I wrote this post originally three years ago this month, on November 23, 2008, before my first South American trip. Just now, I´m hurrying to my next session at the Casa of John of God, so can´t update the words, but I will do that shortly. On that early 2009 trip, I did travel the length of the Andean Mountain Spine to the waistline….but on this trip, I plan to finish by going the length of Chile to cover the lower spinal column. More about this later.
Here´s what I wrote before my 2009 trip:
I’ve had a glimmer of an idea about my approach to this exploration of the Continent of South America! Why didn’t I see this before? If ever there was a true spinal column among the landmasses of the world, this one continent stands out from all the rest. Take a look at any Physical/Topographical page in an Atlas and you will see long mountainous spines here and there. Many are small and run almost horizontally to the equator; some rise up from other elevated portions in a not-so-clear spinal statement. The North American spine is hugely thick: beginning in Alaska, continuing widely in the Rocky Mountains, and ending in a small squiggle at the Panama Canal.
But, oh my goodness, the Cordillera de Los Andes is the most human-looking, hunch-backed spine you will find on this planet. Well now…..how tempting is that? I shall start at the top in the soul box, (that little bump at the bottom of your neck and the top of your backbone,) which I figure is either Cartegena, Columbia, or Caracas, Venezuela, (I actually started in Bogota, Colombia) and I shall wander on down the Andes to the tip end of the spine, maybe as far down as Ushuaia, if I can get that far. (Complications in the form of no hotel beds over Easter sent me flying to Buenos Aires early, though I did fly back and forth to Tierra del Fuego and the little town of Ushuaia, just to set foot on the tip of the continent.) Then, I will fly home from either Santiago, Chile, or Buenos Aires, Argentina, depending upon the advice of a ticketing agent I’m now working with. (B.A.it was.)
When I reviewed my previous travels, with this cronky thought in mind, I learned that, again and again, I have unconsciously done this on so many world spinal columns, albeit the smaller, less obvious ones. I have started at the top and worked my way down. For instance, on my recent RTW (around the world trip), I started in Ljubljana, Slovenia, which marks the top of the Dinaric Alps, flowing down the Dalmation Coastline of Croatia to Athens, Greece; and I’ve gone from Mumbai, India, to Mysore along a spinal-looking ridge I hadn’t even noticed till just now. And why did I decide to go and live for two months in Fairbanks, Alaska, of all places and later in Aspen, Colorado for nine years? They are the soul box and waistline of North America, which I later finished by traveling to the tip end at the Panama Canal. See what I mean? Studying my Atlas today, I see that there are many other hidden spines, some of which I’ve also made my way along; never even thinking of the potential for critical adjustment that my feet might be missing the opportunity to make.
So now, when faced with the Mother of all Planetary Spines, how can I not tread those Spanish-speaking vertebrae in a deliberate fashion. In fact, in preparation, I shall obtain a chiropractic map of the spine and carefully grid my enormous new map, so that I know exactly which continental nerves run where and mean what. (Done! The map is dog-earred by now.) Then when I’m in the various cities, I shall stomp hard and deliberately on the sidewalks and roadways and dance barefoot on the shower stall floors, and maybe, even on the dance floors in high heels, (Done!) all with the plan of making healing adjustments to a really big chunk of the world.
This sort of thinking is what adds an element of off-the-wall fun to an ordinary day of traveling…and which makes sobersided people look at me strangely. “Fiddlesticks!” is my reply to them! It sure can’t hurt and it helps me decide where to go within a collection of countries too large to cover them all in a mere four month’s time.
So now, let’s see if I can get air tickets that allow me to become the chiropractor to the world. This must be why I’ve been getting back alignments all year in order to prepare for this trip. Little did I know that it all had a deeper meaning. Little did I know that I was learning the Chiropractic Arts from the ground-side up!
And, three years later, here I am back in South America, fully intending to finish covering the lower half of the spinal column by traveling the length of Chile all the way down to Tierra del Fuego at the tip end. It´s a long journey by bus, down and back, but I simply must finish what I started. Everywhere I go here, I show my maps to the South Americans to see if anybody here has ever noticed this strange spinal mirror image laid out on their own continent. Nope! Nobody yet! But, they are always blown away by it and it makes very good fodder for deep conversation.
It’s been awhile since my last blog. Why? I have a bad case of Titleitis! A really bad case, which involves my night and my day, and won’t let up for a second to allow me sit down and write a good blog.
Never heard of Titelitis? I’m not surprised. I just made up the word this minute. You see, I’m trying to come up with a great title for my new book and, as always, that’s the most difficult part of writing the whole thing. Two to three hundred pages, plus, of book material? No problem! But, a short and sweet, perfect, clever book title??? Big problem.
One of my brilliant ideas has become the title of this blog. Of course, it has nothing to do with the contents of the blog. And unfortunately, nothing, at all, to do with the contents of my book manuscript. But, it’s a great pun and I think it might be original. It’s actually something I said in my sleep and heard myself enunciating as I woke from a nap. Wow! Brilliant! A twist on the old maxim: “Let Sleeping Dogs Lie.”
If I were the author of a political expose book, maybe I could justify its use. Or maybe it would have to be an animal psychology book, or dog training tips, a mystery, or any fiction. But not my book. If you have a use for it, be my guest.
That’s the whole thing. This book is a three-in-one, as far as themes go. How do you pack all that into one title? First, it’s about my four-months backpacking as a very old lady throughout South America. So what else is new? My first book Hey Boomers, Dust Off Your Backpacks: Travel The World On A Limited Budget, was about twelve-months backpacking around-the-world alone, as a slightly-younger old lady.
But, a second running theme in this current manuscript is about my cronky investigation of the parallel between the Andean Mountain Chain and the human spinal column; during which I saw (and proved, conclusively) that there is a correlation and that (no doubt about it) we have the fossilized skeleton of the living planet right there along the western coastline of South America. See the physical/geographical features page in any Atlas to confirm this truth. Plus, I attempt to cure the planet’s ills by performing chiropractic upon any mountanous bones I happen to be walking upon at the time. Hmmmm? The lady’s crazy alright. Hey, why not try to do some good in the world?
Further complicating my title search, is a third theme which I have decided to allow to remain in the manuscript, written using my journal notes of the trip. This angle was not included in my previous book, although it was present throughout. As you may have gathered from some of the blogs presented here, I have an ongoing, conversational relationship with The Holy Spirit; giving me a deep interest in the metaphysical angle of just about everything in existence. I like to analyze things to the Nth Degree and that’s what we talk about, (Him and me). I have decided to include those conversations in this book, thereby opening a very private door into my soul. This book will be my debut into the New Age category.
A title is, basically, a marketing tool. You have to think of all the angles, especially how it will sell your book in ten words or less. I have huge respect for the folks who make their living writing headlines, especially those little blue blurbs on your home page, announcing all the news stories of the day. They have to make you want to click and read. That’s what a book title must do. And yet, it has to capture the essence of the written word inside and telegraph something of what the reader will get when selecting your book over all the others on the shelf. An author must figure out stuff like: Who is my target market? What is my message? Who else has used this title? Does it offend? Is it stupid?
Most of my ideas are pretty stupid…considering the snap reaction of those upon whom I test these things. The blog title above is a prime example.
I have this yellow pad with pages and pages of ideas:
“Inspecting The Unexpected”
“The Spine of South America”
“Sacred Spine Of The South”
“Upper Level Spinal Tapping”
“An Odd Adjustment”
“‘Dem Dry Bones: Exploring The Andean Spinal Column”
“One-On-One With The Holy Spirit”
“Crossing Dimensions Of Andean Proportion”
“Conversations With The Holy Spirit”
“Straddling The Dimensions””
“Either, Or: Either She’s Nuts, Or She’s Not”
“Walking The Spine Of A Planet”
“Bones Of A Planet”
“A Foot In Each Dimension”
“Stalking The Gigantic Nebulous”
“Stalking The Nebulous Gigantic”
Or how about: “Nebulous Nebulae,” which I might use if I were ever to walk in space while carrying on my conversations with my own particular Nebulous Gigantic. And survive to write about it, of course.
See what I mean? This practice causes my son to shake his head every time. Like I said, I have Titleitis.
The list goes on. Submit some of your own, if you like. Stay tuned to see what is finally chosen.
I had company last week and haven’t blogged for awhile. Now, I’m back to typing up my travel journals covering my four month backpacking/hosteling journey down the Andean Cordillera, the spine of South America…nay, the spine of the whole planet….and just now, I’m working on my notes for Peru, written last March, 2009. I spent a week in Pisac, Peru, in the Sacred Valley, just an hour north of Cusco, as a guest at Paz y Luz Healing Center where I took part in several wonderful ancient shamanic ceremonies. This entry describes a Despacho Blessing Ceremony:
“About a dozen of us gathered in the circular glass house often used for meals at Paz y Luz, but designed also for classes and ceremonies. We sat on blankets on the floor and from within our glass house we could see the low afternoon sun, golden on the green encircling Andes heights. This was a special time of the year because recent rains had given a lush green covering to otherwise brown mountains and fields.
The Despacho is a ceremony in which wishes and intentions of everyone present are placed artistically into a bundle and burned so that the smoke carries our prayers up to Heaven. I understand that the bundle is sometimes buried as an offering to Pachamama or Mother Earth, but a large fire was being built to receive our offerings this day. The shaman and his wife came down from their village very, very high in the Andes to perform this ceremony. Their tribe still speaks an old version of the Quechua language and customs have not changed for many centuries, as their people had taken refuge on the heights when the Spanish Conquistadors ravaged the Incan civilization in the sixteenth century.
This couple was colorfully dressed in jackets and hats of lime green, pinks, reds, and yellows, over black felt knee-length pants for him and a black full skirt for her. They were short of stature, with strong sturdy bare legs and feet, well-muscled from climbing these mountain heights. What sort of shoes must they wear to do that, I wondered? Surely not barefoot, as they were now. They appeared to be naturally joyful and perfectly tuned to each other as she assisted him throughout the hour-long ceremony. It was a quiet, worshipful tribute to the Earth and all of her gifts, offering thanksgiving for prayers not yet answered. I was thinking to myself that there was no way to do justice to this event in words. “Indescribable” was all that I could think of when faced with the question of how I could capture this in a blog.
Each of us were given a small pile of fresh coca leaves and were told to select fifteen and then place them in sets of three. Each set was to represent our prayers and wishes for a certain outcome. I made sets for my family members’ health and happiness and then some for the success of my current plan: the healing of this planet using the spinal column analogy comparing the backbone of the human body to the Andean mountain cordillera throughout South America. Our blown breath carried our conscious intention into the leaves.
Upon a square of clean white paper before him, the shaman arranged a beautiful design of seeds, sugar, llama fat and coca leaves, as well as small candies, flower petals and chunks of animal crackers representing all of the kingdoms of creation. Our own human hearts were placed there within our little sets of coca leaves holding our prayers for the well-being of those we loved.
This beautiful despacho design reminded me of Native American sand paintings, or Buddhist sand mandalas offered to a watchful Deity, both of which are always destroyed after the ceremony. In fact, all ancient cultures living close to the earth … whether in these sacred mountains; deep in the Amazon jungle; throughout the vast plains of the world, or the unexploited regions of North America before the conquering, smothering influx of European culture… all must worship in a similar fashion. This quiet native thanksgiving to God and their humble way of offering prayers is in such contrast to the religions which replaced their tribal way.
There’s a strong matriarchal acknowledgment to Mother Earth, Pachamama, here. She is the source of all life and the people hold a deep appreciation of women as a whole, considering them the basis and foundation of life. Therefore, their whole approach might represent the feminine, in contrast to the masculine emphasis so strongly found in Western religions. It’s true that men are the shamans here, but they have a wide-awake awareness of each participant in the ceremony and a gentle concern to include every one. They seem to see themselves as facilitators for the inclusion of every individual present, and yet the women in attendance are singled out for special praise.
Gee, this is sounding like some psychological seminar or anthropological analysis which is nowhere within my small range of skills. Rather, it represents some of the small thoughts drifting through my mind as I was realizing that I couldn’t describe what I was seeing. Throughout the three ceremonies of this day, I was aware that I was taking part in something very, very ancient, which might have looked just this way many hundreds of years ago. Those ceremonies, however, wouldn’t have required translation to Spanish and English, but would have been understood in the Incan Quechua which the shaman and his wife were speaking.
There was no formality except in the quiet reverence with which the objects were handled and the uttering of soft prayers throughout the ceremoney. We were comfortable, quiet witnesses who took complete part at the same time. When the paper bundle was filled, it was folded within a square of reddish woven cloth. Each one of us stood, in turn, while the shaman moved this packet up and down our bodies, drawing off all negative energies to go into the fire with the offering. Then the shaman’s mesa, a cloth bundle containing objects of spiritual significance to him, was passed over those same parts of our bodies to infuse us with fresh strength and energy.
We were then invited to bring our own mesa, if we had one, for prayers and blessings. Most of the participants had already been to other such ceremonies and had accumulated their own objects, wrapped with cloth into a bound bundle. I did not have one, though I did have several Peruvian things bought in the Pisac market, including a necklace and a ceramic bull given to me by merchants who were grateful that I didn’t haggle. The shaman held our precious objects, prayed over them, blew his breath upon them and gave them back to us.
Soon, we all moved outside to the fire pit where the special packet was placed upon the flames, creating a moment when The Goddess would enjoy the gifts; during which we all respectfully turned our backs to the fire. A few minutes later, we were laughing and talking and warming our hands over the ceremonial fire, preparing to walk to our next event a mile or two across the village. It was to be my second Ayahuasca Ceremony of the week. I’ll cover that in the next blog.