(Q’ero Paqo Shaman Don Sebastian Pauccar Flores, video courtesy of http://www.takiruna.com)
In our western society, having a relationship with the Earth is a rare topic of discussion or thought. Perhaps, due to technology, we have distanced ourselves so that now we are being challenged to renew our relationship with the Earth. It is a challenge well worth pursuing as I have discovered in my learning about the indigenous Andean teachings of the Q’ero people.
For the indigenous Q’ero of the Andes, I have noticed that it all starts with Pachamama. In J.E. Williams’ book Light of the Andes: In Search of Shamanic Wisdom in Peru, he describes Pachamama as “the earth mother in space-time, the all creative cosmic mother”. Pachamama is very important to the Q’ero and they frequently make offerings to her. When they say, ‘Gracias Pachamama’, you can hear their heartfelt gratitude echoing through each syllable. I have tried to emulate this concept when I offer thanks to Pachamama, whether through a tobacco ceremony or when I am praying to the Mesa (the Andean Medicine Bundle). I have noticed that the more I feel in my heart the love for Pachamama (as one would feel for a loved one), the deeper my connection. This has most certainly led me to a deeper relationship with the Earth.
Stay tuned for the next blogpost about sacred sites or huacas, in Cusco, Peru.
Ever since I came back from my trip to Peru, I’ve been looking forward to the release of Light of the Andes by Dr. J.E. Williams. While visiting the Andes Mountains, I felt a deeply spiritual connection to the land of Peru. Reading Light of the Andes helped me understand and place my experiences in Peru within a broader context. It was a feeling of being in a land that I had never visited before, yet it felt like home.
While every person experiences things differently, there may have been similarities between what I experienced and what Dr. Williams experienced upon his first trips to Peru years ago. Perhaps it was this feeling of being home, that led him to the very special Q’ero people, and his his soul brother, Don Sebastian Pauccar Flores. Dr. Williams has chronicled his initial encounters with Don Sebastian in his 2005 book, The Andean Codex. Light of the Andes continues this journey with Don Sebastian to the great Andes mountain, Apu Ausangate.
While storytelling is a very effective form of communication, it is the principles interwoven within the stories that create a deeper understanding. This is the very difficult technique that Dr. Williams employs in his writing style in both The Andean Codex and Light of the Andes. While there are many principles within the Q’ero tradition, I was most interested in the concept of ayni (reciprocity). In the preface to Light of the Andes, Dr. Williams writes: “Ayni is the touchstone of the Q’ero worldview who hold it as the code of life, an innate imprint discoverable in nature and ever present in the universe where it forms the content of every thing—the matrix of all being.”
In The Andean Codex, Dr. Williams ventured into the land of the Q’ero to experience life from their perspective. Most importantly, the relationship between Dr. Williams and Don Sebastian forms a basis for their journey. In Light of the Andes, Don Sebastian takes his first trip to Lima, the capital of Peru, and experiences urban city life. When I returned from my first trip to Peru, I experienced some of the same culture shock. Once I felt the deep spiritual connection with the Andean world, it felt very disjunct and spiritually barren when I returned to the US. While I had missed the familiarity of modern 21st century Florida, I instantly felt a longing to have the spiritual energy of the Andes with me as well.
Most of all, I was impressed by Dr. Williams’ profound spiritual, physical, emotional and mental preparation. His initiation process at Apu Ausangate was the result of years of dedication. He had to integrate the Q’ero principles into his life before venturing up the mountain. It is because of his dedication over many years to this process that we as readers have been given a gift.