A despacho ceremony is thought to have originated in the Peruvian Andes around some 5000 years ago by the high shamans or Laika of the Q'ero nation. Despacho (translating to dispatch or shipment/ care package in Spanish) is a sacred offering to the mountain spirits or Apus and Pachamama (Earth) for many different occasions and reasons, primarily as an act of pure compassion and gratitude.
Image from https://thefourwinds.com/
Despachos are a gift and ceremony demonstrating a period of time where we have taken a moment to show our gratitude and to become interconnected with all levels of spiritual connection to all living things. We must honour and thank the spirits and the earth with intention to manifest our prayers. There are many, up to 200, different rituals and despachos created by shaman for many reasons. Many rites of passage are marked with a special despacho ritual in Peru.
Some of the most used despacho ceremonies include;
AYNI DESPACHO for balance, harmony, abundance love and gratitude
CUTI DESPACHO to shield, send back or cleanse and purify
CHASKA DESPACHO to bring balance to the sun and stars benefiting a large number of people or a large environmental event
PACHAMAMA DESPACHO for healing and gratitude for mother earth
WIND (WAYRA) DESPACH is offerings into the wind
WATER DESPACHO is offerings directly into the water
AYA DESPACHO is a despacho for soothing transitions and cutting connections such as death, divorce and loss of career
APU DESPACHO is a popular Peruvian offering to the mountain spirits
A despacho is created with pure and sacred intentions, everything added to the parcel is selected for its symbolic purpose and therefor this offering becomes of bundle prayers. Remembering that this parcel is offered to the earth, usually by burning, burying or placed into water, most ingredients are usually biodegradable. Saying this, it is your prayer and your gift to the earth so whatever you want and need to add is OK.
Image from https://thefourwinds.com/
Most despachos are wrapped in paper, some people create them with large leaves and some people create them with beautiful materials. It all depends on whether or not and how the bundle is going to be used and offered in ceremony.
There are many regularly used ingredients placed inside a despacho bundle. Everything used is picked with intent and carries with it a symbolic meaning. Common ingredients found in most bundles include coca leaves, grains, money, feathers, lama hair and carcass, sugar and sweets, tobacco, herbs, essential oils, sweet foods, shells, bright strings and ribbons, flowers and wine. Everything must be used with pure intention and prayers are whispered upon them as they are laid upon the despacho.
A ceremony can be conducted solo or in a group of any size. Despacho ceremonies always begin with a cleansing of the space typically with a herb like sage or palo santo or florida water. The ingredients are then blessed one by one, a prayer is blown into them and laid upon the paper with intent and are assembled in a beautiful manner. The bundle is infused with loving energies from all the participants. If a shaman is conducting the ceremony once the despacho is bundled up and tied off with ribbon it is used to cleanse all participants from head to toe to remove any stagnant energies. Typically a despacho is burned however it can also be buried in the earth or placed into water. It is normal to turn your back on a burning despacho as a sign of respect to allow the spirits to consume the energies released privately.
If you would like to watch how a general despacho ceremony is conducted this link will take you to a short four minute YouTube clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GNT3_gYLkrg