Ayurveda, a system of medicine developed in India more than 5000 years ago, can have an enormous impact on your overall health and sense of well-being. Here we look at 3 ways Ayurvedic principles can transform your life for the better.
Discover a sense of true balance
In Ayurveda there is an emphasis on balancing the three interdependent mechanisms known as doshas: vata, pitta, and kapha. When there is imbalance disease can prevail. In our busy lives it is easy to lose our connection to what our bodies are really craving and opt for foods and lifestyle choices that throw our bodies and minds even further out of balance. Working with an Ayurveda practitioner is the best way to determine where an imbalance lies and how to bring harmony back, but we can also help ourselves by bringing consciousness to what we are feeling in any given moment. Instead of reaching for that candy bar for an energy boost or checking Facebook on your phone, stop, breathe, and hear what your body is truly craving – trust that you will know and then act on what you need, be it a warming vegetable soup, a vibrant green salad, or simply 15 minutes of total rest.
Trust your experiences & gain control of your own healing
In Ayurveda the practitioner and patient work together in an active partnership to understand the root causes of symptoms, with the practitioner fully respecting the patient’s individual experiences. This can be a welcome change to the predominately one-size-fits-all approach taken in much Western medicine. Even if you’re not lucky enough to currently be working with an Ayurveda practitioner, you can borrow this principle and start fully trusting your own experiences. Do you always experience a headache after eating certain foods or being in certain social situations? Do you often feel angry or irritable in cold weather but your partner seems energized by it? Your experience is unique to you and the steps you need to take to create balance in your body will be different to everyone else’s. That OTC painkiller might market itself as good for everyone, but to achieve optimum health for you, you need a more tailored approach, which starts with listening to and trusting your own experiences.
Honour the work of your body & mind
The Newari people of Nepal practice a 45-day post-partum regimen to restore a woman’s vital energy after the work of giving birth and during Panchakarma programs at the Vaidyagrama Ayurveda Healing Village in India patients are asked to take a break from treatment during menstruation in favour of full rest. In North American, it can be hard for women to take the time they need to fully recover from childbirth or take adequate rest during other times when their bodies are working extra hard such as menstruation or peri-menopause. Cultural expectations often contradict what a woman’s body is telling her, which can result in a loss of vital energy and distressing symptoms. Even if you are not be able to take all the time your body needs, you can still choose to honour the work your mind and body are doing during these key moments by resting as fully as you can. You have the power, for instance, to turn down social engagements and skip your regular gym workout for 2-3 days during your period while you rest and eat nourishing foods.
By listening to and trusting your own body and unique experiences you are already moving closer to a healthier state. When you provide your whole self with what it really needs you will experience an increased sense of well-being and a decrease in physical, emotional, and mental suffering. The very best way to understand sources of imbalance and develop an enduring respect for nature’s rhythms and cycles is to work with an Ayurveda practitioner.
In 2016-2017 we have two transformative Ayurveda retreats on offer led by experienced and gifted Ayurveda practitioners. The Ayurveda Health & Healing Retreat in India focuses on Panchakarma (PK) Healing Programs for Your Optimum Physical & Spiritual Health. On this retreat you will travel with Jaisri M. Lambert to the Vaidyagrama Healing Village for personalized programs with a team of Ayurveda specialists. Or you can travel to Nepal with Todd Caldecott and special guest Vaidya Madhu for an Ayurveda Immersion Program in the richly biodiverse Kathmandu Valley. Visit our website or contact us to find out which program is right for you!
In this blog interview, Todd Caldecott, clinical herbalist, Ayurveda practitioner, and author of the book Food As Medicine, explains exactly what Ayurveda is and why it is vital for our health now and for future generations. He also shares a delicious summertime Ayurveda recipe at the end of the interview for you to try at home! In February 2017 Todd will be leading the “Ayurveda in Nepal Immersion Program” – an amazing experiential adventure into the art and science of Ayurveda in the wonderfully biodiverse Himalayan region of Nepal. Full details on our website.
SEJ: What is Ayurveda and why is knowledge of Ayurveda important for our health and well-being?
Todd Caldecott: Ayurveda is an ancient system of healing that developed in India more than 5000 years ago, and is the oldest continuously practiced system of medicine in the world. Unlike most systems of traditional medicine that rely on a set of folk practices, Ayurveda is a highly sophisticated medical system. It maintains a rigorous approach that includes several branches of practice that correspond to similar disciplines in Western medicine, including internal medicine, surgery, and obstetrics. Ayurveda also includes aspects which are for the most part unknown or poorly developed in modern medicine, such as rasayana chikitsa tantra, a form of preventative medicine that includes anti-aging and longevity enhancement.
Ayurveda is also different from Western medicine in that it uses an entirely different system of logic to understand health and disease, based not on quantitative distinctions such as the acquisition of data, but on qualitative impressions that are experienced subjectively. This is to say, when it comes to understanding the manifestation of health and disease, Ayurveda is concerned with the individual experience and reality of the patient, and not objective determinants like blood tests that are measured against a statistical average. While I don’t think that any physician of Ayurveda today, including myself, would ever ignore a patient’s lab work, most would probably never need to see it in order to develop an effective therapeutic strategy. According to the theory and practice of Ayurveda, all we need to understand the basis of disease is to discern the relative balance of three homeostatic mechanisms called tridosha. Although it sounds simple, and it is, it’s also very detailed, and it takes a great deal of experience to become a skilled practitioner of Ayurveda. After 20 years, I feel like I am just starting!
Unlike the practice of Western medicine, which is the purview of experts that have spent years and huge sums of money to acquire their knowledge, there is a natural continuum between the practitioner of Ayurveda and the patient. Not just because the patient is an active co-participant in the therapeutic relationship, but because both practitioner and patient must yield to the same universal principle of life, and the natural way of things. What is called dharma by Hindus and Buddhists, in Ayurveda refers to the natural rhythms and cycles of life. From the rising and setting of the sun, to the passing of the seasons, from the creation of life, its fruition, and eventual demise, Ayurveda is concerned with our proper alignment to this dharma. Not just the domain of experts, Ayurveda is a subject which concerns everyone because it is an expression of our relationship with everything. Thus Ayurveda exists as a continuum from a highly skilled practitioner to the experienced hand of a grandma. The cultivation of Ayurveda is to remove impediments caused by a failure to perceive the natural way of life. […] In Ayurveda, all life is interconnected. I believe that our future survival on this planet necessitates a deeper awareness and appreciation for the delicate web of life. In Ayurveda we have a system of medicine and health care that is exactly that.
SEJ: What are doshas and what is their relationship to our overall health?
TC: As I mentioned earlier, the three doshas can be viewed as three interdependent mechanisms that function to maintain homeostatic balance in the body. Thus when any one of the three doshas becomes imbalanced, the body’s regulatory systems become dysfunctional, disorder prevails, and disease takes hold. But the doshas aren’t physical objects that can be measured: they are not some mysterious “fluid” or “gas” that has evaded Western physiologists. Trying to relate the concept of dosha to a material consideration is a mistake. Remember, Ayurveda isn’t concerned with absolutes – it seeks to understand the relative balance between things. A dosha is thus a pattern of interaction comprised of many different cellular and molecular aspects of physiology, none of which specifically relates to a given dosha, but function collectively to yield certain patterns, promoting distinct subjective changes that can be identified on the basis of their qualitative impact.
In Ayurveda there are three doshas called vata (flatus), pitta (bile), and kapha (phlegm). I hesitate to use their translated terms, just to save you from thinking that this is the literal definition, because while they can refer to these eliminatory products, they also mean so much more. For example, let’s talk about vata, which is the most important dosha. Vata literally means “to move”, and relates to the active, motive force of mind and body, and when it increases, it promotes the qualities of dry, light, and cold, experienced by the mind and body in both subtle and obvious ways. Other qualities expressed by vata include restlessness, emptiness, brittleness, and harshness.
If you are familiar with yoga, you may have heard a term called “prana”, used to refer to the life force of the body. In Ayurveda, vata is quite simply prana in a disturbed state. Thus when vata prevails there is a state of dysregulation that impedes all the qualities of life and nourishment, allowing for decay and degeneration to set in, increasing the dry, light, and cold qualities of vata. When vata is increased, the body, organs, and tissues become dry and empty, and begin to atrophy and diminish. Exhausted tissues and organs lose their tone, become weak, and start to fall with gravity. With the motive force of prana in a state of dysregulation, digestion becomes erratic, circulation is impaired, the body becomes cold, and the immune system starts to fall apart. In this way, vata represents the end-stage of a condition, the latter stage of life, and ego-dissolution. If you’re at all familiar with the Hindu concept of the Trimurti, of Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver, and Shiva the Destroyer, vata is represented by the latter. It is for this reason that Shiva is called the Great Yogi, his body besmeared with the ashes of the funeral pyre, meditating on the subject of death.
When we experience the qualities of vata, i.e. we feel too dry, too light, too cold, too restless, too stiff, too painful, too obstructed, and devoid of energy, we get a sense of this degenerative process. Obviously, the chronicity and severity of these various symptoms has a major impact on the success of any line of treatment, and so Ayurveda tells us to turn our attention to these qualities whenever they arise, learning how to keep them in check and restore homeostasis by applying the theory of tridosha. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!
If the qualities of vata are increased, the corresponding opposite qualities are applied, such as countering dryness with moisture, lightness with heaviness, coldness with heat, restlessness with stability, etc. Practically speaking, this would inform a major change in diet and lifestyle habits, one that empirically generates an experience that opposes the imbalanced vata qualities. For example, warm oil massages, steam baths, the consumption of meat soups, and a regular routine are all useful ways to reduce vata. The beauty of this approach is that it uses the language of experience, not technology, to connect us to a solution. The practice of Ayurveda is expressed in a non-technical language that is easy to understand. Difficulties between the practitioner and patient are resolved because they speak a common language – the language of experience and feeling.
In this way, Ayurveda uses both halves of our brain. It is highly structured and analytical, and so accesses the rational left brain that is utilized exclusively by modern science. But it also uses the feeling/kinesthetic right brain to serve up connections not with numbers but with poetry and metaphor. It is said that there is an art to the practice of medicine, and it is a true statement for very good reason. Medicine exists to alleviate suffering, which itself is a subjective feeling, not an objective determinant. With the exception of a tiny minority of autistic people, none of us experiences life as a rational experience. We perhaps like to think we do, but of course we are just fooling ourselves. Consciously or not, we are totally caught up, “drunk” in the sensory experience of life. From the food we eat to our intimate relations, we are completely and utterly caught up in the feelings of life. It is why we live, and if anything, it is feeling that tells us who we are, connecting the mind and body as a poetic expression of life. Thus in the language of the three doshas, we have a way to explain and understand the totality of our experience.
SEJ: Why did you choose Nepal for this program?
TC: I have been studying Ayurveda for more than 20 years, and during this time, have spent time with many different teachers, in both India and North America. What has become clear to me is that there is a vast difference between the authentic tradition of Ayurveda and the system of college-trained physicians that comprises much of what is now called modern Ayurveda. For more than 5000 years Ayurveda has been practiced in India, passed down from teacher to disciple in an unbroken chain of knowledge and experience. The style and content of this traditional education, however, is very different from that obtained in a government-approved college, and time and again I have witnessed the practical differences between traditionally-trained and college-trained physicians. Of particular note is the Buddhist Bajracharya medical lineage of the Kathmandu Valley, which is now one of the oldest continuously practiced lineages of Ayurveda in the world, represented by the life and work of the late Vaidya Mana Bajracharya, and that of his son, Vaidya Madhu Bajra Bajracharya. Vaidya Mana and his son are hereditary Buddhist Vajrayana priests within the Newar community that have inhabited the Kathmandu Valley since before recorded history.
I first came into contact with this 800-year-old medical tradition through my colleague, Alan Tillotson, a practitioner for whom I have had a great deal of respect for many years. Alan met Vaidya Mana in Nepal during the early 1970s, when he was travelling and had taken quite ill, and ended up being restored to health by Dr. Mana. This was the beginning of a relationship that continued until Vaidya Mana’s death in 2001. Just before his death, Alan asked me to help him with the translation and editing of Dr. Mana’s work, a library that comprised over 45 separate treatises on medicine. In 2009 I travelled to Nepal to work with Vaidya Madhu, and we published the first book as Ayurveda in Nepal. During this time, I have also drawn upon the Bajracharya medical tradition in my own clinical practice, and for a decade now have had traditional medications prepared at Vaidya Madhu’s clinic couriered from Nepal to individual patients all over the world. Typically, I reserve such medications for very difficult or severe cases, and am continually impressed with their efficacy, and am both grateful and deeply appreciative of the great skill and knowledge it takes to prepare them correctly.
As venerable and ancient as this tradition is, it risks being eclipsed by the same factors found all over the world that are similarly leading to a loss of traditional knowledge. I chose Nepal for this program, not just for the majesty of the Himalayas, nor the interesting diversity of its culture, but because I believe that this medical tradition is important to the future survival of the human race. Having an intimate experience of its power, I want to share this knowledge so we can preserve these ancient practices before they are lost forever. My eventual goal is to establish an international research centre in Nepal, to help train locals on the sustainable use of medicinal plants and traditional healing methods, and fulfill Vaidya Mana’s dream to protect the future of Ayurveda in Nepal.
SEJ: On this journey, participants will have an opportunity to meet with Dr. Sarita Shreshta, Nepal’s first Ayurvedic OB/GYN – what approach does an Ayurvedic OB/GYN take, and what can women, in general, take away from this approach?
TC: I know that apart from Dr Shreshta’s knowledge and training in Ayurveda, she grew up in a traditional Newari community in the Kathmandu Valley that has maintained traditional methods for pre- and post-partum care for hundreds of years. In particular, the Newari people practice a 45 day post-partum regimen, during which time the mother is prescribed special foods and medications, receives regular massage therapy, and is kept protected and away from everyone except her family until her vital energy is restored. Such practices reflect the huge burden of pregnancy and childbirth, and the toll it can take on a woman’s health. The practices advocated and used by Dr Shrestha represent the proper respect and honour that is commensurate with the miracle of birth, the sacrifice of motherhood, and the creation of family. As they say down south for very good reason, “if momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!”
SEJ: Do you have a favourite summer-time Ayurveda recipe you can share with us?
TC: Lassi is a favourite food of India, prepared from fresh yogurt, often mixed with various herbs and spices. Here in Vancouver, summer brings an increase in the qualities of hot, light, and dry, and this in turn increases both pitta and vata. While yogurt is generally good for vata, it is normally contraindicated in pitta conditions because sour-tasting foods increase pitta. But if you follow my recommendations below, with a couple of modifications we can turn it into a pleasant, cooling beverage that can be consumed to reduce heat and dryness. This beverage in various forms is particularly common in the northwest of India, into Afghanistan and Iran:
1 cup fresh yogurt
3 cups cool water
2 tablespoons powdered jaggery
1/2 teaspoon pink salt
1 cup fresh rose petals, or 1/2 tsp rose water
1 cup chopped mint
Let’s start with the fresh yogurt. Because the milk of the Holstein-Friesen cows that comprise 99% of the dairy industry herd contains a type of casein protein that is antigenic, I suggest using only Jersey, Guernsey, sheep or goat milk. Note as well that I suggest using “fresh” yogurt. Most yogurt found in stores is “old” yogurt, and is already quite sour and dry, whereas fresh yogurt is a thick liquid with a very mild sour taste. You can easily make your own yogurt by inoculating cooled, home-pasteurized milk with commercial yogurt, and letting it ferment for 2-3 hours at 110˚F/43˚C. After this, let it gradually cool to room temperature over the next 8 hours before refrigerating for storage.
Ok, got your yogurt now? Take this and blend it up with cool water, a little pink salt, and two tablespoons of jaggery or goor. The latter refers to a solidified cane juice product easily available in your local Indian grocery store. If you can’t find it, you can use muscovado, sucanat, or rapadura sugar. Blend well, and then add in a handful of fresh fragrant rose petals and a handful of chopped mint. If you can’t find rose petals, you can use 1/2 tsp of rose water. Blend for several minutes, strain well, and serve in a small glass. This is meant to be sipped slowly in the late afternoon, particularly when it seems too hot to eat much else.
Feel free to adjust the ingredients as desired. This is an example of a “sweet” lassi, but there are also “salt” lassis that are made with herbs such as cumin seed, coriander seed, ajwain, black pepper, and hing (asafetida), roasted in a pan and ground into a powder, before being blended with diluted fresh yogurt, pink salt, and one cup chopped fresh cilantro. Strained well and served at room temperature, this is a good remedy if your appetite and digestion becomes too weak.
If this interview has wetted your appetite for Ayurveda, visit the Sacred Earth Journeys website for full details of Todd’s“Ayurveda in Nepal Immersion Program”, February 5-18, 2007.
What makes a really great writing retreat? One that inspires newer and more experienced writers alike… One that achieves that perfect balance of solitude and creative conversation? In October 2016 Phil Cousineau will be leading his second writer’s retreat for Sacred Earth Journeys, this time to the idyllic Greek island of Hydra. The feedback we received from Phil’s first writer’s retreat was so positive that we can’t help but feel this journey to Hydra will be the perfect writing retreat for all participants. Whether you are a beginning writer or have several projects already under your belt, we invite you to read our exclusive interview with Phil Cousineau to discover how this retreat will provide inspiration, and learn more about the importance of retreats in a writer’s life.
Here’s a sample of feedback from Phil’s retreat in Ireland, 2015:
“Exceptional… unexpected… more than I imagined it could be! I feel restored to my creative capacities and renewed in my sense of purpose and love for the book I am writing.” Ana Mozol, Vancouver, BC
“Phil was amazing. Highly recommended for all writers! I know each one of us gained a great deal.” Stephanie Bennett, Auckland, New Zealand
“I leave Ireland with an URGENCY to write!” Gloria Lawrence, Surrey, B.C.
“Phil is an outstanding guide in all aspects, and I am forever grateful for his skilled hand at helping me with my previously stalled-out writing project.” Karle Dickerson, Pasadena, CA
For more testimonials from this writer’s retreat, please visit our testimonials page. To hear more about our retreat in Ireland, visit our blog interview in which three participants share their creative reflections.
Interview with Phil Cousineau
SEJ: Why did you choose the Greek island of Hydra as the base for this writer’s retreat?
Phil Cousineau: Since I first reveled in the Greek islands in the 1970s Hydra has held a special place in my heart because it was one of the favourite writing locales for a few of my favorite writers, such as Henry Miller, Lawrence Durrell, and Leonard Cohen. Later I learned that its sparkling light also attracted painters, photographers, and musicians. Indeed, something is in the air on Hydra, the light, the compactness, and even the curious fact that no cars or trucks are allowed on the island – all transportation is by foot, mule, or boat. For me, the two secret ingredients to the writing life are sacred time and sacred space, and Hydra provides both. Within hours of arrival one feels transported back in time, and since it is a small island with one main harbour and fabulous walking trails, all space there seems sacred. I can testify to the combination since I have written reams of stories and poems there.
SEJ: Can you explain the term “mythopoetic” and how this approach will manifest itself over the course of the retreat?
Phil Cousineau: Mythopoetic is one of my favourite literary terms, fairly obscure and worth reviving and vaunting. Literally, it means “the making of sacred stories,” from myth, sacred story, and poesis, the making of a thing. Together, they allude to the making of stories or poems with mythic content. This is shorthand for the creation of not only fiction but non-fiction, especially memoir, since, as Carl Jung puts it, all personal stories are myths-in-the-making. For this workshop I have an entirely new round of teaching exercises that will serve to prompt the mythic and the poetic in our groups writing endeavours.
SEJ: Is the retreat suitable for new or beginning writers as well as those with more experience? How might a newer writer benefit from this retreat?
Phil Cousineau: The Hydra Writer’s Retreat is geared for writers of all ages, all genres, and all stages of experience. Over the last 35 years I have published nearly 40 books and helped another 100 writers publish their work, including scores of first-time writers. I ardently believe one helps the other so my creative life is constantly cycling. It helps me to help others, and I encourage those I help with their writing to pass on the gift of time and space to others they may come across. At this point it is also important to note that because our group on Hydra will be small I will have personal time every day for each and everyone, both during our classes and afterward in one of the harbour-side tavernas.
SEJ: How important is it for writers to take the time to “replicate the ideal writing life” on retreats such as this?
Phil Cousineau: In my experience the more a writer can focus on this special time together the more they can accomplish. For that reason I encourage everyone to talk about either their writing life or the life of writing, the life of books, art, movies, and culture, as often as possible during our time together – rather than slide back into stories of home. I believe all of our senses are heightened during these workshops and if we take full advantage of it we will have the creative breakthrough we were longing for.
SEJ: How has travel and spending time in retreat influenced your own work and creative juices?
Phil Cousineau: Considering the fact that I am always working on more than one book, plus film, television, and radio scripts, I need infusions of inspiration and energy just like everyone else. Travel fuels me, retreats replenish me, new friends and eager students remind me why I wanted to write in the first place. Travel time and retreat time provide new experiences and new perspectives, and if I honour them then I become a perpetual motion machine of creativity – never wrestling with the dreaded writing block problem. Over the course of our time together on Hydra I plan on sharing this secret alchemy so that anyone who joins us will know how to cultivate not just a creative week here and there, but a creative life.
For more information about this writer’s retreat or to book your spot please visit our website!
In this guest blog best-selling author and tour leader for our upcoming Peru journey, “Welcome to the World of Megalithic Revelation”, Freddy Silva continues his exploration of Peru’s sacred sites, focusing on the portal of Amaru Muru, near Lake Titicaca.
Southeast of the sacred sites [of Silustani and Cutimbo] lies a third, a sandstone massif on the western edge of Lake Titicaca, and it too is linked with the Otherworld. The hill is called Hayu Marca, literally “Gate of the Spirits”. Long ago, when the water level of this inland sea surrounded it, the hill was an island resembling a large teardrop, much like Glastonbury Tor once did. And along its façade, nameless people carved a monumental portal and called it Amaru Muru.
Amaru means “serpent” in Qechua, and as with similar locations around the world, the designation identifies the site as a conduit for the Earth’s telluric currents. Together with the high content of iron oxide already present in the rock, the place leaves an indelible impression on anyone who ventures here. The Catholic zealots who conquered this land felt unnerved by it, so much they called it the Devil’s Doorway. Local people often report a blue light emanating from a tunnel inside the rock, or strange people dressed in unusual clothing emerging from it and travelling towards Lake Titicaca.
The oldest legend describes Amaru Muru as “a doorway to the lands of the gods,” and how in times long past great heroes passed through this gate for a glorious new life of immortality in the Otherworld. A hollow niche at the base faces the rising Sun at the Equinox and accommodates a person of average height. Curiously, the work bears a passing resemblance to Egyptian “false doors” found in ritual chambers – symbolic portals through which the soul travels between worlds.
This portal into the Otherworld has a twin on the opposite side of the world, at Yazilikaya in Anatolia, and comparing the two would lead anyone to believe they were carved by the same artist. The vertical limestone outcrop has been incorrectly linked as the burial place of Midas, the fabled king who turned everything he touched into gold. However, the king’s body was never found here, not surprising given that Mida is the Phrygian surname of Cybele, a local adaptation of Demeter, the presiding goddess of the Greek Mysteries and its ritual of living resurrection. Above it, on the summit, there is a rock-cut altar and accompanying tunnels that lead 900 feet down into the bedrock, where initiation was conducted. The same is true of Amaru Muru. There exist vestiges of some kind of rectangular structure on its summit, while behind the portal a tunnel descends twenty-four feet into the rock face before reaching a brick wall, erected by the authorities lest anyone should disappear into the bowels of the Earth, because as pre-Inka legends claim, the tunnel extends 800 miles to Cusco.
Even stranger is the suffix kaya in Yasilikaya, because it is a Quechua word meaning “tomorrow”, while yaşlı in Central Asia is “a person of great age”. The genetic link between people of Central Asia and South America has long been known, but to add to this a linguistic bridge plus mirrored sacred sites sharing a common purpose implies a shared tradition of unfathomable age.
The Aymara of the Andes considered the Southern Cross constellation to lie in a sector of the Milky Way marking the entrance into the Otherworld. Their prime symbol was a cross called chakana, which means “to bridge or cross”, and reveals much about their recognition of the umbilical link between the here and hereafter and its importance in the conduct of human affairs. The oldest iteration of the design – a rectangle sprouting an uneven armed cross – is found in the temple of Tiwanaku and represents the three levels of existence: the Otherworld of gods, the Middleworld of Mother Earth, and the creative Underworld. Its design is defined by the unusual ratio 6:5, which is shorthand for the relationship between the Earth’s precessional cycle of 25,920 years divided by its 21,600-year axial tilt. This 6:5 ratio allows self-aware life to be established on Earth. No other rock in the solar system bears this ratio.
How the Andeans discovered this is a mystery, unless you accept they performed this out-of-body journey and pulled the information from an astral library; after all, initiates like Pythagoras and Plato stated how their philosophies were shaped by the knowledge gained from their own resurrection experiences.
To learn more about the rituals of living resurrection and the Otherworld join Freddy Silva this fall as he journeys to the sacred sites of Peru.
In this guest blog best-selling author and tour leader for our upcoming Peru journey, “Welcome to the World of Megalithic Revelation”, Freddy Silva explores the true significance of some of Peru’s most iconic sacred sites, revealing that stone towers (chullpas) such as those at Silustani and Cutimbo as well as portals such as Amaru Muru may have been part of a global tradition of secret initiation rituals.
Sixteenth century chroniclers taking the road from Cuzco to Puno, on the western shore of Lake Titicaca, were amazed by the plethora of unusual round, stone towers perched on the edge of a mesa in a rural location called Silustani. These chullpas were constructed from small, ill-fitted river rocks and contained the preserved bodies of Inka nobles.
But there were other towers nearby and of a very, very different character – tall and tapering and built with massive curved stones, fitted together tongue-and-groove style, without mortar, so tightly arranged that an alpaca hair could not be inserted between them. They looked as though designed by a cosmic mason. Even back then it was suspected that their origin was pre-Inka, but provided the inspiration for later funerary practices; the earlier structures either contained no burials, or the few bodies found inside were at odds with the age of the buildings.
To solve the riddles of the chullpas it is necessary to look at a similar situation elsewhere. As coincidences go, I had just written a book delving into the true meaning of resurrection and the temples where it was practiced, and thanks to this revelation I was now able to see the chullpas in a very different light. In erecting these unusual towers the unknown builders were indulging in a ritual known only to adepts of Mysteries schools from China to Ancient Egypt: the ritual of raising the dead, also described by the apostle Philip as “living resurrection”.
There are numerous “tombs” throughout Egypt, Greece, and Asia Minor where this ritual was practiced. They are described by orthodox archaeology as burial places except no body was ever found inside them. Two of the most anomalous are the subterranean passage chambers of pharaohs Thutmosis III and Unas; the former had earlier built himself a funerary chamber a mile away (where his mummy was actually found) so why on earth should one man need two tombs? Each of these chambers is covered from floor to ceiling with unique texts describing the method for ascending into the Otherworld, but with one notable difference: the instructions are meant for a person who is alive: “It is good for the dead to have this knowledge, but also for the person on Earth…. Whoever understands these mysterious images is a well provided light being. Always this person can enter and leave the Otherworld. Always speaking to the living ones. Proven to be true a million times.”
In Unas’ chamber, beneath his pyramid, the text even asserts the moment the pharaoh reaches the Otherworld: “Unas is not dead, Unas is not dead.” Indeed the Egyptians claimed that many of the pyramids and temples were places of rest but not necessarily a person’s final resting place, leading to the conclusion that they must have originally served a ritual purpose.
Living resurrection refers to an out-of-body experience whereby the initiate returns to the living world with first-hand knowledge of celestial mechanics. His eyes opened to the bigger picture, he stands apart from the rest of the population who stumble through life as though asleep – “the dead.” He or she is aware, awake – risen from the dead.
Suitably armed with this understanding of ancient Mysteries practices allows us to penetrate the riddle at Silustani: that the chullpas were a continuation of this ageless ritual. Around 5000 BC the level of Lake Titicaca was much higher, making today’s peninsula an island linked to the mainland by a very narrow isthmus. One of the prerequisites for the journey into the Otherworld is a voyage by the soul to an island in the West and, just like initiation sites along the Nile, Silustani originally stood on the western side of a major body of water.
On the face of the main chullpa there is a carving of what many take to be a lizard. The creature may in fact represent a salamander, a traditional symbol in ancient Mysteries schools of the regenerative power of nature – again a perfect description of the benefit to the soul who undertakes a journey into the Otherworld.
Silustani’s position on a flat-top hill of iron-bearing andesite, packed with magnetite, and surrounded by water appears to have been deliberately chosen to assist the process. These elements by themselves generate a geomagnetic field, and when combined with a variation of adjacent soil and its accompanying fault line, produce what is known as a conductivity discontinuity. Most of the world’s sacred places, particularly those associated with rituals involving altered states, lie precisely at such junctions – Petroglyph Mesa in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Carnac in France; and Loughcrew in Ireland to name a few. Simply put, the harnessing of GMF inside a man-made structure amplifies the forces that facilitate a hallucinatory state. A dead person has no use for this, but a person lying in a state of meditation inside an artificially-constructed womb, does.
The ancient architects of the chullpas may have left no record of their practices except what remains etched in local tradition, yet by comparing their remaining artefacts to similar cultural practices elsewhere we begin to understand the function these structures originally served. As the Egyptians themselves knew so well, in this case, the funerary connection was not the deceased, but a living candidate who, via a voluntary near-death experience, sought an experience of the Otherworld.
In the next instalment of this fascinating look at Peru’s sacred sites and their connection to living resurrection, Freddy Silva will explore the portal, Amaru Muru.