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  • Pam England

Chakana: In the East, the Condor Path

From the South where I shed my old skin of fear and unworthiness--I've painted my way full circle--to the East, the direction the Inca call the "way of the visionary, the place of dreaming with your eyes wide open." The direction and winds of the East also represent the place of death and rebirth; I contemplate what is dying and being reborn in my life and mind.

Seeing an eagle or condor (with her nine foot wingspan) circling above invokes awe and allows me to imagine what it might be like to see the world and my life--from past to future--with the far-seeing eyes of a condor. As I paint the Condor's eye and imagine embodying the condor, she becomes a Spirit Condor and helps me see past my little story, and to see unbounded potential, even a glimpse of my destiny. Like the eagle and condor who are solitary creatures, on my journey I am drawn to solitude, meditation, contemplation, writing and painting--various human ways of circling around my mind.

As one of the oldest animals on our planet, condor is a survivor against all odds (10,000 years ago her ancestors flew above saber tooth tigers!). Modern ecological stressors reduced their numbers to 22, however, through conservation innovation, the species was brought back from near extinction. (Maybe we can us Condor Medicine to bring physiologic human birth back from near extinction.)

In his book, The Four Winds: Shamanic Healing and Energy Medicine, Alberto Villoldo observes that for a human called to the journey of awakening and embracing the divine and the mystery of life, it can take a lifetime--and that few complete the journey of initiation.

“Many… stop along the way content to be healers… masters of their own direction…

and then there are those who become trapped by power

[and get] lost along the way.

–Antonio Morales Baca, his teacher who lived in the Andes

When I was in Peru, I was fortunate to participate in a despacho ceremony led by an Andean shaman. In this moving ceremony everyone placed gifts of gratitude and prayers for Pachamama (Earth , Mother of the ancient Inca), in a bundle which was ceremoniously burned. Despacho means to send, to dispatch your prayers to Mother Earth or Father Sun. This ceremony remains in memory of my power journey to Peru, so I painted a despacho, bundled in a mesa, a colorful ceremony cloth woven from llama wool, in the clutches of Condor Spirit to carry my prayers to Pachamama.

I chose AUM as the mantra for this Direction; it is written in Sanskrit in the upper chakana. All words and mantras create a vibration, which is carried on the breath, through which we name or create our reality. All the manifest universe starts from the vibration of the sound OM or AUM, an ancient Sanskrit word that came into being some 3,500 years ago. AUM expresses Universe; the beginning of creation; past, present, and future; all that was, is, and will be. The large bottom curve represents "A" (pronounced "aaah"), the waking state. The middle curve denotes "U" ("oooh"), the dream state. The bindi (the dot) and half circle at the top stand for "M" ("mmm"), deep sleep. OM in synonymous with Amen, which also means the beginning of creation.

The quotes in this blog are excerpted from The Four Winds: Shamanic Healing and Energy Medicine by Alberto Villoldo.

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