It’s quite a trip thinking of oneself as a tool of God or the spirits or whatever deity one might believe in. I recently had a revelation that has made me think really hard about my spirituality and relationship with what I consider to be God.
On Thursday night we had a Pago a la Tierra (payment to the Earth) at Qantu. Every August many Andean people pay hommage to PacchaMama (mother earth) with this type of ceremony. It is thought that she gets hungry so she must be satisfied with this things the people have to offer her and in return she will grant the people their wishes. It was just the profes, a shaman, and an interpreter. First, coca leaves were spread out on a manta (a blanket) and we all looked for full leaves to make quintas, or groups of three leaves placed in the shape of a clover. We gave them to each other as offerings or respect and friendship and every quinta I received I was to put in my mouth and chew. Well, for anyone who has chewed coca leaves, after a while your tongue falls asleep because of the alkaloids in the plants. The interpreter passed around ceniza which you are only supposed to take a very small bit of. It’s super strong but when it is mixed with the coca leaves it creates a sweet taste. Unfortunately, all the coca and ceniza left my tongue with 5 canker sore. Oh well, it was worth it if what we asked for comes to fruition.
We sat in a circle and kept making quintas, making a pile of them for every intention we wanted to share and offer to Pacchamama (mother earth). Many people asked for the prosperity of Qantu, a larger house for the association, the health and well being of students and professors, but what affected me the most was the request for a new violin teacher to come quickly before Angela leaves for school next January. Had they asked for a violin teacher last time they did a pago a la tierra? I asked Flor afterward and she said yes, they had asked for a violin teacher and here I was. Whoa, was I somehow sent by the Apus (mountain gods) to Qantu? We continued on and after everyone had asked for what they wanted we watched as the shaman put all sorts of trinkets and toys into the package along with all our coca leaves. Each item represented something. For example, there was fake money to represent wealth, there was a plastic house to represent a home, food, cloth, lots of cereals such as quinoa and anis. Once the package was complete it was put over a fire to be burned to ashes which would then be buried in the ground the following day. Only when the offering is in the ground with Pacchamama take action. One thing I thought was kind of funny was how as women, a lot of us were not able to actually look directly as the burning homage. Why? Who know, probably some machista bs but whatever, I wasn’t going to jinx anything by watching it.
So, the whole ceremony got me thinking about myself as a tool sent by the spirits but what really got me thinking more was later that night when I was talking to Marco about everything. He told me that a year and a half ago he had asked Señor de Huanca or Señor de los Milagros in Lima, for happiness. He wasn’t specific about it so it left the possibilities wide open but he told me that his happiness came when I came into his life. He wasn’t a depressed, down in the dumps, kind of person before but he has been through a lot the past 8 years and he just wanted some happiness to come about. What a feeling knowing that I was what made him believe in his faith even more than before. Did Señor de Huanca bring me to Marco? Was it just coincidence? I honestly can’t say but ever since I got to Cusco I have felt a change in the way I feel about my faith in a higher spirit. I honestly think that sometimes it isn’t coincidence that certain things happen and at other moments I am absolutely positive it is coincidence. With these two I am leaning more towards faith and the possibility that I do have a destiny. However, I am not entirely convinced that I have no control over my destiny. I think that on the one hand we have choices and if we are in situations that seem hopeless there is always the option of changing our attitudes which in turn can drastically change the outcome of a situation. The rational part of me keeps saying that I should think logically about things but the more I think about it, the more I am convinced that some things are meant to be and and not meant to be pondered so intensely. I have to say, it’s a wonderful feeling!