Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Pachamama Despacho - Inca Blessing Ceremony

 How fortunate could I be, to be invited to participate in an ancient Inca ceremony of Pachamama, or Blessing the Earth.  Pukllasunchis Association is building a workshop in the Sacred Valley .... a worskhop where people will be trained in carpentary skills, as well as a place where natural creams from local plants will be produced for sale.

Before building the new facilities could begin, a special ceremony needed to be held, to Bless the Earth.  The ceremony, conducted by a female shaman, was full of ritual and symbolism.

The shaman, in red, oversaw the identification of perfect coca leaves for the ceremony.  Everyone participated in trying to find the perfect leaves.

The leaves could have no blemishes, could have no breaks, and could have no folds.  It was almost like looking for a four leaf clover..... not easy to find.  Coca leaves were to play an important role in the Pachamama Despacho, and therefore had to be perfet.

Before the actual ceremony could being, the shaman went to each individual and sprinkled some perfumed water on their hands ..... the participant was to pass their hands over their hair, in a ritualistic act of cleaning the head, and then rubbing the rest of the liquid on their legs.

The ceremony now began in earnest, with the shaman blessing the coca leaves.

The shaman then used bright string to attach the individual coca leaves to a stick that would later be placed in small clay pots.

As the shaman tied the coca leaves, other participants crafted llama out of animal fat.  These would be used in the ceremony, along with seeds, flowers, and candy.

Fresh honey was drizzled over the llama.

Slowly and methodically, the shaman put the various natural products for Mother Earth, in eachof the small and large clay containers.

Flowers, seeds of different kinds, the stick with the tied coca leaves, all were ceremoniously placed in a clay container.  The area was quiet as the Shaman conducted the Blessing of the Earth ritual.

Groups of three coca leaves were dipped in liquid, before being placed in the clay pots.

The shaman worked slowly, stopping frequently to ask a blessing, as she filled each of the containers which had been placed on the special red Despacho cloth.

The final act, before moving to the four cardinal points of the earth... east, west, north, south... was to pass a container filled with burning coals over the Despacho, allowing the smoke rise up in a blessing for the ceremony.

At the first of the four holes that had been dug into the earth on the site where the workshops were to be built, the shaman asked a blessing through the coca leaves, and then one with the llama.

A cup of corn spirts (a fermented brew) was poured into the hole as part of the blessing.

The small clay pot with the coca leaves was placed in the hole.

The offering to the Mother Earth.

Once everything had been placed in the hole, the contents were slowly and carefully covered with soil.  This process was repeated at each of the cardenal points.

At the last of the cardenal points, once the earth covered the gifts to Mother Earth, the Shaman read the Coca leaves to determine where the big pot should be burried.  The site above, was indicted by the Shaman, was where the main door of the house that was to be built on the property should be located.

A blessing is offered as the smoke from the pot carried the blessing to the heavens.

The large clay pot with all the flowers and seeds and coca leaves as placed in the hole.

Chocolate was offered to Mother Earth.

A brew made from corn was poured over the contents of the gifts being offered to Pachamama before all contents were covered with earth.

My prayer, my blessing and my wish, as I gently blew air through the three coca leaves in my hand.

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