The Otherworld in the Andes by Freddy Silva

In this guest blog best-selling author and tour leader for our upcoming Peru journey, “Welcome to the Portals of Peru”, 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.

See also: The Otherworld in the Andes Part II

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.

Silustani in Peru
Classic chullpa, Silustani

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 practised, 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 practised. They are described by orthodox archaeology as burial places except no bodies were 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.”

stone circle peru
Stone circle marking solar and lunar processes, with one of the many chullpas in the distance. The entire hill of Sillustani appears to have been used for ritual, every chullpa oriented East, when the candidate emerged from within to face the rising Sun and declared risen from the dead.

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.

chullpas in peru
A chullpa at Silustani

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.

We will travel to both Silustani and Amaru Muru – as well as many other must-see sites – on our October 27th to November 5th journey, “Welcome to the Portals of Peru with Freddy Silva: Discover the Power Places of an Ancient Civilization”. Spaces are limited – visit our website today to read our full itinerary and book your spot on this trip of a lifetime.

©Freddy Silva 2015. Based on material from his book The Lost Art of Resurrection: Initiation, Secret Chambers and the Quest for the Otherworld. Available at