Rain, rain, and more rain. Rain in sheets. Rain driving itself along the hillside. Rain flexing its muscles. Rain duking it out with the sun. And it was Solar Disc Activation day.
But it was also February in Peru. It was the rainy season and every travel guide I’d read said that rain could be expected part of almost every day this time of year. We had been fortunate thus far. It had rained during the night a couple of times but we hadn’t really had activities interupted by rain. And now, during the culmination of all our activities and all our ceremonies–the very reason for being in Peru–was this day, February 14, 2010. And it was pouring rain.
Sandy, Tim, and I put on our rain gear and made our way to our guest family’s kitchen hut. We weren’t in any hurry. We couldn’t imagine hiking up the hill to the Pachamama (Cosmic and Earth Mother) and Pachatata (Cosmic and Earth Father) temples with rain this fierce. But it was an important day and I did’t think I was the only one feeling a little unsure. There was nervous anticipation flowing through my veins.
I had made it to the kitchen early enough to watch the women cook. And they were a marvel of cooking expertise. Using nothing but a simple earthenware stove fueled by wood, simple pots and pans, and basic food items, they made wonderful meals. Sometimes less is more and they were chefs masquerading as family cooks who were demonstrating that truth on a daily basis–and demonstrating it with both grace and pride for the visitors from the USA.
We ate and waited for the rain to slacken a bit. We eventually set out to the town square, even though it was still raining llamas and vicunas. We were getting a later start than we’d planned, but we were committed and Juan Carlos led the way. At the gathering place, we found Jorge Luis and a few others. Most, it seemed, were waiting for the rain to ease up. We were on Peru time and Jorge Luis held great stock in flexibility. It would all work out in his model of the world–and, therefore, in mine.
Jorge Luis gave those of us already there permission to go on ahead to the temples. We knew that this was a hike that could take some time (because of grade and altitude) and decided to start out. Sandy, Tim, and I were delighted that Juan Carlos was assigned to lead the way for us up the hill. And Juan Carlos took this responsibility seriously. We hadn’t gotten far when the rain slowed, then stopped. The sun came out and I put my rain jacket hood down and kept on going.
We were among the first to arrive at the Pachamama temple. Half of the group would be meeting here; the other half at the Pachatata temple. Both temples were under the care of local chacarunas who would have to come to unlock them and lead the ceremonies. These temples represented sun and moom, male and female–both as separate entities and in marriage to one another.
There was a visual, as well as auditory, hush to the place when we arrived, giving a magical quality to the place. It seemed poised, waiting. It felt grounded and it felt like sacred ground. The view of the lake from the hill on which the temple stood helped place me in the cosmos and on the mother of all lakes, Titicaca. The temple itself was made of stone, standing nine feet tall or so. It had a simple wooden door that was peaked at the top. Above this, connected to the walls on either side, was an arch made of stone with “rays” or “teeth” that served as a kind of crown.
People began to arrive in twos and threes, then in larger numbers. We spread out, getting a feel for the place. Most took photos. Many walked the grounds, got good camera shots, then found seats on boulders and looked out across the lake. Small pockets of people chatted, excitement coming from some groups and a hushed hum coming from others. Some just sat and meditated. I did some combination of these things. One moment I felt anticipatory energy stirring within; the next moment, a reverent calm swept over me.
Jorge Luis arrived. We had all been asked to wear something white. He had two sets of clothes, one he’d hiked in, the other for ceremony. Whether he pulled off the first to reveal the second or put on the second to cover the first, I’m not sure. But he managed to become covered in white garb. I’d planned to be dressed in similar matter, but the rain nixed my plan to wear white cotton pants. Instead, I wore black nylon pants, which I knew would dry out quickly once it stopped raining, and a white cotton top, which my rain jacket would keep from getting soaked.
I would have preferred to be all in white. Yet, there was meaning for me in the black and white attire. I had spent the first thirty-five or more years of my life understanding, then managing, then integrating the polar extremes in myself. A family history project in graduate school had revealed to me that I had internalized the kinds of polar extremes that existed externally in both my maternal and paternal lineages. Black and white garb was a good reminder to temper the polar extremes. It was also a reminder of my skill, both idiosyncratic and forged by shamanic training, at integrating the internal masculine and feminine.
As I wandered the grounds, I came upon a key sitting on a boulder near the temple. It looked more like a hotel room key than the key to the padlock securing the temple door, but I was curious. I found Jorge Luis (doing his quick change) and presented the key, telling him I’d found it. I wondered aloud if it could be the key to the temple. Surely not. Still . . .
Jorge Luis looked at the key and said, more teasing than serious, “Maybe you are the keeper of the temple.”
I tried the key in the padlock and, as suspected, it did not fit. I looked at the key and considered putting it back on the rock. What if it actually was the key to a hotel room and someone returned, looking for it? Not very plausible and, besides, the key had a tiny bit of rust on it. I pocketed the key, deciding it was a gift to me from Pachamama.
Still, it felt like a sign and seemed to be saying, “This is the key you always knew awaited you. This is the key to everything that is important to you. In this place, at this time, first activate the Solar Disc within you, your inner Sun. Let that internal activation spread out from you, as rays from the sun, and let those rays touch everything in your world. Lifetimes ago, you came with others to safeguard the Solar Disc. Now you have returned and it is time to join with others to reactivate it. Open your heart. The key to everything is activating the light within.”
copyright 2010 by Melanie Mulhall