|An account of an initiation into
ancient Andean spiritual traditions
during which we learn to tap into
and work with the natural energies
of the earth and the universe.
Hatun Karpay Initiation in Peru
UPDATE: Peru Mudslide Hits Town
Near Inca Ruins!
Posted on Sat, Apr. 10, 2004
LIMA, Peru - A landslide hit the tourist town below Peru's famed Inca citadel of Machu Picchu early Saturday, leaving 11 people missing and feared dead and blocking the only route into the town, President Alejandro Toledo said.
A second avalanche buried the rail line - the only route in or out of the town of Aguas Calientes - hampering rescue efforts. A few hundred tourists were among those stranded in the town.
Toledo was at Machu Picchu, 310 miles southeast of the capital, Lima, when the landslide hit following heavy rains and was coordinating rescue efforts, according to a Government Palace statement.
At least 11 people were missing and six houses were destroyed, the statement said.
"I have given urgent instructions to repair the rail line to re-establish transit," Toledo told Radioprogramas radio. "I know that we cannot give back life but we will do everything at least to recover the bodies."
Toledo was in the area acting as a tour guide over the Easter holiday for U.S. cable station Discovery Travel Channel for an upcoming special on Peru.
No foreigners were believed to be injured by the pre-dawn landslide that fell into the Alcamayo River, which flows past the town. But between 300 and 400 tourists were stranded, Carlos Cuaresma, regional president of the Inca capital Cuzco, told Canal N television.
He said a local family of six whose house was buried was missing as were four laborers who worked along the river. It was not immediately clear who the 11th missing person was.
Toledo said he had given orders to send government helicopters to bring the tourists back to Cuzco. "The tourists can rest assured that I will provide them with the helicopters."
Margarita Valencia, who runs Gringo Bill's Hostel in Aguas Calientes, told The Associated Press by phone that the second avalanche hit the rail line 6 miles from town.
"We saw it. There are tremendous boulders, giant, that are blocking the rail line," she said. "They are boulders 4 or 5 meters (13 to 16 feet) across."
Machu Picchu was used as a refuge by the Inca rulers until Spanish soldiers arrived in 1532 and began to topple their empire. Residents fled to Cuzco or to the surrounding jungles to survive.
The mysterious, partially reconstructed citadel in jungle-shrouded mountains is South America's top archaeological site. It draws 300,000 foreign visitors each year.
2005: Apparently another mudslide knocked out 400 meters of the rail line near Aguas Calientes. I haven't been able to find out whether any more slides have occurred since then (this is 2016 as I write this update). But the town, it's hotels and restaurants - and the rail line - seem to be back in business.
The city seen from the top of
Machu Picchu (Big Mountain)
Examples of the fine stonework of the walls at Machu Pikchu.
Photos by Eileen and David Nauman The photo on the right is the one I have used for this website's background.
Now back to 1998: At last, we were actually there! The stone city hanging in the clouds that we'd seen gracing millions of pictures in books and postcards impacted us multidimensionally! I can't even begin to describe the goosebumps, the tinglings, the flutterings and goodness only know what else I experienced as we walked along that first terrace down from the entrance gate. I wanted to just stop and take it all in pore by pore.
But Juan kept up a good clip as he led us to our first place of ritual, which was the cascade of ritual baths tumbling down the slope, that I described in the part about the water ceremonies and rituals.
After the baths ritual, Juan took us to the Temple of the Condor. We couldn't go into this temple as the authorities had it roped off. So we had to do our ritual while imagining we were sitting on a special rock seat. This temple isn't really a building at all. It's a series of carved steps and seats and an altar and a large flat sort of triangular stone with one of its angles carved into a condor's head. The whole temple is protected by being under an enormous rock slab that slants from upper right to lower left as we stood there looking at it. The angle is about 45 degrees. Had we been able to enter the temple, we'd have had to bend over. Perhaps condors live in caves high up in the mountains? I felt that this cave-like temple was very appropriate for a condor.
Following Juan's directions, we opened our bubbles and centers to the condor's sami and to the anaconda's sami (which we'd connected with at Ollantaytambo) and blended them with the sami of our own countries, in our group's case, with the USA and Holland. As I did this, I 'became' a condor flying high over the Andes--and then suddenly I was joined by a North American eagle! We flew side by side for a time, then I was the observer watching as the eagle flew clockwise into a circle while the condor flew counterclockwise into an adjacent circle. The circles touched forming the infinity sign and each bird then flew the complete infinity circuit. The birds disappeared and the circles began to merge--into the Chinese yin/yang symbol. This transformed into the earth, then the earth blended into the sun.
After this ritual, Juan led us up to the Sun Temple near the western edge of the saddle on which the city was built. Here again the large rock, the Intiwantana representing the sun, Inti, was roped off! A TV documentary crew, who had obtained permission to do some filming there, had accidently chipped this stone when one of their large cranes collapsed onto it.
Juan instructed us to bring down the sami from the sun into the rock and the sami of the earth up into the rock and blend them. As my aura filled with this blended sami, I 'saw' a brilliant yellow disk--with a hurricane-like eye in its center. Then suddenly this sami whooshed up my spine, emerging from the top of my head as a trumpet-shaped flower! I guess that was my way of announcing to the world that my Inkan "seed" had bloomed! But as it turned out, I'd anticipated the next ritual Juan intended to have us do.
As I learned later, that trumped-shaped white flower is a Datura, which some Native American shamen use to help them journey on their medicine quests. But I do not know whether the Andean shamen use the Datura. It does grow in that area, but it's not the same as the North American Daturas.
We moved to the edge of the cliff beyond the Sun Temple's rock. Juan said to open to the sami of the wind and draw it up to our heart centers. As this column of energy reached our hearts, we were to make it send out a whorl of branches with leaves on their tips. Pull the energy column up to our throat centers and send out another whorl of branches with leaves. And finally to project the energy column out the tops of our heads and allow it to flower! This time my flower showed up as a pink lotus blossom.
While we stood at the cliff's edge, blooming, I felt so light, so free--I actually had to restrain my physical body from jumping off and blending with the wind! (And of course, the condors would have loved to have been able to dine on the bits and pieces of my physical body which would have been splattered all over the valley below while only my unfettered soul blended with the wind!) Several others said later that they'd also had this very strong urge to jump off and fly! [Return to Dream, page 12, if you linked here from there.]
Our next day at Machu Pikchu was to prove my undoing. Juan took us first to two temples at the northern end of the ruins with a plaza between them. At one end stands an extremely large boulder sticking up like a mountain. It has a platform carved from it at its base. The side facing us had been carved away so it is flat vertically. Many of us noticed that the outline of this rock echoed the outline of the mountains beyond! Yes, indeed, Juan said--that's what the Inkans intended! This huge, massive boulder, the Pachamama Stone, was cut and fashioned so that its upper edges and sides emulate almost exactly the silhouetted form of the distant mountain Yanantin, where the Rainbow beings reside. We climbed up on the platform at the base of this rock and blended our energies with it as Pachamama's representative, and then with the apus of the mountains in the background.
Next we hiked to a small hut where we had to sign names, ages and time of entrance, before we could go through the modern gate. The park officials keep track of who enters to hike and climb these two treacherous trails on Little Machu Pikchu Mountain--Huayna Pikchu. Some people have fallen to their deaths on those trails. If we haven't returned by the time the park closes, I guess they set out to hunt for us.
Once through this gate we descended many stone steps with little between us and infinity at the bottom of the valley! The view, as are all views at Machu Pikchu, was spectacular! But one had better not spend too much time gazing at the mountains and deeply carved Urubamba Valley if one wants to stay on the trail. I kept thinking that I'd have to climb those steps upon returning! My knees and ankles were hurting pretty badly that day.
We came to a fork in the path as the trail started up again. Juan explained that up until now we'd been working the right-hand path, the mystical part of the Andean spiritual tradition. This involves learning to absorb and blend energies, which we must learn to do first before we can apply this knowledge for the magical part or left-hand path. We'd now reached the half-way point in our journey of initiation and were about to learn the magical part. Juan also said that in the sense that the Andeans use right and left, this does not apply to our Western notions of right and left brain hemispheres. At which point, being somewhat tired and quite achy, I got a little confused!
We took the left hand path and climbed up and up and up--and up and up--and up and up--and finally I panted out a call for rest! I could hardly get any air into my lungs, it seemed. I did notice that the others were panting, too, but not like I was. Juan smiled and told the group to get half ahead and half behind me and they'd use the energies of the group for a "train" to help me get up the steps. Well, this worked for a little while, especially when I could image my qosqo opening, sending out an energy tentacle, which grasped something substantial ahead and pulled me up!
But my physical body ran out of physical steam. My legs became jelly, I wobbled and sat down--and cried! The group stopped and Juan was concerned--he didn't understand that my physical body was so totally exhausted that the only thing it could do was cry! It's what happens when my blood sugar level hits rock bottom.
I tried to explain that I wasn't crying, that it was my physical body that was crying--and then Juan said, "But you are your body!" And I said no I wasn't! That's not what I meant, but my body was too exhausted and my brain too deprived of oxygen to be able to explain anything. Juan gave me a little lecture about knowing my limits and taking care of myself--the physical body. He may also have been "eating" some of my hoocha.
So finally I asked him where was the point of no return on this trail. He pointed upward--at the place where the trail headed down, down, down! About an hour going down to the Pachamama Cave where we were headed. But it would take a normally fit body at least 2 hours to climb back up to the highest point on this trail from that cave. And then there'd be the long stretch down from that point, the stretch up which I could no longer proceed. And I remembered the final stretch back to the gate and guard house, up, up, up again. To get out of Machu Pikchu from the guard house, one has to trek the whole length of the site--more ups and downs. I didn't possess a normally fit body!
Ok, right where I sat was my point of no return! Juan asked me if I'd be ok alone and I assurred him I'd simply rest until I felt I could stand up again. Then I'd proceed very slowly and carefully back to the sign-out hut. Various members of the group offered me energy bars and other stuff, which I declined as I had my own. Several of the much younger members told me they admired me for sticking it out as long as I could, but for also knowing when to stop and turn back! This surprised me. I told them to remember me as they got older and maybe would be tempted to let the physical condition of their bodies slide. And so the group moved on. And I just sat on the hard stone and wished for a nice soft bed so I could sleep for a hundred years!
I must have sat right there for about 20 minutes more. I ate an energy bar--and then it struck me that I hadn't been eating enough food to supply my body with physical fuel! Ever since we'd arrived in Peru, I hadn't been hungry, so hadn't eaten very much and at least twice had skipped supper. So I resolved to stick more food in my mouth starting with the next meal.
On the way back I took my time. Amused, I suddenly remembered that I'd fussed just the day before that I'd love to have had time to examine all the interesting plant life we'd encountered clinging to the rocks! Well, my wilted body had now provided the opportunity--and I took advantage of it. Lots of ferns, mosses, lichens in addition to those lovely solitary bright red flowers we'd seen from a distance. I found one close up - and lo and behold, it's a begonia! Also on the way back, the part of me that observes the rest of me doing things observed that here I was, alone, in a foreign non-English-speaking country, high in the mountains, on a dangerous trail--and I wasn't in the least afraid or even a bit apprehensive! A first for me!
On this lower part of the trail I met a couple from Colorado, so we stopped and chatted a few minutes. They continued on up and I started back along the trail again. I found a lovely red begonia at the edge of the trail, perched as if it would topple into the valley if one blew on it. Back-lit, it would have made a lovely photograph. Again I regretted having left my cameras at home. But that thought was squelched by another thought of how much a camera hanging around my neck would have seemed to weigh, becoming heavier and heavier with each step.
While I contemplated this lovely begonia, along came a rather frisky woman who I realized was much older than I. Slender and physically fit, she'd been camping and hiking with a group for two weeks way off the Inka Trail!. She said she was 73! Seven years older and much fitter than I. She planned to hike up to the top of Huayna Pikchu!
Back in the Inkan city I poked around in some of the temples and made some fascinating discoveries--nothing as earth-shaking as what I'd discovered about that big black rock at Ollantaytambo, though. I explored some of the roofless three-walled temples in the northeastern quadrant of the complex. There must be fifteen or 20 of these temples, most three-walled, but some have four walls. All have highly pitched end gables with stones sticking out at regular intervals. The wooden poles to which the thatching was tied at one time were attached to these stones. Some of these temples had their open sides facing another temple. I remembered what Juan had taught us about the feminine and masculine or left and right paired temples and wondered whether these served that same purpose of blending and harmonizing those two opposite but complimentary energies.
In one of these temples I found another boulder that caught my fancy. Smaller by far than that big black roak at Ollantaytambo, it was set toward the closed end of the room. About two by four feet, it stuck out of the ground about a foot high. In its fairly flat top surface a shallow basin had been carved near one end. For what purpose? I sat down next to the basin end with my back facing the wall. And then I saw that the edge of the boulder at the end opposite from me seemed to have been carved to match the shape of the mountain I could see in the distance!
Ah ha! Perhaps a shaman/priest had sat here at night, filled the shallow basin with water and studied the reflections of the stars, which would appear upside down in their relationships to each other on the surface of the water. Matching the relative positions of the stars against the carved outline representing the distant mountain which might not be visible at night, the priest/shaman might have gained important information about the seasons and the celestial turn of events. The shaman/priests for thousands of years had correlated physical events on earth with the celestial events they saw recorded in the night skies.
Tiring of exploring these temples, I slowly made my way south through the complex, sometimes watching other tourists, sometimes observing the small herd of resident llamas and sometimes sitting down to rest again. I sat for a long time in the shade afforded by a series of terraced steps that younger, more spry tourists were climbing up toward the big mountain, Machu Pikchu. No way was I going to follow them, though. I longed to be able to climb up to the Intihuantana again, but that was quite beyond my physical endurance, too. I ended up finding a shelter for tired tourists very near the entrance to the complex. So there I sat while my physical body absorbed the wonderful atmosphere and my eyes engraved on my brain the marvelous view this vantage point afforded of much of the ancient complex.
Eventually some of the other members of the group returned, one by one, exhausted and dragging, looking like a bunch of wilted lilies--but very, very happy. Even Juan was dragging his feet!
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Last revised, April 11, 2004
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19 - Musings ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Florence W. Deems
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