At Source Peru we have several shamans who we call upon to perform despachos, or ceremonial offerings, numerous times throughout the year onsite. The focus and contents of the despachos vary depending on the intention, but there can be some exceptionally elaborate offerings that involve copious amounts of cookies, candy, biscuits and beer/wine/liquor.
If we happen to have a despacho underway during one of our retreats, we will often invite guests to be present during the ceremony. Also, we often have group leaders request the shamans come to perform a despacho ceremony to open or close a private retreat. We are more than happy to coordinate a despacho for any of our groups.
Read on for a little more insight into the tradition of despachos in Peru.
Q’ero Elder Don Manuel Q’espi, in a presentation at Canyon de Chelley in May 1997 (translated by Jose Luis Herrera), spoke of despachos this way:
“The despacho is a gift–a giving back of what we receive everyday in our lives. We seek, through the despacho ceremony, to bridge the ordinary and non-ordinary realms; to establish new patterns of relationship and possibility. The despacho places us in right relationship, right ayni, with the Pachamama. It establishes a linkage between our three centers of interaction in the kaypacha (the physical universe), our llankay (our personal power and source of action, located in our solar plexus), our munay (the source of our love, located in our heart chakra), and our yachay (wisdom, sourced from our foreheads or “third eye“).
“The contents of the despacho are in part determined by its purpose. The various elements that comprise the despacho energetically interact to permit access to portals or bridges from the ordinary and non-ordinary worlds. When working in ceremony with the despacho, one is accessing the non-ordinary energetic dimensions, the source of things. Though the contents may have symbolic significance, the despacho, when performed with the correct intent, transcends literal and symbolic domains and directly accesses the archetypal and energetic realms.
“In order to build a good co-existence with nature, the only real choice we have is to enter with our heart, wisdom, and our action. We call upon the spirits of the waters, of the mountains, and of the Pachamama to come and help us prepare the offering. We have the intent of seeking to establish and maintain a continuous dialogue with the Mother and to bring balance and harmony to our lives, and to all our relations. It is through the dynamics of love, of right thinking, and of right action that our lives become bountiful.
He described several types of despachos in this way:
“The Pachamama despacho is an offering of thanks to Mother Earth and an invocation for her blessings.
“The Apu despacho is an offering to the mountain, which is the provider of the waters. When the mountain glaciers melt they provide the water that feeds the high mountain streams and lagoons. The mountain is the bringer of the weather as well.
“The Chaska despacho is an offering to our star, the sun. This despacho is not prepared as often as the offerings to the Pachamama and to the apu. Most of our business has to do with living in this world. Only when very big events (such as a earthquake) are occurring, or whenever an offering is made for the benefit of a great number of people, are Chaska despachos prepared. In this case, the stars as well as Mother Earth and the apu must offer their contribution. For example, in the case of earthquakes or large-scale environmental events that affect larger numbers of peoples, one wishes to bring together the power and the blessings of the earth, the mountain, and the star to bring them into right relationship. This is to help assure that the people go on the right path.
“The Ayni despacho: Ayni is the operating principle on Incan shamanism and refers to “reciprocity” and divine exchange. The intent of the Ayni despacho is to bring balance in our lives and relationship between our secular and sacred worlds.
“The Cuti despacho: Cuti literally means, “turning back” or “shielding off”. It is an offering for protection. This despacho is typically created with the left hand only, and all motions of placing items in the despacho are performed in a counter-clockwise (or “unwinding”) fashion. The right arm is in “dreamtime” while the left arm performs the action.”
With thanks to Meg Beeler, www.megbeeler.com.