4: Exploring Peru's Ancient Traditions with Dora Fronek

4: Exploring Peru's Ancient Traditions with Dora Fronek

  • Show Notes

    Join Dora Fronek on a riveting journey from the American Midwest to the mystical Andes.

    Dora Fronek has a life-long career in the healing arts, natural herbal medicine, education, eco-spirituality, and has a passion for nature. She holds a masters degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine, is a former Program Director and Instructor of Therapeutic Massage, has facilitated countless workshops, private and public retreats while maintaining a private clinical practice.

    Dora moved to Peru and is the former president and founder of Sacred Wisdom Discovery, a Peruvian foundation dedicated to the preservation of ancestral traditions, culture, and ceremonies. Dora answered the call to move to Peru to apprentice directly with the Andean Masters. At their request, she translated the first three original books written by Andean wisdom keepers with whom she currently co-facilitates healing trips for private and group sessions in the Andes. She is also a trained ceremonial leader, a pipe-carrier, vision quest facilitator, translator, and writer. She is a graceful, courageous advocate who inspires, teaches, and empowers people in the way of practical, dedicated, compassionate service.

    Cherie welcomes Dora Franek, a healer and interpreter living in Peru. Dora shares her journey of how she ended up working with the Shaman brothers in Peru and her experiences with healing and studying the traditional Andean traditions. She talks about her personal healing story, the diverse groups of people who come to Peru for healing, and offers advice for healers to stay true to themselves and maintain their integrity.

    Want to know how you can begin your journey to hope and healing? Visit Elevated Life Academy for classes and free resources for personal development and healing.


    Sacred Wisdom Discovery



  • Transcript

    [00:00:36] Cherie Lindberg: All right, well, welcome, welcome, Dora Franek. Thank you so much for your willingness to come and share your story on Elevated Life Podcast. So I met Dora through a friend of mine, Terry, who I'm also going to be interviewing for the, for the podcast and Dora has been interpreting for the three Shaman brothers that I just got back from a 10 day trip visiting with them for three and a half days and I really wanted to hear your story. Like, how did you end up working with them and moving to Peru?

    [00:01:53] Dora Fronek: Yes, thank you. Yeah, again, thank you for having me, and I wish I could say, oh, it was real simple and easy, and ta da, but it's it was a long story. But yet, it was my story is very much of it was very obvious that it had to happen at the time that it did. And so, a little bit about me, I do live in Cusco, Peru, in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, and I was bilingual when I came.

    And so that definitely helps to live in a, in a South American country. But before I decided to, you know, to run away and come here and really apprentice with some of the healers here, I have a master's degree in Chinese medicine and an occupational degree in massage therapy.

    And I was a massage therapy instructor for many, many years. And so that was, you know, my background of natural healing and, and a spiritual path of my own from North America and, and just having grown up living in the woods and, and always being outside. And so that, you know all of that background kind of made it very easy to transition here.

    And I had I had a very interesting, you know, a very interesting change in my spiritual path in which for many years I, I, I had known of, you know, the Andean traditions and, and you know, some of the more preserved traditional aspects of healing and medicine and, and had always kind of held that at bay, cause I had a full practice. I mean, I was a teacher. I, you know, had a life in, you know, where, where I was. And if you want the, the, the book version of what had happened, I actually had a dream. And I'm not somebody that has dreams and then goes running off and, you know, deciding to, to chase all the symbolism in that. I had a very just impactful dream in which I climbed out of my, the window of my childhood home and I was automatically in the Andes.

    I knew I was in the Andes and I was walking down a mountain trail in this dream. And following what looked like a Paqo with Pancho and the traditional Andean and chullo knitted hats. And I come around this mountain pass and all of a sudden I'm in kind of like this classroom, like university. You know, classroom with a stage in front and there's this little Paqo sitting on the stage and, and somebody is like going, come on, come on, come on. He's been waiting. He's been waiting. Get up there. Go on. And I'm like ok. And and I immediately woke up from the dream and I called a friend and I said, I had the craziest dream. And she said, well, I think you need to go to Peru. And thankfully I knew somebody who regularly brought groups and worked with healers here.

    And so through a series of, of, of coincidences of knowing someone bringing groups and, and someone that worked with the Paqos here who are the Andean shaman. I decided to step into it, and I decided I was going to come from my own, my own pilgrimage. And so the very first trip of coming here, I met some very, very amazing healers.

    And and two months before I actually came on that trip Adolfo or Tupac, came to Wisconsin. He was invited to Wisconsin. And I, and I knew I have to meet this Alta Mesaic. I have to meet him. And it was after work one day in like a terrible part of town. And it didn't matter. I was going.

    And so I met him. And of course Tupac is just an amazing man. His story, his story alone is amazing, but I'll leave that for another time. And so on a break, I, you know, I ran up to him and I said, "Armando I'm going to be going into Peru in two months." And Terry, meanwhile, had put together a group, and of course I was already committed to going with a different group, and so I knew that, you know, that just wasn't going to happen at that time, and I didn't know Terry at that time.

    And so I said, Armando, I know you're going to be with, you know, a group. At the same time, I'm going to be with a group, and we're going to Ausangate, so maybe we'll run into each other at Ausangate. And that's like saying to somebody, Oh, you're coming to the U. S. Well, maybe we'll meet in the Grand Canyon. I mean, it's that vast.

    It's that crazy. And so he just kind of looked at me and he said, huh, which means huh. Huh. Yes. Yes, sister. Maybe that'll happen. And so, the months went by, I came to Peru, I spent a week in the jungle, I spent the second week traveling around, and then the last few days we were going to Asangate to, you know, have this grand pilgrimage to sleep on the mountain for three nights in a tent and it was just going to be, you know, to get out of my system, so to speak, right, and to have this beautiful initiation.

    And so you know, we spent, I spent three nights on the mountain and, after that amount of time, you're just ready to be done. And I'm walking down at the end of this trip and I'm trying to make a beeline for the bus to get, just to get to a hot shower, to get to a hot meal.

    And I hear, I'm like, you know, here to there to the bus and I hear Dorita. And here it's Tupac with with his other, his other brother and Terry, and he was probably as surprised as I was to have, you know, ran into each other at Ausangate. And so, that's just the beginning of it.

    So once I came back from that trip, nothing in my life made sense. I would be at work, dreaming about Peru, wishing I was there, just feeling like I needed to get boots on the ground. And I needed for myself to come and be here for, You know, three months. I just knew I just needed to come for three months, you know, absorb all I could, you know, absorb the air, absorb the soil and just, you know, have this cellular shift because, okay, I'm an anatomy instructor.

    And in that background, I'm like, okay, three months, you know, you have new red blood cells that form new, you know, new cellular things that happen. So just, you know, in my, my science mind, that's just what I needed to have happen. So. As the months went by, I had contacted one of the healers and asked if I could come apprentice with him.

    Well, knowing that they won't say no he said, yeah, sure, come. You can stay at my sister's house. And I, and I didn't care. I thought, you know, there's going to be some little old lady that has a bed and I can peel potatoes and I just need to get there. And so that was kind of like my, my line of vision to come.

    And in the meantime, you know, I kind of had a plan B and a plan C just, you know, cause who runs away to South America to follow an apprentice with a healer. And so I knew at some point in that I would be connecting with Terry again. And, and we brought a handful of, of people that we knew to also go to Asangate again and work with Tupac and the brothers for a week. And so, in re meeting again here, Tupac asked me if I would come and translate because I was here in Peru. I was already apprenticing with some really amazing healers. And he said, well, why don't you come and translate?

    And I said, but I'm not, I'm not a translator. I can speak Spanish. I can understand Spanish, but I'm not a translator. And, and he just said, it's okay. You'll learn. And so by the good graces, graces of him and the, the group that came that very first group, they were very patient with me and I still work with them and it just, it, you know, doors started to open.

    So it was at that group that we went to Salkantay and Salkantay, Apu Salkantay is known as, as the Rey de Mesas. It's, he's known as the King of the Mesas or the King of the Kipus. So anyone that has a healing mesa, a healing kipu, anybody that is, you know, initiated on the spiritual path, usually as a Pampamesayok have an initiation at Sokontay or have some initiation at Sokontay.

    So of course, you know, I wasn't going to say no, of course, I in Aini came along with the, that group. And as we were going up the mountain, it got a little cold, and so we stopped to kind of bundle up, and it just so happened that Tupac was right in front of me, and he kind of, kind of bundled up, we shared coca for Hualpay, which is, you know just exchanging coca leaves, and, you know, I put on another layer.

    And he started walking and I look up and he is wearing the exact poncho and the exact little chullo, the hat, as I had in my dream. And the mountain vista was exactly as it had been in my dream. And so it was at that point, I was like, okay, all right, I need this to be very clear.

    And if this is how my life's going, if this is the path that I'm on, you guys got to make it very clear. I mean, I was very, very direct and a little sassy with the Apu who's to say you know, there's no way I could have laid out, you know, a five year plan. If I'm going to move to Peru and I'm going to open a foundation and and work with the healers and, and, and so that was kind of a short version of all of how that came to happen. The beautiful thing was, I mean, my intention in coming was to apprentice with some of the healers here and to learn, you know, the herbs that they work with, the application, the way they view the body. Now, remember my background is in energy medicine. It's in Chinese medicine. So, you know, I had a very clear understanding of you know, anatomy of not just Western anatomy, but energetic anatomy of the body and healing. And I had always, you know, in my path, it's looking at, at, at illness and wellness and how does illness and people's health, especially emotional health, how does that affect their physical reality and their, you know their physical condition. And so having had all of that background coming here, I really wanted to get an understanding of what we call the Manco Swasi, how we see the body, how we see energy, how we see illness, how we see, you know Even just, you know, where someone lives and the environment that they're in, how does that affect their, their health?

    And so I got much, much more than I could have ever expected or asked for, and a really thorough understanding in that. And and including you know levels, levels of healing and levels of looking at just people's health. And, you know, as we, as a person incarnates, you know, what that time that they are here in a physical reality and their health and all of that experience is much more than just that, you know, finite incarnation.

    So my experience, my you know, access to that was really you know, really much more than most people would get. Thankfully, to those healers, those, those shaman, those Paqos, those Pampa Mesoic all of those and being here, you know, kind of immersed in the culture I mean, they, they took me everywhere.

    They, you know, took me to places where and, and, you know, I'll just say those first several months with the healer, he would have everyone, I mean, any, any hour of the day people would be showing up from mental health concerns infections, bone breaks. Et cetera, and people would show up at all hours of the of the day and night, and, you know, you kind of look at me and go, should they go to the hospital?

    Do you think? And, you know, and I would do my, my, my emergency assessment and go, okay, well, you know, they're going to need probably antibiotic or x ray or whatever they're going to need. But then also, yeah, we can treat them. You can treat them shamanically. You can, you can treat them as you would. I'll treat them as I would.

    And then they'll go to the hospital and wrap it all together. So it was really an amazing experience of people who would be coming from a small community on the way to, you know, a city hospital, but instead of going right there would always stop to see, you know, the local healer because here, and in a lot of the smaller communities, they have more trust in someone that, you know, that that will put someone on a healing track.

    Versus just going to the hospital and you know, getting pills and probably not getting treated as they should. So that, that personal experience was incredible. And then as, as the world changed the last few years I was here during our, our quarantine. And our quarantine was a little more, it's a little more strict than it was in many other parts of the world. But just as we were coming out of that I, you know, after, after not being able to be out in the countryside for several months, I went hiking with some friends. And they took us the person that was organizing the trip took us to a place where it was a new, new exploration for them.

    They really hadn't taken anybody else there. So we're about four hours from Cusco up in the mountains and a very, very small community. And I broke my leg. And the, the instant or the, the situation around that was really odd. I mean I can, I won't go into a lot of the details, but it's not like I had a great fall.

    It's not like I, you know, had this, this huge accident. I simply slipped. I mean, I had been in the mountains for years. I had had worse falls with, with no problem, but I slipped and in that it completely dislocated my tibia from the talus and then broke part of the fibula.

    And so there I was, right you know, worst, worst case scenario, worst, you know, worst nightmare that many people have to be in the mountains with a broken leg and then having to get down a mountain. Thankfully, the people I was with, you know, were able to carry me down and take me back to Cusco. And so my own personal experience in, you know, in the healing that I had come for was really put to the test.

    So once I got back to Cusco, and that's part of the story, once I got to Cusco, it was like I said, right after we were just coming out of the quarantine, so everybody that got to the hospital had to be tested for COVID, and I spent one night in the hospital. The surgeon was basically like, okay, you need surgery.

    Now, I had worked in orthopedics for almost 20 years at that point. And so I knew, you know, what, what my chances were. I knew what the situation was. I knew the anatomy behind it and to go into surgery at 12, 000 feet for a woman, my age, I wasn't feeling all that comfortable. right, to get a few screws put into a completely good bone, to have those screws taken out in another surgery.

    I mean, I'm weighing all my options. And and the Paqos actually met me up in the emergency room and were there when they had to reset my ankle and then took the x rays and, and they said, well, you should have surgery. You could have surgery. Or you could not. And, and as, as our Paqos are very skilled they're also bone setters.

    And so they're very, very familiar with breaks, with healing methods. And you know, they were throwing the coca to read. You know is you going to need surgery or you're not going to need surgery? And they said, well, you know, it's really up to you. You really don't need to. So the morning of when I, the next morning, the director of the hospital basically called and said, well, because of COVID, the hospital procedure is that you need to wait two weeks.

    And then come back and we'll do surgery at that point. And I said, I don't think so. And they carried me out of the hospital and I said to the guys, all right, do everything you possibly know and put your medicine to work. And I made a reach out to all of the healers that I knew all of the, in all of the different methods distant healers and people who are on the Andean spiritual path. And I said, have at it, you know, let's do the, let's use the medicine that we've always had that we've had for many, many, you know, many, many, many years. So that's my, my personal healing story. And I won't go into a lot of the details of like exactly what they did, but the, the bone itself healed and I was, I was actually able to step on it.

    I was actually able to step on it after two months, which is a fairly amazing recovery for that kind of that kind of injury. And in that, you know I always, people always remind me because, you know, being in this arena and being in a different country you're immersed and you kind of forget that you're, you know, me, I'm navigating everything in a second language.

    I'm navigating everything in a different culture. Yeah. You know, with, with just cultural and, you know, international differences and, and not, you know many, many things that are new and those things that are unreliable and navigating all of that. So, so that's a little bit about my story.

    [00:19:42] Cherie Lindberg: Thank you. Do you see yourself staying there?

    [00:19:46] Dora Fronek: So over the last several years, I had, you know, initially had a work visa and stayed particularly to, to work with the guys, the brothers, as we say. And interesting enough, during COVID, it was very much the impetus for them to step into doing some online teaching. Traditionally here, you know, as you know, when people come or when people want to, to learn, they have to really do it at the hip of the healers.

    And when we couldn't do that during COVID, they opened up to to being okay with doing some online classes. And so thankfully, that kept people connected to them. And we were still able to share many of the teachings, many different aspects of the teachings. In addition to that, it also gave me time Simultaneous of, of being in lockdown, the guys had finished one of the very first books that were being written by someone within the tradition here as a lineage holder.

    You know, many people come to Peru and have an experience and maybe work with either the Caro or other, other healers here, and then they write about their experience, but there are very, very few books, if any. from people within the culture that are lineage holders that are writing. And so over the last three, three years I've translated three of those books into English and, and there's, they still have a trajectory to continue that.

    And so that's been, that was one of the gifts to come out of the last several years. And so Being here for as long as I have, I always say I'm kind of ruined to, ruined to live anywhere else. You know, those, those things that I miss about home are always are always there. But then also you know, the things that make being here so unique doesn't exist anywhere else.

    And I, I would definitely miss, I'd miss that. So. Yeah, wonderful for now. So for now, for now, never say never.

    [00:21:47] Cherie Lindberg: Cause the journey changes, right?

    [00:21:49] Dora Fronek: Always, always, always.

    [00:21:53] Cherie Lindberg: What would you say your experience has been with witnessing the different groups that have come there? You know, maybe some of the challenges and maybe some of the uniqueness or wonders that occur of the groups that you've witnessed.

    [00:22:11] Dora Fronek: Yeah. So there's a, there is some beautiful diversity in why people get called to come to work with the brothers or why they come to, you know, to come here at all. And one of the, one of the groups that regularly comes is to really come and do their own healing work. So for an entire week, it's the, the, the people that come receive, you know, healing in many different ways.

    In other words, some may come with you know, history of history of medical, medical conditions. Some have come with, let's say for example, Susto, we would call it Susto or shock or trauma and healing, you know, they, they may have gone through many, many years of traditional therapy, but there's just still that one piece that is so raw for them, or, you know, they just they just can't fully step out of you know, just that healing cycle. And so, for an entire week, it's just, you know, dedicated to working on healing those things. Other groups will come, and they very much want to have a pilgrimage to certain sites. Either they want to connect with an Apu, with a mountain, or, you know, as if they're on a healing path, they want or need to have that direct connection to those sacred sites.

    And so in that, like I said, it's, you know, it's kind of a diverse from someone wanting to come and go on pilgrimage and just having that, that personal life experience of, of being on the ground. Connecting to the elements that are there and the spirits and the ancestors that are there. And then also those that come for, for their own, you know, personal healing.

    I Will say one of the really beautiful ceremonies that we have that is very rare that somebody gets to experience is, is a, a direct ceremony with the Apus, with the spirits. And without having been in that type of ceremony can be really difficult, I think, for someone outside of the culture, but even for people here, I'll just say it can be difficult for them.

    I've seen family members bring, you know, their their adult children who are just suffering from trauma or from something that had happened in their life. And the really beautiful thing here is that family members come when, when someone needs to go to the doctor, when someone needs to come for healing. Very, very rare do I see somebody just show up alone.

    It's, they always come with the family and it's kind of a, kind of a little running joke here too. Like, you know, if you have a client, they're not just going to come for their session, they're going to bring half their family with them. But. I mean, what a beautiful thing and being supported through your healing journey.

    And even traditionally you know, and culturally the ways that they do that. If, so for example, if, if a family member were killed in an accident you know, that, that person isn't just mourned at their gravesite, you know, that person the, the family will go and they will erect, you know, a a memorial at that place.

    And for, you know, many years afterward be giving, we would say an offering or, or some kind of a friend of, for the spirit of the land of that place that now holds a part of their family member who has passed. And, and I mean that, it's just such a different way of looking at life and, and someone after they've passed on.

    Every year for for all souls day, the cemeteries are so much alive. I mean, people come to, to spend the day at the cemetery with family and with their family that has passed. And it's, you know, just culturally those subtle things that are so beautiful to see in the difference of how we see healing.

    [00:26:15] Cherie Lindberg: So just listening to your story, would you say it was that initial trip that connected your heart and where you started to pursue more of the Peruvian culture and healing and understanding?

    [00:26:29] Dora Fronek: I would say yes. I think it started before then. Funny, funny enough, as a kid I mean, I grew up in a small, small town in Wisconsin.

    There was no reason to speak Spanish. My sister, actually learned Spanish in high school and then went on to major in Spanish and Latin American studies. And so she was very much a door opener for me to, you know, to the world here. And as a kid, I had an awareness of the Amazon, of Peru, of culture here.

    How? I don't know. It was, you know, it was just there, but I very much had just a, just a very easy connection here, I guess. You know, people are very connected to the land. They're very, very connected to you know, life outside. And so that that was very easy for me to assimilate to, I guess.

    [00:27:21] Cherie Lindberg: Yeah, I mean, I love nature and so forth, but it's on a, it's on a different level there for sure. I mean, they're very connected to the land, so that makes a lot of sense.

    [00:27:32] Dora Fronek: Yeah. And I will say, I mean, the, that first trip very much opened a lot of doors for me.

    And like I said, when I had asked the healer, if I could come and shadow with him, we had, we had a very unique connection in just understanding healing methods. And he wanted to learn more about, you know, the Chinese medicine world and said, yeah, absolutely.

    Come let's, let's have an exchange. Teach me what, you know, I'll teach you what I know. And while he himself originally was trained in the jungle and was, you know, more from a jungle tradition, what he knew was just so much more. And so it, it definitely opened doors for me.

    And on that very first trip I have a very good friend that said, Oh, I have no doubt you're, you'll be back. I can see you living here. And I went, what? Absolutely not. No way. And in a very short time, that's exactly what happened. And the very first morning I was in the Sacred Valley, we went up to a small community to, to see their textiles and to check out their textiles.

    And on that drive, I just remember looking out over, you know, kind of the, the mountain field and, and I said, I, I would love to live here one day. And within the next year I was living there and so somehow I don't want to say, I can't take all the credit for it. I really can't.

    [00:29:01] Cherie Lindberg: You might have had some assistance for sure.

    [00:29:04] Dora Fronek: Yes, very much so. And that is maybe more of a testament to, you know, when someone, when anyone has that, that is really connected to them in their life on a spiritual path. You can try to deny it as much as you want, right?

    You can, you can, you can go to an office and sit at a, an eight to five job and try to push it out as much as you can, but when it's there, it's always there, right? And at some point that, that discomfort of, you know, wanting to maintain status quo, but yet having to follow you know, what is just part of your life's path. There, there is a breaking point in there somewhere. And so, spirit always, spirit always shows up.

    [00:29:50] Cherie Lindberg: Is there any advice or, or anything that you would share with healers that are out there you know, with, with you living there and watching all the healing that takes place and working with living energy I'm always interested in asking that question because a lot of folks that I work with are healers. And wanting to help them be able to do their work in in more an integrity and a more informed way and also taking care of themselves while they're doing it as well. Is there anything that you would add around that?

    [00:30:25] Dora Fronek: Yeah, well, 1 is just, you know, finding the place where, where you are. I mean, you don't have to run off to some place or, or, you know, look for the mountains or whichever.

    I mean, we need healers. We need healers on the ground everywhere. Right. We need those people that are comfortable being in everywhere. Being in the offices, being in the least likely of places. And those are the hardest or maybe challenging or least likely places, but they're the places that need it the most. Right. And so as hard as that can be for someone feeling, you know, isolated, because you feel, you know, when you're, I always say when you're in that healing path, people feel, they feel isolated, they feel like, you know, the weird one, or they're different from everybody else. But that's, you know, we need those people, we need those people to just stand in their integrity and know, you know, people look for them in those hard times.

    They look for them in. You know, in the difficult times when things don't make sense and things don't make sense now in a lot of the part of the world. And it's going to get even weirder until we all can agree on leveling up. And so it's, it's, it's being in those, I say those small places and and, and shining that light.

    How do you maintain that? You know, when it gets difficult and you feel isolated and you feel run down you've got to have that, that support of others, right? And whether that's a two week vacation to recharge or whether that's a daily practice of recharging. And I think, you know, for me personally, it was really learning who you are, you know, who I was and, you know, what brought me to, you know, to, to this life decision. Brought me to this place in the world and really being solid and sure on that. I'm in a place where all the time it's, you know, I get asked, how did you end up here? Why did you end up here? Why are you even here? Right? And if I'm not absolutely solid and sure, certain in that, sure, you, you know, there's that little piece that, that sometimes, you know, either doubt or self review kind of falls into that, but it's, it's also being very, very sure and certain that, you know, this is, this is where you're meant to be, and this is where I'm meant to be.

    And so for healers that, you know, they have that calling for whatever reason. Can follow that right. The world needs that. Definitely needs that now more than ever.

    [00:33:09] Cherie Lindberg: I would agree with you. And part of my goal is to support and help healers, learn how to protect themselves from overwhelming energy. How to stay in a loving, compassionate place, even when you're working with someone that can be, you know, very, very challenging. Just like you said, we, we need healers to shine their light because of the times that we're living in right now. But Dora, I just want to thank you so much for your support during our trip to Peru, our group's trip to Peru, and your willingness to come and share your story.

    I found it very fascinating, and I'm sure the listeners will as well. Because it just sounds so interesting how you found yourself there. And we all have our, our story of how we found ourselves where we're at. So thank you for sharing.

    [00:33:56] Dora Fronek: Well, thank you. Thank you. And yeah, there's, you know there's all, all sorts of more details of, you know, the day to day life here and navigating all of those hidden lessons over the years. And for future groups that I know you will be bringing, because I know you will be bringing those groups. It's, I mean, just a wonderful, a wonderful place. It's if you wanted to say it's a, it's a full palette of helping people recharge and heal, you know, as you know.

    [00:34:26] Cherie Lindberg: An amazing place to learn about yourself. You know, that's for sure. And for some folks, you're really leaving your own culture and community behind to go to Peru. You're with yourself on a daily basis and the learning is rapid. Let's put it that way.

    [00:34:43] Dora Fronek: Thank goodness. Yes. Well, thank you. And I look forward to seeing you in the future. And all the beautiful things to come.

    [00:34:51] Cherie Lindberg: Yes. Agreed.