A despacho is an occasion to really focus on any areas of your life where you need support or would like to ask for blessings. It is quite a powerful way to set your intentions and let them go. The intention behind a despacho ceremony can range from something as noble as world peace, to something as down to earth as offering thanks for a bountiful harvest, to something as personal as relief from joint pain. You may be surprised how in the weeks or months following a despacho ceremony you are indeed receiving the things you asked for.
A despacho is an act of love and a reminder of the connections we share with all beings, elements, spirits, and sacred places. At the deepest level, it is an opportunity to enter into the essential unity of all things. Holding such a ceremony on a new moon, and on the first of the year, our intentions are received in higher vibrations, which is truly a unique opportunity to experience.
In Spanish, the word despacho literally means “dispatch or shipment”. In Peruvian traditions a despacho is a ceremonial offering to Pachamama (Mother Earth) and the Apus (Mountain Spirits). You could perhaps think of it as a focused, formal way to “dispatch” or “ship” your prayers off to the powers that be. Despachos also help align personal energies with the cosmic ones.
Despachos really bring about desired change. During a despacho ceremony, the shaman gathers a variety of symbolic offerings such as wine, sugar, incense, grains, seeds, shells, gold and silver threads, red and white flower petals, candies and more. Every item represents a part of the Andean cosmology, is imbued with intent for connection to the mountains and the cosmos, and affects the totality of energy in the universe.
Each item is placed on a large sheet of paper with great care and intention, arrange them in a mandala-like shape. Prayers are added to the offering.
Building up the despacho can take some time, especially as participants remember more people and things they want to pray for – family, career, spiritual growth, forgiveness. But eventually the mandala is completed, the bundle is folded closed and tied up. Finally, the whole bundle is ceremonially burned, the participants turning their backs to the fire to allow the spirits to take the offering in peace. At the end, the whole bundle is burned in the special ceremony with incense and prayers as an offerings to the Pachamama, transforming the energy into new happenings. A sacred and balanced way of beginning our new year!