New Travel Program Combines Peruvian Shamanism and Writing Techniques that Stimulate the Brain as a Way to Find Fulfillment and Higher Purpose in Life

(Palm Desert, CA. January 17, 2011) It is no accident that the remoteness of the Himalayas allowed the ancient Tibetans to evolve some of the world’s most potent yoga and meditation practices, while biblical prophets from the Middle East sojourned in the desert, far away from human settlements, to experience their clearest visions. World over, people are engaging in a popular new form of travel, called Sacred Tourism, to experience the power of undisturbed nature, with the intent of allowing themselves to absorb its energy, even as their senses open and become heightened by perceiving its intrinsic beauty and underlying spiritual information.

From April 21–29, 2011, professional shaman and healer Renee Baribeau, founder of Desert Holistic Network, and transformational writing coach and author Stephanie Gunning, former senior editor at Bantam-Doubleday-Dell (who has contributed her skills and talents to hundreds of books, including several New York Times and national bestsellers), will co-lead a small, inspired group of travelers on just such a vision quest to Peru. For those who choose to join them, this is an incredible opportunity—an invitation really offered by, and to themselves—to shed the skin of their ordinary lives and habits, stimulate their minds, move their hearts and souls, and literally commune with the spirits who the native shamans believe live there.

Peru’s Andes Mountains rising over the Sacred Valley of the ancient Incan civilization—present-day home to the indigenous Quechua people—are definitively one of the Earth’s most inherently powerful, and still relatively untouched, landscapes. From antiquity to today, those who inhabit this region are endowed with an extraordinary understanding of the relationship of humankind to nature. They know the ways and healing qualities, or “medicine,” of the Condor, the Serpent, the Jaguar, the Hummingbird, and the Mountains themselves. If we define wisdom as knowledge that is sustainable, then it is clear there is much to be learned from their guidance and example that is relevant to solving contemporary problems of pollution and environmental degradation, as well as physical and emotional disassociation. Seekers of wisdom often feel intensely called to Peru to attain clarity and experience beingness. This is the underlying purpose of the upcoming expedition: In both companionship and silence, in full engagement with nature and the senses, through hiking the land and exploring the warmth of the Peruvian culture, in doing Quechan ceremonies, and by exploring the written word, what shaman’s call the Wisdom Voice will be encouraged and facilitated to spontaneously emerge.

Baribeau received her shamanic training through the Four Winds Society, cited in a Harper’s Bazaar article (December 2010) that defined shamanism as the “fashionable new psychology.” She agrees. Her clients include Hollywood celebrities and successful businesspeople on both coasts. Of her previous trips to Peru, Baribeau says: “This is the call of the Peruvian landscape, whose valleys and mountains are the source of an inner journey that, if allowed to inspire us, changes everything in our lives. Those of us who are called to take the sacred journey to connect intimately with Pachamama, our beloved Mother Earth, in settings such as Machu Picchu, are given opportunities to access the wisdom of our intrinsic being as humans. The noble presence of the mountains has healing properties. From the Shamanic perspective, all the answers we need are available to us in the Earth.” (Read more on her spiritual journeys in Peru)

Participants on the journey will explore the historic sites and vibrant culture of Cusco, Pisac, Pumamarca, Ollantaytambo, Chinchero, Maras, and Moray, at intervals hiking, touring Incan ruins, doing ceremonies with a local Quechua shaman, as well as kicking back, visiting hot springs, and celebrating the joy of life in a foreign land. Everything is done with the idea of full engagement of the senses. On so many levels, Peru entertains and enlightens travelers: history, archeology, anthropology, geography, and spirituality are interwoven there like the colorful threads of the fabrics in the marketplace of Chinchero, a village inhabited by indigenous weavers. An aspect of this trip that makes it unlike others trips one might take is that both leaders are experts in transformational writing. A shaman’s “toolbox” holds many instruments, including breath; sound-making with voice, rattle, and drum; movement; symbolism; and story.

A significant highlight towards the end of the trip will be a guided tour of Machu Picchu, followed by a personalized solo vision quest, either on site or nearby. Machu Picchu, known as “The Lost City of the Inca,” perches in the Andes at an altitude of 7,970 feet above sea level, and has been named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. It has an incredible history, and its design shows that the ancients were remarkably knowledgeable. Machu Picchu’s very existence was not discovered by the Spanish conquistadors led by Francisco Pizarro to defeat the mighty Incan Empire in 1572. Subsequently the site was kept hidden during three centuries of Spanish rule, until the locals led archeologist Hiram Bingham there in 1911, and he re-announced its presence. Today, we can visit and marvel at the extraordinary precision with which the stones were laid—none out of place—and how the architecture is gracefully integrated with the environment. The sun, moon, water, and earth were revered by the Inca (as they also are by their descendants, the Quechua) and motivate how the city’s layout, which features an astonishing array of gardens, terraces, temples, staircases, and aqueducts. But when or why Machu Picchu was built—for pleasure, sacred service, education, or blood sacrifices—is a mystery. It is an ideal location for deep personal engagement and re-connection with self, soul, and history. Local shamans believe that those who are called to Machu Picchu were Incas in past lives.

In shamanic traditions, a vision quest is an initiation, a rebirth into a new role in life, as well as a way of making contact with guardian spirits or guiding forces. For spiritual writers, who serve as messengers for humanity, writing is always a transformational process. Not only do they go within themselves to tap into their deepest, most authentic essence (qualities that are uniquely theirs, which are inborn gifts and talents), but they also draw upon their intuition to contact and express a wider field of potential. The vision quest often requires a person to withdraw from the routine activities of the world and seek solitude and focus. By connecting with nature in these periods of retreat, the mind becomes more serene, relaxed, and alert, thus people draw focus and tap into non-ordinary, or shamanic, consciousness. Writing is a means of capturing insights.

Why combine writing practices with shamanism on the upcoming tour? Stephanie explains, “In the last decade, I have seen Spirit flowing through the intentions of those who use words for healing. Releasing the sting of the past improves their wellbeing, and by transmuting the venom, it becomes a healing elixir for others. They are healing the world by raising consciousness—increasing the light in the world through how they are fundamentally being and communicating. The pace of transformation in those who are open to change has accelerated, perhaps in response to dire necessity as the Earth struggles to restore a sustainable balance. Words and language are not the only way to access the guidance we need right now, raise consciousness, and shine our light, but they are powerful tools once we learn to implement them in specific, beneficial ways.”

She goes on: “Incredible discoveries in the world of science have revealed that ancient and native peoples have always known far more by living in harmony with nature than those of us who live in industrialized nations could discern from our ridiculous attempts to bend nature to our will. Brain science confirms that humans are ‘hardwired’ for our place in the Web of Life. Quantum technologies also enable us now to observe the non-material world underlying every material object and being. Words live in the space between the tangible and intangible world. They are intuitive and symbolic objects that cause the whole brain to function in unison. And we now know that the way we work with words can open us to other levels of sensing, subjective perceiving, understanding, and even impacting reality. To divorce our fundamental essence in nature prevents us from tapping into the real source of our wisdom; thus, we must reclaim it.” (Listen to a recent radio program: “Your Wisdom Voice: A Technology for Transformation”)


Desert Holistic Network, the sponsor of the Shamanic Writers Vision Quest, is a California-based web portal that serves as a virtual chamber of commerce for a consortium of conscious businesses, providing continued exposure, marketing support, and the referral power of a multi-regional website, a monthly newsletter, and partnership opportunities.
• Contact Renee Baribeau
• 73-765 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert, CA 92260
• Phone: (760) 773-5870
• Mobile Phone: (760) 574-6168
• Monday–Saturday, 9–6 Pacific time

Author's Bio: 

Known as the Practical Shaman, Renee Baribeau is an expert ceremonialist, healer, teacher, and writer. Over the past fifteen years, she has trained with a long list of traditional shamans and modern-day mystics. She has received rites of passage from Q’ero elders in Peru and a Mapuche shaman in Chile, and apprenticed with a Lakota elder in Southern California. A graduate of the Healing the Light Body two-year program with the Four Winds Society, she studied directly with Jose Luis Herrera. She has also received the healer’s blessing from Swami Kaleshwar.

Renee is Director of Desert Holistic Network, a growing health and wellness chamber of commerce and web portal based in Southern California. Former resident shaman for the We Care Holistic Spa, she now runs a private practice that serves individuals, including numerous high-profile and executive clients in Beverly Hills and New York City. Possessing an entrepreneurial spirit, Renee has owned two successful restaurants and catering companies, and spent ten years as a corporate executive. Walking comfortably in two worlds, she is both a successful business leader and a humble servant of her community and the earth.

In 2010, Renee’s healing memoir, The Shaman Chef, placed her among the top 25 finalists in The Next Top Spiritual Author competition, emerging from a field of over 2,500 candidates from around the world. This book is scheduled for publication in autumn 2011. She resides near Palm Springs, CA.