There Are Only Four Chunpis

When training people in the Andean mystical tradition, I often hear students talk about the chunpis—the Andean belts of power—as chakras, and I correct them. They are nothing like chakras. I am adamant about this, even though very early in my training, before I knew better, I too used the word “chakra” as an analogy to explain the energetic concept of chunpis. (See the glossary definition of “chunpi” in my original book Keepers of the Ancient Knowledge and the revised and updated paperback version Masters of the Living Energy.) I was wrong. I came to know better. It is not my intention here, in this blog post, to explain or try to persuade you of why there is no connection between chunpis and chakras. I have done that in a previous post: “Chunpis and Chakras,” May 12, 2017, which provides an overview of how the chunpis differ energetically and structurally from chakras. Here I am making a different point, because many students have also been taught that there are more than four chunpis . They talk about seven, like the seven main chakras. Some students even tell me that they have been taught that our poq’pos—our energy bodies—are evolving and that in the future there will be more chunpis, up to twelve.

I respond respectfully but with skepticism. I then explain why we have everything we need already and don’t need to evolve more energetic structures in our energy bodies.

I certainly admit I only know the teachings of two lineages (Waskar and Inkari), and then only as taught by three masters through my primary teacher Juan Nuñez delJuan and don Benito Prado. These teachers were don Benito Qoriwaman and don Melchor Desa from Wasao and the Waskar lineage, and don Andres Espinosa from Q’ero and the Inkari lineage. That leaves a vast range of knowledge from other lineages and teachers (past and present) from the Andes untapped and unknown. So, I acknowledge that I know only a tiny portion of this far-reaching and eons-old tradition. But the teaching itself that we already have is what convinces me that there will never be more than four chunpis—there simply is no need in the future for more.

(Note: Of course, I am open to persuasion! If you have a teaching from the Andes that says we need more than four chunpis, please present your rationale or your teacher’s rationale. Truthfully, I need to be convinced that you are not confusing or overlaying the Hindu chakra system on the Andean chunpi system.)

The teachings we have from the three masters I named above, especially from Q’ero master don Andres Espinosa, reveal that we already have everything we need to be gods in human form—to be enlightened human beings—with the four chunpis and other energetic aspects and structures of our poq’po as they are now. We have:

The Inka Seed

The Inka Seed, the energetic structure that connects us to who we really are: each of us is a unique expression of God (First Cause, Great Mystery, whatever you want to call it). The Inka Seed is the repository of the energy of future potential as fully enlightened beings. Also within our Inka Seed are all the capacities we need to express and live our unique life mission as human beings here on Earth in the physical. We don’t need anything more. We just need to develop consciously what is already within us. Our evolution is not dependent on forming new energetic structures, but on developing the consciousness to connect to and express what is already energetically part of us, especially in the Inka Seed.

The Three Worlds

The three worlds are both in the natural world and within our poq’po. There is the hanaqpacha, kaypacha and ukhupacha of the natural world, and there are the same three worlds within your bubble: the personal hanaqpacha is above your head but within your bubble, the personal kaypacha goes from the top of your head to the soles of your feet, and the personal ukhupacha extends from just under to your feet to the lower inside of your bubble. The entire expanse of being is both within and without you.

The Three Human Powers

The three human powers provide everything we need for our humanness: yachay (the mind: intellect, knowing, reason), llank’ay (the physical body through which we take action, the ability to put intentions into action in the world), and munay (feelings, including love, that we can learn to bring under our will and express through our choice). This is where the chunpis come in.

The Four Chunpis

Chunpi means “belt,” and once we go through the Chunpi Away karpay to weave the energy-work-during-the-hatun-karpay-1997belts into our poq’pos, or energy bodies, we have everything we need to realize our enlightened selves. The four belts encode capacities that arise when we learn to harmonize and use the three human powers. When we do that, then we can consciously express our mystical powers. Compared to our mundane capacities, these mystical capacities appear to be supernatural capacities. But, really, they are not. They are our natural capacities, those already energetically encoded within us, only heightened because of our conscious evolution, which depends on releasing hucha so that our poq’po is mostly sami and thus is more harmoniously and energetically coherent.

When we develop our yachay, we can access the capacity of qaway (mystical knowing) at the three eyes and rimay (thought that expresses itself with integrity) at the throat (the silver belt). When we develop our munay, we activate our capacity for kanay at the gold belt at the chest level, which is our capacity to know who we really are and our capacity to be enlightened beings and live that enlightenment. When we develop our llank’ay, we activate the mystical capacities of khuyay and atiy at the red belt at the belly and the black belt at the bottom of the trunk of our body, respectively. Expressing our khuyay means we live with personal power and through passionate engagement. Expressing atiy means we can measure our personal power  and the timing of our actions to act more successfully more of the time, and we bring our emotions and impulses under the conscious guidance of our will.

More perfectly harmonizing and expressing our three human powers and these mystical capacities encoded in the chunpis is what raises us to the level of superhumans, or what we call enlightened beings. I tell stories (real occurrences) about the use of the capacities of the chunpis that appear to be superhuman. But they are not. They are what is possible for each of us, our natural capacities when we have achieved harmony in the expression and use of our three human powers and the mystical capacities of the four chunpis.

Everything we need to express our full, grand humanness (and mystical humanness) is already present in our four chunpis. There is no need for more chunpis.

The Ñawis

Ñawi literally translates to mystical “eye.” There are seven primary “eyes.” Each of the four chunpis has a ñawi. Then there are the two physical eyes and the seventh eye (roughly at the center of the forehead; in other traditions called the third eye. ) There are also five secondary “eyes,” but they are more accurately considered energy centers and not technically ñawis.  They are the uma at the top of the head, the two makis (one in each palm) and two chakis (one in the sole of each foot)

Although we call these “eyes,” they are about more than vision. They are about perceptual knowing. They are full mystical perceptual organs/centers, through which you can energetically “see,” “taste,” “touch,” “smell” and “understand.” They also go beyond the physical senses to the mystical senses, heightening your three human powers of yachay, munay, and llank’ay. And through them you can throw seqes (cords of energy) to connect with anything and everything, from the tiniest insect to the most distant star.

There is more to say, but I think these explanations suffice to demonstrate that, according this this tradition, there is nothing more we need to express ourselves as gods while in the human form. I respectfully submit that we don’t need seven or twelve belts (chunpis). We don’t need chakras. We don’t need twelve energetic bodies (physical body, mental, emotional, astral and so on), which is a philosophy that comes from Theosophy and other traditions, but not the Andes. We need only use what we already have according to the old masters of these two lineages. Everything is possible with the three human powers and the capacities of the four chunpis.

Let me end by using an analogy that seems helpful to my students. I ask them, “Why complicate things?” The Andean mystical tradition is one of the only traditions I know of that strips things down to their essence instead of inflating things with layers and layers of philosophy. I think of the Andean tradition as a science of energy that reveals the simple beauty of the most fundamental laws of who we are and thegeometry Equations compressed Pixabay Gerd Altmann Germany natural world we are part of. When scientists, particularly mathematicians, are seeking the fundamental laws of nature, things are very complex when they start. Their white boards are filled to overflowing with complex equations. But then they finally have the eureka moment—when they discover the law of nature—and they find they can express that law in incredibly simple terms. The wall of dense equations becomes e = mc2 or F = ma. Of course, that is not always true, but you get my point. Why complicate the beauty, grace and simplicity of the Andean tradition with overlays of philosophy from other traditions, such as Hinduism? It isn’t necessary, and, in fact, it can prevent you from developing as quickly. When you think you need to evolve more energetic capacities or mystical organs in some future time, you see yourself as incomplete in the here and now. That is not what the old paqos tell us or teach us. We are complete already. We only need to do the (hard) work of bringing to consciousness all that we are and increasing our energetic coherence to use what we already have.

(Note: For another blog post about the chunpis, see “Chunpis and the Art of Being,” November 27, 2017.)


Always Learning: Refinements in Our Knowledge

I just returned from a magnificent, if challenging, trip to Peru with a wonderful New Apu wilkanusta Veronicagroup. During that trip, as always, I learned new information and received refinements of old information about our practice as paqos and the tradition in general from Juan Nuñez del Prado and his son, Ivan. Since I cannot write directly to all my past students, I am hoping to inform them of this information here. Of course, I hope everyone who practices the tradition, former student of mine or not, benefits from this information.

The refinements and corrections mostly involve the chunpis. First, let me say, that this word is commonly spelled two ways: chumpi or chunpi. It depends on what school of academic thought and which dictionary you use. I spell this word with an “n”: chunpi.

The first correction I would like to point out is that Juan insists that we not refer to the three eyes area in any way as a chunpi, not even as a “quasi” violet belt for convenience sake. There are only four belts, and this area is simply an energy center comprising the three eyes. While you pull in violet light here at the end of the Chunpi Away karpay, the color of this belt, as I have always stressed to students, is the color of your physical eyes. Also, there is no cone here, as there are in the other four belts. Instead, there is a seqe (energetic cord) from each of the three eyes that converge in the middle of the head and then curve down as a single seqe to meet the spine at the top of the spinal column.

For the other four belts that do have cones, Juan informed me that the old paqos called the cones “horns.”

As you know, each chunpi is associated with certain colors, elements, energetics, and capacities. While the silver chunpi at the throat is generally about communication, it’s main energetic association is with thought, or yachay. It is when thought and knowledge are put into action as a capacity that we then identify the gift of this belt as rimay (speaking with integrity and personal power). Simply put, rimay is yachay in action.

An interesting tidbit of information about the  Chunpi Away karpay came up that I had not heard before:  The gold and silver energies that are drawn back over the Joan's mullu chunpisskull with the yanantin mullu khuya are actually fields of energy, one gold (on the right) and one silver (on the left). The fields cover each side of the head, but as you draw the yanantin mullu khuya back over the skull and toward the neck, these fields narrow into cords/seqes. You then cross the gold and silver cords at the middle of the neck and pull them down to the base of the spine.

In addition, another small refinement is that when doing the Chunpi Away karpay, as you move up to the next belt area to weave it, you pull the energy of the belt below it up with you. So, for example, as you finish weaving the yana chunpi (the lower belt at the base of the trunk of the body), you pull the black energy up to the belly and then change to the kinsantin (3) khuya and weave the red belt. Then you would pull this red energy up to the heart and change to the tawantin khuya to make the gold belt, and so on with the remainder of the belts.

Finally, as regards the chunpis, the mulla khuyas (five stones you use to weave the chunpis) are also considered to be a lloq’e misha, a misha of the left side.

Your primary misha also has an alternative name, which is misha qhepi (or, as Ivan spelled it, khepy), which literally means “misha bundle.” Since misha means “sign” or “symbol” the misha qhepi would be, quite literally, the “bundle of signs/symbols” that you are a paqo.

I specifically asked  Juan to discuss the willka energy—black light energy—a bit more, since not much is known about it or taught about it (in my experience). The willka energy is that of the yana chunpi, or black belt. Beyond that, Juan described willka as the highest nature energy, higher than huaca/waka energy (sacred energy). It is, he said, the “most sacred of the sacred.” In addition, it is the most pristine energy of nature, and it persists in nature wherever it is found no matter what happens at that place over time. In fact, willka is the natural sacred energy that infuses places identified as healing sanctuaries (such as Wanka in Peru, or perhaps Lourdes in France, etc.). And, of course, you can produce willka yourself. Whether you experience it in nature or generate it within yourself, when you touch willka energy and work with it, it can trigger visions,  bring to light information you did not previously have, and reveal to you what is inside you (your state of being).

Finally, even though I call the Andean tradition a path of conscious personal evolution, Juan stressed that personal growth is never mandatory. Every human Celebrating you compressed AdobeStock_73874996being makes the choice to grow or not. As Ivan said, you can have a perfectly great life at the zero level as a “natural” human being. However, if you do choose to grow and to climb the stairway of the seven levels of human consciousness, then it is important to be able to know when you have achieved the next level. Juan described one way of knowing: You have reached the next level when your three powers (munay, llank’ay and yachay) are all expressed at that level. In other words, if two of your three powers are fourth level, but one is still being expressed within you at the third level, then you are at the third level, not the fourth. Only when all three powers are being expressed at the same level can you say you have achieved that level.

Journeying with Your Chunpi Stones

Back in the early 2000s, the then very young paqo Fredy “Puma” Quispe Singona Joan's mullu chunpiscame to stay with me in North Carolina. During his multi-week visit, he shared this “journeying” technique with me. I now pass it on to you. Traditionally, you need to have chunpi stones (formally called mullu khuyas) for this practice. However, since everything in our practice is intention, if youNew Apu wilkanusta Veronica don’t have chunpi stones, you simply can find a stone that is shaped like a triangle or dome, or that has a single protrusion that is mountain-like. Work with the stone, connecting it to a mountain or apu that you feel a relationship with. Build that relationship and connection for a week or so before doing this journeying practice. When you feel ready, use the stone as outlined below for the journey.

  1. Choose one of the chunpis, then choose a particular protrusion on that chunpi to represent an apu. The apu is your oracle, the sage who offers counsel and insight for you, and the activating energy of the universe and your connection to your wisdom self. (You don’t have to actually identify that apu by name. It can be a generic apu, one that in the course of the journey will reveal its identity to you. Even if it doesn’t, intend that this apu become an oracle for you.)


  1. Hold the chunpi stone in your right hand and raise it toward hanaq pacha. Draw the energy of the hanaqpacha/upper world down into the stone.


  1. Bring your left hand up to heart level and transfer the chunpi to your left hand, receiving the energy it contains to establish a connection between the Spirit World and yourself here in the kaypacha. Then infuse the stone and energy connection (seqe or cord of connecting energy) with your munay.


  1. Silently invoke the apu, making the following the request, as apus need to be invited in by you and asked for counsel: Ask the apu through the power of munay to awaken in you all of your power and to counsel you on how to integrate your power to flower in the best way possible in this lifetime. Then follow the procedure below.


  1. Hold the stone at your seventh eye (middle of your forehead) and ask the apu to introduce or identify itself. It may or may not provide a specific name. Just be open and receive.


  1. Move the stone to your qolqe chunpi/throat and ask the apu to communicate with you, providing insights about your personal history and offering counsel about the way you can best express yourself in this life.


  1. Move the stone to your qori chunpi/heart and ask the apu to reveal to you how you are not fully loving or honoring yourself, and ask for counsel about what shifts you have to make to heal any parts of yourself that cannot fully embrace munay.


  1. Move the stone to the puka chunpi/qosqo and ask the apu to tell you how you are leaking or wasting your personal power and ask for counsel about how you can heal this aspect of yourself


  1. Move the stone to the yana chunpi/root/base of spine and ask the apu to reveal how you can better connect to your mission in this lifetime and to counsel you about how to accumulate the personal power to take action to live that mission.


  1. Move the stone to the uma/crown of your head and thank the apu for being your ally and counselor. Ask the apu for any further words of advice or insight.


  1. Touch the stone to the earth to end the journey.

Note: I will be in Peru for most of August, so there will be no further posts on this blog site until after my return.

Interview with Doña Wilma Pinedo

This post is a collection of excerpts from a nearly hour-long interview I did with paqo and curandera doña Wilma Pinedo, of Wasao, Peru, in August 2016. I asked permission to use information from that interview, particularly about her healing practice, and she granted that permission. However, she stressed that she wants people to know that all healing comes through God, and she gives all honor to the elders and to God.

Doña Wilma Pinedo:

Don Benito [Qoriwaman], his wife, my mother, my other relatives on my mother’s and father’s sides–we keep this tradition. I think we were chosen by the star from another dimension to keep this seed. This is a seed. We hold it and keep it alive, this medicine.

As I grew up, I was surrounded by my granduncle—don Benito— and others. Always I received the teachings of my elders. I grew up surrounded by my elders, who were in their sixties and seventies. My mom told me that since I was two years old or so, I was working with them.

In this path, I was chosen two times, or three times, by the ancestors, by our elders. When my mom was pregnant with me, she was attached [struck] by the Wilma Pinedo 2 from Donna Jacksonlightning. My elders, especially my grandmother, used to say to me, “You are a special daughter and child; you have a star, you carry the star medicine.” At that time I didn’t know what they meant. The star medicine means the medicine of the elders. When they worked, I assisted. It was very familiar. It was one more thing that we did in our lives. Very familiar. I assisted my elders, and then my parents sent me to school. At the end, when you are ready you will know what path to take. I could have chosen the career. I went to university, and that showed me how to have a career, to stay in line. But my wish was to help people. Why? Because in my dreams, even when I wanted to stop, my elders in my dreams are always talking to me.

And the condor came to me. A real, live condor, it would come to me. Twice it came to visit me when I was making the journey to my father’s family, which is twelve hours from here. . . . We were waiting for mules, to pack our things for the journey, and a very strong wind came. I thought maybe a big truck was passing by or maybe a train nearby, but it was not the sound of a train. It was a whistling of wind. I heard a voice, saying, “Hurry, hurry, move away, move away.” I didn’t know. . .I didn’t want to move away. There were the supplies we needed and I needed to stay here. No one was going to move me away from there. And suddenly the wind came and there was a condor two or three meters away. Just me and the condor. For me it was a signal. For me, that condor was alpha, the leader. So even now, when I close my eyes, I see the same face of that condor. Since that time, in my dreams, I hear, “You are already starting. Now you have to start. We were waiting for you.” I wasn’t sure why they were waiting for me, and I was scared. I talked to my elders of that area, asking them why condor came to me and time stopped. I didn’t know if what happened was five minutes or one hour or what, but time stopped for me. I see the red condor eyes, the face, everything, and for me it was face-to-face with the condor. Time stopped, and after that, in this dimension, it showed me a canyon. It flew and showed me a canyon, and it would turn to look at me and I could see its face.

After that I talked to my elders and they told me I had received the karpay. Maybe you receive your karpay from your elders, but they told me I had already received it. They took off  their hats, they knelt, and they kissed the floor. They said, “You are the one who is going to carry this medicine.” At that time, I didn’t understand what was the mission of the medicine. For me, until that time it was normal to help others, to support others, the same as how I  grew up in the tradition with my elders.

Men and women were taught the same medicine. All the medicines. The medicine used to be very strong! Now the energy has become soft. Before it was hard. Before, talking with my elders, they told me, healers were talked about like a joke. Not taken seriously. It was very hard as a healer. Very difficult. But they were very focused, and the medicine was strong. Today, with technology and all that, the energy can be soft. The people are distracted. They are not focused like they used to be. The power of the  healing depends on the healer you work with. The healers live in the city, they do other things, so the healing can take a little while.

In a healing, every person has a different energy and so I work with a different energy. Maybe a despacho, maybe saminchakuy. Sometimes I use my mesa, sometimes I don’t. It depends on the person. The energy of the person tells me what I need. Different tools: plants, music, the quena [the flute], other things.

We work starting with the faith of the person. Nothing else can help. It is half and half. Fifty percent the faith of the person and fifty percent my faith.

Many of these teachings I received through my dreams. From my elders who passed away, they guide me and talk to me through my dreams. The apus speak to Wilma Pinedo from Donna Jackson.jpgme. I talk to them, but sometimes I don’t receive an answer. Mostly they talk to me rather than me talking to them. I work with Apu Pachatusan and Apu Manuel Pinta.  Also Apu Wiraqochan. The elder apus of my area. However, only alto mesayoqs can always talk with the apus. Today, it is very, very rare to find someone who can talk with the apus. I use my condor, my guide too. My ancestors who can talk through me. I am a mediator. In Wasao we have four holy caves. In those caves, people live even until this day. People like elves or fairies. We call them machulas, elders. I call them elders. They are alive and we live with them. You don’t see them but they see you. But you can feel them. Elders from the mountains and elders from the caves. They guide us in the medicine.             Every day we are learning. Nothing is finished as a student or a healer. What I recommend to my people is to meet the elders, as they are like doorways. Learn how to connect, how to deal with them. There are rules. For example, they don’t like be insulted or used. We only talk to them if they allow us. They send a message to us and allow us to talk to them. They send us a sign. They carry the medicine. And this area, this valley, is the valley of Waskar. This is the lineage of Waskar Inka. Warkarpay Lake is a top sacred place here.

We work in harmony, with apus and with the nust’as. Always we need to carry both energies. To have the masintin and yanantin energies. You need that as a healer. Even the best healer, the highest healer, anyone who carries the medicine, has to know both. Not only the left or the right, or masintin or yanantin, but both energies. Always has to be both. And there are some medicines we use only during the day, and some only in the evening. We have many tools.

With this person [who comes for healing], I [say] only that I would do my best. I can only do my best. Always with the permission. . . I ask permission of the elders, because every person when they are born, are born with a soul. The soul is represented by the mountains. Always when we do something, like a ceremony, we ask, “What is the name of your mountain? Where do you come from?” Because we ask permission of the land of the place where they come from, where they were born, because every person when they are born are blessed by the sami The first breath that we receive is from the earth, between us and the earth. And that place, that earth, of your birth [itu/paqarina] , blesses you. Without asking permission of that land, nothing can be fixed.

Be in ayni with the Great Mother Cosmos. I am only the mediator. I can receive all the knowledge, all the karpay, but mostly my mission is to be the mediator, to share, to do my best with respect. The work as a paqo—my work, for me—it is not a show. It is a ritual, a service. It is a connection with the energy and spirit, and I have to respect that.

The Misha and Despacho as Personal Mast’ay

Back on January  30, 2017, I posted a blog that talked generally about the concept of mast’ay (See “Ceremony as Personal Mast’ay”). Today, I want to apply the concept of mast’ay specifically to the misha (mesa in Spanish) and despacho.

In that 2017 post, I described mast’ay as follows:  “Mast’ay is a Quechua word that in yolisa-weaving-compresseddaily life refers to unfolding and spreading out a cloth or weaving, perhaps on the table or a bed. In the mystical tradition, it refers to bringing order, organization, or structure to something. When you make a despacho, you are doing a mast’ay. When you arrange the khuyas in your misha, you are doing a mast’ay. But you don’t only bring order to things outside yourself. You can apply mast’ay to your own beingness. When you bring greater organization to the inner self, everything in your life is affected in positive and productive ways. The inner mast’ay furthers your awareness and, thus, your potential for conscious evolution as a human being.”

If you take that definition and description at face value, then you will understand why I explain to my students that the making of a misha and a despacho are each an act of mast’ay—of organizing the self, of expressing who you really are. As I explain it, the misha and despacho are practices that externalize your internal state.

It must be so, because both the misha and, especially, the despacho are grounded in ayni—in reciprocity (your energetic interchanges with spirit beings or the kawsay pacha at large). Ayni is a reflection of your internal state—of your very state of being. Ayni isn’t ayni if it isn’t the totally and completely authentic flow of your personal energy to the kawsay pacha.

That’s why I tell my students that as a paqo, you don’t create a misha or a despacho by rote. If you slavishly follow instructions taught to you by someone else, you are mesas-compressed-lisa-sims-photos-2016being robotic. You must develop your own way of doing things, because your ayni offering must be true to you—and there is no one else in universe like you. You are a unique Drop of the Mystery. You are who you are because of your unique life experience and path, your feelings and emotions, your beliefs and so on. Your despacho and misha must reflect you alone. They must express your ayni, which by its very nature has to be exclusively yours and not dependent on someone else’s belies or rules.

You might learn what the misha means and how to use it. But the khuyas you choose to go in it must be reflective of your own inner “structure” and personal “energetic organization”—your mast’ay. The last thing you want to do is make your misha a collection of trophy stones from sacred sites or teachers. No! All kinds of things will go in your misha—stones, trinkets, and other items that represent the milestones of your self-development, of your life, of your important relationships, of your very beingness.

No one has followed the same life path you have. No one sees and feels and understands the world exactly the way you do. No one has experienced exactly what you have. Therefore, your misha can be like no one else’s, both in what it contains and how you organize it when you work with it open. While you may have learned to place certain stones in certain positions and so on, you have to stop and ask yourself: “Is this how I want to organize my misha? Is this true to me and the meanings I superimpose on the mast’ay of my misha?” If your answer to either question is “No,” then it’s time to express your personal artistry while working with and organizing your misha.

Furthermore, you are growing, changing human being. You are not static in experience, form, or energy. The same goes for your misha. If it is an externalization of your internal state, then it must change as you change. Items you put it in years ago might no longer be representative of your current state of ayni. New items might be necessary to represent who you have become. Typically, we work with the mast’ay of our misha at least once a year, on the Andean “new year’s” day of August 1. We “feed” our misha and reorganize it (reconsider its mast’ay). For example, one year while I was doing this I realized that there two stones I had put in my misha decades ago but no longer had any connection to. Although I knew they came from sacred sites in Peru, I couldn’t remember which sites. These stones were absolutely meaningless to me. I understood that they were no longer khuyas; they were just stones. Those two stones came out of my misha.

Understanding your personal mast’ay also is crucial to making a despacho. The Qero despacho qoricocha lake IMG_4245 compresseddespacho is the most common way you will externalization your ayni and internal state. It absolutely cannot be a robotic performance in construction or use. It must be truly authentic to your state of being and intention. Thus, a despacho doesn’t have to contain certain items, it doesn’t have to be organized in a certain way, it doesn’t have to be offered in a particular manner. The one certainty is that it has to be representative of your ayni in the moment you are making it and offering it.

A despacho also doesn’t have to be pretty or symmetrical. If you are angry, make an angry despacho. If you are depressed, make a despacho that gives that depression to the spirits as an offering. These might be “ugly” looking despachos. They might break all the “rules” you learned. Fine! All that matters is that your despacho—your communication with the spirit beings, the kawsay pacha, with God—be true to you in that moment. As with a misha, to make a despacho you have to first know yourself, then be clear about your intention, and then express who you truly are and what your intention truly is.

Think of making a misha or despacho as being an artist. All artists learn to use certain tools—oils, pastels, watercolors—and learn the rules for painting a portrait or landscape (color mixing, perspective, etc.) but then they break from the rules or apply them in their uniquely original way. They create their own art. They express their own style. You can have ten artists painting the same still-life and each finished painting will look different. It’s the same with making a despacho and constructing or using your misha. Your internal state is unique, and so your external offerings will be as well.

One of my early teachers, Américo Yábar, once said to me and some other women I was with: “Waste your time. Waste your money. But don’t waste your energy.” To be as blunt as Americo was, I would counsel you that making and offering your despacho or constructing and organizing your misha according to anything but your unique personal internal mast’ay is a waste of your energy.