|Author: Rinda Payne|
On the last evening that the group was together, the Q’ero made a despacho2 to the apus3. Each member of the group held three perfect coca leaves in a fan between the thumb and forefinger of the right hand. They solemnly blew their intentions into the leaves and handed them to a Q’ero who had started the despacho by spreading a white rectangular paper on top of a sacred weaving. He placed the coca leaves in a circle around the periphery of the white paper. Slowly and carefully, he took each item to be included in the despacho, blessed it and reverently placed it within the circle if coca leaves.
A group from the United States had arrived at a small hotel in the Sacred Valley to spend a week learning about the spiritual traditions of the Incas as held by the Q’ero1. Angela, an American, had joined the group from her home in Cusco.
After the despacho was completed, it was burned. The flames and smoke ascended straight up into the sky, signaling a successful offering.
When only the glowing embers of the despacho remained, it was time for everyone to embrace and wish each other a safe journey home.Everyone had hugged Angela except for one of the teachers. She looked for him. He was standing at a distance to her right. She was astonished to see a white mist exuding out of his body. Fascinated, she watched as he emitted more mist by twisting his body from side to side. When he had finished, the mist encircled him.
Angela was confident that he would approach her. She had watched him embrace everyone else. It would be her turn next.While she was waiting for him, she remembered that earlier in the day she had asked him to be her teacher. He had shaken his head no, adding, “You do not need a teacher. You are a healer. You will heal many people in your lifetime.” How his words had pleased her!
The teacher went to Angela. As he put his arms around her and pressed her to him, her mind and her body entered a deep stillness. She was unable to hear, feel or think. She came to as he began to withdraw his body from her. She heard him whisper in her ear “...por la vida”4. She knew that he had whispered more words that she had been unable to identify.He moved away from Angela and sat on a nearby bench. Angela noted that the mist around him had disappeared. She lingered where he had left her, marveling at how the boundaries of her physical body had vanished when his arms had surrounded her, wondering what “…por la vida” signified. She reluctantly cast aside her thoughts when she noticed the group was preparing to leave the area. She joined them as they strolled across the lawn of the hotel to their rooms in order to pack for their departure the next morning.
The following morning when Angela arrived in the lobby, she discovered that she had missed saying good-by to the teacher. He had departed five minutes earlier. In a flash, the memory came to her of a previous conversation with him. He had disclosed that he was able to hear messages sent to him by family members and friends who were separated from him by a distance.She acted quickly. She called his name. She waited, feet glued to the floor, not knowing what to expect.
Suddenly the teacher entered the lobby, his black eyes gleaming. They faced each other across the room. Angela heard his voice in her head saying, “Come to me.” She hesitated, not able to distinguish whether the words came from him or her imagination. Again, she heard the words, “Come to me”. This time they were louder and clearer. No longer was she unsure of how to react. She ran to him to be wrapped in his arms for a final hug.After Angela was home in Cusco, she began to work with the techniques that the group had learned. She used her mesa5. She arranged the special stones that she had collected on the kitchen table. In the Andean world, stones have consciousness. They can communicate, so she begged them to speak to her and to tell her their history.
Then one dark night she awoke. Her mesa was glowing on the bureau across from her bed. She was thrilled.Another night when she went to bed, she placed her stones on her stomach, hoping that they would illuminate her body. She awoke as a voice declared, “You no longer need the stones to glow.” She was puzzled, never suspecting that it was the teacher who had spoken to her.
The next night she rubbed her third eye6 with a stone. A picture of snow-covered apus with rainbows stretched across her forehead. She repeated the gesture, but nothing happened. She was perplexed.It wasn’t until Angela sensed a presence, a filmy outline of a man whose shape and voice resembled the teacher, that she realized that the teacher was visiting her almost daily. He walked beside her through the streets of Cusco and while she moved around her apartment. He also appeared as a misty figure just as she was going to sleep. He helped her with some of the practices and answered her questions via dreams and pictures. He initiated entertaining activities. When he spoke to her, it was always in English.
She decided that the teacher had presented her with a succession of mysterious experiences before he made an appearance, which would startle her. She later confirmed how considerate he was when she had an upset stomach. He sat on the edge of the bed, felt her forehead, and advised her to sleep. When she complained that sleep was impossible, he murmured, “Look into my eyes.” She stared into them for only a few seconds before she was sound asleep.Once when Angela was caught in a violent hailstorm trying to make climb a steep street in Cusco, he materialized beside her. He instructed her to concentrate on Pachamama7 and to petition Pachamama for assistance so that she could walk without falling.
Angela saw him beside her as she rode in a bus. He urged her to center her attention on the woman in the seat in front of her and to share with him what was bothering the woman. The woman seemed calm and poised, but Angela detected that the woman was suffering from severe nervousness that she hid from everyone around her. The teacher complimented Angela. He added that the woman was en route to a clinic. She had a growth in her stomach.Angela questioned the teacher about energy and the exercises she had learned. Questions such as: “How can I elevate my energy when I am depressed?” The answer came in the middle of the night. “MARCH”, each scarlet capital letter imprinting itself one-by-one across a black space just behind her forehead. In the morning, she jumped out of bed and began to march. She was excited to witness a surge of energy soaring through her body. It was such a useful and simple technique that she recommended it to her friends in the States.
Sometimes his answers came in pictures. “Let’s resume the conversation we had at the workshop about fear,” she suggested before bedtime. A picture flashed across her forehead of a woman, 40 years old, dancing in a ballet company, followed by a row of wagging tongues.She immediately recognized what the pictures stood for. The ballet dancer had no fear. ”Fear prevents us from fulfilling our desires,” he had warned her at the workshop. The wagging tongues symbolized what many people are afraid of – what people say about them.
The teacher began to send her vivid dreams. Before a dream would arrive, the top of her skull would open and a light would go in her head. The dreams were so real that her eyes would be open, and the scenes would be projected on the dark canvas of the night.The most beautiful dreams came in response to a question that Angela had asked the teacher about the importance of love. First, he sent her a dream of red hearts floating down through the sky.
On the second night, two stars, one above the other, melted together releasing cascades of golden light through the sky.And on the third night, the last dream about love arrived. A sandpiper flew onto a lawn enclosed by weeping willow trees. A sign around its neck read “Love is all.” The leaves of the willows were red hearts. Angela knew that “Love is all” was the distillation of the teacher’s philosophy. It represented everything he believed in.
Occasionally, the teacher amused her with novel activities. She awoke one night to find that only his hand was visible. He drew a horse; Angela traced the outlines of a rider on the horse; he, in turn, depicted a noose around the horse’s neck. Then he lifted the horse by the noose up into the sky and out of sight. She laughed all the next day as she recollected the episode.During a different night the teacher presented her with a graph and handed her a clicker. He explained, “When you click on the graph, the energy increases.” The graph rose higher when she clicked, and a buzzing would begin in her head. The more she clicked, the more rapid and higher in frequency was the buzzing. He repeated this exercise on subsequent nights until she was able to tolerate the buzzing.
Angela and the teacher had become close friends. She was so accustomed to his appearances and the creative ways in which he interacted with her that she was sad when a day or night elapsed without his company.These are only a few of the extraordinary details that Angela confided to me, her closest friend, during our weekly lunches in Cusco. “How, Angela, could he have done this?” I had inquired in amazement.
Angela had replied, “When the teacher held me in his arms, I believe that he infused me with the white mist that encased his body. It was his essence.“Perhaps he focused his will like a laser in order to direct his energy into putting a copy of himself, the white mist enclosing his body, into me.
“He is a very powerful paqo8. During the workshop, I consulted him about my previous mystical experiences. A translator, who spoke both Spanish and Quechua9, was present. The teacher was able to block the translator from understanding the entire exchange between us, and I was able to comprehend everything the teacher said, even though he spoke rapid and complicated Spanish.
“At the end of the consultation, the translator commented to me, ‘I didn’t understand a word of what he was saying. Did you?’“The translator was stunned when I replied, ‘Yes, everything.’
“I also will add that before I left the group for Cusco, one of the Q’ero who spoke only Quechua passed by me. At the exact moment when he was next to me, I heard the following in my head: ‘You have been befriended by a great teacher.’ The words were spoken in a deep bass voice, in perfect English, without a trace of an accent.“I’ve read stories about spiritually advanced Indian gurus and Tibetan lamas who appear to their students in other parts of the world in real time and in dream time. I even discovered an article about a Peruvian paqo whose uncle taught him the Andean rituals in dream time. It’s a mystery how they accomplish these things, but it’s the mystery that appeals to me. Isn’t all of life a mystery?”
Now that Angela has returned to the United States, I feel free to reveal their unconventional relationship. She had requested that I keep it confidential until she left Peru.She recently e-mailed me that she and the teacher still are connected, six years after they first met. “I wouldn’t be surprised,” she wrote, “that when he whispered ‘…por la vida’, he meant that he would be with me for life.”
1Q’ero: the Q’ero Nation lives in a cluster of small communities at high altitudes in the Peruvian Andes. It is claimed that they are descendents of the Incas.
2Despacho: an offering made to Mother Earth (Pachamama) or to the apus using a variety of items such as grains, seeds, candies, flowers, gold stars, a llama fetus. The items are ritually arranged on white paper, and prayers are infused. The paper, along with its contents, is folded into a bundle. The bundle is burned if the despacho is for the apus; it is buried in the ground if it is for Pachamama. Materials for the despacho can be bought in the public markets in the Andes.
3Apu: spirit of a mountain.
4Por la vida: Spanish: for life.
5Mesa: power objects, such as stones from one’s teachers or from sacred places, wrapped in a special woven cloth. The mesa is used in ceremonies, healings and initiations.
6Third eye: situated between the two eyes. It is also called the mind’s eye. It is related to perception of the unseen world such as visions, clairvoyance and precognition.
7Pachamama: Mother Earth.
8Paqo: a Peruvian mystic, especially one who has been initiated into the Andean Path as taught by the Q’ero.
9Quechua: the language spoken by the Andean people.