Across the world shamanic traditions have flourished and persevered in times
that have been favorable to them and also those during which their existence
was deeply threatened. Yet, in spite of attempted eradication
and the wider prevalence of cultural amnesia, many practices of this global
lineage have survived - often greatly transformed through their adaptation
to the shifting sands of culture.
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Despite changes in appearance and the
frequent adoption of aspects of the "new" religions and belief-systems
that have accompanied the transformation from hunter/gatherer, pastoral,
and subsistence cultures to agricultural and urban life-styles, core shamanic
beliefs and practices continue to sustain people throughout the global ecosphere.
Within the Peruvian Andes and coast the synthesis of millenia-old shamanic
practice and modern religious belief is found in both the traditions of
the paqokuna and huachuma curanderismo. These traditions have, to varying
degrees, incorporated elements of folk Catholic belief, cosmology, ritual,
and liturgy. While this certainly ensured survival in a changing and persecutorial
environment it also points to the wisdom of recognizing the inner syncretic
nature of the shamanic universe as a principle of action.
The salient feature of both the highland paqokuna and coastal curandero
traditions is their focus on the ritual and ceremonial mastery of the
mesa. In each case the mesa is an altar-like collection of shamanically
invested artifacts arranged according to the teachings of the lineage
and the personal insight of the healer. Though somewhat different in form,
both traditions engage the culturally acknowledged powers of the natural
and ancestral worlds through the mediating instrument of the mesa. Through
propitiatory ritual and invocational ceremony, states of contact are reached
with these powers in which balance, health, prosperity, and fertility
are restored within the community. Underpining all practice is the recognized
law of ayni, as it is known in the highlands, in which it is understood
that there exists a delicate state of interdependance between all levels
of the physical and spiritual worlds. Perhaps best expressed as the "Law
of Right Returns," or, more colloquially, "today for me, tommorow
for you," the notion of ayni succinctly encapsulates the knowing
that within the intricate matrix of interdependance that is our universe,
an inbalance is created when a return "payment" is not offered
for the intervention of the spiritual realms. Since practically everything
within indigenous and shamanic culture is seen as a result of actions
and dynamics taking place within the spiritual realms, one of the primary
pursuits of a people becomes the maintainance of proper "payments"
to those "causal" realms. The person for whom this becomes
a specialty is the paqo, pampamisayoq, and altomisayoq,
or the curandero depending on their tradition.
The Pachakuti Mesa itself originated through Oscar′s many-year
apprenticeship with his personal mentors in Peru, maestro curanderos
don Celso Rojas Palomino and don Benito Corihuaman Vargas. Emerging
from his apprenticeship within the coastal huachumero and the
highland paqokuna traditions, the Pachakuti Mesa embodies distinct
elements from each of these specific traditions of medicine practice.
The wisdom of these two lineages, representing related yet disctinct ancestral
cultures, creates an organic structure that serves to anchor the vast
array of shamanic practices existing to serve life from the personal dimension
to that of the community, while harmonizing these with a global vision
and the celestial sources of guidance and support. Strenghtening this
ancestral heritage and cross-cultural relevance are insights drawn from
the world′s many wisdom traditions and the growing understanding
of quantum dynamics and consciousness.
Following its original birthing from the cultural and shamanic lineages
of Peru, the applied practice of the Pachakuti Mesa has evolved through
its service to non-indigenous Western culture. It has become a true repository
for the unfolding experience of its dedicated practitioners and community.
The Pachakuti Mesa can truly be said to be a continual birthing of the
wisdom of sacred community dedicated to a shared Earth-honoring path of
service in which the ancient nourishes the present, birthing the creative
expression of contemporary practice.
The mesa is the instrument by which the mythic power of prophetic time
and the profundity of the three cosmological worlds is harnessed in practice.
It is the medium of translation for the spiritual wisdom and understanding
of the Andean cosmovision, allowing them to transform into practical applications
and effects within a community.
A mesa is the consecrated arrangement of ceremonial power objects that
make up a curandero′s "tool set," and is also the point
of focus for the spiritual forces engaged through ritualized action. It
is simultaneously the seat for spiritual vision and the multi-fold powers
of creation, and by being the locus of intention is directed by the healer.
Two elements in particular come together within the mesa, blending into
its unique form: the transmission of traditional wisdom given by the teacher
and the idiosyncratic initiation that characteruzes the individual path.
From the integration of these two sources of inspiration a healer′s
mesa is born.
The Pachakuti Mesa, as an embodiment of global earth-honoring service,
integrates within its primal structure
the five alchemically venerated elements of the universe: earth (Allpa),
water (Unu), wind (Wayra), fire (Nina), and the fifth transcendent element
which is produced by the harmonious intermingling of the originating four - the aether (K′uychi). Each of these elements is focussed
in one of the five directions of the quadrangular mesa - South,
West, North, East, and Center - and is embodied by one of the five
primordial powers of the Andean cosmovision: Pachamama (Earth Mother),
Mama Killa (Moon), Wiracocha (Creator), Inti (Sun), and K′uychi
(Sacred Rainbow). When these powers are united by vision and intention - lovingly anchored within the physical repository of the mesa - the Pachakuti Mesa blossoms as a transformative agent within the world.
Each of the directions of the mesa hold a particular archetypal form,
energy, and healing medicine, arranged according to a dynamic understanding
of the mythic and energetic universe. They therefore provide a vehicle
for the initiatic apprenticeship of the fundamental forces of creation
and, more importantly, the means by which their transformative presence
is directed in the world. As an experiential mirror of the dynamically
self-aware universe the, Pachakuti Mesa contains within itself both the
map and the mapmaker, and ultimately becomes the primary source of instruction
and guidance for the healer.
The Power of Ritual
Beyond the base structure of the Pachakuti Mesa and the aligments contained
within it, it is the unique experience of the healer that determines the
shape it assumes. As a continuously unfolding source of initiation and
a reflection of the soul experience of the carrier, the mesa itself will
naturally evolve and transform over time. Indeed, a mesa can never remain
static - to do so would contradict one of the fundamental experiences
of creation: all is in motion. While a mesa will hold certain patterns
over time, it must ultimately be recognized as an expression of transformation
itself, which cannot be boxed within a static form.
As mentored by don Oscar, the Pachakuti Mesa is a ceremonially
consecrated imaginal map of the universe, an archetypal cosmic landscape,
which "energetically" anchors both seen and unseen dimensions
of the anima mundi (i.e., World Soul) before the shamanic practitioner.
It is a beautiful container of spirit, and it is also a soul-infused artifact
of the material world. It is a living, dynamic pattern upon which and
within which we can consciously do our transformative personal and planetary
healing work. As a global community of Pachakuti Mesa Carriers we embrace
this ancestral lineage not because it is superior to all other traditions,
yet because its effects are healthfully liberating and aesthetically graceful.
It is a visually dramatic and sensually rich millennial heritage, which
appeals to those who resonate with the healing power in natural patterns,
earth rhythms and cosmic cycles. It is also a syncretistic shamanic tradition,
which is openly tolerant and widely inclusive of diverse cultural ideologies,
religious beliefs and all world wisdom paths. In essence, the Pachakuti
Mesa is meant to be a pristine reflection of the individual practitioners
ontological sense of belongingness within the Great Sacred Web of Life.