The Inka Prophecy of the End of
"You have to bring
the blindfold down over his eyes before you mount," the Indian explained
in a mixture of Spanish and Qechua. "He spooks easy." I stared at my horse,
barely larger than a pony, and the bandanna that covered his eyes. "He's
a good horse," he went on, noticing my hesitation. "Small, but good. Big
horses, their hearts give out at this altitude."
We were at Pachanta Pampa, preparing
for the final leg of our journey to base camp at the foot of Mt. Ausangate.
For the next six days we would live, eat, and take part in ceremony with
the last of the Inka. Mt. Ausangate is nearly 23,000 feet high and is known
among locals as the 'mountain enshrouded in storm.' We were making our ascent
in July, the middle of winter in South America. I looked up at the sky and
there wasn't a patch of blue in sight. In fact, it looked like it would begin
snowing at any moment. This didn't look like my day. I turned to the man
holding my blindfolded horse and said, "I think I'll walk. Muchas gracias."
Huacas are holy places, but they are considered dangerous as the veil between
the worlds thins and ordinary perceptions of time and space can become blurred.
They are places where the medicine people believe they can influence events
that occurred in the past, and where they can read destiny. The most powerful
of all the Inka Huacas is at Mt. Ausangate. We were going to a location at
the foot of the glacier known only to the medicine men and women to witness
reading the Prophecy of the End of Time.
At 14,000 feet, every step up is a meditation. Three hours into our trek
I regretted not having taken my horse, blindfold or not. The reward was that
I got to walk with the party of more than fifty shamans. At my side was don
Mariano, one of the elders, don Humberto, the leader of the Q'ero nation,
and their wives, both medicine women. Don Humberto explained that the Indians
don't ride horses. "They are Spanish," he had said. The remaining members
of our group had taken a longer trail, better suited for
Q. What does the Inka Prophecy reveal?
A. It announces a time of upheaval and turmoil in the world, starting in
the year 2000 and ending on 2012. This coincides with the time frame of the
prophecies of the Maya and the Hopi.
Q. When was the Prophecy read?
A. We accompanied the Inka elders with a camera crew to the Holy Mountain,
Mt. Ausangate, in 1995. I brought a map and globe of the world. This was
the first time they had ever seen a globe. At my request they read the Prophecy
for various geographical regions, including the United States and the Middle
Q. What did they say about the US?
A. It really startled me, because they said that the United States was at
war. They said that we had no enemy in the ordinary sense, but that the enemy
was already within American cities. They were clear that the enemy were
terrorists that would attempt to wreck havoc on America, and that this would
go on for several years, but eventually they would be defeated. America's
courage would b e tested. They claimed that buildings and public places would
be targeted, and in the documentary we showed the Federal Building in Oklahoma
City to illustrate this point. They cautioned us to be alert, and not give
in to fear. In the Middle East they foresaw 'a great peacemaker getting killed.'
Within two months Izak Rabim was assassinated..
Q. What can we do to prepare
A. It As I understood the elders, this war would involve the
entire world, a World War III. It would be fought in two camps. The first
was the battlefield, the drinking water supplies, and the cities of the Western
world. The second would be internal - and would be won by the practices of
forgiveness and compassion. The latter is the one each of us must engage
through our healing and personal transformation..
"We've lived in the
mountains since the beginning of time," don Mariano explained. After
the Naupa Runa, the pre-worldly beings, were banished by the Children of
the Sun, our ancestors settled in the mountaintops. We've always lived with
the Apus, the sacred mountains." When I asked don Humberto why they came
down from the mountains, he said that it has been foretold in their prophecies.
For five hundred years they have watched the working of the Conquistadors
- the polluting of the rivers, the growth of the cities, the changing weather
systems, and then the signs began to appear. They had been entrusted with
a Prophecy that announced the End of Time. "Anyone can be a soothsayer,"
don Humberto explained. "We have been the keepers of a body of processes,
of rites of passage, that usher in who we are evolving into as a planet.
These processes are not only for the Indians, but also for the world."
asked don Humberto to elaborate, to tell me what these signs and these processes
were. "Our Prophecy is written in stone," he said. "We have no written language,
like you do. We have only our weavings and our stones. If you understand
Machu Picchu, and the stones at that ancient city," he went on, "you understand
Cuzco. Machu Picchu is a miniature of Cuzco. If you understand Cuzco, you
understand the Inka Empire." At that point he paused, and I seized the
opportunity to lean against a large boulder to catch my breath. Don Mariano
squatted down next to me an opened his mesa, the collection power objects
that every shaman carries. "If you understand the mesa," he said as he carefully
opened up his medicine bundle to reveal the stones inside it, "you understand
Machu Picchu and the Prophecy."
Machu Picchu was built by Pachacutek, the ninth Inka. His name means the
'transformer of the Earth.' He was the architect of cities in the clouds.
His name and his person embody the essence of the Prophecy. The word Pacha
in the language of the Inka means Earth, or Time. Kuti means to turn upside
down, or to set things right. The Prophecy of the return of Pachacutek, the
man-god, herald the end of time. Pachakuti, on the other hand, refers to
a process. The last Pachakuti happened with the arrival of the Spanish
Conquistadors. Throughout the Americas, the world of the Indian was turned
upside down. Kings and chiefs were subjugated and turned into slaves, and
barbarians became rulers. Medicine people were tortured in the mines and
fields. Order in the Americas was replaced with chaos. And with the coming
of the European religion, the children of the earth were cast out of the
The next Pachakuti has already begun, and the upheaval
and chaos characteristic of this period will last until the year 2012. At
that time the world will be turned right side up again. The pillars of European
civilization will collapse, and the ways of the Earth Peoples will return.
The Conquistador will perish by his own hand and his own blade. For the Inka
this next Pachakuti holds the possibility of chaos and the end of the world
as we know it. But it also promises the emergence of a new kind of human
at the end of this period of turmoil.
Like the Hopi, the Inka were given signs that would announce the coming of
the Pachakuti. These signs included the drying of the high mountain lagoons,
the near extinction of the condor, and the wrath of our father the sun (the
Q'ero live at 17,000 feet at the edge of the tear in the ozone layer.) Like
the Hopi, who were told about the period of Koyanasquatsi, or ensuing chaos,
the Inka were foretold about the upheaval coming to the planet. It is these
signs that led them to first come down from their mountaintops to reveal
the rites of passage.
Shamanism is not a religion, yet it is the basis of all religions. The Andean
shamans, the pacos, explain that they have no Christ, no Buddha, and no Moses
that says, "Follow my footsteps." The pacos say "Follow your own footsteps.
Learn from the rivers, the trees and the rocks. Honor the Christ, the Buddha,
and your brothers and sisters. Honor the Pachamama (the Earth) and the Great
Spirit. Honor yourself and all of creation." None- the less, the theme of
stepping beyond time that the Inka speak of can be found in every religious
tradition. In Judaism, the Messiah will come at the end of time. When Christ
came, time ended and a new time began (BC and AD.)
Don Mariano put away his mesa. "Haku, Wayakay," he said, "We must hurry."
The sun was close to setting, and we were still a good hour away from camp.
Then he pointed up to the Apus. A ring of blue sky encircled the mountain.
By the time we arrived at base camp the sky was clear.
For several days now each one of us had carried a stone that symbolized our
death. I thought about how death grows and festers within us, and claims
us little by little, until it consumes all of our life force. As soon as
we reached camp we hiked to Otorongo Cocha, the Jaguar lagoon. We tossed
our stones into the deep blue pool, symbolically shedding the death that
has been selected for us by our culture, by ourselves, and by the moment
in history we live.
Death is a predator that stalks us all. In my years of living and studying
the medicine ways of the Inka I have come to understand that the animistic
thinking of shamanism is far from primitive. To the contrary, it is complex
and elegant. To the shaman, for example, there is no difference between being
killed by a jaguar or by a microbe. For us one is a disease, and the other
an unfortunate accident. It is essential to be in good relationship to both
the microbes and jaguars. When you are not in proper relationship, death
begins to stalk you. I believe that most of us have already chosen how we
are going to die, in the same way that we have chosen how we are going to
live. Don Humberto, the chief of the Q'ero nation, later said to me that
in order to shed the life that had been selected for us, we first had to
shed the death that had been selected for us.
More important, in the Jaguar Lagoon we shed our relationship with temporal
life. As the end of time is already upon us we must learn to
engage non-causal relationships with life. Most of us are irreparably bound
to ordinary time and causality, to cause and effect. We define who we were
today by an event that happened to us twenty years or twenty minutes earlier.
Who we are today is the effect of an earlier cause. At this time in history
we need to learn to define ourselves in terms of who we are becoming, not
only whom we have been. When we transcend our ordinary relationships with
time, we can influence destiny.
On my way back to camp I spotted Diablo, my blindfolded horse. The sun was
just setting, and the snow capped tip of the mountain seemed on fire. I walked
up and untied the bandanna that covered his eyes. He looked at me squinting,
blinded by the Andean sun, and bolted away.
The Star Rites are held at the Snow Star, at Mt. Ausangate. They are believed
to summon the return of the Inka. Before Spanish rule, the Inka were the
political and spiritual leaders of a mighty empire that spanned a large part
of South America. But the shamans are not speaking about the return of a
ruler that will re-establish the now-forgotten glory of the empire. They
speak of the possibility of Luminous Ones emerging among us.
The processes the Inka shamans have been the keepers of are known as Karpay,
the great rites of passage. The Karpay connect the person to an ancient lineage
of knowledge and power that cannot be accessed individually - it can only
be summoned as a village. This power can ultimately provide the fuel for
an individual to leap into the body of an Inka, a luminous one, someone who
is directly connected to the source that fuels stars. A person who completes
the cycle of ceremony of the Karpay is able to emerge into the fifth Sun,
similar to the Hopi prophecies of emerging into the fifth world. They can
become the Luminous One, also known as Man (or Woman) who walks in
Karpay starts with a despacho. The despacho is a ceremony central to all
Andean shamanism, and the word literally means a 'give away' or 'offering'
prepared with the fruits of the Earth - seeds of corn, quinoa and the coca
When the offerings that go into the despacho are complete, the shamans 'cleanse'
us with the medicine bundles they had prepared. This would extract any huchas,
or heavy energies associated with our past - the pain, grief and discontent
that we all carry from our personal histories, as well as the violence we
carry within us. After the cleansing, we received a ritual transmission of
the Inka lineage. By evening time, as the ceremony was coming to an end,
they explained that the seeds of an Inka had been planted in us. It was up
to each of us now to grow these seeds.
The Inka believe that the doorways between the worlds are opening - holes
in time that we can step through and beyond, where we can explore our nascent
human capabilities. We can craft new physical bodies that age differently,
that heal differently, and that die differently. We can create a world where
our children live in peace. We can bring balance and beauty to the Earth.
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