Journey with Shaman don Eduardo Calderon
Peru many years ago I was part of a group of twenty-four, participating
in an exotic series of initiations being orchestrated and delivered
by one of the most extraordinary shamans of our times. Never before
or since have I traveled with a bolder group of serious spiritual
practitioners. Most of us had made trips to Peru before, specifically
to work directly with an indigenous shaman to learn his craft, which
meant being accepted by someone capable of delivering such training.
This trip was very different than taking a vacation to be around
a shaman or to experience one of their ceremonies. We were a group
already dedicated to the path of the shaman, and because we had
become known in different shamanic circles around the world, we
were invited to participate in this rare opportunity.
are masters of the ecstatic trance and whatever means they employ
to get there, and in that capacity they can function as communication
intermediaries between exalted realms normally outside the purview
of our consciousness. They are not priests or religious representatives,
and shamanism is not a religion. Real shamans have inherited sophisticated
primeval practices originating from prehistory that are methods
field-tested by countless generations to establish energetic links
between our everyday experience and the invisible realm of the spirit.
In this sense most especially, shamans exist as a living bridge
between the realm of the invisible and the practical spiritual needs
of the community they serve. From the exotic realms they travel
within their ecstasies, shamans bring useful information and energetic
effects to guide, to heal and to assist our day-to-day living as
well as to serve our spiritual illumination.
also practice worldly occupations: a shaman might be a furniture
maker, a healer charging for his/her services, or most any other
occupation. A shaman is always a shaman and their inherent traits
are available to them always, but they do not always interact in
a shaman capacity with the world. Don Eduardo told me that in ancient
Peruvian civilizations such as the Incas, it was mandatory that
the shamans also practice a craft or a profession for a living.
Indigenous traditions say that the average person has no way to
assess the quality and caliber of a shaman's spiritual reality and
that could pose inordinate risks to the people who rely on their
services. Watch what they do in the world, observe how they operate
within their profession or craft, the ancients tell us. Do they
make great furniture, charge a fair price, and treat customers well?
Do you feel good when you use their furniture at home? A shaman
cannot help but place their mood, their touch, the level at which
they conceptualize the world into their work, so look there for
signposts, the ancients say.
this group of travelers, most practiced shamanism within the fabric
of their lives and brought enough experience to make our journey
extraordinary. Beyond that we had not much in common and even our
practices varied widely. Some in the group relished daily exotic
ceremonies such as: greeting the morning sun, praying to the apus
or the spirit presence of the mountains, praying to Wankan Tanka
or the sky father God of the Central Plains Indians, or praying
to Pacha Mama or the earth mother goddess of the Incas. Some even
prayed to the Christian saints, others revered the Buddha and some
of us participated in all of it! Others kept their prayers internal
and without display, other than during ceremony. Many dressed colorfully
in ceremonial regalia while others preferred simple camp clothing.
The pressure we produced on each other pushed many of us beyond
our limitations and would prove positive and challenging, causing
me to investigate my experience for many years.
final leg of our initiation journey, following five days in the
high country wilderness beyond Machu Pichu, was a two-day trek to
the infamous Marcawasi Lagoons, an ancient sorcerer's lair where
indigenous sorcerers had been initiated since before the Incas.
According to these ancient traditions, a sorcerer is a shaman gone
bad, corrupted by power and lust for personal gain, the exact opposite
of the shaman who is dedicated to the health and well-being of the
community and formally makes his or herself available on that basis.
I daresay if the sorcerers could be heard, they would offer a different
description of their path and whom they are, but that's what the
shamans have to say about it.
once asked don Eduardo, half-joking but also serious, if a group
of shamans gets together and takes a vote on who has become a sorcerer?
I thought I was being facetious but I was also trying to understand
how a person attains the title of "sorcerer" in the Peruvian
world with its unique ancestral heritage. To my surprise but typical
of his very different thought patterns, he responded that shamans
do indeed get together and decide on who is a sorcerer, but only
after the shaman in question had already somehow declared himself
to be a sorcerer. Among other things, that meant a kind of personal
marketing and advertising, alerting the world that he or she could
be approached on that basis. For example, both a shaman and a sorcerer
might be approached to help a distraught marriage partner whose
mate was having an affair. According to don Eduardo, it would have
been understood and expected that the shaman would try to heal or
fix the problem for the cuckolded partner by improving the marriage.
A sorcerer, on the other hand, would accept payment to help the
emotionally injured partner to reap their revenge and would be approached
on that basis. These opposite ways of using power have been prevalent
in South America for probably thousands of years. The personal power
of both the shaman and the sorcerer determines the nature of the
requests they can accept as well as the remedy they can deliver.
Eduardo made a clear distinction between the shaman and the sorcerer
and it was fairly black and white in his mind. The sorcerer used
his power to control, dominate or manipulate people for personal
gain, while the shaman drew on the power of the medicine wheel to
heal, to help, and above all to continually make contact with the
invisible realms to affirm our spiritual identity. In practice,
however, these distinctions were far from simple, along with most
everything else in the world of Peruvian shamans. The Marcawasi
Lagoons is a sorcerer's lair and going to such a power spot was
an initiation for would-be adepts needing to learn about such distinctions.
final campsite was at 17,000 feet and for five days we enacted ancient
shamanic ceremonies repeated by countless generations to make our
bid for a rightful place among the energies and spirits that inhabit
that otherworldly landscape. We had come from Europe, North and
South America, Africa and Asia, each of us for a single purpose,
to be initiated by Shaman don Eduardo Calderon of Trujillo, Peru,
as a shaman of his lineage. Throughout the world don Eduardo was
known as the Wizard of the Four Winds; he is a shaman master who
can invoke the power of the four directions of the medicine wheel
to do all the things shamans are reputed to do. My tale will reveal
what that means since it cannot be easily explained any more than
one can explain a kiss.
. . . . . .
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with John of God (Joao De Deus) >>
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