Spiritual and mystical tourism in Cusco, an option before going to Machu Picchu?

In Cusco, you can find different destinations that harbor a unique mysticism. Machu Picchu is one of those places. Moreover, it is probably the one that best stands out for the quality of sanctuary it possesses. However, in Cusco, you can start with the introduction to the mystical world that still harbors the streets of carved stones in Cusco. In this blog, we want to talk about this type of tourism that connects with the most intimate layers of the person. Following the same logic it is possible to find a connection, even, according to some testimonies with the main deities such as Pachamama, the Sun and the Moon.


Tourist performing ancestral ceremony
Tourist performing ancestral ceremony


The mysticism of Cusco, the capital of the Incan Empire


Shaman preparing to perform ceremony
Shaman preparing to perform ceremony

Cusco is one of the places with more history in all of Peru. Its territories began to expand to cover much of South America. The Incas were the culture in charge of all the expansion mentioned above. Although they were fierce warriors, they also developed an excellent political and religious capacity. Perhaps the latter was the most deeply rooted in the imagination of the masses as a means of control and loyalty. However, according to some chronicles and vestiges, the Incas respected the religious customs of the subjugated tribes or ethnic groups. This allowed the tribes to continue exercising their religious rites, but also to worship the Sun and Moon gods.

In this sense, we can mention that something that characterized the main tribes of antiquity, subjugated or not to the Incas, was that they had the predisposition to generate divinities from the purposes related to life, agriculture, nature and that symbolism that could represent an animal, such as the puma, the fox, snakes, among others.

At present, the religious representations and ceremonies that arrived and are still practiced today are difficult to define as a direct tradition of this or that culture. The few records we have on religious practice allow us to appreciate other particularities, for example, in the text of Nueva Coránica y Buen Gobierno by Huamán Poma de Ayala. It shows several religious activities that were lost for lack of adults or mamaconas in charge of carrying them out.

In spite of all that has been mentioned, nowadays some of these ceremonies can be evidenced that involve a direct attachment of the people who perform them to nature and the spiritual. These bonds that are created, as mentioned, generates an energy that helps to overcome or alleviate the discomfort of any body bad stretch. In addition, by mystically contacting the deities of the ancient world, it directly renews the dejected spirit of the city dwellers. This connection to achieve a renewal is made from places considered sacred to the Incas themselves. That is, from the sacred mountains, Inca constructions and some Huacas or religious centers.

Normally the ceremonies are performed with the help of a shaman who is nothing more than a priest in charge of connecting the real world with the divine. This ritual is done with great care and respecting the traditions as such. Many of these ceremonies are performed with the main purpose of thanking the Earth or Pachamama for the good things that happen to her, also to thank her for her kindness in these days so rough and complicated that many times live in the city. It is for this reason that the ceremonies are also performed in places that are not very inhabited and especially in the high mountains, known as apus. Although sometimes, at the time of making representations for tourists, they look for quiet and safe places to perform the ceremony.


A privileged place for self-exploration


Sacsayhuaman one of the places with mysticism in Cusco
Sacsayhuaman one of the places with mysticism in Cusco

Cusco is one of the most privileged places to have a trip of self-exploration. This is not only because of the different locations it has, but also because you can still perceive that famous mysticism in its streets, landscapes and even in the population. Most of them still have as a customary tradition some ceremonies of the past. This is probably the main reason why you can find, these days, that connection with nature that seems to have been lost in other parts of the world.

The Inca culture developed initially in Cusco. That is why near all these places you can find different Inca constructions. If someone has already visited these places, it is likely to have felt that special and spiritual connection that many tourists highlight when entering the Historic Center of Cusco. Likewise, this experience can be felt when arriving at the main archaeological sites of Cusco and surrounding areas. The fact that the constructions of these archaeological sites have been built with large stones, at the same time, generates a special mysticism.

This particular mysticism of Cusco is due to the existence of a whole civilization that they tried to silence and eliminate during the long period of the viceroyalty. All customs and ways of life were changing considerably. Fortunately, some vestiges of this can be found thanks to the artistic expressions that were created and the vestiges of some acts of resistance and inclusion of Andean symbolism within the Catholic world. It is thanks to this resistance that today Cusco is one of the most enigmatic cities in the world. This is thanks, again, to the presence of so many vestiges of sacred places that at the same time transmit that sacredness.

Cusco also has an important connection with nature. This can be seen in the landscapes that it possesses and the important value that the mountains have. The mountains and much of nature between animals, rivers, some plants like the Coca leaf, corn and in fact all living things, have a great value. For the Andean tradition, every element of nature is considered as equal to the human being, that is where the respect for nature begins. That is why you can see a lot of ceremonies related to life itself, something that can feed the soul and spirit in a truly overwhelming way. Generating great attention among tourists interested in mysticism and the repair of the soul or spirit.


Some of the ancestral ceremonies


Apacheta in the Rainbow Mountain - Vinicunca
Apacheta in the Rainbow Mountain – Vinicunca

Payment to the Land

The payment to the earth is a ceremony that is usually done in sacred places such as mountains, rivers, lakes, lagoons, land, and even some Inca constructions of great value. It consists of a ceremony of gratitude to the Pachamama or Mother Earth. During the ceremony, a ceremony in which coca leaves are used to thank her and at the same time ask for new blessings. Likewise, some seeds, cereals, and even some llamas or sheep fetuses can be used. A macerated drink cannot be missing. In essence, chicha is used, but lately, wine is also used. The payment to the Earth is also made with greater devotion every first of August. Being the date, as mentioned, ideal for this function.

Ayahuasca

It is a healing ritual. For many people this ceremony is quite special and an activity that allows self-knowledge. However, for other people, this ritual can seem quite dangerous. People seeking such healing often only travel to Peru to perform this ritual. It is said that in ancient times these ceremonies were performed so that people could expand their levels of consciousness. To perform this ceremony requires previous preparation and also the presence of a shaman or spiritual guide who can advise the aspirant adequately and safely. Ayahuasca is a plant that grows in the Peruvian Amazon. It is also widely performed in those places.

San Pedro or Wachuma drink

This ceremony is very similar to the ayahuasca ceremony, but it is performed with a different drink. In this ritual and healing ceremony it is performed with the Wachuna plant or hawthorn. It was also used in ancient times by most of the civilizations of the past. It is a sacred plant and among its benefits is the possible opportunity to see the future as it allows the user to enter a state of perfect meditation. Likewise, it is important that people who want to try it, before doing so, must have a previous physical and nutritional preparation.

The Apachetas

Although these are not rituals or ceremonies as such, they have practically the same function. Apachetas are small stone towers that serve as constructions of faith and veneration. Sometimes it is possible to find them near some roads or centers of veneration. People build these towers as a sign of faith and devotion. There are those who say that these towers are made as a way to ask for protection to travelers during the route or the road they are traveling.


Places where you can perform ceremonies


Humantay Lagoon one of the places where the ceremonies are held
Humantay Lagoon one of the places where the ceremonies are held

To perform these ceremonies it is important to know where to do it. Unfortunately doing it in ancient archeological centers is unlikely because they are protected areas. However, there are those who manage to sneak in and do it. Unfortunately some of them damage the facilities which is also a great offense. Fortunately, some of these mystical ceremonies can be done in the Humantay Lagoon, the Colored Mountain and in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Also in some propitious locations that some spiritual guides created for such action.

 

By Imachupicchu – Last updated, May 14, 2024

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