A spiritual journey to Peru is not complete without interaction with the Q’ero and participating with a despacho or munay ki rites.
The Q’ero are an ethnic group of Peru that live in remote villages high in the Andes mountains and, until recent times, did not visit populated areas. All of that is changing with advent of new roads and modern technology. The traditional culture is undergoing a seismic shift; children leave the family home to escape hardship and experience life in the big city.
As a result, traditions have the potential to die away unless preserved. A deeply spiritual people, they are sharing their beliefs with anyone who is interested to learn in the hopes that the knowledge will be retained. One method of sharing that knowledge is through despacho and (sometimes) munay ki ceremonies.
The Munay Ki rites were developed by anthropologist Alberto Villaldo and, as Wikipedia explains are a series of nine empowerment rites based on the initiatory practices of the Q’ero shamans.” In Peru I received two of these rites (descriptions from the Munay-Ki website.)
- Rite Three: Harmony Rite: A transmission of the 7 Archetypes into the Chakras. First you receive the archetypes of serpent, jaguar, hummingbird, and eagle; next you receive three archangels: the Keeper of the Lower World (our unconscious,) the Keeper of the Middle World (our waking world,) and the Protector of the Upper World (our super-conscious.)
- Rite Eight: Starkeeper’s Rite: This rite helps your physical body evolve into Homo Luminous: the aging process is slowed down, your DNA is re-informed, and you become more resistant to disease. You accept the seat around a holy fire at the center of the Sun, a place that has been held for you since the beginning of time.
To receive the rites, you stand and the shaman moves their collection of sacred objects bound in a cloth (called a medicine bundle) around your energy field and says prayers. The rite is individually transmitted, so repeated for each person in your group.
Frankly, it doesn’t look like much happens. But energetically, invisibly, you are altered. The Harmony rite received at Tipon shuddered through my body. A fellow traveler was brought to tears.
The Starkeeper Rite was received at Pumamarka, and was a far subtler transmission. Not only did I experience deja vu at Pumamarka, the transmission of the Starkeeper rite helped me feel even more at home in the Sacred Valley.
These rites were performed by shaman Don Basilio. Click below to watch a video of Don Basilio calling in spirit at Pisac.
Another aspect of Q’ero spiritual life is the despacho ceremony. What is a despacho? This four minute video from the Center for Shamanic Education and Exchange is an excellent introduction.
The Q’ero tradition is also inclusive of women, and (given that this was a female led retreat focused on awakening the divine feminine,) we were privileged to work with Wilma Penado. She performed that ceremony during the journey to the sacred waterfall.
Another day, we journeyed to a lakeside temple site and Wilma performed a despacho specifically for women.
Clouds gathered as Wilma told the story of how the lake was formed. We got into our rain gear and proceeded with the despacho.
This despacho was not started on white paper. Instead, it was laid out on a large circular bread loaf. After the ceremony, it was placed in a spot sacred to women.