Message of the Chakanas

Four is the sacred number of the Andean mystical system, and the most sacred representation of this sacred number is the Andean cross—the chakana. It, in turn, is Island of the Sun compresseda symbol of the most sacred energy dynamic of the Andean mystical tradition— the tawantin. The tawantin represents four factors that are harmonized, thus creating wholeness. The chakana is the Peruvian version of a mandala, a sacred geometrical symbol found the world over in wisdom traditions. The mandala image always has four “gates” that lead to a center—often a circle, which represents the integration of the energy that comes through the four gates into one of wholeness. The chakana shown here, from a temple on the Island of the Moon in Lake Titicaca, shows the four-armed mandala-like chakana.

Stepping one category of meaning down in symbolism, the chakana also has a “threeness” to it. Each of the four arms of the cross has three “steps” on it. There are a plethora of meaningful associations, but two of the most important are the three worlds and the three human powers. The three worlds are the hanaqpacha (upper world), kaypacha (this material, physical world), and the ukhupacha (the lower or inner world). The three human powers are yachay (thought, reason, intellect, perception), munay (feelings, love under your will), and llank’ay (action). Interestingly, these three human powers are really a tawantin, as llank’ay can be broken down into two powers: khuyay (passion, focused engagement in the world) and atiy (measuring your personal power, timing action, bringing your impulses under your will).

Finally, all Andean wakas (repositories of the sacred, most often a carved stone formation) and spirit beings, and particular symbols such as the chakana, are seen as being either male or female. The chakana is considered a female energy.

What’s interesting is that when you see chakanas built or carved into the stone walls in Andean temples, they are not always full chakanas. Sometimes they are halved and facing in different directions. What’s that about? Is there any significance to this kind of representation? As you can guess, there is. The direction the half chakana is facing tells us as paqos what kind of work to do at that temple or waka.

There are specific kinds of practices at particular temples and wakas that I can’t go into here—such as the series of practices to activate the hummingbird energy at Machu Picchu—but from the direction of the half chakana you will be able to know what the general intended type of work is. (Note: The four images that immediately follow are all rotations—adjusted for illustrative purposes—of a single left-facing half chakana from a temple wall at Ollantaytambo, the Temple of the Wind.)

A downward-facing half chakana indicates that the work is a form of saminchakuy. Saminchakuy is a downward flow of the light living energy called sami (the practice half chakana cropped down facing cropped compressedmight not necessarily involve hucha release). So, the work you might do here would involve pulling sami down from the hanaqpacha, the  cosmos or the Pachamama (as the material universe), or from an apu or waka to the self or through the self. You might work with that flow of sami to empower yourself, to do an actual hucha-releasing full saminchakuy practice, to support or cleanse one or more of your mystical eyes (ñawis), to connect with your Inka Seed, or to empower or cleanse one or more of your chunpis (energetic belts) if you have woven them into your poq’po (energy body). You might also be pulling sami down from one or more of the teqse apukuna (univeral spirit beings), such as the sun, wind, rain, or moon. Using this energy, you can stimulate the capacities of specific ñawis that are associated with that teqse apukuna, such as the energy of the sun (Tayta Into) to the heart/sonqo or the energy of the wind (Tayta Wayra) to the ñawi of the neck. You also can be working masintin and/or yanantin energies (similar or dissimilar energies) to create a specific aspect of energetic harmony within the self. If you have “built” the four energetic staffs (red, gold, black and silver) within, you might work with the sami and one or more of the staffs.

The upward-facing half chakana indicates that the work is a form of saiwachakuy. Inhalf chakana cropped up facing compressed saiwa work, we pull sami up from the earth or from a nearby waka to the self or through the self for empowerment. You might intend to support or empower one or more of your ñawis, your Inka Seed, or to fill and empower one or more of your chunpis if you have woven them into your poq’po. The work here can also be a masintin or yanantin practice, or, as in the saminchakuy work, integrating energy with one or more of the energetic staffs.

A left-facing half chakana indicates a form of lloq’e practice—working the left side of the path. Perhaps that will be work with the eight helpers, the chunpis, or the staffs if you have made them. It might be a healing practice, since healing is considered half chakana cropped left facing compressed.jpgworking the left-side of the misha (mesa) and path. It helps to understand the ancient use and meaning of the entire sacred site—or the specific temple—at which the chakana is located, as this will help you determine the specific practice to do or the purpose of the practices you do there. But generally lloq’e work involves llank’ay—taking action, supporting and empowering your ability to take right and proper action in the world, which means you have to be empowered to do so. Intention to act is not enough. You have to have accumulated the personal power to successfully complete your intended action. That’s the focus of the left-side of the path, whether talking about clarity of intentions and then the expression of  those thought, words, or actions.

The right facing half chakana indicates that the work is a form of paña practice, which is the right side of the path. The right-side practices focus on energetic half chakana cropped right facing compressed.jpgperception, cleansing, harmonizing, communicating, group work, and such. So perhaps the work will involve saminchakuy (empowering by drawing in the sami of the waka while releasing your hucha to the earth). Or it might involve working the sami to empower your sonqo (feelings and heart) or your Inka Seed. It might be establishing connections with or integrating energies from spirit beings, working in one or all of the three worlds, or working in ayni (reciprocity) through the misha or despachos. Again, it helps to understand the ancient use and meaning of the entire sacred site or specific temple at which the chakana is located, as this also will help you determine the type of practice to do there.

Here is an example of the work you might do at an actual site with a half-chakana. This photo is of a part of the Temple of the Three Windows at Machu Picchu. Let’s look at all the information that is available to us just by looking at these two side-by-half chakana temple of three windows cropped compressedside wakas—the upward-facing half chakana and the tall columnar stone.

There are two clues here that this is a site at which we will do saiwa work: the upward-facing half chakana directs you to pull sami up from the earth. The column is itself literally a saiwa in stone. (Saiwa means “column,” although a saiwa can also take the form of a cord of energy, called a seqe.) So both wakas indicate saiwa work. Then we notice that we are dealing with a pairing of energies: the chakana is considered female and the stone saiwa male. That is a good clue that the work will involve making a yanantin energy (the harmonizing of dissimilar energies, in this case male and female). This leads us to one of the actual saiwa practices we do here, which is to pull the feminine sami energy of this upward-facing half chakana up through the waka, to us and into our poq’po. Maintaining that connection, we turn our attention and intention to the  columnar stone waka with its male energy and we pull that male energy from the waka to us and into our poq’po. We then harmonize or integrate the two energies to form a yanantin within.

We’ll look at one more example. This is a picture of a water “fountain” or “bath”—The Bath of the Princess—at Ollantaytambo, the Temple of the Wind. Even though the general work of the entire sanctuary, as its name makes clear, is to work with Tayta Wayra, Father Wind, there is other work to be done here. There are manyBath of Princess chakana Ollantaytambo compressed fountains scattered throughout the temple grounds. So both these pieces of information provide a clue as what to do here.

The entire temple is dedicated to Tayta Wayra, Father Wind, who is a male spirit being (a teqse apu, or universal spirit being). Water wakas, like this bath or fountain, are almost always considered ñust’as, or princesses, and are female energetically. It’s a safe bet then that a lot of masintin and yanantin work is done at this sacred site. You can work specifically with the wind. You can work specifically with the water (ñust’as). Depending on your gender, that work would be masintin or yanantin (i.e., a man working with the wind = masintin; a woman working with the wind = yanantin). So there are all kinds of personal masintin and yanantin practices that could be done here. Or you could work more holistically with the entire site, working both waka energies (wind and water) as a yanantin in relation to each other.

Moving from the general meaning of the sanctuary to the specific wakas within it, we can then do work at the individual wakas (baths) according to the clues they provide. The Bath of the Princess shown in the photo above is carved with an upward-facing chakana. This indicates saiwa work, pulling the energy of the ñust’a up from the depths of the water and then into the self and your poq’po. This can be the work of empowerment. Or perhaps of clarifying perception and communication with the spirit of the waka, establishing a connection with the ñust’a. But you also know from your work as a paqo that water is one of the great eaters of hucha. So in an ayni exchange, you could then send your hucha back down a seqe and into the water, cleansing your poq’po.

As you can see, the sacred sites are not just beautifully carved stone temples and wakas. Through their design they are communicating with us paqos, alerting us to the type of work we might be expected to do at that sanctuary.