Yesterday, I went to Taray, to see the Fiesta of the Virgin of Rosario, who is their patron saint (and an incarnation of the Virgin Mary), and this, their annual big festival. I thought it would be interesting from a cultural perspective, but was not prepared for it to be such an emotional/spiritual experience, never having resonated with Christianity in general or Catholicism specifically, and being aware that this religion was imposed on the indigenous cultures. But this experience (like everything here, it seems) bypassed my mind and went straight to my heart. Within minutes of watching the devotees dance and sing, I burst out crying, so moved by…….what? I don’t know exactly; the devotion, the sincerity, the beauty, and also there is something powerful about an entire Pueblo coming together and learning these ways. However the religion was originally adopted or thrust upon the locals, there was something real, energetic and powerful happening here. Parts reminded me of Native American dancers. I was glad I was wearing sunglasses, so no one could see me sobbing violently. The only other public experience that does this to me is watching a Taiko drumming performance- same heart-breaking-open, cleansing type of thing. Interstingly, the Sacred Valley is full of extranejeros (foreigners), yet I was the only non-local there.
(click on thumbnails for a bigger picture)
The sun was unrelenting and without respite of shade, yet the devotees were clad in multiple layers of long sleeved wool or polyester without protest (or sweat! how does that work?) Finally I found the world’s tiniest iglesia—only 2 pews! Filled with Gladiolas, enrobed in salmon satin swaths of cloth and anchored with a large crystal chandelier, it was a potent little chapel. A painting of the Virgen de Rosario was front and center, with poor Jesus shoved off to the side. I welcomed the moist coolness of it’s thick adobe walls and sat down in a pew to rest my weary bones. and Again the tears came, this time softer, like a gentle balm; I felt the Virgin asking me to pour out my heart and speak its desire, so I did. For once, I allowed myself to flow with the energy of the experience, rather than try to understand or judge it or worse-reject the mode it came to me- through Catholic ritual. No, that would be Egos response. To me, true spiritual growth and embodiment means I open myself to blessings in whatever form they come, whether it be through a religion I have issues with, or something that seems like a bad turn of events, I cultivate willingness to enter the experience fully.
Each day I’ve been in the Sacred Valley, I’ve felt palpably, some gift or benefit, whether grounding from the Apus, digestive cleansing of the waters, Mama Coca’s gift of clarity, or this unexpected heart opener, which allowed me to get real with what I really need and want, and cleansed me of my sorrows about not having it in the past. I came home and there was a wonderful gathering of people, from at least 5 different countries, mostly Spanish speaking, and a fire, and without any effort on my part, there I was, nestled in community, enjoying social time, relating with other actual human beings, something that has evaded me for years back in Portland. Oh, and I was able to communicate in Spanish and mostly understand what others were saying. Healing comes in many forms and I am open and grateful for all of them.
Half of you is half of me,