by Jim Two Snakes
This is a photo of the Mesa or medicine bundle of Don Juan Paquar Flores. Don Juan was a powerful pampamesayoq, or keeper of the Earth traditions, who lived in the high and remote villages of the Peruvian Andes. Since his passing and through my mentor and teacher, I have been honored to carry this Mesa for nearly a decade. It has been with me for countless ceremonies, and I am currently working on having this Mesa returned to Peru. But that is a story for another day.
When you look into this Mesa, what do you see? What is it that you notice? To be fair, there are a lot of things that attract the eye, and a lot of things you could notice. Maybe one of the stones is speaking to you. They are powerful stones, called Khuya, and are connected to places and people that Don Juan knew. Some of them have been shaped, others smooth — all of them very very powerful Spirit allies.
There are two things that I want to point out, and I admit that at least one of them probably will not make me very popular with some, but I think they are very important.
The first is that with one exception, there are no crystals. The one exception is a very natural one that was probably found in the mountains. I’m not about to say that we should not use crystals in our practices, because I certainly have. But many of the crystals we are going to find in shops are actually byproducts of mining for industrial purposes. That aside, what we see in Don Juan’s Mesa is a large variety and shape of natural stones. In my own Mesa, my strongest ally is a piece of white quartzite I found in my driveway. It’s little face, and small size is connected to an absolutely huge Spirit who has helped me with some of the biggest challenges in my life.
This brings me to my second and, to me, a more important point. Shamanism is local. Ironic I know because the traditions I was trained in come from those Peruvian Andes, but in the years I have held those traditions here in Michigan, they have changed and grown in ways they never could in the mountains. While the mountains stretch up to the stars, the Great Lakes reflect the stars and have a whole sky in their depths. Where the pampamesayoq of Peru might seek to elevate the perspective of the people, in our culture, it is sometimes more important that we are willing to look into those depths and challenge our own conceptions.
When I look around, one of our current misconceptions seems to be to have an “authentic” shamanic experience we must travel to a far-flung place. But most shamanic cultures, the vision quests would have taken place within the boundaries of a few days’ walk or ride. While the jungles might have a strong pull for you, it is not where you live. Developing a relationship with the rivers, lakes, trees, stones, and farms near you may have a more “authentic” and profound experience than you can imagine.
Recently I was mentoring a high-level executive who wanted to learn how to do journey work and the shamanic experience. His training involved offerings at a river, an encounter with a tree, and even interacting with the Spirit of the home that he and his family live in. Using these experiences, he learned about himself and helped face some trauma from his own childhood. And these experiences have shown him how to help the environment around him, making his home city stronger, helping the people, and all the Spirits living near him deal with pollution and other challenges.
So like Don Juan built a relationship with the stones and Spirits around him, and I with the stones and Spirits around me, so can you. Your best shamanic self is occupying the same space you are right now. Shamanism is local.
If you would like to find out about my coaching and mentoring program called Spiritual Dad, or any of the other things I do, please visit my FaceBook page or my website www.jimtwosnakes.net
Jim Two Snakes is a Shamanic Practitioner who has been trained in lineaged Peruvian shamanism, based in Jackson, Michigan. He has been serving his local community for 28 years. He hosts the podcast Around Grandfather Fire, and holds Q’ero (Peruvian) Fire Ceremonies and teaches workshops and classes throughout the year.