Many indigenous people make sacred ritual offerings to express gratitude. We can learn how to make simple ritual offerings of our own from the Andean Q’ero Indians of Peru: the directions are simple, and the activity itself is both soothing and inspiring.
Making a “despacho” (ritual offering bundle) is an invitation to your own creativity, a lovely way to express your heart and spirit. You only need a few ingredients, besides your willingness and an intention of gratitude, to make this beautiful and meaningful offering to Pachamama, the all-encompassing great Earth Mother. Find out how:
Gather all the items you will need, and then take a moment to prepare yourself for entering sacred space: meditate, pray, or smudge yourself and the directions.
Despachos are buried in the earth when they are completed as an offering to Pachamama. With this in mind, you will want to be sure all the ingredients in your despacho are biodegradable.
As you offer each item to your despacho, you may want to infuse it with your finest energy by gently blowing on it three times before you place it in the despacho.
You will need:
A rectangular piece of white paper
A half shell (clam shells are ideal), representing the feminine, the cosmic circle, wholeness
An equal-armed cross, representing masculine energies and the four sacred directions
24 fresh ceremonial plant leaves, especially laurel, olive, sage, or bay, in as perfect and unblemished a condition as possible
Red, pink, or purple flowers–any number
Optional items (see list)
Red thread to tie the despacho closed
1. Place the shell on the white paper, with the “bowl” of the shell facing up and the widest part of the shell facing away from you.
2. Place the cross in the bowl of the shell.
3. Make 8 k’intus (leaf-prayers), the usual number made in offering to Pachamama. Each k‘intu is made up of three leaves, stacked neatly one on top of the other, with the vein side facing down. As you make each leaf-stack, hold it up and pray over it, breathing prayers through them with a soft breath. Once a k’intu is made, it should not be placed on the ground. Place each completed k‘intu, moving in a clockwise direction, like rays around the central shell.
4. Next, offer the flowers, or simply the petals of the flowers arranged in a pattern on top of the despacho that seems pleasing to you.
5. Offer the optional ingredients, choosing from among these possibilities according to your personal intention and preferences. Be tender with each item as you offer it to the despacho. Take your time and work with your energy body rather than your mind to place the items in ways that feel right or pleasing to you.
White cotton to represent clouds
Colored threads or yarn to represent the rainbow
Tiny squares of silver and gold foil or shiny paper. Silver represents feminine energy and the left side of the sacred path; gold represents masculine energy and the right side of the sacred path. It is usual to place both colors in the despacho.
Tiny paper figures representing people, animals, keys, houses, and so on. These are selected accordign to the reason for the opffering or thanksgiving. Draw what you need, or cut the pictures our of magazines.
Sacred plant items, such as seeds, grains, grasses, herbs, and so on. You can consult an herbal to find the symbolic meanings of many plants and seeds. Sage, sweet grass, and tobacco are also appropriate offerings.
Food items to feed the spirits, especially bright colored candies or sweets, as well as more substantial food items.
Alcohol (wine will do) or water is often sprinkled over the despacho.
Small stones or stone fragments, especially crystals or minerals, and a magnetic rock, if you can find one. Meteorites are very powerful offerings.
Fragments of natural items, such as animal fur, teeth, or claws–but do not hurt or harm any living thing in an attempt to secure material for an offering.
6. When it is complete, “close the door” or “close the mouth” of your despacho by folding the side corners in first, then the bottom corner, then fold the top corner down to “close the mouth.” Tie the despacho with red thread.
7. Take your despacho to the place where you will be burying it and consciously make the offering, with reverence, as you place it in the earth.
Adapted from Masters of the Living Energy, by Joan Parisi Wilcox (Inner Traditions, 2004). Copyright (c) 2004 by Joan Parisi Wilcox. Reprinted by permission of Inner Traditions.
Adapted from Masters of the Living Energy, by Joan Parisi Wilcox (Inner Traditions, 2004).