Spirit of the Shuar: Wisdom from the Last Unconquered People of the Amazon

Overview

• Discover the thoughts, history, and customs of the Shuar of the Amazon, as told in their own words.

• Tribe members explain their practices of shapeshifting and headhunting; the interdependence of humans and the environment; the role of ecstatic sex; their belief in war as a path to peace; and their faith in arutam, the life spirit.

The indomitable Shuar of the Amazon--reputed to be the only tribe in the Americas that has never been conquered--have lived as warriors, hunters, ...

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Spirit of the Shuar: Wisdom from the Last Unconquered People of the Amazon

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Overview

• Discover the thoughts, history, and customs of the Shuar of the Amazon, as told in their own words.

• Tribe members explain their practices of shapeshifting and headhunting; the interdependence of humans and the environment; the role of ecstatic sex; their belief in war as a path to peace; and their faith in arutam, the life spirit.

The indomitable Shuar of the Amazon--reputed to be the only tribe in the Americas that has never been conquered--have lived as warriors, hunters, cultivators, and healers for generations. Even in today's acquisitive, often wasteful world they defend their rainforests and sustainable ways of life and offer their philosophy of love, joy, and hope.

More than three decades after first befriending members of the Shuar, author and environmentalist John Perkins and his publisher, Ehud Sperling, inspired Shakaim Mariano Chumpi-a young Shuar warrior who has fought in the jungle war between his native Ecuador and Peru-to travel among his people and record their thoughts, history, and customs. The result is Spirit of the Shuar.

Here, in their own words, the Shuar share their practices of shapeshifting, "dreaming the world," and ecstatic sex, including the role older women play in teaching uninitiated men how to please. They explain the interdependence of humans and the environment, their formula for peace and balance, and their faith in arutam, the life-giving spirit of nature that allows each of us to transform ourselves. And they describe how their ancient-and current-practice of shrinking heads fits into their cultural philosophy.

Whether exploring the mystery of shamanic shapeshifting, delving deeper into the powers of healing herbs and psychotropic plants, or finding new ways to live sustainably and sensitively in the face of encroaching development and environmental destruction, the Shuar have emerged as a strong people determined to preserve their identity and beliefs and share their teachings with a world in dire need of their wisdom.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to the Ayumpum Foundation to help the Shuar conserve their forests and spread their message.

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Editorial Reviews

Stephen Larsen
"John Perkins has carried us effortlessly into a new encounter with an ancient world view. In the Shuar account the wisdom of the Amazonian rain forest prevails, where the spirit life teems as mercilessly and exquisitely as the biology. Spirit of the Shuar is filled with the poetry of authentic vision. It speaks the elemental language of the spirit-mind that journeys through all the levels of existence."
Susan Dobra
"We have much to learn from the Shuar; reading this book could change your world."
June Rouse
"After you have read it, you will know why Spirit of the Shuar has been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. The tales contained within Spirit of the Shuar are told in a direct and elegantly simple style. The pages come alive as the reader is given a glimpse into what it might feel like to live among the Shuar."
Cynthia Larson
"Anyone interested in indigenous wisdom, different ways of living, or shapeshifting will definitely be fascinated by this excellent book by John Perkins and Shuar shapeshifter Chumpi. Spirit of the Shuar is a masterpiece that lives on in one's heart for a lifetime."
Arthur E. Roffey
"The pages come alive a the reader is given a glimpse into what it might feel like to live among the Shuar."
Stephan Rechtschaffen
"This book contains profound wisdom. In our modern age we lack the deep knowing of how to positively transform our culture. The Shuar give hope and direction that will benefit our children's children. Best of all, you'll love reading Spirit of the Shuar."
author of Fire in the Mind Stephen Larsen
"John Perkins has carried us effortlessly into a new encounter with an ancient world view. In the Shuar account the wisdom of the Amazonian rain forest prevails, where the spirit life teems as mercilessly and exquisitely as the biology. Spirit of the Shuar is filled with the poetry of authentic vision. It speaks the elemental language of the spirit-mind that journeys through all the levels of existence."
From the Publisher
"The pages come alive a the reader is given a glimpse into what it might feel like to live among the Shuar."

"After you have read it, you will know why Spirit of the Shuar has been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. The tales contained within Spirit of the Shuar are told in a direct and elegantly simple style. The pages come alive as the reader is given a glimpse into what it might feel like to live among the Shuar."

"Anyone interested in indigenous wisdom, different ways of living, or shapeshifting will definitely be fascinated by this excellent book by John Perkins and Shuar shapeshifter Chumpi. Spirit of the Shuar is a masterpiece that lives on in one's heart for a lifetime."

"John Perkins has carried us effortlessly into a new encounter with an ancient world view. In the Shuar account the wisdom of the Amazonian rain forest prevails, where the spirit life teems as mercilessly and exquisitely as the biology. Spirit of the Shuar is filled with the poetry of authentic vision. It speaks the elemental language of the spirit-mind that journeys through all the levels of existence."

"This book contains profound wisdom. In our modern age we lack the deep knowing of how to positively transform our culture. The Shuar give hope and direction that will benefit our children's children. Best of all, you'll love reading Spirit of the Shuar."

"We have much to learn from the Shuar; reading this book could change your world."

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780892818655
  • Publisher: Inner Traditions/Bear & Company
  • Publication date: 7/28/2001
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Shakaim Mariano Ijisam Chumpi, married and the father of four children, lives in the heart of the Amazon, following the traditional ways of the Shuar. John Perkins, who first lived among the Shuar as a Peace Corps volunteer in 1968, lectures at universities and teaches workshops around the world as one of the founding members of Dream Change Coalition. His previous books include Shapeshifting, The World Is As You Dream It, and Psychonavigation.
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Table of Contents


Acknowledgments

Prologue

Publisher's Preface

1. Dreaming the World
2. The Gender Dance: Love, Sex, and Control
3. A Brotherhood and Etsaa's Lesson
4. War, Arutam, and Balance
5. "We Don't Die--We Just Become Something Else"
6. The Sacred Teacher Plants
7. The Shaman and Dream Change
8. Sowing the Spirit of the Shuar

Epilogue

A Note from John Perkins on Storytelling and Translation

Glossary

Dream Change Coalition

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2001

    Spell-binding Wisdom from Amazonian Shapeshifters

    My hopes were very high when I began reading SPIRIT OF THE SHUAR, because I've read and loved other books by John Perkins. I was surprised and delighted to find that this book far surpassed all my expectations! I found it to be especially intriguing, because it was written in large part by the Shuar themselves. The Shuar share their wisdom about how they dream the world, talk with the dead, balance the needs of men and women, keep peace and wage war, practice the ancient art of shamanic journeying, and learn from the sacred teacher plants (ayahuasca, datura, chicha, and tobacco) in the Amazon jungle they inhabit. The Shuar tell their legends and personal stories about living in the jungle in this book in such a conversational style that I feel I am sitting among them. After reading this book, I feel I can understand why people take psychotropic plants in order to better understand their unique place in this world. I also find myself feeling deeply touched by the way the Shuar have long reached out to others in different societies to form special bonds of friendship and cooperation. The obvious sincerity with which the Shuar express themselves comes shining through in this book. It is quite convincing to me and helps open my mind to every topic they discuss, even subjects that surprise me, such as: head-hunting, marital relationships, or how they share wisdom from the teaching plants with their hunting dogs and children. Anyone interested in indigenous wisdom, different ways of living, or shapeshifting will definitely be fascinated by this excellent book by John Perkins and Shuar shapeshifter Chumpi. SPIRIT OF THE SHUAR is a masterpiece that lives on in one's heart for a lifetime.

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