Posts Tagged ‘fire ceremony’

Conference, Cutimbo, and the Miracle of the Pantyhose

September 1, 2010

Earth, air, fire, and water. These are the “elements” around which the ceremonies leading up to the Solar Disc activation will be based. This is ancient practice. Shamans from around the world understand ceremony based on earth, air, fire, and water. These elements give us life and we cannot live without them. Our lungs fill with air when we enter this life, and when we die, it is said that air leaves first, then fire, then water, and finally, earth.

We are to do air ceremony the day following the fire ceremony. But first, we have conference in the morning. As the elders and shamans arrive, I am struck by the miracle of our all being here, in this place, at this time. So many have been called to join together for these events and while I had a sense of it the previous night, it is not until we gather for the morning conference that I feel the full impact of it. I am humbled to be a participant and, as I look around me, I feel the collective power of those gathered. I have no doubt that we will activate the Solar Disc. I have no doubt, in fact, that we could, collectively, shift the tectonic plates if we chose to. But shifting collective consciousness is more what we are about.

Jorge Luis opens the conference and then turns it over to others to share seeds of wisdom, as he puts it. The Amazon shaman, don Jesus (who blessed me the previous night), seems thrilled that we have all come to take part in this important event. He says that he thought the Amazon River was big—and then he came to Lake Titicaca. We laugh, appreciating his innocence. He carries that mingling of wisdom and innocence I’ve seen in those who have seriously gotten over themselves—like His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Arikara/Hidatsa elder, Marilyn Youngbird.  Don Jesus’ wife, Juliana (also known as The Bird of the Amazon), sings for us. HeatherAsh Amara, a longtime student of don Miguel Ruiz, speaks of the elements and learning to lean into them as we give up our identification with self and our resistance to acknowledging that we are, indeed, magnificent beings. Nestor Caceres Escalante talks about sacred geometry. Don Isidro urges us to take that which is within us and express it in the world. Meg Blackburn paints mental pictures of light organizing into geometric shapes that remember all they have experienced. Local shamans—don Raul and don Jose Ramos—tell us how pleased and honored they are that we are there.

The Conference

And so it goes. All morning. As HeatherAsh would have us lean into the elements, I lean into the teachings, as a tree leans towards the sun. It is the extraordinary ordinary people of the world who impress me—not rock stars or athletes or heads of state—and these are extraordinary ordinary people. It is clear to me that each of them is contributing to the evolution of consciousness in their own way and I’m glad to be sharing this experience with them.

We travel to Cutimbo for the afternoon air ceremony. Not far from Puno, in the altiplano—the high plateau—Cutimbo rests on a large, flat plain more than two miles above sea level. Dominating the site are both a square and a round chullpa. 

Cutimbo Chullpas

We are asked to remove our shoes and socks, then form a large circle. Most of those present do so, though a small group seems to separate from the larger group and conduct their own small ceremony nearby. The circle is huge. There are more than a hundred present for the ceremony. Peruvian shamans gather in the middle to orchestrate the ceremony. Those of us comprising the circle are asked to move as the wind moves. One of the shamans talks and gives offering as we dance our wind dance over moss and rocks, delicate flowers and weedy growth. Overhead, the wind conspires with the cloud people. It looks, for a time, as if it might rain, but it does not. The air is crisp and we are all washed clean by the wind.

I had dressed for the day in hiking pants and shirt, hiking boots and thick socks. But beneath it all, I am wearing pantyhose, as I do most days. Having removed my shoes and socks—but unable to remove the hose—I have been dancing over the rough terrain in stocking feet. This is a sacrificial pair of hose and I am happy for them to be so. They will be shredded by the time we are done. I am, admittedly, a throwback to another time, a laughable anachronism of a woman. And I expect my due for being one. I would have been better served barefoot, but I am not. And I couldn’t care less about the hose.

But when we have completed the ceremony and I sit down to put my socks and boots on, my mouth drops open as I see my feet. Not only are my hose not shredded, there are no runs, no snags—nothing. The hose are in perfect shape. It is completely ridiculous. It is impossible. It is wildly amusing. I am on the receiving end of a minor miracle. I have been shown that when one throws herself completely and joyously into work on behalf of something larger than herself, the ordinary rules of life, physics, and pantyhose are suspended. That Spirit would use something as mundane as pantyhose for this lesson amuses me to no end. At the same time, I am a little in awe. And I keep what has happened to myself, at least for the time being.

Feeling the Energy

After the ceremony, we spend time at the chullpas, praying, some of us crawling on hands and knees through an opening to sit in the womb of pachamama within one of them, feeling their energy. I do all of this. But I do it as the silent witness to the miracle of the pantyhose.

Cutimbo, Post-Ceremony

Copyright 2010 by Melanie Mulhall

We Begin

August 1, 2010

As Frank Herbert pointed out, beginnings are important. They are delicate time, times that must be approached with respect. I had been in Peru for a few days, long enough to allow what I believed would be an important experience to begin delicately. People were arriving on a daily basis, from around the world and around Peru. Jorge arrived at the hotel one morning with a small, wizened lady, an Inca elder. If character could be likened to ocean depth, this woman’s face reflected a depth of several thousand feet. Wisdom, humor, joy, and sorrow were all wrapped up in her eyes and her face was like a helicopter view of the Texas arroyos. In short, she was gorgeous. 

Not everyone was handling the altitude well. Some people reported headaches, deep fatigue, queasiness, shortness of breath, and an overall feeling of having been pummeled by an Inca warrior. A person or two needed oxygen fixes and I entered the hotel lobby one day to find a woman lying on a couch with an oxygen mask over her face and the tank next to her. I was incredulous at the sight of a few people puffing cigarettes in the courtyard and I was unable to fathom how one could manage the demands of the altitude with lungs caked in soot. Still, most people were cheerful, expectant, and hearty. 

As for expectations, I’d come with few. I knew I was meant to be there. My only expectation was to participate in and lend my personal energy to the solar disc activation in whatever way that would be of service to Jorge Luis, the Grand Mother of all lakes, Titicaca, and to humanity at large in whatever form it took right there in the moment. Having few expectations can be a beautiful thing. I’d already been thoroughly delighted by the beauty of the hotel and grounds, the sacred quality of the like, and the enchanting nature of things in general. I was about to be delighted further, but not just delighted—awe struck. 

The ceremonies began on Thursday, February 11, 2010. We gathered in a large hall. I had arrived with my friends and colleagues early enough to have a nice seat, close enough to feel a part of things but not so close that I risked falling into some shaman’s lap. 

And there were plenty of shamans’ laps one could fall into. Jorge Luis introduced the shaman who would kick things off with a sound invocation. He was from the Machu Picchu area, which had just suffered the worst flooding in many years, and had walked ten days to connect with others so he could make his way to Lake Titicaca and participate in the ceremonies. What a blessing that he was there! 

Using chant, drum, flute, music, and words he thrust from his mouth like arrows of intent, he invoked the divine with sound that vibrated walls, windows . . . and our hearts. Two colleagues in my group wore hearing aids and reported having very interesting (one would guess almost psychedelic) experiences. We were asked to close our eyes at some point and the sound was an earthy, heavenly chorus—no mamby pamby sweet angelic sounds, but the kind of powerful summoning that said, through music and deep, throaty voicings, the equivalent of, “Pachamama, Virachoca, Mother/Father God, we have heard you calling to us, the Children of the Sun, and we are here to answer that call.” It was transcendent, moving us from whatever dimension we thought we were in to having at least one foot in some parallel dimension that was primal and in which our hearts were cracked open. I was a different person when I opened my eyes and as I looked around, I could tell that others were too. 

It was good preparation for what was to come. We were all given three coca leaves, with which we were to make k’intus, little fan shaped arrangements of the leaves to use in ceremony. When the invocation was over, we filed outside to begin the fire ceremony. Young Peruvian women, dressed as Inca maidens or priestesses formed lines to the right and left of the path, and we stepped along as if passing through an energetic portal that blurred any sense of time. We might as easily have been those who came to Lake Titicaca five hundred years earlier, bearing the solar disc. My sense of it was that at least some of us actually were those people, returning now, as planned. 

 

Women Lining Path at Fire Ceremony

A local shaman instructed us to breathe into our k’intus the intent to release whatever we felt we needed to release to the fire. We did so and tossed our k’intus into the fire. There were many of us and it was done prayerfully. It probably took a long time, but it’s hard to say. We were in a state outside of time. 

Then much hugging and singing and dancing. Shamans passed through the crowd offering personal blessings. I turned to find a shaman with a powerful, sweet force field right in front of me. He blessed me and I found myself dizzy for a moment. I heard someone refer to him as don Jesus and soon discovered that he was a shaman of the Amazon. He blessed my friend Lisa, too, and I joked that we had just been blessed by Jesus.

Amazon Shamans (don Jesus in the Middle)

One by one, those of us who desired it smudged ourselves in the smoke from the burning wood. I felt as if the best part of me had surfaced and that part of me was being hermetically sealed, right there on the top of the skin, not hidden deeply within where one would have to dig to find it.  

Back inside, we feasted. I had surrendered to sound and fire, had been purified by both, and was drifting between dimensions. I felt ready for whatever would come next. 

Copyright 2010 by Melanie Mulhall