It was Thursday morning April 26, 2012, and I woke to what can only be described as the sound of the Andes. I opened the shutters and sunlight spilled into the room, the jungle around my modest bungalow vivid and alive. Plants and flowers trailed along the mountainside, climbing up trees and springing out of rocks. Life from every crevice, on every surface. No space was wasted. Nature’s masterpiece.
I could hear the Urubamba river roaring along the valley floor, and there was a gentle breeze that danced through the foliage. Hundreds of wild orchids perfumed the air, all in various colors and stages of growth. Some petals were the size of a grapefruit while others were as small as a four-leaf clover. Large translucent green crickets chirped, and dragonflies the size of small birds flew about. The size of the bugs and the birds symbolized the lushness of the forest, their sounds a symphony of untamed land and life. I followed this spectacular scene up to the highest peak that rested east of my cabin as the early morning sun rose, and it took my breath away.
I scribbled a brief entry in my journal: “alive, breathtaking, magical, mystical, rare. There is no time to waste.”
I set out to explore the market in Aguas Calientes. I had been searching for a patuto for weeks. I started in Lima through Huacachina and continued looking from Ollantaytambo to Cusco. I had no luck and was starting to wonder if it was not meant to be. A patuto is simply a very large conch shell. It is an instrument that summons the spirit world and it is believed that each time we blow into the shell, the spirit that once inhabited it, lives on. A sacred eternal union of things that once were, and those that are now.
As I walked through the large outdoor maze, I heard someone playing a Peruvian flute. Curiously, I followed the music and met a young man named Alejandro. He asked what I was searching for and I told him. We wound through shops turning left and right, and right again. The market was bustling, and we finally arrived at a little stall that I never would have found on my own. This was his family’s shop, they sold Peruvian flutes and patutos.
The fact that I followed the music that would bring me to mine seemed magic. I chose the one which resonated with my breath. Alejandro explained that is how we come to choose, and once we choose it is ours for life. I thanked him and turned to walk away. As I did, he handed me a flute. Just like that. He had no idea, or did he? I had played for many years when I was a child. So, we played a song and I was delighted by the synchronicity.
I met Linda for lunch. She mentioned a small shop that was closed when she initially passed by, she had peered through the window and thought the space reminded her of me. All the curiosities of a room filled with objects that seem to have spirits of their own, collected over decades from far off places. I had been doing that for years now in my travels, why I chose the patuto that would soon find its home in mine.
On our way to the shop we took in the character of this small town set at the base of Machu Picchu. When we arrived a man was standing outside. He had long dark hair and eyes that were wise. We were not sure if this was his store, so we nodded, smiled, and entered.
I immediately sensed nothing was for sale here. It was a ceremonial space. There were instruments set all along the walls, and glass cabinets filled with beaded feathers and copper wrapped pendulums.
Su Nombre era Herbert
As I stood admiring a well-worn and complete collection of Paulo Coelho books set on a shelf written in Spanish, the man came up to me. I shared that I had every one of Paulo Coelho’s books in English and they too, were well-worn. He spoke to me in Spanish and said Paulo had come to his retreat in Florianopolis, Brazil for years. I told him that I was honored to have met someone who knew him on such a level. It was then he placed his hand on, my shoulder and said he had a gift. He led me to the corner of the room, and his lovely wife Rosita approached Linda and I with pillows. We sat and he began to speak.
He told us his purpose is to bring universal peace, and that he heals pacha mama (the earth) through sound. He said that music is the medicine. He said he connects the after spiritual realm with those on earth. His name was Herbert Jordan Lira and he explained that he brought the north and south together with his music. The great eagle of the north and the great condor of the south. He explained that the center of the earth is the center of the human heart and healing happens in the center of center-collectively. He said the music was for those who listen. Listening to pacha mama’s heartbeat.
He explained that his music vibrates throughout the microcosm and the macrocosm, reaching everything in existence from the core of the earth to the edge of the cosmos. Then he chose to gift us with an impromptu ceremony. He said he would play until he felt he was complete. He asked us to place an intention in a fire that he burned in a small metal bowl placed at the center of us. Fire is the element used for intention, he told us that what we placed in the fire would be received.
Instruments were perched on shelves and hung on the walls all around us and he alone composed a symphony of music. Gong and stillness, summoning chant and flute, pounding of drums. Hauntingly painful howls in key, rattlers and singing bowls and feathers for wind, rain sticks, and instruments that had spirits in them. Life was given for its purpose. Some of the sounds I heard that day I had never heard before.
A few moments in I experienced an intense release of tears that streamed quietly down my face. They were somehow borne of the music. I sensed a deep pain and I came to understand it was the pain of my ancestors. I could see myself, I was a woman, a mother, a wife, a daughter. I was running with my clan. We were under siege and bolting across the plains, barefoot. Running with nothing in our hands but our children. Our horses were charging ahead of us, thousands of us moving in fear. The thrash of death sounding just at our heels and men fell as they took up the rear to fight, the elderly stampeded. I knew I couldn’t look back.
I looked up and saw a large winged bird in flight. As it turned its head to the left, I shifted direction, somehow, I knew the bird was guiding us. Mothers carrying babies falling and being trampled, our sons fighting off death, our elders left burning. As the music progressed, and the sound built I felt an overwhelming ache and in an instant I profoundly experienced the collective pain of the world, the pain in my current life and the pain of my lineage all in one single second.
Immediately my point of view shifted, and I was looking down. I was the winged creature and I was purposefully leading the clan. I had a knowing that I had been the people once. I was the woman running, we were connected, in flight and vision. With no time to even absorb the enormity of that, in a flash I changed direction. I flew directly up into the stratosphere, moving through each layer of the earth’s sky with a speed I’ve never humanly felt, finally cutting through the exosphere where I exploded into a million points of light.
I no longer felt the resistance of form. I was on the other side of time, the other side of matter. I was nothing and everything. Stardust moving through the cosmos. An absolute peace washed over my spirit and I felt only expansion. I was connected to every other atom in the void and in the light. Pure radiating love. I smiled wildly from the rush; my eyes still closed.
The music shifted and instantly, I was soaring over the Andes. I was back in the present. I was the condor, 6 feet in wingspan. I was the creature in this very moment. My human consciousness couldn’t understand what was happening and I thought to myself “let go- just let your body go,” and when I did there were no more words in my head.
I flew, I flew fast and high. I could see with precision miles into the horizon, I felt the crisp wind and heard the sound of my wings in flight. I could recognize the screech of my high-pitched call, feel the sun on my back and the weight of my wings. I twisted and turned with deft and speed. I flew like that for some time.
Then gliding, I approached the timberline of a remote Andean peak. I spotted a single tree blowing back and forth in the high wind, my massive claws opened and with an innate familiarity reached gracefully. I clutched the thick branch at the top with both talons and looked out into the sky as I rocked gently in the high air current. I began to feel myself inside my human body swaying in sync with my feathered form. I was transitioning and somewhere in between, back and forth until I was still, and back in my body… which was precisely the very second the last note of music was played.
© 2012 lifepeacebypiece-ces
Herbert played for more than 30 minutes. Different instruments laid out in front of him and hanging from a wall within reach. Each instrument chosen in real time inspired by the souls present in the name of peace and healing. The music is not something he plays the same every time, it is always different. It just comes out of him. And if you find him you were meant to.
I believe I reached the astral plane as a result of a spiritually awakened state. I had no intent or control over this experience, I took no drugs. It was simply a culmination of spiritual and intellectual development. I had spent decades on the path. This soul flight was orchestrated by my higher self.
This gift emancipated me. Literally gave me wings. There is nothing really to fear when we are nothing, and no separation when we are everything.
On this one day in Peru, Herbert, fulfilled a soul-contract. A rendezvous of sound and soul evolution that healed one spirit, which in turn heals us all.
The Andean Mountains are 50 million years old. They sit atop the South American continent and the pacific tectonic plates that birthed them. They are a collection of mountain chains that are the longest on earth and stand up to 20,000 feet. Second in elevation only to the Himalayas.
These mountains began as craters, carved out by interstellar matter crashing into an early earth. The craters were then covered by the ocean. It was only time and evolution that brought what was under the water to 20,000 feet above it today. Just like the splendor of the massive condor that can reach the highest peaks evolved from the ancestral fish that swam over those peaks as submerged craters.
This planet is our heart, it is true what Herbert said when he said “our heart is pacha mama’s heart”, for without her we are just stardust without a home.
© 2012 lifepeacebypiece ces