“After death our physical body returns to the earth. Our wisdom returns to the mountains. Our soul returns to the stars.” – Q’ero elder
I met Don Francisco Chura Flores, a Q’ero medicine man, when I attended a class on shamanic energy medicine in the desert of Joshua Tree, California. He dressed in the colorful hand-woven clothing of his people who live in the high mountains of Peru. He was not a tall man, but his presence was substantial. He had traveled to the desert as a guest of The Four Winds Society to give us, the students, the healer’s rites of the Q’ero lineage.
At the time, I was grieving the death of my aunt and godmother, who had died on the day I arrived in Joshua Tree. At her request, my cousins in Alabama had not told me of her impending death. She had successfully fought off breast cancer for many years, but at age 86, the cancer returned. She wanted only her daughters to attend her in her final days. I was shocked at the news of her death and further saddened that I could not travel quickly enough to get to her funeral. My southern upbringing triggered both guilt and grief because of my inability to participate.
Prodded by one of my teachers, who knew how unsettled I was, I put my name into the lottery for a private session with Don Francisco. My name was chosen and I was assigned a meeting time. Coincidentally, my session was scheduled at the same time as my aunt’s funeral.
Don Francisco and I sat facing each other on the floor in a small room. All around him were baskets of candies, chocolates, leaves, colorful yarns, beans, corn, quinoa, and fresh flowers. He asked me to blow on three leaves that he held in his hands. He then blew on the same leaves and laid them on a square sheet of paper that was positioned on the floor between us.
Over the next hour he created a beautiful despacho filled with my prayers and wishes. In the process, we celebrated the abundance and beauty of Pachamama (Mother Earth) and the journey we take through life. At some point in this ceremony, my grief shifted to a celebration of my relationship with my aunt and our love for each other. I was amazed how quickly this ritual brought me comfort, even though Don Francisco spoke no English and I spoke no Quechua.
Learn to create your own despachos in our Step Into Ceremony: Despacho Making Workshop. Or, receive an Aya Despacho Guide as a gift for your donation of $10 to The Living & Dying Consciously Project.