The first time I believed in fate was when I was travelling around Peru. When I was younger I used to think it was clichéd nonsense. These days I keep an open mind about most things, especially spirituality and how we connect with the energy of the Universe.
The mysterious and powerful universal force has a profound effect on us far greater than many people understand or appreciate. It comes in many forms and can be backed both philosophically and scientifically.
This happened to me when I found myself at Paz y Luz in Pisac, Peru. The experience was a turning point in my life on a road to a deeper understanding of my inner-self, meditation and the power of natural laws.
I call my time in Pisac fate, because the small mountain village was not on my original to go list of places to go in Peru. How I got to be there was via a bizarre chain of encounters that at the time seemed nothing more than chance meetings.
The first link in the chain was during my first week on the road. Literally in fact! I was on a bus from Santa Cruz to Sampaiata and met Eve, an English women living in Bolivia. Eve told me I should go to Isla del Sol, an island in Lake Titicaca that local legends say was the mythical beginnings of Andean cultures. When I was planning my trip back in London, I had contemplated the Isla del Sol but did not feel compelled to go. Eve convinced me otherwise.
On the boat from Copacabana to Isla del Sol I met Julian, a practicing Shaman from England. He told me about his journey learning the ways of Andean Shamanism and that if I was interested in taking ayahuasca or San Pedro I could find him at Paz y Luz in Pisac. I didn´t think any more of it until about three days later. That´s when fate dealt me another hand.
I was reading a book called Cusco: The gateway to Inner Wisdom by Diane Dunn that I had found in ´100 books of solitude´, a library swap shop in Oliver Travels pub in La Paz. The pub is no longer there.
In the book, Diane talks about her experience with ayahuasca and how it had helped her find her calling to become a spiritual healer. I was reading the epilogue in a restaurant in Puno and learned she had set up a spiritual healing centre in Pisac. She had called the B&B Paz y Luz, the same place Julian had told me about on the boat.
As I was finishing the book the lights went out in the restaurant and the page was illuminated by candlelight. In fact, there was a power shortage right throughout the city. Outside, in the pitch darkness a torrential downpour bounced violently on the pavement. Was this a sign? I wasn´t sure, but took the decision to email Diane. She replied and invited me to attend a workshop she was holding at Paz y Luz at the end of the month. I had no hesitation in accepting her offer.
Paz y Luz is located on the fringes of Pisac village, a bumpy but exhilarating moto-taxi ride along the side of the raging Urubamba River. It´s peaceful, quiet and, as it turned out inspirational. That night I met an Australian girl, Debbie. She was also a guest and was scheduled for the Four Elements workshop the next day. As we sipped red wine, she introduced me to Theta Meditation. The process involves describing a journey through space and instantly helps you develop a mental picture.
“Sit with you feet flat to the floor and close your eyes,” Debbie told me. “Breathe deeply and relax. Imagine you are connected to the planet and feel the energy of Pachamama rising from the earth into your feet, through your legs, up into your body and straight to your heart. Feel the love and the warmth of Pachamama as she comforts you.”
As she spoke, I felt a light tingling sensation seeping through my legs. It was like the vibrations I had got from the rock at Amaru Muru.
“Now imagine you are in a bubble that rockets into space, schoom, and as you fly into the darkness stars appear. You fly past them and see a planet ahead. You go zooming past. Then another planet flies past and another. Ahead of you is a rainbow. Aim for the pink strand and fly through it.”
I could see the rainbow more vividly than a spectrum arc in the sky, and headed for the pink.
“When you get to the other side, you come to a long corridor with a door at the far end. Walk along the corridor. When you get to the door open it…and you will meet with your creator.”
I opened the door and saw a vivid image of a cross with equilateral sides. Each spoke looked like the head of a sword with the blades melted into each other in the middle. I tried to think where I have seen this image before, but couldn’t pinpoint the exact image. I would later discover it was the Rosicrucian Cross – a symbol sometimes found in Christian churches.
I was somewhat disappointed that I did not meet an actual person, man, woman or hermaphrodite – as I had heard other people talk about. Debbie told me she can only see a shadow, but is at a point where she is able to communicate with her creator. But what did all this mean?
Debbie is not a typical spiritual person who sometimes appear a little odd and aloof when they are talking about fairies and pixies. She is a normal young lady like the average person you come into contact every day. In fact, she told me that until her experience at Paz y Luz she has always been skeptical about the new age movement. She was still coming to terms with how much the techniques she had learned at Paz y Luz had empowered her mind so profoundly. And now she isn´t an average person, she has a special ability – one she had developed in just 6 days!
Andean Healing and the Jaguar Path
The next morning I joined a group of Americans who were taking the workshop. They were known as the Jaguar Path and practice the fundamentals of Andean Shamanism and Eastern yoga. They were a wonderful group of people; open, friendly and very welcoming. I found it remarkable that they had come together as a group yet lived in different parts of the United States – a small Shamanic group assembled together in a huge continent.
Many of the Jaguar Path were meeting for the first time on this trip to Peru, but despite that, it was clear they had a kindred spirit. After all they were all in search of the same thing – to find peace with themselves.
After the usual introductions, Diane began the workshop with a dedication to the seven corners of the planet. The four winds of north, south, east and west. Facing the mountains that surrounded us in each direction I could already sense the presence of an immense energy coursing through the bare skin of my hands. Then we paid tribute to Pachamama (mother earth), Hanak Pacha (the heavens) and the innerself.
Diane explained the three worlds I had already heard so often whilst researching Andean traditions:
Uku Pacha – the underworld, our unconscious represented by the serpent, the symbol of wisdom.
Kay Pacha – the material world, our conscious represented by the Puma and the Llama.
Hanak Pacha – the super conscious, the dimension of spirits, represented by the Condor and the hummingbird.
She then went on to explain the three important principles that connected us with the three worlds:
Yatsui – work or service
Yankai – wisdom
Munchi – love
Then she introduced us to the teachings of the first of the four elements.
The Earth Element
The earth element is the most dense, the most forgiving of the elements. It represents Pachamama who, like any mother, listens to your troubles and takes the burden for you. Pachamama takes your troubles as a gift and receives it with gratitude. Think of it has giving your shit to the earth so that she can fertilise it and make something grow.
“The earth cleanses and transforms,” Diane told us. “Working with the elements is to clean out your trash. Speak to Pachamama and tell her your troubles. Sometimes when you clear out your wardrobe, spare room, or attic you find something you’d forgotten you had. This can also happen when airing your grievances to the earth.”
The sacred for the element of earth is “to want.” We were asked to find a place on our own, put our ears to the ground and release our “shit” into the ground. Then we were to listen to what Pachamama had to tell us.
It was raining outside so I stayed in the conservatory where the workshop was being held. In the middle of the floor was the sacred Andean symbol of the Chakana. Even before everybody had scattered I knew that was where I wanted to lie. I put down a blanket to cushion my chest on the hard floor and poured my heart out to Pachamama. In truth I didn’t have much to say, but asked for help in finding peace with the system that is dumbing society down and turning us into mindless cattle. This is what Angelo Herrera Delgado had told me I needed to do back at Etnika´s in Cusco.
When I put my ear to the ground to listen to what Pachamama had to tell me, I heard dogs barking frantically in the distance. There were about five of them going crazy. Then all of sudden things went silent and I heard birds singing. Was this a sign to demonstrate I could learn to manage my anger and frustration until I found peace? Given that Mama Yupanqui told me the birds only sing sad songs these days I’m not convinced a message was sent to me at all. Though if the birds do know the world is going to end, then maybe the people can create a better world other than the materialistic one that has been designed by the white supremacists of Europe and America. If only I knew what the birds were saying.
When we regrouped Diane told us about the next element, water.
Water is the most subtle element. Its purpose is to wash away the dirt and leave us with a balanced mind. “Because water is adaptable it can teach us also to ride with the waves of life. When water is confronted with something blocking its path, it always finds a way around it.” As Diane spoke she demonstrated how water changes its flow by tilting a bottle.
We live on a water planet and water is governed by the moon. As we know it determines the tides of the shore. Our bodies are made of more than 70% of water and it has been scientifically proven that a full moon can affect behaviour patterns. This was another example how we are directly connected to the cosmos.
“Sometimes we get filthy with the grime of life and the water washes it away,” Diane told us. “When you are working with water, feel it power, it´s energy. Put your hands or your feet in the river, listen to the sounds. Does the water have a message? Meditate and take a journey through the water.”
The scared word for water is to be silent and down by the river was as peaceful a setting as you could imagine. The sun was bearing down on my face as I meditated and I went on a journey through different bodies of water, the river a lake, an ocean until I found myself flying the cosmos. It was the most profound meditation exercise I had experienced. I didn´t want it to end. Eventually I came to a room plated with gold. When I opened my eyes everyone had disappeared.
I rejoined the group and learned about air.
“Every second of every day we are intimately connected to air,” Diane said. “Air purifies and enlightens. Breathing is the best purifier for the body and helps us to expand our consciousness” The sacred word is to know.
Air is the element of interconnection, just like a radio and the internet, TV, mobiles and satellites are only possible through airwaves. Diane told us we are on the cusp of a cosmic shift which will give us increased conscious awareness. This will also be possible through the airwaves.
For the exercise we had to climb a small hill onto a tiny plateau which offered stunning views of Pisac. On the way up I put my hand on the spike of a cactus and almost lost my footing down the rocky hill path. I´d already had a scare with heights on my adventure up Pinkuylluna in Ollantaytambo at this near miss did nothing for my ambivalence to heights.
At the top of the hill we found a comfortable place to lie and were asked to close our eyes. Diane talked us through the meditation in a similar way Debbie had during the Theta healing exercise the previous evening. Diane told us to imagine we were flying, soaring high over the mountains. The aim was to imagine we had taken the shape of a bird, an eagle or the condor, both of which are Andean archetypes.
After a few moments I felt as though I was flying, but the image of a goose appeared in my mind´s eye. I don´t want to be a goose, I thought and tried to change the image. I could myself as a chicken flapping frantically in the air and not getting anywhere. I´m not a chicken, I thought to myself. Then I took on a shape that appeared to me as a shadow. The mountains, rivers and forests were below and swept over and beyond them with ease. I couldn´t see what bird I was, but I felt immense. It was the best meditation experience I have ever had.
Safely back at Paz y Luz, we learned about Fire, the most powerful of the four elements. It transmutes and amplifies. Without fire, the sun would not heat the planet and there would be no life. The sun and the earth´s core is the space of life.
“Fire that burns wide can turn rage into peace and harmony, Diane told us. “The sacred word is to dare.”
With fire you can move beyond your comfort zone, release anger, fear and frustration so that the negative energy transforms into love. “Fear and anger are toxic and can cause illness,” Diane said. “Whatever grudge you hold in life, fire will burn it away.”
We lit candles punctured through paper plates and stared into the fire in open eye meditation. The fire flickered and shimmered, but I didn´t take much from it. Perhaps I was too fatigues to concentrate, or maybe it was because people were around me and I was not used to meditation, yet alone open-eye meditation.
Later that night we lit a fire and burned sticks. The sticks were a representation of our fears, angers and woes. As we stood round in a group it began to rain. In that moment, at the end of the day, all four elements were present.
You can learn more about the ancient Andean cultures and how we connect with spirit in Journeys To Ancient World’s: What Modern Man Can Learn From Ancient Civilisations