Seven Signposts Along the Spiritual Journey

In my trainings, the general topic of the “spiritual calling” sometimes comes up, as well as discussions of how all too often when we feel we are progressing along our spiritual path our lives seem to become chaotic and challenging for some time before they improve. In our discussions, I usually refer to the “stages” or “signposts” of the spiritual journey, and that’s the subject of this blog post.

There are many philosophers, mythologists, spiritual teachers, and others who have written about the stages spiritual seekers pass through or the signposts seekers commonly find along their path. The map of the journey that I draw below is my own view on this topic. I provide only an outline of the stages of the journey. There is a lot more to say, but this will suffice to alert you to where you are in your spiritual journey.

  1. The Disquiet

The first indication that you are on a spiritual quest or beginning a spiritual journey is what mythologist Joseph Campbell designates “The Call.” That is a beautiful and apt term to describe the first stirrings within yourself that life as you know it is not acceptable to you and that you desire something more: more connection, more peace, more joy, more engagement, more service, more meaning. . .whatever it is about your personal experience and state of being that feels unexplored, unlived, undeveloped. Simply put, there is either a calamity in your life that shouts to you “Enough!” and you are propelled toward change; or there is a niggling voice within, often quite subtle, that pesters you toward change. Either way, you come to the realization that you want more, can do more, can be more. Most of us at some point in our lives feel this inner disquiet. Unfortunately, many people tend to ignore it and instead just get back to the business of life, the pull of everyday responsibilities, and the safety of the known. Those who listen to this inner call, however, have stepped onto the path of their spiritual quest.

  1. The Search

Once you heed the call, your journey begins. Almost universally, it starts with a search for answers to sometimes existential questions about meaning, strategies for change, and people who can provide advice, information, and insight. The searchAlways Learning compressed Gerd Altmann Germany Pixabay can be the longest stage of the spiritual quest, as there are many paths to growth and they can create inner confusion because they may provide competing and even conflicting strategies for self-development. Sometimes the cacophony of voices you listen to can be so overwhelming that the spiritual journey ends here, with you throwing up your hands in despair and taking the easy path back to what you know and the life you have lived to this point. You squelch the call and retreat to the familiar or rationalize that the spiritual quest and self-development is just not worth the effort. For those who can withstand that task of sorting through the vast reams of information and handling the often conflicting advice, the search becomes an experience rich in the widening of your intellectual, emotional, and spiritual life. The search itself becomes a journey of growth.

The downside of this stage is twofold. First, you can become addicted to knowledge at the expense of practice, sucking in information but not really using it to transform yourself and your life. Or, alternatively, you can become so unsure of yourself that you never end the search. This is what I call the “workshop junkie” response, where you seek, and seek, and seek (always gaining knowledge) but you don’t trust yourself to end the search and begin the true work of transformation. The “best” answer always seems to be the next book, training or teacher, and the next, and the next. . . . Ultimately, however, you have to settle on an “answer” and a practice, which leads you to the next stage.

  1. The Answer

If you are to transform, you finally have to do the work of transformation. You have to settle into a sustained practice, committed to using it fully and over time to choice signs compressed Gerd Altmann Germany Pixabyreap the benefits. This doesn’t mean that you have to choose a single path forever—say a particular school of meditation, or the practices of a particular tradition such as the Celtic or the Andean or whatever—but you do have to commit to a single path or practice for long enough to use it well, perhaps even to master it, so that you incorporate its beneficial effects. You might then move on to another practice, but you then also give that practice sufficient time to help you do your inner work. The trap of this stage is also two-fold: you become dogmatic in believing you have found the single only “real” answer and become fanatical about it. Or, you don’t give sufficient time to that practice to reap its rewards.

I remember being in the Amazon working with the Mother of All Plants, ayahuasca, and her telling me during an inner journey: You can heal through anything: tai chi, meditation, psychotherapy, but you have to have the integrity to follow that path deeply and well and sufficiently. The bottom line is that at different stages of your growth, there will be different answers: different practices that can best help you grow to the next level of consciousness. Being committed and flexible is an useful approach.

  1. The Crisis

In the Andean tradition, we call the inner transformation and our conscious development a mast’ay. This is a restructuring, or better yet a reordering, of the self. That is sometimes not a comfortable or graceful process. A crisis can be what propels you onto the path of personal transformation in the first place, becoming your call to action. But crises also often occur as a consequence of your inner work.

For many spiritual seekers, there is a view that if they are successfully working their practices and path, their lives will change for the better and continually improve. That is often true. But it is also true that just as often improvement is interrupted by crisis. The crisis may actually be a good thing! It may be a sign that you are doing your work and are ready to up your game. Here’s why: You have to walk your talk. You will be asked by Spirit to take off your rose-colored glasses and see yourself as you really are—what you have mastered and what you still need to work on. And the universe will provide that opportunity. In my trainings, when I am talking about this, I often quote from wise woman Gloria Karpinski. She wrote in one of her books, as an example of this kind of “test,” that when you put out the intention to the universe that you want to “be love”—live from love, treat others with love, etc.—the universe probably won’t send you thirty people to love. It will send you thirty people you cannot stand and say, “Love them.” Those are wise words indeed. If you truly want to walk a spiritual path, you will have to—sometimes moment by agonizing moment—put your intention into action.

It can take discernment to figure out what is going on as a crisis or challenge develops. It could be that you have not done your work well, and you inner shadow is coming out and wreaking havoc. This the call for self-observation. You need to realize something about yourself and make an effort to own it, heal it or transform it, and grow. Or, it could be that you have done your inner work so well that the universe is going to provide you the perfect opportunity to live it out loud. To my mind, this is not the universe testing you. It is rewarding you! But only you can determine which of these possibilities is true in the crises that may come up in your life.

  1. The Renewal

As your personal mast’ay (inner and outer restructuring) continues—and, really, this is a lifelong process—you may well emerge from any crisis to a higher level of consciousness: what we would call the fourth level in the Andean tradition. This is a state of being in which you can transcend boundaries, seek cooperation instead of competition, remain clear in your own opinions and beliefs while allowing others to have their own, and find a bridge between the mundane world (which you live in more fully than ever) and the spiritual (which is an understanding that allows you to live in a different, healthier and more productive way in the world and to interact with your fellow human beings in a more harmonious way). The renewal stage can make you feel high! You can be the picture of contentment, happiness, and even joy. And you foster that in others, because you have explored your shadow self, taken back many of your most disturbing projections, and calmed your most explosive triggers.

The challenge of the renewal stage is change. It is my experience that three common reassessments take place—and they can have huge reverberations in your life. 1) You reassess what you are doing with your life, especially your form of service or work and you make a change; 2) you reassess the people and relationships in your life to more clearly see how they are (or are not) serving you and how you are (or are not) serving them, and you make necessary changes; and 3) you reassess your place on the Mother (your home location) and you relocate. In other words, in their most dire expressions, you break up a relationship or marriage, your quit your job, and you move. Sometimes these are necessary transformations, because, after all, you are changed and you see the world (and act in the world) in a changed way. But usually such major disruptions are not necessary—at least not in an abrupt way. My best advice is that when you feel the best (and are reassessing most deeply), do nothing! At least not for a good long while. The old Buddhist adage “After enlightenment, the laundry” applies. Your goal is not to be spiritual and surrounded by spiritual people. Your goal is to be most self-actualized human being and to live in the very real world that way. The question is, “Can you take your relationship, job, and home environment to the next level of satisfaction?” Doing the work on these three most important aspects of your life may be the deepest aspects of the renewal period.

That said, it is also true that during the renewal reassessment, you can also discover “who you truly are” and what your life mission is. Living from truth and clarity may mean that some aspects of your life need to be transformed. The challenge then is to not wait from a sign from God or the Spirits, but to actually undertake the transformation even with incomplete knowledge or feelings of insecurity. When making either small but consequential changes or sweeping and even dramatic changes, risk is involved and so courage is called for.

  1. The Disengagement

Most, if not all, of the stages of the spiritual quest up to this point are about doing: change, transformation, decision-making, and action. This stage is completely opposite, as its name indicates. It is about non-doing. Well, to be accurate, it’s not so much about non-doing as it is about not wanting to do. Not everyone goes through this stage, but enough of us do to make it worth talking about. It’s a difficult stage to describe because it can take many forms and occur with varying force.

The overriding sensibilities at this stage are feelings of lack of connection, motivation, and passion. This is what might be called the existential crisis—a period when you question all meaning, and if meaning even really exists (as some independent “thing” outside of yourself).

This stage usually arises when you have completed important inner work, especially Dealing with Helpess, turn it offthat of self-actualization. You have taken back projections, unhooked from triggers, learned self-observation and self-monitoring (self-control), attended to incongruities within yourself and outwardly in your life (relationships, profession). You have reduced your “needs” and realize that mostly what is left is “choice.” But you may be experiencing such equanimity that choices seem pointless. You feel dispassionate about everything! You can end up lacking motivation to engage in life, instead only going through the motions and putting on a mask so your family and friends don’t worry about you. If that is the case, you may have to, as some psychologists advise, fake it until you feel it (engagement in life—meaning) again.

The challenge is that this ennui can shift into a real depression and you may withdraw from life. The antidotes to such reclusive impulses are contemplation and patience. It’s time to stop judging or analyzing yourself (and life) and just let yourself be. This is a stage in which you can wean yourself from the highs and lows of human emotions: with needing those emotions to tell you what you feel and what is worth moving toward or away from, and from needing emotions to stimulate you and make you “feel alive.” Thus, this is a stage of inner stillness, which just happens to be mirroring itself in outer stillness. Don’t confuse the two! When you realize you are unhooking from the sugar high of emotions, you can “detox” in a healthy way and not confuse the move toward inner equanimity with the loss of self.

Ultimately, you will emerge from this stage. Usually, it takes the realization that while there might be some grand spiritual plan for your life, the reality is that you may not be able to know it except through the day-to-day living of life. In other words, to use a cliché, it really is the journey and not the destination that matters. There might not be any supernatural hand guiding you (or you might not need to feel it anymore), so you will just have to guide yourself. This realization does not mean you lose a spiritual perspective or belief; instead, it is your recognition that spirit will be realized through you so you are better off just being you and living your life again. Another cliché rears its head here: you learn that the magical is the mundane. And, finally, you learn to be comfortable in the lap of paradox and to befriend the Unknowable.

  1. The Reconnection

When you are able to deeply honor the simple, mundane, and every day, you are ready to reconnect with and revision your life. You might or might not regain your Green Road Sign concept and landscape backgroundpassion, but emotions don’t matter. You are making a choice: to re-acknowledge your humanness and to retake your place in the human world. To steal the title of book of physics that sits on my bookshelf, you are the owner of the “deep down things” within yourself, and you are ready to rise up and explore the mysteries of being yourself in the world—really yourself. This means that while you may feel like an island, you are part of an archipelago—a community. You both choose your closest community with newfound awareness and you open yourself to the boundary-less of your connection with all of humanity (and all of life). That is not some grand sentiment. Instead, it simply means that no one is off limits, except those you choose not to invite in. Choice is imperative. You do not have to a friend of everyone to be a friend to everyone. In fact, in the reconnection, you never waste your energy pretending. You own your choices. That includes choices where you say, “No, thank you.”

In fact, being able to determine your true choices, wants, and needs (we all still have them!) and acting on them without being hypocritical, duplicitous, or manipulative and without losing your manners (kindness and consideration) is the liberation that comes with this kind of reconnection. Life is always about the externalization of your internal state of being. In reconnection with or the revisioning of the self—this seventh stage of the spiritual journey—that externalization is of the state of both fidelity to yourself and humility about yourself. As Ernest Hemingway wrote, “There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” In reconnection, no matter how far you know you can still go, you never forget how far you have had to come.




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.