A Despacho– literally, a “dispatch”- is a traditional Peruvian ceremony of thanksgiving from the High Andes. In a Despacho ceremony, a beautiful prayer bundle is assembled as an offering to the Earth, the Apus (mountain spirits,) the stars, the waters. It is an act of love, or munay, and heals us by restoring the connections we share with all helping beings, elements, spirits, and sacred places.
Love and Healing: the Q’ero people and the Despacho Ceremony
The Q’ero people are a small indigenous group of about 500 who live in the beautiful, remote high regions of the Andes. Of the many indigenous groups comprising the Inkan Empire, the Q’ero peoples were some of the few that escaped the conquest of the Spanish Empire. For hundreds of years they remained relatively isolated from the rest of the world due to the remote locations in which they lived. It wasn’t until the 1950s that the Q’ero descended from their mountainous territories to interact with the outside world. Many Q’ero live today in Cuzco and the Sacred Valley of Peru. The Q’ero continue to hold and practice ceremonial traditions that have been passed down from their Inkan and Pre-Inkan ancestors. One of these traditions is the despacho ceremony.
A Despacho is an offering bundle, assembled in sacred ceremony, and given to Pachamama – Mother Earth – for healing and for the manifestation of our deepest desires. It is an ancient ceremonial form and one of the most common spiritual practices of the Andes region, practiced regularly by people throughout this part of the world.
In its purest form, a Despacho ceremony is an expression of love and gratitude. We infuse our intentions and wishes with our breath into each ingredient, one by one, whispering sweet blessings to all things and thanking the abundant Universe for assisting us in our lives. The despacho is art ~ it is a creative act of beauty and deep reverence. The process is play, and the result is a powerful creation. As the finished despacho is buried within the earth, burnt in sacred flames, or otherwise offered, its energy is released. In its transmutation, dark, disorganized hucha is consumed by Pachamama ~ “the mother of space and time.” Simultaneously, light, healing sami – clear, organized energy – is released to the Apus ~ the spirits of the mountains ~ and to all corners of the Universe.
Through the offering of the despacho, ayni ~ the sacred reciprocity between all beings ~ is maintained. Ayni is a central principle in the cosmology and daily life of the high Andes. Ayni is life lived in equal exchange with our fellow humans; a give-and-take with all creatures, and with the world of living energy ~ the kausay ~ all around us. Through daily practices such as prayers, offerings, and celebrations, the people of the high mountains of Peru and Bolivia maintain balance and harmony in their Universe.
Ceremonies such as the despacho also open up a link, or portal, between the Three Worlds ~ the Uhu’pacha, or lower world; the Kay’pacha, or middle world; and the Hanaq’pacha, or upper world. The prayers and intentions of a truly heartfelt despacho spread ayni thoughout these three worlds, helping all levels of the Universe to come into alignment. It is said in ancient Andean prophecy that when the three worlds come into harmony with one another, a new age of peace and abundance will be ushered into existence on Earth.
The Despachos that we have offered through Chakana are a blend of new and old, North and South. We use the traditional Despacho format in order to create opportunities for those of our community and of various traditions to enter in to sacred space and affirm their heart’s prayers and truest intentions. Our Despachos are fun, approachable, and powerful, as well as relevant to the lives that we live here in the modern world today.