My first directive was received in 2008 from a tender voice that spoke inside my head, instructing me to travel to the Andes of Peru. I had little previous experience with telepathy and I’ve never been particularly obedient, so it’s astonishing that I acted instantly without identifying the source. Now, after completing three ascents, I pause to reflect on this initial intervention and the resultant, new direction in my life.
I have long been a secret admirer of historical figures who realized divine council. The yearning for such a connection blooms as I review the lives of Joan of Arc, Rumi, Jesus, Mirabai, Saint Francis or even Einstein and Carl Jung, who attribute their most innovate ideas to a greater source. My immediate family never acknowledged the possibility of direct influence by the divine, nor is it celebrated by American culture. So why would I spontaneously receive instruction from Source? And why, without hesitation, would I then climb to high elevations in the Andes?
Last November, sheltered from a snowstorm inside a tent, two Q’ero masters stressed that my initial step was to investigate my point of origin, my estrella — or star. Later that night, alone on the shoulder of a large mountain in the dark, my heart was infused with a journey that began by carefully peering into my past.
My paternal grandparents were from the Dakotas and met working on the Oregon Immigrant Trail. Grandmother was exceptionally good at healing horses and a valued presence on the westward route even as a teenager. Grandfather was a botanist, cartographer and artist who knew a great deal about native peoples. They eventually settled in Oregon on a large ranch that was subsequently lost during the Depression. Moving south with their two sons to San Diego, they joined Lomaland, the Theosophical Society’s community founded in 1900. Both grandparents were faculty on the Society’s campus where Grandfather authored many books and articles.
My father was mortified when his application for military service was nearly disqualified by the Navy because it included a high school diploma issued by the Theosophical Society. His deep shame regarding his spiritual heritage was cemented in that instant and he never spoke to his sons about their lineage. The adventurous mysticism of my grandparents had to locate me via other routes.
During my childhood, my family maintained a monthly routine of departing our coastal California town for the mountains and deserts to the east where we would camp for two days. My father would wake before dawn to spend the day alone hunting, leaving my brothers and me to our own adventures. As a youth, I spent over 500 days in the southwest wilderness. My first moment of contact with the Divine occurred during a solitary, mountain hike on one such trip when I began a spontaneous conversation with the wind and surrendered to follow its direction. This event had no context as my family did not have a regular, religious practice. However, after my parents’ divorce, my mother joined a Unitarian Church and my younger brother and I began to attend Sunday school where we were exposed to a constant array of traditions where I learned that such things were possible. Just before my father died, I had the courage to finally ask him if he believed in God. He paused for at least half a minute, before answering softly, “I guess not.”
The directive to climb came as a complete surprise, as I have no predisposition to conquer mountains. A year later, high in the Andes, I discovered that it is deeply challenging to trek at 17,000 feet. The lungs burn and the heart pumps frantically in an attempt to oxygenate the cells of the body. I had to learn how to dance with a constant sense of being nearly overwhelmed by the physical difficulty and to create a place of calm by focusing on each step and breath. Reaching the summit could not be the primary motivation. Centered in the present, my body inducted my consciousness into a walking meditation. Time stopped and I expanded into a profound experience of the sacred nature of life.
When we separate from our secular world of comfort to climb the Andes, we enter the vast, virgin temple of Pachamama, our Great Mother. In these mountains, she reigns supreme and humbles our illusion that we are the dominant force. It’s wise to acknowledge the constant presence of the unpredictable and the dangerous — even death. The wild landscape demands preparation, awareness and flexibility. Our success requires a commitment to honesty regarding our discomfort, weakness and fear so that support can be secured. Each individual on the team must flow between the roles of helper and helped. The unity of our sacred community is a vital web that supports everyone.
Deep transformation waits beyond the known, awarding those willing to sleep in a bag on the ground, to endure being uncomfortable and cold, to eat foreign food and endure tired, sore muscles. Many will face fear and at times, feel overwhelmed, as our frail humanity comes into focus. Without the veil of technology and convenience, our animal nature is revived. We no longer act individually but instead as a collective, joining in community to meet the challenges of a foreign, high-altitude environment. Together we sing, dance, and cry, allowing the Andes to sing the body electric.
We are heroes called to the mountaintop where we surrender to the will of the Divine. We disintegrate and are remade, reborn in the crucible of great forces. Once our preconceived limits shatter, we realize that our essential nature is far more powerful and resilient. Clear-eyed, we take our place within Mother Earth — Pachamama.