By performing ritual “feedings” and consecrated offerings to the natural world you are able to harness and commune with the spiritual forces within creation. You access multiple dimensions of being and begin to understand your own immortal self through a direct experience of the sacred in life.
By engaging in sacred reciprocity with the raw forces of nature as well as the spiritual powers present in the area where you make your offerings, you deepen your awareness of interdependence with all life’s dimensions. And your relationship with all that is sacred opens you to your divine birthright as co-creator, as transformer, as healer.
This is the purpose of the earth-honoring rituals embodied in the Pachakuti Mesa*. (*A healing altar that symbolizes powers and processes of the natural world, and the social order in a cosmological context that views the altar as a kind of “microcosm” or “game board” which is engaged with to restore order between the individual and natural, social and cosmological realms.)
Creating Your Own Sacred Natural Space
To begin to create your own mesa, with medicine pieces that are (ideally) gifted to you from the natural world, make a practice of walking in nature and making offerings to the trees that you pass, the streams that you cross, and the landscapes that you encounter.
Make offerings to the warmth of the sun in the morning, the guiding light of the moon after nightfall, to the cold wind that carries energy from the heavens, and to the earth beneath your feet that holds you firmly grounded on this plane. As you walk along, know that your entire life is a pilgrimage and that each footfall is sacred.
While it is certainly enough to be thankful as you journey, it is helpful to carry physical offerings with you in a small medicine bag as you walk. These can be tactile reminders as well as “prayer-holders” that help you focus your energies and love. These can help bring your awareness again to the ayni — the sacred reciprocity of give-and-take — that is an inherent part of your sacred journey.
What To Use As Sacred Offerings to Nature
In the shamanic cultures of our planet’s original peoples, the most valuable food and medicine gifts of the natural world were those that were offered back to the earth in thanksgiving. Thus, Native peoples of North America — or Turtle Island — carry and offer tobacco. In Central America — Serpent Island — it is corn pollen and cornmeal that are the equivalent. In South America — Heart Island — coca kintus are the most sacred of offerings. Kintus are three perfect coca leaves arranged like a fleur de lis between the second and third fingers of one’s hand and prayed over before being given.
Flowers, songs, prayers, seeds, grains, colored sand, cloth, clay effigies, incense, candles, oil, food and wine, blood, and even the act of walking or dancing are just a few among many other examples of offerings that are given in gratitude for the gifts we receive from the Mother. Yet what you carry in your offering bag is less important than the prayers of gratitude and honoring that enliven these gifts as you give them.
Cultivating an Awareness of Gratitude
For this practice, take time to give offerings every time you walk in nature. Cultivate an awareness of gratitude as you gently blow prayers into your most sacred offerings — whether cornmeal or tobacco or oil or flowers or whatever these may be. Then sprinkle these prayers, carried by the material offerings in which they are now embodied, where you stand. In this way, you release your loving intention into the landscape.
Now stop and observe the beauty. Notice the intricate patterns and the wisdom of nature with every plant and animal perfectly adapted to its niche. Breathe in the interdependence and relatedness of all process. Allow yourself to open up to the awe.
Giving and Receiving: The Earth is your Teacher
As you engage in this practice, know that your gifts are received and begin to be open to return gifts in kind. See in the stone that calls to you the gift of foundation; an irrefutable connection to the earth. Hear the sound of the waves and the flow of life’s cycles in the shell that washes up on the shore. Recognize the feather of the bird that lies before you as the message: Your prayers have been carried skyward!
Be attentive and you will begin to be transformed. The earth is your teacher and there is so much to learn!
Working with the Elements
As you begin working with the elements that you collect on your pilgrimage, your own Pachakuti Mesa will begin to emerge. As you begin assembling these pieces in a specific order, an experience of interpersonal wholeness and transpersonal harmony with Mother Earth will be fostered.
Pick up these gifts, whatever gifts call to you, with gratitude as you leave a token of your deepening awareness of relationship in return. Open yourself to the lessons and the signs. These are the origins of the healer’s mesa, and each sacred medicine piece has a story and a message.
As they reveal themselves to you, sit in quiet meditation and listen. Let spirit speak through these as you open yourself to their guidance. This is how you consecrate your beauty-walk and honor spirit in your life.
©2013 by Bonnie Glass-Coffin & don Oscar Miro-Quesada.
Reprinted with permission. Publisher: Rainbow Ridge Books.
Lessons in Courage: Peruvian Shamanic Wisdom for Everyday Life
by Bonnie Glass-Coffin Ph.D. and don Oscar Miro-Quesada.
Buckminster Fuller reminds us, You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the old model obsolete. This book provides just that model, as well as concrete practices for living it. The model is derived from ancient wisdom traditions, modeled on the pulses, cycles, and seasons of our beloved Earth Mother. It deeply grounds the reader in a this world spirituality that blends indigenous cosmologies, earth-honoring ritual, and time-tested models for living with modern sensibilities.
About the Authors
Bonnie Glass-Coffin, Ph.D., is an internationally recognized professor of anthropology at Utah State University. She has studied with Peruvian curanderos since 1982 and is author of The Gift of Life: Female Spirituality and Healing in Northern Peru as well as numerous scholarly and popular articles on the topics of shamanism and transformation. She began apprenticing with don Oscar in 2005, experiencing the transformative power of these wisdom teachings and integrating these deeply into her life. She is an endorsed teacher of the Pachakuti Mesa and an avid practitioner of earth-honoring traditions in her home community of Logan, Utah.
Oscar Miro-Quesada originated the Pachakuti Mesa tradition of cross-cultural shamanism, and is the visionary founder of The Heart of the Healer (THOTH) Foundation. He is a respected kamasqa curandero and altomisayoq adept from Peru and has been guiding cross-cultural ethno-spiritual apprenticeship expeditions to sacred sites of the world since 1986, with special emphasis on Peru and Bolivia. He has been a popular faculty member at numerous U.S. educational centers. His work and programs have been featured on CNN, Univision, A&E, and the Discovery Channel.