On April 12, 2016, a couple months before Ross & I left to travel the world indefinitely, we got married at a courthouse in Austin, Texas.
We jokingly refer to this trip around the world as our never-ending honeymoon, so when we found ourselves at one of the most beautiful hotels in the world at the base of Machu Picchu (a longtime bucket list visit for us), the idea to renew our vows alongside a local, authentic shaman was a big “YES” for us both.
The ceremony, called an Arac Masin (a Quechua phrase meaning Andean marriage), is a symbolic ritual for couples looking to express their love for each other or to renew vows. The ancient ceremony takes place in a magical little room in the Sumaq Hotel that is elegantly decorated with flowers, andean cereals and coca leaves. Led by a shaman, this mystical scenario calls upon the Incan gods to guide your relationship to last eternally.
The experience began with a knock at our hotel door, where we were greeted by Zarela, one of the hotel team members who arrived with our outfits for the evening. She braided my hair, explained a bit about how the ceremony would work, and walked us through each item of our outfit. (Take note: Do not expect a suit and white dress. When I say it’s authentic, I mean it.)
Before entering the ceremony space, we were greeted by our shaman, Wilco, and participated in a cleansing session. Ross and I stood side-by-side, holding hands, fingers interlaced with a quickening of our heartbeats as we began this experience with excitement.
My breath was taken away when we entered the room and there was an elaborate scene of flowers, rocks, coca leaves and nature woven together to set the stage to celebrate our love. Over the next hour, Wilco led the ceremony with chants to invoke the elements of nature: Pachamama (Mother Earth), the spirit of the mountains, the stars, light and fire to create a powerful union to support our partnership far beyond the physical world.
We set our intentions together and whispered them to the energies surrounding us. I was so full of bliss and love that I felt like I was floating the entire time. I couldn’t help but think, “Is this really happening?” Every aspect of the ceremony was like a fairytale princess dream come true.
After our private romantic dinner later in the evening, we were gifted with two Pucara Bulls, small figures that have now become recognized as a symbol of contemporary Peruvian culture. They represent prosperity and provide protection to the home of the owners. We look forward to placing them proudly in our home back in Austin as a reminder of the love and magic that we experienced in Machu Picchu.
Whether you are getting married for the first time or you are looking to renew your vows, the Arac Masin is a powerful way to infuse your union with the mystical essence of the Peruvian Andes and the kind-hearted people who live here.
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