Blessing the Earth with Sacred Art
For the recent full moon in May, I offered a group outdoor blessing ceremony in Charlotte, Michigan for our local group’s Full Moon Shaman Gathering. The experience was inspired by the beautiful Andean tradition of Despachos. Despacho means “dispatch” in the Spanish language. Traditional Despachos are an important ritual of gratitude and reciprocity through a “feeding” of the spiritual realms. The Despacho dispatches blessings to the intended spirits – the land, the mountains, and more. In Sacred Traditions: The Creation of a Despacho, Anita Stewart says, “Physically, a Despacho is composed of items called Recados, that are infused with prayers, then ceremonially arranged in a beautiful pattern on a large piece of paper. The mandala- like creation is folded into a bundle and ritually offered to the fire or to the earth.”
For our ceremony, our intention was to bless the spirit of the land where we gather and to bless our Mother Earth, Pachamama. Before we began, we journeyed together to request the help of our compassionate spirit helpers to prepare ourselves and the space for our work. We journeyed outdoors to the spirit of the land. We thanked it for its many blessings and asked for direction about what it needed for our ceremony. Each person received information – some unique to them, some similar to others. All shared gratitude for all of our relations in the physical and spiritual realms. We then did a Shamanic walk, at our own pace, gathering items for the ceremony.
Guided by spirit, we picked a place that was centered between 4 trees with a bit of a mound in the middle. The ground was sanctified through ritual and invocation using the Pachakuti Mesa Tradition. With this rich, symbolic context to frame the form, layers of meaning were built up in successive layers and patterns, physically and energetically, by each participant.
In a clockwise fashion, each person reverently placed items infused with intentions of healing, love, and gratitude. Invocations, prayers and blessings were shared silently and aloud in an atmosphere of hushed voices, drumming and rattling. People took turns holding space and placing items on the living work. The energy and beauty of the form built up quickly. We could feel it grow as each offering was blessed through breath and prayerful placement. Quite laughter and chuckles ebbed and flowed throughout the process, which is meant to be playful. There were happy finds like the slice of wood that formed a round base and the heart-shaped rock that created the center. There were playful symbols like animal crackers for the breaking of bread asked for by the spirit of the land. The physical and energetic form grew with each flower, stone, stick, feather, seed and fruit. Each layer created a pattern that awakened our hearts and deepened our offering of gratitude in Sacred Reciprocity (Anyi) to Pachamama, our Earth Mother.
When our offering was complete, the entire experience felt to me like sacred participatory art. The shared intentions of the group, and our combined attention, created a beautiful living blessing. We left it on the land for nature to use – the four legged ones, the winged ones, the creepy crawlies, the wind, the rain, the sun, and the moon and stars – all benefiting from our “dispatch” of blessings for the spirit of the sacred land that generously supports us.