A spiritual group for gay and bisexual men is inviting people of all sexual orientations and gender identities on a summer journey to Peru, to work on their personal spiritual growth while experiencing the country’s culture and breathtaking landscapes.
“The focus of these trips is mostly that we sightsee and have incredible experiences with the culture and actual country we’re visiting, but we also work with shamans and teachers who help us deepen our own personal work and our relationship with spirit,” said Jerry Buie, Queer Spirit co-founder.
Buie said he first traveled to Peru five years ago as part of a group organized by his friend Charles Lawrence, a leader of a spiritual community of which Buie has been a part for years. When Lawrence stopped taking the groups to the Andes due to his advancing age, Buie said he and co-founder John Cottrell organized a trip of their own. This will be the third year the two have taken a group to the South American nation.
The two-week excursion will be facilitated by Buie and lead by Reuben Orellana, a Peruvian shaman and archaeologist who worked at Machu Picchu for several years.
“In South America, many cultures have been developing for more than 20,000 years, and in the history records they have only started getting attention to the last stage of this development process calling themselves the Empire of Tawantinsuyo, or the Inka Empire,” Orellana wrote on the Queer Spirit Web site. “These civilizations were developed because they had a concept very different about Time and Space. For them the time was in cycles, and the space was solely sacred, seeing the reality in another state of conscience. They have left us much knowledge, mainly in the many spiritual ceremonial places that show the magic of their development. Today, through the oral tradition and the archaeological evidences, we can enjoy their knowledge.”
The tour will take participants to Machu Picchu and then into the rain forest where they will visit local communities and villages, and participate in ceremonies conducted by local elders and shamans, some of whom will come down from the Andes Mountains to perform the rituals. In preparation for these rituals, Buie is asking participants to define intentions for going on the trip, including why they want to go and what they hope to get out of the experience. They are also asked to do some reading in advance, which includes Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements and The Voice of Knowledge. Additionally, they must learn the protocols for rituals so they can work with the elders and shamans in a respectful way. This preparation is also necessary, said Buie, because it will help the shamans conduct the rituals needed to help participants achieve the things they want.
While the rituals vary depending on the intentions of the travel group, one ceremony that shamans often conduct is known as the Despacho Ceremony. Despacho means offering in Quechua, the most common language spoken among Andean indigenous populations, and the ceremony is an offering to the mountains. People on the Peruvian trip typically experience the Despacho at the start of their journey into the rain forest, said Buie.
“It’s basically saying [to the mountains], ‘Here are these people. I’m presenting them to you, please bless them on their journey,’” he said. and they make despacho wrap it up and burn it.
While bringing gifts to the villages on the trip is not necessary, Buie said that the group has, in past years, brought such things as school supplies, knives and flashlights to the villages they visit. “They were thrilled to get these gifts and are often surprised when we bring them,” said Buie.
The cost for the trip is $2,700, which covers lodging, meals and water and land transportation while in Peru, as well as fees for venues the group will visit. Additional costs, however, will include domestic flights (for example, from Lima to Cusco) , which will average around $500, as well as the flight to and from Peru, which Buie estimates will cost between $700 and $1,000. Participants will also need to bring money for incidental expenses, including gratuities. A complete proposed itinerary for the trip can be found at queerspirit.org.
To express interest in going to Peru, email Jerry Buie using the Web site’s contact form. Payment for the full trip is due June 1. The trip is scheduled to take place Aug. 16–30.