Indigenous / Journey / Memoir / Peru

A journey with Huachuma, from the Hueco de la Quilla inwards.

After one week of cleansing – which became a diet for the physical body as well as an emotional preparation to take part in the San Pedro ceremony, we met with the shaman at an atypical place for a spiritual ‘meeting’: his bar – a really cool and authentic little place, covered in art and beautiful rustic dream catchers. He told us to prepare on the day of the ceremony, by just having normal breakfast – without coffee or anything fried, and after that just drink water so to leave the stomach empty but strong. We were to wear comfortable clothes and bring fruits and water. That’s all we knew about the day to come.

Next day, we gathered at the meeting point and instantly liked the other two girls who were participating in the ceremony with us. The five of us took a taxi to the entrance of the track that led us to the sacred place where we started the ceremony. It was breath taking. (Literally too – high up in the mountains.)

It is the hueco de la quilla – the cave of the moon goddess. Original Inca stairs led the way up, and once inside I could feel the cool atmosphere that seemed alive, I could feel the ancient priests and devotees treating that space with the maximum respect, to the point that I loved and worshipped it myself. It was intimidatingly beautiful. Silent. Made of cold huge rocks but warm with passionate belief emanating from every corner. Seating on the back of the cave, I faced two huge mountains in front, with actual eyes looking deep inside my soul. On the cave’s entrance, a powerful rock with carvings suggesting a place to sit or place offerings on. That’s where the shaman placed his poncho and lit some palo santo to start the ceremony, playing a big seashell, which echoed through the cave and reverberated back from the mountains surrounding us, as a way to ask nature for permiso. On my right, the place that used to display offerings, held together by wooden sticks that were avoiding parts of it from collapsing because of weathering. On the left wall of the cave, a magnificent portal sculpted as two doorways, one inside the other. That is the portal to other dimensions, where we called upon ancestros and beings of other realms.

With all rituals taking place I felt like magic was happening both inside me and around me. The Huachuma filled my stomach, I felt nurtured both physically and emotionally. Whatever it is I was craving before taking this path, that craving was starting to be fulfilled, nurtured, taken care of.

Little by little the sacred plant took over my body. I welcomed it and trusted its ways, confident that Huachuma would know and give me exactly what it was I needed then. But more than giving me something, I was hoping it would use my body as a channel through which I could see the world as it did. I felt protected by it. To the point that time became meaningless and physical attributes were paradoxically both enhanced and dismissed. I was led by Huachuma, which moved me through my heart. My eyes were merely windows through which I could relax and appreciate the amazing views, the texture of plants, the faces in the mountains. My feet were light and had their own will, which my mind didn’t even care or try to stop. My heart felt like it was a palm in front of my body, leading the way. A white light was emanating from me, one that seemed powerful enough to attract other spirits of nature that were in the same harmony, following the same beat.

Beat. At some point I was holding a drum, walking and playing the beat that seemed universal to me: the heart beat. It was like everything I could think of was following that same beat.

I am made of earth, this very earth I am touching, seating on, getting food from, and eventually going back to. Oneness. Cycle. Life/Death/Life cycle. Allow death to do its job. Allow it to take values that don’t serve me anymore. Allow it to open space for new life, new ideas, new experiences such as this one. Trust its beauty. Cycle. Nature. Some were thoughts, some just feelings I am trying to translate. Most emotions and conclusions I might have had came in shapes I didn’t know possible, I had never experienced. I might never fully understand.

We walked for hours, stopping at several sacred spaces. There were interactions of all sorts, with lightness, fun, spiritual beauty. Always.

The stars started to show up like incredible deities in the sky. I will never forget the image of the triangle formed by two mountains in the horizon, leaving an opening through which the stars did their own show. We walked into the triangle. Deep into the sky. The amazingness and immensity of the view made me dizzy, like my mortal human’s eyes couldn’t handle it all. But my heart could and still gives me shivers to think of it, to remember the feeling.

Once back in Ollantaytambo, around the fire, we relaxed into the sensations and laughed, and shared, and thought we were going to wake up from that wonderful dream but instead it kept on having fun with us. San Pedro was within each of us and also seating on the circle with us, making us laugh, telling us old tales, with a wise smile, like a grandpa.

I am so little and so young, and have so much to learn, to feel, to live. Yet I was capable of such an intense experience. Life is so light, can be so simple. I was assured by Huachuma I could always go back to this state of consciousness, if only I remember to listen to tu-dum, tu-dum, tu-dum… The beat of my heart, which I shared with a sacred rock for a few moments in a powerful connection. This connection was enough to make me understand: it is all inside me. To be outside, to find the oneness, I can always go inside. I felt it, and so now I know it. So many traditions, ancient and new, remind us of this knowledge: go deeper within. Happiness is within, connection, solutions, truth, it is all within. And by knowing and feeling that, we can explore outside better, leaving a clean and happy track behind.

I connected to the elements in ways I only thought possible through movie’s special effects. While seating in a circle, I looked so intensely at the fire that I could see through it. I could see every inch of the burning wood. I could be inside it, and it seemed so big, like its own world was happening under those flames. And I was feeling that warmth over and inside my whole body. Something outside brought me back to the human interaction and Michele touched my hand, which was warm. Only later did I notice I was the one seating further away from the fire, yet feeling perfectly warm and cozy while almost everyone else was looking for extra covers to warm up from the cold night air. The fire had touched me deeply. Within. It had expanded its heat towards my whole body through our deep connection.

The shaman told us: the fire is a spirit all generations of all civilizations have needed, worshipped, and also recognized its intimidatingly powerful properties. I had deeply felt it too.

The experience set fire into my being. A fire that burns still, with life, happiness, and creative force. It burns away what is no longer needed, and prepares the soil for what is to come. It warms me up, comforts me, and keeps me alert. Wakes up my consciousness and intuition, little by little. It reminds me of the old happy Huachuma’s face smiling with wisdom. Reminding me of perspective. That a plant is so much more than it seems, more alive, more complex, more necessary, more beautiful. While life can be so much simpler and lighter than it can seem. Than my ego may try to make it.

I wonder what lessons I have learnt that I am not yet consciously aware of. The ones I am aware of are hard to digest, almost impossible to put into words, beautiful to think of. Thankful. I am so thankful to have traveled through the realms of the pachamama, through the eyes of Huachuma.

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