Southwestern College, Santa Fe: Internship in Peru…
In the beginning of my internship in Peru, I had the honor and blessing to be able to work with and learn from Andean Shaman (Paqo’s). Through this journey, these men became my teachers, mentors, friends and brothers. First, I sat with Adolfo Ttito Condori, one of five Paqos in the world who is at the level of Altomisayoq, high Andean spiritual master (celestial shaman). He spoke about entering into the lineage of Andean Spiritual Cosmology, an ancient practice of being in connection with one’s own faith, love, trust and belief; as well as in connection with Pachamama (Mother Earth) and the Apu’s (Sacred Mountain Spirits). He spoke Spanish for us, as the native language of Quechua was out of our reach, telling us to have mas confianza, mas amor, mas creer and mas faith as we enter into these initiatory ceremonies. Next to him sat Adriel, a Pampamisayoq (earth priest), who translated Adolfo’s words into English. However, I found myself becoming drawn deeply into Adolfo’s energy, intuiting his meanings, possibly not needing language anymore. I felt him deeply, his passion, his connection with everything, and I was moved to tears as we held eye contact, knowing gratitude, knowing love, knowing connection.
In Adolfo’s brother’s (Rodolfo) home, overlooking the city of Cusco, we learned and practiced Sam’ay, the Breath of Intention, Hay’pay, the Blessing for the Self and Other, K’intus, three leaves of Coca for Intention and Communication with Pachamama and the Apu’s, and about Ku’yas, sacred stones given to us by Pachamama and the Apu’s for our personal healing and the healing of others. Each step of the way I felt more in connection with myself and my surroundings, knowing more deeply the experience of faith, love, trust, belief and connection. As we continued practicing, Adriel explained a very important concept and practice, Ayni. He said that Ayni is the practice of reciprocity with everything and everyone. Adriel went on to say that there are two types of Ayni, material and spiritual, and that Ayni is not simply reciprocity as give and take, but that it is also creation. When two energies come together to create, this is true Ayni, and that man has the capability to be in balance with nature, with Pachamama, in this state of Ayni, but that it takes real, practical connection to do this. This tapped something deep within me that I know as my own truth. Connection is real, connection is practical, and it can be found by walking on the land, communing with the land and doing ceremony on Pachamama. This was an epiphanic moment for me, realizing that as great and powerful as sitting on the pillow, or my carpet at home, or even the classroom can be, that connection with Pachamama is so much more profound and striking when I am with Pachamama, with the dirt, the stones, the trees, the water, the animals, the plants, etc. Thus, the path to Ayni, to balance, to connection, to reciprocity, and to creation begins. . .through a surrender, through a death on many levels. . .to a rebirth.
Many days, teachings, practices and ceremonies later I found myself sitting at about 15,000 ft. near our Apu, Ausangante. I was practicing Hamut’ay, a type of meditation that I felt progresses past Vipassana (Mindfulness), in that your connection begins with yourself, journeys into interpersonal life, and finally with the ability to commune with nature, with Pachamama, with the mountain or lake or river that is right in front of you. Behind me, Adolfo, Adriel and Cloudio were preparing the space for a ceremony of connection with Waman Cocha, El Lago de Feminino. The intention of the ceremony is initiation into the Andean Spiritual Cosmology, and for more connection with the feminine, Pachamama and Apu Ausangate. As I sat there, preparing myself for entry into this freezing, yet sacred lake, I landed my meditation, my Hamut’ay, the only place I knew I would feel the immense safety I needed to be this vulnerable: Loving Kindness. Loving Kindness has been a major practice for me in the last 5 years. I close my eyes and picture the people I love, envisioning their smiles, hearing their laughter. During this particular afternoon, I had the most intense experience of Loving Kindness I have ever had, picturing hundreds of family, friends, and even people who I genuinely do not like, seeing their smiles and authentically feeling love through that. In finality, my preparation ended with seeing the crystal clear turquoise lake in my heart and mind, seeing it’s loving kindness, feeling it’s invitation and embrace. In Waman Cocha I found a visceral connection with myself, the feminine, the lake, Pachamama and the Apu’s, it left me wanting more. Mas connecion, mas amor, mas confianza, mas creer y mas faith. Chaski K’uay, Apu Ausangante. Embrace me, Apu Ausangante. I felt the need to breathe deeply into my three centers in order to thrive in this ceremony and thereafter, my Yanay (Forehead, Third Eye), my Munay (Heart), and Yank’ay (Stomach, Dan Tien). The force of life, the air, the prana, not only gives me life but connects me to all. This simple, yet elegant demonstration of Ayni is all I was left with during this intense initiation, and it was all I needed. The cold, clear, cutting, yet cultivating water surrounded me, submerged me, falling onto all my centers creating connection to my life force, to my being on all levels, the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual levels. I truly felt Waman Cocha. I truly felt the rise of the feminine and receptivity. I truly felt the embrace of Pachamama and the Apus. This left me wanting more. During this journey and the time leading up to it, my life became a life of ceremony. That is a path that will be diffcult to abandon, and I do not feel I want to at this point.
There is a lot more to tell, but I will end at the latest transitions. As I sit here in Arequipa, where my work has transitioned from a life of ceremony to full-time student of the Spanish and Quechua languages, I reminisce on how at the end of our journey, Adolfo blessed me with the honor of leading us all through a Lakota pipe ceremony, since I had brought my pipe. This pipe was gifted to me by two amazing people who I love, Niccole Toral and Todd DiCecco. :-) Since it was gifted, the pipe and the ceremony have been an amazing connection, tool and conduit for great healing experiences, and I was honored to facilitate ceremony that brings two traditions, two continents and two worlds together. Truly, my intention was Ayni between these worlds and the continued awakening of the North American Apu’s in the name of mas Ayni. Finally, noticing how everything was moving backwards from the way it does back home, the Paqos naturally held the female end of the pipe with their right hands instead of left and naturally want to pass the pipe to the right, instead of left, I saw one more example of how deep our connection with Pachamama is to our bodies. The magnetism is the opposite here, of course. After this, I head to Maras to work with the children, the families, the grandmothers, the community, etc. I know that my experiences up to this point have all been about initiation and invitation. This journey has been blessed and I am grateful. Thank you to all my friends and family who made this possible, and may Ayni keeping building and spreading to the point of no return. Thank you to Carol Parker, my teacher and friend on this journey, for introducing me so many life changing experiences.