In 2010, a local spiritual group for gay and bisexual men traveled to Peru in order to study the country’s culture and breathtaking vistas while working on personal spiritual development. This spring, they will repeat the exercise, but at home.
From May 13–15, Queer Spirit and co-founder Jerry Buie hosts “The Art of the Andean Shaman,” a workshop on the religion, culture and history of Peru, to be held at Buie’s home, and that is open to people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. Although a different mountain range than the Andes will serve as the backdrop for the three-day event, Buie said that he hopes people from all spiritual backgrounds and walks of life will take part. The workshop will be lead by Rubén Orellana, a Peruvian archaeologist and the head of archaeology at Macchu Pichu, one of the most significant Incan sites still standing. Orellana was one of the key facilitators of Queer Spirit’s 2010 trip to Peru, where he lead participants to Macchu Pichu and into the villages in the surrounding rain forest.
As in last year’s excursion, Orellana said that he will focus on Peruvian shamanic traditions and the way in which they relate not only to Peru’s people, but to the natural world at large.
“The man from his beginnings on the planet earth has looked for well-being. To possess physical good health, as well as mental and spiritual health,” wrote Orellana on Queer Spirit’s website, queerspirit.net.
“The healer appears from very early times, in the case of the Andean cultures he has an antiquity of more than 7,000 years, tradition that is practiced and has been conserved,” Orellana continued. “ Knowledge that nowadays allow us to grow into spiritual beings of good health. In Peru many traditions exist in relation to the ecosystem, where they have been developed, the different ethnic groups, basically… we can speak of the healers of the jungle, coast and mountain that have adapted their techniques through the centuries.”
The event will begin with an evening session in which Orellana will teach participants about the different ethnic groups that formed the Incan Empire, including, as he described, “people of Collasuyo, Chinchaysuyo, Contisuyo and Antisuyo.” He will then describe the use of the healer’s altar and perform a ceremony with a gourd rattle, a power object used in many shamanic practices in the region, in order to help participants relax.
Starting at 10 a.m. on May 14, Orellana said he will teach participants about the tools used by healers in these shamanic traditions, and will allow participants to watch how they are made. Following a break for dinner after 4 p.m., he will discuss Peruvian archaeology, complete with slides from various sites. On May 15, Orellana will teach attendees about medicinal plants used in various ceremonies and further instruct them about the use of the rattle in traditional ancestral medicine.
Orellana has been a key participant in several excursions that Buie and Queer Spirit co-founder John Cottrell have lead to Peru. Cottrell and Buie held the first of these trips in 2007.
Space for the workshop is limited to 20–25 participants. Registration made before March 1 is $175 and $200 after. Participants will purchase meals on their own, but a potluck will be held. The workshop will be held at Buie’s home. For more information and to register visit queerspirit.net.