The Q'eros are the last of the Incas, a tribe of near 1500 who sought refuge in a wide area of the mist-shrouded mountains of Peru near Paucartambo, between 14,000 and 22,000 feet elevation, in order to escape the conquering conquistadors. They live in complete harmony and reciprocal exchange with all of nature, in a near-constant state of reverence for creation itself. They speak directly to the mountains, the rivers and the sun. For 500 years the Q'ero elders have preserved a sacred prophecy of a great change, or 'pacachuti', in which the world be turned right-side-up, harmony and order would be restored, and chaos and disorder ended. Their shamans spend hours engaged in mystical activities, the most important of which is the so-called 'pago'. It is a long and complicated ceremony dedicated to the 'Pachamama' (Mother Earth), in which the coca leaves hold the main part. The Q'eros speak only Quechua, the language of the Incas, and they have lived in their villages high in the Andes, in virtual solitude from the world, until their 'discovering' in 1949 by the anthropologist Oscar Nunez del Prado. The first expedition to the Q'ero villages then occurred in 1955.
Recently, Q'ero elders journeyed to North America in fulfillment of their prophecies. In November 1996, a small group of them, including the tribal leader and the head shaman, visited several cities in the US, including New York, where they performed a private ceremony at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. The shamanic ritual had not been performed for 500 years. According to ancient prophecy, this is the time of the great gathering called 'mastay', and reintegration of the peoples of the four directions. The Q'eros are releasing their teachings to the West, in preparation for the day the Eagle of the North and the Condor of the South (the Americas) fly together again. They believe that munay, love and compassion, will be the guiding force of this great gathering of the peoples. The prophecy holds that North America will supply the physical strenght, or body, Europe will supply the mental aspect, or head, and the heart will be supply by South America.