Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Snake, The Puma, and the Condor

The Snake, The Owl, and the Condor

I never thought I'd have to do research to discover the depth of meaning conveyed by Grandfather San Pedro. But that's exactly what I found after answering the call to a one-day ceremony in January. One day was unusual because over the past few months the pattern had been Grandfather preferred me to visit two days, back-to-back. The two day format proved to be so rich and deep for explorations and healing, I actually wondered if a single day might turn out somehow foreshortened and incomplete. Was I ever wrong. To the contrary, my one day in January turned out to be the most intense and remarkable encounter yet.

My last meeting with Grandfather was over a month before in the first part of December. In the intervening time I had begun a daily practice of morning yoga right after I woke up. Getting back into the practice and the accompanying quiet reflective time had been spurred on by an earlier ceremony last year in which San Pedro took me back to my earlier self for a variety of other reasons. Long ago when I was in high school I had done a lot of yoga and had enjoyed it very much. And yet, as often happens, such things fall by the wayside as life concerns with school, work, and eventual family responsibilities intervene.

Deep down I had always missed the sense of well being and spiritual connection that yoga produces. But missing it never quite translated into action. It's odd how often we let so many valuable things, things we wish to do or be get sidelined, supposedly saved for another day, until one day we find too many days have gone by and all of that wonderful potential never gets realized. "Someday" is a sorrowful mantra to adopt for all that one can be. For me, a reconnection with yoga has been part of a healing meditation that helps me integrate everything derived from the recent plant medicine ceremonies.

A mention of yoga also brings to mind a most unusual event that occurred back in my high school years. Regardless how extraordinary it was, I am as sure of the reality of what happened as I am any wakeful moment I've ever had. Whether this event has anything at all to do with my current practice of yoga, I'll let others debate and decide. All I know is the event happened during one summer vacation from high school when my yoga routine had reached a remarkably advanced level. I remember I had become so comfortable with certain poses and positions that I would actually doze off while fully positioned in them. One pose in particular was my favorite for napping - that was the Halasana or plow pose. I enjoyed a sleepy variation of the pose where the knees are lowered to the ground, close the ears, while the lower legs extend back beyond the head. 

My most unusual event didn't happen during yoga. It surprised me in the middle of the night. I woke up in my bed while sleeping on my stomach. From the deep, black void of dreamless sleep I opened my eyes and found myself fully awake. This was not a lucid dream. I knew I was awake the same way anyone realizes they are awake in their bed or anywhere else. Because I was awake, the view before me was at once surprising and disorientating. For one thing, even though it was the middle of the night, there was illumination from somewhere. It seemed to come from everywhere. There was no one light source I could identify. I simply saw everything clearly. And what I saw was me.

I quickly realized I was looking down on myself. From about ceiling level, my horizontal perspective was looking down, viewing my body lying on its stomach under the covers on the bed. I could make out the room in fine detail but the light that lit everything was even, soft, and bluish-white. It was obvious the body below me was mine. But I felt detached, not only from my body but from the entire world surrounding my body. There was also an emotional detachment, as if the world below was a shadow reality, a cosmic play in three acts, an elaborate hologram of some significance but with no intrinsic meaning that lasted. I marveled at it all, stunned into a rapt astonishment. Timeless moments of awe and amazement left me floating beyond any incredulous thoughts. This was happening. The whole thing pre-dated the expression OMG but it certainly applied.

It's one thing to think, wonder, or dream about something like this occurring but realizing it's really happening becomes a whole other magnitude to deal with. OMG suddenly shifted into Holy Shit! My awe got shot through with a dose of anxiety and fear. What had happened to me? What was going to happen? Geez, was this permanent? What the hell was going on? Did I do this to myself or was someone else involved? If so, why? My flash panic triggered an emergency return to my body. And that return was an experience by itself.

Visual clues said the distance between me and my body was the space between ceiling and bed. But that was not what it felt like to return. Imagine falling from the ceiling to your bed. Now imagine in the span of time it takes to do that, you zoom from Jupiter to your pillow. That was the intense rush I felt. Immense speed with a tremendous distance covered in a blinding second. Add to this going from an awareness of no sound to having a high-pitched whirl of voices chirping and wind gushing ever higher in pitch all around me. Once I met my body, I felt my bedroom world spinning clockwise horizontally. Since literally everything was spinning, I couldn't see the motion, only feel it. The speed of the spin forced me to grip the sides of the bed in fear I might be thrown off at high speed. I held on with all my might. As I settled back in the feel of my body, the sounds and rush and spin abated. Suddenly, I was lying face down staring into darkness in a silent room. The soft, bluish-white light was gone. The regular feeling of night in my room felt strange even as it was so familiar. I was once again attached to all the aspects of worldly reality that only a moment before I felt so removed from.

I jumped up immediately from my bed and stood in shocked silence, looking around. The tingles of either surprise or speedy transport or both lingered quite a while. I had one thought in mind. It was more of an impulse. I had no idea why the impulse was so strong. I wasn't even sure if the impulse was mine. I had to go to the window. The wood shutters were closed. I lifted my tingling hand and pulled the slats of one shutter section open. My eyes were already looking in a certain direction before the outside view was revealed. It was as if I already knew where I needed to look.

I lived in a corner house. My room faced the front street. A street light was on the corner. A walkway to the front door was just outside to the right. It was a long walkway but my eyes had already trained on a certain spot on that walkway. I knew right where to look even before the wood shutters opened. And there it was, a beautiful white owl. It stood on the walkway, facing my window. I looked out at it and it stood, apparently looking my way. It was the most bizarre sight. In the instant our gazes met. After that connection, it turned and took off. Flapping its wide, white wings, it lifted past the streetlight and disappeared into the night sky.

One Eye of the Owl

I stood at the window a while trying to process what had just happened. I felt I had made a connection but I had no way to figure out with whom or what it meant. Despite what I saw, I had the sense there was more to the exchange than seeing an owl. But it was almost as if it wasn't something I needed to figure out. It wasn't something for my regular mind. The connection had been made. That was all that was needed. I turned and quietly left my room so as not to wake my sisters or parents in the other bedrooms. I slowly walked the house in the dark, not knowing what to do. I felt as if there was something I needed to do. I wasn't sure where to go or what it all meant.

I wanted to touch base with the reality of my house and my life. I wanted to find something but I couldn't quite remember what. I had felt so detached only moments before. Now I was back and not knowing how I felt about it. It took a long time before I managed to get back to bed. Once there, it took even longer to fall to sleep. In my life, this only happened once. But it was the kind of thing that only needed to happen once. I know it changed me. I know it opened my perception to accepting so much more. I know it was a gift that pulled back the veil and showed me the path. It was a defining moment of my life.

So what does this have to do with a San Pedro sacred plant ceremony? When I started my one day with San Pedro in January, this out-of-body incident was far from my mind. If someone had mentioned it to me, I would have asked the same question - what does it matter? I include it here because, as I said, I never thought I'd have to do research to discover the depth of meaning conveyed by Grandfather San Pedro. Consider it part of that research.

My intention for the day with San Pedro was not elaborate. I merely wanted to explore the notion of "trying." When one gets a healing message or wants to put into place a new way of thinking or living, the act of trying to do so can often get in the way. It's like trying to relax or trying to be spontaneous. Such attempts are more than counter-intuitive; they seem counter-productive. So if trying is out, then how does one sneak up on implementing all of these new good things? That was the intention to start the day with San Pedro. The ceremony facilitator agreed that "trying" was something to avoid. He noted how too often people used, "Well, I tried" as an exonerating excuse for not accomplishing.

As usual as my journey began, Grandfather San Pedro didn't disappoint. As what usually happens, he dispensed with my intention right away. He simply pointed out that having "intentions" to start the day with him was also a form of "trying." I was trying to get something out of the day. I was trying to apply the messages and lessons from before. I was trying to delve into issues and resolve them. I was trying to discover and master a method for doing what should be second-nature. If the goal was to let go and rely on the law of allowance and one's own intuitive nature to go with the flow, as it should be, then "trying" with ceremony intentions was missing the point. So no intentions. So much for that.

Field of San Pedro

OK, forget trying, but I couldn't help bringing up the very things I had been trying to do. From past ceremonies, I felt I needed to try to simply play the game of life and do what makes me happy, wherever that should lead me. I had been earnestly trying to do that. And even though there was some satisfaction to be found in rediscovering the simple joy of involving myself in activities I liked, I could quickly see by extending this kind of existence indefinitely into the future that ultimately as least for me, making a life out of pursuing what made me happy, oddly enough, seemed rather pointless.

And I told San Pedro this. It's like the artist or performer who suddenly achieves the fame and fortune they always sought and now they can afford to take any vacation, buy any house or car, throw any elaborate party they want, acquire any art objects or even companions they desire -- and yet, they increasingly find they are chasing the next happy thing, the next high, the next shiny object that their happiness demands. It never ends and ultimately it doesn't satisfy. They wind up with everything they sought but ironically empty inside.

I don't know how I expected Grandfather to respond but during next two hours he took me on a trip through myself and society in a way that turned the reasons and emotional context enfolded in all of this inside-out and back around again. As he has stated in previous ceremonies, he impressed on me how I was too wound up and I needed to let go. He attributed some of this to past wounds or traumas I had endured. He paralleled my wounds and trauma with all that society at large was putting people through, how the false claims and implicit brainwashing into shallow values and dead-end goals that didn't serve people were playing out everywhere in confining and destructive ways, leaving tremendous emotional wreckage behind and wasted lives.

He said flat out, "The wounding of people is used to control people."
He showed me how so many institutions and false prophets give people an imprecise even flawed concept of what life is supposed to be like, knowing all the time that people will be disappointed and wounded by the very thing they are told to hold to be true. He delved into the torturous emotions associated with the sacred and the profane, the ideal and the real, the expected and the probable -- all of which were artfully manipulated so that when people were wounded by sacredness being betrayed, or the ideal put farther out of reach, or the expected dashed by engineered complications, then these same institutions swept in as the rescuers, the comforters, the ones who would lead the traumatized individuals and the wounded world in general to a safe and comfortable space, if only everyone followed obediently and without questions.

All the while, it's the very ones who come to the rescue with instant compassion and a ready solutions who, more often than not, set up the conditions for the wounding in the first place. This held equally true for gurus and churches, governments and counselors, teachers and pop-up cultural philosophies advertised as self-help solutions. "Don't let them wound you and they can't control you."

As we flew through the ways people and societies were burdened with this wounding, he took me back to two episodes in my distant past when I felt stressed and traumatized. He told me these traumas were unresolved. One of these times was when I was very little and one of my sisters, who was nine years older than me, would straddle me, hold me down lying flat on my back, tickle me far beyond the point I could bear, and not let me get up. With my shoulders pinned to the ground, I'd struggle to free myself until I hyperventilated and panicked. I imagine this must feel something like the panicky drowning feeling of being water-boarded. I couldn't catch my breath and I couldn't stand to be in that claustrophobic position one second longer. And yet it persisted, on and on, until I was forced into a place beyond my capacity to cope.

Grandfather San Pedro blended this experience with the feeling I had been having for over a week before the ceremony, a feeling in various situations of not being able to catch my breath. During a hike, while sitting and eating, while trying to sleep at night, I had been having trouble catching my breath and I didn't know why. All of a sudden I was that little boy, on my back, unable to get up, feeling the weight of my older sister holding me down. The panic of those moments blended with a new, rising panic of finding pointless all my attempts to do what made me happy. Grandfather dissolved one feeling into the other and whispered to me, "You need to let go..."

There was so much that transpired in those two hours and so much I wanted to write down but was physically incapable of doing so. I was going someplace. I could feel it. And there was no way I was able to interact with the ceremony space. Not when I was preparing to leave it. Grandfather then whispered something to me. He whispered it as if he had drawn very close, so close that even the most sensitive of secrets could be shared. He was right next to me, close enough to feel his breath on my ear. He needed to impress on me to really listen and take this in. His whisper was soft but behind it was a strength that demanded attention.

"Don't be tricked into fearing the opposite of what you want.
...they use wounding and fear to control you,
...instead of concentrating and going after all you can be,
they get you fearing the opposite of it,
then you spend all your energy fearing the opposite,"
...don't be tricked into fearing the opposite of what you want."

The examples spiraled off into all the systemic technologies of mind games in play. Even simulations of everything natural are used as a substitute for the real thing because simulations can be programmed. They will keep doing this until they find a way to program nature itself. Even now they have a simulation of human creativity in AI and they actually believe it's an improvement. They trust that all simulations will eventually overtake their natural counterparts. Their goal is not only for nature to be subdued but transcended. Where this is going, he showed me, will be the final and ultimate trap for humankind. If people don't wake up and reconnect with their nature, with their true selves and not the engineered personas given to them by the wounders, the ultimate trap will be deployed when the wounders develop a comprehensive technology of spirit. A technology of spirit will be the final trap.

Once nanotechnologies are embedded in the body and brain at birth and receive the signal to entrain to the simulated spirit-self, a total programming of humanity's collective consciousness outside of nature will be possible. People will grow up thinking they are connecting with spirit, they will believe they are having mystical experiences, they'll trust they're receiving intuitive messages and lessons for their lives, they will experience the "grace" of knowing what can be looked at and what must never be considered, but all of it will be generated by the wounder's own subroutines of control in the global cloud. It will be made to feel not like slavery but like universal harmony. A new pseudo world religion will unite everyone in a programmed common destiny. No human will be able or allowed to contact true spirituality or their true higher self. To do so would threaten the programmed harmony's total control.

Technology of Spirit

Grandfather impressed on me again, "You are wound too tight. You need to let go."
I saw a flash from the movie Contact, a movie I had enjoyed more than once. The flash scene was Ellie, launched by the rocket, shaking violently while strapped in her seat. Then she sees an object float near her and the object is not shaking at all. She frees herself from her chair and realizes she's supposed to float free; the chair was unnecessary and that's why it was never part of the original design downloaded from the star people.

"Release yourself from the wounding. It was never in the design. The shaking and the trauma happens when you try to hold on. Let go...Let go..."  The whoosh of the intensifying journey accelerated around me. Grandfather took my mind and emotions through all the ways of letting go.  "Let go of analysis, let go of concepts, let go of emotions, let go of attachments, let go of assumptions." The ways of letting go took layer after layer off of me, all of which were wrapped tight and holding me down.

"You've been having trouble catching your breath." Grandfather swept me back again to being on my back, a little kid pinned to the ground. Then he took me to another highly personal trauma when I was doubled-over in a fetal position on a bed, trying to cope with all that was going on.

"Don't let them wound you, don't let them control you and keep you from yourself. Rise above it. Let go!" He never fully explained who he meant by "them" but I got the impression it was intended in a much broader sense than one might first expect.

He directed me to get up and go to a certain spot in the yard. As is often the case when I visit Grandfather, at some point, usually a point of impending great significance, he requires me to lie down, which is no big deal, except he always picks the most uncomfortable spot he can find. This time it was a concrete slab, the top step to a small semi-circle of steps that led down to a fire pit. The chosen top step was flat, hard, and rough but accepting the impulse, I managed to get up, go over, and lay down on my side on the hard surface.

Another freaky thing usually happens when I get such an impulse. This also happens every time Grandfather directs me to one of these challenging spots. Incredibly, as soon as I submit to the impulse and lie down, the surface melts into the most comfortable thing ever, better than the best mattress. It never fails, and this has always been the signal that a deeper ride is about to begin. And this time the ride was leaving the property for parts unknown. The more I released into the comfort of the hard step I rested on, the more I felt myself slip away.

And one more unusual thing was noticeable. I usually always feel small, involuntary muscle quivers in my legs as the San Pedro medicine first takes effect. But this time the quivers started up again and intensified as the comfort around me increased, and this was two hours after first drinking the San Pedro brew. I even felt some in my arm muscles which had never happened before

Inca Snake Symbol

Up until this point, I have never experienced any hallucinating visuals while on any journey with San Pedro. Whether my eyes were open or closed, everything had always looked "normal." But that was about to change.

The more the comfort of the hard step enfolded around me, the more I sensed the sight behind my closed eyes transforming. My eyes were closed but my view slowly dissolved into a plain sheet of whiteness. I saw nothing but an infinite expanse of white. In time, this whiteness divided into a series of floating white cubes. Remarkably, the spaces between the cubes wiggled out of place to become pale, blue-white snakes that slithered up each cube from the bottom. When the snakes reached the top of the cubes, the snake heads turned white and divided into four heads for each cube and those heads squirmed over the four corners of the cubes and down the sides. As the heads twisted down the sides, the cubes were impossibly turned inside-out to become funnels. These funnels each contained a fractal spiral that descended to a vanishing point. As the intensifying comfort overtook me, I found myself enveloped by white snakes and falling forward into one of the spiraling funnels. The descent was quick. It felt like a release, a surrender, a welcomed passage beyond all I knew.

 (It is difficult to fully describe what I saw but the following video hints at one tiny aspect of it -- what must have been the impossible unfolding of the 4th dimension and the attempt to visualize it in 3D. Except, I wasn't watching a projection of this onto 3D, rather I was drawn into it and then beyond where the nature of what the snakes pulled me into transcended even a 4th dimensional explanation.)

In the darkness of the welcomed void I heard Grandfather's voice whisper again.
"For the last couple of weeks you've had trouble catching your breath..."
There was a lingering pause, then he added, " want to set your spirit free, don't you?"

I hesitated but knew I must answer truthfully, "Yes."

In the next moment I was back in my room as a teenager looking out the shutters, making eye contact with the white owl standing on the walkway in front of my house. The sudden shift caught me off guard and I was struck with awe at the feeling of being in that wondrous moment again.

Grandfather's voice neared. He whispered with much resolve and compassion. "...come fly with me."

I was dumbstruck. "Fly with you!?"

"Yes," he answered right away. "The owl and the condor -- let us fly."

Incredibly, his inference was -- I was the owl.
"I can fly with you?!" I couldn't believe what I was hearing.

"Yes -- it's all up to you."

He waited and in my shock I hesitated.
"Do you want to?" he asked. "You say doing what makes you happy is pointless. You are having trouble catching your breath. You say you want to let your spirit free. Well...come fly with me."

I was overwhelmed with emotion. My heart instinctively leapt with joy and anticipation. "Yes!" I gushed, "I want to fly with you!"

I had a strange, ludicrously impossible sense that my nature was becoming more birdlike than human. Even the involuntary muscle quivers I had felt now became tactile evidence of the rustling of feathers. It was too real and immediate to discount or laugh at as incredibly out of the question. It was happening and there could be no argument with the sense of being so certain.

His whisper came again. His words were calm but invigorating. "Come fly with me!"

In the moment I committed to YES, nothing less than a transcendental release overcame me. And there was a moment, a billionth of a moment when I was stepping off, launching off. It was as if I was poised at the edge of a lofty cliff, perched on a boulder floating in cloud city, leaning forward to launch myself into flight, except this flight would not be a swoop down into air but a rapid ascent up into the final unknown. The speed of the ascent would make my return to my bed in the out-of-body experience seem slow by comparison.

But in a trillionth of a billionth of a moment a stark realization seized my soul. I suddenly realized what I was saying YES to -- and it was nothing less than my final moment -- I was taking my last breath. A flurry of communication went on between me and Grandfather out of time. I now understood that my YES was an agreement to go with him -- permanently -- to once and for all set my spirit free. It dawned on me what flying with him truly meant. It meant leaving this life.

Grandfather talked me through it. " think this is pointless, you want to set your spirit free, so it's your option -- you can fly with me."

The impact of that option involved nothing less than my whole existence. To say yes was saying goodbye to all I knew. To say yes was to leave for good. It could be made so in the next trillionth billionth of a moment. It was that near. Already, I could feel the detachment, the calm transcendence possible. But immediately I held back.

Grandfather wondered, "You hold back? You're not going?"

My answer flowed out of me as quick as I could say it, "I don't want to leave Deb."
Deb is my wife.

Grandfather not only took it in stride, he showed it to be part of his design. "You're learning the lesson. You remember that other message about doing what makes you happy?"


"I gave you that lesson -- so you'd learn it was pointless.
Doing what makes you happy is pointless.
What you should be doing -- is something that makes somebody else happy.
That is folding into love.
You could have gone with me but you didn't,
not because of missing what makes you happy,
it was about Deb. See --- it isn't pointless."

Bird in Flight

From 11am until 3pm, I laid in one position on my side on the top concrete step leading to the fire pit.
I was not there. I was being transformed into a bird.
I was being offered the chance to fly away - for good.
Even though I had initially declined, it was made clear that the same opportunity would remain available.

Around 3pm I opened my eyes and rolled onto my back.
All day dark and cloudy skies had threatened to rain on me but no rain had come.
Now, floating back into my body, I laid on my back, transfixed by the sky.
I don't know how long I laid there entranced by bunches of dark clouds churning overhead.
I only know as I watched, a most peculiar spot began to appear in the sky.

It was of course the sun starting to shine through clouds that had thinned enough to let the disk of the sun make a dimmed appearance. But to me it did not look like the sun. It wasn't bright enough to be the sun because I could look at it. It was not defined enough because in the place of edges it existed only as a fuzzy spot of hypnotizing light larger than the sun. I was drawn to it and yet I felt I had come back too far now to reach it. It was the dark vanishing point at the bottom of the funnels with the fractal spirals, only now it had erupted into light, it had opened to receive me. It was the eye of an opportunity that remained open. I could still fly with him if I wanted.

Eye in the Sky

Sometime before 4pm, still strong in the medicine, I was offered some tea and then fruit salad. I didn't feel like I was back yet and I certainly didn't feel human. I found myself watching the sky as if it were my domain. I could not reconnect with the ceremony space. I felt a physical and emotional detachment. It was as if the world around me was a shadow reality, a cosmic play in three acts, an elaborate hologram of some significance but with no intrinsic meaning that lasted. The feeling was strong and lingered well after 6pm.

About 6:30pm, Grandfather whispered another offer in my ear. "You know, the owl is a night bird, it flies at night. You are a bird now. So tonight, when you go to sleep, you can still fly with me. You can do that if you want. Set your spirit free.

I asked, "Can you guarantee I will come back if I fly with you?'

His answer came quickly, "No. I can't guarantee that. That's up to you."

Was it an offer or a test -- or both? He wasn't going to tell me. Drifting into the dark evening, sitting in a wicker chair, still deep in the medicine and feeling not quite human, I languished loosely connected to the space around me. The passage of time oozed by. I had some soup for dinner after 8pm. It was eleven hours since I first drank the medicine. Food hitting my stomach started to ground me a bit but by the time the ceremony facilitator was offering angel card readings for the participants, I was just beginning to return to the group.

My angel card was Life Review --

  • "Take inventory of your life and resolve to change or heal anything that is unbalanced.  It takes courage to look at your life. Yet, if done with compassion and a sense of humor, you’ll grow and learn from a life review. I’ll help you take stock of where you’ve been. We’ll look at what you’ve learned, and how these lessons are a valuable asset for today and tomorrow. We’ll also notice life patterns that aren’t serving your highest good, and we’ll take steps to release those patterns.”
  • "Working with Archangel Jeremiel: One of Jeremiel’s purposes is to help newly crossed-over souls review their lives. He also helps those who are still living to make life reviews. Take time soon to be alone, and ask Jeremiel to help you review where you’ve been, what you’ve learned, what patterns you’re ready to release, and what you’re grateful for in your life." 

The ceremony participants shared their day. I shared my opportunity to fly and my decision to pull back to ensure I'd stay with my wife Deb. With magic synchronicity, exactly one minute after I shared this with the group, I received a text from Deb, "Thinking of you and sending tons of love." The text said it was sent "one minute ago" -- right when I was sharing.

Needless to say, I floated into the deeper hours of the night still dazed by the day's experience. There was the added suspense of going to sleep that night on ceremony grounds, not knowing if I might still choose to fly with the condor. Obviously, I did not.

The next morning came and I didn't remember anything about my sleep time, not even a dream. Since then I have hiked high in the Cajas National Park and witnessed soaring large birds riding the thermals above me. Their majesty of flight and beauty of form gave me pause. And yes, I could see myself among them - but not yet. A good friend, a hiking companion, even found a feather on the ground from one of the high-flying birds and gave it to me.

I guess, as they say, one can live life as if nothing is a miracle or everything is. How do you define miracle? For me, I've concluded it's very difficult for any of us to recognize miracles -- because all that most of them do is set things right. Just as we expect. And since so much is right, it certainly follows that there must be a lot of miracles going on.

Inca Chief

As I said in the beginning, I never thought I'd have to do research to discover the depth of meaning conveyed by Grandfather San Pedro. Some of the research I did after returning home from the ceremony follows. Emphasis added.

Snake, Chakana, and Condor on Cuenca Street
 The Appearance of the Serpent
Because it is simple and, through this simplicity, the beginning of all shapes, the serpent symbolises the essence of forms, their pristine oneness. Because it is only a line, and yet also has within it a forked tongue, it represents, in the most profound and sacred sense, the resolution of polarity in unity, like the symbol of Tao. The vision of the serpent, the symbol of medicine, (principally within an experience where one also sees mandalas or multi-coloured geometrical shapes) often indicates the start of a process of change or healing, the resolution of a conflict, the acquisition of a new virtue or ability, the realization of something intuitive, the birth of a vision, or the creation of a new alternative. In Hinduism, the serpent is known as Ananta and also represents the infinite, the symbol of eternal cycles. The serpent is an absolute sign of life, of immortality, of cure (the symbol of Esculapio the healer, son of Apollo). It represents the beginning of life, ancestral strength, the beginning of all designs, creativity. It’s the symbol of the goddesses, of the great creative mother who is the goddess of nature.

The Condor
The Andean Condor is associated with the Sun deity and is the ruler of the upper world. Condors live in the Andes Mountains, the highest peak of which is 6,962 metres high. Condor is the messenger of the gods and the carrier of our dreams and prayers to heaven, because she flies much higher than any other winged animal. She teaches us about the ancient mysteries of life and death, about communion with the spirits and how to soar above our limitations. Condors have an uncanny ability to sense death, so they are sometimes seen as the angels of death, circling around when life is about to end. Condor is very powerful protection in the spirit world. Condors live on average between 50 and 80 years, roughly the average lifespan of a human and thus teach us about life. Condor helps us transform that which is dead  and no longer serves us into energy that helps us soar above, into greater heights of awareness.

More on the Condor
Condors prefer to live in the high mountains, to fly in the skies above the cordilleras. They symbolize the highest elevation, above limitations and obstacles. They are, above all, the symbol of the transpersonal; they integrate the wisdom of those who have died, those who have no ego. They are the symbol of spiritual ascension, of communication with the spirits, with what is subtle. They are the winged representatives of Ayahuasca.

The condor is the symbol of creative power, the incarnation of timeless philosophy; his majestic flight suggests the process of life itself, of creative eternity, whose ever-living works are made up of births and deaths.

The eagle is the symbol of the sun, but the eye of the condor is the sun; it symbolizes the hidden light of the great emptiness. It is the master of weather, of thunder and lightning, of wisdom, of new vision, of prophecy, of illumination.

The condor is without doubt the king of the skies, but ultimately he is a servant, a simple gardener, the instrument of the art of renovation, of cleanliness and purification; new productions need new spaces, which are fertilized from the disintegration of the old, of the spirits of the dead. Wisdom, prudence, calm, reflection, discretion, intuition, vision, prophecy, messenger of the divine – these are the attributes of the bird.

More Icons Along Cuenca Street
 Andean Spirituality
The Inca mythology includes a series of mysterious stories and legends that explain and symbolize their faith. It all begins with the “Chakana.” This is the Quechua name of a three-stepped Andean cross, representing the three stages of Inca life.

The snake, puma and condor are symbolic representatives of the three levels. The snake, Uqhu Pacha, represents the lower or underworld. The middle world of humans, called Kay Pacha, is represented by the Puma. The upper world of the Gods, Hanan Pacha, is represented by the Condor. The hole in the middle of the Andean cross represents Cusco, the centre of the world (Qosqo: translated from Quechua, means “navel of the world”)

The Condor as the Messenger between Earth and Heaven
The condor, symbolizing righteousness, was considered the most sacred bird by the Incas. It was thought to be the messenger between the earth and the heavens. The Incas believed that the condor was in charge of taking the spirits or souls of the dead people to heaven on its wings. These South American birds actually travel long distances daily, overcoming huge differences in the altitude of the Andes peaks to the sea and back. It is therefore obvious that this animal was chosen to serve as a mediator between different spiritual worlds. The Condor is also the only bird strong enough to fly up to the heavens and deliver messages to God.

The Puma: patient guardian of the Earth
In the Inca´s belief system, the puma represented the central world: the earth. For the Inca, the puma represented the power and strength on the earth´s surface. The Incas even designed their capital Cusco in the shape of a puma! If you look at an old map of Cusco you will find that the cathedral in the main square is the heart, which was once the Palace of Wiracocha, the ninth Incan Emperor. Qoricancha, or the Temple of the Sun, was the center of the puma and Saqsayhuaman was the head!

The wise Snake of the Underworld
In the Inca mythology, the Snake stands for wisdom and knowledge. The snake represented the beginning of new life, as the snake always comes out from its hiding place in the underground. The Andean tradition says that life always begins in the underworld. The snake travels to the underworld, where it sheds its skin and returns “newly born.” To the Inca, this transformation symbolized the fulfillment of the circle of life.

The condor is known for having wingspans of up to 10 feet wide and is native to the mountains of South America. Every civilization that has inhabited the territory has referred to the condor in their design. In the Peruvian tradition, the bird is considered the messenger between our physical world and the realm of the gods or spirits, and represents all heavenly life forces.

The condor represents the ability to “see” as a bird would from the air. In other words foresight and spiritual wisdom are all associated with this image. Many people relate the image of god’s eye with that of the condor. Furthermore, the ability to fly also alludes to transcending. The condor is associated with the top of our head, the place of sight and perception, and, according to Q’ero shamanism, the place where the soul can enter and exit or commune with gods.

The serpent is the keeper of the underworld or world of the dead. Much different than the western world’s conception of hell, the underworld is the place where souls go after death to prepare their next rebirth. Under the ground’s surface is both the place where dead leaves decompose and new seeds rise to life. The world of the dead is in this way also the world of birth. This continuous death and rebirth process thus not surprisingly links the serpent to the Pacha Mama or Mother Earth. The human belly or center is associated with the realm of the serpent.

Condor, Puma, Snake
In these three animals, sky, earth, and the underworld are represented. Condor, the messenger to the gods. Condor, we learn, is the only bird strong enough to fly up to the heavens and deliver messages to God. Also, condor does not hunt and only eats the dead. What condor eats comes harmlessly from the earth and goes back to it. Puma has patience and strength. The snake travels to the underworld, and when it sheds its skin, is reborn, transformed. This is a circle of life I can embrace.

Condor Feather Significance Healing
Feathers have an ancient symbolic meaning, they are linked to the air element, freedom and pure potential. They are attributed to transformation that is strong, swift and potent. Feathers are used by a healer ("yachek" in the Andes or shaman) on the aura (energetic body) of an individual, in smooth, long strokes from the head to the feet, in order to clear energy. They are used from any one of the nine cardinal directions towards the body in order to invoke healing energy.

White Owl
Owl is synonymous with the Gift of Higher Knowledge and Insight. They are shape-shifters and carry the medicine of Sight Beyond Illusion. The Owl is thought to be one of several Animals blessed with the Medicine of Shape-shifting, that is the ability for them to change their form from that of the Owl to a human form, and back again. If Owl is your personal medicine, no one can deceive you about what they are doing, no matter how they try to disguise or hide it from you. Owl people can see into the darkness of their souls and the souls of others. Snowy Owl's ability to navigate in the darkness makes her not only a master totem for soul retrieval and the reclaiming of lost parts of the soul, but she is also the guide that helps us go into the void of the Great Mystery to call forth ancient wisdom, knowledge and secrets that have lain dormant for ages to help us remember the fullness of our being, and create the new earth. Owl is a symbol for wisdom. This is because Owl can see that which others cannot, which is the essence of true wisdom. Where others are deceived, Owl sees and knows. White Owl people are seers of divine wisdom and are said to be oracles of secret knowledge from the elders. In fact, Owls are Medicine Messengers, and each Owl has a different Medicine message. Snowy Owls, in particular are the carriers of Wisdom from the Elders and if the Snowy Owl is your animal spirit you have the gift of channeling the words of the elders via inspired written words or automatic writing.

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