Welcome back everyone! We’ll be continuing off from the last post……..so let’s continue our journey to the real temple of doom!
As I mentioned from the last post, archaeologist Christian Mesia and his team found something at the site in Peru; dozens of snuff tubes made from animal bones all over Chavín. These snuff tubes sometimes intricately carved were used to inhale powdered hallucinogens. As we learn more and more about Chavín, the story becomes stranger and stranger. This is the saga of a cult built around hallucinogenic plants; the cult of Chavín.
The ceremonies on the outside is just the beginning. Up until 2200 years ago, priests along with a few chosen initiates would travel up the large stairway into an actual temple of doom. I had posted a picture from the previous post but in case you missed it, click here to see it. And like every proper temple of doom, there has to be a terrifying idol hidden inside. The temple above ground is just an entrance way to this massive labyrinth. Huge stones were used to build over 2 miles of tunnels. Inside this great complex, it’s completely dark and without some sort of light, you could barely see a thing. Rosa said they could not find any indication of fire use whatsoever and makes one wonder how the people back then could have made it through the dark tunnels without any use of light?
For Rosa, this was one of the classic psychological technique. Disorient people in order to brain wash them and to prepare them for what they were about to see.
The supreme deity of Chavín is illuminated from a single beam of light from a tiny ventilation shaft. Archaeologists call it El Lanzon; the lance, because of its shape. The initiates would go down the dark corridors in altered states of mind due to the drugs and they come face to face with this really psychotic God. It really creates an overwhelming experience! On top of that, the water rushing through the canals above ground creates a storm-like sound to create the ultimate effect of dread. I can only imagine what that might have been like!
Apparently, the practice of using hallucinogens are still very active today. 140 miles from Chavín is a place called Trujillo. Trujillo is a bustling and prosperous city. Seemingly very modern in everything but architecture. But could it be possible that religious traditions which began in Chavín 2500 years ago still flourish here today? Julia Calderon is a curandera; a modern shaman. Although I have never met her, I have heard that she can cure people’s illnesses and diseases through rituals and chanting. All rituals takes place at night so before the ritual begins, there are many things to prepare such as cooking the San Pedro cactus (the juice is for drinking), lots of perfume, and special strong tobacco. She will then prepare a table with statues of Jesus and pictures of ancient heroes, as well as tobacco with water and corn flour. In front of the table, there are several healing staffs and each staff can cure a particular ailment. And a magic circle with a six-pointed start inside it on the ground where the patient stands while being healed.
Once the ritual begins, she will purify the four corners of the ritual space with lime juice and perfume. After cleansing the patient, she invokes the staffs, searching for the proper ONE. Then its time to drink the San Pedro, it’s part of a group experience dedicated to healing. First Julia will drink, then her assistant, the patients, and the remaining people in the group. Once you finish drinking from the cup, apparently you have to take the cup, place it on your head and rub it on your head three times clockwise. Don’t ask me why they do this because I really have no idea!
The San Pedro is meant to open up what’s hidden inside and to allow the shaman to see what’s causing the problems. With the San Pedro going into effect, the shaman will go into a trance. This will allow everyone to see what has been causing the problems. I recently learned that the problems the shaman cures are not physical ailments but psychological ailments only. Also, as part of the ritual, all participants pour tobacco water into their noses and you’ll see it around their nostrils and starts to drip which reminded me of the stone heads with mucus coming out of their noses! Although slightly different from the culture in Chavín, Dr. Douglas Sharon believes that it is somehow linked to the culture of Chavín and strongly believes that the reason why the empire of Chavín was so powerful was because they were linked to their grassroots just like the people in Trujillo is today. Not only did the priests in Chavín use the persuasive rituals but also exploited it to gain political power over the people.
After learning about the rituals and the effects that the San Pedro had on people, I now understand why despite the fact there was absolutely no light in the underground chambers, the people of Chavín could still make their way through the tunnels. The San Pedro causes a person’s senses to become heightened. Their sight would become extremely sensitive and their pupils so dilated, they can see everything despite being in the dark. Under the effects of the San Pedro, the whole underground world became visible. You can see everything!
Seems very amazing and if you get the opportunity to see it for yourself, I think you should definitely give it a go! I know I would! Actually………….I think I will 😉