by Harriet R. McMahon, Ph.D.


    As my stay in Peru moved into the second week I began to sense my anxiety about my upcoming journey to Pachatussen, the beautiful Apu that I spotted from a distance, blanketed in snow. I knew very little about this journey other than my personal truth that I had to do this for my growth and healing process. As for the anxiety I think it was my concern of the intensity of the hike and the unknown of what was planned for us. What I was clear about is that this Apu was where I was meant to receive my Rite of Passage.

    My journey began at a small village where I was dropped off to begin my trek on foot and where horses were prepared to carry the camping gear. The children of this community gathered to intently watch this preparation and to check us out and I wondered if they had seen this routine take place in the past, as they seem to have knowingness in their eyes of what I was about to experience.

    I began my journey upwards and I felt my heart pumping faster and faster. I watched the two Shamans who traveled with me scoot up this mountain so easily and effortlessly as I tried to control my rapid breathing and to not constantly complain. The combination of my difficulties of breathing and the awesome beauty of this mountain only intensified my awareness of kawsay, the life force that fuels everything, Although my body was exhausted I was overcome with intense munay (love) and an awareness of chullaq (oneness) with this land and these people.

    After an unknown period of time of hiking we arrived at our base camp, which was right below the snow line. I was amazed to see that the tents were pitched and all the gear was in place and it still mystifies me how these people and horses got up there. This mountain is beautiful and so silent with only the occasional bleating of sheep or the mooing of cows. I felt the love from this Apu embrace me and begin to share its wisdom with me as a wise Grandfather.

    Following lunch Chino and Juan (our delightful Shamans and guides) took me on another exhausting hike to "the lagoon" where I would be spending time in ceremony. The hike was long and tedious and I battled with my ego as it tried to cheat me out of this experience but through the support and guidance of my friends I completed the hike and was rewarded with the beauty and wisdom of the lagoon. There have been many ceremonies here and I sensed the antiquity and intense energy of this place. As we prepared the Despacho, a gift of energetic food for Spirit and Pachamama, I became deeply aware of how important intention is when these ceremonies are being done. All the elements that are put into a Despacho participate in the birth of the intention of the offering. If this intention is not clear then the ego is navigating the intention. Shamans believe that everything is alive and that impressed upon me how important our prayers are that we place into the Despacho. Our thoughts, prayers, and spoken words are alive and we must always be aware of the intention behind our articulation and actions so that the results are for the higher good. Following the preparation of the Despacho I was blessed by both Shamans and taken to the healing waters of the lagoon to complete the Rites of Passage. I was blessed again with the gift of eagles flying above and the love and prayers from Chino and Juan.

    We returned to camp at nightfall and were gifted with the incredible beauty of the sky, blanketed with stars and planets. The Southern Cross hovered above me with its reminder of my connectedness to everything and the importance of being in ayni (reciprocity) with the heavens, earth and all beings. As I zipped into my tent for the night, the message that I received from "Grandfather" was to revisit my relationships with people and situations that I am involved with and to create ayni where it doesn't already exist It is time to revisit these areas of my psyche and to step out of ego to bring these relationships into ayni.

    As I continue down my spiritual path I know in my heart that I will return to Peru but Pachatussen is now very much a part of me and I hold this wise Apu in my heart.

Munay, Harriet
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Copyright 1999-2005 Harriet McMahon (Creative Growth and Healing)