Videos: Visiting the Q’ero Indians of Peru with Tom Best

My dear, late teacher Tom Best every year took people high into the Andes to visit the Q’ero Indians of Peru. Tom translates from Spanish to English for Don Americo Yabar.

I believe Tom, a cultural anthropology major who had studied (and studied with) Native American and Hawaiian shamans), fell in love with the Q’ero and their concepts of energy, love, reciprocity with the earth (Pachamama), and healing.

More than most indigenous communities in Peru, the Q’ero have maintained their traditions from pre-Hispanic times. They strategically integrate only the new developments that are useful and adapt old traditions to the present day.

I did not get to visit Peru with Tom, who died in April. I hope to make the trip with his wife Bobbi when that comes together.

Here are some videos from a trip in 2007:

From the Map… 6:14

Connecting with Energy 3:13, and something interesting happens around 1:25!

Heavy Energy… Hucha 2:29

Mihui…the art of ‘eating’ heavy energy 1:59

Miguelito…Peruvian Master of Stones and Coca 2:12

Beyond the ‘Social Mirror’ 4:08

Dance of the Nauopa…Andean Ceremony 2:08

Ceremony with the Q’ero Indians 3:17


Photos from Tom Best memorial

Scroll all the way down to the bottom of the right column and click the More Photos link (or just click this link) to view the photos I posted from Tom’s memorial service yesterday.

If you didn’t know him, maybe you can tell from the pictures how special he was.

I am happy I got to have him for a teacher and a model.

Many, many people helped make this happen, especially Katie Raver and Linaka Hana. Kudos, you two!


The rainbow-bridge, huayruro seeds, the long body, and the nagual: a tribute to Tom Best

Part of Monday’s reading from The American Book of the Dead by E.J. Gold, which I’m reading for my teacher Tom Best, who died this past week, is this:

If my attention is concentrated and clear, I will merge into the heart of the beloved, in a halo of light called the rainbow-bridge, and attain completion in the region known as Endowed-with-Glory.

The heart of the beloved here refers to an unveiled vision of reality. The clear light and the region known as Endowed-with-Glory are metaphors for the sea of the nagual, to my mind.

So much love, and such clear attention. He is still teaching me.

For the past few days, all the readings (and there are readings for 49 days after death) have mentioned the “rainbow bridge” or the “rainbow light.” When I realized that, I got GUS (god-universe-spirit) bumps because of the following story:

For many years, at the end of many of his trainings and workshops, Tom gave out “rainbow seeds” to his students. They are actually the seeds of the huayruro plant, from Peru. They are beautiful hard seeds of shiny red with a black spot. They are believed to bring powerful good luck and are often strung into necklaces and otherwise made into jewelry.

Tom’s instructions were to give these rainbow seeds away, and to give them to either a person or a place that signified excellence or devastation. In other words, a person or place of exceptional excellence, or a person or place in need of healing. (I am hearing his voice speak these words so clearly as I type, as I often do these days.)

I’ve dropped rainbow seeds in areas that have been ugly or devastated, and in spots so beautiful they took my breath away, and I’ve also given them to many people, for one or the other reason. I have also received one, which I mixed in with the others, and I don’t know which one it is now! I will give them all away.

I actually gave one to Tom once, when he was telling my master practitioner class about losing his beloved dog Dakota (whom I met when I first met Tom in the late 1990s), openly weeping as he spoke, sharing his sudden loss with us–and modeling how to let our emotions flow through us.

Tom gave these seeds out at numerous trainings every year all around the world, and the people he gave them to have also distributed them to people and places they’ve encountered. Tom called this “building rainbow bridges.”

We recipients now connect to each other on this planet, through him, the healed and the in-need-of-healing, the beautiful and devastated (because don’t we all–and this planet–have potential for both, and isn’t such a state always fluid?), and this bridge lives on even though he has transcended his earthly life, continuing its transformation in us. It’s almost as if he foresaw this happening.

Now that is wisdom, living through the long body. What a master.

Tom, you have been building rainbow bridges for years before passing. I realize I am doing these readings mostly for me (and with Bobbi Best when she is able to join me), because I don’t think you need my help at all in this transition.

My emotional body finds it hard to say goodbye, although I moved some heavy grief hucha up and out at ecstatic dance on Sunday. My spirit body feels Tom’s presence within and around me.

You were my teacher and also the teaching in how you lived your life. Mahalo for showing me that. You know how to move into the nagual. Love, just love, love, love, Tom.

(Thanks to my friend from Maui, Erich Wolf, for posting the photo of the huayruro seed above, to Istok Pavlovic, Catharine Stuart Lord, and Nikola Jovanovic for the photos and posters of Tom and his words of wisdom and how to save high-resolution versions, and to Luzia Helena Wittman for sharing the photo of the footprints in the sand–taken by Tom of his own footprints in Portugal–on the Facebook group The Grace of Tom Best. Mahalo, my friends.)

For more about Tom, I wrote a later post that you might also like to read: When the teacher is the teaching: Tom Best.