Payment to the Earth Ceremony in the Sacred Valley of Peru

As we arrived that evening at our hotel in the Sacred Valley, there was a shaman waiting for us. The shaman along with his two assistants would be doing a “Payment to the Earth” ceremony. A payment or offering to the Earth is an ancient ancestral custom of indigenous Andean cultures.

The shaman began by cleansing each of us with the smoke from burning sage or coca leaves. As soon as the shaman began to speak in Quecha, my heart started beating faster and I began to feel my eyes tear up. There is something about an indigenous cultural ceremony that is so beautiful and powerful. There was an offering of small amounts of native Andean cereals, grains and fruits together with coca leaves. In the ceremony, the Apus, who are the sacred mountain deities, and the four elements were invited and the three levels of life (hanan pacha: the world above, kay pacha: this world, and ukhu pacha: the underworld) are represented by the components of the offering. A ritual toast was drunk by all 60+ in our group and we were also handed 3 coca leaves to put our dreams and intentions into it.

The ceremony ended with the ritual burning of the offerings, including all of our coca leaves, so they can return to source as they rose into the sky. As we shared this sacred space together, the shaman emphasized we were all family.