Mesa: A Ritual Bundle
A Mesa or Misha is a bundle of power stones and objects called khuyas that connect an Andean paqo (a mystic healer or shaman) with their ancestors, the sacred sites where they undergo initiations and their helping spirits, especially the Apus (the Mountain spirits). The Mesa is a symbol of a paqos personal power used in ceremony and to heal and is always charged with light living energy. My dear teacher Juan Núñez del Prado explains, "The Misha is like an anchor, a reminder of the most important power, to center yourself." For me and many paqos in the Andean tradition, our work as keepers of the Mesa is to share our knowledge, to come together to create a weaving in these times of great change.
The Fire Burning in our Hearts: The Story of the Mesa
by Fredy Puma Quispe Singona
A long time ago there was the losing of the connection to nature. It was very cold. The fire that used to burn in the heart of each person and also in the community hearth was dying down, little by little, until it almost disappeared. People were always very cold, very frustrated, always fighting with each other, not helping each other. and the elder of this one community knew a prophecy: that one day the fire would be burning again. He knew that a yanantin - masintin, which is the brother - sister connection or energy, was supposed to go to get the fire from a cave in the mountains to restore it to the people.
Well, there was a bother and sister who lived near the river, and they were so cold. Very cold. They didn’t know what to do, and they decided they had to do something. They saw their families, their communities being so cold and they could not live like that anymore. So, they decided they were going to go to the elder for advice on what to do. They went to the elder and were told the prophecy about the heart of the fire, and about the cave where it burned, but about how difficult it was to access this cave. They could very easily be consumed by this primordial fire if they did not approach it carefully, with respect and courage. People had tried before to retrieve this fire, but they had failed. They had always gone alone. This was the first time a bother and sister would go together.
So they went on this journey, through a jungle and mountains, past dangerous animals, and so on, until they came to the cave, which had a tiny, dark opening. Way deep inside was this fire. They approached and went in. There were bats and other things in the dark, scaring them, but they went in little by little, until they came to the fire. The brother said, “Let me approach it, and I will take some of it.” But the sister remembered how dangerous it was and was afraid for him. She said she would take the risk. So she approached the fire and took some coals and fire carefully in her hands. The coals were coming very nicely and she was smiling, but then “Oww!” The coals burned her. The brother said, “No let me do it.” So he took up some coals and he was smiling, and then “Oww!” The coals burned him. They didn’t know what to do. They felt the cold, a cold wind coming down through the cave. They looked at each other, about to leave and then they remembered the yananitin - masintin, which is about not doing things alone, so they both reached down together to get the fire and they were able to. They were not burned, not consumed. They brought the fire to the elder, and he showed it to the community, and the fires in all the hearths were restored once again.
This elder then wrapped the glowing coals in a Mesa blanket, and they stayed there, always burning, always ready to warm us, to burn as the fire in our hearts. This is the Mesa. The Mesa is the fire burning in our hearts.
* This beautiful story by Q'ero paqo Fredy Puma Quispe Singona is an excerpt from a book entitled Masters of the Living Energy by my dear friend and sister on the path, Joan Parisi Wilcox. Thank you Joan for being a guiding star on my journey home.