Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Color of Ash

Alejandro is one of my Q'ero teachers. He's fifty six, and radiates the peace, humility and warmth I have seen in other Qero elders. His sister, another one of my teachers, is Maria Apasa Machaca, said to be the only Altomisayoq (high level Andean healer)left in the Qero nation, and definitely the only female Altomisayoq in a long time. To become an Altomisoyoq, you usually have to be hit by lighting three times. Maria seems to have survived it well. She's in her eighties, strong and vigorous. Alejandro tells me his mother had him when she was sixty, and lived to be over a hundred. That's how good the air is in the high Andes.

Alejandro also tells me that in the Qero Nation you have to be at least thirty before you can begin studying to be a pampa misayoq (Qero healer) and not everyone can do it.

We speak in a combination of his limited Spanish and my very limited Quechua. "You have to have luck (suerte) to become a pampa misayoq. Another pampa misayoq will read the coca leaves for you and let you know if you can take that path."

Today I performed a despacho with him, really the first that I undertook on my own, with his supervision. As usual I was impressed with the beauty and elegance of the process, a kind of artful unfolding of petals, coca leaves, seeds, candies and other items, as well as a powerful energetic connection with the forces of nature.

Actually putting the elements into the despachos with my own hands gave me a greater feel for each distinctive energy I was working with the apu masculine energy being quite different from the female pacha mama.

Alejandro and I don't seem to need to say much to acknowledge the energy of this work. "Allinta," he'll say. "It's good."

After making the despachos, we burned them both in the patio, in a small coal burning pot that I use to heat the house. We sat for a long time with the fire, praying, then he left me alone to pray on my own. After the fire burned down the pot had a fine white ash in it.

"VERY good," Alejandro said. "I didn´t expect it to be this good. I expected some black."

I was pleased. If you pay attention, you learn after awhile that what has long been called "superstition" is actually reading the language of nature: in the flight of a hawk or condor, in the visit of a spider, in the color of ash.

More than anything else I feel a deep sense of happiness after ceremony with the Qeros. Having escaped to the high Andes during the Spanish conquest they are carriers of an energy that is amazingly powerful and uncontaminated, a wisdom and innocence combined. It's not a head wisdom, but a heart wisdom. Somewhere I read that the Qero teachings contain an opening of different energy "eyes" that we have in our energetic field. Though none of my teachers have mentioned this, it is something that you simply begin to feel after awhile. Unlike Western teachings there seems to be little need to discuss analyze or evaluate the teachings one receives or experiences energetically.

I'm okay with that.

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