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The Shape of Things To Come: Shapeshifting With John Perkins
An interview by Carol Bedrosian

For the past two decades John Perkins has visited, lived with and learned about indigenous culture from several tribes in the rainforests of the Amazon and Andes. In his three books detailing his experiences—The World Is As You Dream It, Psychonavigation and most recently, Shapeshifting (Destiny Books)—John has shared much of the wisdom he has learned from tribal people in hopes of creating a "dreamchange" that can move us away from the industrial world's dream of dominating and harnessing nature. These shamanic teachings have sparked a revolution in modem concepts about healing, the subconscious, and the powers each of us has to alter individual and communal reality. An ecologist, author and founder of Dream Change Coalition, John also works with business and governmental organizations in the preservation of tribal wisdom and the natural environment. He is currently working with several major corporations to introduce the concepts of shapeshifting and tribal wisdom into the highest levels of executive thinking.

Spirit of Change: What is shapeshifting?

John Perkins: From my perspective, shapeshifting can be divided into three levels although it's actually more of a continuum. First is the cellular shapeshift which is when a shaman actually shapes into a jaguar or a warrior hunter shapeshifts into a tree or animal of any kind.

SOC: This happens on a physical level?

JP: Yes, it happens on a physical level.

SOC: Would you be able to see this change?

JP: You can definitely see it. As I read a lot of the literature and research in writing the book Shapeshifting, I kept coming across people who would say "well this sort of thing used to be done, but it can't really be done anymore and it doesn't need to be done." I take strong exception to that because I've seen it done, I've done it myself and I think right now is a very important time to experience it.

Shapeshifting is really about recognizing our true oneness with everything else. Separateness is just an illusion. When you shapeshift into what we call "the other," you are manifesting that philosophy of oneness on a physical plane. Once you've done it, you never have any doubts again about our true nature as one with everything. It's hard for people coming from other cultural and educational backgrounds to accept the fact that people become jaguars or trees, but in another sense it is very easy for us to accept the fact that we have an incredible cellular shapeshifting capacity.

Look at all of the people who get cancer. People in the Amazon don't know what cancer is and they can't believe it. When I first started bringing people with cancer to the shaman for healing, the shaman would look inside them as they do using what they call pentsak, which is a technique for actually looking inside a person's body. They would look inside these North Americans' bodies and see these outrageous growths that they'd never seen anything like before. Now that's a very strong cellular shapeshift.

The shamans have dissolved a number of those cells. We've had people come with bad tumors and cancer, have healings and go home, and then go to the doctor's and the tumors are gone. We've all heard of miraculous healings of cancer; well that's a cellular shapeshift. In our culture we don't have a problem accepting that cancer can grow in a person very, very quickly; it can also be gotten rid of just as quickly.

SOC: So cancer and spontaneous healings are actually forms of shapeshifting on the physical level in the body?

JP: And we pretty readily accept that. We have a much more difficult time accepting that people can shapeshift into a jaguar. The Shuar in the Amazon is a tribe that I work with a lot. From one perspective, it is very hard for them to understand how a person can get a cancer and E. coli for example. But it is very easy for them to accept how a person can shapeshift into a tree or animal. It is a matter of what tradition we are brought up in and both are very possible. 

Incidentally, we also had a woman recently who is now one of our trip leaders. She is a psychologist from Baltimore who for 10 years tried to loose 50 pounds. She was quite overweight. She tried every diet possible. Then she went to one of the shamans and asked him to help. Within 2 months, she lost the 50 pounds without dieting, without doing anything. That was a cellular shapeshift.

SOC: But that also has to involve a mental shapeshift in our attitude to accept that such shifting is possible.

JP: In in my opinion, shapeshifting has to do with intent and it has to do with energy. You have to drop areas of fear, drop areas of doubt in order to let it happen. We've got a number of medical doctors who are very deeply involved with this program. The woman from Baltimore is a plastic surgeon with an extremely successful and lucrative practice. She is using shapeshifting extensively in her work and in fact, is teaching courses. She takes tremendous amounts of time out to do dreamchange work and teach shapeshifting to other MD's.

SOC: Are we too late to be learning about and sharing this work? For a long time there were a lot of people saying that if we think positively for enough years we can avert some big cataclysmic changes on the planet. But I'm not sure that we can at this point. 

JP: Cataclysmic changes on the planet are messages. We're not destroying the Earth. The thought of saving the Earth is totally absurd. Human beings don't have the power to destroy Pachamama or the Earth. If we get to be too much of a nuisance here, Pachamama will just shake us off like so many fleas. And we'll take a lot of other life forms with us—the ones that are very closely tied to us in terms of breathing the same types of air and needing the same types of plants to survive and so on and so forth.

But this isn't a question of saving the Earth. It's a question of saving ourselves. And even that is not really a big problem because we just keep manifesting in different life forms so we won't actually disappear. The physical manifestation of the human species could disappear but it would be nice to avoid that because we have children and grandchildren.

Since we are here we ought to do everything we can to avoid having that happen. Right now. Mother Earth is sending us a lot of messages. The tremendous smog and pollution around many of our cities, the polluted rivers—we've been told for decades now to clean it up. We haven't really listened very well and so the messages are getting stronger.

This reminds me of a time several years ago when I'd been hiking for four or five days with a couple of Shuar warriors in the Amazon. We'd been up to the sacred waterfalls and after several days we were coming back. When we were about two hours outside of the Shuar community, all of a sudden the Shuar men stopped and bent down to examine this small plant that seemed rather insignificant beside the trail. When I asked them what was going on they said, "This plant is very sick and when we came up here four days ago it wasn't sick. We feel that there is a message here for us and we should listen to this plant and hear its words." I think we are in the process of learning that, with our concern for global warming and the greenhouse effect. It is beginning to get through to a lot of people. There is still a lot of resistance, but I think its having an effect. 

SOC: Is it enough of an effect that we could divert being shaken off Pachamama?

JP: Well, that remains to be seen. There are specific trails we can take. We can either do something about it and change the way we are to be more Earth honoring or we don't do that and Mother Earth takes care of the problem.

Even the planet is a very insignificant part of Pachamama. In the Quechua language, pacha means Earth, universe, and time. They don't really have a word for Mother Earth. Its Mother Universe, Mother Earth and Mother Time—its all one. We're just one little part of everything else and probably an insignificant part.

SOC: What is the Quechua language?

JP: The language that is spoken by roughly 20 million people in Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru. It is a very spiritual language. The Quechua people are made up of different tribes that are part of that linguistic group. Even their language acknowledges the oneness of our nature with everything around us.

SOC: Which is why they might be more attuned to a shapeshifting way of life than non-indigenous people. You were talking about the different levels of shapeshifting...

JP: Yes, the second level is personal shapeshifting where we bring out in ourselves more of what we really respect in ourselves. Or maybe we get rid of things that we don't really respect in ourselves. A good example of that is an addiction. Both developing and getting rid of an addiction are personal shapeshifts. It's changing ourselves within this manifestation. The third level is institutional shapeshifting, changing the manifestations of our organizations, our government, our communities, our corporations. That is the one that I am very interested in right now having come our of a business background myself. I can see tremendous opportunity here to shapeshift the corporation.

SOC: Is that possible?

JP: It's definitely happening and it needs to happen a lot more. The corporations can't take over unless we allow them to.

SOC: And we are so addicted to the consumer lifestyle—it's always we want more, cheaper and more convenient. We support those corporations with our purchases and the destruction they cause.

JP: Yes, we all make those decisions. On the other hand, if there is a large business (let's take a Walmart) and you can really create a shapeshift within that organization, you can have a tremendous effect in the larger picture. I will say from the shapeshifting standpoint you can deal with the bigger organizations just as well as the small. 

The oil companies are one of my greatest enemies because they do a lot of destruction in the Amazon and hurt a lot of the people that I've spent the last 30 years living and working with. Yet I've seen British Petroleum has had an incredible turn around in the past couple of years. They've gone through an amazing shapeshift. It is happening. 

The whole idea is that we're here on earth to be ecstatic every minute. When we feel that deep oneness we are ecstatic. Ecstasy doesn't necessarily mean joy or bliss. It's the feeling of oneness. For example, my mother died a couple of years ago and I was very close to her. She died a very painful death. It was not a joyous time, but it was ecstatic in terms that I bonded with her as I had never bonded before. Medical doctors tell us that we are 99% air and that every atom in our body is as old as the big bang. No atom stays in our body for more than a year. They are constantly moving into other things so that when you are holding the telephone right now, your atoms are intermingling with the telephone and some of them are going into the telephone forever or for the next year, anyway. Some of the telephone's are actually coming into you. You and the telephone are one.

SOC: So how is it that someone still retains that extra 50 unwanted pounds? Why doesn't it just slip away?

JP: Perception of it. The world is as we dream it and recognizing that gives us the opportunity to shapeshift any way we want.

SOC: How do you shapeshift?

JP: In our culture one of the first things that we have to do is to drop the barriers that prevent us from believing in shapeshifting. To begin with, you cannot believe in hierarchy. If you believe that a human being is superior in any way to a plant you can't shapeshift into that plant because you have too much fear that you may not be able to come back into the superior form of the human being. In fact, sometimes shapeshifters don't return because they choose not to. So the first thing is to drop the fear and the denial.

SOC: And basically that would be developing a trust in the process of life, that you are safe in the hands of Pachamama.

JP: What is there to fear? If you don't believe in death, that solves a lot of fears but it doesn't solve all of them.

SOC: And you have brought this work into the corporate world?

JP: Yes. I've spent ten years myself as an executive management advisor to the World Bank and the United Nations and many Fortune 500 companies and I was the Chief Executive Officer of a large utility energy company for another eight years. In that work with the energy company, which is a very successful alternative energy company, every major decision we made was made shamanically and we did a great deal of shapeshifting. The business community is not going to be able to continue the way its been going. The model for success that we've developed here in the United States and in Europe cannot be applied to India and China and Indonesia because there's too many people. Slowly, we are realizing it can't even work here any longer.

We are at a phenomenal point in history right now because we've developed amazing technology. We've also still got the indigenous knowledge and we're opening up to that like we've never opened up to it before. One of the reasons the stock market is going up so much is because there are technologies out there like the Internet. Today telephones are starting to go into the Amazon for the first time. But there are no telephone lines and they're not needed anymore. What a tremendous savings that is to the forest. No more cutting down lots of trees and putting in copper wire. But that's not really a justification for sitting back and saying, "well it's all happening anyway." It's really important that we all go out there and work toward it. True shapeshifting means feeling your oneness with everything else.


Carol Bedrosian is the Publisher and Editor of Spirit of Change Magazine which is located in Grafton, MA. To contact Carol call 508-839-2228, fax 508-839-1173 or email her at SpiritPub@aol.com

This article was originally published in Spirit of Change Magazine—not to be confused with OfSpirit.com Holistic "Internet" Magazine & Resource. We thank Spirit of Change, New England's Premiere Holistic "Print" magazine, for allowing us to give new life to this article and share it with OfSpirit.com visitors for education, entertainment and empowerment.
Click here for more information on Spirit of Change.


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