Posted by: Stephen Paul | July 16, 2008

Walking in Grace–above Machu Picchu

    I just got back from an incredible two week trip to Peru. When I left Salt Lake I only had one night booked in Cusco…and the phone number of the shaman I had emailed. I have to admit I had some apprehension. When I arrived in Cusco, I called the shaman, and he asked what plans I had. I said I had absolutely none. He told me to take the train up the Incan Sacred Valley to Aguas Calientes at the base of Machu Picchu. At best, I imagined he might be available to work with me for an hour or two and then send me on my way.
       I had one day in Cusco (buying tickets, etc.) before I headed to Aguas Calientes, so I picked one site I most wanted to visit. It’s called Saksaywayman, and it’s a combination Incan fortress and spiritual center. When I got there, an older man came up to me and began walking and talking with me. He was a shaman, and he spent the rest of the day there with me, showing me the spiritual elements and doing shamanic ceremony with me to prepare me for my trip up the Sacred Valley.
    When I got to Aguas Calientes I was absolutely overwhelmed by the spectacular magesty of the incredibly tall, green, totally-vertical mountains, standing in a 360 degree circle all around the town. I literally stood stunned in the middle of a bridge over the river with tears in my eyes. Then, I met the shaman I was there to meet! He’s a 50-year-old Incan descendent, about 5′ 6″, with long black hair and a small goatee. He’s a warm, open-hearted, happy man who lives in the same state of relatedness and harmony I wrote about in Hollow Bones. He and I were instant brothers. He took me into his family. We spent the rest of my trip together, and I got to experience that way of being in the world the entire time.
    My new brother had to lead a group up to Machu Picchu the next day, so I asked him what I should do the day he was busy. He told me to climb a mountain called Putu Cusi. I was only about 10-15 minutes into the climb when I reached the first of five tree branch ladders. The first one was about 200′. Honestly, it scared me to death, especially when I discovered that some of the rungs were broken out. I did make it to the top, a place that overlooks the beautiful Machu Picchu site far below. I meditated on that peak and asked for direction about how I should prepare for what was to come. The answer I got was that I had arrived there by grace, and that all I had to do was to relax and harmonize. I took that message to heart for the rest of my trip. When I made it back down, I was elated. I felt like I had already accomlished something I would never have believed I could do. I would have gone home happy after only that one experience.
    The next day my shaman brother said he wanted to take me to “Macchu Picchu.” When we got to the ruins he took me around to a stone staircase that rose to a large, natural stone and had me stand there. When the sun came over the mountain and aligned with that stone, I understood for the very first time in my life what the term “sunrise” really means. It was a powerful experience–I could see and feel the sun’s prana energy. Then he took me around the site and showed me other natural stones (power stones) which align with the surrounding mountains–the real power of the place. (It isn’t about the man-made structures at all. In fact, other people had used the site prior to the Incas.) We did some ceremony there, but left after less than an hour. He told me this wasn’t the Machu Picchu he was talking about, and pointed North to a mountain that rose high into the sky above us. “That’s Machu Picchu Mountain.”
    We hiked about 2 1/2 hours up another very steep slope, following the stone trail the Incans had laid. Along the way, we stopped three times to do ceremony at guardian stones–marking ascending levels of consciousness. At the top (a 30 x 8-12′ area–with vertical drop-offs on all sides) we did ceremonies that opened my heart, cleaned my body, and elevated my consciousness. I experienced the power of nature. I won’t go into details, but it was incredible.
    The next day my friend had me load my stuff into my pack and we walked along the river several miles until we came to a gate in the high jungle that opened onto a cultivated piece of jungle with calla lilies, banana trees, avocado trees, healing herbs, and a trout pond. It was primative and beautiful. We built a fire and slept there outside that night after doing another ceremony, which was even more cleasing and powerful than the first. We shared a lot that night and I learned a lot about things that had transpired in my life. Wonderful! In the morning we ate the figs and bread he had brought and avocados from the trees. Then my friend used a machete to cut a path through the jungle up the mountainside until we reached a huge Pre-Incan cave with paintings on the walls–very cool energy there.
    The following morning we climbed on the train again to ride back to Cusco. Along the way we stopped to visit other remarkable Incan sites. My shaman brother had invited a shaman friend from the interior river jungle to meet us to do ceremony Cusco. The jungle shaman, who comes from a family of healers and shamans–he knows the medicinal use of hundreds of plants–came that night. Wearing his tribal robe and crown he sang eeiry, but beautiful songs that connected me to the almost-overwelming power of the universe, and allowed me to resolve many relationships in my life. We performed another ceremony the following night in another ceremonial space high on the hill above the city, resulting in a different experience and new insights. After going to bed at 3:00 in the morning, my brother woke us to walk to the Saksaywayman ruins to greet the sunrise at 5:00. It was well worth the sleep deprivation.
    For the grand finale, I took the train back to Aguas Calientes and climbed back up to the top of Machu Picchu mountain again–alone this time. I spent two days and two nights up there. It was amazing! There were millions of brilliant stars, shooting stars, a new moon, and dancing layers of clouds above and below me. A Peruvian man walked up late the second day. When he started to play his flute, I knew he was yet another shaman. We shared in ceremony and became friends before he left me there and went down. I used my time on the mountain to meditate and absorb my experience. In the end I got the confirmation that I had “done well.”
    Believe it or not, there is much more I could tell, amazing given I was only gone two weeks. I have returned feeling open and harmonious, like I have been reborn–this time more fully alive. I plan to continue my walk down this new/old path. What I learned in Peru is that your intention brings you to the door, and that grace opens the door to you. Once you enter, you walk with an open heart, in harmony, and with continual grace. The whole trip was a lesson in grace.


  1. very interesting article. Thanks.

  2. very interesting article. Thanks.

  3. very interesting article. Thanks.

  4. I loved your experiences and insights, my wife and I are looking for a shaman to guide us through the ceremonial experiences. We want to come to Machu Picchu in June 2009.

  5. Hello, I love your blog
    wonderful energy.
    Love your precious words about Kucho
    wish I lived closer and I would have come to your presentation with Kucho.

    Have been with him twice in Machu Picchu and so delightful and empowering.

    I am wondering if you have his contact info such as email, tel # etc or the name of his hotel where I can leave a message.
    I am bringing my group back there in 2009 and would love to connect with him for our group again.
    Blessed Be, Catherine

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: