Confessions of an Economic Shapeshifter
They sentenced me to 20 years of boredom
For trying to change the system from within - Leonard Cohen
There's a school of liberal American thought - one that serves a gated community - that says John Perkins' Confessions of an Economic Hit Man is about as deep as it gets. If there is a conspiracy, so that mindset goes, then it goes this far: the cheating of nations of their inheritance by persuading their rulers to take on massive developments contracted to US industry, paid for by enormous loans, that in turn become the weapon of indebtedness to buy a government's allegiance. The story Perkins tells in Hit Man is that of the privateering ruin of the world, coordinated by the deniable aegis of covert statecraft, and it's as good as it goes. But it's not Perkins' only story.
Perkins has written other books about his time spent in the wild places of the world, but they're the kind of books liable to embarrass the reader who thinks Hit Man is tell all. He's taken ayahuasca and seen the holy anacondas; discovered the power of dream and learned principles of shapeshifting from the shamans. In fact, "he is currently working with several major corporations to introduce the concepts of shapeshifting and tribal wisdom into the highest levels of executive thinking."
Now, whatever that may mean (and it may include such dispiriting "transformations" as Bono's equity firm buying 40% of Forbes Magazine, which may make MacPhisto more skinwalker than shapeshifter), Perkins doesn't intend shapeshifting to be understood as pure metaphor. (Though presumably, when he describes the CIA's "jackals" who are called in to perform the wet jobs, it's just a figure of speech.) He means, literally, shapeshifting: that it can entail authentic, cellular change.
Perkins' esoteric knowledge may not be known to the casual reader of Hit Man, but the State Department, in its page "Identifying Misinformation," draws attention to Perkins' other titles in order to scare away the faint of mind. Alluding to The World Is As You Dream It: "shamanistic techniques from the Amazon and Andes," the anonymous flunky writes: "As to whether Perkins was acting at the behest of the US government, the world is not "as he dreams it." Higher up the food chain, where people are known to "create our own reality" and "other new realities, which you can study, too," opinions may differ.
Perkins offers some personal accounts of cellular transformation in his book Shapeshifting, the most dramatic drawn from 1994 when a friend, Sarah, was stricken with a deadly virus. Infectious fluid filled her chest cavity such that her heart and lungs were obscured on x-rays. At Thanksgiving, doctors warned her husband William that she was unlikely to survive until Christmas. William had travelled to Ecuador with Perkins and shared his interest in shamanism; Sarah did not. But close to death, she invited him to visit and talk, and then asked if he could use shamanism to heal her. Eventually agreeing, he asks Sarah to lie down and lights a candal by her bed. Fanning her with branches, he "called on Kitiar, Viejo Itza, and several other shamans to assist me. I asked Pachamama to do whatever was appropriate."
A tiny ball appeared. The size of a marble, it materialized like a sort of hologram of light near her heart. The thought intruded that it was just my imagination. Quickly I chased this thought away and returned to being the observer. The ball grew larger, to the size of a Ping-Pong ball; it had a bluish hue. It was not like a solid object; it appeared more fluid, and seemed to vibrate. It moved slowly around her chest cavity. I had the feeling that it was searching for something. I also had the feeling that I should try to enter it; however, something told me to be wary and to resist this temptation. I shook the branches more forcefully over her body. As I did so, the ball's color changed to a deeper blue, a color approaching black, then it sprouted two branches of its own, which it waved in unison with the rhythm of mine.
Its branches spread and flattened until they became wings. The ball had shifted into the shape of a bat.... It darted about, then swooped through her torso, and I understood that it was drinking up fluid that threatened her life. Again, this came to me in the form of a knowning, like intuition, or a thought that we are sure is correct yet do not understand how we know it. Then the bat lifted up out of her body, flew directly past me and to the open window behind me. Perched on the windowsill facing outside, it made spastic, jerking motions. I realized with a start that it was regurgitating the fluid it had extracted from Sarah.
The next day Sarah had a radiology appointment which confirmed that a "measurable portion" of the fluid had vanished. The radiologist was surprised, and Sarah's cardiologist told William "Sometimes these things happen." Perkins repeated the healing sessions three times in the next week, after which Sarah had a another examination. The fluid had completely disappeared. Her doctors, their confidence shaken, recommended she travel from Florida to Minnesota's Mayo Clinic for another round of tests, which when complete confirmed that an unexpected healing had occurred.
Perkins recounts other brushes with what could be called either high weirdness, or perhaps more charitably, elevated energies. An evening in the Amazon, for instance, stepping into a clearing and seeing "a blue light flash high up in the top of the canopy. And again. Then it rose out of the forest - a vibrating globe of blue light":
Then another light appeared. This one seemed to materialize out of thin air. The two hovered side by side. Like huge balls of energy, they moved closer to me and then flashed quickly away, disappearing behind the thick wall of the rainforest trees.
These aren't stories which most Amy Goodman-progressives are going to want to hear. But since they are told with the same conviction by the same insider whom they delight to cite as a source for how the world really works, perhaps they should pay them some attention, and accord a similar measure of respect. Maybe then they'd learn the world's workings go also very deep, and strange.