The word karpay in the Andean mystical tradition refers to an initiation, but if we dive deeper, 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.
Your 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 his 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.