6. Adios amigos

Dear Friends and Family,

The final transmission or "karpay" I received from don Francisco and dona Juanita was the Ayni Karpay. It's interesting to me that it was the last one in the sequence. The others have a somewhat established order, and the Ayni Karpay is not, as far as I can tell, part of that order that seems to move toward higher "states of consciousness."  Except for the Taitanchis ranti rite, DF pretty much had followed the sequence that most authorities allude to. In fact, I had not heard of the ayni karpay until the others were complete, and after a couple days Francisco mentioned this one to me. I looked it up and found this: "ayni karpay: A ritual in which two shamans exchange the totality of their knowledge and energy with each other through their poq'pos.  poq'po: (n) The luminous body, the energy bubble or field around the body."

We took a rattly old bus to the east outside Cusco. At a point near the end of the line there were some ruins near the road, kind of being excavated. No parking lot or guides or placards. Barely a trail up to them, through patchy ground with some well-nibbled grass and some rough brush. But it was a nice atmosphere. Nevertheless, more a place to meet each other than to encounter a particularly powerful huaca. This seems to have been a case where we ourselves were the primary players.

We sat down on a fairly flat space. I had finally begun to feel like part of this team. I stood up opened sacred space as is done in the Fourwinds work, and Francisco thanked me. Throughout the despacho, I participated in the process directly, rather than expecting that my hosts were doing the work and were intermediaries for any part I might play. As we completed the despacho and moved into the karpay, there was a point when I knew it was time for me to give back, and I humbly blew through my mesa into don Francisco's and dona Juanita's, feeling that what I have to give is less important than the will to offer it, to be in right relationship.

To a very large extent, the "ayni" in this ceremony was about a balance between the Q'ero and the ayllus of the USA, of Iowa and of Fairfield. They had already gifted me a well-used ceremonial cloth, with the admonition to "do ceremony in Estados Unidos, do ceremony in Iowa." It became clear to me what the "exchange" or "balance" is between the keepers of these rites in the Andes, and those fortunate to receive them: We receive them in trust; they're being given to us in order that we may nurture and also propagate these seeds. I realized that as ayni operates at every level, what this ceremony was about was not so much an exchange between persons, as an exchange between ayllus, and it was made abundantly clear that their interest was in my taking these seeds they'd given me and passing them on. In fact, every despacho we did included k'intus and evocations for "ceremonia en Estados Unidos, ceremonia de Iowa". Thinking back about what I'd read of the history of the Q'eros' re-emergence, bringing forth the sacred knowledge they'd sheltered for 500 years, I realized that what they are doing now is continuing that purposeful undertaking. And they are still asking us to receive, and pass it along.  Their expressions at this moment seem to convey the spirit in which they simply give and give, yearning to convey this simple but profound knowledge to the rest of us.

When we finished don Francisco gave me a ch'ulla, the colorful beaded hat that he wears, and considers necessary for doing this ceremonial work. And said, "you will do ceremony in the US."


We had kind of a running joke about two hats. Don Francisco considers it essential to wear his Q'ero-weave poncho and
ch'ulla, knit hat, whenever doing ceremonial work. And for him, "ceremonial" is really whenever he steps into that role of calling on, and asking of, the Apus, Pachamama, any/all of the divine elements of Nature. At the same time, he wants the bright sun out of his eyes, so he simply adds another hat over the ch'ulla. When we were doing the ayni despacho, I took off my broad-rimmed tourist hat to put on the ch'ulla for the ceremony. Francisco then put that hat on over his. We kind of grinned at each other about this.  When I left Peru I gave him the hat


As "shamanic practitioners", in "the West", we all wear two hats.  One represents the mythic, sacred space where we do our deep work. The shamanic worldview is a literally neolithic perspective, and is overlaid in all of us by the modern, advanced-materialist culture into which we were born. Our second hat. For me, being with don Francisco for a month wasn't so much a step into an unspoiled, ideal world. It was a step into a mixed world, in many ways like our own, as it is lived by persons for whom the sacred is still strong and present. InPhoto their home villages the Q'ero face a challenging reality: Llamas get killed by lightning; people do too; too little moisture easily threatens the potato crop; infant mortality is still high. Yet they are ever-thankful to their Mother for her love and care. In Cusco, don Francisco and dona Juanita live in a moderate neighborhood. Though the roads are roughly paved, most yards are dirt. Meals are prepared in an outdoor shed over a wood fire. If you want hot water, you have to heat it. A few non-family members also live there. Don Francisco has to get them to pay their rent; he has to make repairs. He has to help his children grow up in this mixed world.        

"Don" means "brother", of the same parents. The persistent awareness of the Mother and Father is, in my mind, what that title signifies. He is not "San" Francisco, a saint. He doesn't walk an other-worldly path. He's willing to wear two hats. As such, he's an example for us, that the kallpas, the powers that we're given, depend on our creating a base in our own consciousness, which then in turn allows us to live them into actualization, remembering who our Parents are, feeling their support, becoming don and dona, powerful, simple children of those Parents, conduits for their love and power.


November 26 began like quite a few days had. I did some stretching and drank my starter of superfood, maca, whey powder, and a few other energy goodies. At 6:30 or so I started carrying sand and gravel. The pile outside was getting small, and by 8 there was nothing left to carry. I had my camera in my pocket, so I shot an image of the last bucket-load before carrying it up. I said goodbye to my two co-trabajeros, and gave them the remainder of my bag of coca leaves.

After my last cold shower, I joined the family in their outdoor gathering. Juanita gave me some potatoes and biscuits she had just cooked.
PhotoI walked Ronaldino the couple blocks  to school. After running in, he turned and grinned and wavPhotoed at me. Back in my room I cleaned up and finished packing. Then Francisco came up. I showed him some work I'd been doing with a short movie we'd made, of him talking about karpays, and he helped me to pick out more words and follow his meaning. (More on this in a few days, I hope.)

Then, soon, it was time to go. I found a taxi and directed him to the place. Lugged my bags out through the familiar gate. Another load of gravel had been delivered; someone else would carry it. Francisco and Juanita came and each put a beaded weaving around my neck. He was wearing my broad-rimmed hat. Hugs. Promises. A Dios.