All About Karpay

The word karpay in the Andean mystical tradition refers to an initiation, but if we dive Energy work during the Hatun Karpay 1997deeper, the meaning expands to bring light to what an Andean initiation is really all about—and it takes us beyond the initiation itself into the heart of this energy tradition.

As an initiation, a karpay is a transmission or interchange of energy. Thus, it is most often thought of and experienced as ayni—an energy exchange of sami.

For example, in the Karpay Ayni you exchange your finest sami with another person. You place your hands on the person’s head and transmit your finest sami to that person through your makis (the ñawis, or mystical eyes, in the center of the palms of your hands). When you are done, the other person reciprocates by sending his or her sami to you in the same manner.

A karpay does not have to involve ayni as we usually think of it in terms of an energy exchange of sami between people. For example, in many karpays—such as the karpay to the second or third level of the path—a paqo might take you into the mountains to a sacred lake. There you both would strip down and immerse yourselves in the lake, releasing hucha into the water and empowering yourselves with sami from the cosmos and/or from the apu. So this karpay is really a form of saminchakuy (a cleansing and empowering) and an exchange with nature and/or spirit beings.

When we take that dive deep into what is going on in a karpay (initiation), we discover the root meaning of the word: it is your personal power.

Scales Of JusticeYour karpay is your capacity for personal power at the current time.

It is related to atiy, the capacity at the yana chunpi (the belt around the lower trunk of the body), where you measure your power at the current time and under the current conditions. You can only energetically accomplish what you have the personal power to do, so your karpay is your capacity for pushing the kawsay. The quality and amount of energy you transmit and receive in a karpay as initiation is proportional to your own capacity for radiating and absorbing energy—which is another way of saying it is your personal power.

As one example of karpay in its “deep” meaning, consider that when you have a goal or desire you want to accomplish or realize, you can only fulfill that desire according to your karpay—the amount of personal power you have. Perhaps you want to start a business. But as you do, you find that you are running into many difficulties and making a lot of ill-timed or ill-conceived decisions. You can’t get the business up and running smoothly. Of the many factors that are influencing that turn of events, one may be your capacity to push the kawsay. If it is lacking then you just don’t have the power to accomplish that goal at that time. Realizing this, you can work to accumulate the personal power—and skills and talents and other factors; and of course, the cleansing of your poq’po and absorption of sami—to help you be successful next time you try.

Here’s another example, which demonstrates a different aspect of karpay as personal power. I remember Juan telling me about don Melchor offering him the karpay to the second level. He, don Melchor and don Melchor’s son, Marco, went up to Ausangate to do the karpay, but Marco got very sick and they had to return home and so did not get to do the initiation. Later, don Melchor expressed the opinion that Marco’s sickness was not due to any physical condition or outside factor but to his inner lack of energetic capacity—he did not have the personal power to deal with the intent and work of the initiation. His karpay was not sufficient.

One final example: When don Benito first saw a new client in his healing clinic, he would assess energetically both his capacity and the client’s for the healing. He might determine that the client needed to first see a physician before coming back to be treated by a paqo. Or he might see that this client was not “for his hand,” and so refer him or her to another paqo who was better suited to deal with this client’s problem. In certain ways, this process was don Benito’s assessment of his and his client’s karpays—his measure of Benito from Kathay Pelkey found online cropped 1his own personal power as it relates to this client and the client’s energetic capacity to participate in his or her own healing with don Benito.

We don’t often use the word karpay to refer to personal power, but that is at the heart of its meaning. When you think of karpay as an initiation, consider that at the root of this transfer of energy are two people and their capacities—one must have the personal power to transmit the energy and the other to receive it and use it well. Both are in an energetic exchange based on their measure of karpay at the time they are seeking to make the exchange and on their capacity to share that energy.

Now that you have a fuller appreciation for the word karpay and its meanings, you can better assess your own karpay. Pay attention to your root—yana chunpi and siki ñawi—in order to measure your personal power at the current time. Attend to your belly center—puka chunpi and qosqo ñawi—to remain aware of how you are engaging your main power center, the place from which you most interact energetically with the world. Bring awareness to the condition of your entire poq’po (your energy body) and use saminchakuy to cleanse and empower yourself.

Doing so will allow you to “see reality as it really is” in terms of your kapay. You will better know what you need to do to increase your energetic capacity so that you can more effortlessly push the kawsay to fulfill your goals and desires. Rather than seeking “initiations,” your more profitable work as a paqo is to accumulate personal power so that you can engage fully and wisely in the world of living energy and in the real, action-oriented, relationship-rich human world.



Walking as a Paqo through the Shadows of Self

“You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.”

– Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon

Conceptual abstract artificial intelligence with couple backgroundAt a recent workshop I was teaching, I mentioned that I think doing some psychological “shadow” work can propel you along the Andean path toward conscious evolution much faster.

If we are striving as paqos to be the grandest human beings, then we have to address all parts of ourselves, the conscious and unconscious. We both address our “wounds” and empower our Inka Seed by doing energy work, but it seems to go faster when we couple this energy process with psychological or emotional work.

What is the shadow? Broadly speaking, it is that part of you that drives your beingness below the level of your conscious awareness. It is everything within that you will not accept or acknowledge—or that you outright reject—about yourself. But it is also a repository for all of your unexamined and unlived gifts and talents.

Jung identifies many layers of consciousness, one of them being the ego. We are most familiar with the ego—the sense of “I.” Jung calls the ego a “field” of consciousness that encompasses all the “personal aspects of consciousness.” It is your experienced self, your empirical sense of self. The ego can both express the contents of self or repress them.

Two other fields of consciousness are the shadow and persona. As Murray Stein writes in Shadows of group of people with binary code backgroundJung’s Map of the Soul, “the shadow is the image of ourselves that slides along behind us as we walk toward the light. The persona, its opposite, is named after the Roman term for an actor’s mask. It the face we wear to meet the social world around us.”

Your ego is usually deaf, dumb, and blind to the shadow, although your ego uses the shadow. As Stein says, “In adapting and coping with the world , the ego, quite unwittingly, employs the shadow to carry out the unsavory operations that it could not perform without falling into moral conflict.”

The shadow, in one sense, is protective. It saves you from yourself. Your moral and ethical conflicts, your self-condemnations and self-reprisals, your fears and trepidations, and so much more of your “unlovable” self gets banished to your shadow so you don’t have to deal with it and can get on negotiating the terrain of your daily life. But even though your shadow is not perceived or experienced directly by your ego, the content of the shadow often finds its way out into the light of day through unexpected behavior and words. Like most of us, you may sometimes be surprised—even shocked—how you act and what you say. What did that come from? you wonder, referring to something embarrassing or hurtful you did or said. It came from your shadow self.

What you won’t or can’t own within yourself often gets projected out onto others. You may see in others, truly or falsely, what you cannot own within yourself. Any blanket prejudice—against a race, religion, gender, whatever—is usually rooted in your shadow. So are other kinds of behaviors. Can’t stand a blowhard who only talks about himself? Maybe you have that same egotistical quality but are too ashamed to own it. Can’t seem to ever make an appointment on time? Maybe there is a “self” inside that gets its satisfaction from deliberately keeping people waiting. Have a reckless sense of courage and daring? Maybe that is a shadow compensation (a gift, in one way) from a “self” within who is cowering in fear.

In so many ways, that which you call your “reality” is shaped by the projections of your Evolving Unityshadow. You can see, then, how important shadow work is to your endeavor as a paqo. One of your goals as a paqo is to be qaway—to see reality as it really is. If you are not exploring your shadow self, you cannot easily realize that goal.

Your shadow also is a bestower of talents and skills. As Debbie Ford, author of The Dark Side of the Light Chasers, writes, despite the truth that our shadow is the repository of what we deny about ourselves, our shadow holds “the essence of who we are.” It holds “our most precious gifts.” When we can bring these rejected or denied aspects of ourselves into the light, we can be transformed.

But this transformation can be a messy process. Jung says it can be a “suffering and a passion that implicate the whole person.” From the point of view of a paqo, it can be both a mystical and shamanic journey or rite of passage: mystical in that exploring the secret aspects of the self can be a liminal journey, at once both disorienting and illuminating; shamanic in that it can feel like a dismemberment of the self or even a death and then a reassembling or resurrection. The payoff is that this work can, in the words of Debbie Ford, “give us the blessing of our entire sel[f].”

As a paqo, you want to live as a whole human being. To do that you must accumulate personal power, realizing that personal power is about accessing more of the self. It is an inward driven pursuit of cleansing the hucha from your poq’po to be more of who you really are. Additionally, accumulating personal power is about being in more perfect ayni, which is an outward driven pursuit. It is always about relating to “other,” whether that other is the cosmos of living energy or a person or group. In this way, doing your shadow work can illuminate a series of core dyads: the inner and the outer, the individual and the collective, the human and the supernatural.  These are yanantin energies, the complement of the differences. When you bring harmony to a yanantin relationship, you can better achieve japu, the union of the two into something greater than the sum of the parts. This is the achievement of the fourth level of the paqo path, that of transcending boundaries without erasing them.

businesspeople silhouettesIn his book High Country: The Solo Seeker’s Guide to a Real Life, depth psychologist David M. Alderman quotes Cal Jung about the value of fostering union with the inner and outer self—the conscious and unconscious selves. As a paqo, you can think of this as a yanantin pursuit that reaches japu. “Through the union of the opposites within us, we are able to discover our true selves beyond what our conscious awareness alone could ever make of us. . . . Through the conscientious union of the opposites within us, the true self emerges spontaneously into the conscious light of day; the conscious ego-based ‘I’ is literally transcended, and in its place arises a real, self-renewing, living being.”

This post cannot teach you the various kinds of shadow work, but you can explore those yourself, as there are plenty of accessible books and I am developing a master class that combines shadow work with the Andean path. However, I hope that this post can help you realize the value of undertaking this work as part of your Andean path, for the bottom line is that you have to walk through your own shadowlands to reach the landscapes of light. . .