A Paqo Gives Thanks

In this United States this week, we will celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday. thanksgiving-Indians and Pilgrims compressed Pixabay 5616807_1280It is a holiday founded upon sober reality (the newly arrived colonists were asserting rights to a land already populated for millennia by others, and the new colonists were suffering terribly) and an unlikely gesture of compassion and cooperation (the Native Americans freely helped those they saw suffering even after being abused by earlier colonists and explorers). An article on History.com explains:

“Throughout that first brutal winter, most of the colonists remained on board the ship, where they suffered from exposure, scurvy and outbreaks of contagious disease. Only half of the Mayflower’s original passengers and crew lived to see their first New England spring. In March, the remaining settlers moved ashore, where they received an astonishing visit from an Abenaki Native American who greeted them in English.

“Several days later, he returned with another Native American, Squanto, a member of the Pawtuxet tribe who had been kidnapped by an English sea captain and sold into slavery before escaping to London and returning to his homeland on an exploratory expedition. Squanto taught the Pilgrims, weakened by malnutrition and illness, how to cultivate corn, extract sap from maple trees, catch fish in the rivers and avoid poisonous plants. He also helped the settlers forge an alliance with the Wampanoag, a local tribe, which would endure for more than 50 years and tragically remains one of the sole examples of harmony between European colonists and Native Americans.”

These Native Americans acted toward the colonists with ayni (reciprocity), munay (love and will), and sami (their finest light living energy). Our nation’s first tragedy is that ultimately future colonists did not do the same.

Today, as we approach Thanksgiving, we can use Squanto’s and others’ examples to bring awareness to our ayni and to how we are spreading our sami.  And we can bring awareness to our blessings, express gratitude for them, and act from munay so that everyone feels the grace of Taytacha (God/Creator/First Cause) and shares the bounty of the Kawsay Pacha (the universe of living energy).

Below I provide you an opportunity to express thankfulness for what you have learned and for how you are capable of continued development to the most glorious human being possible.


Ayni is reciprocity, a feedback loop between you and Taytacha/Kawsay Pacha. Ideally, it is an authentic exchange of giving and receiving, a gesture of love through the selfless impulse of generosity and empathy. The exchange may be of any kind: energetic, intellectual, emotional, physical. It can take any form, from encouragement, support, time, money or effort, to a smile, a hug, a helping hand, a kind word, or a selfless gesture.

Ayni Blessing

I give because I have so much to give.
I receive because I acknowledge my own worth,
and have an open and humble heart.
            In ayni I am a vessel, filling and emptying in a ceaseless exchange
of all that serves the greatest good and the highest order.


Pachamama/Mama Allpa

Mother Earth carries us all on her back and gives selflessly to support our needs. She never grows weary, although she can grow angry. She wants to nurture us—that is the nature of her being. As the primary feminine spirit in the Andes, Pachamama is honored in countless ways each day. The indigenous people spill a little of whatever they are about to drink onto Pachamama, as an offering and a thanksgiving. They do the same with food before they eat. They are aware of her and know that she is aware of them. Pachamama is the primordial Mother of us all. We, and all the creatures of the world, are her offspring, feeding from her breast. Her sami (light living energy) is the milk that sustains and nourishes life.

Pachamama Blessing

The Earth is my mother.
She birthed me and provides me great bounty.  
For this I give thanks.
All her creatures deserve my respect.
I am part of the Great Web of Being
and I strive to live in harmony within the cycle of life.


A despacho is an offering, usually of thanksgiving, that is made of natural items, from flower petals to candy and other food items to stones and shells. It is the great teacher of ayni and always represents a tawantin: wholeness, harmony, completeness. My definition of the despacho is the externalization of your internal state. It is an offering of the self.

Despacho Blessing

I give thanks for this day and for my life.
I am grateful for all that I have, all that I am, and all that I can be.
I  honor the difficulties that have moved me
beyond what I thought I was capable of.
I give thanks for the sweetness of life I have tasted and acknowledge
all the sweetness I have missed, ignored, wasted, or denied myself.
I accept the guidance that is available to me from all sources.
I know that I am an integral part of the Universe. I am never alone.


Sami is the refined living energy from which all things in the material world are made. It infuses the cosmos and our being. It is the light living energy that drives all things and imparts the fullness of well-being. Sami is not light as in visible light, but as a quality of the highest vibration of being—of the lightness of being. Still, it lends itself to the loftiest of metaphors. It is the nectar of the universe that you can freely eat, pollinating yourself so you can flower fully as a human being. It is the water of the universe that dissolves your self-perceived impurities and washes away your heaviness. It is the light in your eye, the glow from your Inka Seed that reveals your Spirit, and the light that illuminates even the darkest path you may have to walk.

Sami Blessing

I open myself to the light living energy,
tasting the sweetness of the universal nectar
and drinking in the living water of the cosmos.  
I accept the goodness, abundance, love, and wisdom
that is freely available to me.  
I share all these blessings with others in greater measure.
I do not keep myself small. I do not make others small.
I am a being who can grow to express the very qualities of God.
I will walk in light and I send forth my light, for I am a being of light.



Munay is the choice for love. It is the partnership of love and will. Taqe is the joining of energies, an action and process that is propelled by the energy of munay. One of the names for God in the Andes is Hatun Taqe Wiraqocha: The Great Joiner God. This quality of God can become one you cultivate in your own life. You can best work the energy of bridging divides when you are respectful, open, inquisitive, inclusive, cooperative, non-judgmental, and in integrity yourself. These are the qualities of self that generate your will to express love—to practice munay. Munay is not about befriending someone, agreeing with someone, or even liking someone. But it is acknowledging that no matter how different you may be from the other person, that person has inherent worth, for God loves that person. You are not to play judge and jury, but to strive to express equanimity or, at the very least, neutrality. You can’t fake munay, but you can cultivate it. A good way to start is through embracing taqe.

Munay/Taqe Blessing

I see the beauty in myself and others.
I celebrate our similarities and honor our differences.
I am an instrument of peace, harmony, cooperation and good will.
Through my words and actions, I am an example
of these qualities to my children and others.  
 I choose to heal divisions both within and without myself.
Everywhere I look I find—and take—opportunities
to build bridges rather than erect barriers.
I am a joiner of energies.


A Taripay Pacha in the United States?

I have been waiting for days to hit “Publish” on this blog post. Thankfully, about an hour ago Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were declared the winners in the U.S. presidential election. The mayor of Paris expressed my feelings exactly: “Welcome Back, America!”

At the risk of stretching a metaphor too far, this blog post speculates about one perception of the new administration in the United States. Is it too much of a leap to think the election our new President and Vice President could signal a national pachakuti, even a Taripy Pacha, for the United States?

We are living in the time of the Andean prophecy of the rise of a new humanity, the Runakay Mosoq. A time when all the children of God will share their gifts. The Andeans gift to the world is munay, love as a choice, love under our will. The indigenous peoples of the world and the “blue collar” workers of contemporary society teach us llank’ay, action and doing, work and productivity. What are so often disparagingly called the “elites” of the world, usually those white-collar and highly educated people, can share their yachay, or knowledge. Those characterizations are not meant to be stereotypes, but rather as a possible way to look at the weighting of how the three human powers are distributed across contemporary social groups. The bottom line is that when we share these gifts and use all of them ourselves, we move toward becoming complete human beings: people who are skilled at using and sharing all three of their human powers: munay, llank’ay and yachay. This is what the Taripay Pacha is all about: meeting ourselves again, only this time as more fully developed human beings.

During a pachakuti—which can be translated as a great overturning or energetic reorganization, a period of momentous transformation—we have the opportunity (there is no guarantee) of consciously evolving as individuals and societies. The questions that arise are: Can we in the U.S. capitalize on what may be a Taripay Pacha, an age of meeting ourselves again, or a time of potential reformation, reconciliation, advancement, even healing? Can we see the razor-thin election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as such as opportunity to right a country that has tilted badly askew from its founding values (some might say, a country that experienced temporary insanity) and that might once again be a model for the world of rule by the people, for the people, and of the people?

The points I am about to make are not about policies or politics. They are about energetics. About potentiality. About a new start, a  new attitude, a reality check about what has been and a vision for what might be. I invite you to check your doubts or skepticism at the door and come with me on a short journey to the frontier of possibility.

male female head compressed Pixabay-4372150_1920

Part of the Andean prophecy is the rise of a new Inka and Qoya: a ruling yanantin of a male and female who can serve as national role models and rule for the good of all the people. (A yanantin is the energetic interplay of two different but complementary energies.) For the first time in American history we have a leadership team of a man and a woman. We have a yanantin as our rulers. This is no small or inconsequential achievement for the American people. It is revolutionary.

And this ruling couple, if you will our own Inka and Qoya, represents not just one yanantin, but many. We have a yanantin of ethnicity at the top of our government: a white man and a mixed race woman (Black and East Asian/Indian). We have two generations (an elder and a middle-ager) from opposite coasts (East and West coasts). We have a Qoya in a mixed race and mixed religious marriage (Christian/Hindu and Jewish). This pair as rulers represent many fourth-level qualities, as the fourth level of consciousness and power is one in which the operative energy dynamics are those of connection, inclusion, bridge-building, acceptance of differences, and the welcoming of diversity. As president-elect Biden has said so many times: He seeks not to be the leader of blue states or red states, but the representative of the United States. He calls for seeing those who did not support him or are of an opposing political party or persuasion not as enemies but as opponents, and even as potential allies. Some call him and his calls for unity and cooperation—and those like me who applaud such values—naive. I call it fourth-level speech and behavior.

Such qualities are frightening to those still at the third level of consciousness, which in its heavy aspect is the dynamic of duality: right-wrong, us-them, ally-enemy, Democrat-Republican, and all the other divisive labels that have driven our politics and ethics for the last four years, although, truthfully, this has been the growing ethos of the United States and its politics for at least the last decade.

people protesting cropped and compressed Pixabay -2575608_1920

Trump displayed the unhealthiest characteristics of the third level. This characterization has nothing to do with his policies and everything to do with his personality and character as a man: bully, blamer, complainer, victim, paranoid conspiracy theorist, isolationist, confabulist and even liar, transactional, materialist, divider, angry, narcissistic, tribal, and the like. As I said, at his best Joe Biden displays fourth-level tendencies, although time will tell if he lives up to his rhetoric: alliance-building, empathy, kindness, consensus seeker, collaborator, inclusive, tolerant, and so on. This is a sea-change in the quality of the energetics at the top of the political hierarchy here in the United States. But Biden has no mandate. Although he won the popular vote, his electoral college victory looks like it will be achieved by a thin margin (all the votes still are not counted). Biden will be dealing not only with a divided populace but a divided government.

Still, we can’t overlook how momentous it is that we have elected our own version of an Inka and Qoya—meaning rulers, but not enlightened rulers (that remains to be seen). Let me take another leap: Looking through our three uppermost ñawis at the three human powers, we will see that metaphysically, looking through the qanchis ñawis (seventh eye), this potential for transformation is happening in 2020, which numerologically adds up to the number 4, the tawantin or symbol of wholeness, harmony, and completeness. (And Bidden was declared winner on 11/7/2020, which numerologically also adds up to 4; there’s that tawantin reference again). More realistically, looking through the paña ñawi (the  right eye of rationality) and lloq’e ñawi (left eye of practicality) at our three human powers, which in the prophecy must be developed and used together, the path forward toward the energy of tawantin appears difficult. The US population of voters expressed their llank’ay, their action, like never before. There was an historic number of votes cast in this election. But our yachay, or that of so many of the electorate, and munay are sorely lacking and underdeveloped. We have divided into factions and too many of us have bought into ridiculous and unfounded conspiracy theories of voter fraud and corruption of the election. It goes without saying that munay also is sorely lacking in huge swaths of our populace.

Donald Trump, the greatest threat in recent American history to our nation’s democratic values and to the checks and balances of our institutions of government may be gone soon, but division looms large: vast income inequalities, a reckoning for systemic racism, the resistance of global-warming deniers, a seemingly intractable political tribalism, and on and on. These divisions demonstrate just how far we have to go not only in national healing but to achieving any measure of national unity. A pachakuti, a cosmic transmutation, provides only the potential for change. Nothing is a given. Which is why paqos in the United States, and around the world, can help energetically support the positive potential of the United States by committing to practicing hucha miqhuy on the poq’po of the nation and its citizens over the long term. We have a lot of hucha to release.

Hucha miqhuy not only releases hucha, it increases strength and power, and fosters the potential for evolution. My teacher, don Juan Nuñez del Prado, has said: Hucha miqkuy “propels the process of evolution of everything. One of the ways Mother Earth propels the process of evolution is to accept your [or all human beings’] heavy energy and transform it into the light energy. She recycles the energetic remainders of the actions of humans, our hucha. She transforms human weakness into human virtue. We feed her. But if you use that power yourself, the power of hucha miqhuy, you are a co-creator with her. You become a recycler of heaviness, which is the factor that insulates human beings. It’s the factor that prevents the possibility of really creating something new and beautiful.”

choice signs compressed Gerd Altmann Germany Pixaby

Performing hucha miqhuy will help us take advantage of this election result, this return to sanity and opportunity for reconciliation and growth. (Thank you to those outside the U.S. who decide to do this for us). Obviously, what happens is up to us, and up to our elected leaders in the three branches of government (most importantly the Congress). We get to decide what this opportunity births, if anything. Where we go from here is at least partially under our will. If we develop our three human powers, then we will give this administration a chance to succeed. In my eternal optimism, I think if we see this change as a Taripay Pacha—the rise for the first time in our history of our own Inka and Qoya as leaders of our country—we can contribute as fourth-level citizens. It’s just a thought, maybe even a challenge I am of putting out there for consideration by other Americans. Who do you want to be? What do you want the character of our country to be? How do you envision our national future? And, most importantly, how will you either detract from or contribute to this possible Taripay Pacha?

A Paqo’s Approach to Forgiveness

I was asked recently about forgiveness, both forgiveness of others and of the self. What might the Andean mystical tradition say about that? I had never thought about this topic before in relation to the tradition, and I had never received a heart- compressed Gerd Altmann Pixabay 1982316_1920teaching from a paqo about it. But as I contemplated this question, I came to see a possible Andean mystical approach to forgiveness.  

Of course, we start with our energy practices. Our core practice is saminchakuy: working on the self to release any hucha, including the heaviness of feeling betrayed, wronged, hurt, rejected, or whatever emotion you carry about the situation that has caused you to discern the need for forgiveness. No matter how culpable the other person may be, as paqos we always start with ourselves. So you would seek to master your own energy body and diffuse the heaviness of your own emotions.

Another go-to practice is hucha miqhuy. This is the deep cleaning not only of your own hucha, but of the relational hucha you are feeling between yourself and the other person. You can clean that person’s poq’po using hucha miqhuy, but I see the power of hucha miqhuy more about relational energy—the flow of energy between yourself and the other—so you would focus on digesting the flow going from yourself to the other: the hurt, disruption, shutting down or cutting off in your ayni flow with the other. It is your own perception of the relationship that is imprinted in this betwixt and between energy, so take responsibility for it by cleansing it of its heaviness.

Understanding is always a plus, so there is a place for the analytic, especially since contemplation and understanding can help shift your emotions. They can help transform how you are looking at the situation and your expectations of what needs to happen for you to either feel forgiven or to sincerely forgive someone else.

First, focus on the ayni. Although you can only take responsibility for your half of the relationship, by keeping your focus on ayni you will come to realize that forgiveness is not chhalay: it is not transactional. It is not so much about you and the other as it is about yourself, especially if you are being transactional. If you have expectations of what must happen—a tit foropposites compressed -thumb up and down Pixabay 489521_1920 tat—before forgiveness occurs, then you are restricting the possibilities of what can occur. You might be keeping these possibilities limited and small. As so many psychologists tell us, forgiveness is not dependent on atonement by the person whom you feel has harmed you. It’s not even about that person making amends. No matter how wronged you feel, you are not judge and jury in relation to the other person. Well, perhaps you are if you are operating only at the level of the material world. But in terms of the spiritual or metaphysical realms, forgiveness is a change in yourself, not any kind of compensatory action by the other person. Why is this so? Because, according to so many philosophers, forgiveness is an act of grace—for the self and the other. Grace is not something that is earned or deserved. It is not something you bestow on the other, some kind of absolution. It is a state of being you cultivate within yourself that creates space for release and completion. It is a choice about your preference for the condition of your own inner landscape. Grace is the condition through which you will discover your own power of munay: that your love—or forgiveness—is an energy subject to your will.

By cultivating your munay, you will be able to move to the inner state of being that is forgiveness as defined by so many modern health experts and ancient widsom-keepers: “Forgiveness is a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness.” So forgiveness starts with making a choice. But you can’t fool yourself. You cannot pretend, through actions or words, that you have forgiven when you are really still harboring resentment. Qaway is the capacity to see reality as it really is. The reality may be that you have not yet reached the point of genuine forgiveness. No problem. Use your tools to continue working on your energy, because it’s healthier at all levels to keep your heaviness conscious and work on it then to drive it underground or hide it from yourself.

Forgiveness also is the restoration of a sense of inner peace. You can’t Past Present And Future Signpost Showing Evolution Destiny Or Agingchange the past, and surely not the reality of the pain that caused you to reject the other person or be rejected by him or her, but the universe provides you a clean slate in every moment. The word forgiveness means “to give,” not “to get.” It is something you give yourself. Like munay, it is a choice. Although reaching a state of genuine forgiveness may take time, you only have to practice in this moment, and the next moment, and the one after that. In your progression, you likely will experience a lessening of emotional intensity and a gradual lifting of heaviness. You may move from loathing to resentment, then to regret, and to disappointment, and to sadness. Eventually you may feel an acceptance of the reality of the situation that is stripped of the cloak of emotion: what happened happened.

Every small step, every slight shift in your energy will eventually result in the release of your heaviness and the restoration of your equilibrium. As Confucius said, “To be wronged is nothing, unless you continue to remember it.” You may always have the memory, but you can—through your energy work and conscious choice-making—reframe that memory. By doing both, you deflate the heavy power of the memory of the past wrong and re-inflate it with life-affirming sami. Sami, among its many meanings, refers to the essence of a thing. Feeling wronged and holding a grudge restricts your energy and dims your essence. Forgiveness opens you back up, allowing your full essence to flow freely again.

Andean Questions and Answers

Because I teach the Andean tradition, I get a lot of questions from students. Perhaps you may have some of the same queries. So today my blog post will reproduce come recent questions and my answers. I offer my understanding of the tradition as passed on through my training with my primary teacher, don Juan Nuñez del Prado, and his son, don Ivan, who has also been an important mentor to me. My answers, of course, also reflect my own thinking about the tradition and reasoning about its practices, meanings, and applications.

 What are the distinctions between kawsay, sami, and hucha?

Kawsay means “life” and it is the foundational, animating energy of creation. It is the “living” energy. Truthfully, we don’t know what it actually is. It is beyond human conception, just as ki, chi, and prana are at heart inexplicable. Whatever First Cause is (God, or whatever you want to call Original Consciousness), it expresses itself as kawsay. Kawsay, then, can be thought of as the animating expression of Creator. Kawsay is the essence of everything, so that everything, both natural or manmade, is infused to some degree or another with beingness, even with a measure of consciousness.

From the kawsay pacha (the immaterial realm of Creator, which is beyond all imagining, beyond space-time and dimensionality) comes the Pachamama, the Mother of Space-Time, which is the material, physical world. Kawsay is the living energy, and the most refined form of kawsay is called sami. It’s ancient name is llanthu kawsay, or light living energy. Sami is light not as in visible light but in terms of quality: as lightness, refinement, the finest vibration of living energy. So it imparts a lightness of being. The distinction here is: kawsay is living energy; sami is light living energy.

Everything in the material world is made of sami, including human beings, and we want to be as full of sami as we can be. Sami confers well-being at every level of our existence: physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, in the condition of our bodies and of our lives.

Everything in the material world absorbs and radiates sami. Everything, we can say, is in perfect ayni, or reciprocity—except for human beings. Because of our complexity, especially that of our thoughts and emotions—which can be a wild rush of conflicting energies and impulses, confused and even hidden from our conscious minds—we can slow down or block sami from flowing through us. Hucha is this “denied” life-force energy, some of which becomes stuck on the surface of our energy field or inside us. The Andean paqos have a name for this slowed or blocked sami: hucha. It’s ancient name is llasaq kawsay, literally heavy living energy. Hucha is not negative, bad, harmful, or dangerous. It is only slow sami. It is sami that has lost some of its transformative power. So it feels heavy to us. If too much accumulates on the surface of our energy field or within us it can make our lives feel heavy because it reduces our overall well-being.

Do we work with the elements of nature, such as sun, water, fire, air?

Not really, although technically you can work with any energy and every energy, including elements such as wind and sun. This question mostly comes up in relation to the ñawis, the mystical eyes, because each of the four lower mystical eyes are associated with a spirit being. The association is as follows :

Siki ñawi, eye of the root—Mama Unu, Mother of the Waters (rain)

Qosqo ñawi, eye of the belly—Mama Allpa, Mother Earth

Sonqo ñawi, eye of the heart—Tayta Inti, Father Sun

Kunka ñawi, eye of the neck—Tayta Wayra, Father Wind

These are universal spirit beings, because every human being across the globe is touched by them. So they are known by and available to everyone.reflection white clouds and sun on the blue sky in water You are working with these spirit beings, not with their physical elemental manifestation of water/rain, soil/natural world, light/ heat, air pressure/air movement. You work with them just as you would any other spirit being, such as an apu (spirit being who lives in a mountain), by developing a personal relationship with them. Their natures differ, and you can learn from their unique powers. Father Wind is flexible, changing, moving. Father Sun is illuminating, revealing, enlightening. Mother Earth provides everything to us. She is fecund, productive, empowering, strengthening, stabilizing.  Mother Water is refreshing and revitalizing, cleansing and transformative.

There are other spirit beings that are not universal, but more localized in nature. These include the mukis, gnome-like beings; anchanchus, nature beings of the lakes and caves; sachamama, amaru (anaconda/snake) of the forests; phausi runa, playful spirits of waterfalls and water cascades,  and so on. As you can see, in the Andean tradition we work not with elements but the spirit beings themselves, and they can mentor, counsel, and guide us, imparting to us some of their own qualities.

Is the tradition Q’ero?

Only partly. This is the Andean mystical tradition, meaning common to those  groups who live in the south-central Andes. Historically, the Q’ero have been highly respected throughout the region as the finest paqos. However, the tradition as passed down through don Juan Nuñez del Prado is comprised of the knowledge of two lineages. Only part of the training was passed on to him specifically from the Q’ero Wachu (Inkari lineage) through the late don Andres Espinosa; the other aspects of the training are from the Cuzco Wachu (Waskar lineage) through the late masters don Benito Qoriwaman and don Melchor Desa. So unless you are working exclusively with the Q’ero, it is more accurate to call our work and practices Andean to honor all the paqos of other nations/groups of the region who have shared the tradition with us.

Is a layqa a light being?

That’s not the meaning today, and hasn’t been the meaning for hundreds of years. There may have been a time far back in the reaches of Andean mystical history when a layqa simply meant a paqo. (This word is also commonly spelled laika and laeqa.) But at least since the time of the Spanish Conquest, it refers to paqos who have lost their way along the path and so practice without ayni or to others who are using their power in self-interested ways for their own ends rather than with the good of all in mind. In the anthropological literature the term layqa is used by everyday Andeans (who are not paqos) to mean sorcerer or witch. Just about every online translator of Quechua and most Quechua dictionaries define a layqa the same way: as a sorcerer or witch. So if you use the term today, you would be wise to use it in its contemporary, commonly accepted meaning or else you will be misunderstood. If a paqo today was called a layqa, he or she would likely be insulted or shocked!

Do the paqos work with Star Beings?

I cannot say with certainty that they don’t, but from all the conversations I have been part of (through translation) with many different paqos (mostly Q’ero) over the last two decades, I have never met a paqo who claimed there were “star beings” as that term is commonly defined. In fact, in one conversation in which they were really pressed, the Q’ero simply looked mystified when asked about this. They insisted they do not work with “star beings” and did not seem to even understand the questions they were being asked about this topic.

They describe working with stars in two primary ways. First they may identify a particular star that they feel they are especially connected to. It is their “guiding star” but they see it not not so much as a spirit being but as the doorway or portal through which they came to earth and through which they will return to the hanaqpacha (upper world, God) upon death. Otherwise, they use the stars and constellations as calendars, to know when to plant and when to harvest, to take care of their herds in their various life cycles, and to mark the time for both sacred and common festivities and celebrations.

Remember, though, that everything is a “being.” A star is a chask’a, a planet a qoyllur, the night is Mama Tuta, and all can be considered beings because everything in nature is infused with kawsay, the animating energy. And, of course, there may be paqos beyond the Q’ero of the last generation, which is the generation I mostly worked with and who are mostly deceased now, who do believe in and work with “star beings” (as that term is currently understood in popular culture).

In terms of time, is the hanaqpacha (upper world) related to the future and the ukhupacha (lower or inner world) with the past?

No, the associations are exactly opposite! The hanaqpacha is associated with the past, and the ukhupacha is related to the future. There is much to know from the cultural landscape of the Andeas to fully explain this. But the short answer is that the upper world, hanaqpacha, is more closely aligned with the kawsay pacha, the eternal realm beyond time and space. It always was, is now, and always will be. Its qualities, according to anthropologists who have recorded local Andeans describing the hanaqpacha, include permanence, order, stability, persistence (as in the duration of time), and perfection. According to the mystical tradition, it is the upper portion of the Pachamama, the abode in which dwell those beings who practice perfect ayni, who are enlightened. For all these reasons, it is associated with the past, with the First Cause of creation that continues to unfold without end.

The ukhupacha is the realm of those who did not practice ayni well while alive. They are in a place of regeneration, where they can learn and grow as beings (including human beings) and transform themselves. Some anthropologists cite Andean people as describing the ukhupacha as a place of change, creation, and fertility. It is place of “becoming,” of evolving the self. Thus it is associated with process and potentiality and, hence, with the future.

I have not gone into detail in these answers, but I trust this Q & A session helped you brush up on concepts of the tradition you already knew but may have forgotten or not fully understood, and that you learned a thing or two new. If you have questions you would like me address, please email me at QentiWasi@gmail.com or JoanParisiWilcox@gmail.com.

Tawantins in Nature and Relationship

The highest energetic relationship in our Andean cosmosvision is the tawantin, four factors united in harmony and wholeness. In Andean energy dynamics, the tawantin plays out in many ways.

The chakana—Andean cross—is the core graphical representation of the Andean tawantin. But chakanawe have tawantins within us as well. Our three human powers—munay, or love under our will; yachay, or knowledge and thoughts; and llank’ay, or action—are a tawantin because llank’ay can be broken down into two factors: khuyay, or passion; and atiy, or measuring your personal power in the moment, discerning proper timing for action, and bringing your impulses under your will. So our three human powers are actually four—they form an inner tawantin.

If you have had the chunpis (belts of power) woven, you will know that there are four of them: the yana chunpi, or black belt at the trunk/root of the body; the puka chunpi around the belly area; the qori chunpi at the chest, and the qolqe chunpi at the neck. Their primary purpose is to connect into an integrated system the four main ñawis, of which there is one in each of the chunpis: the siki ñawi in the black belt, the qosqo ñawi in the red belt, the sonqo ñawi at the gold belt, and the kunka ñawi at the silver belt. After you connect these up into a tawantin, you link these to the three upper ñawis: the two physical eyes and the seventh eye (qanchis ñawi). You have then created a holistic, harmonious wholeness within your metaphysical body.

Your Andean energy work provides ways to dynamically create all kinds of tawantins, from a despacho to dynamically moving and tuning energy to the level of tawantin energy. And we find other tawantins in our relationship to our human form. Our birth into the physical as humans is a result of the merging of or connection to two major tawantins. The first is that we have four parents: our human mother and father, and our Cosmic Father and Mother Earth. Second, we have our human mother and father, and then we are claimed by two nature spirits Atomwho become life-long guides: our Itu (male nature spirit being) and Paqarina (female nature spirit being).

Tawantins not only are an integral part of our Andean energy work but also suffuse physical nature and human nature at the most fundamental levels. From physics to biology to art to human relationships, there are essential tawantins everywhere. There are, of course, many other kinds of “fours” but these are representative of tawantins that undergird our world.

* The four bases of DNA: Adenine, thymine, cytosine, guanine

* The four bases of RNA: Adenine, uracil, cytosine, guanine

* The four force carriers of physics: Gluons, bosons, photons, and gravitons

* The four fundamental physics forces: Gravitational, electromagnetic , strong nuclear, and weak nuclear forces

* The four lobes of the brain: Frontal, parietal, temporal, occipital

* The four chambers of the heart: Left and right ventricles, and left and right atria

* The four essential representations in mathematics: Numeric, graphical, symbolic, words

* The four fundamental mathematical operations: Addition, subtraction, division, multiplication

* The four alchemical elements: Earth, air, fire, water

* The four domains of expression: Physical, mental, emotional, spiritual

* Four natural stages of life: Child, youth, adult, elder

There are tawantins in all kinds of other areas, such as the four seasons, the four cardinal directions, the four divisions of the day, the four stages of the moon, and on and on. And I have barely mentioned more symbolic, metaphorical, and spiritual meanings of fourness: the luck associated with a four-leaf clover, Plato’s four cardinal virtues, the four horsemen of the apocalypse, the four winds, the Pythagorean identification of the number 4 with God, the numerology symbolism of  the number 4 as bringing heaven down to earth.

Perhaps the most important tawantin is that of relationship, as it is through interactions with others that we potentially create the most hucha. Within the Illustration of woman and man with aura, chakras and healing energyAndean mystical tradition, there are four factors in the growth of a relationship, forming the overarching framework of increasingly sami-filled interactions. The four-fold progression starts with munay, developing a mutual respect and affection. Then comes ayni, when your munay deepens so that you are beyond the needs of the self and truly see the other person for who they really are (and vice versa, with the other person reciprocating). Reaching ayni is the true beginning of a relationship, which can then take you to the stage of development called masintin-yanantin. This is the stage where you begin to work through the dynamics of your individual similarities and differences, more fully taking back your projections, expectations, and so on to harmonize the interactions without judging or trying to change the other person. Despite your differences, you both act in ways that benefit the other. Your similarities amplify your munay and ayni, and you can achieve harmony as your differences become supportive and complementary. Finally, you can reach tawantin, where you are each being who your really are, fully appreciative of the other as an individual, and aware that there is almost a third body in the relationship: the energy/poq’po of the relationship itself.

Watching for and addressing tawantins in your interactions with others is a productive way to reduce hucha and seek greater integrity , happiness, and wholeness. So let’s examine groupings of four factors that amount to tawanatins as identified by health and relationship experts. I will also add my own thoughts about the relational “tawantins” they identify.

Lawrence Michaels identifies what amounts to a tawantin of relationship by pointing out four main dynamics that can quickly degrade or even destroy relationships. This is a destructive rather than a constructive tawantin in that these are behaviors and attitudes to watch out for. If you remain aware and attentive to how these dynamics might be habits of your own relational energy or of the person you are trying to relate to then you will be able to see how and why you (or the other person) may be creating hucha in that relationship.

The first factor of the this tawantin is Criticism vs Complaining. Complaining gets you nowhere, except into a defensive standoff with your partner. Complaints are notinteresting conversation about highlighting a troublesome issue but about placing blame, usually on someone else. Criticism, or more accurately critique, on the other hand, is a healthier approach to resolving issues. Critique is a objective, unemotional airing of a grievance. You are specific about a single issue instead of making sweeping generalizations, you suggest specific changes that can be made, and you are realistic about both your role and the other’s role in the difficult dynamic.

The second factor is Expressions of Contempt. Become aware of how you signal distaste and disagreement. It’s not only words that can wound, but facial expressions, tone of voice, body language, and other nonverbal cues. If you are prone to making sarcastic and cutting remarks, you are not communicating much of anything but blame and shame. You are not communicating but condemning. There is no room for discussion when you have already rendered a verdict on the other person. Expressing contempt (rather then discussing distaste or disagreement) can lead to the third most common hucha-inducing factor of this relational tawantin, defensiveness.

Defensiveness takes many forms, from anger and attack to withdrawal, dismissal, or flight. When either partner feels attacked or diminished, it’s common to go into protect-and-defend mode. But in that stance, neither partner can discuss the real issue, and trust breaks down. Causing someone to go into defensive mode or reacting in an overly defensive way yourself means you have shut down the sincere interactive energy of the relationship.

The fourth factor of this tawantin is Withdrawal or Stone-walling. The defensiveness that leads to the slamming of the emotional door of the relationship means communication is not possible. You or the other person simply are not present, available, or connected, so during the time of the withdrawal there is no relationship to work on.

How do you turn these hucha-inducing dynamics into a sami-inducing relational tawantin? Many psychologists identify another group of four factors that are constructive actions and attitudes. I bring their ideas together into the following tawantin.

First, cultivate respect. If there is no mutual respect, there is no munay or ayni. gift-from-juan-p-eRespect grows out of caring, consideration, listening, finding worth in others, and remaining open to ideas and values that are different from yours.

Second is honesty. To be honest, you have to know yourself, so that you are not fooling yourself or the other. You have to be willing to own your “shadow stuff” so that you are not projecting outwardly what is driving you from within your unconscious. Then you have to be both brave and vulnerable enough to speak and act from your truth, and to accept that from the other person as well.

Cultivating honesty in a relationship leads to the third factor of the tawantin, trust. Trust takes many forms in many domains of a relationship, but no matter the context it is only by building trust in yourself and the other person that you can be “real” with each other. Without respect and honesty, there can be no such trust.

And these three factors together result in the fourth aspect of the tawantin: communication. It might be surprising that communication is the crowning attribute of the tawantin, instead of the first factor. You might think you have to have good communication in order to develop respect, honesty, and trust. However, in the flow of relationship it’s really the other way around: these three core factors of respect, honesty, and trust are what determine your ability to truly communicate at all. The first three aspects of the tawantin are the foundational abilities that lead to the building of a dynamic and deep communication.

I could go on with other ways to see the various tawantins of relationship, but I trust that you see how tawantins work to reduce hucha and increase sami. Within your own life and relationships, look for the four major factors that, when integrated, lead to harmony and wholeness. Working on those four factors is the dynamic work of the tawantin. They are the “gates” of the mandala of interaction through which you simultaneously walk to reach the center of a harmonious self and healthy relationships.