01.08.2011

Psychic Downtime

Psychic powers don't appear on demand and need gentle nurturing
Helen Patrice learns the folly of expecting psychic powers on demandI remember that I had altitude sickness. My whole body felt dragged down to the ground, and my energy abandoned me near Arequipa. I was now near Puno, the highest altitude of our Peru tour, before descending to Cuzco, Ollentaytambo, and Macchu Picchu. I felt both hot and cold at the same time, utterly wretched and disinterested in my surroundings. Head full of wool, body made of concrete, skin like parchment.

I'd had enough of rocks and stones, and Incan carvings. I no longer cared that we were on our way to ancient funerary towers, where royalty was buried. All I wanted was the hotel, a hot shower, and sleep. No amount of drinking coca tea, and chewing coca leaves helped.

I am no advocate of drugs, but I thought that if someone offered me cocaine right then, the distillate of coca leaves, I'd take it, just for the momentary high. I'd have to chew around 12 kilos of coca leaf to get the same buzz. Even Coca Cola was looking good at this point.

I stumbled out of the bus at the base of the climb to the funerary towers. A local guide bounced up to us. I remember nothing of what he said, except that the bodies had long since been removed from the towers and were in the museum, which we were not viewing. So, a climb up yet another hill (everything in Peru is uphill, even the downhill), to see empty rock towers that once, several thousand years ago, had held some dead bodies. And meanwhile, the actual bodies were in the nice, air conditioned museum that had seats, and a café. Uh-huh.

We started our trek. At the top of the hill I saw squat towers of stone. Bollocks to this being a sacred site. Bollocks to everything, bar a bed, and a couple of Valerian tablets. Nothing worse than a cranky psychic who is expected to see, hear or feel something mystical. No one said anything, but the whole bus tour had discovered my intermittent psychic awareness during a convent tour in Arequipa, and they kept hoping for "things" from me. Roll out the performing psychic and get her to do her thing. Not at this altitude, kiddies. Grump, grump.

We were taken to a stone circle, where, it was rumoured, shamans still perform rites to this day.

Another member of our group was Rafael, a young Polish man who kept himself fit and nice at all times. He drank only water or coca leaf tea, eschewed desserts, and meditated every morning.

Rafe and I were urged into the circle to see what we could sense. We sat down on the ground, opposite each other. Rafe sat in full lotus position, the show off, hands upturned on his knees, eyes shut, back straight. His breathing slowed and he sank into instant Peruvian-blend meditation.

I sat easily cross legged, but I really wanted to lie down in the sunshine and sleep. I dared not shut my eyes for I knew all too well from group meditation days, that I could sleep sitting up. I unlatched my focus and dropped my shoulders. They wanted to drop all the way into the earth and stay there.

I let my awareness enlarge and steal across the ground, through the air, opening up gradually to my surroundings. Nothing but the warm earth, the blue sky, the seemingly distant murmur of the group as they were herded on by the guide. I felt Rafe's slow breathing.

Nothing. No images came to mind, no feelings, no noises out of place for this time and place. I tried again, putting aside my own feelings and thoughts, becoming a blank slate for whatever might be there.

Zip. Whatever had happened here was closed to me, either deliberately, or had been erased by time and tourism. I opened my eyes. Off to the right, a small Peruvian boy was attempting to kick a couple of alpacas. They were his charges, and he wanted to assert his dominance over something. The alpacas ran away. One aimed a kick back. Rafe opened his eyes.

"Did you feel anything?" I asked tentatively.

"Nothing," he said, and shrugged.

We both stood up, and rejoined the group. I trailed it for most of the tour, feeling more and more unwell. At one point, I had to be helped down the far side of the hill. The guide urged me to touch a certain stone, saying it was a healing stone used by shamans, a stone that would imbue me with energy. I lay myself across it. The guide stood beside me, his face confident and hopeful. I had to pretend a burst of energy and wellbeing I did not feel. He was so proud of this stone, of his country's ancient people.

I made it back down to the bus, and was given yet more coca leaf tea. Horrible, chaff tasting stuff, like many herbal teas. I drank it down thirstily and felt a little better. And all the way into Puno, I pondered the funerary towers. Were they all they were cracked up to be? Was I? Had time erased the psychic imprints there? Were whatever gifts I had tied to Australia?

No. Others have had strong impressions of Peru, and I experienced feelings and images in an ancient cemetery, in Cuzco, in a convent in Arequipa, and at Macchu Picchu. What I learned was that these gifts cannot be commanded. My access to the tarot is constant, but other things come and go.

I expected too much of myself. Exhausted, sick, grumpy - of course I was in no fit state to feel anything.

I joke about Puno being the low point of the tour - wretched piles of stone that I was commanded to appreciate. Yet, it gave me insight into myself that I had not expected and, for that gift, I am grateful.Since then, I have not pushed myself to do readings when unwell, have not so often expected too much of myself.At those funerary towers, I buried Super Woman, and Super Psychic. I don't miss them at all.

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