One of the participants on our 2009 Sacred Journey in Peru wrote of her remarkable and transformational experiences.

I AM Pachamama, AND Pachamama's baby, and Pachamama is with me always

Pachamama, Pacha Mama
: (n) (1) Mother Earth, Gaia; both the physical planet and the goddess archetype. Universal feminine energy in time and space; cosmic mother.

On the one hand you could say I was not very prepared for my trip to Peru, and on the other you could say that the trip came at the perfect time for me in my life because of all the gifts it gave me.

I had a pretty rough time the first few days especially, adjusting to the altitude and being in the worst shape physically of the group meant a lot of swallowing my pride and being the last one to get to the top of the various ruins and sacred sites we visited.  I tried to be gentle with myself and take the time I needed, as well as accept help when offered, but the first few days I was often scared and frustrated, feeling like the weak link in the group, never sure if I was going to have to just sit it out or wait in the van or something!

During one of the early days, I had a moment coming up one little mountain where I was not far behind the others but I had to sit and rest on a rock to catch my breathe and give my heart a chance to settle down.  I was facing another mountain in the distance and I could see a grandfatherly face there.  He was laughing at me gently for being so silly and afraid of everything.  He told me there was really nothing to fear.  I laughed and laughed with him at that part of myself that was so afraid.  He was rather like a bigger, gentler version of my husband, who often laughs (lovingly and bewildered) when I dramatize my little upsets, but somehow I didn't take this grandfather mountain personally.

When I caught up with the group taking a little break further ahead, and told them my experience, my husband immediately saw the parallel to himself.  I started laughing again with him and everyone else started to join in.  We explained to them the video about the laughing bodhisattva on the train:

Shortly after the little break, our guide Puma took us to a small cave that he said was like a womb, the divine Feminine.  There was a large slab of stone scattered with ceremonial leaves offered by previous visitors, and a beam of sunlight was able to enter from an opening above the cave and travel across the altar.  We began our own ceremony with chanting some things I can't remember now.  But I remember Puma asked the women to represent all women and the men to represent all men and that the men ask forgiveness for any hurts or harms that men had inflicted on women and that the women accept the healing. 

Then Puma had all four women stand on the stone altar and said we were the four directions/elements.  We held hands in a small circle, and somehow we started intoning sounds, just vowels mostly, almost but not quite chanting.  One of the women seemed to take on a pain aspect, more screaming and groaning type sounds.  I'm sure it was partly a personal process of releasing heavy energy, but the archetype she was representing for women of the world was evident to me as well.  I started to make my tones in response to hers, sometimes matching in pitch yet calm and grounded, sometimes saying in sound but not in words, "I will hold you through the pain sister/daughter." 

The other two women broke our circle of hands and guided her to me and I hugged her, all the while toning to balance her.  It got pretty intense for a bit, I'm not sure exactly what the guys were doing, maybe toning too.  Puma was spraying us with cleansing ceremonial water, I remember the floral scent and the spray of the mist on my skin.  We started calling her name, asking her to come back in with the Quechua word - "Hampuy" (hampuy: (v) Command form of the verb  to come used by Andean Priests to call the spirit of a person, god, teacher, or a nature being: COME!)  I tapped on her heart like Puma had done for me the day before when I had been in my own energetic crisis, alternating that with using my hands to draw energy down her head into her heart. 

All of this was completely intuitional.  Some things I had maybe seen or done before in my life, but the when and how of what to do at that moment were just a flow.  After she was more grounded the other two women came down off the altar first to help her down.  I was last, and when I met her after the large step to the ground, she hugged me and said, "What a beautiful voice."  At that moment my small self was proud, and also unable to voice what a gift she had given to ME but letting me be of service to her .  One of the others hugged me and thanked me for holding the one who needed it.  I thanked her for helping hold both of us, because I knew it was not about the small me singing pretty tones, it was all of us taking on different roles and holding space for healing, both in each other personally and on behalf of all women. 

As we walked out the cave womb "rebirthed", I was so happy and grounded and power-filled.  I realized that I AM Pachamama, AND Pachamama is with me always.  Or maybe more accurately, I remembered it in my body.  So completely. 

(at this point while writing down the story originally in my journal, I was listening to my iPod on random and this song Goddess by Leela & Ellie Grace came on, giving me chills with the synchronicity:  )

As we walked to the next sacred site, I strode ahead of the group, and I felt so strong and calm.  Two of the other women caught up with me, walking hand in hand.  The woman who thanked me was singing some sweet little simple song to the woman who had embodied the pain.  We all three started laughing and laughing, lighter and more free and happy and empowered. 

That sense of calm carried through the rest of the trip with me, an anchor even the very next day where I was humbled once again to find myself Pachamama's baby, crying helplessly, hungry because I had missed the breakfast service at our lodge by a matter of minutes.  Somewhere under my embarrassing reaction, and a few slices of fresh papaya (from the merciful kitchen staff) later, I was able to at least remember how powerfully and completely I had accessed that Pachamama energy, and be confident that it would return, or I would return to it again.  Add one more factor to the paradox equation - I AM Pachamama, AND Pachamama's baby, and Pachamama is with me always.

HM, Fairfield, IA - 2009