The Despacho is a foundational ceremony in the cosmology of the Q’ero nation in Peru. Before they engage in any important activity, they offer a Despacho. The prayers are offered to Pachamama, the Mother Earth and to the Apus, the Mountain Spirits and to Vira Cocha their name for creator God. I remember my first Despacho Ceremony. It was as if someone lifted a shade and light came into my life. I was thrilled by this fun and colorful way to pray. The praying started with a white paper called the envelope of dreams folded into nine squares the magic of the 3 cubed. We prayed with Kintus – tiny bundles of leaves of flower petals. We put three leaves together intending to harness the power of three. Past, Present, Future; Lower World, Middle World, Upper World; Mother, Father, Child.
We prayed with candies that represented members of our community. We used various grains to express thanksgiving for all the food we receive from Mother Earth that helps us stay strong so we can do good work, feed our families and have fun. We prayed for the feminine. We prayed for the masculine. We prayed for balance. We prayed and laughed. We prayed and focused our intention on how fortunate we are. I fell in love that day with the Despacho Ceremony. It brought me back to praying. I had lost the urge to pray when my judgement and frustration with my birth religion hardened my heart. I was so happy to break through that barrier that day. Praying is wonderful. I had never experienced a fun way to pray. The creativity of the Despacho cracked me open and lit me up. The power of prayer was back in my life!
Every Despacho is unique. The ingredients may be exactly the same, but the energy of the day and time we enact it as well as the intention and beauty of the people present impact the configuration of the mandala that we make with all the contents. Each Despacho is like a unique love letter to Pachamama, a mesmerizing vortex of appreciation to the Benevolent Universe. “Dear All That Is, thank you for this, thank you for that, thank you for everything. Love me.”
I am so grateful. Being able to sit here and share this with you today means that I have the gift of time. I have the gift of this beautiful computer. I have a home in which to live and work. I have a community that shares my values. I have family that loves me and supports me in spite of our differences that ruffle feathers sometimes. I have music in my life. People to sing with. Drum. Dance. Pray. Play. Eat. Laugh. Walk. Talk. Live. Wow.
It wasn’t always this way. I wasn’t always this grateful. I used to be caught in the compare and despair thing. I used to be trapped by other peoples ideas. I allowed other peoples values to smother my own. I was very unhappy. I didn’t know then what I know now. I didn’t know that I am responsible for the quality of my life. I know it sounds funny. But I didn’t know it. I thought the world at large created the quality of my life and that somehow I was supposed to find a way to fit into the quality of life that had been created by my culture. Of course I was unhappy! There was no me in ‘home’. I was always trying to please someone else. I wanted to fit in; to be loved. I wanted to be like everyone else. And yet I couldn’t fit in. I couldn’t be loved and I couldn’t be like everyone else. Because there was no me there. It was all about ‘the other’. Living like that is like swimming upstream in a riptide and wondering why you are drowning.
I’ve recently gone through yet another major life overhaul. I discovered that I was up to my old tricks just on a deeper and more hidden level. There was no me in ‘home’ again. I was playing a spiritual game with myself. Telling myself that I would be so much more spiritual if only I gave everything away, left nothing for myself, asked nothing for myself except the very basics of existence. It was a practice of non-attachment run amuck. It was ‘Spiritual Bypassing’. It was me misunderstanding and misusing spiritual principles. It was me trying to play the role of ‘saint’ rather than be who I actually am – whoever and whatever that may be.
I agree that we all must come together as One. I agree that forgetting about one’s small stuff and focusing on the highest good of all will lead us home to a world where everyone has what they need. And yet something that I have discovered through my misguided experience is that one cannot ‘annihilate the self’ as they recommend in various spiritual traditions before one actually knows and expresses the self.
I had a therapist say to me once, “Eileen, you can’t give away anything you don’t own.” I didn’t understand her then. I nodded of course and thought I understood. And yet, I was in my mid-twenties and had a loooooooong way to go before I was ready to crack open my insanely defended heart. I think I get it now. At least I can smell it! I cannot give up my small self without actually knowing who and what my small self is. Playing too nice and giving too much and aspiring to sainthood was all a very crooked way that the Grace of God brought me back to my own needs, my own desires and my own defects. I am healing. I am healing. I am healing. I am not perfect. I am not seeking perfection. I am intending to make progress. I have no intention of allowing my desires to rule my world. I simply intend to understand what the heck some of my desires might be! Ha! I am learning to give myself the gift of my own time and attention. Whew!
And so, I am more grateful now that ever. More grateful to be who I am in all my struggles with selfishness and ridiculousness. I have discovered that keeping fifty pounds of overweight on my body was just my way of hiding myself from myself and from others. Turns out it was a very effective disguise! I have learned that I have many beautiful qualities that make me an inspired spiritual healer and teacher. But what makes me a truly effective spiritual healer and teacher are all the things about myself that I don’t particularly like and am now more than willing to see and give expression to in hopes that these ‘defects’ of mine will teach me something that I may in turn share with others.
Wow. Who knew? That being me would make me the most grateful of all. Seems like a small miracle for a girl who has been trying to be something other than herself for as long as I can remember.