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Photo by Tom Pablo, South America Semester.

Q´eros : Ceremonia Sacrificio

Q´eros has provided me with so many profound experiences, spontaneous challenges that left me stronger, and moments that have left me standing in awe… speechless.

Today, March 22nd, I have just witnessed my first Ceremonia Sacrificio de una oveja (Macho sheep). I began by waking up at a refreshing 4am with Pacha Mama and my both curious and humble Japu family (Japu is one of the 5 Qechuan Indigenous communities that live high up in the Andes, excluded from much of Peruvian modern society).

Skipping past my hearty roasted papas breakfast and right to the beginning of the 8am ceremony, we began by taking 3 sacred coca leaves and chanting thanks to Pacha Mama. The mountains only speak the language of Q´eros – Qechua- so we repeated the necessary translated words provided to us by our noble guide Siwar who is from the neighboring Japu community but now lives in a more developed city called Ocongate. In many Indigenous communities of Peru, such as Q´eros, Pacha Mama is a respected and persuasive power. In what she gives to them, those that live on her beautifully diverse skin, they must give back to her as a sign of graciousness, love, gratitude, and most importantly (as said before) respect. This ceremony was that deed, that act of appreciation from the humble natives of Madre Tierra.

As the community members brought the first sheep, struggling to escape its very-soon death, I felt a range of emotions: discomfort, fear, uncertainty, anxst. I did not know how to react in that kind of situation, it being my first sacrificial ceremony where one of Earth´s living creatures can go from living to dead so fast. I watched in a newfound discomfort as they took a knife and quickly yet professionally cut into the sheep´s neck to then crack the animal´s head back separating its head from its body (I feel that details are necessary in providing context). I cringed and squeezed the hands of my neighboring onlookers… many of which closed their eyes. It was quiet from everyone making up the circle as the sheep was being cut open and having its fur cut off its body. The Q´eros natives seemed un-bewildered, unbothered and this I could understand. This is their culture, not mine. They have performed this ritual for hundreds of years.

As a traveler, I was at Q´eros to learn and imerse myself in their cultures and traditions. I observed closely, helped hold the sheep´s legs, and listened to Siwar and his wishes to both Pacha Mama and los Dragones. This was my first witnessed sacrifice. Here in El Nación de Q´eros where we gave thanks to Pacha Mama, I was able to experience something new, something that challenged my past levels of comfort, and something that changed my current status as an ´intellectual´. Wow.

To all of Japu and their bienvenidos,

urpi yay son ku yay (thank you)