When Machu Picchu Was Ablaze!

by Kathy Doore

As the buses approached the Sanctuary, my Quechua friend, Jaime, grimaced. He wanted to know what I thought of the throngs of tourists that visited Machu Picchu every year. Without waiting for my answer, he exclaimed that he, and apparently others, believed that the visitors had stolen ALL the energy. “It’s gone! There’s nothing left. Everything has changed.” He exclaimed, shaking his head. “Everything has changed!”

It was true, things had changed. The atmosphere was distinctly different, somehow transformed. But it was not due to the tourists, as Jaime believed, but something else, something strangely familiar.

In the fall of l997 massive forest fires ignited the old mountain leaping from peak to peak, encircling the ancient sanctuary in a ring of fire. As the flames licked the Incan walls and terraces that spanned the city, threatning to consume the very sanctuary itself, the tiny village at the base of the citadel was all but evacuated, save for a handful of locals who remained in a vigilance of prayer.

On the fifth day, when all seemed hopeless, a sudden and inexplicable gathering of storm clouds formed directly over the citadel. For the next two hours it rained unabated. Slowly the sky parted revealling a heavy blanket of thick, black smoke. As the air cleared, it became gloriously apparent that the city had been spared. The villagers rejoiced with sacred offerings to the Apus (spirits of the Mountain) and thanks.


I peered at Jaime, shaking my head. “You are right, my friend. Something has changed. But it is not the result of the tourists. It’s something new, like a whisper. The energy is still here! Can you feel it?” As I spoke these words, I too realized the enormity of the metamorphosis. Like the mythical Phoenix, Machu Picchu had risen above the ashes transmuting her astral residue. The slate was washed clean. Jaime nodded, waving at a passing tourist, acknowledging the new frequencies.

In the weeks that followed I made my way to the Sacred Valley of the Incas where a divine appointment awaited.