Introducing the Heartland Ayllu Community Apacheta!
On a rainy Saturday morning of May 11th, 2019, the Heartland Ayllu began a long-term initiative of resurrecting the temples of old. Together, as a family, an ayllu, we built our first community apacheta.
An apacheta (pronounced a’ pa chĕ’ ta) is a cairn monument built of stones and sometimes crystals, shells, as well as other ritual items. Apachetas have their origin in the Andes Mountains of Latin America; over time, apachetas have become ritual sites of ceremony and prayer that hold great power and meaning for the Andean people. Apachetas are built in reverent ceremony to remember our relationships with all life through prayerful offerings of gratitude. The native Andean people see apachetas as guardians and teachers, powerful allies and relatives. Their mountain-like stone structure mirrors the human’s relationship with the Heavens, a channel of energy extending upward from the Earth, like our own yearnings to have a relationship with God. Apachetas are now utilized as places of pilgrimage, where one can go to pray and meditate on one’s relationship with all Creation.
In North America, and the Heartland Ayllu especially, most apachetas are built on private areas of land. For those that aren’t, it is typical that they will frequently be worn down by weather or deconstructed by other passersby. We have always wanted to create a system of apachetas across the Heartland that have public areas of access yet will be supported and protected through a wider community effort. Last fall, our first endeavor of this initiative was to seek permission from Hollis Renewal Center—a faith-centered retreat center in Kansas City, KS—to have an apacheta site on grounds. Hollis has been the home for many of our community ceremonies, as well as the prime location of where the Pachakuti Mesa Tradition Apprenticeship series is taught in our Ayllu. We created a proposal to the Board of Directors and, through the vast support of Executive Director Dave Mareske, the proposal was approved and a location chosen.
The site is a little off the beaten path, but is fairly easy to walk to on the northern part of the land at Hollis. It lies on the northern side of a grove within a forested area, where the Hollis labyrinth resides, and just east of the creek which runs north to south through the land. It is a pristine spot, with another circular grove of trees surrounding the location of the apacheta and a single hackberry guardian tree in the center. The Hearland Ayllu has co-sponsored the space (along with Hollis) and will be responsible for caretaking of the apacheta and the immediate land surrounding it.
Though it was raining the morning of, it all let up by the time we entered the Hollis grounds, complete with a rainbow shimmering on the horizon. As usual, we were greeted with multiple occurrences of wildlife, especially pairs of geese and swallows. We all first met around the Lodge fire pit, where we burned a despacho in offering to the spirits of the land, in gratitude for our Earth Mother and the land of Hollis for allowing us to take part in this sacred ceremony. Then, we went to the site to build the monument, a collective effort filled with creativity, joy, and laughter.
At one point, about halfway through, I was pulled to the side and someone said, “Wow, can you feel the power building?”
“Yes,” I said, “it’s been building for a long time.”
This project has been a long-held dream of the Heartland Ayllu, now fully realized: an open space that anyone from any walk of life can come to pray and join in communion with the natural world! This apacheta contains sacred stones from the apacheta of one of our elders Diane “Gray Horse Woman” Davis Reed, from Jerusalem via members of the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council, from the Peruvian lineage Apus Pachatusan and Huanaycari, from the Missouri River, and more! It is an altar connected directly to the sacred waka of Teter Rock, the Apus in the Rocky Mountains, and with other apachetas across the world.
To say this apacheta holds great power is putting it lightly. Most importantly, it holds the power of the hearts and hands of the community which dreamed it and built it together. The power comes from the smiles and recognition we all got from our remembering of who we truly are as medicine carriers on this planet. The power comes from the children’s hands and the innocence glistening in their eyes. This is the power of the Heartland Ayllu and it now alive and made manifest in this mighty apacheta, a nexus of kamasqa that will open the hearts and minds to all who come to partake of its fruit.
Special thanks to https://www.joeloudon.com/ for pics!!!