News / USA

Traditional Shaman Ceremony Attracts New Yorkers

Adam Phillips
Most New Yorkers identify with one of the three main monotheistic religions - Christianity, Islam and Judaism. Nevertheless, there's a growing interest in the traditional spiritual practices of indigenous peoples. A “despacho” ceremony in the heart of Manhattan spotlights an ancient gratitude and prayer ritual rooted in the Andean mountains of Peru.

Spiritual seekers and the merely curious participate in the ancient Incan ceremony, conducted by Jesus Aguilar, a Peruvian healer-priest called a shaman.

Aguilar moved from Cusco, Peru, to New York with his American wife. For him, those two worlds - one ancient, one modern and nearly 6,000 kilometers apart - are bound together.    

"The Mother Earth is still here with us. You could be in any part of the world, but always the sacred things will be in your heart, in the flowers and the trees and the water. Because everything is sacred, the concrete, the mobile phones. The wheels, all sacred coming from the Mother Earth," said Aguilar.
 
The despacho ceremony is thousands of years old. It aims to bring balance between the human world, the natural world and the spiritual realm.
   
Aguilar builds a “bundle of blessings” as a gift to Mother Earth - Pachamama in his native Quechua language. Participants also ask her for gifts in return.

Despacho elements symbolize this give and take. Corn for nourishment. Money for wealth. Cotton for clouds and rain. And sugar.   

"Because the earth is very sweet with us. Because it is sweet with us, we need to be sweet with her, too," he said.
 
Aguilar gives out sacred leaves called “kintus” symbolizing love and beauty and he tells the group to pray into them.
 
"Okay brothers and sisters, we will put in front of our third eye, we will put our intentions. What do we want? What do we need? What do we want to say thank you [for]? What do we want to let go [of]? Every people will have different types of intention. You can ask whatever you want because the universe is infinite," he said.
 
Hillary Webb, an expert on Shamanism, educates Westerners about Incan traditions.
 
"In the case of the kintus, you bring the leaves to your mouth and that breath is life force, it’s the energy, it’s part of the prayer you are transmitting out of your own body and into the leaves so that it can then be sacred with the spirits and shared with the community," she said.

That formula makes sense to the participants at this ceremony.

"Every day we have intentions. Today we just got together and made them official!" said one woman.

"I felt we were all making this little bundle of joy and good things and happiness and pureness and it felt great to be a part of that," said a man at the ceremony.

"I really love this way of just pausing for a minute in his crazy city and being grateful for what we have," said another woman.

At the end of the ceremony, the shaman wraps the despacho with its prayers for later burning. He said the sacred smoke will feed Pachamama.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Monique MacDonald from: Canada
October 28, 2012 2:25 PM
I was so thrilled to read that Jesus is doing this kind of ceremony in New York. I had the wonderful experience of participating in a despacho ceremony in the Sacred Valley of Peru under his guidance. Jesus is a gem of Mother Earth and knowing he is in New York doing his healing work is very comforting to know.

by: Jackie from: Philippines
October 26, 2012 10:16 PM
I respect how we differ in our beliefs... Yes, nature... and everything in this world is sacred because they are created not by human hands but by an Almighty Hand. Therefore, Our prayers should be directed to the CREATOR not to the CREATION. Let us take a look at the Bible and be guided. God bless.
In Response

by: J from: Lima
October 28, 2012 4:36 PM
The Bible has nothing to do with it, in fact if you can remember Atahualpa himself threw the Bible to the ground when he was presented one by Pizarro's priest. Although the Incan religion sounds pagan one should keep in mind that it was the most straightforward of religions if you want to call it one, The Sun was the creator and god and gave life to everything, which as we know today is true. The cosmos in Incan religion was a map of their own civilization on earth and they tried to emulate it. There was no human god other then the Inca Emperor himself which was said be be a son of the sun. The Spaniards took advantage of this by adapting their own religions to Andean folklore where Jesus is the son of God. But as any rational human should know we are all the sons of the Sun and the sons of God as we emulate our creator the Universe and try to create beautiful things ourselves.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs