Yeah, You Could Go On A Pilgrimage

High in the Andes mountains, at exactly the point where glacial runoff forms the origin of the Amazon river, the Chavín culture of ancient Peru constructed a monumental temple. It became the Mecca of the new world. Pilgrims from across the continent spent months trekking through jungles and braving mountain passes to reach the site.

For these pilgrims, the journey was definitely not the destination (or some bullshit like that). This was a pilgrimage that delivered the goods. 

The Chavín employed the mescaline-containing, heart-expanding psychedelic Huachuma cactus to conduct a right of passage ceremony for the ages. Initiates imbibed the sacrament together in groups of hundreds, perhaps thousands. 

Divinity was tasted first hand by rulers and peasants alike. They realized the interconnectedness of all life. They transcended their ancient monkey minds and experienced a higher intelligence not only in themselves, but in all of creation. 

But if the spiritual union was good, then the societal impacts were great. While the Chavín temple thrived, war all but ceased. I’m talking about the longest stretch in known human history where archeologists can’t find any signs of weapon construction. Chew on that.

Anyways, I was fascinated to learn about all this and I figured that any spiritual seeker worth their salt goes on a pilgrimage. So I set off for the ancient temple myself. 

Today, Chavín isn’t exactly a bustling spiritual megalopolis. It’s a mining town. The river runs orange with runoff. Packs of wild dogs roam the streets. I arrived during the height of a mayoral election and political propaganda rang from blaring loudspeakers through the valley.

I was told about a man, a shaman actually, who knew the Chavín temple and the cactus medicine once poured here better than anyone alive. He was a humble man, I found him selling trinkets outside of the temple gates. For a pittance, he agreed to take me inside and show me the way. 

Long story short, I stood before the grand gateway of the temple at Chavín. I imbibed a hearty dose of the ancient sacrament. And I couldn’t help but notice one thing: the place was in ruins. 

Yep, the megalithic structure had been mostly buried by a landslide, and what still poked through the dirt was crumbling away with the sands of time. The once mighty spiritual beacon of the Americas had been reduced to rubble. I recognized the world at large was in a similar state. 

Yes readers, I had showed up to the party about 3,000 years too late. I knew that I had better get back to the real world and see what corner of it I could start cleaning up.

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