Discovering the Healing Power of Peru Through a Yoga Retreat
September 7, 2016
This article was originally published on Free People’s blog.
Developed over thousands of years, the Peruvians have established a superior knowledge of Mother Nature and her healing powers. As their culture grew and thrived, so did their understanding of their natural surroundings. Although many colonists have claimed the lands of Peru as their own, the local natives have always maintained a close connection to the land, passing knowledge down to their descendants through traditions and sacred practices.
Because of the rugged mountain terrain, the Andean region has historically been isolated from the rest of South America. And, even within the region, fragmented cultures existed. It is no wonder there was no real written language used in the area until the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century. However, from the advanced masonry techniques used in their architecture to the ancient healing ceremonies, it is astonishing to think about all that has been shared by oral traditions and teachings that are still used today.
For hundreds of years, the high shamans from the Q’ero lineage of Peru have performed Despacho Ceremonies as offerings to Pachamama (Mother Nature) in order to bring synchronicity, harmony and unity to mankind with the natural world. During our trip we had the opportunity to take part in this sacred tradition. Similar to a mandala, the Despacho holds symbolic elements and devotions.
The shaman starts with a piece of white paper that serves as a ‘wrapping’ for all of the offerings, each ingredient offering some sort of significance. Sugar brings sweetness and love, corn and other grains are used to nourish participants as well as the Earth itself, and coca leaves placed in the center serve as the heart of our intentions.
One by one, participants contribute their own offering to the Despacho. This symbolic gesture creates a communal effect, raising the vibration of the room with every contribution.
Once all the ingredients have been added, the shaman carefully folds the bundle into the shape of a square and ties it using a colorful and ornate string, looking a lot like a wrapped present or gift. After a Despacho is prepared, the shaman uses it to cleanse each participant’s body of negative energy. To close the ceremony, the Despacho is placed in a ceremonial fire, buried in the earth or released into running water.
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