In Memoriam: Don Miguelito – Paq’o and Spiritual Guardian

A star shines more brightly now. A week ago I received word that Don Miguelito—pa’qo and ever-present guardian of Salk’awasi—transitioned this planet and took his place in the sky.*

I write this to honor him. He touched a multitude of people, both literally and figuratively, in his 90-plus years. For sure, all the people who traveled with me in Peru will not have forgotten him. Memories of him are carried within us.

Maria and Miguelito

Doña Maria and Don Miguelito, 1996.
Photo: Carla Woody

Looking back I realize the many things I learned from him over the years. I never knew the kind of things that are common if we’ve known someone long: his last name, if he’d had a wife or children, if he was born in the village of Mollamarka above where he’d lived. He was a solitary fixture, sometimes appearing in front of his small adobe, hand in his coca bag, when visitors arrived at Salk’awasi. Watching.

But I did know that witches from the small village on the next mountain made their way over to consult with him periodically. We called him Miguelito, an affectionate diminutive, which did not at all express the power he held. Although, it did note his small physical stature. I’d be surprised if he’d brushed 58 inches. He did not demand recognition as some do. He was not flamboyant. He spoke few words. Yet, if you paid attention, you’d be aware of the teachings he conveyed.

If you were fooled by appearances, you’d think he was the gardener. In worn, simple clothing, we’d see him raking one of the many paths that wind through the compound with a handful of branches. He built magic ‘rooms’ where given opportunity by a fallen tree and nearby vines to drape. He kept the flowers

Miguelito 2011

Don Miguelito, 2011
Photo: Bobbie Owens

neat. In his last years, he tended them less. The land suffered his absence, going back to nature—perhaps symbolizing Miguelito’s own symbiotic journey. Nevertheless, he touched the Pachamama, Mother Earth, and created sacred containers, leaving his imprint on the land that will never dissipate.

It was only during certain times that his outward appearance gave a hint of who he really was. We would invite him to the circle. He would come—always at night—dressed in full regalia: brightly colored poncho and hat, carrying his mesa.** We’d make sure he had a small table on which to open his mesa, candlelight and pisco to refresh himself. Contained in his mesa were coca leaves for divinations and smooth black stones that had been struck by lightning. He used them for limpia.***

Miguelito had been struck by lightning himself—twice—a known shamanic initiation in many indigenous traditions. He ran his lightning stones over our bodies removing hucha, or heavy energy.

His coca readings were spot on, seeing things in us that we needed to attend to in order to further the journey and foretold futures perhaps not even a blip on our own radar yet. The coca leaves told him so. My own first experience with Miguelito is forever emblazoned in my mind. I was a real newbie, not really knowing which end was up, feeling my way on an invisible-to-me path. I wrote about it in my first book Calling Our Spirits Home. A bit is excerpted here.

Miguelito was bent trance-like over the leaves, sifting them with his gnarly fingers, muttering under his breath…he picked up a few coca leaves and began chewing them…he spit them out on the table. Moving his hands…he seemed to be noting where the pieces fell…he began to speak…Stopping, he turned and looked me directly in the eyes as though searching for something…Miguelito’s words [translated from Quechua] seemed quite unlikely to me. ‘That storm we had the other night?’ I nodded. How could I not recall it? I had started awake in the middle of the night…Lightning lit up the room from its savage dance across the mountaintops right outside my window…’The lightning was for you and its filaments are inside you now. I’m surprised that it was for you.’ No more surprised than I was, unclear of his meaning…Abruptly, he got up from his chair, came over to me and started rooting through the hair on top of my head with his fingers. ‘Ah, there’s where it went in.’ Seeming now satisfied with his finding he sat back down.

Miguelito 2009

Don Miguelito, 2009
Photo: Shelley Wolfe

He went on to tell me of the work I would begin to do, a large part of it bringing groups to Peru with spiritual intent. That was in 1996. Indeed, the reading held true and has evolved from there to include other Indigenous traditions and countries. The last reading I had with Miguelito was in 2011 when he told me that my work would continue to be difficult. This was not something I wanted to hear but recognized what is typically so when anyone is going against the grain of the status quo and mainstream culture. My intent is in holding the challenges lightly.

Miguelito was not afraid of being blunt. In fact, he used no filters in advising what was causing obstructions. Sometimes I saw people wince. It was always interesting to me in that the same issues would come up for the person to deal with during our travels. He also instituted healings. I wrote of one in the recent post Collective Resonance and Healing how the jungle absorbed a woman’s chronic condition.

He was often out in the dead of night. Perhaps he was communing with the mountains, stars and planets, perhaps spirits that best showed themselves in the wee hours. Now he may show himself in just that way.

On June 23rd I wrote my longtime friend Oscar Panizo and told him of the news none of us wanted to hear. He wrote back, “The glaciers are melting and the times are a-changing. Salk’a energy is returning home.”

So he has.

The Coca Reader

The Coca Reader
Oil on canvas
©2011 Carla Woody


*Paq’o is the word for shaman in Quechua. Salk’awasi is the ancestral home of Peruvian mystic Don Américo Yábar. Salk’a means undomesticated energy. Wasi is place or house.

**Mesa is the Spanish word used for medicine bundle.

***Limpia is the Spanish word used for rituals working with clearing energy in and around the body.

Categories: Energy Healing, Indigenous Wisdom, Sacred Reciprocity, Spiritual Travel | Tags: , , , , | 15 Comments

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15 thoughts on “In Memoriam: Don Miguelito – Paq’o and Spiritual Guardian

  1. Shala fontenot

    So Greatful I got the opportunity & gift to meet this amazing spirit !! His reading for me was spot on & blew me away , he was not of this world , yet his prescense was so profound & powerful . Such a special soul , powerful medicine & clear vessel !! Love you Migulito & thank you for your beautiful walk on this earth !!

    • Shala, thank you for placing your memories here. It’s said that whenever we think of someone who passed, the energy is sent to them wherever they are. May it be so in perpetuity.

  2. I shall never forget the short time I spent with Don Miguelito at Salk’ awasi. Such a humble and powerful soul. Whether you could see him or not you knew he was there, watching.The coca reading he did for me, a gift from Carla, was one of the most profound and meaningful readings I have ever had. The earth will miss his physical presence, spirit will rejoice in his coming home and the stars will shine brighter for now his shines among them.

  3. Oscar Panizo

    Don Miguelito is already missed. Carla, you did a wonderful job in capturing him in your words and painting. The mountains feel his absence. He is now one with the lightning and the stars. His presense reminded us of a time that few of us knew. In the evening darkness,interrupted by candlelight, Don Miguelito would weave his magic and transport us to the infinite. The guardian of Salkawasi, monitors from above with Oso at his side. Watch for his twinkle in the lights above.

    • Waiki Oscar, the poetry in your words speak beautifully in commemorating Don Miguelito. I’m going to go back and post here on Oso…equally guardian and friend to the waikis. I have been thinking of him, too. Another marker that an era has ended and another begun.

  4. Though my own journey to Salk’awasi was long ago and with a different leader, I remember Don Miguelito well. My heart goes out to Doña Maria, Don Americo, and all the people of Salk’awasi whose everyday lives included Miguelito. What a void he leaves. Thank you for your beautiful honoring of him, Carla. Today I light a candle in his honor.

  5. Maria Larrea

    Thank you Carla for your continued work and inspiration.

    I am so sorry to hear that Don Miguelito has transitioned and is sad for us as he will be missed. He is shining ever so brightly and smiling as he always did, with a coquettish smile, knowing and seeing far more than we could ever imagine. I am honored that I felt his presence, peace and love that he exuted. I loved his sense of humor as he read the cocoa leaves to our group and the accuracy was astounding. To this day I remember him fondly and often think about what his words mean to me. Although he is still, he will be missed greatly and it saddens me that many more could not have met and felt this wonderful guardians presence and heard his wisdom – A True Warrior of the Spirit.
    Con todo carino

  6. Maria, thanks so much for posting here. It was a beautiful circle we had with Don Miguelito during those travels.

  7. Felix Bedolla

    I’ve thought of Don Miguelito’s reading and words to me many times over the years and I’ll never forget his beaming face, impish smile, and compassionate spirit…

  8. Felix, thank you for your words here about Don Miguelito. I remember that impish smile most when he would survey the people gathered in the candlelight around him…greeting us…and perhaps already knowing the things he would convey to each one!

  9. The Master of Coca Leaves

    There are the chosen ones among us; the ones who lightning
    strikes, more than once. The ones who are blinded so that
    they can learn to see in the pitch of darkness. The ones who
    live in hermitude because the filaments radiating from their
    heart are tethered to everything, and it hurts. A body can be
    too small to contain a soul. A mountain can be too small to
    contain a soul. Mastery comes from continually showing up and
    saying, “Yes!” You cannot serve another option. I was blessed to
    witness you there, lifting your gaze skyward with extended arms,
    to know you when your life was the offering

    for the prayer request
    you never made.

    (c) 2014/Jamie K. Reaser
    From ‘Portraits’ (a work in progress)

    (Feel free to share)

    Carla – Thank you for holding sacred space for others to make offerings…

  10. Pingback: Learnings from Hopi: What Is Your Blue Star? | The Lifepath Dialogues

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