With the use of ceremony and ritual, we are engaging with, playing with, the symbols and poetry of a primitive consciousness, bypassing the question-and-answer discourse of our rational minds. There are no hard and fast rules. Our only obligation is to be fully present … to free ourselves to whatever we experience.
From The Journey By Alberto Villoldo, PhD
Ceremony and Despacho
The Despacho ceremony is an integral practice to the Andean tradition, where every day of life is a celebration, and every act a ceremony. Despacho is a Quechua word encompassing hundreds of variations on the theme of ceremonial offerings. This ceremony is performed on behalf of a community, a family, or an individual by a shaman or medicine person initiated in a lineage of spiritual power and specially trained in this performance art. It connects us energetically and spiritually to all beings, brings us into alignment ~ or right relationship ~ with ourselves and with each other.
Despachos are offered to express love of life and living, gratitude for all gifts, connection to people, places and events. This is a basic practice to commemorate or heal, to welcome, bid farewell, give thanks, express intention to manifest, or express joy and celebration. The particular design and contents of the offering are determined by the intention of the Despacho, the persons and situations involved; therefore each one is different.
The offerings are made to Pachamama ~ our Mother Earth, and The Apus ~ spirits of the Sacred Mountains where the wisdom of the Ages is stored. A despacho is created by artfully combining objects of particular significance to the persons or community involved. A piece of white or colored paper is selected, specially folded and placed over a handwoven ceremonial cloth, to contain the objects offered. In the Andes, where corn, potatos, coca leaves and quinoa are staples, these are included in the offerings given back in gratitude to Mother Earth. Sweet things, flowers, bits from Nature, colorful and symbolic items are included, as well as representations of the various worlds, elements, sky, ocean, people, tools, arts and music.
Every Despacho I build is customized to the situation, and the people involved. I often use locally produced items, or various objects particularly meaningful to the origins, occupations, or beliefs of the individuals involved. Every Despacho assists in shifting the energy and alignment of the cosmos, through our intent and focus. Despacho ceremony in our contemporary world is as meaningful and significant as it is in the high Andes.
Despacho ceremonies are individual variations on basic themes and categories. Some of the most commonly performed are listed below:
~Ayni, which is about balance and reciprocity
~Aya, which is performed to assist the spirit of the dying or dead to cross over with grace and harmony, severing its connection with the physical body and this world
~Pachamama, which is an offering specifically for Mother Earth
~Apu, an offering specific to the spirit of a mountain, source of water and weather
~Chaska, an offering to Grandfather Sun, the star that lights and warms our planet. This despacho is not as commonly done.
~Cutti, which is also uncommon, but is for protection, and to reverse the energy of a series of unfortunate events.
After the Despacho is created, it is specially wrapped and tied. The bundle is then used to cleanse and bless every individual present, in the same manner as sage is often used. It is traditional to then burn or bury the Despacho or place it in a stream of running water.
I consider Despacho Ceremony to be an amazing, beautiful and incredible performance art. It is one of my favorite ceremonies to craft and perform.
There is no limit to the number and type of occasions where it is appropriate. I am honored and delighted to provide this ceremony to my community.