Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Give Thanks to Pacha Mama

Castro Canyon, behind Deetjen's Inn, has long been known as home to faeries, magical spirits of the land. Hit hard by the fires this past summer, winter rains now threaten its pristine, gentle quality. Redwood logs are stacked and chained together to block mud flow, and sandbags fill the gaps between dam and canyon wall.

Fortunately, we have among us some inspired practitioners of shamanism, Peruvian-style. These gifted women work with the living energy all around us to do wondrous things. They have traveled to the source, and studied with the masters of the craft, cultivating a primal yet playful consciousness.

Devotees of Pacha-Mama, Mother Earth, two of these wise souls led a small group of neighbors in a “Despacho” last Friday afternoon in the canyon. This ceremony is a gift to Pacha Mama. We give her our love, our breath, our prayers and thanks, in the hope that in healing her, she will heal us in return. She likes pretty things, heartfelt words, and chocolate!

Painter Branham Rendlen leads us in blessing this medicine space with the ringing of bells, and the spraying of scented water. She calls in all the major and minor deities, from Allah to Krishna, from Mary to Inanna, as well as the divas of this land. The Kintu, or gift, to the Mother, is really the creation of a tiny universe, representing all of Life's elements, sending love to Her in grateful prayer.

The childlike nature of the offering lightens our hearts: Seashells at the center, representing the womb of the Sea, Candies for our relations, our masculine and feminine energies, seeds for our creative force. Llama fat for the life force, feathers for vision, rice for fertility, sugar and incense for sweetness. We dip white carnations and red carnations (for mountains, for earth) into wine and sprinkle drops across the gift. We each sip a bit of the wine, which oddly recalls the more formal communion of the catholic church.

Then, best of all, we add our prayers themselves, rose-petals wrapped in bay leaves, each tiny package sealed with discreet puffs of our breath, hopeful kisses of thanks. A Pacha is also a cross, indicating an intersection in space and time. Time and space converge powerfully in ritual, and intention (also known as faith, or belief) is everything. We're talking about the power of prayer, baby.

Next we clambered over the dam and up into the canyon itself, where Deetjen's General Manager Torrey Waag buried our gift beside the stream. At the end of our ritual, we all felt the its unique power: the gift, built ceremoniously, wrapped in fabric and passed over our bodies, generated a surge of positive healing energy, which flowed out of our eyes and our hearts. We are safe! We love and honor our Pacha Mama, and She loves us in return.

Magical Canyon waterfall
Flood preparations
Our offering—in progress, wrapped for delivery, in the earth
Petals in the stream


Anonymous said...

What a beautiful description of an exquisite ceremony, Linda.

We all will be offering our blessings and white light prayers for the healing of the land, and the gentleness of a soft winter.


Anonymous said...

I thank any and all powers for this lovely, light sprinkle of rain today. Let's see what tomorrow brings.


Jami said...

I went for a little prayer walk through Castro when we were up in August and I thought I saw a fairy, then I thought maybe it was just the first grader inside me...maybe both!

Castro Canyon and Big Sur have healed, inspired and revived me so many times, I hope I can bring some love to her this summer.