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What is a Llama Blessing?

While there are  many things to do and see in the world, some of the most treasured experiences cannot be planned for.

Like the time I was invited to a Llama Blessing in the Lares Valley of Peru. The Lares Valley is tucked away behind Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley, a journey that will take you past tiny mountain villages that dot the mountainside. We zig-zagged up the mountain in our small van until we reached the Andean highlands.

As I stepped out of our vehicle I felt the crisp air tickle my face, the hard crunch of gravel underneath my feet, and saw a clumped white mass of what appeared to be 1000 Alpacas.

Juan and his family were there to greet me with big hugs and warm smiling faces, and in the distance I could see hundreds (if not thousands) of white alpaca gathered together.

As we walked towards the Alpacas I had the thought, how does a llama blessing work? Now having experienced it, let me share.

First, all the llamas are gathered together, and the youngest are brought forward to be blessed, some of the babies just 2 weeks old. Cocoa leaves, incense, seeds, feathers, and other symbolic items are gathered up, buried in the earth and burned. The smoke drifting into the air carrying the prayers, wishes, and desires from Mother Earth to the Incan Gods.

The baby llamas are decorated with flowers and colored dyes, and chicha (corn alcohol) is thrown over the herd symbolic of purification and cleansing. The villagers then dance around the llamas with flags and vibrant clothing until all the llamas are released back into the mountains.

In a place where only corn, potatoes, and Alpacas can survive, the llama blessing is one of the most important ceremonies of the year.  The people believe the more llamas you have, the more prosperous of a life you will live.