimes if we can just take a breath because when we’re in a midst of crisis and trauma we forget to breathe and that is so important to us.

And when we are able to just kind of be in just that those few seconds, to take that few seconds to be in that experience and helps us to reconnect in our mind so that then we can clear our minds to make the right decisions for us. The other thing about this word Mahjong is that we are come into a place, I strongly believe that it’s no longer about me. It’s about we and how do we move through this collectively as a human race.

Laura Dawn (55:53): When I first met you Belinda in Costa Rica for the plant medicine panel, your presence really struck me, actually. I had this very palpable sense from you that you were grounded and centered, but also so strong. And I really appreciated that about you. And then when I heard you speak on the panel and the wisdom that you shared, you just have a very grounded approach to navigating through this life. And that’s something that I really admire about you because it feels like the chaos is tossing and turning so many people off center, so this notion and linking this concept and the story, the narrative around Mahjong, is that how you say it?

Belinda Eriacho (56:37): Yes. Mahjong. I think the other part of that too is, if we can come and look at life as experiences that are here to teach us about ourselves even though we might go through good times, we might go through happy times, but we also may go through very difficult times. And in the difficult times, there’s always…I always believe that there’s a gift to that difficulty that we need to learn for ourselves. I read a lot of and I listened to a lot of podcasts and training from Carolyn Myss and I love her work because she really forces you to push yourself. And one of the things that I think about is she says, when we are brought into this physical realm we are brought in as spirit, and that is kind of…is somewhat similar to what the Navajo people and to Diné people, we believe is that you still are in spirit form. And so, prior to your incarnation into this physical place is that we are shared and when we were sitting there with the masters creating what our life will look like, they’ll have a drawn-out plan that, okay, this person is going to go through this, that, and the other and we’re sitting right there next to them planning this out. And when we come into this physical lifetime, what happens is those memories that we have of what our plan of our life is to be get shattered into ten million pieces. And that is, I guess, a representation of what happens to our soul. And so, then we go through our whole life picking up these fragments of learning about grief, learning about love, learning about happiness, and we start to pull ourselves back together again. And so, that’s one of the analogies. And one of the things that I was comes to my mind when I talk about this particular subject.

Laura Dawn (58:53): According to the Condor and Eagle prophecy, how long do you think this time of extreme separation and chaos and collapse will continue for? And does the prophecy talk about the other side of what it’s going to look like on the other side.

Belinda Eriacho (59:11): It doesn’t really talk about what it looks like on the other side. If you can recall back in two-thousand-and-twelve, when the Mayan calendar ended, and everybody was thinking, Oh God, the world’s going to end. But it was just a continuation of a cycle. And that was the end of the five-hundred cycle, which is part of this, Pachacuti turning of the earth cycle and it’s the beginning of a new cycle. So, you can look at it from that perspective. The other perspective, I guess, that I want to bring in is also the perspective of the dimensions. So, the old way of doing things was really functioning in that third dimension where it’s really the physical labor risk types of things. Where were you when you started getting into the fourth dimension and the fifth dimension and higher, we start moving to more of an energetic perspective. And when you can come from a mindset that our bodies are like made up of magnetics and electrical energy and these were old teachings that ancient people knew the Egyptians, the people like the Anna Nucci, and all of the ancient beings that were here way before us. That was the knowledge that they carried and we forgotten about that. And to me, it’s an opportunity to reinvigorate these wisdoms and these teachings, and to apply them where they may fit into this time that we are in. We are creators of our own destiny and how we envision that is really up to us. I believe.

Laura Dawn (01:01:01): What’s the vision that you’re holding for humanity?

Belinda Eriacho (01:01:08): One of the things that I envision is a coming together of humanity as one global and cosmic family. Many indigenous, this is not just a world issue, a global issue. There are implications for our cosmic realm as well and we need to also consider that. And what I hope for is a brighter future for our children and our grandchildren for the next seven generations. And I think if we can come together as human beings to evolve to a point where we look at things through the lens of everything being sacred and treating it as such, I think it will make a lot of strides in where we are right now. I think my biggest concern is that, if we don’t change, what are the repercussions of that? And to me, it’s very bleak when we don’t do anything, and we continue to go through these differences of understanding and not understanding each other. That I worry about because I don’t want my grandchildren to be in a place where they are not welcome. I want them to be in a place where their voice is just as important as the next person, they feel equal and in a part of that society that embraces them.

Laura Dawn (01:02:45): Thank you for sharing that. I hold that vision too. We can live in a world where equality is real.

Belinda Eriacho (01:02:57): And I think one of the biggest ways that people can get to that is…I think we have all gone to a place where we have allowed our ego to control our lives and we really need to do our own inner healing and allow ourselves to remember who we are as divine human beings. And when we can come from that place, it helps to and we show that in our communities, in our inner circles that just kind of ripples out around the globe.

Laura Dawn (01:03:36): I just really appreciate you, Belinda.

Belinda Eriacho (01:03:40): Thank you so much, Laura, for having the opportunity to come and speak.

Laura Dawn (01:03:45): Hi friends. Thank you so much for tuning into another episode of the Psychedelic Leadership podcast. If you’ve been enjoying the show, I would so appreciate it if you could subscribe or share it with a friend or leave me a review on iTunes. If you’d like to be in touch with me, please feel free to reach out through my website, Livefreelaurad.com, where you can also swipe your free eight-hour music playlist for Psychedelic Journeys and Beyond, or my free eight-day Micro-dosing Course. As I mentioned, I also have my three-month Micro-dosing Mastermind program coming up and I’m also on clubhouse at Live Free Laura D you can also send me a message or connect with me on Instagram at Live Free Laura D. I’m going to leave you with this song by Alie Maya called “Waters of forgiveness”. Once again, I’m Laura Dawn, and this is the Psychedelic Leadership podcast until next time.

Belinda Eriacho Biography​

Yá’át’ééh, my name is Belinda Eriacho.  I am from the Dine’ (Navajo) and Zuni lineage.  I was born and raised on the Dine’ reservation.  My maternal clan is Honágháahnii (One-Walks-Around), born for the Naasht’ézhí (Zuni Pueblo) people. I’m the child of the Mula:kwe (Macaw Parrot). My maternal grandparents clan is Díbé?izhíní (Black Sheep) and my paternal grandparents is Naasht’ézhí (Zuni Pueblo). I hold advanced degrees in Health Sciences, Public & Occupational Health, and in Technology.  I am certified in Integrated Energy Therapy.

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Episode #16 of the Psychedelic Leadership Podcast features two songs by the talented musician Ali Maya.

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