Dear Pachamama: This Too Can Heal

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despacho 6/19/10

The Despacho

Beyond the anger, frustration, sadness, depression and fear of the BP oil disaster there must be something else.  The Gulf of Mexico is fast becoming a deadly petroleum gumbo garnished with oil coated, dead pelicans, life in the sea is massing and trying unsuccessfully to escape the pollution, and there may really be nothing on a practical level that can be done to staunch the hemorrhage of Pachamama’s vital fluids.  We watch in horror.  And grief.  Is our mother dying?  I awoke in the middle of the night to write this haiku:

I watch you dying.

Pelican can’t fly away.

Oceans fill my eyes.

Yesterday I had the thought that we are watching the death of the coral and multitudes of the finned and swimming creatures because they are offering themselves up, sacrificing themselves to give us a message we have willfully refused for decades to hear.  I want us to hear and heed that message.  And they are apparently ready to die to have us hear and understand it.

But there is more.  If it is true that what we give our attention to grows, and I believe it is, it is time to shift some of our conscious attention from our pervasive thoughts of grief and anxiety to another thought.  This thought: this too can heal.  Even this unprecedented horrendous mess Pachamama can heal.  Even this unmitigated disaster she can heal.  How she can do this is not important.  What is so very important is the thought, the belief that this too can heal.  That thought needs to take hold.  Without the thought that this too can be healed, there is only focused attention on the death of the Gulf, the death of all of its creatures, the eventual death of the oceans, and the death of the planet.  And that focused attention will kill all of us.

The Dhammapada tells us this very same thing, that we are what we think:

We are what we think.

All that we are arises with our thoughts.

With our thoughts we make the world.

Speak or act with an impure mind

And trouble will follow you

As the wheel follows the ox that draws the cart.

Filled with anger, fear, sadness, grief, overcome with frustration, we are what we think.  With only those intense thoughts there is no room for anything else.        There is only death.

To mark the Solstice and to offer both our thanks and our deepest apologies to Mother Earth, Pachamama, Santa Madre Tierra, many friends gathered on Saturday.  We made a despacho, an offering, the one pictured above.

A despacho is a prayer bundle in the Q’ero tradition from the high Andes of Peru.  It is made up of many symbolic elements: sugar for sweetness, lima beans for nutrition, raisins to honor the ancestors, alphabet noodles to honor learning, red wine to honor the feminine, white white to honor the masculine, and on and on and on.  There are so many ingredients.  There is a clam shell to symbolize the mamakocha, the oceans and waters of our planet.  There are cotton strands to symbolize the clouds.  And stars.  And the sun.  And Pachamama.  The despacho in many ways is a complete, mythic universe of offering.  To it, each participant in the ceremony adds personal and community prayers.  In this case, the prayers were especially for the healing of Pachamama from the Gulf disaster.

Many of the prayers were like this one by Masaru Emoto:

Now let’s give energy of love and gratitude to the waters and all the living creatures in Mexico Gulf by praying like this:

To the water, whales, dolphins, pelicans, fishes, shellfishes, planktons, corals, algae and all creatures in our Gulf of Mexico:

I apologize.

Please forgive me.

Thank you.

I love you.


Or like this one I wrote:

Dear Pachamama, Mother Earth, Santa Madre Tierra, Gaia, Sweet Mother, I am so sorry for what we have done and are doing to you and your creatures, our brothers and sisters, the creatures who live in and near the sea. We don’t know how to stop the oil, and we don’t know how to save all of these beings. Please understand our remorse, our regret, our shame and accept out deepest apologies for destroying this part of this wondrous, blue pearl planet. Please forgive us.


After all of the many prayers are placed in the bundle, and the bundle is tied up, the despacho is burned in a ceremonial fire.  This, the tradition says, releases the prayers to the heavens, but we all know that the prayers reach their destination as soon as they are thought.  Whenever they are thought.

I know that I will not be able to keep my focus on the possible healing of the Gulf and our planet.  I know that I will again become infuriated.   At BP.  At the government. At Obama.  At the BP CEO.  And Louisiana’s politicians.  At Missisisppi’s governor.  That’s just human. My hope is that I will be able to turn away from strong negative feelings to hold gently in the palm of my hand the possibility of healing for the Gulf and our beautiful, blue planet.  And for all of us.


simulposted at The Dream Antilles


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  1. Thanks for coming along on this journey.

  2. The most important essay I have read in a long time davidseth.

    The outrage, the sorrow, the feeling of helplessness – these can be overwhelming. And devastating both to our personal realities, and, most importantly, to the shared reality known as the Gulf Coast, and more inclusively, Pachamama herself

    Each of us walks through a reality projected from our thoughts, our beliefs, our desires and our fears. Our perception of reality is the most important and powerful tool we have in the forthcoming clean-up of the world wide midden our civilization has smeared over the face of this lovely gem, our home, Pachamama.

    IMHO, the most important action any of us can undertake is to appreciate what we have, to love our Mother, to see Her beauty in our daily lives. From my days, and years, in AA a cliche – an attitude of gratitude – has evolved into a way of life. And as my gratitude grows, so does the beauty that I am able to perceive.

    As my personal bubble of perception grows, and as that perception reveals more and more beauty, more and more beauty comes my way, and my life improves.

    As quantum physics states, the perception of a quantum event changes that event. The more energy I expend appreciating, loving, venerating Pachamama, the more energy she is able to utilize in cleaning up our various messes, and, ergo, the more beauty I am able to percieve

    The chicken or the egg, it makes no difference which came first, the omelet tastes the same. Let us all feel some joy in building a new omelet.

    Be well  

    • Edger on June 20, 2010 at 20:14

    She is smarter than we are after all.

    Hopefully we are not what she will heal herself of, however, but it wouldn’t surprise me…

    • RiaD on June 21, 2010 at 00:47


  3. Ultimately, yes . . . . .  !

    The anger in us all right now serves us well, however, IMHO.  Without the anger and pressure, nothing at all would be done! It would simply dissipate and wash away with the devastated tide!

    The grief . . . . . . . ?  

  4. It seems we are hearing a similar drummer today…

    the death of the coral and multitudes of the finned and swimming creatures because they are offering themselves up, sacrificing themselves to give us a message we have willfully refused for decades to hear.  I want us to hear and heed that message.  And they are apparently ready to die to have us hear and understand it.

    …just posted this same-themed evolutionary comment in yellow dog’s diary.

  5. had this ceremony and that you wrote about it.

    So much truth in it.  Continuing with so much grief and anger is detracting us from what changes are coming.  Some things we have to let go and concentrate on getting Some good things to happen.

  6. in your diary!

    I think you and others will appreciate the poetry below.

    Dave Lindorff, author/writer/reporter, has posted his brother, Gary Lindorff’s poem here.  He is also a shamanic practitioner!  

    Deep Horizon

    Submitted by dlindorff on Sun, 2010-06-20 19:30 A poem by Gary Lindorff

    (This poem appeared first in ThisCantBeHappening)

    Looking out across the gulf

    Of our mistakes, accidents and crimes

    I see a murky horizon

    Blurred by the brine of a tear

    That is taking its time

    Gaining enough weight

    To trail down my cheek.

    The deep horizon of this grief

    Is far deeper than I thought.

    Was I foolish to come?

    Didn’t I know that any space so hollowed

    And left empty,

    Even for an instant,

    Fills with the tears of those

    Who wept before us?

    Such a weight, such a gulf,

    Such a deep horizon.

    Even the crabs, the flattest of nations,

    Cannot squeeze beneath

    This mile-deep grief.

    Fish roast in the sun

    Like blackened shavings

    Of silver and copper;

    In solidarity,

    I mimic their down-turned mouths.

    . . .Sickened by the smell of the air we have made. . .

    I come here to wade knee deep

    Into this ruined place

    And try to feel what we’ve done,

    But I can’t even properly ask  

    A dead pelican for forgiveness:

    But if our madness is our refusal to learn

    From your sacrifice

    Then our madness is our tomorrow.

    What if we can’t make it better

    Unless we go away?

    . . . As you return to what you were

    Before we called you “pelican”,

    Let us then return to what we were

    Before we named you!

    What was that?

    What were we anyway,

    Before we named ourselves “chosen”?


    GARY LINDORFF is an artist, musician, poet and counselor / dream-worker who practices shamanic techniques, who lives in rural Vermont with his wife and two dogs. (He is also Dave’s brother.) His website is: Be sure to check out the other stories at This Cant Be Happening!, the new collectively-owned, journalist-run online newspaper.


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