After a long, twenty hour plane ride, I finally arrived in Cusco, Peru. I was immediately hit with dizziness and fatigue from the high elevation (Cusco is at 11 000 ft), but I soon became aware of a different sensation: the energy around me in the tiny airport was alive, throbbing even. “What is this energy?” I wondered, as I waited with my group to reclaim my suitcase. The energy continued to swirl around me as we spilled through the airport doors, whereupon we were warmly greeted by a friend of Star Riparetti’s (the trip organizer and my friend and mentor), who placed an Incan cross of turquoise and serpentine stones around our necks. The air hummed with this new energy: the indigenous and local people embodied it, and the rolling green hills and mountains oozed it. I realized a few days later, as we walked around the ancient ruins of Sacsayhuaman, that the energy was that of a whole other level of consciousness. The moment I stepped off the plane, I had left the world of North American material realism and entered into the mystical Andean shamanistic culture. This land was ancient, wise, and full of energetic reciprocity; it was so different from the self-serving, empty, and one dimensional reality that I was born into and that challenged me daily back home. From the time I arrived and journeyed into the Sacred Valley of the Inca (Urubamba region) to Machu Picchu and then back again, this living energy had started to permeate my cells. It was astonishing and, at the same time, a wee bit unsettling. I knew I would never be the same again.
I consider myself to be an enlightened being. I work hard to be mindful and sit daily with my inner wounding to see what it will tell me about myself. I teach and bring enlightenment and dynamic health to my clients with the help of archetypical energies, plants, and other natural medicines. But being in the Andean culture and learning about their traditions has been a whole other level of energetic awakening for me. It is difficult to put into words the Andean concept of reciprocity, anyi, but it encapsulates that which I have written about in my book: the importance of connecting to nature and the world around us in Oneness and in honouring the duality in everything. It is the principle that we must give and take in equal exchange with our surrounding environment, and balance the masculine and feminine within us so as to exemplify this balanced wholeness in everything we think, do, and say.
This level of unification comes naturally to the indigenous Andean people in the way they honour both the masculine and the feminine in daily life. As much as I strive to embrace this way of living, my ego, which I deem as the masculine in all of us, was frantically scrambling to find its place of dominance in this different consciousness. Share power with and revere the feminine? See the feminine as equal and important? My masculine programming still struggles with this shift on certain levels. It is a constant challenge in our patriarchal society to recognize the duality in our world and consciously attempt to bring it into balance. And, like that of all North Americans, my ego was so used to having the upper masculine hand that it did not like that it was not in control. Afraid of the feminine, it wanted to dominate, compete, stand out, and be unique. It was a daily struggle, but I managed to release my ego for much of the trip. It was easiest to silence it when I was outside (which was almost all day, everyday) and when I was at the various sacred sites that I visited. How could the ego compete with such vastness and magnificence!? I was a humbled North American who felt like she had finally come home. I felt strongly that my energy had been in this place before; I wanted to stay in this part of Peru and disappear into its spiritual wholeness and soulful lushness.
I learned about the Andean nature spirits: Pachamama (Mother Earth); Mama Killa (the moon); Inti (the sun); and the apus (mountain spirit) which surrounded me. I was in awe of the diverse orchid species in the Machu Picchu sanctuary.
The other thing that struck me as we travelled around the countryside was the lack of fencing; the animals (including dogs) and people roam freely on the open hills and mountains. Herders tend their flocks and animals are tethered and moved when necessary. One day we had a healthy lunch in an open field next to a few houses. The view of Cusco was breathtaking. I remarked to the man who served us lunch that he had a lovely property. “No,” he said and shook his head, “This is not my property. We are just borrowing it.” There is an unsaid understanding and respect that although people own land, all land belongs to everything.
I ate mounds of fresh fruits and vegetables and marvelled at our guide telling us that there are 96 micro climates and 3000 different kinds of potatoes in Peru. Diversity abounds in food and plant life–monoculture is frowned upon and unthinkable. I cleansed on many levels, not just through this wholesome food. By constantly being out in nature, sitting in energetic sacred sites, and by the ceremony that my group performed almost daily at these sacred sites, we purified ourselves and prayed for the world. We honoured Mother Earth. We asked for peace, forgiveness and unity. We cried, laughed, and walked silently. All that we did was in reverence to what we were feeling. We carried an exquisite awareness of the natural world, and experienced intuitive connection and clairsentience: a fusion of mind, body, soul and spirit. And, in those moments that my ego surrendered to totality, I felt absolute bliss.
Before I knew it, it was time to come home and back to obligations, family, pets, staff, clients, and my businesses. When I arrived at the airport in Houston to transfer flights, I went into energetic cultural shock: it was so loud, busy and frantic. People were shoving food into their mouths and shopping for things they did not need. I was so disoriented that I did not realize that I had gone all the way to the wrong end of this huge airport! I ended up at the wrong gate at the time my flight was boarding. I started to cry; I could not do this. I could not go back to my old reality. At the height of despair, a quote from the Buddhist nun Pema Chӧdrӧn came into my mind: “Wherever you go, there you are.” At that moment, I realized that Andean culture had given me a bigger compass; it showed me that respectful duality and Oneness in North American culture, as well as around the world, is tangible and possible. If indigenous cultures, such as the Andeans, can find balance, so can we. I felt this truth so strongly: I could carry the experience and wisdom within me, instead of running back to Peru. I could become it even more than before. And so I wiped my tears, stuck out my belly button (see the Chakra Three section in my book for more about belly button power!) and confidently (and quickly!!) walked to the correct gate to catch my flight.
My experience in the Houston airport was more than a bit of post-holiday angst; it was the start of another ascension process for me. My Peruvian experience seems fitting and in alignment with 2012, as this year, more than ever, we are being asked to evolve beyond our ego-centred selves and step into wholeness with each other and our world. One client asked me, “How do I do this when it seems that my culture, its institutions, and my family are working against me?” I answered that we do it one day at a time, one experience at a time, by staying mindful, seeing beyond our culturally imposed reality, embracing the new co-creative values (see pg 41 of my book), and by finding the courage to be different. We must work at it, become it, model it, and not give up. And taking the occasional trip to Peru or some other place that lifts your soul and spirit doesn’t hurt either! We must all keep going with the same goal in mind: to become the healing conduit that aligns with nature’s innate values so we can bring balance, peace, abundance, and reciprocity to our little corner of the world.
See more about Samantha’s book at: www.sensesofthesoul.ca