Despacho Ceremony

If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.
— Meister Eckhart

From my travels to study with the Mountain and Jungle Shamans of Peru, one thing I have learned to be true, "Gratitude is a Superpower." 

In a deep meditation in the jungle, I was given the assignment for six months to not ask for anything- no desires- to simply say thank you for everything as it is. What I learned was more than what I "wanted." I wanted to be aligned with Divine Order.  Saying thank you and honoring things as they are is a powerful way to connect to the Matrix and power of what the Shamans refer to as "Ayni" or right relationship.

While hiking sacred mountains in Peru (Salkantay and Pacha Tucson) the tradition held is that we do daily despachos as we hike the mountain and don't ask for getting to the top, but say, "thank you for helping us get this far."  

I say all this to offer to you that a Despacho ceremony is medicine.  When going to see a Q'ero Shaman, no matter what the condition or desire- to heal from losing a loved one, to welcome a new soul to the earth, to honor a birthday, to heal from a break up, to call in love, to start a business, to experience physical healing, whatever the cause for the visit, the first thing often done is a despacho! 

The Despacho is a gift to spirit, or the organizing principles of the Universe, and is a ritual of energetic exchange for healing, re-establishing right relationship and protection. Let the ceremony be simple.  You say thank you.  You say thank you for as much as you can think of.  And then you keep saying thank you until you feel like you could say thank you for hours.  Beware of your resistance to gratitude and tendency to go through the motions of anything wanting it to be over and on to the next thing.  Sit down and crave some time in your day to just say thank you.  

To begin, call in Sacred Space (click here to see how).  See some of the photos of past despachos to have a sense of all the different ways it can look.  Be sure to pick whatever ingredient calls to you and share your gratitude aloud or silently and blow your prayers into the items. When you are complete with your ceremony, open your hands to receive energy from the despacho and open your mind and heart to receive any messages from the prayers.  When complete, you can either bury, burn or put the prayer offering into running water.

Gratitude is a Superpower.  See for yourself and share your experience with us at

Watch the video below to be guided on how to create a Despacho:

The steps to create your own Despacho are simple:

  • Gather a piece of paper, all your ingredients, whatever you need to be comfortable for an hour or so (water, comfortable seating, etc.) and then call in sacred space.
  • Begin with a large piece of white or colored paper (This will be the “wrapping” for your offering – think of it as a present).
  • Fold the paper into thirds one way and then thirds the other way so you have 9 squares.
  • Working within the center square you begin to layer the burnable objects that have been informed with your breath, so the energetic essence of your prayers is within each one.
  • A suggested list of contents, order and their meaning is below, however, I believe that resonance of heart trumps form.  If you don’t have access to all these things, it’s more important to sincerely say thank you with whatever ingredients you have access to.  
  • Create your prayer bundle in a way that is meaningful to you. Once you have filled the despacho with your prayers and shared the vision or dream for yourself and the collective, fold the bundle into the shape of a gift, as an offering to the earth, to spirit, to the divine.

Ingredient Suggestions and their possible representations:

  • Begin with Sugar – represents sweetness and love.  In the tradition of the Q’ero shamans, the sugar also represents the snow that is on the mountaintops which marks the highest point of wisdom where heaven and earth meet.  You can have the sugar create a cross for the four directions, a circle for oneness or a pile in the center.  Follow your inspiration.
  • Qintu’s – Typically in Peru they use 3 Cocoa leaves but you can utilize 3 small leaves from your native trees in your neighborhood or you can use Bay leaves.  Put groups of three leaves together and blow prayers into them.  The three leaves symbolize prayers going to the three worlds: the underworld, here on earth and in the heavens.  You can also do four leaves to symbolize the four directions or four elements.  You can also do groups of seven leaves to symbolize the prayers going to all seven chakras.  Do what feels right.  On top of the group of 3, 4 or 7 leaves, also have one red and one white petal of carnations or any other native flowers– traditionally red represents the earth and white the mountains. Place a red and white carnation petal on top of the Qintu representing the presence of the heavens and a red petal to represent the blood of the earth.
  • Build the foundation of this gift with the Qintu’s, informing each with your prayer (one for each person, if doing alone, you could have 4 for the four directions or traditionally there are 12).
  • Cover these with a little more sugar – Representing even more love and sweetness.
  • Add one open shell – placed in the middle of the prayers it represents the womb of the earth, our source and birthplace. This holds us and nourishes us, and provides opportunity and safety.

Here are some ideas for what some of the elements could represent for you as you blow your prayers into them, but let yourself be inspired and creative as to what organically comes through as you look at the items and whatever items are in front of you. In Costa Rica, it might be a mix of shells, dirt, sand, leaves, and rocks. In your home, you might use flowers, popcorn, hemp seeds, dried fruit, etc. It’s not about “what” ingredients, it’s about the quality of your attention and intention to come into harmony and right relationship by saying thank you.

  • Rice – fertility and abundance, to bring your prayers into fruition.
  • Lentils – vibrant health.
  • Nuts– sustenance.
  • Beans – for protection, abundance, power places, and the springs that nourish us.
  • Corn – sustenance: a gift back to the earth for what we have been given.
  • Raisins and dried fruit – spirits of our ancestors.
  • Animal Crackers – for animal spirits who hold certain pure energies on the planet for us.
  • Black licorice – protection and safety
  • And then add a few pinches of “Sweetness” – Candies, Candy hearts, sweet gum drops, candy corn etc – everything we are in relationship with.
  • Lots of chocolate – “Pachamama” or mother earth LOVES chocolate.
  • Loose sage or other incense – to feed the elements of the earth.
  • Gummy or candy frogs – messengers, envoys to carry our prayers; cycle of waters.
  • “Play” money, one piece – ensure successfulness of the despacho.
  • Cotton balls unraveled – clouds; represents aware time and dream time.
  • Confetti Stars – connection to the stars.
  • Colorful candy or sprinkles – to celebrate all life.
  • Flower petals – for healing.

The whole point of a despacho for me is when you get to that feeling where you are so full of gratitude, you can feel it in the air like you can feel the chair you are sitting on right now.  When the gratitude is tangible, attune yourself to that feeling and soak it in like a sponge.  Imagine staying connected to that feeling and as you do anything moving forward for the rest of the day, ask yourself, “Does this sustain and enhance this connection to gratitude or take away from it?”  

Once you’ve said thank you enough that you feel that feeling, take a moment and make one more Quinto (a group of leaves with the red and white flowers).  Silently blow your prayers into this Quinto for all that you are welcoming into your life, all that you are dreaming, all that you are positioning yourself to co-create with the divine.  If you are doing this alone, you can place the Quinto in the despacho when you are complete.  If you are with a group, pass your Quinto to the person to the right and have each person silently blow in the energy of these words, “Please hear my sister’s prayers.” Then pass it around the circle for each person who is participating to bless the dreams of one another.  Once you make it all the way around the circle, you can place all the Quinto’s in the Despacho.

Check in to see if you feel inspired to add anything else to the offering.  When you are complete, open up your hands to give love and gratitude to the despacho and also be open to receive any messages that may come through.  Like many of these experiential invitations, you may feel something powerful, you may feel nothing at all.  It doesn’t matter what the outcome is, you just want to continue to keep opening your mind, heart and spirit to the possibilities of wisdom coming through.

When you have placed all your items in the despacho, the corners of the large paper are then folded over the contents so that they all overlap in the center. The despacho is now a smaller square. The despacho is then tied, without flipping it over so all the prayers are sustained.  Make it pretty.The despacho is either buried (for slow, steady results), burned (for quicker transformation) or fed to the running waters ceremonially within a reasonable amount of time after it was prepared. Be mindful if you are putting in water to only have natural ingredients in the despacho. When the despacho is placed into the fire, participants generally do not look towards the flames until after the offering has burnt. This symbolizes non-attachment to outcome and release of all claim to that which was given away. May all our prayers be heard with sweetness and sincerity from the pure and innocent place from which they stem for the highest good of all.