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Despacho describes the Andean ritual practice of making offerings to the mountain gods, called Apus, Pachamama, and other spirits of nature in reciprocity, reverence, and thanksgiving. A despacho offering 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, the living energy of the universe. Unkhunas, or despacho cloths, are used ceremonially for wrapping and carrying a completed despacho offering to the sacred fire for ceremonial burning or burial and honoring Mother Earth.
Q'ero Nation of Peru
The Q'ero Nation is located a one day ride on horseback from the road to Paucartambo in Cusco and is the oldest in the Inca Tradition. They live 4,300 meters high in the Peruvian Andes. They grow and eat potatoes, such as olluco and oca. Children between the ages of 7-14 attend school. Medical assistance is scarce. They work and live as a community of 800 or so people. They marry among themselves and have kept their customs alive since Incan times.
The main activity of the Q'ero, besides agriculture, is weaving. They use natural dyes for their wool. Their techniques and designs are considered to be the closest to those of their ancestors. Their weavings have been displayed at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC.
The Q'ero believe they are the last descendants of the Inca. According to tradition, their ancestors defended themselves from invading Spanish conquistadores with the aid of the local mountain deities (los Apus) which devastated the Spanish Army near Wiraquchapampa.
The religion of the Q'ero is syncretic, consisting of a mixture of European Christianity with elements of the traditional religion of the Andes. Shamans of different levels (e.g., Altumisayuq, Pampamisayuq) still have a high reputation. They worship Mother Nature (Pachamama) as well as other mountain spirits like Apu Ausangate and other regional deities.