I appreciate when people ask me about cultural appropriation when inquiring about the Pachakuti Mesa Tradition (PMT), a cross cultural Peruvian folk medicine that I am sanctioned to teach. It shows that people care about how they are interacting with culture and are considering their own roots, which is something that is very important to me. As a White Jewish girl who’s never really connected with the traditions of my biological heritage, despite wading deep into those roots, I am beyond grateful that the PMT is such a welcoming path that provides connection and expression for my soul’s truth.
When someone asks about cultural appropriation, it also shows that people, predominantly white people, are now realizing that serious damage has been caused by colonization throughout time and we need to start addressing that right now. This is not a new revelation for anyone except white people.
Cultural appropriation has colonialism at its roots which is a very toxic mindset. It says that white people can take whatever they want and use it how they like. It is likewise rooted in a powerful disconnect from the Earth and all her relations which gives people the delusion that the earth is just a dead rock, here for our benefit. Cultural appropriation is when something is taken from another culture and used out of context and without permission. The most common example of this is the Native American headdress, sacred to its people, being used as halloween costume. There are countless other examples, but the Pachakuti Mesa Tradition does its best to not trespass on the teachings of our elders.
The Pachakuti Mesa Tradition, as founded by don Oscar Miro-Quesada, is the synthesis of two Peruvian traditions, the Kamasqa and the Paqokuna, into a tradition that serves the times we live in, alive and in resonance with the emergent understanding of consciousness i.e. quantum physics and epigenetics. The last bequest of don Oscar’s teachers was that he bring these teachings to the North, lest they die out in Peru.
That’s right, it was the vision of both don Celso Rojas Palomino, famed huchumero and kamasqa curandero, and don Benito Corihuaman Vargas, highly reqpected Altomisayoq and coca master, that their pupil, don Oscar Miro-Quesada would safeguard their practices and keep them alive.
And that’s what we are doing. We are keeping alive traditions going back 3,000 years. Traditions that bring any heartfelt, earnest seeker, into relationship with themselves, their communities, and the planet.
I didn’t fully appreciate what an important role we all play in this mission until I went to Peru. Peru is over 75% Catholic and the remaining 25% is divvied up through other Christian Faiths with 5% saying they believe nothing and 2% falling into the ‘other category’ (wiki). Even being in Chavin de Huantar, the maiden grounds of this lineage – there was hardly any connection by the locals to the profound and perennial wisdom encoded in the ancient temple sites they passed every day.
Many of the folk arts, including the PMT, have infused Catholicism into their iconography as a way to maintain their relationships with the unseen world through a palatable visage for the colonizers. We see much the same thing happen in some traditions of African descent as well. The people who came before us knew that the essence and medicine of any given Spirit would not be bound by a name. They knew that what was most important was that we maintain an active relationship with all of Life, that we keep the portals to wisdom open, and the pathways of the heart accessible.
I am so grateful to all those who came before us, who safeguarded these ways that we might learn them up and begin to repair how we relate to ourselves and the world around us. I am so grateful to have been given these teachings to share and that in South America, there is still space for these teachings to be shared with people of every skin tone, so long as they come from the heart.
To quote fellow PMT teacher Robin Flynn,
“This has set a precedent that allows for the practitioners working within the PMT lineage to embrace its vast reservoirs of wisdom and love, and through this embrace evolve the practice, so that it is authentic, alive, and unique to You!”
These lifeways are nothing short of a lifeline in the times we live in. If western people could remember their relationship to the earth, then maybe we could export that beauty, truth, and goodness out to the rest of the world instead of endless taking, taking, taking. Maybe then Greta Thunberg might be able to relax, knowing people were up to the task of putting out the house on fire. It can start by simply saying “thank you.”
Amy Mermaid Isakov is an innovative dreamer, passionate about connection, spirituality, music, ritual arts, and how the Divine can manifest in all its forms. Having left the traditional education path, she has studied in-depth with shamans, bodyworkers, evolutionary thought leaders and green builders since 2001. While working at The Shift Network, she hosted and managed all of don Oscar’s courses, while having the privilege to host and learn from many of the world’s leading mystics, dreamers and visionaries.
She is a Pachakuti Mesa Sanctioned Teacher, writer, singer and mother — among other things — and looks forward to helping as many people as possible return to the truth of interconnection in this time of dire beauty. She regularly leads gatherings in her region and beyond, subscribing to the truth she recognizes in Thich Nhat Hanh’s teaching “The next buddha will be a sangha.”