While visiting the Sacred Valley of the Incas (around Ollantaytambo, Peru), we had the opportunity to visit the home of a native medicine man (Andean “priest”) and experience an Andean Ritual to Mother Earth (Despacho), a traditional ceremony that has been practiced for centuries in the Andes Mountains. “The Andean people believe all are connected and as a way to show continuing appreciation and gratitude for the crops we eat, the water we drink and the land we live on they make an offering. The offering is a gift, charged with intention, love, reciprocity and reverence, unifying all living energy of the physical and unseen universe.” — RaisingMiro.com
“Despacho describes the Andean practice of making offerings to the mountains (apus), Mother Earth (Pachamama), and other spirits of nature in reciprocity, reverence, and thanksgiving. A despacho is an act of love and a reminder of the connections we share with all beings, elements, spirits, and sacred places. At the deepest level, it is an opportunity to enter into the essential unity of all things, the living energy of the universe. A despacho is created during a celebratory ceremony. In the cosmology of the Andes, all life is perceived as one grand, infinite ceremony. Because physical survival is so hard in the high mountains, life is experienced as a true gift to be lived, not a problem to be solved. There are at least 300 variations of despachos in the Quechua-speaking Andes (primarily Peru and Ecuador). While there are certain elements common to all despachos, the particular healing intention — such as bringing harmony and balance to the earth, honoring new beginnings, or getting rid of an illness — determines the design of the offering, some of the contents, and even the way that offerings are added.” – Earth Caretakers, © Meg Beeler: http://home.earthlink.net/~megbeeler/earthcaretakers/id39.html
“As the ceremony begins, red wine and white liquor (pisco) are offered to the spirits of the mountains and to Mother Earth. The medicine persons and all the participants feed each other coco leaves–the sacred plant of the Andes–into which their prayers have been blown. These gifts are a sign of community and strengthen connections.” — Earth Caretakers, © Meg Beeler: http://home.earthlink.net/~megbeeler/earthcaretakers/id39.html
“The offering is created on Andean weavings that represent the masculine and feminine in balance (mastanas and uncunas). White paper, for clarity, is placed on the weavings for a base. A bed of incense is laid, to carry the prayers of the offering into the cosmos. Flower petals (red for Pachamama, white for mountains) are laid in a pattern, commonly in a circle, four directions, cross, or flower pattern, depending on the intent. Sets of coco leaves, called kintus, are prepared with intent by each participant, then collected by the medicine people and placed in a pattern on the offering, again reflecting the particular intent.
“After the initial “bed” is created, some or all of the following symbolic representations are prayed over, offered up, and added: fruits of the earth (seeds, raisins, grains, nuts, corn, quinoa); sweets (wrapped candy, sugar); representations of the sea (a shell) and the stars (a starfish, the five-legged star of return, unfolding into the Fifth world); silver and gold papers representing threads to the earth and the cosmos; confetti; miniature tin figures of animals, people, and tools; beads; llama fat from while llamas (symbolizing the sun); a baby llama fetus (representing that which is unborn or not yet manifested); white cotton (for the clouds that surround the mountains and bring rain); many-colored wool (for the rainbow bridge into the cosmos); condor feathers; and so on.” — Earth Caretakers, © Meg Beeler: http://home.earthlink.net/~megbeeler/earthcaretakers/id39.html
“A despacho contains symbols of everything: elements, weather, clouds around mountains, rainbows, the four directions, lakes, rivers, fruits of our labors, earth, stars. Every item represents a part of the Andean cosmology, is imbued with intent for connection to the mountains and the cosmos, and affects the totality of energy in the universe.” — Earth Caretakers, © Meg Beeler: http://home.earthlink.net/~megbeeler/earthcaretakers/id39.html
“When the offering is complete, the bundle is folded, tied, and wrapped in sacred weavings. The shaman may circle the group with the despacho bundle, cleansing the luminous bodies of each participant to remove any heavy energy, and blessing everyone. These heavy energies, or hucha, become part of the offering, as the earth eats heavy energy and composts it. Finally, the offering is burned. Participants do not watch the offering burning, so Apuchin (the old condor) can come to eat any remaining hucha, and because watching might hold back some of the filaments being sent into the cosmos.” — Earth Caretakers, © Meg Beeler: http://home.earthlink.net/~megbeeler/earthcaretakers/id39.html
“The chakana (or Inca Cross) symbolizes for Inca mythology what is known in other mythologies as the World Tree. The stepped cross is made up of an equal-armed cross indicating the cardinal points of the compass and a superimposed square. The square is suggested to represent the other two levels of existence. The three levels of existence are Hana Pacha (the upper world inhabited by the superior gods), Kay Pacha, (the world of our everyday existence) and Ukhu or Urin Pacha (the underworld inhabited by spirits of the dead, the ancestors, their overlords and various deities having close contact to the Earth plane). The hole through the centre of the cross is the Axis by means of which the shaman transits the cosmic vault to the other levels. It is also said to represent Cusco, the center of the Incan empire, and the Southern Cross constellation.” — Wikipedia