Coca tea leaf reading in the Peruvian Andes is the Shaman's answer to today's modern tarot cards. Coca leaves have been sacred to the Inkans for thousands of years and have been used for medicinal purposes, ceremonies, altitude sickness, and important religious rituals. Reading coca tea leaves is the most revered divination process in Southern America.
The mastery of reading the coca leaves is a skill passed down through generations of shamans. I was lucky enough to experience one of these readings when I was in Cusco, Peru a few years ago.
Image credit: Machu Travel Peru
A reading ceremony can be conducted in small groups, in a couple or one on one. Once invited into the Shaman's sacred space the participants will usually be either cleansed with palo santo or white sage or guided to pick an 'agua de florida' which is a spirit water used to cleanse the space and aura. This floral water can be sprayed, flicked or sprayed via spittal.
The Shaman will then offer prayers to the spirits and apus (mountains) and will ask for your name and where you are from. The spirit of the plant will be invoked and the shaman will connect with the person's energy. At this stage a big pile of dried coca leaves is laid on the fabric in front of the participant and a general reading is conducted by their placement. Leaves are read via their colour, shape and growth pattern and whether they have any damages and the places where they sit in conjunction with one another.
A reading can cover any aspect of a person's life that wants to be revealed such as love, health, finances, spirituality and family. Once the general reading is finished the shaman will offer up time for the participants to ask any specific questions about concerning matters or the future that have not come up already. Usually at this point they will be guided to pick leaves relating to their questions and the shaman will use the spirit of the leaves to relate the answers. There is usually plenty of time at this point and the Shamans are quite happy to stay for the allotted time so their are no unanswered questions left. Not only will they offer spiritual answers to your questions the Shaman will guide you towards the right path moving forward for your highest good.
Being able to participate in such an ancient tradition is quite the privilege. You will learn about the culture and become immersed in the spirit of the Shaman and the spirit of the coca leaves. You may learn about your future and come to recognize areas of your life that may need work.