Sometimes we need to lose ourselves in order to find ourselves again. This was the beautiful reminder Peru gifted us. It wasn’t the friendly elbow reminder one receives from a forgiving stranger; it was the familiar whisper from the far reaches of the universe that grows steadily into an impatient (yet loving) KONK on the head. She says, “RE-member???!”
It’s hard to deny the power of Peru. Peru is a mecca of ancient sacred sites and majestic wonders of nature. It boasts some of the most impressive and diverse ecological zones ranging from the high Andes (reaching upwards of 20,000 ft.), to the lowlands of the Amazon basin, home of the longest river in the world. It’s also home to one of the largest, most powerful pre-Columbian civilizations, who worshipped an earth goddess called, Pachamama. Sometimes referred to as World Mother, Mother Earth, or Mother Nature, today she still symbolizes fertility and has the power to remind us of our true nature.
Pachamama infinitely reminds us of our true nature. She knows that life moves in cycles and reminds us that growth is necessary for evolution. Though she is a benevolent goddess, her push for growth can sometimes appear harsh. We see it in nature, politics, and everything occurring around and within us. Growth is not always easy; it requires the loss of the old to make room for the new. Often, this requires the loss of our attachments.
During our time in Peru, I received the opportunity to do a 10-day shamanic retreat in the Amazon Jungle. I anticipated how this experience might be: the transformation that could take place, the lessons I could learn and the growth that might occur. I prepared for this retreat for a month and I was both nervous and excited. When I became very ill on arrival, everything looked different.
In the first 5 days I could barely eat or get out of bed. I had a fever and could not take conventional medicine. It was hot and there was no electricity. Worse, the bed and pillow were painstakingly uncomfortable. Ultimately, I was worried about my health; yet, something inside me continued to press, the show must go on.
I was challenged on every level: body, mind, emotion and spirit. After days of misery, I was finally broken and brought to my knees in tears. In this surrender it became clear to me this was the gift. This was the voice of Pachamama trying to crack my shell just enough to receive her blessings and remember some truth:
Holding onto fear, the world could never be safe; holding onto anger, all beings could never be free; and holding onto shame, the door for love could never be fully opened. I saw that attachment was a reminder of something new aching to be born, and that all pain and suffering was a divine act of Love: a gift and an invitation for liberation.
Whether we remember ourselves through the power of icaros (magic healing songs sung by shamans), witnessing the miracle of life, or by being submerged under the power of Class 5 whitewater rapids, we can be reminded of a powerfully profound connection with something greater. Our attachments fall away and we remember that the true nature of all things is and always has been Love. We remember we were never lost, but eternally found.
“The doors to the world of the wild Self are few but precious. If you have a deep scar, that is a door. If you have an old, old story, that is a door. If you love the sky and the water so much you almost cannot bear it, that is a door. If you yearn for a deeper life, a full life, a sane life, that is a door.” ~Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run With the Wolves
There is something inside us aching to be born and dying to be remembered, and divine infinite Love supporting the unfolding of this wild, wild adventure.