|Posted on January 14, 2019 at 7:15 PM||comments (415)|
This is my interview with Elizabeth Jenkins published in Berkshire Woman Magazine
With quitting her Phd. and trekking through the treacherous Andean mountains to meet one of the rarest spiritual teachers of South America and becoming a world renewed spiritual teacher herself, to also becoming an organic farmer, famous writer, mother and successful business woman, Elizabeth is definitely one of a kind.
For us in Britain, Elizabeth is not a celebrity, but this is perhaps all about to change soon. Elizabeth’s adventure started by quitting her PhD research in Psychology and following what she expresses as her ‘call to go to Peru’. It takes quite a gutsy woman to pick up her bags and leave an exceptionally orderly life behind in the States, all with a fabulous future and promise of financial security, and follow her dream into the unknown. To then proceed into lifelong adventure in a country she didn’t know with a people and culture alien to her is another level of brave. Elizabeth did just that. She spent many years in the Andes training with what they in Peru call paqo(s)– the master, healer and priest. She transformed from (yet another) gringo to a paqo herself, but not without many years of training and living with the Quero people in the harsh climate at high altitude.
Eventually, she went back home to the US, trying to return to her ‘normal’ job and after a long spiritual journey she is now living in Hawaii. Elizabeth has become a world renowned spiritual teacher, a ‘bridge’ between Peru and the West, a world famous author of extraordinary books, novelist and also an organic farmer and a business woman. She runs the Wiraqocha Foundation in aid of preserving native spirituality. She teaches all over the World and still leads trips to Peru.
Her life is far more than interesting, in fact it is fascinating. Berkshire Woman was intrigued and wanted to know more. Lets hear it from Elizabeth herself. Here is the interview with some stunning images from her farm in Hawaii
BW : Hi Elizabeth, thank you for agreeing to this interview. I am not quite sure where to begin. Your story goes back many years and is an incredible one at that. Shall we start by making clear to our readers what your background is, academically? Do we say you are a Psychologist, or were one, to start with?
EJ: I have a Masters in Integral Psychology and an MFT license that granted, I no longer use (the license that is), so I call myself an Author/ Organic Farmer and Founder/Director of Wiraqocha Foundation for the Preservation of Indigenous Wisdom. I am also the Mom of two teenage boys, Gabriel and Samuel.
BW: What happened for you to decide to leave everything and go to Peru? Do you remember what was the actual thought that triggered it?
EJ: Absolutely! I was getting very bored and dissatisfied with my PhD program that was much more academic and theoretical than my Masters Program. My colleague, Cyntha Gonzalez and I, had just read a study of a 70% cure rate for schizophrenia in an African country. We wondered what could make such a big difference in healing rates and began discussing cultural relativism as the issue, not to mention that our own DSM III (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) at the time, had no definition of mental health. So we began to question the yardstick by which we determined mental illness. I wanted to learn true healing and what it entailed. My dear friend and soul sister Cyntha made the decision to go and study with the Peruvian Shamans and called me six months later saying: “It’s pretty interesting, I think you better get down here.” The very curious thing is that I heard an inner voice that told me if I got on that plane to Peru, my life would never be the same. Needless to say, it hasn’t been. Thank goodness!
BW: When you found yourself in Peru did you have second thoughts? People often say that true dreams are really frightening.
EJ: Indeed, if someone had told me what was going to happen in advance, I may never have gone. Lucky thing that life doesn’t work like that. And yes, I think it is terrifying and exhilarating when you finally say YES to your destiny. At the time I was a 28 year-old woman wandering around Cuzco, feeling fantastic and truly free for the first time. I was just letting my intuition guide me, rather than living in such a tight cage of rationality that determined my every action. I let my female side come out and started listening to my bodily reactions to things, my felt sense of what was right for me. I started to follow my nose, my instincts, and it led to some crazy and amazing adventures.
BW: Were many women on this path in Peru when you were there?
EJ: There was no one else on the path I was on, man or woman. I met some spiritual seekers in Cuzco, but no one looking for Andean Mysticism, almost no one had even heard of it yet. It was the beginning.
BW: In one of your books you describe how you travelled far into the mountains to meet this incredible Andean teacher and some people almost had frostbite. How physically gruelling was your Peruvian adventure?
EJ: The High Andes Mountains are VERY physically challenging. Lucky for me I was young and strong. The altitude in Cuzco didn’t bother me at all, but going over those 22,000 foot passes to go to the Last Inka Village in Peru, to visit the Q’ero Nation was pretty tough. It makes you appreciate how easy we have it on the physical level, and how some humans can adapt to the most difficult and harsh climates in the world. But the stunning beauty, the majesty of the Glacier-capped Andes, and the sense of adventure, You just can’t buy that! I rode in the back of a lot of trucks with pigs and chickens and goats, on roads that would scare the heck out of most Westerners. I also got robbed 4 times before I learned how NOT to get robbed, but this is just part of traveling in developing countries, or really traveling anywhere. You have to understand the place and how to handle yourself. Peru is totally different now of course, and especially Cusco, because there are some 2.5 million tourists a year, nearly 10 times more than when I lived there. Tourists rarely get robbed nowadays. Somehow, I felt at ease all the time, as if I had a guardian angel watching out for me. I believe that if you are following your true path, the universe conspires to help and support you.
BW: What was the most valuable thing you have learned while following your Andean adventure and your spiritual path?
EJ: The single most valuable thing I learned and continue to learn from my Andean adventure is how to be TRULY happy and to live my life like an empowered and feminine woman. This means so many things. First, it means how to be harmonized and energized by Mother Nature. She is an endlessly giving source, not only of resources like food, water and shelter, but of love and wisdom and pure living energy. She is the model mother who teaches me how to be generous, how to love unconditionally, how to mother my own children, how to be endlessly creative. I wake up happy and energized everyday, and I think that is saying something! And I had to learn how to harmonize my organic farm business life and family with my spiritual destiny. At first, I didn’t believe this was possible, but it is! Many women feel they have to choose, career or family. Many women feel they have to be like men to succeed. I have two gorgeous teenage boys that I am very proud of and they grew up on our family farm, as well as globe-trotting with their bestselling author mom teaching the spiritual wisdom of the Inkas around the world. The practical and spiritual tools of the Inka have given me the capacity to live the life I dreamed of. My husband and I run our organic farm, and I continue to write, teach, heal, and mother, as well as run our non-profit that gives back to some of the materially poorest and spiritually richest folks on Earth, the Q’ero Indians of Peru. The Inka prophecies and spiritual practices they have guarded for centuries, give direct instructions on how to evolve as human beings within your family, with your partner, and within your community. In particular the teaching that there is no such thing as “good” and “evil” just like in Nature there are no Good and Evil plants or animals. Everything has a use and a purpose and it is up to us humans to figure that out. They have given my life so much meaning and purpose that it’s only right to give back to them and support their kids
BW: How does Inca understanding of the World differ from ours? What do you think is our place in Nature?
EJ: Science is great because in its pure form, it is the accurate observation of Nature. We think of ourselves as a science and fact based culture, but we are missing a few pieces of this puzzle. We don’t understand our place within Great Nature. We don’t understand how we belong to Nature. The Inkas understand this in spades! They have a developed knowledge of how humans are intimately designed to collaborate with Nature. Take the simple act of breathing for example. We are biologically designed to inhale what plants, trees, algae, and bogs exhale, oxygen! And we exhale what they need in a perfect life giving exchange. The Inkas call this AYNI, sacred reciprocity: to give and receive with all your heart. This is a law in their communities that they would never break. The community goes to plant the fields of each family in a rotation, and would never break this law because they witness a profound interdependence that we have forgotten. They come from a “No Market” economy. I wonder if we can even conceptualize that. No shopping! Not even a barter system. The Inka and the Hawaiians survived and thrived for centuries through a “GIFTING” culture
Let me say that the Inka worldview confirmed a part of my own, and for many of us that seek deeper answers to life’s questions. We know that there is more to the world than what is materially visible. While I was perhaps not able to articulate it well at 28 years old, I was very aware that the world was (is) made of living energy, something that modern physics confirms. However, the Inka philosophy emphasizes our human interactions with the energy world, that you can perceive these energies in people and places. Our science has not yet understood how we are part of the great interplay of the energies found in Nature. We are finally learning that we cannot observe from the outside without influencing the experiment. This is the big difference between our culture and the Andean culture. Their science and religion is one and the same thing, and it is personal and intimate. The Andean tradition teaches that since everything is made of living energy, trees, humans, rocks, rivers, wind, then everything can be spoken to. This gives you SO many more friends and so many more conversations that can be had. The world just opens up and becomes a much more fun and magical place. This worldview also comes with a responsibility, since everything is alive, everything deserves respect and to be cared for. Clearly, it is in our best interest to respect the Earth and the Air and the Waters and to take care of them. With Global Warming we are learning hard lessons about this now.
BW: Do you think the Inca have a solution to our global issues relating to everything from deforestation to Global warming?
EJ: Yes! I have just experienced part of that solution to climate change. First, the tradition teaches that when we humans break the laws of nature, we create something called “heavy energy”. This heavy energy gathers and has nowhere to go and starts to create chaos with the weather. This heavy energy that is created from wrong actions, disrespect, breaking the law of sacred reciprocity, causing intentional harm, etc., can indirectly cause droughts, storms, hurricanes. Luckily, since only humans create this heavy energy, we also have the capacity to clean it up. We did a lot of that during the hurricane and it was diverted and weakened as a result. There was no loss of life.
BW: How many books about your experience with the Incas have you written so far?
EJ: I have written a total of 3 books and collaborate on one anthology. My books are: The Return of the Inka (first published as Initiation by Putnam) Journey to Q’eros: Golden Cradle of the Inka, and The Fourth Level: Nature Wisdom Teachings of the Inka.
BW: Is there another book coming? You just wrote a novel?
Yes, I have several more books in the works, a couple of practical guides on how to create the Inka Power Bundle that some call the Mesa, another on Offerings, and another on my favorite topic, MISKAYANI. Miskayani is the Mystical Sacred City of Feminine power known in the Q’ero Myth to be the counterpart to Paititi—or the Lost City of Inka Gold. I have also been asked to write a screenplay based on my first book that I am currently working on, as well as a novel dictated to me by a tree.
BW: Apart from being a Psychologist, a spiritual teacher and a writer, you are also an organic farmer. Many of our readers run their own small to medium businesses. Tell us a bit more about your farm in Hawaii. What do you grow? How did this idea start? How does business mix with spiritual teaching?
EJ: I guess I answered this a bit earlier, but more about the farm. We grow organic macadamia nuts, coffee, every citrus: lemons, limes, oranges, tangerines, tangellos, and grapefruit. We have 8 varieties of avocados, bananas, guava, and white pineapple. We also have a heard of 60 sheep and a donkey named Eddie Murphy. Organic farming is one of the most benevolent businesses a person can create. It is also the perfect place to practice the Inka philosophy and tradition. We host Paqo Apprentice Month long seminars, as well as week-long seminars with the Q’ero at our farm every year. And of course I lead groups to Peru every year in the Fall.
BW: Is there anything you wish to tell our readers as a message? Something you feel is important in the 21st century? Or perhaps something important for a working business mum?
EJ: Yes! You can do it! Never give up your dreams, especially if they serve the community in some way, you can find the way to make them happen. If you receive you must give, and if you give you can be SURE you will receive. Come and play with us and I will teach you how to always have enough energy to accomplish your biggest dream. When we collaborate together with Mother Nature, there is nothing we cannot accomplish!
Thank you Elizabeth. We very much look forward to your next adventure. Please make sure you keep us posted
|Posted on January 14, 2019 at 7:00 PM||comments (1)|
I’ve taken upon myself to make some really difficult choices and write about spiritual reads for women. Not because there are not enough of the books to be included but because there so many and some are just plain beautiful! If you revel in women’s spiritual wisdom from the likes of Denise Linn, Nancy Lonsdorf, Elizabeth Jenkins and every mama’s guru Gurmukh, treat yourself and read on!
Women by their nature love change. This really is good news when it comes to self-development. This is even better for spiritual development. There is a myth that all things spiritual are always lovey dovey, quick, and easy beauty. This however is not exactly the full truth. Any spiritual wisdom worth its salt once put into practice will work and when it does without fail it will bring change. For some people change is an unwelcome thing. For the ones who don’t like change, it’s perhaps best to tread carefully, not to jump too quickly onto the path of spiritual growth, because if they do, change will knock on their door sooner or later, whether they want it or not. But change, it seems, is always for the best, especially the one you are dreading. It really is just your soul’s way of ‘butterflying’ – growing into a more powerful and beautiful self. The real truth is, most people want to change, and even fantasise about it at times, however often they do nothing about it. Change does not have to be hard or ugly; however it is, as a rule, a bit scary. This never the less, does not make it less pleasant or desirable on the long run, especially for an awesome woman on a spiritual path!
Now how does this link to the books? Well I have been reading this sort of stuff for (ahem, many, many, many..) years, and have embarked on a change or two myself. I wanted to pick some books which will do one of the two things. Either fiercely instigate change or just simply enable one to find beauty within and flow with life’s changes a bit more gently. So, from a major pile I went for the books which are not necessarily the newest (although some are) but the ones which made the most difference to woman’s spirituality over the past decades. I urge you to have an open mind as with everything spiritual. What’s in the pages of these books is not what you might expect because if you did you would not need them after all. So let’s have a look at what’s on offer.
Perhaps best to start with ‘Shakti Woman’ by the not so well known, but nevertheless significant Vicki Noble. This is not a book for the fainthearted! Vicki is a fierce spiritual feminist who knows her stuff. This book is a raw recollection of a powerful spiritual awakening during times when women were, well, expected to stay at home and bring up children – all in the 20th Century in the US! What I really liked about this book is that Vicki is very well informed about female history, artefacts, rituals and original female religious and spiritual paths. She touches upon shamanism and everything she writes is either useful, informative or plain infuriating! She informs womankind about their past, and the importance of their biology in the religion and spirituality of old. All of this while one cannot help but realise there is a strong indication that women were brainwashed and stripped of their original power over the past five thousand years to make sure the patriarchy took hold and survived. Many women reported being furious after reading the pages upon pages of this stuff they thought was either hidden from them or made them think was somehow bad or embarrassing. Noble touches upon many myths and even more taboos relating to women’s biology, reproductive powers and significance of the above to the original religion and further to modern day abuses of the feminine.
If you like this book, perhaps a lighter reading, served well with this one would be a well-known novel (recently televised) The Red Tent, written by an exceptionally interesting American writer Anita Diamant. Within its pages you will find some well described, perhaps a bit shocking rituals of an ancient and primal female religion! For a 21st century woman, divorced from her roots and her ancient power, this might be another rather uncomfortable eye opener.
The next one is by Denise Linn and it is called ‘Unlock the Secret Messages of Your Body!: A 28-Day Jump-Start Program For Radiant Health And Glorious Vitality’. Denise has another book similar to this one with more of a strictly spiritual focus ’Soul Coaching, 28 days to discover the real you’, however I suggest anyone who wishes to do this and has not done much in the way of spiritual development as yet should start with the first one. This is because ‘freeing your spirit’ through solving your body blockages can be easier for a lot of people in the world where anything material is seen as ‘more real’. The transition from what you can pinch in ‘reality’, to what you can sense spiritually is much smoother this way.
So, the (body) book itself is an interesting manual for a rapid physical, spiritual, emotional change. In its essence, it is a detailed set of instructions to be followed over four weeks. The content is divided by elements (earth, water, air and fire) and the work inside, the tasks set and inner journey is closely linked to the elements. I must say I did it some time ago and took it lightly as I was doing it with a view to review it here. Little did I know that I would find myself very quickly on a major rollercoaster. Before I knew it I was working through some stuff I thought was long dead and to my total surprise, during the ’water week’ I solved a long standing kidney stone problem I didn’t even know I had! It did freak me out a bit, but in the long run this was an incredible journey with tangible results. So if you are into hands-on spirituality and fancy a quick personal clearout and transformation, I suggest you give this one a go. But be warned, it does work and things will move on with some considerable speed, even if you just lightly touch upon the tasks. From what I’ve seen there is no way of predicting what will kick off.
How about some awesome home friendly Kundalini Yoga? My next choice is ‘The 8 Human Talents’ by Gurmukh (with Cathryn Mishon), one of my favourite female gurus. Gurmukh (who is so famous she needs no other name), with her colourful and at times very sad history, makes her one of the most beautiful female spiritual leaders of the 21st century. Much loved by thousands and especially by mums-to-be, she smoothly and gently pours her words off the pages. And those words are sweet, warm and comforting. As with most people who know their stuff, she is teaching some seriously complex Yoga in a very simple way. In this particular book she covers eight energetic centres in terms of Kundalini exercises anyone can do. The exercises, as with all of the Kundalini Yoga, are very powerful and work instantly, presuming they are done as instructed. This is a one-stop book for anyone who has never done any Kundalini Yoga before and who wishes to take advantage of quick exercise with fast results. It is important to point out here that Kundalini Yoga is less physically demanding than Hatha yoga, so no major fitness is necessary. The book is user friendly and it is easy to read and follow.
If you are interested in combining your spiritual development with wholesome care for your body, a touch of Ayurveda will do the trick. Here, I have chosen not one but two books by Nancy Lonsdorf MD , Ayurvedic Doctor. Ayurveda is an ancient Indian Medicine with a fully holistic outlook on life and treatments. Its aim is to balance mind and body through careful balancing of a person’s original constitution with their lifestyle, the food they eat and the climate they live in. Pretty much nothing is left out. This is why I have chosen two books, as they deal with different ages of a woman. The first one is called ‘A Woman’s Best Medicine’ and it is a most comprehensive self-care book for women of childbearing age. It combines everything from body to mind including a chapter on the influence of meditation on wellbeing and physical health. The book itself is timeless, as it is based on some four to five thousand years old knowledge, which still applies in the 21st century. So this one is for the shelf with the rest of the heirlooms! Inside, you will find your ‘dosha quiz’, to find out what your constitution type is, and what kind of lifestyle would suit it the most. She discusses disease in a very interesting way and with close links to the state of the mind. I like Linsdorf as she gives simple but powerful and cost effective solutions to difficult problems which at times are (in mainstream medicine) mostly managed with harmful, heavy chemical or hormonal preparations.
Her other book ‘The Ageless Woman, Natural Health and Beauty After Forty’ is a gem for any woman wishing to make herself healthy and prepare for change in her future. Linsdorf explains how this really should be done years ahead (starting as early as thirty years old) as the state of the woman’s body ten to fifteen years premenopausal is a telling state of the woman’s actual menopause later. She also gives interesting but again powerful remedies for self-managing any menopausal symptoms. She does this in true Ayurveda style – 100% individually designed for each woman who happens to read the book. There are easy to do tests to check which part of the body contains ‘ama’ – the buildup of impurities which are (according to Ayurveda) the main cause of disease and of course any troublesome menopausal symptoms.
To finish this very select list I want to mention a beautiful book by Gurmukh for pregnancy. I love her ‘Bountiful, Beautiful , Blissful’, a truly beautiful and bountiful book full of advice and practical spirituality for a pregnant woman. She covers everything from a woman’s relationship with herself, with her unborn child and with her partner. Gurmukh knows when to tell a story and when to give advice, and where the powerful Kundalini Yoga will do on its own. The book is deeply spiritual with page upon page of unique insights, lovely stories oozing with beauty and almost with reverence for a pregnant woman. If you need to get in touch with the full beauty of your pregnant self, if you feel alien to the state you are in, if you are worried or stressed then this book will cause you to be in awe of what and who you are at this moment. But first and foremost Gurmukh gives of what she has most, the teaching of Kundalini Yoga for pregnancy, to nourish and empower the mum to be.
With this I conclude my short list. This is not to say these are the only books worth reading, but in this short space these were the most important reads. For now. More coming soon!
By Billie Krstovic