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  • Writer's pictureAshley Brothers

Despacho: An Andean Ceremony for Reciprocity, Balance, Healing, and Manifestation - Ashley Brothers

A despacho ceremony is a traditional Andean ritual practiced by indigenous communities in South America, particularly in the Andes region. This ceremony is deeply rooted in their spiritual beliefs and is performed as a way to honor and establish a harmonious connection with nature, the cosmos, and the unseen forces that govern the world.

During a despacho ceremony, participants gather to create a carefully crafted offering or bundle, known as a "despacho," using various natural and symbolic elements such as leaves, flowers, grains, herbs, and even small objects that hold personal significance. The process of assembling the despacho is often accompanied by prayers, intentions, and gratitude expressed by the participants. Each element included in the bundle carries a specific meaning and represents an aspect of the interconnectedness between humans, nature, and the divine.

The despacho is meticulously arranged, layer by layer, with utmost care and reverence. Once the offering is complete, it is usually wrapped in a cloth and tied up, forming a beautiful and intricate bundle. The bundle is then either burned as an offering or buried in a sacred place, symbolizing the act of returning the elements to the Earth and the spirits.

The benefits of a despacho ceremony are multi-fold:

  • Connection and Harmony: The ceremony fosters a profound sense of connection and harmony with nature, the universe, and the spiritual realm. It allows participants to acknowledge and respect their place within the larger cosmic order.

  • Gratitude and Intention: Through the act of creating the despacho and infusing it with intentions, participants express gratitude for their blessings and seek guidance or support for their desires and challenges.

  • Healing and Balance: The ceremony is believed to bring about emotional, physical, and spiritual healing by aligning individuals with the natural forces that maintain balance in the world.

  • Community and Unity: Despacho ceremonies are often communal events that strengthen the bonds within a community. They provide a space for shared intentions and a collective focus on the greater good.

  • Cultural Preservation: By participating in and sharing these ceremonies, indigenous communities can preserve and transmit their cultural heritage and wisdom to future generations.

  • Mindfulness and Reflection: The ritual's intricate process encourages participants to be mindful and present, fostering a deeper sense of awareness and introspection.

  • Transcendence of Self: The ceremony can lead to a sense of personal transformation, as participants transcend their individual concerns and connect with broader spiritual truths.

In essence, a despacho ceremony offers a way for individuals to connect with their inner selves, their communities, and the universe at large. It's a beautiful and meaningful practice that serves to nourish the soul, strengthen bonds, and inspire a sense of purpose and interconnectedness.


There are many variations of this ceremony, but here is a simple version that you can modify as you see fit. Remember that each object you use in the ceremony represents something else. You can use animal crackers to symbolize the animals of the earth, Swedish Fish candies to represent the animals of the sea, twigs to represent trees, Sour Patch candies to represent people, a wafer to represent a car or building, and so on. You are only limited by your imagination. So, get creative.

Materials Needed:

  • Quinoa or corn: These grains represent abundance and sustenance.

  • Various flowers: Flowers symbolize the beauty and impermanence of life.

  • Bay leaves: Bay leaves represent the giving and receiving of blessings.

  • Coca leaves: Coca leaves are considered sacred and symbolize the connection between the earthly and spiritual realms. If you can't find coca leaves, you can use eucalyptus leaves as a substitute.

  • Sweets or candies: These represent the sweetness in life.

  • Seeds (such as beans or lentils): Seeds represent potential and growth.

  • Colored ribbons: Different colored ribbons have specific meanings, but you can use a variety to represent different aspects of your intentions. Red for love, green for health, yellow for abundance, etc.

  • Shells or small stones: These represent the Pachamama (Mother Earth) and your connection to nature.

  • A piece of paper and a pen: To write down your intentions or prayers.

  • A cloth or piece of fabric: To wrap the despacho.

Step-by-Step Process:

1. Set the Intention: Before you begin, take a moment to set a clear intention for your despacho ceremony. This can be a request, a thanksgiving offering, or a release of something you no longer need in your life.

2. Create a Sacred Space: Find a quiet, clean, and peaceful space outdoors if possible. Place a blanket or piece of fabric on the ground as your ceremonial space.

3. Prepare Your Items: Arrange all the materials you'll be using in front of you. Think about the symbolism of each item and how it relates to your intention.

4. Begin the Ceremony:

a. Start with the Base: Lay down a layer of quinoa or corn on the cloth. This serves as the foundation and represents the Earth.

b. Add Your Intentions: Write down your intentions or prayers on the piece of paper. Fold the paper and place it in the center of the quinoa or corn.

c. Layer by Layer: Add each symbolic item one by one, explaining its significance as you go. For example, as you add flowers, express gratitude for the beauty in your life.

d. Tie Your Intentions: Use the colored ribbons to tie the despacho, forming a bundle.

e. Breathe Life into It: Hold the despacho in your hands and blow your intentions into it, infusing it with your energy and intentions.

f. Final Blessing: Offer a final prayer or words of gratitude.

5. Closing the Ceremony:

a. Fold the Cloth: Wrap the despacho carefully in the cloth, making a bundle.

b. Closing Prayer: Offer a closing prayer, thanking the spirits, the Earth, and the universe for their presence and assistance.

c. Disposal: After you have created a despacho in a ceremony, the next step is to perform a closing ritual and decide how to dispose of it. The method of disposal can vary depending on the specific intention and tradition, but there are several common practices:

  • Burying: Burying the despacho is a common method. Find a suitable spot in nature, such as a garden, forest, or a sacred site, and gently bury the despacho in the Earth. As you do this, you can offer a prayer or express gratitude, allowing the Earth to absorb and transform your intentions.

  • Burning: Burning the despacho is another traditional method. Create a fire in a safe and controlled environment, such as a fire pit, and place the despacho into the flames. As it burns, visualize your intentions and prayers being carried up to the heavens through the smoke.

  • Offering to Water: Some traditions involve placing the despacho in a flowing river or stream. The water carries your intentions downstream, symbolizing the dispersal of your intentions to the wider world. Ensure that the materials used in the despacho are biodegradable and safe for the environment.

  • Offering to the Wind: In certain ceremonies, the despacho is opened and its contents are released into the wind. This represents the dispersal of your intentions and prayers to the four directions, allowing them to reach all corners of the Earth.

  • Natural Decomposition: You can also choose to let the despacho decompose naturally if it contains biodegradable materials. Place it in a secluded area in nature, and over time, the elements will break it down.

  • Personal Burial: In some cases, individuals may prefer to bury the despacho on their own property, such as a garden, to create a sacred space imbued with their intentions.

It's essential to approach the disposal of the despacho with respect and reverence, maintaining a mindful and meditative state during the process. You can also offer a final prayer or expression of gratitude as you release your intentions.

Additionally, some traditions recommend not discussing the specific intentions or prayers of your despacho with others, as they are considered personal and sacred. The act of creating and disposing of a despacho is a deeply spiritual and symbolic practice, and the method you choose should align with your intentions and the guidance of the tradition in which you are participating.

6. Gratitude: Express gratitude for the experience and the energy you've put into your intentions.

Remember that the despacho ceremony is a deeply personal and spiritual practice. You can adapt and modify it to suit your own beliefs and intentions. It's essential to approach the ceremony with sincerity, respect, and an open heart to truly benefit from its power.

Ashley Brothers - Institute of Conscious Evolution LLC, Bend OR

Author of A Living Prayer Blog, public speaker, holistic practitioner, and teacher of energy medicine, shamanic healing, and psychic channeling


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