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MYSTICISM IN PERU
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The varied geography of Peru's territory has given its inhabitants the conditions for assuming mystical attitudes and relationships.

Evidence shows that ancient Peruvians knew how to make use of places with magnetic concentration for perpetuating their work. They also had a profound knowledge of the elements that united them to their environment to which they incorporated magic-religious experiences, a valuable sequence that expresses itself to this very day.

MYSTICISM TOURISM

There is a rising trend of visitors interested in having a transcendental experience conducted by one of these religious specialists. It is interesting to learn that others appreciate what Peruvians have been taught to look down on.

In reality, since this is a field where it is difficult to determine the technical skills of an expert, there are many impostors and those who associate certain events to UFO's and the extraterrestrial.
Peruvians prefer to consider this kind of tourism as " health tourism" and to understand that tourists visit these masters from the Peruvian coast, highlands and jungle because they need improvement in their lives, perhaps in areas such as stress, depression, paranoia, drug addiction, etc. Bad luck, love and family matters are also dealt with. However, these matters should not be turned it into media shows, lest they loose their serious perspective of an effective alternative way of healing.

Nevertheless, it is very difficult to set up authorized guides to perform these tributes to the mountain rituals or "Ayahuasca", As noted by a well known medical doctor, a person is considered a healer because he has gained acceptance in the community where he has earned a reputation.

A fascinating and exciting trend in the search for the spirituality of ancient cultures that inhabited Peru has become very popular among tourists in recent years. Some people call it esoteric tourism, a mistaken term since esoteric refers to the occult or hidden, something that cannot be seen or spoken of, definition which contradicts the word tourism which in essence means to show. This trend is also called mystic tourism, a term worth analyzing.

Mysticism refers to a transcendental experience. If we want to speak in terms of God, we can say that it is an integration act with or within the divinity. It is transcendental because it goes beyond normal human conditions. Mystic beings experience visions of the real world and assert that our world is illusory. People use the term Nirvana in India to refer to that transcendental state. In that state one can elevate, see enlightened beings, and the world seems to be more integrated, interdependent, without ego, as it really is, or should be. We would have to experience it to agree that our normal vision is distorted since it is so ego-centered. That is why mystics focus on the deity and deny self-importance with phrases such as: " Only you, oh Lord! I am worthless!

THE PERUVIAN CULTURES

We apply the term mysticism to searchers of spiritual experiences for lack of a better word. To the south of Peru there is another kind of miracle healing based on the reading of coca leaves and the calling of the spirits of the mountains. There are no night sessions; instead, there are offerings to nature.
We cannot define these religious experts as shamans since they do not go in trance or any form of ecstasy. The healing is directly imposed on by the mountain (Apu, Wamani, Achachilla or Jirca, depending on the part of the highlands) or by Mother Earth (Pachamanca) in exchange for an offering, "despacho", which the elements grant in reciprocity.

THIS CAN ALSO BE CALLED HEALTH TOURISM

In the south end of the Peruvian Andes there is another culture, which we share with Bolivia and Chile: the Kolla people. They are better known for their native tongue, the Aymara, however their rituals are very similar to the rest of the region but for some light variations.
In the Peruvian jungle, however, we come across what we have defined as shaman. Sessions are performed during the night and the spiritual leader encourages participants to open up to a wider perception with the aid of Ayahuasca, a beverage made from a plant with the same name that grows in the jungle. This is also about healing especially ailments of the soul, so we can equally refer to it as " health tourism".
As we can see, different Peruvian cultures have provided different ways of healing and are attracting the interest of people from all over the world, who are willing to improve their mental and physical balance with methods that Peruvians have rejected for centuries with the hope of becoming more scientific.

SHAMANISM

The word 'shaman' derives from the Siberian language, also used by Eskimos. It refers to human beings that have the ability to travel to other worlds and broaden their capacity of consciousness mingling with spiritual beings that also happen to be ancestors, to find the cause of some illness affecting one of its community members and to come up with a cure.
One of the main characteristics of shamanism is the use of rhythm. A 'maraca' or rattle is more commonly used in the north of Peru to demonstrate that what these 'shamans' of the north do now is something that goes all the way back to the pre-Inca era.

We must only examine some of the ancient Mochican pottery they left behind, showing a priest rattling rhythmically to convoke the presence of spirits. He accompanies this rhythm with a very monotonous chant that serves as the key to have access to the spiritual world. This ability that shamans possess is equivalent to the so-called charisma that is somewhat of a gift a few people possess and which one cannot cultivate. Although it is true that a master instructs them, the master only instructs those who have shown this charisma. It may be worth mentioning that "Shaman" is also a last name, probably of Mochican descent, whose meaning has been lost in time.

If we do not divide the spiritual from the natural, it is easier to understand that rocks, mountains, springs and ponds have spirit and that we must take into consideration their influence in happenings instead of thinking that they are just nature elements.

For the traditionally religious mentality nothing exists by itself nor are there happenings attributed to chance. Everything is connected because that is the way the nature of the existent is or, if we want to see it in theistic terms, because it is part of creation. That is why everything deserves veneration and care and when traditional societies take something they need they ask the sacred Mother Earth and thank for the gifts received.
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