In last month’s blog post, I discussed khuyas contextually and introduced the process of working the Andean practices from the fourth level, an approach that moves from a rote way of relating to your ayni, misha, and khuyas to a more personal and artistic expression of them. I stress that these posts about the meaning and use of khuyas present one way of approaching the tradition and its practices. I do not claim they are the only way or even the definitive way.
In this post we will look at using the khuyas by focusing on application rather than concept. However, if you have not yet read Part One in last month’s post, I urge you to do so before reading this post so you will have a firm foundation in the fourth-level way of thinking about and using khuyas. I am going to proceed by asking questions about using khuyas and then providing answers, which present just one perspective and so are by no means representative of the variety of personal styles of paqos in the Andes.
And, I discovered while writing about this topic that I couldn’t cover all I wanted to in two posts. So, the last post of the year in December—Working with Khuyas: Part Three—will complete this discussion.
What are khuyas used for?
In the Post-Conquest Andes, the word for a khuya was, among others, conopa, which for the most part referred to a stone or baked clay figurine or amulet, usually shaped like a llama or alpaca with a hole in the top or center. Conopas were considered connections between human beings and the mystical world, between human beings and nature—as able to connect us to what one anthropologist calls the “animating in-between” of the material, physical human world and the universe of living energy. They mostly were used as magical protection for herds of llamas and alpacas or in ceremonies or on “altars” for marshalling the energies to keep herds healthy and flourishing.
For us as paqos, khuyas also are representative of our connection to the “animating in-between,” but they take on other, different meanings and uses. For the most part, they represent our development as human beings and as paqos. Each one represents an important milestone, event, person, or karpay along the path of our practice. Each khuya is infused with our affection, and when gathered together they comprise the “bundle of signs” that is our misha, which itself represents our personal power and our kanay (our truest selves). Beyond that, the most common use of a khuya is for healing, which will the subject of the December post.
How do we “charge” a khuya?
Our khuyas are important symbols of our growth as human beings, and so each one represents a person, place, event, and so on that has shaped us in deep, meaningful ways. We say that each khuya is infused with our affection and love, but how do we “infuse” each one or, as more commonly expressed, how do we “charge” each one with that particular feeling and meaning? The methods vary, but believe me when I say that over the last twenty-seven years I have heard about ways of charging khuyas that couldn’t possibly have come from the paqos or even from the Andes of Peru, as they were tinged with all kinds of metaphysical and supernatural ritual complexities. I can offer the advice that if you struggle to discern what feels or seems more authentic to the Andean tradition, remember this: the paqos are always practical, efficient, and grounded. When it comes to moving or tuning energy, simpler is always better. Paqos are masters of driving the kawsay (the living energy), and a foundational tenet of practice is to never waste your energy. That means moving the most kawsay in the most effective or powerful way with the least amount of effort. This same approach applies to “charging” khuyas.
We charge khuyas by infusing them with our feelings. Our work is mostly internal, and there is very little, if any, outward display or ceremony. Our ayni is personal—your ayni is not my ayni, because we each have a unique Inka Seed, and so our expression of our ayni is unlike anyone else’s. Thus, our work is mostly private and interior to ourselves. So, to charge a khuya, we simply hold it and infuse it with our finest energy, especially with our munay. The energy arises from our state of being—our love, appreciation for, and honoring of the person, event, place, spirit being, or other factor represented by that khuya—and we simply use intention to infuse that state of being and those feelings into that khuya, which from that moment forward carries that energy. When we place that khuya in our misha, we are in effect adding that particular “feeling relationship” to the bundle of symbols that represents who we are.
Although the charging process is so simple, as fourth-level paqos we are free to express ourselves playfully and artistically in that process in any way we choose. I remember paqo Americo Yábar showing me and a few others how to charge a khuya. He said it should be in our right hand and held aloft toward the hanaq pacha. Then we should pull down a stream of sami from the hanaq pacha and into the khuya, then move the khuya down toward our chest until it was touching our heart and we joined energies with it, pulling the stream of sami into ourselves as well. Beautiful! But not necessary. From the fourth-level perspective, we love to express our pukllay—our freedom and playfulness—and we can choose to do what brings us pleasure. That’s perfectly fine—as long as we are conscious that our performance is our choice and not some magical or superstitious ritualistic necessity.
In addition, since we are working in a particular tradition through a particular lineage of paqos, we also tend to infuse a khuya with our affection/munay for the lineage of paqos of which we are a part. Therefore, we need to know what and who our lineage is. For example, if you take what I call the Foundation Training through don Juan Nuñez del Prado and his son don Ivan, me, or another teacher trained by don Juan and don Ivan, you will be part of two lineages: the Waskar lineage of the Cuzco Wachu and the Inkari lineage through the Q’ero Wachu. So, to charge a khuya, after infusing it with our affection as described above, we also establish a loving energetic connection with those two lineages of paqos and pull the sami we associate with those lineages from them, through ourselves, and into the khuya. In this way, as don Juan says, each khuya “always keeps you connected to the masters.” (As an aside, we especially make this lineage connection with the khuya we use as the “center” of our misha.)
So charging is that simple: we touch deeply into our munay and infuse our feelings into the khuya. Then we connect with our specific lineage(s) and pull their power into the khuya (and in ayni we also may infuse our munay for those paqos who came before us into the khuya).
My answer about charging a khuya would not be complete without talking briefly about the related term, khuyay. For those not familiar with khuyay, it is the capacity associated with our qosqo ñawi, the mystical eye of our belly area. Khuyay is passion, meaning how our energy motivates us both to initiate action and to sustain that action over time. It also is what motivates us to make connections to others and the world. Don Juan and don Ivan explain the relationship between khuyas (the objects in our misha) and khuyay (passion as motivation and connection) as follows. Don Ivan says, “Khuyas are empowered by your khuyay, your passion. I think khuyay is [the energy] to create bonds with things, to connect with things. It is an attachment.” Don Juan then offers us a deeper insight about what a khuyay attachment is when he says, “Khuyas represent power through your passions—not with your passion but through it. Your passion—your khuyay—is not just your appreciation, love, and munay. It is how those feelings and energies motivate or move you to act and be in the world.” So, each khuya itself is the sign or symbol of a particularly important and meaningful occurrence or relationship in our lives, and as we charge a khuya we are infusing it with the depth of feeling connected to that occurrence or person and how as a result of that engagement we are able to move forward in life in a more conscious and sami-filled way.
Do I also have to “charge” my misha?
People often ask about charging their entire misha bundle in addition to the individual khuyas. My answer is to point out that from the fourth-level perspective, our misha is the khuyas it contains. It has no meaning or existence separate from them. So, it is already charged and activated through those khuyas. However, as I have already pointed out, at the fourth level we make a clear distinction between choosing to do something and thinking we need to do something. So, as with charging the individual khuyas, we can through our artistry, pukllay (playfulness), munay, and ayni decide to undertake some kind of ritual to celebrate making our first misha or to charge our misha bundle, but doing so is a personal choice and not a necessity.
If there is any ritual at all around the misha—and it is a stretch to call this a ritual—it is another form of khuyay, or connecting. When we wrap the mestana (woven cloth) over our khuyas to make the misha qhepi (bundle), we may want to blow through it three times, which traditionally is a way of infusing the misha with our kawsay (life-force energy). We blow through or into it three times, with one breath carrying our finest munay (love and affection), another our yachay (knowledge, intellectual capacity, experience), and another our llank’ay (ability to act in the world). There is no order to which breath carries which energy. Sometimes in those same three breaths we also are connecting with and honoring the three worlds: hanaq pacha (upper world), kay pacha (this world), and ukhu pacha (lower world or inner world). Finally, since the misha represents our development as human beings and our path as paqos, we also might connect to and honor our lineage(s): we can blow our energy through the misha bundle with the intent of sending our munay to those paqos who came before us and whose company we now keep energetically.
What do I do if I lose a khuya?
No problem! Simply choose another stone or object to replace it, and infuse that replacement with the same meaning, intention, and feeling as the one that was lost.
This is where I will end the discussion for this post. In the final December post, I will discuss using khuyas, especially for healing.