Thursday, September 2, 2010

Kogi People

The Kogi:
These are an indigenous tribe who live high in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. They are an illusive agricultural people who rotate among their various settlements at different altitudes in order to meet their nutritional needs that they get from the different crops grown there. This is seen a a way to avoid overusing and abusing the land. As with other indigenous tribes, Kogi society has changed little in the past five centuries. They survived as a culture because the Kogi focus all their energy on the life of the mind as opposed to the life of a body or an individual. Fundamental to that survival is the maintenance of physical separation from their world and the rest of humanity. They are very protective of their sacred space and the dense jungle tends to keep most people out.

The Kankarua hut is a round dwelling with a conical top built from wood posts and thatched with dried grass. The roofs are built with nine beams which represent the nine worlds of Kogi philosophy. To penetrate a Kankurua is to enter into contact with the nine worlds and the nine states of consciousness that make it up.

The Kogi wear simple white clothes which they weave from cotton. The different types range from one piece dresses for the women to pants and shirts for the men. Hats are also worn periodically which include rimed hats woven from grass or a simple cotton cap.

Their main foods consist of potatoes, onions, bananas, beans, maize, hunted animals, and fruits, most of which are grown and cultivated by the Kogi. In the recent years there has been great concern about the productivity of the harvests amongst these people as they have reported a consistent decline in  their overall agricultural production as well as an increase in hunger and malnutrition.

Kogi shaman priests also known as "Mamas" are chosen from birth and spend the first nine years of childhood in a cave in total darkness with minimal interaction with others. The only time they are not alone is when they are brought food and when they are learning the ancient secrets of the spiritual world or Aluna. They are the priests and judges who control Kogi society.

The coca plant is an integral part of the Kogi way of life, deeply involved with their traditions, religion, work and medicine. Perhaps the most ancient use of coca in South America is its employment in shamanistic practises and religious rituals. The mild mental excitation induced by chewing the coca leaves enables the shaman to enter more easily into a trance state in which he could communicate with the spiritual forces of nature and summon them to his aid.

Their mythology teaches that they are “Elder Brothers” of humanity, living in the “Center of the World” (the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta). Those not living in the "Center of the World" (generally people from the west) are called “Younger Brothers.” Their mythology suggests that these "Younger Brothers" were sent away from the center of the world long ago. In response to infringements on their homeland by westerners, a legend arose claiming the "Younger Brothers" had now found their way back, and were reaping their destruction on the land.

Much like other ancient tribal civilizations, that still exist on the planet, they believe themselves to be the custodians of the planet Earth here to keep things in balance. They live in Aluna, an inner world of thought and potential. From Aluna they astral travel or remote view to places both on and off the physical planet. Their sacred lands are perceived as a metaphysical symbol of cosmic forces within the whole world - an oracle of the natural balance and health of the planet.

“ …the world doesn’t have to end; it could go on, but unless we stop violating the earth and nature, depleting The Great Mother of her material energy, her organs, her vitality; unless people stop working against the Great Mother, the world will not last ”

“ The mamas say that they are the keepers of the world, because the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is the place where the world was created ; the spirit of all things are here in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and therefor it is our responsibility to take care of the world, A responsibility shared by the four tribes. If the ice caps of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta melt the mamas believe it means that the world ends”

 In 1990 the Kogi decided they must speak out to the rest of the world. They had survived by keeping themselves isolated but they decided that it was time to send a message to the "Younger Brother". They could see that something was wrong with their mountain, with the heart of the world. The snows had stopped falling and the rivers were not so full. If their mountain was ill then the whole world was in trouble. The mamas sent one of the Kogi who spoke Spanish to contact a British film maker who was in Colombia at that time. They asked the BBC to make a film to tell the "Younger Brother" about their concern. It was called 'The Elder Brother's Warning 'or' The Message from the Heart of the World'. Alan Ereira, the producer, has also written a book about the Kogi called 'The Heart of the World.'