From the desk of Paul Sivert…

Panchos are hung over the windows to keep the light out. The ceremony to be conducted by Jose Luis Herrera must be done is total darkness. He is about to introduce to us students and shamanic practitioners the spirit of the sacred mountains in Peru, the Apus. There are twelve major spiritual mountains. He will call each by name to come and join our Ayllu (community) in ceremony. Several glasses of wine and cola have been placed in the center of the room for the spirits to come and drink from (they will only drink the alcohol leaving the beverages flat). I’m sitting near the glasses, across from Jose Luis waiting, listening, and preparing to let myself slip into an altered state of consciousness. Letting my mind and body almost drift off to sleep but allowing my own soul’s consciousness to engage the unfolding experience.

Jose Luis begins to sing, alternating with his beautiful whistle and all the while shaking his rattle. Then when conditions are perfect he begins to call the mountain spirits; Asangate, Salkantay, Wanakauri, Sacsaywaman, Wakay Willki, Pachatusan, Machu Picchu, Kolge Cruz, Huaman Lipa, Illimani, Pitusiray/Sawasiray, and Urusaywa.

You and I live and participate in a world of living energy. The energy is called kawsay. Jose Luis is teaching us the advanced perceptions and practices of the Altomesayoq who practices the “people’s medicine” demonstrating their wisdom in applying the two aspects of kawsay: hucha and sami. The Altomesayoq becomes an enlighted practitioner of the spirits from the mountains. They participate with the Apus effecting changes in the weather as well as becoming extraordinary seers of energy to help others.

Hucha is heavy or disorganized energy that accumulates on our energy body, called the poq’po (bubble). Sami is light energy that equates with being in harmony and proper connection. We receive sami for the kawsay pacha. The living world of energy.

I’m sitting in the darkness, and though there are twenty some people in the room, it is so still. I can hear Jose Luis singing and calling the Apus to come to our ceremony. Through the dark stillness I sense shifts of energy and suddenly hovering in front of my eyes is a black hummingbird. It seems suspended in the air; the hummingbird does not make a sound. It looks at me and I stare at it. The level of our engagement is to know that we are aware of each other.

Then the Apus began to present themselves to the members of our Ayllu. I felt energy move through the room and I saw lights like the headlights of a car. Pachatusan was the most clear experience for me. The presence of the Apu was enormous. The energy felt refined and inviting. I became aware that the Apu was opening and I went for a journey inside the Apu. Inside the Apu I saw many many faces, people’s faces. My first impression was that this was the energy of the healing lineage of the Inka. It was a custom of the Inka to mummify the death and place the deceased body in a small tunnel in the side of a mountain.

I felt privileged to be in the Apu’s spirit. Though I heard nothing, my vision told me I was being shown something very old and very sacred. I had an awareness the Apu was sharing its history with me, its story, and perhapts its power. Then as quickly as the Apu had come it was gone, and I was left with a memory and questions. The black hummingbird wouldn’t respond to my question. It just stared at me.

After the ceremony during the sharing, another participant described Pachatusan just as I had experienced, a great hallway of faces of spiritual elders he had been taken inside of. Oftentimes in shamanic healing, we recognize that the healing occurs before we understand or have the therapeutic insight about the process. During this ceremony, I was reminded that much spiritual assistance is available to us,. We only have to be open to receive. The benefits or outcomes continue long after the ceremony is over.

Upon returning to my office after the workshop, I was looking at a collection of stones I have displayed as an altar. There was a stone with a black hummingbird carved into it. I continue to be amazed when these serendipitous events occur. This stone was given to me and I have not done much work with it. Now the black hummingbird stone has a totally different feeling and intent. Soon it will go with a friend to Peru and be carried in a mesa to Asangate.

A footnote from the people who drank the wine and cola: after the ceremony each said the drinks were flat.

To read more about the Apus and the practices of the Altomesayoq, read Initiation by Elizabelth B Jenkins.