while the story of the werecats of amantani and the letters to pachamama have already been written (both true, indeed), so much more can be said about standing atop the highest part of the magical world of lake titicaca.
astounded by the magical thinking still present in the consciousness of the island people of amantani & so encouraged by their connection with the natural world, with pachamama ~mama cosmos, we hiked up to the mountain peak at nearly 14,000 ft where her spherical place of worship, her temple, resides.
one of the main reasons i ventured to peru with ini was to ~feel~ to witness~ to embody via association~ learn~ drink in their connection with Mama, Big Mama E, Pachamama, Our Big & Giving & Wild & Uncontrollable Mamma Earth. after feeling, so accutely, the missing connection with earth back in the united states, i needed, to know about the people who i had heard were still connected to her, still worshipped her, still lived their life in relationship & in honor of her. from my experience, to say all peruvians are still in this intimate connection with pacha would be a stretch- they aren’t. many are hooked by the allure of what can be bought with money, the craze of technological advancement, the bright lights of hollywood and the quick&easier route of factory production for clothing & food. so it is.
but there are many, so many, who still treasure their connection with Pachamama!
on the island of amantani, especially, people rested in their connection with her. they have to. you see, there are no supermarkets, restaurants, 24/7 inns, wifi hookups. it is an island after all that one can reach, if the boat is going medium-slow speed, in 2-3 hours. it is an island after all, where south american tradition would have it, the original people climbed out of the water and onto the land. it is an island after all, where people will die if they do not cultivate & honor their connection with the land, seasons, and various gods & goddesses of sky and earth, lake and underworld.
as we hiked up ~3 miles to the peak of the mountain where pachamama’s temple resided, we saw field after field of cultivation on our way! much different than mountainous regions i’ve been to in the united states and canada. imagine a field of potatoes surrounded by a rock wall as you’re climbing a 14er in colorado. it just doesn’t happen in the united states. the land is too privatized for “everyday folk” to ramble about cultivating flowers, selling hats, harvesting potatoes. yet not so in peru. all along the way we saw people engaging with the land, in bunches of 2 or 3, men & women at work in the wind, at the high altitude, carving out the impossible condition as they have done for generations, ever since their ancestors climbed from the lake on that first day.
it was cold and very windy as we walked up the steep cobbled pathway to the site of the temples (pachatata, the masculine principle also had a mountain peak temple). we had had a series of nearly sleepless nights & the effects of being at such high altitude were wearing on us. but the grandeur, the beauty, the incredible impossibility of people thriving & making a life in such a climate nourished us. and the lake! the lake!
it is a place of wonder. wonder & wind. as we made it to the top, i felt a sense of supreme peace imagining all of the people who had hiked up to the top of pacha’s peak in worship, in curiosity, in pilgrimage. each year the islanders, men & women, hike up to the tops of the respective peaks (pachamama for the women & pachatata for the men) and dance down to the town below. whichever group dances there first “wins” for the year and dictates whether the growing season will be successful or not. if pachamama wins, it will be; if pachatata wins, the season will not be successful. haha. so it is.
pachamama’s temple is locked and empty as i peer into it, still imagining the dancing, the songs, the ceremony & offerings brought here for generations.
the temple is like a bowl, a relief, a womb. here pilgrims come again to be held. to cry. to dance. to sing & offer. this is the temple where the original humans who crawled from lake titicaca come to make fires and burn~ burn in their humanness & in prayers to their Mother, the giver of all life. this is where humans who deeply believe their prayers to their Mother are heard & answered. this is the temple of our deep ancestors who crawled from the lake who crawl back into the womb to this day. as i imagined the sturdy folk of peru worshipping in this temple, my own prayers to pachamama poured forth. i gave thanks with such a full heart for the animating force who is also my Mother, my Great Mother, in all of her provision for me and my human family.
as i overlooked the lake
i felt so held by the beauty, the impossible & wild & so-beyond-me-yet-i-am-a-part-of-it grandeur of the world we live in. that i too, though i am from a land-divorced culture, can still forge a relationship and reconnect with Pachamama. i prayed in thanks for this and my heart was full. and we gave thanks.