The focus of this trip is sacred pilgrimage, with equal importance placed on both the inner and outer journey experience. In other words, self-discovery, personal inquiry, and inner transformation will all be fostered while directly communing with some of the most sacred and beautiful ceremonial sites ever constructed by humankind. Every day on this pilgrimage will be an opportunity to deepen one’s awareness and receptivity to the abundant grace available in every moment.
This retreat pilgrimage is the culmination of my nearly two decades of extensive travel in the Sacred Valley of Peru. It is the byproduct of my cultivated, heartfelt relationships with local healers and residents of this region since 1998. The auspicious formation of this retreat pilgrimage has been truly extraordinary.
Not only will these connections allow us access to amenities commonly unavailable to tourists, the guides that will be present on this retreat are literally the world’s leading experts in the field. In addition to my own extensive background in the shamanic traditions of Peru, we will be joined by Dr. Bonnie Glass-Coffin Ph.D. (expert in female shamanism of Peru’s northern coast) for the full duration of the trip, and by Dr. Ruben Orellana Ph.D. (head of Archaeology at Machu Picchu/practicing curandero) to lead us through some of the most rarely visited sites in the Sacred Valley. In addition, we will be learning directly from master weaver Grimalda Quispe of Chinchero to witness the ancient techniques and practice known as Pallay, as well as the ceremonial wisdom of local healers don Augustine Machacca Apaza, and don Francisco, who will be sharing the ancient art of despacho creation (consecrated offerings) to formally bless the group and our pilgrimage.
Note: There will also be a two-day extended section of this trip ( a two-day, personally guided tour of Machu Picchu with Dr. Orellana from May 25-26), which will be offered as an addition to the existing itinerary.
May 15th to 24th: $3275 (if full payment is received before February 10th, 2015). Price does not include international airfare.
$3475 (After February 10th).
May 25th to 26th: Extended trip to Machu Picchu with Dr. Ruben Orellana – $680
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Images of our Retreat Center:
May 15 – Group arrives in Cuzco. Shuttle service will be provided from the Cuzco airport to our retreat center in Pisaq, which rests at 9,750 ft. above sealevel, nestled in the Sacred Valley at the base of the mountains next to the Urubamba River. We will be staying at the beautiful Paz y Luz retreat center just outside the city limits. This will be home for our retreat for the next 7 days. Pisaq is best known for its elaborately constructed ruins located at the entrance to the valley. These ruins are separated along the ridge into four sections. The ceremonial section of these ruins contains an inti watana (hitching post of the sun), temple of the sun, ritual baths, altars, water fountains and a ceremonial platform (ushnu). Pisaq is also famous for its outdoor market; an amalgam of mass produced tourist fare and high quality crafts and antiques- weavings, and ceremonial items, along with a fantastic diversity of vegetables and fruit. Upon arrival, and after we have settled in, we will be welcomed with a despacho ceremony led by don Francisco (local healer of the Paqokuna tradition) to bless our retreat pilgrimage and to make offerings to Pachamama (Mother Earth) and the Apukuna (Sacred Mountains).
May 16 – After breakfast we will be journeying to the archaeological site of Tipon, known for its masterful series of expansive terraces and ingenious stone irrigation systems demonstrating the Incas deep rapport with water. The sublime multileveled fountain here is expressive of the Andean origin myths. Here we will commune with the wisdom teachings and medicine of willka unu (sacred water).
May 17 – We will be making the journey to Ollantaytambo, which lies at 9,250′ in the Urubamba Valley. The town still retains its original Incan layout of narrow cobblestone streets with their intact irrigation systems still nourishing the town. The ruins, with their massive terraces, are said to be laid out against the mountain side in the profile of a llama. Once the royal estate of the Inca Pachacutec, this was the last place of Incan resistance to the Spanish in the rebellion of 1536, before their flight to their final stronghold of Vilcabamba. We’ll spend our time here prayerfully exploring the ruins, observing the surrounding agriculture, and seeing how the living descendants of the Incan people subsist today.
May 18 – Today we will make the sacred walk through the Ruins of Pisaq. On the steep ridge rising above the town is the majestic Incan citadel of Pisaq at over 11,000′, which is believed to be laid out against the mountainside in the shape of a condor. The ruins display some of the very finest Incan agricultural terracing, ceremonial stonework, and fantastic views of the valley. We will spend the better part of the day in walking meditation along this ancient path through the ruins, stopping at specific places of spiritual and ceremonial import to commune and leave offerings, before making the astonishingly beautiful return journey back to the city of Pisaq below.
May 19 – Our group will be joined by Dr. Ruben Orellana (curandero, expert archaeologist, and historian) who will be leading us to some of the less known sacred sites of the Ollantaytambo region, including Pumamarka and Urco. Pumamarka rests just a few miles from the city of Ollantaytambo, following the Patacancha River. The site dates back to the 8th century AD and was fully inhabited until the Spanish conquest. Here we will be able to commune with the land and ancient ruins with depth and a better likelihood of fewer tourists. We will then journey on to the ruins of Urco, which are a set of small, ceremonial healing systems of rock carvings near the town of Calca. This spot has long been hidden from tourists, yet Ruben’s background and respect within the community is allowing us harmonious entry. This rarely visited site is full of ceremonial healing rock systems including a significant ancestral rock (full of tiny crystalline filaments) that is said to be used for both the release of old unhealthy patterns and to recharge the human body with vital life force (kawsay). Ruben’s depth of knowledge of these sites, coupled with his sensitivity to the underlying shamanic energetics of these places, will make this pilgrimage and communion with these sites sacred, illuminating, and potentially healing.
May 20 – We will continue our journey with Ruben for a day of deep ceremony at the ruins of Killarumioq. The quechua term Killarumioq translates roughly as “Place of the Moon Stone,” however many scholars believe this site is actually more accurately related to the December Solstice; due to its prominent feature of a monolithic, stone-carved calendar system, which uses light and shadow to track the seasons. Here we will commune with the healing medicine and aligning energies of this sacred land in a deeply connected and direct way. We will work with ceremonial elements of this site, make offerings to willka unu (sacred water), and call ourselves into full presence of the ancient teachings of this Heart Island tradition.
May 21 – After breakfast, we’ll take a short bus ride through the painted agricultural hills to the Incan/colonial town of Chinchero at 12,400′, said to be the birthplace of K’uychi, the rainbow. Here, the locals still dress in their traditional clothing every day, which lends to transporting all who enter into its timeless essence. We’ll have the better part of the day with Quechua master weaver Grimalda Quispe and family, learning about their dye plants, weaving techniques, and medicinal plant knowledge. You will be able to see abundant examples of how each weaving reflects both the shared traditions of the community, as well as the individual creative expression of the weaver at the time of its creation. In the afternoon we’ll examine the nearby Incan ruins including some enchanting carved caves and natural rock gardens.
May 22 – After breakfast we will make our way to the heart of the Tawantinsuyu… the city of Cuzco. We will have the better part of the day free to explore both the beauty and culture of this incredible city. For those interested in a more guided experience of Cuzco, I will be offering introductions to several of the most respected and knowledgeable vendors of ancient tapestries and sacred ceremonial items in the city; including don Tito Ccalluco Ignacio, and my good friend Jose Luis, for opportunities to deepen in our understanding of these ancient weaving systems known as Pallay, and the ceremonial objects used in Peruvian Shamanism.
May 23 – We will spend the morning exploring one of the most dramatic and monumental sites of the Cuzco region, known as Sacsayhuaman, said to be the head of the Puma (the city of Cuzco being its body). Poised at over 12,000 feet in the northern outskirts of Cuzco, these ancient ruins adorn some of the most immense stone walls in Peru. Some of this structure is said to predate the Inca, making it one of the oldest ancient establishments in the world. Some of the Andesite blocks used in its construction are estimated to be over 400,000 lbs., and have been carved with such astonishing precision, that even today a razors edge cannot fit between them. Many of these stones were moved to this site from nearly a mile away, an astronomical feat even by today’s standards. Amidst the ruins we will encounter several ceremonial transmissions of the lineage related to the three worlds of Andean cosmology and the navel of Pachamama. These ceremonies will take place in the form of Karpaykuna (rite of passage rituals) related to the ceremonial uses of specific locations within the sacred site of Sacsayhuaman.
May 24 – On our final day in Cuzco we will be visiting the masterfully built Qorikancha, believed to be lost to the world until a massive earthquake in the 1950s revealed it to be hidden within a Dominican monastery. Many believe the placement of the Qorikancha demarcates the exact point of the navel of the Mother Earth know as Pachamama, and if Cuzco was designed to be laid out as the body of a Puma, the Qorikancha would be its heart. Its placement was built upon the exact central point (taq’e) of the Incan ceque system, which are a series of energetic lay lines that converge and radiate outward from this location. Much of the ancient physical landscape, Incan Road systems, and shrines were built to mirror and utilize these energetic ceque lines. For this reason, it is one of the most significant sites in the Sacred Valley of Peru. In the late afternoon we will be heading to a local site like Qenqo, Tambo Machay, or Sacsayhuaman (based on group input), for our final “closing” ceremony.
Extended 2-Day Trip to Machu Picchu with Ruben Orellana: Additional Cost: $680
May 25-26: Two days in the ruins of Machu Picchu with Dr. Ruben Orellana. Ruben was the chief archaeologist of Machu Picchu for over 30 years. There is no better guide available to lead pilgrims through this sacred site! This extended trip will include shuttle service to Ollantaytambo. Train tickets to Aguas Calientes. Bus to the ruins. Site Entry Fees. Two personally guided tours through the ruins of Machu Picchu with Ruben, and a private evening in the hot springs of Aguas Calientes (including a sound healing ceremony led by Ruben at the springs). Price also includes lodging in Aguas Calientes and your return travel to Cuzco.
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Additional Guides On Our Trip:
Bonnie Glass-Coffin, PhD (anthropology/UCLA, 1992) is a scholar, a teacher, a bridge-builder and a “quipucamayoj”–a recorder of sacred shamanic wisdom practices. She has studied with Peruvian curanderos for more than 30 years, conducting ethnographic research in the late 1980’s with more than 15 male and female shamanic healers on Peru’s north coast and in the northern highlands about gender differences in healing. The insights she gained have been published widely, and are perhaps best illustrated in her landmark book, The Gift of Life: Female Spirituality and Healing in Northern Peru (1998). For more than 20 years, she has served as a professor of anthropology and an affiliate professor of religious studies at Utah State University. She is an extraordinary teacher, having received the “Eleanor Roosevelt” and the “Franz Boaz” awards for Global Citizenship as well as the distinction “Utah Professor of the Year” because of her dedication to teaching students how to think with their hearts rather than just their heads. In 2005 she began studying with don Oscar Miro-Quesada, founder of the “Pachakuti Mesa Tradition of Cross-Cultural Shamanism.” This deep apprenticeship eventually led to the co-authorship of best-selling book Lessons in Courage: Peruvian Shamanic Wisdom for Everyday Life (2013) with don Oscar Miro-Quesada, which presents the magic of these teachings as well as the beauty of his life to a wide audience. Bonnie teaches experiential courses in shamanism, she is an avid practitioner of the “old ways,” and she has organized and led multiple trips to Peru. Most recently, she has been teaching how a return to shamanism can help build bridges of understanding between people of all faith (and “no faith”) traditions. Her website and blog can be found at http://bonnieglasscoffin.com.