A Message at Pachacámac

17 Dec

Last week, I went to see the ruins of Pachacámac just 40 km outside of Lima. According to Andean cosmology, each person has an „itu“ or energetic portal with the world; a place of energetic transmission which is physically closest to one’s place of birth. I calculated that, according to this, Pachacámac would be my „itu“ and so I was quite excited to visit the ruins, poke around and see how it felt to be there. Pachacámac has, unfortunately, become a rather strict place to visit and I left the ruins feeling somewhat disappointed. Over the following few days, I tied myself up in knots wondering what exactly to take away from this experience – and what to write about it. Finally, after a tangled few days, came the following story . . .  

Once was a temple guarded by early Lima cultures, by Huari, by Inkas. Created by men who sought to mimick landscapes with an architecture meant to complement the desert – so perfectly that, when two millenia passed, men could no longer distinguish temple from hill, pyramid from mountain. She was a place of worship pretending to be a hill of sand. Until bricks of adobe and fragments of pottery began to seep out of her sand and glitter in the sun. A dig in the earth lead to an incredible shout: „Ruins! There are ruins here!“

Once again in Perú, appearances are illusions. A hill is not a hill. Those who claim: „I have nothing to say“ have the most secrets waiting. The desert points to its colourful past – to its canyons of secrets – to footsteps that walked silently past us in the sand and disappeared into a mirage… A hill is not a hill. Not here. Not today.

Still is a temple but „my guards never left me“. In the years when the sand covered her face and the people forgot that their eyes couldn’t tell them everything, there was no need to protect her. Sand and time created a vacuum of oblivion and she rested quietly, only disturbed by dogs digging up pottery or children pissing in the sand. As soon as the excavations began, the guards returned to her side. Once dressed in golden headgear, elaborate nose ornaments and wooden spears, they changed their uniform to match the new era. Now they have guns and whistles which they blow at tourists. They are as kind and friendly, as burnt by the sun, as they ever were.

They tell her they came because the government wants to preserve the ruins of their cultural heritage, but she knows they are the same guards from 3000 years before. They are returning because she is returning. Soon all her temples will be above ground and she will buzz with energy once more. The ruins are rising . . . the guards are returning . . . and soon, so will her worshippers.

photograph by Ritti Soncco

Or are they already here? She has always attracted pilgrims from all over the world. They come to marvel – and to feed her mighty temples with their enthusiasm, their appreciation and a universal struggle to understand: who is she? 

„My visitors are treated strictly.“ Everything is forbidden, everything else is closely monitored. The guards blow sharp whistles at every suspicious move: standing too close, photographing too long – even asking stubborn questions. „We are going to be kicked out,“ her visitors think. The strictness of the guards is suffocating and constricting – especially in comparison to the otherwise relaxed Peruvian attitude. „It’s neccessary,“ a guard explained. „Too many walls were damaged, too many lovers had midnight trysts and left their refuse among the ruins. For now, you must make due with walking around the ruins and not through them.“

The workers uncover her. She says: “You think you’re preserving me but you’re actually restoring.” Restoring her to the minds of the people, who will awake in the morning and be astounded to see a familiar temple has risen from the sand. And one by one they come to her in the desert, touch her gently and say: „I think I remember your name, mamacita.“

photograph by Ritti Soncco

She knows it was a prophecy: a new dawn of the Inka returning. A new era of consciousness, a return to living in balance with nature. All over Perú, the sands move aside and old temples reveal themselves. The old ways, who found refuge in the sand when civilisation became materialistic, now re-emerge from the literal desert. When we feel the change and wonder how live with it, we realise our museums can be our teachers, and our ruins can be our temples. 

This is the part of the Andean prophecy that is currently being fulfilled: the temples are not being restored; they are being prepared for the return of the Inka.

I later discovered that I had misunderstood something important about the word “itu”: it isn’t a man-made place of worshop but normally refers to a natural formation, ergo a mountain, lagoon, or the ocean. Rather obvious, actually, considering that Andean cosmology is all about returning to nature!

In my writing, I base much of my knowledge on and therefore wish to thank the following books and their authors: “Initiation” by Elizabeth B Jenkins and “Masters of the Living Energy” by Joan Parisi Wilcox.

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4 Responses to “A Message at Pachacámac”

  1. Gerhard December 19, 2011 at 1:22 am #

    Hi Ritti, it seems that you have had a different expectation prior to your visit of Pachacàmac compared of what you finally experienced there. Is seems that it is not more these days than a place for tourists where guards are trying to keep people away. It is difficult to pretend being a sacred place with the circumstances what you described. Why did the Inkas built this kind of temples? For sure it was a totally different motivation than constructing buildings or places these days.
    Above all there is really the worshipping and respect of our nature. That`s the heritage they gave us and the ruins that are left should always remind us that we should serve mother earth. I totally agree that museums are our teachers where we can learn a lot from. However not everybody is translating the messages they learn in our days and lives and behave accordingly.
    Enjoy the reminder of the year, best regards
    Gerhard

    • rittisoncco December 19, 2011 at 8:14 am #

      Dear Gerhard! Well, the interesting paradox that I didn’t write in the blog post, but that I thought of constantly as I was writing it, was the comparison of Pachacámac to Checta. At Checta, I couldn’t fathom and so subversively critised the Peruvian government for not doing more to protect these ancient petroglyphs. In Pachacámac, you can see a perfect example of what happens when they DO protect their heritage! And as a visitor of these ancient sites, you must ask yourself: well, which one do you PREFER? To touch and play with the ancients, knowing full well that not everyone will be as respectful (or consider what you are doing respectful) OR quietly walk around the ancients with your head down, for fear of getting whistled at or kicked out? I hope that eventually a compromise is possible, but for now, the Peruvian government seems completely overwhelmed at the country’s richess. It wasn’t until the year 2000 (!!!!!!) that archeologists discovered that the ruins at Caral made the Peru the home of The Oldest Culture in the Americas! Knowing that so much cultural treasure has yet to be unearthed explains why Perú is being over-protective. Over… and under. 🙂

  2. Tom December 19, 2011 at 3:38 pm #

    Beautiful voice and great imagery! I enjoyed how personal your metaphors were in this piece. You really brought that pile of rubble and sand to life with your words…

  3. Rafael January 16, 2012 at 4:40 am #

    you describe this feeling like somebody that touch in this reality! congrats

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