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Who are the Q’ero?

High up in the Andean mountains of Peru lives a small community of farmers, weavers and medicine people known as the Q’ero. The Q’ero sought refuge in “villages in the clouds” following the invasion of Peru by the Spanish Conquistadors almost five hundred years ago and remain there to this day. They were “discovered” in 1949 by the anthropologist Oscar Nunez del Prado, who led the first expedition to the Q’ero villages in 1955.

The medicine people within the Q’ero nation are known as “paqos,” which means “priest or mystic” in Quechua, the language of the Inca. The Q’ero paqos are credited with preserving and maintaining the healing knowledge, ancient prophecies, beliefs and traditions of the Inca - and the knowledge of the civilisations which came before them - via their oral tradition. Over the years, they have selflessly shared their traditions and wisdom with seekers of knowledge from all corners of the world.

The Q’ero do not see themselves as separate beings with separate identities as we do in the West, instead they see themselves as one with each other, one with nature, and - as with most indigenous cultures - also one with God.

In fact, they are so ego-less and focused on the collective spirit that they do not have a word in their language meaning “I.” Their main philosophy is to practise “Ayni,” which means living in reciprocity, balance and harmony with the Earth, with nature and with each other. Ayni is the practice of giving before taking, of fairness. For example, when harvesting their corn crops – which they do together as a community - they search to find the two most perfect ears of corn. These are then buried ceremonially, as a thank you to “Pachamama,” Mother Earth, for their abundance and as a prayer for future abundance. Thus they gift the most prized ears of corn back to the Earth, as a thank you and in order to remain in balance and harmony with Pachamama

The Q’ero follow the shamanic way of seeing the Divine in everything, whether it be a blossom, river, rock, animal, or indeed another person, hence they treat everything and everyone with respect and reverence. Imagine how the world would be if we all lived like that?

The Q’ero medicine path follows two main routes - that of the “Pampamesayok” and the “Altomesayok,” both of which are arduous and require many years of training. Pampamesayoks source their power and information from the land, and are highly knowledgeable about plant medicine. Altomesayoks have the ability to summon up and receive direct communication, wisdom and healing guidance from the “Apus”- the spirits of the Holy Mountains. Sadly, Dona Maria, who is now in her eighties, is the last remaining Altomesayok within the entire Q’ero nation. Dona Maria is fearful that her tradition will die with her. The Q’ero Ayni Fund aims to assist her and her community, so this beautiful medicine way can be preserved for many more generations to come, for the benefit and healing of not only mankind but also for Pachamama, Mother Earth.

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