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

Excerpts & Samples

By John Perkins

Publisher : Inner Traditions/Bear & Company

ABOUT John Perkins

John Perkins
John Perkins has traveled and worked with South American indigenous peoples since 1968. He currently arranges expeditions into the Amazon and has developed the POLE (Pollution Offset Lease on Earth) program with the Shuar and Achuar peoples as a means of preserving their culture against th More...



• 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.

"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."
Stephen Larsen, author of Fire in the Mind

"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."
Stephan Rechtschaffen, M.D. CEO, Omega Institute for Holistic Studies and author of Timeshifting

"We have much to learn from the Shuar; reading this book could change your world."
Susan Dobra, Magical Blend, Winter 2002

"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."
June Rouse, The Monthly Aspectarian, December 2001

"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."
Cynthia Larson, RealityShifters News, September 2001

"The pages come alive a the reader is given a glimpse into what it might feel like to live among the Shuar."
Arthur E. Roffey, Parabola, November 2002