In the Andes we talk about working with “both hands,” meaning working the “right side” and the “left side” of the path. While paqos tend to be more adept at one side of the path or the other, the ideal is to integrate the powers of both. The word mast’ay refers to bringing order, usually in relation to making a despacho. But as runa mast’ay it means to bring order and wholeness to the self. It is about putting ourselves into order through more perfect ayni—offering ourselves (our intention and energy) as perfectly as possible to the kawsay pacha, or, as the Christianized tradition would say, to the Holy One. This process of restoring or fostering wholeness begins with mastering both “sides” Andean practice.
The Right Side of the Path
The right side of the path, paña, is often called the mystical side of the work. It is a path of yachay, or knowledge. This is the work of accumulating the personal power to be able to meet with and dialogue with the spirit beings by ourselves, with no need for an intermediary. We accumulate that power by cleansing our poq’pos (energy bodies) of hucha. The less hucha (and thus the more sami, or refined kawsay) we have, the clearer our intent, the more perfect our ayni, and the more effective our abilities are as paqos. The great teacher of ayni, and a core practice of the right side, is the despacho. The despacho at its core is always a tawantin, which is the symbol or structure of wholeness.
In addition to connecting you to the spirit beings, such as the apus, inti (the sun), and other nature spirits, the right side energies also connect you to the old master paqos and their lineage. This work is associated with the misha, the “power bundle” that usually contains khuyas (sacred stones and objects) gifted to you from teachers, acquired from other sources such as sacred sites, or selected because they are meaningful in your life. Your teachers, however, don’t only have to be humans. The apus—mountain spirits—especially are tutelary spirits. Paqos often are in “service” to one or more apus, which serve as their guiding stars. A paqo may also have a single celestial star as an anchor in this life and a guide to the next life. Being able to establish a relationship with, dialogue with, and learn from both human and spirit teachers is a mastery of right-side work.
While ayni (clear intent and a “clean” poq’po) is paramount to right-side work, most of this work is energetically initiated from the qosqo, the power center at the belly area. From the qosqo we send out seqes, cords of energy, that connect us with the world beyond ourselves. We can send cords across time and space, and these cords of energy can become conduits for the transfer of information. When I teach the paña workshop, I always send participants into the outdoors to play with their qosqo energy dynamics, practicing sending seqes to different kinds of “beings,” from a flower to a lawn chair to a buzzing bee. Most have fun with this exercise and then, I suspect, forget about it. They don’t continue to practice perceiving energy relationships after they leave the workshop. Not doing so ensures they will never master the right side of the path. Energy relations are everything in this tradition, and working with the qosqo to become exquisitely sensitive to energy connections is paramount to Andean practice. Honing this perceptual skill is a primary right-side pursuit.
We don’t just perceive through our qosqo, however. We “see” through all twelve of our ñawis (energetic eyes), although mostly through the seven primary ones (at the tailbone, belly, heart, throat, two physical eyes and seventh eye) and the four primary chunpis (belts of power). In fact, we perceive through our entire poq’po, making all kinds of connections through it. Juan joked once that our poq’pos look like porcupines because there are seqes emerging from all directions over the entirely of our energy bubbles.
The right side is the part of the path where we also work with the three worlds: the immaterial upper world (hanaq pacha), this material world (kay pacha) and the lower world (ukhu pacha). There are many ways to work these realms, but in this context it is about our ayni flows. We pull sami from the upper world (from the perfected spirit beings and the Holy One) or this world (from Mother Earth or the beings of nature) to empower ourselves. We send sami to the beings of the lower world, who don’t know ayni, to empower them.
The Left Side of the Path
The left side of the path, lloq’e, is often called the magical side. It’s the path of llank’ay—of action. It is magical in that we harness the supernatural inside of ourselves (energy and intention) to do work in the human, material, and natural world. Thus, whereas paña is the path of knowing, lloq’e is the path of doing. It’s all about the use of your personal power right here in the human world.
The left side is predominantly the path of healing and of the chunpis (belts of power). Each of the chunpis encodes or confers potential abilities. At the throat, there is rimay, the capacity to speak as who you really are; at the heart is munay, the capacity to choose love and compassion using your will, and kanay, the ability to know who you really are and live it; at the belly is khuyay, the capacity to engage the world and relationships with passion; and at the hip area is atiy, the ability to take right action at the right time according to knowing and living as who you really are and according to your amount of personal power (ayni).
The left side of the path fosters in us the ability to use our powers on behalf of ourselves and others. If you have personal power, as a paqo you are obligated to use it. You can do that in any number of ways: through offering a despacho, doing saminchakuy or hucha mikhuy on another’s energy body, and so on. One of the primary actions of the left side is healing. According to the Andean tradition, no one can trump another person’s will, so in reality all a healer can do is create the energetic conditions to help their client activate their own self-healing capacities. But the mechanism by which that happens is mysterious, often purely energetic (and thus invisible). That’s why healing can appear to be both magical and miraculous. In fact, this is partly why the left side is said to be an integration of the supernatual and the natural inside the human body.
In the lloq’e workshop, participants are taught to bring deep coherence to their poq’po and all the ñawis and chunpis. Even more important, perhaps, is the goal of weaving our energy body into a single system. For most practitioners, their energy body is compartmentalized. The separate parts of the energetic anatomy have not been integrated into a whole. They may be adept at communicating their knowledge, and so working through the belt at the throat, but unable to manage or communicate their emotions (at the belly). In the left-side work, we weave everything together so that we can work at mastering all of our gifts and all three human powers (yachay or knowledge, munay or love, and llank’ay or actions). You can think of this state as the difference between being a skeleton that is a collection of connected bones and a body that is interwoven together with muscles, tendons, nerves, and so on. There is some connectivity in the first state, but it doesn’t hum with life yet. In the lloq’e work as well we enlist the wisdom and assistance of eight spirit helpers. They hold the space for capacities within that are as yet underdeveloped in us. They model for us ways of being and doing in all spheres of our humanness.
To fully develop as a paqo and, more importantly, as a human being, we have choose conscious evolution and use the tools that help us evolve. This information provides a basic overview of the right and left sides of the Andean path and how they, together, can help us achieve the fullness of being . It is more than enough information, I hope, both to persuade you that it pays to know about both sides of the path and to motivate you to learn to work with both “hands.”