The Otherness World Series gives you a platform to discover different practices and people from around the world. We invited those in our network to share their journeys and learnings and introduce societies you may never have been aware of who want to share their wisdom with the world.
This week we had the honour of speaking with Paola Bay, who’s journey has taken her through the world of fashion and media, to working on the conservation of both culture and nature. We first met Paola during the Flourishing Diversity Series, which saw several indigenous community leaders from across the world come to London to speak and share their ideas and beliefs on how we can protect Earth’s rights.
One of these groups was the Mamos, with whom Paola has been working for several years. The Mamos are highly trained spiritual leaders of the Arhuaco indigenous people of the Sierra Nevada De Santa Marta in Colombia. To this day, they have safeguarded their cultural and spiritual heritage for thousands of years, unaltered; they are the last survivors of an ancient civilization called the Tairona, from which the Inca and Aztec have descended.
Hi Paola! Thank you for taking the time to speak to us. To start, please can you give us more of an introduction as to whom the Mamos are and what the significance of their white clothing is?
The Mamos are the spiritual authority of the Arhuaco society. They are charged with maintaining the natural order of the world through songs, meditations and ritual offerings.
The Mamo is the ultimate expression of the wisdom of the Arhuaco (Iku or Bintukwa) culture. He is born predestined by the superior forces of the universe, and as he grows, he learns the secrets of nature by living in close contact with her. Elder Mamos guide the Mamo apprentice to relate all this natural and innate knowledge with the unique and profound understanding of the origin left to him by Kaku Serankwa (the Father God) and by Seynekun (Mother Earth).
In addition to this, the Mamo needs to receive the elements of divination known as the BUNKWEYKA, the ZARTUKWA and SOJORIN, as well as receiving the marunsamas (profound spiritual thoughts) to be the worthy counsellor and the spiritual and political leader of his people and his community.
All men, women and children wear white as it represents Mother Earth and the purity of nature.
When looking for more information on them, we come across the Arhuaco, Kogi, Kankuamo and Wiwa, is there a difference between them?
They are all from the same indigenous ethnic group, the Tairona; they live in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains in northern Colombia, they call their region the Heart of the world. The Arhuaco and the Kogi have managed over the decades to maintain most of their traditions and culture.
What are the belief systems of the Mamos? Do they still adhere to their ancient laws?
Absolutely, their life is totally impregnated with their millennial old traditions.
The Mamos dwell in the Big House in the Sierra Nevada, the sacred temple of the Heart of the World. From there, he cares for the thought of the cosmos and of the Earth and everything in them and there, in compliance with the Law of Origin. The essence and mission of the Mamo are reflected in the hills, ponds, stones, plants, and beings of this dimension and of all dimensions above and below. The Mamo is a walker of the Black Line and of the sacred sites interconnected with that line. All sacred sites are points of relationship and pagamentos (offerings). The main task of the Mamo is to open, at his intention, the sacred portals that lead to the knowledge in the temple of life and to be the guardian of the primitive, pure and intact ancient knowledge that was left to him by the father, Serankwa Tana.
In the physical plane, the Mamo is the person who has the power, from his knowledge and wisdom, from his spirituality, to transmit and reinforce the Law of Origin from the Sierra Nevada, the ancestral territory, for the original population, the entire population of the world, for all mankind and for all generations of the past, present, and future.
And how was it you came to be introduced to them?
It was all planned by Spirit and Mother Earth! I saw a film about the Kogi Mamos -Aluna many years ago, which I deeply loved. A year after, my then spiritual teacher told me she met some highly spiritual people in Colombia called Mamos, and the connection was made. I started then working with Amanda Bernal, president of the Great Balance, the foundation that helps them preserve their culture and traditions. They have adopted me, and I consider them my family; I visit them in Colombia usually once a year.
When you search for the Mamos, you come to see they have lived in isolation and seclusion (by choice) for centuries, yet over the last years, they have called for audiences to share their messages; why is this, and what are they sharing?
They know Mother Earth is on fire; they saw the sign in the Sierra many years ago. They have decided to come out of the isolation to make us, the little brothers, aware of what is happening and help us consciously shift the situation and restore our home, our planet.
How do you think we can integrate these into our lives, especially when many of us live in cities?
By stopping the consideration that nature is out there in the city parks, beyond us, we are nature we are not separated. We should care about Mother Earth as we care about ourselves – we are just one living being. When I meditate, I imagine the heart chakra inside every living being, in every rock and mountains, in every drop of water in every ocean. That’s how I start my day by connecting with nature.
Do you agree that each of us should see ourselves as an Earth Keeper?
Yes, as I previously said, we are nature; we are not separated. Would you hurt your own body? It is probably not, so the learning is that Mother Earth and all beings are us; they need to be respected and loved as they were our own self.
How do you personally practise what you have learnt from the Mamos?
Every day I am grateful for the abundance nature is so generously gifting me, from the air to the water, by knowing that my own body is mine for few decades and one day will go back to nature. I now see the beauty in everything, in all the elements, the animals, the plants, they’re nature masterpieces. I have also created an art installation, Reliquaries, two years ago for a significant exhibition, inspired by the Mamos teachings, as they totally permeate my life.
How can we support the Mamos?
By donation on The Great Balance website, all the money goes directly to them, and by readings all their messages there, you will also learn more about yourself.
Please watch this video on youtube and listen to their profound message