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NL: Hi everyone! My name is Natalie Ledwell and this is the Inspiration Show. Today on the show my special guest is going to be talking about his exceptionally interesting journey from being the editor of the London Evening Standard Newspaper to becoming educated in the Navajo ways by Blue Horse, who’s a chief here in the US. And he has a new book out called “Spirit Land”, so we’re gonna be talking a lot about indigenous wisdom and how we can apply that to what’s happening on the planet and in the world today. But before I introduce my special guest, just to remind you that if you are watching this show live on Facebook or on our YouTube channel afterwards, don’t forget that after the show is over, just click the link below this video so you can take our 30-second quiz, we can figure out what is holding you back from success. So please let me introduce my special guest Charles Langley. How are you Charles?
CL: Thank you for having me on the show Natalie. Thank you.
NL: Thank you. Now, um, I am like, absolutely bewildered at this journey of yours. So obviously you were living in London. You’re the editor of that, that’s quite substantial newspaper as well.
CL: Well, it is actually the largest evening newspaper in Western Europe but you’re elevating me a little too highly. I wasn’t the editor, I was the night news editor, which is slightly more humble position, so I don’t want people to misunderstand that.
NL: I stand corrected.
CL: I could still boss people around so that’s it.
NL: There you go. So okay, so you’re living in this life in the UK and in London and I know you’re married and your wife is a Psychotherapist?
CL: No, she’s a Physicist, a nuclear Physicist. Yeah.
NL: And so how did you, were you here on, like, vacation? How did you end up in the US?
CL: No, it was slightly more serendipitous than that. I actually realized that if I stayed doing what I was doing and it was a great job by the way - I mean I was responsible for news gathering worldwide when I was running the night desk, but I began to realize that if we kept on doing it I was just gonna end up as, you know, part of the furniture and I thought, look, I’ve had enough of this life. I’ve been a newspaper man since I was 16, actually, and it’s time to do something else. So I quit with no idea really of what I was going to do but one of the things I’d always wanted to do was to drive across the United States. So I flew to Miami, bought a car, and started driving to San Francisco to see a friend of mine who was a professor at the university there. And when I got to Albuquerque, some very strange things began to happen. The state’s official title is the Land of Enchantment but local people call it the Land of Entrapment because once you get here, it could be pretty hard to get out. It’s such a fascinating place and that’s what certainly happened to me. And I met some people, they were Navajo Indians, one of them was a medicine man. And I was taken to a kind of medicine meeting and things began to happen from there on.
NL: Right. So tell us what kind of things were happening? So, you know, you finally did find yourself in ceremony, it was just an introduction, like how did that play?
CL: Yeah, well, I should tell your viewers that this was quite a long drawn out process. I mean this took some years altogether. But I was very fortunate that very quickly I met a gentleman called Emerson Jackson, who has died a few years ago, very sad to say. He was a wonderful man, he was Navajo medicine man. He’d also been the president of the Native American Church, that’s the Peyote Church, for 12 years. He was, I think, the longest serving president they ever had. And Emerson, for reasons I never really understood actually, kind of took me under his wing and took me into the Tipi. I began to use the medicine, the peyote. I do want to stress this to all your viewers, this is a very religious process. I have only ever used peyote in the religious context of an American Indian Peyote meeting and I wouldn’t advise anybody else to try using it in any other way, and so I’ve only ever done it in this ritual way, but there’s no question about this, and in fact we go into this in the book a little. Where Blue Horse, who’s the medicine man I became apprentice to, lists all the changes that had come over my life since I got to know the medicine as the Indians would say, and you know these are just colossal changes. I used to be a newspaper executive, now I’m not. I kind of used to hate the life I was living, now I don’t. You know nothing ever seemed to, I would say, things never seem to go right but nothing ever seemed to be in much balance and you know when you get into your early 50’s it’s difficult to see where you’re gonna go next. But since taking the medicine, I mean, I’ve been writing books, I’ve been meeting endless interesting people. I met my wife, she’s one of the leading female physicists in the United States or indeed the world. And usually physicists and artists don’t really get on but somehow it was an instant hit and I’ve been her biggest, she’s sitting over there, I’ve been her biggest fan ever since. So that’s quite a lot of changes in one man’s life.
NL: Right. So with the book Spirit Land, what’s the main message of the book. What are the insights that you learned through, you know?
CL: Oh yeah, well the purpose of the book really was to tell people of the extraordinary things that Navajo medicine men can do. You’ll find in there references to spirit guides, to divinations where the medicine man will look into some hot charcoals which have brought specially for a [inaudible word] that’s been built specially. They usually use juniper wood for something like this and he will look into these charcoals and he will look into the past, the present, the future. And if somebody’s ill, you know, something bad’s been happening to them, he will kind of look and try and see where the trouble is coming from. Often it’s the result of witchcraft. There’s a lot of witchcraft on the Navajo reservation, which may amaze people to hear this, you know. I mean, we tend to think of when I say we I mean a sort of Anglo American folks tend to think of witchcraft that’s something that was in Middle Ages but it’s very much alive on the Navajo reservation, and people will generally attribute ill-health, bad luck, you know, car crashes, your horse dies, you know something else happens and they will attribute it to witchcraft. And then the medicine man’s job, accompanied by his faithful apprentice which is me, the medicine man’s job is to find out if the person has actually been witched, which is the term that they use. And if so, where the curses have been placed and I should explain that the curse among the Navajo is a physical object. It’s a bundle six or eight inches long, sometimes wrapped up in hide, and it contains all of whatever is called bad stuff, which is things they use for cursing, essentially they say, you know something broken, something sharp. It’s what they curse with them. You’ll find things in these bundles would be deliberately broken and often you find a stone arrowhead. But the medicine man’s job is to find these things, and they’ve often been buried somewhere in the vicinity of the house, often nearby, sometimes hidden inside the house, though that’s less usual. But some of these things are miles away and sometimes Blue Horse and I get in a truck and we drive for miles, well I mean, I drive, he directs, I’m gonna ask him about this he says he has a whistle that he blows, a medicine man’s whistle and he says he blows this and he hears the spirits talking to him, telling him where to go to find these curses. Now as a well-educated North I remind my friend when I first heard about this I thought well it’s got to be a trick you know. But I’ve been to hundreds of these things. They’re hundreds and hundreds of them and this curse is real. I mean, you know, I used to think well maybe the medicine man’s burying the curse like, though, he dug it up himself but I mean almost all the people we go to see we never heard of. I mean, they’ve just phoned up because somebody just told somebody is giving them a number and we don’t know them and it slowly dawned on me when he’s digging up these curses, and I’ve seen him dig up from underneath fresh snow and so on. So there’s no question of anybody sneaking out but but it slowly began to dawn on me that there are a lot of real witches about so nobody’s going to bury these things themselves, they’re there and people being cursed, witched. Now enough, is it really affecting people? To be honest it seems to. I mean I can’t tell you how, I mean I’d love to say, you know, this is all occult forces and satanic devilish interference and so on and to be honest if I could say that my “model” in inverted commas of how Navajo traditional medicine works would actually work a lot better, but I can’t prove these things, you know. I mean every Navajo I know would say well of course it’s witchcraft working, of course you know it’s evil spirits. Are you stupid Charles of course it is and you know I have to remind myself every day that they’re probably right, it’s just that I can’t prove it, but what is interesting is once the curse has been lifted, not in every case, but most people seem to improve their lives, improve all the sickness, get better, and so on.
NL: Well, so in the book are you telling a lot of, like, you sharing all of the stories, the experiences you had there?
CL: Yes. Yes it’s exactly what I’m doing. I mean some of the things these guys do is just extraordinary. Let me give you a quick example. We got called out one night to this, one day actually, to this farm. [inaudible word] Navajos on the reservation. Live on these quite remote small farms and we got called up to see these people and it was very strange. We got there and the place is so remote we got lost and we arrived hours late, and there was a rain storm going on and so on and this would mean the family wanted us to see one of the young wives in the family. She’d had a miscarriage, she was gonna have to go into hospital for D and C and so on. The family, because she’d had several other children, the family was convinced she was the victim of witchcraft and she didn’t want to see us, that was really unusual among traditional Navajos. Anyway, kind of long story short, I was standing out there in a blinding thunderstorm and Blue Horse sent her husband away to get a something. I knew it was an excuse but didn’t know why he was sending him away and he suddenly turned to this woman and he said the reason you lost your baby is it wasn’t your husband’s baby, it was somebody else’s, and she just had to look at her face, she’s just burst into tears. And he said but look Shedaisy, that means my daughter, I’m gonna fix it. I will fix everything for you, it will be alright and nobody will ever know and he went around and he lifted some curses out of there. How did he do it? You can’t go around saying things like that to married women unless you’re absolutely damn sure of yourself. And I said what and really all she got to do was start screaming, you know, you can’t believe what these idiots are saying about me and those men in the farm would have come running with their guns. I mean, you know, this is very remote place. Um, but he was right, and on the way back I said, you know, how on earth did you do know that? I mean, and he just looked at me as if on crackers and said, “Charles how many times have I got to tell you it’s all there in the fire.” And he’d been divining in the fire before we went over this. He said I could see it all, it’s all there. So you know, you can believe it or you can believe it not, but if that was true that’s just one of the examples of the things these people can do.
NL: It sounds like you’re describing a lot of, well you know, and let’s face it and I often will say this, I mean like, I’ve just spent a month back in Australia with friends and family I’ve known for a long time and I talk about here in California. I live in this euphoric California bubble and I talk to people that can communicate with animals and with angels and spirit guides and all this kind of thing, and I don’t discount any of it because I believe that of course they’re on different dimensions and different frequencies, that all these things exist and it sounds like Spirit Land is really helping to bring forth some of the stories and the experiences that you’ve had when it comes to the Navajo energy and medicine and the abilities that they have as well, and I think that all it does is helps to expand our mind as to what is actually possible. And I know that when you and I were talking just before, we got onto the video today how there is a return back to indigenous wisdom and I think at the moment that the planet really needs it. We’re burning up our resources, everything is out of balance and when we can return back to something that the Native Americans have been saying in this country for a very long time before we came in and sort of messed things up. But if we can return back to some of the common sense and the basis of how we can live in symbiosis with everything here on the planet, that puts us in a much better place. So it looks like reservation life is really agreeing with you Charles and, yeah.
CL: Well, yes sort of. You know I have to tell you that Navajo reservation is huge, it’s bigger than the Republic of Ireland, it’s bigger than Holland and many several European countries, but it’s also one of the most beautiful places I would have been. It is almost completely unspoiled and it’s just glorious. The Ice Age ended 12,000 years ago and nothing has changed really. It’s just as beautiful as it ever was. There’s one point I’d like to make if I can and that is the amount of strength that Navajo people derive from these traditional ways. I mean people go to hospital as same as anybody else, go to the doctor, but they also want the traditional methods and I give a couple of examples in the book, you know, people who’ve been quite seriously ill. There’s one particular lady was told she was gonna have a mastectomy and then the medicine man worked on her over a period of time. And she had the chemotherapy and the radiotherapy and so on and the cancer went into remission, but I was in no doubt when I talked to her, you know, the strength she drew from being able to fall back on these traditional ways of her people which people like you just don’t have this option. But the Navajos I think are hugely strengthened and I think most doctors would agree that patients who believe they’re gonna be cured, believe they can fight up their illnesses, usually do better than those who don’t. Navajos do have this ace up in their sleeves when it comes to things like this [inaudible words].
NL: Awesome. Well Charles I want to thank you for joining me today, it’s been great and I recommend everyone to get out your hands on the book Spirit Land. I know that we have a link either below the video or to the side of the video or somewhere where you can actually click through but is there a website or some way that people can connect with you Charles?
CL: Yes, we are sorting out a website now. It’s not actually up and running today but it will be a day or two and it’s called the Spiritlanddiaries.com and the full title of the book Natalie, I should tell you, is “Spirit Land, the Peyote Diaries of Charles Langley.” That’s the full title.
CL: And it comes out on February the 1st if I can just put on a quick plug there.
NL: Lovely. Thanks again Charles. And guys, I encourage you to share this video. Let’s get the word out there. You can do that by clicking the Facebook and the Twitter share buttons on this page. And don’t forget that after the show is over if you click the link below the video here you can take that 30-second quiz so we can figure out what’s holding you back. So until next time, remember to live large, choose courageously and love without limits. Alright guys, we’ll see you soon.