The Energy Dynamics of Saminchakuy

Recently, as part of a discussion in a monthly Paqo Practice group that I and Christina Allen host, a question came up about how literally we should take the imagery we use to describe the energy flows of our main practice, saminchakuy. It’s an important question, and one that is not as simple to answer as it might appear on first look. I am going to attempt an answer in this post. The Paqo Practice group is comprised of experienced paqos, so here I will do my best to define terms and explain things in a way that I hope won’t lose those of you who are new to or less experienced on the path.

As you may know, saminchakuy means to make sami or to work with sami. Sami is the light living energy, the life-force energy that empowers us. We are always absorbing sami and moving it through us, although because of our emotions, life experiences, beliefs, and such we can be out of sync with the flowoutdoors shower of sami, slowing down or blocking some of this empowering energy. This slowed or blocked sami is called hucha, or heavy energy. Hucha is sami that has lost some of its transformative power.

The intention of the saminchakuy practice is to release or transform our hucha, and don Benito Qoriwaman used the metaphor of standing under a shower. The water (sami, nectar of the universe) flows down and over us and washes our heaviness downward. Like water going down a drain, our heaviness flows down off of our energy body and into Mother Earth, and She transforms this slow sami—this hucha—back to its natural state.

Although there are many ways to describe the practice of saminchauy, the following is a basic way that is used to explain it to people learning the technique for the first time. The instruction may start with a suggestion to open the top of your poq’po (energy bubble) and send a seqe (cord of energy) up out of your poq’po to connect with the hanaq pacha (upper world) or cosmos. You then allow a stream of sami to flow down over your bubble and through you, and you perceive that downward flow of the light living energy. As it flows down, you open the bottom of your poq’po and send a seqe out and down into Mama Allpa, or Mother Earth, and establish a deep connection with Her. You intend that your hucha (which is mostly on the surface of your poq’po) be touched by the sami flowing over your bubble, and the hucha that can be speeded back up to sami will be. The hucha that is not ready to be transformed goes down to Mother Earth, who composts it, or transforms it back into its natural state of sami. Then, when you are done, you intend to disconnect the seqe to the hanaq pacha, pull it back to yourself, and close the top of your poq’po. The cessation of the flow of sami signals your intention to stop the hucha release, and at this point, you can do one of two things. You can retract the cord from Mother Earth and close the bottom of your bubble, finishing the saminchakuy practice. Or, you can transition to a saiwachakuy to continue to empower yourself. In that case, you keep the bottom of your poq’po open and the seqe in place, and you begin pulling up the sami of Mother Earth to further support and strengthen yourself. When you are done with that practice, then you retract the seqe and close the bottom of your bubble.

The question asked in our group was how literally we should take the words and concepts of the “cord” and the “opening” or “closing” of the poq’po. There are two ways of answering this question, one way based on a third-level approach of practicing and understanding the tradition and another way based on a fourth-level approach. I can’t go into great detail about the differences between the third and fourth levels. Suffice it to say that at the third-level we are more literal, imagistic, and even almost schematic in the way we see and do things. At the fourth level, we look beyond the explanations to the intrinsic energy dynamics, where word labels and images like “cord” and descriptions like “open” or “close” your poq’po hands puzzle compressed connect-2777620_1920become transformed through a more abstract but perceptual understanding of the dynamics those words are trying to describe.

Let me be clear that understanding and working the tradition through a fourth-level lens is a translation of the tradition based in part on Western knowledge and intellectual traditions, such as psychology and science. The paqos wouldn’t explain things as I am about to. But, nothing in the alternative way I am going to describe the practice of saminchakuy changes the actual practice or its goals. I trust that it will enhance our understanding of the deep-down energy dynamics.

We make this kind of translation because, as don Juan Nuñez del Prado says, we are not Andean paqos. We are “Western” practitioners who live in a completely different social, cultural, intellectual, and technological world than do most contemporary rural Andeans and the paqos of old. While what the paqos impart through their practices and teachings is applicable to all human beings, we use these practices in the context of a far different life than do the paqos. Many of the paqos of old were “fourth-level” paqos, and yet they still would not have described concepts such a seqe or the poq’po as I am about to.

I owe my own understanding of the tradition from the fourth level to my primary teacher, don Juan Nuñez del Prado. For that, I am thankful. Although, I also need to stress that what I write here is my own interpretation of his basic teachings, a personal interpretation that grows out of his immense wisdom in translating the tradition in ways that are incredibly enlightening and useful for those of us who practice this tradition in our “Western” cultures. As a final point, although describing saminchakuy using third-level descriptors can help us learn how to do the practice, it is my belief that true mastery comes with incorporating a fourth-level understanding of the energy dynamics.

Let me begin by stating outright that seqes and poq’pos are real. We work with them. Don Juan Nuñez del Prado has said there are only two core images for the entire tradition: seqes and poq’pos. Literally translated, it is a tradition that works with “cords” of energy and “bubbles” of energy (energy bodies or energy fields). That’s true, and it doesn’t get any clearer or more definitive than that! But just what cords and bubbles actually are varies according to our perception, and at the fourth level of perception, we get beyond the images to pure energy dynamics. To explain, I am going to define each of the main concepts and briefly discuss their energy dynamics from both the third-level and fourth-level perceptions. Just from these descriptions you should be able to get a good handle on the two perceptual views.

Seqe

Third level: A seqe is a cord or line that you communicate energetically along or through. It is a cord of energy that you extend out of yourself and your energy body to connect with something (such as the cosmos, an apu, a sanctuary, another person). Once you have established the connection, you can either send energy out from yourself along the seqe or receive energy from the other entity back to yourself along the seqe. Seeing a seqe in its most literal form as an actual energy cord is seeing it rather like ainteresting conversation telephone landline wire or an electrical transmission line that carries energy through itself. If there is no seqe, there can be no connection and thus no transmission in either direction.

Fourth level: A seqe is not a literal cord that must be laid down first before you can send energy along it. It is the energy flow itself. It is a way to describe any particular flow or stream of energy. During saminchakuy, you use your will and intent, consciousness and awareness, to drive a stream of energy in a certain direction for a specific purpose. However, it’s important to realize that each of us is always making energetic connections by sending out energy and receiving energy, although mostly we are unconscious to these exchanges. These are still seqes, except they are unconscious flows we send out or receive. Whether we are conscious or unconscious, the flow of energy from us or to us is a seqe.

Poq’po

Third level: A poq’po is your energy body, a bubble of energy that surrounds and interpenetrates your physical body and that has a defined area, with an outer boundary. It is the metaphysical counterpart to your physical body.

Fourth level: Your poq’po is a field of information and energy that surrounds and interpenetrates your physical body. You don’t form your own personal poq’po until you are born, and it develops in complexity of energetic content as you develop. It is a defined field that is influenced by and imprinted with the information that comprises your psyche, or mind. It is, in a sense, the energetic container of your personality, your humanness. It is imprinted with the qualia that make you who you are (and different from anyone else). Qualia is a term from psychology that has many meanings, the simplest of which is “this is who you are because this is what you sense and feel about yourself and the world.” The qualia reflect how you make meaning in life. Your poq’po is an energetic field informed by your mental and emotional reactions and perceptions of being alive in the world and in relationship with others. Qualia include your physical sensations and mental and emotional perceptions, from how you see the color blue to your emotional pain or pleasure to the memories that arise when you smell coffee brewing in the morning to the kind of people you value as being worthwhile to form relationships with. Your poq’po is imprinted with all of your life experiences, thoughts, emotions, beliefs, and so it encodes how much sami you carry and how much hucha. As you can imagine, your poq’po is incredibly dynamic, and it changes as your sense of being changes.

Opening and Closing Your Poq’po

Third level: Literally, in saminchakuy, when you “open” the top of your poq’po, you can imagine a tiny point or opening through which you send a seqe (a cord from the third-level perspective) out of your energy body and upwards to establish a connection with the hanaq pacha to pull sami down and to yourself. Or, conversely, you can “open” the bottom of your poq’po to send a cord down into the Earth to connect with Mama Allpa and pull her sami up and into you. To end the practice, you disconnect the seqe/cords and “close” your bubble.

Fourth level: We are not literally “opening” the top or bottom of our poq’po, but opening ourselves, our beingness and flowing energy or receiving enegy consciously. Think of “opening” as “being willing” to work with energy, to undertake the process of conscious interchange; and “closing” as consciously deciding to end the practice. Remember, we are always flowing sami through us. If we weren’t, we wouldn’t be alive. But when we direct our attention—when we decide to use our will and intent to do something energetically—we have to “open” ourselves to sharing or to receiving. In saminchakuy, we are using intention to direct a concentrated stream of sami over and through ourselves, willingly allowing ourselves (all of ourselves, our poq’po or psyche and our body) to be touched by sami’s transformative power. When we “close” our bubble, we aren’t really closing anything. We are just intending or deciding to stop the flow of energy, to end the practice.

I hope from these definitions and discussions, you can see with new eyes and perceive in new ways both what a seqe is and what you are doing during saminchakuy, or during any energy practice for that matter. Understanding saminchakuy at the third level helps us to visualize what is going on. It simplifies the process so we can more easily learn it. Once we do learn it, however, it is empowering to understand it from a fourth-level perspective, to feel in a deeply perceptual way the energy interactions we have initiated. As I said, we are always consciously and unconsciously sending and receiving flows of energy (seqes), and saminchakuy is a fully conscious practice. It is a time-specific application of will and intention for the restructuring (mast’ay) of our own beingness through the action of sami to unblock or transform our hucha.

Pachamama Raymi: August 1 Ceremony

The Festival of Mother Earth, Pachamama Raymi, takes place on August 1 and is a day to celebrate the bounty, blessings, and support of Mother Earth. For paqos, however, it is a day of ceremonial significance.August 1 calendaar I have written about this auspicious day in the past (posts of July 1, 2015 and July 9, 2019) and today I write again, with additional suggestions for how to work the energies of this energetic and ceremonial “New Year’s Day” for paqos. It’s a kind of New Year’s Day, because it is said that it is the day the Earth (Mama Allpa) and the mountain spirits (apus) are “awakened” most attentively to our ayni, intentions, and offerings. However, our offerings are not only to Mother Earth and the apus, but to the all-encompassing Pachamama, the Mother of the Manifest World, and to the Kawsay Pacha, the living universe.

On August 1, we set aside some personal time to do a deep hucha clearing and then to drop into our Inka Seed and move our energy in the spirit of kanay, of who we really are as spirits and as souls (as “divine” energetic beings and as earthly human beings). We act with khuyay (a deep, sincere engagement) and speak with rimay (expressing with integrity and power our personal experience and sense of beingness).

In this post, I am not going to repeat the ceremonies detailed in the other two posts, but will offer additional ideas for how to make this a deeply personal and meaningful day of reverence and connection both within and without the self. However, I do urge you to look at the past posts, especially the July 9, 2019 post, to review what I consider an essential part of the work of this day: the stating of intention for the coming year using the “I am what I speak, not what I have spoken” rimay statement from the late Q’ero don Julian Pauqar Flores.

The work of this day is that of mast’ay, a reordering or restructuring of the self. It is also a conscious Flowering compressed AdobeStock_30430837renewal of the self. As we do our daily mystical work, such as saminchakuy and saminchakuy, we are, of course, restructuring and renewing ourselves. On this day, however, we are going deeper to embrace more consciously our connection to our Inka Seed so that we can express ourselves back out in the world with greater grandeur, beauty, and power. We also nurture our potential—the fullness of ourselves as held within our Inka Seed—and empower our capacity to continue our journey up the qanchispatañan, the stairway of the stages of human development, prepping ourselves to one day express the sixth-level state of being, that of an enlightened human being. Or even reaching the seventh level, which is ranti with Taytanchis: god expressed in our human form.

Beyond the work I describe in the previous posts, you may choose other practices to revisit on this day, choosing according to your state of being and the condition of your life as they are right now. Remember, we don’t do ceremony for ceremony’s sake. We don’t work through the whole menu of practices just because they are available. We drop into ourselves, clarify our intention and ayni, and then choose specific practices according to our needs at the moment. In addition, it is the quality of our ayni that matters, not how many practices we do. As don Juan Ñunez del Prado once said, if you are seated in your Inka Seed and flowing in integrity with your ayni, then there can be more power in a single k’intu you make and offer than in an entire elaborate despacho.

The suggestions below are all practices from what I call the “Foundation Training” in Andean mysticism. If you have not taken that training, some of these practices may be unfamiliar to you. Once again, the practices discussed below are ones you might consider for your Pachamama Day ceremony that go beyond saminchakuy and saiwachakuy, working with your misha, offering a despacho, using rimay to state new intentions (using don Julian’s incantation), and recapitulating the past to rebirth yourself as a whole, healed human being situated anew in the present moment (wachay) and other practicesFran another despacho cropped mentioned in the previous posts.

Chunpi Away and Ñawi K’ichay: Pachamama Day is a great time to reweave the chunpis and reactivate your ñawis. The chunpis are energetic “belts of power” that surround our physical body and “hook up” the mystical eyes, our ñawis, into an interconnected whole and integrated system. The belts do not exist until we weave them, and their power is not inherent in themselves but in their capacity to wire together our ñawis. That is their primary function. In contrast, everyone is born with a mystical body, including the ñawis, although most people don’t know about, and thus don’t learn to use, their mystical eyes. The chunpis fade over time, so we are wise to reweave them at least once a year. This helps keep the interconnections among the ñawis strong and vibrant. At the end of the practice, when your wasi (poq’po and body) is filled with the violet energy of the cosmos, sit in ayni with the living universe free of all seqes to anything or anyone outside of yourself, drop into your Inka Seed, and remember who you really are, which reenergizes your kanay for the coming year.

Yanapakuna: During the Foundation Training, in the work of the left-side, we choose eight helper spirits as prototypes of the seven stages of the qanchispatañan. They help tune us to these levels. They hold the space for those potentials that lie in wait within us to be developed. During your ceremony on Pachamama Day, work through the practices of tuning with your yanapakuna, moving them down through the ñawis in the series of practices we do in the lloq’e training to tune our qaway (three upper eyes capacity), rimay (kunka ñawi capacity), khuyay (qosqo ñawi capacity), and atiy (siki ñawi capacity). Or, work with one or more of your helper spirits to tune and charge yourself in specific ways: choose the spirit at the level of consciousness development that you most need to be empowered by at this time of your life. You can even invite that helper to sit in the seat of your Inka Seed and speak its wisdom to you, guiding you to solve a problem or providing insight into how to fulfill a dream or desire. Finally, be the tusoq and have some Pachamama Raymi (festival) fun by dancing and singing your helpers, allowing them to tune you as you embrace them in the spirit of playfulness (pukllay).

Inka Muyu and Sonqo: Revisit the left-side practice of activating your Inka Seed, filling yourself with the Heart energy human compressed AdobeStock_110062650nectar of its sami. Then stream this sami up to connect with your sonqo, and as your will and your feelings integrate through munay, reexperience the profound sense of the “real” you. Feel the munay and claim it as your love for yourself, as the way your Inka Seed/Spirit and Creator love you just as you are right now. Allow the integrated munay of your Inka Seed and sonqo to fill you, and allow your Inka Seed—the wisdom at the center of your Self—to counsel and advise you.

Other practices to consider are the Mallki practice, by which you build the sacred tree and tune yourself to and touch your sixth-level energy potential. Or, the Tawantin practice whereby you align your cool and warm energy centers, integrating them in masintin pairs through the sami of Mama Allpa, and then integrating them as yanantin pairs to generate the wondrous tawantin energy, the energy of harmony and wholeness. Use that tawantin energy to integrate all aspects of yourself and touch the energy of your tawantin potential for inner and outer wholeness. You can even infuse the two spinning disks you have created from the energies of these centers with an intention that you project out into the living universe as you turn yourself into a living despacho. As a final suggestion for a practice, you could revitalize your connection to your Amaru, raising your power and reinvigorating yourself through your personal karpay.

In the fourth-level way of practicing as a paqo, we are not energy technicians, but energy artists. We each can honor our uniqueness as a Drop of the Mystery by creatively expressing ourselves in our own way during this day of ayni ceremony. We each have a different karpay and so must discover the best way to reach forward in time and space to touch (and own) our personal potential.

No matter which series of practices we decide to incorporate into our Pachamama Day ceremony to let go of our personal hucha and foster our continuing development, we mustn’t lose sight of the fact that it is a day of ayni with the spirit beings who are always there to support and guide us. So, in addition to doing our own work, let us incorporate into our ceremony a sweet ayni exchange with the Earth, the apus, and other spirit beings for all the blessings they bestow upon us.

A Paqo’s Approach to Resilience

When we do our daily practice of saminchakuy, we are releasing our heavy energy and refining our ability to more perfectly absorb sami, the light living energy. When we add in saiwachakuy, we are allowing Mother Earth to support, strengthen, and empower us with her sami. According to don Juan Nuñez del Prado, one benefit from among the many benefits of both practices is that we increase our capacity for resiliency. We become more flexible in our response to troubling outer circumstances and our own inner dissonance. We can bounce back from challenges, external and internal, more quickly. Energetically and emotionally, we are able to be more like martial artists: no matter how severely buffeted we are by traumas and turmoil, we are not thrown badly off balance, but instead land in alignment with our center.

Resilience, in this sense, is dependent on qaway, on our ability to see reality as it really is, which means with some measure of equanimity. There are two common definitions of equanimity: “mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation” and “an ability to recover from oralone- Cropped Pixabay ga78d69bf7_1920 adjust easily to misfortune or change.” Through qaway, we acknowledge the “reality” of what is happening “out there” and “in here,” without distorting it or denying it, and through that clarity we achieve a measure of energetic detachment that allows us to choose a nimble, efficient, productive, and appropriate response. Sometimes that appropriate response is choosing to be non-reactive and logical, or displaying self-restraint and tempering our emotions, words, and actions. Sometimes it is expressing our will by forcefully establishing a boundary and saying “No!” or it is giving ourselves up to our grief or despair and allowing ourselves to feel this excruciating moment of our humanness. Qaway lets us be who we really are and see others and the world for who and what they really are—admittedly not so easy a task since we so often are operating from our psychological shadows and being triggered or are projecting onto others—and resilience allows us to deal what is and not be resistant to it or slayed by it.

I have been thinking about resilience lately in light of world events, from global issues such as the ongoing pandemic and the war in Ukraine to national tragedies such as the plethora (epidemic) of gun violence and mass murder in the United States. The poet and novelist Maya Angelou, now deceased, lived in the next town over from me. I read her works in school, but I observed her demeanor in person. The few times I interacted with her or observed her, I was always aware of an aura of calmness and centeredness about her. She had a difficult life, and one of her most quoted lines comes from her lived experience and her resiliency to life experiences: “I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.” Those two sentences capture the essence of what it means to be resilient.

A closely related view was expressed by Helen Keller, “Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.” We certainly can overcome things, sometimes in truly amazing and nearly unbelievable ways. It’s an achievement to be a “survivor,” which is different from thinking we are “victors,” although overcoming something surely is its own kind of victory. We can survive and be reduced and still not have lost ourselves or a sense of our kanay, of who we really are and of the potential of our Inka Seed. But without resilience—the ability to recover and adjust—it seems almost impossible to overcome any significant challenge or tragedy with our humanness intact, or at least significantly unscathed.

I think the underlying struggle many of us face when we reflect upon the many difficult and even tragic world and national events occurring right now is not the struggle to reconcile good and evil or right and Celebrating you compressed cropped AdobeStock_73874996wrong, but the challenge of keeping conscious our choice for resiliency over resignation.

When we frame difficulties and even traumas in terms of resilience, which keeps resignation at bay, we can see that what we are witnessing in our world represents more of the energy of “overcoming” than of “succumbing.” What is the world rallying around in the Ukrainian people if not their incredible displays of resilience? Why are we praying for the parents of murdered school children except that they can marshal their resilience in the face of such heartrending loss? When we choose to do saminchakuy every day, or even hucha miqhuy, what are we seeking more of except the personal power to follow the inner compass of our Inka Seed, which directs us through our dark nights of the soul to the light of our greater capacities, even of our human grandeur?

The human world—the kay pacha—is a world of both sami and hucha. We are beings of both sami and hucha. And yet we have within our mystical body two centers of pure sami: our Inka Seed (the seat of our will) and our sonqo ñawi (the eye of our heart/feelings). Through them we both feel and we choose. At the two extremes, we feel despair or hope, and we choose defeat or we strive. Together, I think, they are the source of our resiliency: through their power we navigate the in-between spaces, where the bulk of life plays out. Together, as the source of our resiliency, they are what pull us up, up, up no matter what is trying to pull us down, down, down. They are what allow us to marshal our personal power and declare, once again quoting Maya Angelou: “You may shoot me with your words, / You may cut me with your eyes, / You may kill me with your hatefulness, / But still, like air, I’ll rise.”

Announcing Shamans Directory: One Fire, One Medicine

Healers and teachers from around the world. You are invited to step up and step in!

It is time to bring our collective healing Fire Imageand spiritual wisdom together from all corners of our precious planet. Humanity needs our medicine now more than ever for global awakening and transformation.

Shamans Directory is a new online portal for services that bridge the ancient, sacred, shamanic, and mystical arts. Whether you call yourself a medicine person, ceremonialist, shamanic or mystical practitioner, healer, energy worker, teacher of the sacred arts, priest or priestess, or plant medicine ethnobotanist, you are invited to share your medicine with others.

If you already belong to other directories, the Shamans Directory team extends you a warm welcome to join them here as well. This is more than a directory: it is a mission, a vision, and a community gathered around one fire.

The collective “One fire, One medicine” vision is already held by ambassadors from around the world:

– Angaangack Angakkorsuaq, Ice Wisdom, Greenland
– Anja Mays, Ice Wisdom, Germany
– Bhola Nath Banstola, Bhola Nepal Shaman, Nepal
– Christina Allen, Austin Shamanic Center, USA
– Don Gino Cocchella, Chaka-Runa, Peru
– Diana Beaulieu, Sacred Woman Awakening & Soulrise, Spain
– Don Mariano Quispe Flores, Serena Anchanchu, Peru
– Elio Geusa, Aya Healing Retreats, Peru
– Elizabeth B Jenkins, Global Paqo School, Hawaii
– Imelda Almqvist, Pregnant Hag Teachings, UK
– Joan Parisi Wilcox, Qenti Wasi, USA
– Jocelyn Star Feather, We Are Sacred Planet, USA
– John McKinnon, Shamanic Voyages, USA
– Jyoti Ma, Mother Earth Delegation & The Fountain, USA
– Katherine Skaggs, USA
– Lei’ohu Reyder and Maydeen ‘Iao, Hawaii
– Luis Alejo Mango, Serena Anchanchu, Peru
– Mother Earth Delegation of United Original Nations, Earth
– Puma Quispe Singona, Noqan Kani, Peru
– Roel Crabbe, Anam Cara, Belgium
– Veda Austin, New Zealand/USA
– Wake Wheeler, Sacred Pathways, USA
– Zahra Indigo Rønlov, Sacred Witness, USA

These ambassadors and the founders of Shamans Directory, Tricia Bennett and Mayumi Beckers and their team, invite you to join them around the global fire, become a member of Shamans Directory, and make your contribution to igniting powerful transformation.

Learn more and register at http://www.shamansdirectory.com

Please tell your friends and colleagues about this new directory, and invite them to join and make their contribution as well. “One fire, One medicine.”

#shamansdirectory #onefireonemedicine #callingallshamans #shamansunited

Apus as Sources of Power

In my last post (April 8), we took a look at how not all apus are mountains and not all mountains are apus. In this post, we will consider how both mountain apus and non-mountain apus can be sources of power for us, aiding us in our personal conscious development.

Let’s start by acknowledging that we are not Andean paqos. We are American, French, Spanish, British, mishas compressed IMG_4625Thai, Swedish, Mexican, South African practitioners of the Andean mystical tradition. The concept of apus as paqos who after their physical death inhabit mountains to serve as guides and teachers to human beings in one sense is purely cultural, a concept indigenous to the Andes. In another sense, the apus can be “translated” into a concept that is universal, as just about every tradition or culture recognizes that natural formations can be “sacred” sites. We can make a literal equivalence to the concept of Andean apus as mountain spirits and sources of power by identifying those mountains in our area or country that have historically been recognized as being special, sacred, or otherwise called out in some uncommon way. If we trace the history of the First Nation peoples in our area, we will likely find that they related to certain mountains (and other natural formations) in ways distinct from other natural features. That’s a clue that they in some way venerated that mountain (venerated as in “esteemed” rather than “worshipped”). If that is the case, then we, too, can establish a relationship with that mountain as a source of power. From the Andean perspective, there is no issue of cultural appropriation, as sources of power are available to all human beings. We use our Andean energy dynamics to access that power, rather than appropriating the rituals of the local cultural group who might be most associated with that mountain or sacred site.

What do I mean by a “source of power”? In terms of the Andean tradition, this mountain or natural formation is a source of sami, of the life-force energy. From the Andean mystical perspective, everything in nature is sami, but “sacred” sites, including apus, are considered to be collectors of sami, so they concentrate sami and can act as runa micheqs, or shepherds of human beings. We can work with them as particularly robust generators of sami and also as beings who can teach and guide us.

Let’s look briefly at mountain apus as guides for human beings. Don Juan Nuñez del Prado says, “The apus are real beings. You can talk with them. They can talk to you. They can teach you.” How do we connect with a mountain apu as a teaching or guiding spirit? The same way we develop any relationship, by establishing a personal connection with it. We introduce ourselves and allow the apu to relate back to us. Don Juan explained this to me in very direct terms: “How do you do it? You meet me and I meet you. After I meet you [and spend some time talking with you], I can say I know who Joan Parisi Wilcox is!” The Andean energy dynamics are that simple and direct. We don’t need to do elaborate rituals; we just needNew Apu wilkanusta Veronica to be ourselves and establish a personal ayni relationship with the spirit beings, including with apus.

From the fourth level of practice, however, the apus are more than literal mountain spirit beings. An apu can be any source of power—a temple or sanctuary, or a statue or other physical symbol of importance in the development of a place, people, and culture. We are always absorbing sami, and we can “charge” ourselves and increase our well-being by taking in the sami that is especially concentrated through this form of “apu.” Taking in this concentrated sami helps us to release our hucha (heavy energy) more quickly, and it strengthens and invigorates us. The more sami-filled we are, the more easily we can progress up the qanchispatañan, the stairway of the seven stages or levels of human conscious development. This less literal kind of apu can serve as an engine of power for our personal development. Remember, the fourth-level approach to practicing the tradition is based on the view that our poq’po, our energy body or energy bubble, is more than energy—it is an information field that can be equated to our psyches, our minds. Our energy work is all about restructuring ourselves, improving ourselves, stepping up the qanchispatañan of consciousness.

Don Ivan Nuñez del Prado beautifully explains the more abstract way we can think about what we are doing when we connect with either an actual apu or with the less literal form, such as a sacred site or other non-mountain structure (or even a person). “[When I think] of the relationship between us and the earth, with places of power and so on—for me, this is your projection, as those places are going to stimulate some part of your psyche. They will be symbols, many times archetypal structures outside the self that represent the energies projected from inside yourself. . . . You are working with those power places . . . but you are actually dealing with your inner world and energy. It’s like a big despacho—the world is like a big despacho—and you are relating with the parts and adjusting it, and these energies are going to organize the self.”

One way we work this outer source of sami as fuel for our inner development is to relate first to the “apus” of the place where we live, and then move from the local to the regional to the national, expanding our range energetically and, we hope, developing ourselves in greater ways as we do. So, we would start by working with an “apu” Brunswick sculpture-gb0b848dbd_1920that is an important carrier of the information and energy of the place where we live. This “apu” is our energetic ancestor, not in the sense of our personal bloodline ancestors, but as one of the ancestors of the place we find ourselves at currently, of our physical location on the back of Mother Earth. These “apus” are geographical and cultural ancestors, because they are creators of the poq’po—the energy bubble—of the place where we reside. We might not like the place we live right now; it might not feel like home. This emotional discomfort may have its roots in an energetic disconnect. So, we can shift that emotional state by using our will and intention to establish an ayni relationship with the bubble of that place. We can take action by working with one or more of these local “apus,” who can help us feel at home right where we are, more fully and deeply grounded with that patch of Pachamama. The connection creates an inner equilibrium so that we can work energetically without distraction or discomfort. Once we connect with the “apu” of our town, we can then work outward, expanding the energy bubbles (“apus”) we work with to our state or province and then to our country. By forming ayni relationships with these sources of power, we can enlarge our karpay (how much of our potential we are actually accessing), which helps us progress up the qanchispatañan.

Don Ivan explains the concept of the apus as energetic ancestors in this way: “You need to build a healthy relationship with the ancestors. We all need to do that. So, if you are related with the apus at different spheres and levels, you are relating with the actual people who built that bubble as an energy field. You need to have a healthy relationship with the ones who established the foundations of the bubble where you live. That is the ayni relationship with your ancestors. If you develop a healthy ayni relationship—and you know ayni is about giving and receiving—you are going to have something to offer and you are going to get something from them.”

At this more abstract level of “apu,” what is the source or engine of power? Anything that represents and connects you to the originating imprinted information and energy field. In your town, maybe there is a statue of the founder. That statue would be your “apu,” the doorway through which you connect with the founder as a source of power. (Doing research is a good idea, because maybe the founder of your town was more hucha-filled than sami-filled. If that’s the case, you can shift to working with a different local “apu.”) Once you have established a relationship with the ayllu (local) “apu,” you can then reach out and access a laqta (regional) “apu,” which would be something or someone venerated in your state orStatue-of-liberty-g20260399d_1920 province. Finally, you can connect with a suyu (national) “apu.” We can connect with people of the past because when human beings die, their spirit returns to the hanaq pacha but their soul (experience and knowledge as a human being) is imprinted in the Earth. Through that information imprint, we can access people from the past and their wisdom.

Don Juan explains this concept of working an increasingly larger scale of “ancestor apus” as follows: “If you were [born or currently live in] in Texas, who can be your [llaqta] apu? It could be Davy Crockett! Who could be your suyu apu? Thomas Jefferson. Or John Adams or any of the founding fathers of the nation. This is the kind of ancestor we work with. We can relate with a whole scale of people who [have done] something important in your tradition; this is relating with your ancestors in the Andean way. You don’t try to use the apu structure literally, as the [physical] mountains of North America. If you follow don Benito and how Manuel Pinta was made an apu, it means every apu is an expression of the development of the tradition [the energy of the people within the tradition who helped develop it]. In that way, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson are suyu apus. They each have a character that can teach you something. Every apu has a character: Washington was a general, Jefferson was a philosopher. This is the way you work. Your [culture] didn’t develop a system like the apus [as mountain spirits] in the US. But you can make a translation. Apu Ausangate can be seen as Thomas Jefferson! The source of power can be Monticello. Washington can be your apu, and the Washington monument a source of power. You can connect with them [each] as an apu. You need to translate, but every one of them has a certain kind of property [that can teach and guide you].”

Following this path of translation—which focuses not on the literal outer representation of an “apu” but on the energy exchanges we can make with it as a source of sami and power for our personal development—just about anything that has meaning for you can be your “apu.” From a small-town statute to a national symbol to an international wonder such as Stonehenge or the Giza Pyramid. We start local, at the ayllu level, with an apu that helps us become grounded and connected right where we are, comfortable and at home. This is essential for our cultivating the inner state by which we can then consciously develop ourselves. Then we work up to greater sources of power. At the llaqta level, we are being guided by a power source of our state or region. Then we will be ready to relate to a suyu apu, a repository of power for our country and our larger culture. Finally, if we have advanced our development, we may be able to cultivate an ayni relationship with a teqse apu, a universal apu. Traditionally, these are the nature “apus” of the Sun, Moon, Wind, Waters, and Earth. But we can also take as our teqse apu a person who has lived with a capacity for enormous personal power or from great wisdom (called hamuta in Quechua) and so has influenced the development of all of humanity. A few examples of people of the stature of teqse “apus” are Jesus Christ, Siddhartha Gautama, Mohammed, the Dali Lama, Amelia Earhart, Isaac Newton, Madame Curie, Albert Einstein, and Mother Theresa. Working with mountain apus is one form of walking a path of personal development, and when we get beyond seeing the apus (or the female equivalent, the ñust’as) as literal mountains only, then our work with these sources of power goes deeper and becomes richer.