Despachos are made as Ayni offerings. Ayni is a Quechua word that translates to Reciprocity. In the western world, we have lived for a long time as takers. The dominant religions and cultural traditions have led us to believe that the Earth is merely a collection of resources that are available for our taking, and the dis-ease, environmental destruction, species extinctions, and systems collapses that we are now witnessing are the undeniable result of thousands of years of living as takers. In the high Andes, however, the people have lived in an uninterrupted system of balance with the natural world for thousands of years. Ayni is the Law of Nature, insisting that we enter into sacred exchange, equal giving and receiving, and deep honoring of Pachamama as our true Mother, the sustainer of our lives. In the Andes, Ayni is not merely a concept, but a fully integrated way of life ~ as people have never assumed that they are separate from the rest of the natural world.
From Genesis 1:28, “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” For far, far too long, humans have taken this teaching too far, believing that the Earth is merely here for our purposes, for the harvesting of resources and for our dumping ground. Humans have gone deeper and deeper into the mental sickness that believes that we are not merely separate from the Earth, but we are superior to all other life and systems that are sharing this planet with us. It is the wisdom of ancestral traditions such as this one from the Andean master healers from Q’eros that may guide us back to a deep reverence and understanding of our place within the web of life. Ayni says that as we receive, we must give. And as we give, we must receive. Always in prayer, always in humility, and always in gratitude.