Today Commander Divine is talking with Peter Treagan, (tradewindsorg) well-known environmentalist and the founder of the Tradewinds nonprofit organization dedicated to securing the homeland of the Kogi people in South America. The Kogi are driven to care for the environment of the planet as a whole, and they see themselves as caretakers for the natural world. Mark and Peter talk extensively about the Kogi lands and the spiritual mandate that Peter has taken on for their preservation.
Listen to this episode for inspiration and a better understanding of our own responsibility for the care of the natural world.
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Hey folks. This is Mark Divine with the Unbeatable Mind podcast. Welcome back. Thanks so much for joining me. Super-stoked to have you here. We do not take this lightly here. There are about 100 million podcasts out there you could be listening to. The fact that you’re listening to this is a big deal for us.
And it also helps if you rate us on iTunes or wherever you listen to us, because that’s how other people can find it. We’ve got over a thousand five-star reviews and I tell you what, that is super humbling – but the more, the merrier, and that’ll help keep us going. It’s very motivating for me. So I appreciate that and giving that a consideration.
This podcast is going to be really important. Most of my guests are focused on neuroscience, and breathing, and hacking biology… and leadership, and teamwork…
And today we’re going to focus on something different we’re going to focus on mother earth and what’s happening to mother earth. And we’re going to focus on a rare individual who’s made it his life’s purpose to help mother earth heal in a very specific place. But it’s a place that’s very special, that could have a catalytic effect on healing for a very large area – that being the lungs of our planet – the rain forest.
And the veins of our planet, right? Which are the rivers, and the oceans.
Peter Treagan has made it his life work – like I said… he’s founded an organization called Tradewinds. Their primary project – and only main project is called the Hoji project – which is to help acquire land and to bring it together and to protect it and to heal this property this very important property – which I can’t wait to hear from Peter’s voice exactly what we’re talking about.
But it’s in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta region down in Colombia. It’s the highest and most northern region in the Andes, which, of course, is kind of the epicenter of our rainforest in south and central America.
So as you’re well aware… for me, healing the environment is almost part and parcel with healing humanity. You can’t do one without the other. We are all this interconnected, whole… or interconnected, interbeing…
And many people focus just on humans when they talk about healing or development, but my philosophy is that healing the human without healing the earth is like half the equation, right? Because we need to be healed together. We need to co-exist in harmony.
Anyways, enough said. So I’m very grateful when I meet people like Peter who have committed their lives to this. And I’m hoping that many more people do in the future, so that we can see a future where the earth is living in harmony, and people are living in harmony with the earth.
So Peter, thank you for being on the show…
Peter: Thanks for having me, Mark. It’s good to be here.
Mark: Yeah, I appreciate it. And you’re in Taos, New Mexico… I love your outfit. If you’re watching this on YouTube, you’ll see Peter and his attire. Is that from Columbia? Your vest and your hat? Or is that New Mexico?
Peter: This is from Ecuador.
Mark: From Ecuador. Awesome. And your adobe hut behind you. So I always like to start just getting to know the person
And then, once we get to know your background a little bit. And kind of how you were drawn toward this work, and any major inflection points which were like your “aha” moments or rock bottom moments that caused you to really launch into this work you’re doing.
And then we’ll shift focus to the work itself. Because I think that’s the most – I know you’re important, but between the two of us what’s really important is the work, right? The work that we do. So we want to get into that.
So where are you from and what were the formative years? Let’s get into your story a little bit.
Peter: Yeah, so I was born in northern California in the redwoods. And I grew up between the redwoods and Santa Fe, New Mexico. And I really went to school like everybody else did.
Did my undergrad degree in New York in education. And then I did a master’s in social science – moved back to California for that. And throughout my 20s I traveled the world. Was in over 30 countries by 30 years old.
And worked with two different non-profits in Ecuador, India and Tanzania. And I did my…
Mark: Where did this interest come from, to do that? Because that’s a little bit unique in itself.
Peter: Yeah, well I always had a passion for the earth. I grew up in the woods. I grew up in nature. And my parents always exposed me to other cultures, and so I had a passion for travel and learning about different people and different places. And how they live and really understanding things from their point of view.
So I did my ethnographic research in north, central and south America for my master’s degree.
Mark: Okay, great. So, what were some of your major insights and learnings for that period of your life?
Peter: Well, I had a number of transformational experiences – listening to and hearing the call and learning how to live the dream, kind of created like a little formula for myself which I applied into my life.
And a lot of that had to do with facing fears, and really challenging myself. So
Mark: That sounds a lot like – when you use that terminology – hearing the call and living the dream… when I teach my Unbeatable Mind students, I talk about aligning with your calling and then standing your ground. Developing a stand to live that call. Calling forcefully in the world… or powerfully is probably a better way to put it.
It sounds like you tapped into a similar kind of energy which is not unlike the spiritual traditions say. You have this karmic and dharmic energy, and then if you don’t align and live it then you’re not living your life, right? You’re just marking time.
And you found that same information through nature. I think that’s fascinating.
Peter: Yeah, that’s right… you know when I was younger, I realized that I had a really blessed life, but also conflicting beliefs… I grew up believing life is a struggle, and I also had a belief that life will always take care of you.
And so there was a certain moment in my teens where I realized that I was attracting everything in my life. And so I was attracting experiences, people, places – and that I was also called to places.
So the first one where I really applied it was, I felt called out to the Hawaiian Islands. It was my lifelong dream to swim with dolphins.
And so I bought a one-way plane ticket, and my friends were saying to me “this is ridiculous. What are you doing? What are you smoking?”
And I said “I’m not smoking anything. I’m just gonna go for it.”
And so I did, and it was probably day two or three out there, where I was sitting on the beach on the north shore, and I see these dolphins swimming on the side of a boat. And I told my friend that I was sitting there with, I said, “it’s always been my dream to swim with dolphins.”
And he looked at me and he said “well, you either do or you don’t.”
And I stood up right then and I walked into the ocean. And so that was a life-changing moment, where I realized maybe I could have been sitting on that beach and wonder for the rest of my life. Perhaps I could have, but instead I realized that living your dreams is taking that thought, or that idea, or that dream, or that inspiration and an action.
Mark: Right. I love that. I had some profound experiences in Hawaii. My first year – not my first – but my fifth or sixth year in the seal teams was in Hawaii. So I grew a real love for the culture, and for the nature. And I remember once – this was on Oahu – but it’s on the north shore as well – Waimea I think, or Wahima I can’t remember exactly the cove…
Peter: This was in Waimea…
Mark: Yeah, right. And so Waimea, and there’s this beautiful cove there and kind of a rain forest behind with a park – you know where I’m talking about…
And so anyways, we were swimming there, and I went underwater… as a SEAL – I’m always practicing my breath hold – so I went underwater just the deep dive and just to sit right for as long as I could.
And while I was there – I could hear the humpback whales talking, mating to each other…? I don’t know what they were doing. But it was extraordinary.
You couldn’t hear or see them from the surface. Normally you’re like “oh there’s a whale…” he’s breaching or blowing… but underwater it was like a freaking symphony. It was one of the most extraordinary moments, to just go in what’s normally total silence and to hear the symphony of these whales.
And I couldn’t tell how far away they were, but that music travels a long way underwater. It’s beautiful.
Peter: It was something like that, Mark. I was out there, and I swam really far out to swim with the dolphins and they’re swimming underneath me, doing flips and just dancing all around me, so I would follow them wherever they went to.
And I was hearing their sounds. It’s just incredible. It’s phenomenal. The vibrations that come from the dolphins is very healing, but before long I found myself way out there. And the wind had changed.
And so now the waves are against me as I’m trying to return to shore. And I’m swimming with all of my might, and I look to the side and the rocks are still there. And I would swim as hard as I could, and I hadn’t got any further to shore. And I had this thought “this is it. I’m gonna die right here. I’m way out in the middle of nowhere – dehydrated. The wind is against me, and I’m not getting anywhere.”
And so it was really the breath where every stroke and every single breath became like a prayer. And somehow, I was overcome with an energy that was beyond me. And so I just focused on the breath and the present moment – and somehow landed up like a beached whale on the shore. Got a pretty bad sunburn. But lived to tell the tale.
Mark: Wow. That’s a powerful story. The only thing that would make that better is if one of the dolphins came and kind of gave you a little ride or a nudge or something like that. (laughing) maybe they were doing that with their minds. Brilliant creatures.
So that sounds like a really formative moment for you, and Hawaii being kind of a first love. And then you obviously kind of made your way down to central America again. Is Columbia south or central? It’s central, right?
Peter: It’s south America.
Mark: Oh it’s south. It’s a very northern part of south America. So tell us about that journey and some of the other moments that really solidified this for you.
Peter: Well, it all started in 2012. I watched a film “From the Heart of the World: The Elder Brothers Warning.” So this was a BBC documentary, it was released 30 years ago this December. And this film is about the Kogi and they’re the last surviving lost civilization from the world of the Inca and the Aztec. They also live on this really unique place, which is the highest coastal pyramidal mountain on earth.
It’s an 18,000-foot mountain that juts directly out of the Caribbean Sea. It’s on its own separate tectonic plate from the Andes, and the peaks are only 26 miles from the ocean.
And it’s the highest ecosystemic biodiversity in 7.7 square miles.
Mark: In the world, right? So it’s got this the highest diversity in this small footprint.
Peter: And so it has all of the earth’s eco regions represented in one place. From the deserts to the cloud forest to the humid tropical forest and up into the potamo – which is kind of like an arctic region… and these potamos – Colombia has 60 percent of the world’s potamos – which act essentially as a water factory.
And the people who live there are descendants of the Tairona. So when Christopher Columbus arrived 500 years ago – more or less – we all have heard about the Inca and the Aztec but many of us haven’t heard about the Tairona…
And they’re still living their tradition and their culture to this day. So I was completely blown away… I was very inspired and impacted by this film. And this region being a biosphere reserve – UNESCO has declared it – it’s a biosphere reserve the IUCN declared it the most irreplaceable site for threatened species in the world…
Mark: And why would that be? Like tell us why. You gave us already some stats, but why is this piece of earth so critical?
Peter: It’s very unique. It’s very unique in that all of these interconnected ecosystems are represented. And there’s also a very high amount of endemic and endangered species there. So endemic species being ones that if they’re gone in the sierra – they’re gone from the planet.
And also the indigenous people who were there – they call themselves the “elder brothers,” they call themselves the guardians of the earth. And they call us the “younger brothers.”
And they train their leaders – which are called “mamos.” And the mamos means “sons” or “enlightened ones.” And they train their leaders in a cave in darkness from birth for the first 9 to 18 years of their life… they have a special diet – they don’t have salt or sugar; they only have white foods. They dress in all white.
And their whole society is run by the elders, by the mamos, by the spiritual leaders – which to me was fascinating. I had never come across this before. I was really into history growing up and to come across this there in 2012, it just completely blew me away. And so I felt the call to go there, because I wanted to ask them a question.
Mark: Hold that thought, because I’m still trying to wrap my head around the Kogi… or you use a different term… the Tyrone’s… is that right? The Tyrone’s?
Peter: The Tairona.
Mark: Tairona. Is there a culture truly intact or a lot of times we see indigenous cultures… they’re kind of like westernized, drinking Coca-Cola, and wearing jeans… and then maybe the older people, the elders are still trying to preserve some of the ancient traditions. What is it like?
Peter: It’s a very delicate situation there. They retreated into isolation for 500 years. And so they were able to maintain their culture in the higher regions.
There’s four ethnic groups there in the sierra, which are descendants from the Tairona – that’s the Kogi, the Arhuaco, the Wiwa and the Kankuamo.
And those who are living on the lower elevations are now right up against local farmers, or even cities. And so we’re seeing how quickly their culture can be impacted, even though they’ve worked very hard to preserve it. But the interaction with the western world can be very, very damaging.
Mark: Wow. That’s amazing. And give me a sense again for how – I know the mountaintop you said was only seven and a half square miles or something, but in terms of this overall geography that these four tribes live, what are we talking about?
Peter: Yeah, they live within this region which is about 7.7 square miles of this mountain.
Mark: Wow. That’s a pretty small region.
Peter: And there’s about 60 to 70 000 indigenous people living there. Currently.
Mark: Interesting. So let’s go back and talk about – you were starting to tell us about the training of the elders, and the philosophy that they’re the protectors of the earth. The elder brothers – being kind of older humans – and then younger brothers – which is us white folks or the modern humans. Maybe who aren’t as spiritually in touch with mother earth and her yearnings. Let’s get a little bit more into their philosophy. And then let’s talk about some of the risk if this goes away. Which is very possible.
Peter: Yes, when they refer to the younger brother they’re talking about the outside civilization in general. So as the elder brother, they’ve been given what they call “original principles.”
Mark: You mean downloaded from the spiritual world or mother earth that says this is how we’re supposed to live as humans?
Peter: Exactly. So directly from the mother, which they call Aluna. And so Aluna is the mind or the intelligence of nature. And what they say is that there’s these lines of energy – essentially you can think of them as meridians for the earth – in the way that a human being would have meridians in a Chinese medicine system.
And so they go to these places which they call hot spots, where they say that the living energy is pouring out of the earth in these places. And they go there, and they make these earth payments or these offerings…
Mark: Like Sedona, or Mount Shasta here in the northern continent?
Peter: Yeah, a lot of people call these major earth energy gates. Such as mount Shasta or Sedona…
Mark: Right. Interesting.
So they go there, and they make offerings, and then they receive information? Or are they just trying to help mother earth understand that someone still cares.
Peter: Their purpose is to maintain cosmic balance. Not only on the earth, but within the cosmos. And so when they go to these hot spots and they’re making the offerings, sometimes what they’ll do is they will actually take rocks from the top of the mountain, and then bring them to the coast and make the offerings with these rocks. And then take seashells from the ocean and bring them to the top of the mountain.
And so from our outside perspective we don’t see what they’re doing. However they’re working internally with what they call “deep thought.” And so this deep thought is able to connect them to the mother earth in these hot spots.
And what’s really interesting about the sierra is they call it the heart of the world – now if we would use the analogy of the lungs of the world everyone would agree that that would be the amazon. It’s over 1.4 billion acres of rain forest, which produces oxygen for the planet.
But the heart of the world is a massive fluvial system – so it has these potamos – as I said before – these water factories. And so they understand the water cycle. And how the lagoons down below and the rivers are connected to the higher lakes in the mountain peaks.
And so for this cycle they also say that the heart of the world – because it has all of these different ecosystems interconnected there in one place, in a very small place – that it’s the microcosm of the macrocosm. And so they can diagnose the entire planet from the heart.
Mark: Interesting. So theoretically they’re saying that the heart of the world will affect the health of the rest of the world, because it’s what’s pushing energy, moisture, water throughout all these different ecosystems.
Peter: Exactly. And we can see that on a micro-scale…
Mark: Like the blood – you said that to me before – that they consider water to be the blood of the earth, right? And so the heart is pushing water around whereas the heart of a human is pushing blood around. Interesting.
Okay, sorry. Back to you. I’m just tripping out on this stuff.
Peter: Yes, so the Kogi have given a warning – as I said, in “From the Heart of the World: The Elder Brother’s Warning,” they gave a warning verbally. And this was 30 years ago, and they said that we didn’t listen. That because of the mining and the deforestation that this was actually threatening the thought that underpins existence. This is threatening the very fabric of reality.
And so they came out – the next generation of mamos came out once again, about eight years ago or so, with another film called “Aluna.” And so in this film they attempted to show us.
So they got hundreds of kilometers of gold thread and they actually walked these lines between sacred sites. And some of them have been completely destroyed actually… industrial factory where they had drained a lagoon, which was a very important sacred site. And has broken the connection.
And so what they do in their work is to repair this. And they say that they’re doing their work just as the mother had instructed them since the beginning. But now they need our help.
They can’t do this alone. The younger brother has to step up and take care of the earth. And in my view that really starts with the individual. Every single person has a role that they can play – whatever that is – small or big – whatever that is in your life.
Mark: Let’s just pause there for a second. What do you think are some of the most powerful ways and simple ways that individuals who are listening or who share this podcast can have an impact can do their part?
Peter: Well, the average person doesn’t have to abandon their life. As long as you have joy in your heart, and you find your passion and your purpose, it doesn’t really matter what you do. You can make bread for a living, be a comedian, a CEO, or a musician… or a world traveler, Instagram influencer… but whatever it is that you do, as long as you’re having a positive impact on people and the planet. And taking the next step to truth in your life, whatever that may be.
Mark: Okay, I see that. That’s like step one. But what about practical things – given that most people who align at that level are already thinking “well, I need to maybe soften my footprint a little bit. Maybe turn to green energy…”
What about some of the more common things we hear? Are those things that we can do that will really make an impact? Or are we really talking about consciousness here? Changing consciousness.
Peter: From my perspective, there’s no law that can be passed that will really deeply impact things in a way that would be greater than advancing one’s consciousness.
Mark: Wow. I totally agree with that, and that’s phenomenal to hear you say that. It’s hard for people to wrap their western mind around that. Can you help us see that from the perspective of the Kogi?
Peter: So the Kogi – when they are talking about the younger brother, and what it is that we can do – we really have an incredible role, because we have creativity. And so we can invent all sorts of instruments and tools.
And I would say at this time in 2021, we have everything that we need already. We have the technology. The technology exists. We can live in a sustainable world and actually even better than that would be a regenerative world. Where we’re making the world better than when we got here. And making it better for the future generations.
And so with that consciousness of thinking about beyond oneself and thinking about the future generations who are to come and leaving something for them that was better than what we received from our ancestors.
In this way, this is the creativity that we can use. And so there has to be the will. And I think that’s really the choice point. People have to make that decision.
And so that can manifest and express itself in many different ways, depending on who the person is. But every person can listen and hear the call within themselves. And have the discernment to know what is going to be that next step to truth.
Mark: Yeah, I love that. And with expanding consciousness and connecting to that internal call – I like what you’re saying – there’s no amount of bureaucratic wrangling that’s going to change things, like you said -the Paris accords and cleaning up plastic bottles – it’s really the consciousness to stop producing plastic bottles from the people who aspire to be the next generation of packaging CEOs, right?
Or it’s again the shift to that emergent and integrated awareness which then changes decisions you make at a very deep level. So you do no harm.
Peter: Exactly. And it will change everything that you do…
Mark: Changes everything you do, and it changes every decision you make, if you’re an organizational leader – we’re starting to see this – do you agree with me? We’re starting to see this with some of our social entrepreneurship and the conscious capitalism?
I mean, maybe they haven’t gone quite into the spiritual dimension like we’re talking about. But that’s inevitable.
So, I guess having said that, are you optimistic? And are the Kogi optimistic? Or is there a real like “Holy. We gotta get things together soon,” kind of theme that they are working with here.
You know, it’s a little bit of both. I think in the crisis there’s always going to be the opportunity because right now we have this window where we have the awareness of what’s going on. With the fires that devastated California, and the fires in the amazon – everyone is becoming more and more aware of the collective crisis that we all face.
And so each individual can do their part. And so what I would say is at this point what we can do is to really focus and hone-in on what is our calling.
Mark: Let’s talk about your project. The trade winds. And so everything you said is true and now you’ve also found that your calling is to actually get hands-on, and to do something from an intervention perspective to work with the Kogi down there. Let’s talk about what you’re doing and how you’re approaching this. And what your obstacles are and all that kind of stuff.
Peter: Absolutely. Yeah so, the Hoji project – it means the call of the mountain. And our mission is really to protect the water, and to create the first ecological corridor that connects the mountain peaks to the coast.
So this is important for a number of reasons, not only for the indigenous people who make their offerings and that trek between the coast and the mountains, but also for animal migration. There are certain species – for example, the jaguar – which need a lot of habitat to roam. And these are keystone species that if they go, this is going to affect the entire web of life.
And so for me it was actually a series of events that really put me into action. I had gone down there originally in 2016 with a question. And my question was “what can the average person do?” And I wanted to go meet the Kogi and ask them this question.
And so I did. And I got there, when I arrived, I forgot to carry the zero at the atm and I pulled out 30 bucks instead of 300. And so really quickly I had to take a taxi to another town to find an atm.
And when I got into the cab there was actually a Kogi who got into the cab on the other door. That was the first Kogi that I ever met. And we talked to each other in Spanish and found out we were actually going to the same place.
And so we decided to ride together. And the Kogi are very mysterious, they’re very quiet… and I had a lot of questions… I’d been thinking about this since 2012. So I had four years to think about my question.
And his response was always very minimal. And the very little that he did share with me was how many siblings he had, how many children he had, that he didn’t know his age, and that he lived higher up the mountain.
And so I’m going to get some coffee to buy as gifts for friends back home, and when I’m buying the coffee the woman says “oh, this was grown by the Kogi. And by the way what brought you to Colombia?”
I said “well, I came here because I had a question. I wanted to learn from the Kogi.”
And she said “well, if you’re meant to go higher up the mountain to learn from them, you’ll get a sign.” And so later when I’m having lunch the next day – I’m sitting there and there’s the same Kogi that I had met just before.
And he’s there with a young girl, and a young boy. And he motions for me to come over. And I walk over there, and he asked me one question – he said, “do you remember where I live?”
And I said, “up the mountain.” And so I took that as a sign. He never responded, but there was kind of a transmission that happened. And so I went higher up the mountain, and in a way synchronistically ended up meeting someone…
Mark: What was that like? Did you just kind of like look up the mountain and say “okay, where’s the trail?” Or are there roads? Or do you just start walking uphill? How did you just go higher up the mountain, I guess?
Peter: Yeah, well I got a clue. Someone had told me that they had been up to a certain place and they recommended that I go up there.
Peter: And they said “yeah, you should go check it out.” So I did and it was one of the highest places that one can reach by road. And so I got to this place and I met a woman there who said “I feel like I know you, or I’ve known you before. There’s some kind of familiarity.”
“I think that you’re supposed to meet the Kogi mamos. So the next time you come here, come meet them.”
And then from there I went and visited the Hanan do natural reserve, which is the current place of the project that we’re working on now. So Hanan do means the mother of the sacred waters in the Kogi language.
And they took me as high up in the reserve as it goes, up to this high waterfall. Which is absolutely majestic… emerald pools… just completely blown away by the beauty. It was heaven on earth.
And I said, “what’s beyond this waterfall?”
And they said to me “there’s a huge land up there. It’s a high mountain bowl. And that’s the birthplace of the water.”
And so it was in my heart and in the back of my mind when I went back home that I wanted to go visit that place. And that I wanted to start working to protect that place.
And so that’s what I did. When I got home in 2016, I worked for the next three years on developing trade winds and ways that we could make an impact, and that we could save this place.
Mark: You obviously had to do that with the complicity of the Kogi. And so how did that come about? Like, how did you get them to kind of sign off on your involvement? In helping to buy acreage and preserve it and make it part of their preservation efforts?
Peter: So, the original founders of the project are local Colombians. And so when they first bought the first piece of land, they were told by a man who works with the Kogi repatriating their sacred objects, which had been stolen during the conquest – he said, “you need to go to them, and you need to ask permission. And tell them what your vision is for the land.”
And so he went to the elders and he told them. They said, “well, what’s your plan for this place?”
And he said, “it’s to build a nature reserve.”
And they laughed. They laughed and they said, “no this is going to be the site of the unification of the tribes in the future.”
And so here we are eight years later and actually a number of these things are coming to pass just as they said. And it was in 2019 actually, a series of events which I said before – that really put me into action – which started with a dream. And then experience on the equinox.
And a deadly spider bite, which really shook me to my core… and then a phone call.
So the dream that I had was a couple days before the equinox. And it was essentially it was apocalyptic vision in a sense, where I went to the land and some commercial interests had purchased it. And they deforested the land, and they had found something very precious there in the earth. And they extracted a jewel out of the heart of the mother.
And this was kind of like “Fern Gully,” “Moana…” where everything got sick. All the plants and the animals and I kind of zoomed out and had a sun’s eye view of the planet. And witnessed the whole earth and all of humanity de-evolve into a lower state of consciousness. Like zombies or robots.
And I was so devastated by what I saw – I was filled with grief and feeling the pain of the mother. Of the earth.
And as I was feeling that, somehow in the dream I guess you could say like a window or a mirage opened up and I slid down a waterfall into a parallel timeline.
And this parallel timeline was at the same place as the apocalyptic vision, however this was – perhaps you could say – heaven on earth. The highest reality possible. And so in that place what I witnessed was everything alive and vibrant. The water was shimmering with golden light. The birds, and the monkeys, and the sounds of the forest…
And once again, I kind of quantum zoomed out to a sun’s eye view… and I witnessed humanity quantum jump into a collective state, where every single person on the planet somehow knew what their purpose was. And they had joy in their heart, no matter what they did. And I was filled with incredible joy to witness this – going from the most devastating future of earth, which we probably see in the movies sometimes, to something where everybody was connected and playing their part.
And it was at that time then that the Kogi mamos came down the mountain in the dream. And they spoke to me in Kogi. And somehow, I was able to understand everything that they said. And what they said to me was, “you’re a guardian of this place. Go north and spread the message through the spider web. And save this place.”
And so I woke up in a gasp and was completely blown away. I’d been working for three years on this, and this was it. I was kind of like given direction, even the permission to do something, but also being instructed of what to do.
But the thing is, I didn’t see how it was going to be done. And so a couple days later I was in an all-night meditation on the equinox. And I had an experience where half of my body turned completely into light – the whole right side of my body was in absolute bliss and ecstasy. And euphoria.
And the left half of my body was darkness and chaos and suffering. And I was existing as the line between the two. And I was given this choice between liberation and annihilation. Which are probably the same thing – though I was shown my death was going to happen within 10 days.
And this really struck me to the core. And so I had a very sincere prayer of being at that place… what I call it is the “whatever it takes” prayer.
Whatever it takes. Take away anything that doesn’t serve. Yeah.
And so really, at that moment, nothing else really matters. Because your life is hanging in the balance. And so that’s what I did. And it was the most sincere moment of giving up anything that wasn’t my highest calling and my purpose. And so in that way the message came through, “okay good. Don’t go on your next trip. Don’t go traveling,” which I had planned to do.
“but instead go home and soak up every precious moment.” And so I did. And nine days later, I got bit by a poisonous spider and it wrecked me. For four days I didn’t sleep. It was the most excruciating physical pain I’ve ever experienced… my entire nervous system was like ten thousand lightning bolts in every moment. And my experience of what we call reality was going in and out during this time.
And so there’s the spider web that the Kogi had said from the dream. And a couple days later I get a phone call – jungle emergency. “they’re going to sell the land, cut all of the trees down, and put cows there.”
And so having that dream a couple weeks before in this experience on the equinox. And the spider bite. I literally dropped everything that I was doing, and I went all in.
Mark: You chose the light, because the death would have been a metaphoric death of not following your calling. Not following your passion. That’s fascinating.
Mark: So what did “all-in” mean?
Peter: So, I really quickly reached out to a few friends and family. And we were able to gather up enough money to be able to make the down payment on the land. And so I flew down to Columbia at the end of January and I thought “it’s going to be simple. We’re going to make a land contract. Done deal.”
But no, that’s not really how it is. Because we had to work with the Kogi and go to specific sites and ask for these permissions and to make these offerings. And one thing that we learned is that every single person who’s a part of this project – they themselves have to be in a deep personal process.
So everything that happens as a part of this process somehow seems to relate with something that may be on their heart. Whatever that might be. Any type of lower or negative emotion. Or perhaps some form of ignorance or a blockage… or anything that would be preventing that.
And so what we found was every time that we hit an obstacle within the process what we had to do was we had to resolve that within ourselves.
And so the Kogi, they did a divination about this. What they do is they consult the mother – they consult Aluna – and they’ll take a small piece of wood or hollow bamboo, and they’ll drop it into water. And the bubbles that come up – they say that this is how they read the messages from the mother – and they connect through deep thought in a really profound way.
And so the message that they got they said, “all of the doors are open. Move slow and it will happen quick.”
And so that’s what we did. Came back home and we took every single step in integrity. We took our time; we didn’t rush any part of the process…
And of course, just before the first land payment was due, we had everything lined up with different donors… the fires in California swept through and burned down several of their properties, they lost their homes – people’s lives were thrown into chaos. We’re living through a global lockdown and a pandemic…
And so we were faced with this obstacle that was unforeseen, and yet here we are now today, where we are right at the precipice of needing to save this land. And to save the headwaters. And so according to the Kogi, this can happen really quickly.
Mark: So it’s kind of interesting, because this is the clash of kind of modern and ancient world, right? Because some someone owned this land. They had a deed on it.
Kogi didn’t own the land apparently, right? But it’s very clear that this land is part of this ancient, tribal land holdings that they had – no, you couldn’t call it that – but region. So if you don’t end up being able to purchase it – the next farmer is in line to pick it up? Or what happens if you don’t secure the property? And what are the consequences?
Peter: Well, the way I see it, this must not happen. I don’t even look at a plan b, because the Kogi say that the earth is our mother, and they say that this mountain is the heart of the world. And that the veins are the rivers, and the water is the lifeblood. And so this headwater is the birthplace of one of the veins of the heart of the entire mother of all of us – of everyone who lives on the planet.
And what they say is if something is affected here in the microcosm – this is going to have effects in the macrocosm. And so when I was shown the two options of what can happen, I don’t even think about the other option. It just absolutely cannot happen.
But the land is owned by a number of siblings that inherited from their father. But originally the land was always the Kogi and the indigenous people’s land. That was their ancestral territory, that entire mountain.
Though – because of the conquest – they had to retreat up the mountain and abandon some of those territories.
Mark: So the land got taken over and deeded out. And these kids – they haven’t bought into the vision?
Peter: What I can say is they know about our project because the Hoji project has been there for eight years now – and they really want this to be preserved. This would be preserving not only their own family legacy, but they grew up there. And they love that land.
And this land is incredibly important, because it’s 1500 acres of pristine forest. It’s this high mountain bowl. And it’s also the home of jaguar and other endangered species like the tapir, the neotropical otter… in the sierra there’s dozens of endemic bird and insect species.
And it’s also the home of not only the headwaters, but all of the tributary rivers of the river basin. And so all of the work that we’ve done there, really it needs to be preserved because the Hanan do reserve – a lot of work has been done on a shoestring budget – is directly below that. And this land is also bordering adjacent to Kogi ancestral territory, and above the green heart – as we call it – the green heart headwaters.
And it’s also the main water source for several villages – including the Kogi community. And so we’ve been working there through education – to educate the locals about the importance of water. And I would say, if there’s anything that’s important right now, it’s water – clean water. Everybody needs water. Everybody has water in their bodies. All life has water. And water is life itself.
Mark: So this is critical. How close are you? I mean, what’s the status of the trade winds in terms of paying for the property, and securing this for humanity?
Peter: So we’re in the middle of a land contract with the first payment, which is actually already late – we’ve made some extensions, and we’ve made some progress on it. Though we have to secure the headwaters immediately – it’s the keystone property – and we have until the end of the month to do it. And then beyond that we have a larger goal which is protecting the entire green heartland… this entire mountain bowl, and all of the tributary rivers.
There’s also indigenous sacred sites there. As well as the endangered and endemic species that have their home and their habitat there.
Mark: Okay. Wow. So how can we help? What do you need from people like me or someone who’s inspired by this story and could be listening to this podcast?
Peter: Well we have a crowdfunding campaign and so anyone can make a donation – either large or small – all the way from sponsoring a tree at ten dollars up to sponsoring an acre at a thousand dollars… and we have higher tiers as well – protecting indigenous sacred sites or to be a jaguar guardian – which would protect the headwaters overnight.
And even beyond that protecting this land and expanding the ecological corridor – we’re actually less than two miles away from connecting to a 37,000-acre natural reserve on the Caribbean coast. And so this is one of the highest leverage things that one can do to make an impact. Is to connect these sites and these reserves to really expand what we call the cord of the heart. And so one can go to our website tradewinds.org… make a donation, it will link you directly to our GoFundMe. We have a lot of great perks of gratitude we’d love to send people.
And people can follow us on social media tradewindsorg…
Mark: Is there any structure for – I’m speaking out of self-interest now, with maybe some people who would be interested in supporting – where we could come down and help out for a short period of time. Help out with your project? Or is the work too dangerous?
Peter: No, we’re working on developing those programs where people who want to become more involved in the project can come down – either for a reforestation effort and we have other phases of the project in the future going forward to build what we call Casa Templo – which is the temple house. This will be the ancestral house or a repository of cultural, historical and traditional ecological knowledge of the indigenous there. And a place where people can come to learn.
And also where the indigenous can give this message out to the world of really being stewards of the earth. And how to take care of the planet in practical ways.
Mark: That’s cool. I want to follow up on that, because I think that’s something that would be of interest to some of my tribe… or at least the most committed ones, right? Myself included.
So tradewinds.org. And you have a GoFundMe campaign. So we’ll commit to that – as a company, we’ll commit to that – so we’ll go do that after this. I think this is really important.
I almost forgot, but you mentioned to me before we started the podcast that you had a recording from one of the Kogi elders. Is that something that we’d be able to hear over the podcast here?
Peter: Yeah, I can play the recording right now.
Mark: Is it in English or Spanish or…?
Peter: It’s in the Kogi language, so I can do a translation here.
Mark: Okay. Yeah, this would be exciting to hear.[recording of mamo Manuel]
Peter: So that’s mamo Manuel. He was also featured in the Aluna film. And mamo Manuel, when he told us his story when we recorded this last February – so almost a year ago – he told us that he was taken at seven months old – he was chosen to be a mamo – which means a son or enlightened one. And given training from seven months old until 20 years.
And so, when he was placed into the cave, he described it in the way that we would go to western school – to primary school, and then move up to secondary school and then later go to college – get a master’s degree and graduate.
And so he said that he completed all of his studies and so that’s why he’s a mamo, so I’ll read you a translation that his son did into Spanish and we translated this into English for everyone.
Mamo Manuel says: the water is like a vein for example if you cut a vein in your body you cannot survive or live. Veins are very important for a human being, and so it’s the same for the water.
The water is a vein of the earth. And the people are selling it, they’re selling the blood of the earth. And it’s running out more and more.
The water is very important for our life, that’s why we shouldn’t pollute it or sell it. The mother of the water is called habbagwaya. She is the spiritual mother of the water.
The younger brothers are damaging her and that is not right, because she is our mother who protects us. That is why we were left in charge of protecting the waters and everything that exists in the world. That is why we the indigenous people, don’t use pipelines and don’t sell the water, either.
If we damage the water or don’t treat it as we should the water will run out, forever. Since the beginning we have been taking care of the earth. And we were the ones left in charge. If mamos didn’t exist, the earth would not be functioning in the way it should be.
Humanity is destroying the earth, therefore now there are many diseases and imbalances. That is why we should protect the earth. The earth should not be sold, because she is our mother who takes care of us. If the younger brothers keep destroying the earth and the water, the world will be depleted.
Mark: Wow. That’s really powerful. Thank you for sharing that. You could hear his passion in his voice.
So, when are you heading down there next? What’s next for you?
Peter: Well, the idea is once we secure the headwaters, we’ll go down there immediately. We will sign the paperwork. And our plan is to put it into a land trust and register it as a natural reserve. So that this can’t be bought or sold in the future, and it’s preserved for the future generations.
Mark: Nice. But right now your main focus is to raise the money and make sure that you secure that land.
Peter: That’s it.
Mark: Okay. Peter, thanks so much for your time today. This has been fascinating.
Man, it’s definitely touched my heart. I’m inspired. And if you’re listening to this and you’re inspired as well, and you should be because we’re all… the future of humanity is at stake here.
So, yes, we want to raise our consciousness but also here’s a way we can help raise our consciousness by being actively involved in what might be called the epicenter of healing going on for mother earth. To protect the waters and to help the people who’ve been sacrificing for generations to protect the waters.
So it’s tradewinds.org, right Peter?
Peter: Tradewinds.org. And if someone wants to make a larger donation beyond 5000 – 10 000 or more you can just go ahead and reach out to me directly at [email protected] and we can talk more about it. And get everybody on board, and we’re going to save greenheart.
Mark: Greenheart. Hooyah.
Awesome. Well thanks again for your time, Peter. I really appreciate you for what you’re doing and what you stand for. And I hope to meet you in person someday. Maybe down in Colombia. In the bowl. That’d be amazing.
And reach out if I can do anything to support the cause, beyond what we’ve talked about.
Peter: Thanks, Mark. Thanks for having me on.
Mark: Yeah. Hooyah brother.
All right folks… that’s a wrap for today. Please consider at least learning more by going to tradewinds.org. Will they be able to watch the video that that is there from the elders Peter? Or is that still protected?
Peter: Yeah, actually if they just subscribe at tradewinds.org, they can watch the video. We recently were given permission to actually bring this video – call of the mountain – publicly. So we’ll be doing that really soon.
Mark: Oh terrific. Good. Okay. So you’ve heard it tradewinds.org. Check it out, and if you want to talk to or reach out to Peter send an email to [email protected]. Thanks so much for your attention and for caring and for being a supporter of the Unbeatable Mind podcast.
This is Mark Divine. Stay focused. Be unbeatable.