Aug 12, 2011

Peru; The Magical Mystery Yoga Tour

Peru; The Magical Mystery Yoga Tour
July 21- August 4, 2011

 Amazon River Morning Sunrise before Meditation  (Tess Monahan)

   July 21"Feels like something that I've done before"

"Feels like something that I've done before"... A line from " Inertia Creeps" by Massive Attack. This song was in one of my favorite movies, The Matrix, and I am listening to it now on my way to Peru, up in the sky, where I love to be. I have been feeling like this a great deal lately, such familiar reminders of something unraveling, something done again, but deeper and maybe  in an accelerated frequency .  Do you know those deja vu's where time and space seem to stop, and everything pauses, and you can't help but wonder, "something is happening again that has already happened," yet it makes no rational sense? It is so far out of the mind that neuro-pathways seem to get ruptured, rattled, or, more so raptured.
  Something is getting revealed to me at this very  moment,  and many moments lately, but I can't quite see it completely clearly. It is  a familiarity, a culmination, a profound assimilation in a glimpse.  I can feel it, sense it, almost see it and taste it.  It sometimes distracts me and is far from practical. It is like tapping into a new form of communication. A new telephone line from the future, or, would it be remembering something past? So many things  are lining up. Is this the next phase of recognition, these epic pauses where all phases of time meet?  Is this a stage closer towards "knowing"? The immense amount of synchronicity I have been experiencing in alignment with something greater has me floating, giddy, unrested, and full of pure joy, all at once.

                                       We were there for the 100th Anniversary Discovery of Machu Pichhu

It will be very interesting to see how I feel about the magic and energy of Peru based on how I feel at this moment in my life. Sometimes I feel strange feeling and sensing this way. It has been more for me lately, and I wonder if there are others that "feel" this way.
       The long bridge at Jangala leading to our palapas in the jungle. The bridge represents taking careful transitions in our yoga practice.

I had a vision of me meditating in Peru. I could see my sahasrara chakra so clear. It was blasted out to the Cosmos like I had never seen it before. I often picture a sort of blue ray when I meditate that hits a collective grid at some point. This vision was a blue ray that shot so far out into the infinite that there simply just was no end. It was galactic. I have heard many tales of E.T activity in Peru. I also hear it is pretty common talk amongst the locals, especially in considering the shape of some of the landscape seen from the sky, or just exactly how in the world Machu Picchu could have been built. I hear a great deal about metro pilgrims coming to receive clairvoyance to the Andes, or immense healing that can be found in the mountain spirits and the space surrounding it, well known to the indigenous. For now, as I visualize some of the potentials of the atmosphere and feel there, I ask to see more visions as to the continuous synchronicity, familiar experiences, teachings, lessons, and deja vu's I am feeling. I would love to feel more clarity in a more expansive way than ever before with the assistance of this new blessed environment I am about to be immersed in. What gifts.

                         Sunset with the Pink Dolphins on the Amazon River near Iquitos Peru

July 22 A boat down the Amazon River

Iquitos is our first destination. It is the largest city in the world that you can not get to by car. Amazing, since the population is larger than New Orleans. There are no roads that can lead to it as it is surrounded by jungle, and, to get to our retreat center, you must take a boat down the Amazon. It is already exciting. This is the furthest that I have been down south.

 Our yoga studio right on the Amazon River. We did many meditations, singing, praying, and asana here.

It is the first time I have been in South America. The furthered south I have been before, in this hemisphere, is Panama.  Iquitos is very close to Colombia and Brazil. Iquitos is also known as the city of Shamans, sacred Shamanic song, called Iquaros, and Ayahuasca. I can hear gringos on the plane talking about Ayahuasca already, quite loudly, as though it were like a night out at the bar. Ayahuasca is a sacred medicine plant indigenous to Peru and the Amazon jungle. it is quite serious and holy in fact, and once ingested is at least an eight hour journey into your consciousness and the Cosmic collective. It is done in  protected setting, lead by a Shaman, with prayer and ritual. In the states it is illegal. Here, it is a primary way that many heal from depression, trauma, and a means to getting a glimpse of God  consciousness by visiting their bardos, since it is also known as the " plant of death."

                                          Ayahuasca vine and palm fan for building local homes

July 23
The Amazon!!! At 4,000 miles long, it is the longest river in the world.  It looks like silver milk, metallic, mystical, and seductive. We sang to all of the river Goddesses on our first night of yoga. Our yoga shala is right next to the sacred Amazon so the shakti that spills off of the river is quite alluring and powerful. Here in Peru the Amazon has a very soft and feminine vibe, not so much like the dark tales you typically hear about the Amazon.  Silver is the color of the feminine, and this color is quite prevalent in the insects, the sky, and all of the eyes you see hiding behind the flora.

The  jungle," la selva," has a way of slowly unfolding before your eyes. At first everything appears brown and muddy. Once you become more sensitive, and retrain your eyes, you realize there is power, movement, and diversity far beyond your first urban trained scan of your surroundings. There is far more going on here than what seems to first appear.

                                  Primary rainforest...all the roots and vines look like snakes

  I had a vision while meditating that the river Goddess here, after singing to Ganga Ma, Saraswati Ma, and Amazonia Ma, that a giant silver like Goddess arose from the river and got as big as the sky. She was so pleased that we acknowledged her. In our chant, we asked permission to be here in this new environment and stated our intentions of aligning more fully with the kingdoms and all of their spirits, and paid our Highest respects to the dear Rio in front of us. I feel it was truly felt, and that the river was so touched that we asked, blessing and gracing us. The next day a hawk appeared right at the entry way to our yoga studio and stayed for quite a long time. Oh how it moves me to align with nature in this way.
                    Downward facing tree with the old arbol near the Amazon River and our new friends

  With each inhale we took in all of the teachings in nature that surrounded us. With each exhale, we vowed to give back, show our gratitude, and participate in being in stewardship and protection with all that is clearly so sacred in this vast Amazonia Temple.  After having a monkey crawl on top of my head today, trying to eat my feather earring, (for real) and a Taucan sit on my arm on our visit to Monkey Island,  I feel blessed in deep profound connections I never thought imaginable.
                             Rachael Durston, who rocks, doing Astavakrasana on the Amazon River

July 24
This morning we did a very early meditation, getting up before the sun came out fully. The sun rises right above the Amazon where we are at, and sets of the jungle tree line. The morning reminded me of the Ganga River in India. There was an enveloping, caressing mist that hovered over the river, glitter like and smoky. It made it feel so very magical and mysterious. The river truly is a bit deceiving and complex in this way. It is clear how powerful it must be if the locals do not swim in it. There is far more going on than one might initially perceive.
We have been doing an incredible amount of mantra and meditation along with our asana. I can feel our skin softening into the elements, all becoming a part of us. Some of her powers and healings are clearly making their way into me, and us all.

                    We took a long jungle hike after a powerfully moving Amazon class. 

We walked by a few homes out in the jungle where many Peruvian families live. They have so very little, and the jungle is not easy on them. It is quite sweltering hot and unsanitary. No coverings on the homes, and the children very malnourished. We are so far out here in the middle of no where. You can not drive here. It is so quiet and sparse with humans.
                Our new dear friends in the nearby village that came to our last yoga class

This is probably the furthest "out there" I have ever been.  It blows my mind that these families live out here, but clearly there is no choice in their position. I wonder what they think of us? I go out of my way to get as close to them as possible, to interact and say hello. This is so important to me. It is a serious reflection of how lucky we all are, and who is to say who is truly happy, and who is not. I am concerned for their health, but they seem to know what to do, far beyond what I understand as survival skill.  Many family members die out here in the jungle, and a clinic is not close. They own nothing.
                                         Small "typico" village home near our retreat at Jangala

    In India, even when I saw a family own nothing, everything was still brightly decorated, celebrational and vibrant. I do not see sadness here, but the Peruvians are very humble, simple, shy, and truly keep to themselves. There is no decor, at least here in this region. They work very hard' laboriously and daily. I respect where they have landed themselves in this particular life time. To me, it does not look so easy.

  Later on this afternoon we are going on a boat to explore the pink dolphins. These are fresh water dolphins that are direct natives of the Amazon! I love dolphins. I have swam with them a few times in Florida. It is both humbling, because they are so big, and awe inspiring to have one come near you, as  if curious enough, they will draw near and talk to you psychically.  I have encountered this. There are just so many teachers in nature. Right now, I hear many different  insects, frogs, birds, and who knows what else.  They make the most curious sounds. Some sound like that tape loops on old comedy shows where there are crowds of people laughing in the background. Some sound like plops of something dropping into a still pond. Some sound like  growling animals. The orchestration out here is really tuning us into an audible, sound reality that is healing for us all. There are not many people, but wow, is there a lot going on, and there are a lot of others.
                                          Monkeys on our visit to Monkey Island

July 27 Welcome To the Jungle

  Welcome to the jungle keeps playing in my head, along with the Iquiros of one of our Qundanyeros, or spiritual healers, Christina, from Peru. On this day we went on a serious jungle hike, 5 hour long, deep, quiet, and remote, and I could hear her kechuwa and Spanish chants the whole way. The boat dropped us off in a very small pueblo with the towns people, as always, working so hard. We were lead by 4 men with machetes into the mystery that the jungle always invokes. It is a wonder, the many types of flora and fauna, the new sounds, smells, and the slight unease of the unknown of what is happening next.
 Caretaker of many wild animals that get saved from the black market. A real tree hugger.

    We hiked through a secondary rain forest into a primary one towards the end. This is a hike that many students wishing to be shamans go on by themselves. They are then to stay in the house where we had lunch by themselves for one month and drink Ayahuasca every night to ask for visions and fast. They are to find the oldest tree, of which we did too, that was somewhere between 300-500 years old at least, and talk to it. We did this also. This tree had to have been one of the oldest I have ever been around, and for sure touched,, sat with, and talked to. It was just divine in its wisdom, and so humbling.
                                 Some of the damas feeling and talking to the Arbol Ceiba tree, 500 years old

    After returning from the ancient feeling of the rainforest we just visited, we were all in jovial spirits. We sat around and showed our Peruvian escorts the craziest yoga poses we could think of, and had them give it a try. They were amazing. They clearly work so hard, and are so in tune with nature. Teaching them yoga was easy. Over lunch we talked about aliens visiting Machu Pichhu. Our Peruvian escorts talked about how this was in the news. It was very common knowledge, and something many commoners in the country acknowledge as being true. This place at times does feel other worldy, tis true. It is indescribable.
             500 year old tree that Shamans in training come to talk to on their 1 month silent retreat

    I kept thinking this on our walk back, which we practiced in prescribed meditational silence, called" Mauna" in Sanskrit. We did a 2 hour walking meditation, which was much needed so that we could go deeper within. On our walk, I  had a baby wild boar follow me for a very long time. Typically these animals are quite aggressive, but it seemed quite comfortable with me and us all. To me, any animal getting that close is a messenger, and it is good to pay attention. To be near something that you think is aggressive and fierce, but is reflecting peace as it's blessing, free of provoking fear was the direct message to me, and something to pay attention to. How often do we make our fears inflated, and once finding peace in our minds, find it to be so small?  I am just mesmerized, and at the same time, at the edge of my seat, knowing there is a lot going on that I can not imagine in the midst of all of this energy and communication with the spirits of nature. Thank you wild boar, for the appropriate and prophetic message at this time in my life.
                               Silent meditation walk called "Mauna" for 2 hours, lead by Only and his crew, all with machetes. Then the wild boar came.

July 28

Oh leaving the Amazon was so difficult for all of us on the yoga retreat. We. Had grown very close to our hosts, and to the villagers near Jangala on each side. The last class we even had all of the children come into our class, and a dear mother brading our hair. It was so precious and pure. It was a priceless journey into the dear Mother Earth, Pacha Mama. She taught us many things.

                                       Giant lily pads deep in the jungle near the home of a shaman

We each felt so embraced. The day we left, we had a macaw parrot come visit us right over head ( a new one according to Andres, our host), and on our last yoga class, we had dolphins come to us right in front of our yoga palapa to say good bye to us, yet another extremely rare occurrence,  as the dolphins don't usually come to that area of the Amazon at that time of day. We had so much Grace on our journey in Amazonia. We sang to her in our gratitude and gave pryers to our hosts for treating us with such Divinity.
Our 2 friends with Hannah and Mary... they came to watch us do yoga on the Amazon River

"Baja Ma Ma Amazonia Ma Ma Sushumna Ma Ma. A nada Mayi Ma Ma. Ananda Rupa Ma Ma."
Another song...
"The river is flowing, flowing and flowing, the river is flowing back to the sea. Mother carry me your child I will always be. Mother,  carry me, back to the sea."
And another, learned from our many ceremonies we have done (and sang by Diago Palma)... Sugghosi buddhosi..
" You are forever pure you are forever true, and the dream of this world, it could never touch you, so give up your attachments. give up your confusion. Abide in the truth thats beyond all illusion."
     Some of the dear ladies on our Magical Mystery Tour on the Amazon with our host, Andres.

Much as Gracious Amazonia. A dream has come true in being near to you, and you, forever in our heart.

July 29
Lima Peru...
    Lima is a gorgeous city enveloped between the Andes and the Pacific ocean. It claims 4 million people, and  some of the best surfers and futbol players in the world. It is more cosmopolitan and slick than I had expected. Everyone is dressed in fine alpaca clothing and shoes. At night there is a giant statue of Jesus lit up on the cliff, overlooking the rough and loud waves of the ocean, filled with surfers. What a switch.
 My Peruvian Rocker friends, playing The Strokes band really loud out in the country side. New and Old come together.

    I love the dynamic qualities of our lives, how in one minute, we were ok doing without, living off of very little in the jungle, no lights, no stores, very few people, and so remote, being the only transportation was a boat. The next minute we are admiring the fine fabrics and textiles, dressing up, enjoying fine dining and an apertife.
Our dining consisted of exquisite ceviche and potato dishes with cream sauces, sure to be on the menu of any Peruvian fare.  The whole experience  was a nice treat after the jungle, and reminded us of small things that can make you happy... A warm shower, clean clothing, a lush bed, a telephone call to a loved one, dressing up, and shopping.

              Foreshadows of Shiva/Shakti in the Lima airport with Yma Sumac and Pedro Sudrez

  I love life and all of it's offerings. I am a firm believer in enjoying it all, and practicing discipline also.  To me, ts is an expression of balance. This is so Tantric, a philosophy  natural to me even far before I learned  more about it in my Anusara teachings. Tantra means to weave. It is the sacred web. It looms the everyday experience into the spiritual, right here and in our lives.  In the Shiva Shakti school that we learn from in our Anusara teachings, we speak of this .It reminds me of all of the alpaca weavings here.
                                           Llamas and Alpacas waiting to be fed by Elaine

There is a horizontal thread, which represents the Divine, or in Quechua language from the Indigenous people here in the Sacred Valley, called the  Amaru, "Pacha Mama". The looming is the Goddess, nature, all things manifest in the horizon. The vertical line when weaving represents the God line to the sky, where the condor lives. It is the connection to space and the celestial, Pacha Papa. 
                                           Local weavers in a small community of Quechua

Marrying time and space in our lives is Tantra. I find it also important to see that this  equilibrium is in all of our experience. There is so much to learn from both, and the balance creates the art of our most sacred happiness and fulfillment possible.
  Another reminder here in Peru of the sacred web or weaving is the symbol of the Inca found everywhere, called the "Chakana". The Chakana is the sacred Incan cross of both the vertical and horizontal and four directions.  Chaka means leg or bridge ( our lives)  and Kana means  the celestial world.

 Lynda learning how to cut the wool of the alpaca. They do not kill their animals. They are vegetarian. They wait for their animal to pass before the use the entire animal.

July 30-31
The Sacred Valley

                                          Going down... to The Sacred Valley

Going from Lima to Cuzco is a short flight and two different worlds. We instantly land at a very high altitude of 12,000 feet. This can be a drastic change for some people, and many get altitude sickness from the quick variance. Moving from the jungle lowlands to a high peak in the Andes couldn't be more different. Our first stop was to a llama alpaca farm to feed and learn about the different types of species so common here. We are not in the jungle anymore, nor the city.
                                           Pisac Incan Ruins

We got taken to our next dear retreat spot, "Paz y Luz, or Peace and Light." It is just outside of the dear town of Pisac, next to a river that goes all the way through the sacred valley and to Machu Picchu, called the "Wilcamayu". It is nestled between numerous red mountains, and right above us are the sacred Incan ruins that see less tourists, yet are so immense. Our spot is also next door to a famous shaman for anyone into sacred plants and medicines, Diago Palma. Our friends that we see each year in Mexico study with him, sharing  Icaros and heavenly music.
 Our retreat Center at Paz y Luz in the sacred valley outside of Pisac. We were surrounded by mountains on all sides, a river, and the Incan Ruins.

    Pisac is filled with Shamanic shops and altar items, such as condor and eagle feathers, crystals and minerals from the Andes, " Santo Palo", which is a incense from a tree used in ceremony, crystal pendulums, dream catchers, and very specific altar items known to just this region, such as rainbow confetti, sugar, salt, Porto, Florida water ( Agua de Florida), powders, and altar kits. 
 One of our dear friends, Chaz, son of Michele and Yuan,  from Costa Rica, blessed by a Shaman

This reminded me of India, where puja or ceremony is very primary in importance. The market here is quite well known, and beyond the Alpaca weavings of all kinds from the Indigenous here, called the Amaru people( which means snake). It is indigenous heaven and altar galore.

                                                            Ollantaytombo Market

  We took many tours to very special sights in this region. One of them was to a home, where we learned how to build an altar, which I loved, and found so interesting. For a proper Peruvian altar by the Quechua people of this region, one must have all of the goods from all of Peru and each of it's Eco-diverse regions. This could mean a shell from the ocean, minerals from the mountains, flowers or food specific to each place in the is rich land. A very specific statue of a small stubby looking man brings the best of luck. He has an opening in his mouth where he must always have a cig in mouth that must be burned. This brings prosperity.
             Typical altar in local homes of Incan artifacts, bulls, and the man that must be fed

2 statues of black bulls either on your altar or on top of your roof protects your home with great strength. Somewhere too must be the three representatives of the three worlds, the snake, the puma, and the condor. One must always have condor feathers especially for all of the ancestors that have left the physical plane as a way of gracing them  into the celestial world where the condor lives, up high.  Traditionally, the skulls of your ancestors must be saved and placed on your altar, along with their pictures for the best blessings from them. I many of the homes, the skulls were placed very close to the kitchen.
 Ancestors skulls are best to keep for the honor of your lineage and their blessings

    Foods, plants, powders must be burned at winter and summer solstices, as well as sprinkling rainbow confetti in all four corners of your home for Pacha Mama day, of which we happened to be here for, every August first. This is their New Year, and conveys the amount of abundance their farmlands will produce, according to your honor of Mother Earth.  All of these goods were to be found everywhere in Pisac. Ceremony with and for Pacha Mama is very important to the people here, as well as the ones that come to live or visit.
                                                Tess and Michele above the Pisac ruins

   The sacred valley has a tremendous amount of magic and energy moving around in it's atmosphere. I can feel it even more dense, whirling and saturated than the jungle, which has surprised me. Many people come here seeking guidance, and getting in touch with the energies and spirits of the area. I can feel it. It is very dense, both in dark and light, perhaps being in a valley, it gets enveloped more here.  It wasn't until we made our way up to the Incan ruin the next day that I felt like I was able to clear the energy and captivate my own clarity, free of the massive amount of psychic stuff flying around, even in it's mysticism. Being up high has a way of clearing out any psychic debris in the atmosphere.

    This Incan ruin hike was amazing. We hiked for hours through picturesque rock formations that overlooked Pisac. Each step I felt more and more aligned with a greater, more refined clarity than ever before, and was very grateful for the hike. It was like taking a Cosmic shower. My thoughts became lucid and I felt tremendous synchronicity. I even met a fellow hiker up high who had a tattoo of the shirt I was wearing. Talk about getting synched up. He was also from the same area I am in the North West. I had my Michael Franti shirt on "Power to the Peaceful" that has picture of a strong fist and roses around it. He had this tattooed on his arm.
                  Power to the Peaceful synchronicity on top of the Incan Ruins in Pisac

I love signs from the Universe that tell you you are in the right place and time. It also reiterated to me exactly what is powerful, and beyond measure when you choose to align with it... Being a provider, devotee, and servant of Peace. This is what I am and nothing will stop me, even if being human, I do get confused or attached at times.

"So give up your attachments, give up your confusions, abide in the Truth that's beyond all illusions".
This has been one of our theme songs on the trip, both an Icaros and a Mantra. I am so grateful for beatific hikes such as this. I feel so healthy, vibrant, fresh, and alive.

August 1 Pacha Mama Day. The Peruvian New Year.

How auspicious for us... To be here for Pacha Mama day! We were told be a native Quechua if all of the Peruvian flowers are in full blossom on one tree, that it would be a fruitful abundant season for everyone, and for their crops. There were bring red and orange flowers everywhere, so " Shri " is here. The word " Shri" in yoga means shine, illustrious, abundance, beauty,  and flowing in the peak moment of value and Grace. Shri is another word for Laxmi, who is the Goddess of beauty in Hinduism. Pacha Mama is Mother Earth, the Supreme Goddess and Shakti also. 
                                           Pacha Mama Ceremony and offerings with the Quechuan

On this day we went with a Shaman, named Cerafino, to a sacred ruin called Moray. Cerafino was  from the Quechua  community, and was teaching us how to build altars, honor The Divine Earth, and talk to her in ceremony, as well as her elements, and directions.  A cleansing and purifying ceremony in Quechua is called a "limpia". A limpia means an medicinal cleanse, both spiritually and physically. I have received limpias before with our teachers from Colombia and they are tremendous in their clearing ability. The ones I have had before consisted of a blend of alcohol and herbs distilled in blessed, holy waters, called "Agua de Florida", or Florida water. The healer, or dear Shaman, gulps the water and spits it on you, all over your body, in prayer and purification. This is often also done with sacred mantras,brushing leaves or feathers around you to clear you aura, or even the Shaman sucking out impurities through your crown chakra, the Sahasrara, spitting it, or purging it out of you.

                                                                 Sacred Coca Leaves

  This limpia that we did on Pacha Mama day, had a very specific order, and was in a very magnetic space that was pre-Incan. It had infinite layers, like a round vortex, leading to a very small center at the bottom, carved into the land, where there were already numerous offerings for Mother Earth. The Shaman, one of the oldest in the community, asked us before coming to gather limpia kits and offerings in the Pisac market. Cerafino talked to Pacha Mama and asked for her blessings. He also talked to all of the surrounding mountains, and asked their spirits to be with us. The mountains hold the masculine energy, Pacha Papa. He said we were graced by their presence,  and that they were with us now, a very auspicious sign. We then were to pick out 4 coca leaves. These leaves are thought to make all Peruvians tranquilo.

    The Coca tree is  sacred in this  part of the world, and many Peruvians will chew coca leaves all day long, getting a mellow buzz that is thought to connect them more with Pacha Mama. Coca leaves are also used for for readings, where you can toss them in certain ways, and according to how they land, will give you answers to questions, direct from Pacha Mama. If they turn face up, it is a yes, down with the veins showing is a no, and the size and shape of the leaves indicate things also as direct messages.

  Once we picked our coca leaves, we were to also stand up from the circle and blow on the leaves to all 4 directions and mountains, praying to them and invoking intention and abundance to mother nature.  We then sat and burned some of the altar items, of which the Shaman took to a specific spot to bury into the earth, all directed again by the help of the coca leaves, and Pacha Mama, for safe keeping and connection to her.

                                 The  snow capped Andes behind us with our Quechuan teachers

  Rising to the top of the ruins again, we were surrounded by the majestic and stoic images of the snow capped Andean mountains as we ate our picnic lunch with the dear Quechua and the yogis. Each moment and each day was immense. We sat in humble silence as we made our way back to the quaint cobblestone village of Ollantay, where even more ruins, Ollantaytambo, flank the village by a river. It is so picturesque. This landscape is a dream scape. It is quite a thing to wake up to. We are surrounded by all things old, steeped in tradition, yet, feeling fresh in  the expansiveness that staying connected to the earth and honoring her can be.

The Quechua people and their teachings. Re-member reciprocity

There  is much to learn from those that came before us. A wonderful translation of the word gratitude is a means of honoring, and looking back at all of those that came before, for they have assisted in setting up all of the gifts that we enjoy now. I am so grateful.

  A deeply impressionable  day on our trip to Peru  was our visit  into the sacred valley, further south from  Pisac and up higher to a very  small village of the indigenous  Quechua. To get to this remote area, we rose early, driving up and up to narrower roads that became unpaved, as most walked this road, and very few had cars.  Looking out the window, I saw how things shifted when everyone began to dress the same, as though back in time, and especially the woman.  It  began to feel like we were driving backwards in a time machine, and not forward on the path, the mountainous el camino.

The woman all wore very elaborate sequined and gathered skirts of striking colors, with brightly hued blankets tied around their backs to carry their goods or their infant. They all wore tall top hats; a borrowed tradition and trend from the times that the English came to build the railroads. What a mix. I just loved how those woman looked with their long braided hair and weathered hands and feet, full of warmth and humble experience.

 My Peruvian hat, typical to women, is covered in rose petals thrown at us all in Divine entry into their village.

  In the village that we visited we received a warm welcome with conch shells blowing and drums rattling. These precious peoples are ever so ceremonial. I noticed this once I saw  a huge inlay of a condor on the front of their home, and rose petals being poured over our heads as we entered the ivy braided gates guarded by small children with big red cheeks. They greeted each of us as a brother or sister,  hermano y hermanas...and said we should feel welcome, and a part of their family. This was followed by a personal hug by each person in the community, with all of us lined up in a row to receive the embrace.  It is so important to me to honor the people that live in the places that I visit, and to connect to them on a heart level. It meant so much to me to be able to have the chance to do this. This was the real deal, even in their private and shy ways, we felt like kindred guests.
                             We were often mistaken for Peruvian, especially with my boots.

  They taught us all about their way of farming and honoring Pacha Mama, as well as showing us many of the local herbs and tilling the land. We took a walk through the mountains and stared at the precious view, all chewing coca leaves from the sacred Coca tree together in silence, a very Peruvian tradition. I loved that moment. It was like the past and the future coming together at the same time, them curious about us we of them.
Time stood still as we chewed our leaves with that lush panoramic view. I will never forget it. I felt more connected to myself than ever before, and could feel chills running up me.  Upon our return they showed us how to weave, spin alpaca wool, dye, and create textiles and textile art. These people work  hard from sun up to down, aligned with the natural clock of the sun and moon.

    There are 3 Golden rules for the indigenous Quechua people that I love. It reminds me somewhat of the Yamas and Niyamas  in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, of which when broken down parallel some of the 10 commandments, among other religions. It seems every culture has an ethical system to base and remind themselves of the value of their lives.
    In the way that the Yoga Sutras were  introduced to me by Geshe Michael Roach and Lama Cristie McNally from both a Hindu and Tibetan Buddhist perspective, these are innate ethics that exist as a part of the Absolute. This is not based on  imposed and conditioned laws. There is no judge, jury, or judged. Nor are the codes in the Sutras black and white, meaning that we must discern what is best in each situation. The  Yoga Sutras prescription for lucid discernment is meditation.
    Natural law takes tremendous self rule and clarity. It does not follow nor break rules. It has nothing to do with what is socially accepted, and quite often is not. Without  natural ethics, natural order depreciates, as does the collective, and our connection to our Higher Self. No bueno.

  The three golden rules for the Quechua people are:
Amakuya... Do not be lazy ( work hard, and daily)
Amazua... Do not lie
Amallula...Do not take from others ( and contribute)

                                                        The Salt mines near the Andes

  A large part of a  Quechua community is the concept of reciprocity. This means that there is a collective involved for which everyone works for, and receives back from, since every person in the community and their actions affects each individual in it. Even in acquiring land, if you are a new member of the community, the community must vote and approve of you. You must state your intention, and what you will contribute, and this must be accepted. This follows the concept of "Amallula" (do not take from others)  in Quechua. Amallula means you can not receive the bountiful wealth of the land without reciprocity for the lands sake, and every creature that lives upon it.
            Our site for our Pacha Mama ceremony at Moley, a pre-Incan agricultural site.

    Our modern tax system is the reason our current Gregorian calendar came to be, in clocking when farmers had to pay the wealthy on a consistent basis.  The  word Reciprocity  sets up a paradigm of innate, intelligent desire to want to contribute to the whole so that there is an equal exchange of energy at all times. This way, no one is taking from the earth, or another. This system is called the "Ayni" system, and is still implemented today,  often free of the exchange of money. What is primarily exchanged, bartered, or traded are goods, talents and labor so that everyone feels they have something of value to contribute. The word "Minia" in Quechua means that everyone has to contribute equally and enjoy equally so that the community flourishes and Pacha Mama is happy. This would be a wonderfully organic " law"  of nature to return to as the conditions seem to increase in our urban lives. Creating order in our actions aligns us with natural order. All things remembered. All things reciprocated.

                                              Ollantaytombo Ruins view from our hotel

Re-member Reciprocity Re-member Reciprocity Re-member Reciprocity

The 3 Worlds to the sound of silence

  There are  three worlds honored in the Quechua tradition. We saw these symbols and reminders of the three worlds all throughout our entire stay in Peru, from the big city to the most remote village. Everywhere we saw images of snakes, pumas, and condors.  You can also find this in the Chakana cross of Peru. There were also many images of three steps in the sun temple and the temple of the condor at Machu Picchu.
                                            Snakes, Pumas, and Condors everywhere

  The first world is that of the snake. The snake represents the gathering of knowledge In the dark underworld of death, very similar to Eve wanting knowledge by taking the forbidden fruit as suggested to her by a snake in the tree of knowledge in the bible, or the sleepiness of the kundalini snake resting at the base of the spine, waiting to get erect and awakened from inertia. In Quechua, The world of the snake is the underground, or the interior world, called " Uka Pacha.", where all must enter at some point to have full experience of the other worlds.  The plant of the black snake, the anaconda, in Peru, called ayahuasca, was thought to be first created by a Shaman that left his body. In the cemetery where he was buried, his body became deep roots. The vines then extended out of these roots, with information on death and all things below. The vine became a great mother, a crone of wisdom, and partaking of her vine in a ceremonial and secretive way would give experience, information, and visions of death so that one could then have greater and more meaningful experiences of life.  There are many symbols of the snake on all of the artisan work, architecture, and textile designs.
  The second world is that of the Puma, called "Ke Pacha". The Puma is the largest cat in the jungle. In Peru, some Pumas are yellow with black spots. They are sacred for their brightness of color,which represents our everyday life. In the second world, you are to call upon the spirit of the Puma when needing assistance with the everyday occurrences of your life, swift and fantastical.
                                                      Sculpture of condor on many homes

  The third, upper world is that of the condor. There are many images, stories, and music about the condor. Even Simon and Garfunkle bought the rights to the song " The sound of silence" form the Peruvian government, which originally was the "Song of the Condor." The condor represents the celestial world.  It is very auspicious to see a condor, and is always a sign, as they live up very high in Andean mountains in tall peaks, far from view. One calls upon the condor  when longing to access the Higher realms of spirit and communicating on the heavenly plane.  The condor is also called upon for any family leaving their body and traveling to the next level, as the condor can assist them in communicating to the spirits in next journey. In Shamanic cleansings, Condor feathers are often used to brush the energy of the person off if ever they got hit by poison arrows of psychic attack, clearing their energy back to their original state of lint filled source.

    In Machu Picchu, ,there was a beautiful Ruin within it called the " Temple of the Condor". It was the most fascinating construct there. Above the temple of the condor were the cells for the prisoners, and a place for mummification. This was placed above the condors holy sight o that the condor could assist those meeting their death. Below was a beautiful altar sight and many people praying and meditating in a circle. The condor represents our connection to spirit, so calling upon it can bring us blessings of heightened sensitivity  to the expansiveness of infinite potential to other worlds. In Peru, the center of the world is in Cuzco, which is the Mecca sight for the Incans, originally called "Koricancha". This is thought to be the belly button of the world, and where one should seek refuge in any destruction of the physical or high states of consciousness, as this is where you can call upon the condor the most easily.
Many occultists believe that if the world is ending, this area of Peru, and especially in some caves outside of Cuzco, is where a selected few will be saved, with the condor's grace.

The Condors Song (The Sound of Silence)

Hello darkness my old friend.
I've come to talk with you again.
Because a vision softly creeping
Left the seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence

In restless dreams I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone
Neath the halo of a street lamp
I turned my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light
And touched the sound of silence

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence

August 2 Machu Picchu  is Pratyabijna
                                      Classic  Machu Picchu. Breath taking.

  There is a joy in the air amongst us 5 remaining that will visit Machu Picchu.
This day marked the goal of us all.  The train ride itself was enough.  It was majestic.  We saw the glacier filled Andes on one side, and the crystalline river with Incan ruins spread throughout the trail on the other.
 The beginning of the Incan Trail. View from the train ride along the river to Machu Micchu.

  On the train ride, one of the yogis was carrying a set of cards similar to Tarot for daily readings. We each picked a card. The card that I picked was "reflection", and it's explanation was "everything that you will see around you today is a reflection of who you are". I couldn't have picked a more stellar epic day to pull this card. Everything I saw humbled me, made me feel bigger, and brought great clarity to any small struggles I may have brought with me on my trip to contemplate. The size and environment of the Incan ruins was enough to bring true revelation of what is truly "big" and truly "important".

  Reflection is an interesting concept,  depending on your state of mind. I am sure it is the same for us all... Sometimes we like the reflections we see all around us, and sometimes we deny them all together,  and any participation we might have in the reflection.  In the yoga teachings, our life experiences are the greatest reflection of all.  Every part  has the role of reflecting back to us an individual aspect of our whole.  This word in yoga is called "pratyabijna", and is often described as two swans meeting and staring into one another deeply, each showing the other what and who they truly are.

  A very memorable part of our trek in Machu Pichhu was climbing Huanu Picchu, which means "young mountain". It is the classic tall mountain that you see behind all of the ruins, and the trail goes straight up to the top. I mean, straight up. Not for the faint of heart, lungs, or legs, or anyone afraid of heights. We had a few yogis go up this mountain with us that were afraid to go. I was so proud of them.  It was a difficult climb.  At one point, we all journeyed off on our own, and it became an incredible walking meditation. I kept thinking to myself, "have patience, go steady, and treat this like you would a dream, or something you  really want with all of your heart, with the highest intention possible in the perseverance.

  At some point we all made it to the top of the mountain, and we were so happy for one another. It was a triumph, and a personal one for each of us. A few of us kept singing " I am a condor"... A song we know from our Cajun dancing experiences in Lafayette at the Blue Moon. Up this high humming birds and butterflies were buzzing around us.  We had been swept up in the clouds of expansiveness and tremendous freedom. We were living it. " The magical mystery tour is waiting to take you away, waiting to take you away..."
                                    On top of the world. It was crystal clear at the highest point.

  A few steps down from the top we all sat together and did a meditation over looking Machu Pichhu. We pictured blue rays of light extending from our Sahasrara chakra up into the Universal grid. Not difficult to picture up there. Our connections were crystal clear. We sang the Gayatri mantra  up in the sky... Translated as  "Earth space heavens, we meditate on the Divine source. May this activate our minds and our hearts." Om bhur bhuvat svaha. Tat savitur  verenyum. Bhargo devasya dhimahi. Di yoyo nah, pratchodayat.
                              Tess is up there very high in the sky, like she always is.

  Once we made our way down to Machu Pichhu, many crowds had cleared and it felt like we had the space to ourselves. The llamas came out to mow the green grass, and there was magic unveiled. We even ran into friends we knew too.  It was a still and precious moment in time.

                    Just as I was thinking about Steph, she appeared around the corner.

      Check out this bad ass who made it to the top of a very high mountain. Go Elaine!

  It is interesting to ponder that some people believe these ruins were assisted in their creation by extra terrestrials.  I felt Machu Pichhu to be a wonderfully deep reminder of our potential and  a reflection of our beauty. Extra terrestrial or not, I believe humans have a greater capacity than what we give ourselves credit for. We are capable of so much  and having so much. These ruins reminded me that anything is possible if we wish it so and do the work. Machu Pichhu is indeed a reflection of our grandness and immensity, as was this entire tour in Peru, our magical mystery tour.

  The mystery for Machu Pichhu, being at least 500 years old,  is that the conquistadors of Spain never conquered or discovered the real nectar of the region. How often do we do this? The mystery was kept a secret. This holy land was not discovered on a world scale until exactly 100 years ago. We were there for it's 100 year anniversary  unveiling. This same mystery unveiling  resides within us also.  We are meant to do great things, give great things, and receive great things, but we often settle. It takes great courage and work to climb to the top of the unknown unforeseen mountain.  It is available, and it is there.

                                 "The magical mystery  tour is waiting to take you away..." 

Suddhossi Buddhossi Niranjanosi 

Samsara maya Parivar jitosi 
Samsara svapanam Traija mohan nidram
Na janma mrityor Tat sat sva rupe 

You are forever pure, you are forever true 
and the dream of this world can never touch you 
So give up your attachments, give up your confusion 

and abide in that truth that’s beyond all illusion. 
Eres siempre puro, eres verdadero
y el sueño del mundo no te tocará 

Deja los apegos, deja la confusión 
y vive en la verdad más allá de la ilusión.

1 comment:

  1. Michele, my dear jungle yogi in paradise!
    Thank you for a most beautiful posting about our magical journeys in Amazonia and the Sacred Valley. It was a dazzling trip with so many challenges, astonishments, blessings and teachings; it is a delight to see and remember the rich tapestry of Peru through your writings and photographs. It's a wonderful world.
    Love, Lynda