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Co-Madre Soup in the Q'eros

Co-Madre Soup in the Q'erosbySarah Salter Kelly

In the Spring of 2010 I made a pilgrimage to the home of the Q'ero Indians of Peru. High in the Andean Mountains they are known to be the people that gave birth to the healing tradition I had been studying and teaching since 2006, called the Inca Medicine Wheel. They are believed to be the last of the Inca, or of the peoples who existed during their Reign, prior to the Spanish conquest. Having lived at such high altitudes for hundreds of years, their healing traditions remained intact and unaffected by western influence. A medicine man of their community Don Manuel Quispe spent years traveling away from his mountain home teaching those who wished to learn. The woman I had been apprenticing with was one of those people.

I was with a group of Medicine Wheel students, guided by my teacher who had been there before. It was my fourth trip to Peru, and the first time I had come to this Mountain. The trip was hard, sleeping at altitudes of 16,000 feet, in temperatures below freezing at night, after riding for 8 hours during the day. Everyone pushed themselves to their fullest, even pulling off a soccer game one afternoon in the village of Chua chua. All of us were thrilled despite the difficulty to be on the mountain that birthed the tradition that transformed our lives.

One evening after supper I approached the kitchen tent in search of hot water for our group. The tent was the warmest place to be in aside from my sleeping bag so I was happy to stay in it and chat with our cooks, herds men and guides. Our guide extraordinaire, Fernando offered me some tea and a cigarette (my weakness at the time..), So I smoked with the boys, and shared stories spanning three dialects. About an hour into our talk a man came into the tent with a a sack of potatoes. He offered the potatoes to me and began to speak with Fernando. He introduced himself as Juan Quispe, and from what I could grasp he was asking Fernando to ask me if I would be the God Mother of his brother, Segunda. Fernando then translated his request to me. I was flattered by the request, yet I also recognized that it was a huge commitment and I lived very far away. Plus I had not met this young boy, and thought it was best that I sleep on it. I spoke to Juan through Fernando thanking him, and asking him if we could speak on it in the morning. He smiled and hugged me, then made his way home.

In the morning there was a tapping on my tent by our translator Ryder, who had not been in the kitchen tent the night prior.

\\\"Sarah?\\\" He called... \\\"Sarah, did you tell someone you would be their co-madre last night?\\\"
I was just waking up and it took me a minute to pull myself out of dream time and onto the mountain... \\\"Ahhh, I was asked by someone named Juan, and I told him I would talk to him about it this morning\\\" I responded. \\\"Well\\\" Ryder replied... \\\"they have butchered a sheep, in honour of the hair cutting ceremony, and have planned it for this afternoon after we help immunize the llamas and alpaca\\\'s\\\"
\\\"What\\\" I said, \\\"I thought we would talk about it today...\\\"
\\\"Nope, in fact they are making sheep soup for breakfast as we speak with the fresh potatoes Juan brought last night\\\" Ryder informed me.
\\\"OMG...!\\\" Were my thoughts, not just because I didn\\\'t have the formal conversation I had intended, I had also never eaten sheep soup! And I mean with blood being spilled for the ceremony it felt so cemented...

And so it came to pass as I sat in our group tent that morning I ate what came to be known to us in the circle as Co-Madre soup! How can you say no, when you are eating their sheep, and know that these people have so little, and give so much. I am sure my answer would have been yes, regardless of Co-Madre soup. It was the first time, any of us had eaten sheep, for breakfast!

As for the ceremony itself... It began with the eating and sharing of the Coca... I then took Segunda in my arms and held him before each of the directions, creating sacred space and praying from my heart for his life to be blessed... When facing the East a Condor flew over the Mountain... (seriously!) We all rejoiced at this powerful sign.
Sitting on the earth we prayed for a powerful connection with pachamama, giving thanks for all the ways she feeds us... I used water and Agua de florida to bless each of Segunda's energy centres... And then it was time for the hair cutting itself. The pieces were placed in a mestana.. After I made some cuts, the rest of the group was invited to do so too... Offerings of money for prosperity were all placed in the mestana...

I returned one year later to the Qero's and continue to be in contact with Segunda's family... I am bringing a group to Peru in september and l look forward to seeing him then.

There are detailed pictures of this ceremony on my blog at

About the author:
As a Shamanic Healer, Teacher and Spiritual Guide, she has spent 20 years studying life skills and self-actualization techniques to bring forth inner peace in a way that is practical, effective and tangible. With a deep passion to know the Sacred, Sarah has perused interest in Spirituality, Religion and Consciousness raising modalities her whole life, discovering the secret to Spiritual Awakening lays in delving into the mystery of our own hearts…. Taking the courage to look honestly at who we are; and making a conscious choice to release what does not serve us, and strengthen what does. Sarah shares with us how to cultivate our relationship with the divine from the inside out, in turn healing our personal struggles and suffering. Her gifts lay in illuminating the source of our conflicts and transforming their bondage, through understanding, compassion and ceremony.

“My mother Sheila Salter was violently murdered and raped in the parkade of her work in Edmonton in the winter of 1995. A total stranger; Peter Brighteyes was found guilty of murder and later killed himself in jail in April of 1997”

“This life changing experience is at the root of all my healing work. As I continuously delved deeper into my Soul to find a way to free myself of my pain, I learned first hand the only way out (of pain), was in… This is what has driven me to guide people into the depths of their pain as the ‘key’ for unlocking the chains of grief, trauma, and woundedness that bind them. I do believe we may heal anything.”

“Peter was a product of the Genocide that has faced our Native peoples, and I feel that my mother being murdered demonstrates how ALL of us are affected by this collective wound. I have spent time on the reserve of his birth and in other Native communities simply holding space for the stories of trauma that are in need of voice. Our healing may go full circle. It is my prayer that each and every one of us may set free the shackles that bind us. ~ Blessings Sarah”

(There are more details of this healing story under “Liberating the Victim”, “Transcending the Victim”, “Dancing home”, or the \\\"Bone Gathering Series\\\" on Wayward Healer BlogSpot)


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