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The Healing Mesa Tradition in Shamanic Practice

Updated: Jun 7

I am a carrier of a mesa, a beautiful, multicolored medicine bundle containing various crystals and stones used for creating a vibrational frequency of healing, harmony, balance, and abundance for myself and others. The tradition of this portable altar goes back to the ancient Inca and can be found today among the medicine people of the Andes, in particular the Q’ero, their descendants. In the past 20 years, many paqos, or medicine people, have been called by the spirits to offer the wisdom of the mesa and their spiritual lineages to outsiders. Therefore, the spiritual practice of the mesa has been spreading among shamanic practitioners in the western world.

In shamanic practice, we understand that everything within our living cosmos is conscious, awake and alive. Everything is an expression of the Divine Spirit in their particular individualized presences and appearances, from the smallest grain of sand to a human being, from a mountain to a star. Therefore, I, like any person, can, through prayer, ceremony and ritual, call forth our natural relationship with the powers and forces of Mother Earth, the Cosmos, Powerful Spiritual Teachers out of the body, and Angelic Beings. By amplifying my conscious communion with them through prayer, ceremony and ritual, they are better able to support and assist me and all of us.

So it is that the stones in my mesa have been transformed through a lengthy training and ritual process into kuyas. This Quechuan term means a power object. Some of the stones are each a seat for the consciousness of Apus, sacred mountains, Nũstas, the spirits of bodies of water, ceremonial sites, and power centers on the land. Others hold the energies of the healing and transformation of my personal and ancestral traumas into wisdom and other gifts. Some are connected to the Animal Allies sacred to the Inca and the Q’ero—the serpent, hummingbird, condor/eagle, jaguar and puma.

I carry my mesa in a shoulder bag. Compared to some mesas created and used by powerful medicine people, mine is very modest, despite being extremely heavy due to the 23 stones and crystals it contains. Across Central and South America, they can be several feet long and wide with myriad staffs, stones, crystals, crosses, pictures of saints, Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and other spiritual beings, bottles of medicine, amulets and sacred objects.

Once a mesa is created, it becomes a power center, or waka as it is called in the Quechua language. A Spanish chronicler in Peru in the 16th century defined the word to mean (as quoted by writer, Burr Brundage in his book, Empire of the Inca), “the localization of power…in an object, a mountain, a grave, an ancestral mummy, a ceremonial city, a shrine, a sacred tree, cave, spring or lake of origination, a river or standing stone, the statue of a deity, a revered square or bit of ground where festivals were held or where a great man lived.” Power is a living energy, or kawsay, that can be found to be concentrated in certain places, objects or even people. Kawsay, when accessed through ceremony, prayer, rituals, and mesas provides life force, energy, vitality, abundance, and other benefits. It also holds together the very fabric of the pacha, or the physical Creation with all its forms and beings.

The stones and crystals are wrapped in a colorful woven fabric called a mesa cloth with geometric representations of various elements of nature and the cosmos and their spiritual energy. Many mesa cloths have a column running down the center. This space mediates between the upper and lower halves of the mesa, thus representing the inherent duality of life. The bottom represents hucha, or the “heavy” energies, erroneously considered “evil” due to western, Christian influence. In truth this dimension of Creation and our psyche is a rich and positive source of abundance and wisdom. Without it, there would be no life. The upper part of the cloth represents sami, or light. The two sides of the mesa represent a complementarity between the “Underworld” and the “Upperworld” or from a western psychological standpoint, between the shadow and the ideal, the subconscious and conscious, which are in a dynamic and creative dance as we navigate life as souls and spirit in incarnation. The column in the middle represents the balancing of these two polarities as they are expressed in physical action here in the "Middle World"—the center column of the mesa. There are hundreds of other symbols representing core spiritual principles in the mystical cosmology of the Q’ero.

My healing mesa also holds the energies of the four Portals of the Sun—the cardinal points of the compass, North, South, East and West. It is a Medicine Wheel in which each direction represents a particular energy. In Awakened Heart Shamanism, the South is family, community, growth, service, and manifestation of abundance in physical life. The West holds the rich gifts from the unseen in the spirit world, well as the energies of endings and death. In the shadow, we find the wounds of our ancestors so we can heal them in ourselves and for future generations. We go to the North where we meet our Ancestors in the Light and the Wise Elders who have gone before so we can learn about and understand the meaning and purpose of our lives and step into our own wisdom and thus harness the highest destiny for ourselves and all beings. In the East, we return to the light of Spirit where there is regeneration and rebirth. There we dream a new life into being for ourselves and All Beings.

At the center of the directions, with Earth below and Sky above, is the point of mediation or the Axis Mundi where Earth and the Heavenly Realms are connected with the energy of munay, or Love-Light. Like the Axis, or the Great Tree, we want to stand at the center of this Medicine Wheel of Mother Life and have the fluidity to be able to access the complementary energies of each part of the mesa as needed in service of our life journey–whether of healing, accessing our highest possible destiny, or manifesting a particular outcome in the world for ourselves and others. Therefore, the mesa holds this power-packed potential within it for both the shaman who carries it, for our families, communities, our global human family, Mother Earth and All Beings.

My mesa sits on a larger altar in my home where I have also collected other sacred objects, such as a bear claw and a carving of the Chakana, the Incan symbol of the spiritual journey through levels and layers of consciousness into light. In shamanic practice, amulets from living animals are often used to invoke the particular energetic quality of that species. The bear carries the medicine of awakening into one’s true self, fierceness, and the world of dreams. The healer travels along this axis to find what is needed to cure trauma and create spiritual and psychological balance for her patient. When we are in balance, we are like the great tree whose roots reach down into the Earth and whose branches go up into the sky so that our bodies and minds are a clear vehicle for this pulsing, universal energy.

Shamanic practice, particularly the mesa tradition from the Q’ero, is rich and rewarding. We can heal personal and ancestral trauma, manifest our highest dreams, create both inner and outer harmony and balance, and widen the great lake of peace within ourselves and the planet.

With more than 20 years of experience, Rachel Mann PhD dedicates herself to being your shamanic healer, spiritual teacher, mentor & coach. She triggers the fires of powerful healing in her clients. Her spiritual teachings stir your soul, her  mentoring and coaching build regain authenticity, build your confidence, courage, and empowerment. .Over 2,000 clients worldwide have manifested their authenticity and creative and spiritual gifts in the world. 

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