Salka Wind Blog

Posts on the Andean Cosmovision

Tag: ayni (page 2 of 3)

Remember to Wave Your Warak’as

In this post we continue to pursue an understanding of how the complementarity of opposites informs the Andean people’s understanding of themselves, their relationships with each other, and their relationships with the Cosmos. In earlier posts we looked at the basic concepts underlying the complementarity of opposites (Yin/Yang of the Andes), how it informs the relationships between women and men (Wharmi-Qhari), and how the ritual encounter (‘tinkuy’) of differing energies can give rise to new life force (Tinkuy: Confirming the Rules of Life).

In that latter post tinkuy was introduced within the context of ritual battles that up until recent times were waged between neighboring communities in the Andes, and in the whipping dances that continue through today. In this post I would like to take a look at tinkuy in the form of competition between communities and between individuals, and then use that as a foundation to understand don Americo Yabar’s description of the three levels of relationship between people in the Andes.

The true treasure of the Andean Cosmovision is found in the ways that it differs from the view of reality offered by my modern, western, culture. This difference is deeper than simply having a different set of beliefs, or a different set of meditative practices, and this is exactly what is lost if we skim off a few beliefs and meditations from the Andean culture and toss them into our eclectic bag of ways for working with the energy of Nature. The change I believe we need as a culture if we wish to head toward a future of greater beauty and health, not only for us but for the whole planet (our future cannot be beautiful or healthy without accomplishing that for all of Nature as well) involves deep and fundamental changes in the way we experience reality, and in our relationships with each other, in our relationships with the Cosmos, and with the various aspects of our own Being.

The Festival of Qoyllu Rit’i

We have seen the role of tinkuy in the ritual battles and whipping dances of the festival of Pukllay (earlier post), now I’d like to turn to the expression of tinkuy in the dance and band competitions found in the Andean festival of Qoyllu Rit’i (held in May/June of each year). Qoyllu Rit’i is a time when communities of the region come together on the slopes of the majestic Apu Ausangate range. Communities bring their own bands and dance groups to compete during the festival. The battle of the bands is somewhat like a real battle in that the various bands don’t just take turns playing their best but at times try to drown each other out with their music. The competing dance groups have worked long and hard during the preceding year on their costumes and on their dances in the hope of outperforming both in style and energy the other groups. These band and dance competitions are tinkuy, an encounter of differences leading to a union that is greater than the sum of its parts.

“It may seem paradoxical that competition enters so strongly into an event that serves to integrate ayllus (communities defined by relationships) over a large region, and whose overall effect is to produce an overwhelming sense of ‘comunitas,’ an ecstatic submersion of individual selfhood into a larger whole. Yet it is exactly the competition–the clash of ayllu with ayllu, province with province, puna (high grasslands) people with valley people–that explodes in a huge jingle of sound and blaze of color, in an intensity of activity and noise, which vibrates for a few days in the sun and ice of the Apu’s glacial solitude.” (Allan, pg 176).

View of Asungate Range

Ausangate Range

Paucartambo

My own experience of a regional dance competition was at a festival in the town of Paucartambo, which don Americo Yabar had taken me to see. It was a festival that is not well-known by outsiders and I was about the only non-Andean there (it was one of those ‘pinch me I must be dreaming’ moments). Some of the dance groups had walked over 15 miles through the mountains to represent their village in the competition. The photos below are of the dancers from the village of Mollamarka.

Dancers of Mollamarka

Dancers of Mollamarka

Dancers of Mollamarka

Earning Smiles and Applause

The Day of the Horse

Dance and band competitions are tinkuy between communities. Competitions in the Andes can also be between individuals. In her book Rituals of Respect the anthropologist Inge Bolin describes a horse race that plays the title role in a sacred festival held in the high Andes, a festival the locals call ‘The Day of the Horse’.

The festival is held to honor (in ayni for) ‘Illapa’, the Andean deity of thunder and lightning. As a reminder (from earlier posts), the Quechua language has no word that translates without distortion into our word ‘god’. The Andean gods are not transcendent spirits, they are, instead, the consciousness inherent in that aspect of Nature or the Cosmos.

The honoring of Illapa plays an increasingly important role in the culture as one moves higher up in the Andes. In the high villages death of both people and their animals by lightning is a recurring threat. The thundering sound of the horse’s hooves during the race and the celebrations surrounding the event honor and appease Illapa.

The race is held in a high mountain valley with the massive range of Ausangate towering over its far end. The track is about two kilometers long, at its end the riders need to negotiate a steep mountain side before returning. Women, children, and men not in the race sit on the surrounding slopes to get a vantage point from which they can cheer and applaud the riders. The race is held in heats of four which take all day to complete. By the time the last, championship, heat is held it is dusk, and the riders disappear into the gloom of night to emerge again from the darkness as they come charging back.

Inge Bolin notes that the riders, who are called the ‘Sons of the Thunder’ are enthusiastic and every contestant hopes to win. And yet, while they are racing, they often sacrifice speed to sit up and swing their warak’a (slings) above their heads and jubilantly shout out the names of important sacred sites and spirits.  ‘Every contestant hopes to win.  Yet, it is more important to participate, to celebrate this day, to remember the gods, to be together in joy and harmony.”  (Bolin, pg 173).

In the evening, when the race was over, Inge realized that she hadn’t heard who had won. She asked the people around her but they just smiled. Finally, someone pointed out the winner.  “I congratulate him for having won this thrilling race. He smiles and shyly averts his eyes. Only later do I full comprehend that winning is not the prime reason for staging the race, and I realize that it was not proper behavior to ask for the winner or to congratulate him openly. In an egalitarian society where respect for others is a primary concern, it is not considered polite to make much fuss about one person, stressing his individual achievement to the detriment of others. The race was a success…The gods were pleased…It was a great competition in which the riders competed with and not against each other. Everyone who witnessed or participated in this energetic ritual was equally important.” (Bolin, pp 173-174).

As I read the phrase ‘competed with and not against each other’ something arose in my mind, something I remember don Americo Yabar talking about years ago that had not made sense to me at the time. Now I think I have a better understanding of it.

The Three Stages of Relationship

Americo was describing three stages that can occur in a relationship. The first stage of a relationship he called ‘tinkuy’, and he uses the term a bit more narrowly than Bolin and Allen.  Tinkuy is the encounter of two different energies (e.g. two different people).  This happens when the sphere of energy around one person first comes into contact with the sphere of energy around another. At this point one can begin to sense in which ways you are similar and in which ways you differ from the other person.

The second stage in the relationship Americo calls ‘tupay’, which he described as involving a competition between the two people. At this point in the explanation, in my notes, Americo hesitates and tries to explain the nature of this competition, that it is not the western, aggressive form of competition where a victor stands in triumph over the loser. I could never quite grasp what he was getting at until I read Bolin’s account of ‘The Day of the Horse’, a jubilant race where you compete with the others rather than against them. The point of the competition in ‘tupay’ is not to triumph over your competitor, but to discover in which areas each of you excels over the other.

For the relationship to then reach its deepest level, the third and final stage is to move from ‘tupay’ into ‘taqe’. In ‘taqe’–now that you have found what each one of you is better at–you bring the other person up to your level of expertise in that area. You become equal by both of you becoming more than you were before.

These three stages are described by Joan Wilcox (from her studies with Americo and others) in the book Masters of the Living Energy: The Mystical World of the Q’ero of Peru (pp 58-62). She goes on to explain how this process informs the living tradition of the Andean Cosmovision. The people in the Andes who are the maestros of the Andean Cosmovision are called paqos (also spelled paq’o).  They differ in their ability levels, in what they can accomplish in dancing with the living energy of the Cosmos. Their abilities are not, however, measured by their adherence to a set of specific, traditional, teachings or techniques. The abilities are, instead, the product of their relationships with other paqos, who all have their own set of knowledge and skills. And through the process of tinkuy, tupay, and then taqe these skills are shared with others. As you grow in skill from these relationships you are more able to learn higher skills from others, and you will be more in a position of being able to share something they would benefit knowing how to to do as well.

I would like to expand our view a bit and look at all of the parties involved in these relationships. The abilities of the paqos concern their relationships with the vast, beautiful, sometimes frightening, mysterious, unfathomable multitude of beings (consciousnesses) of Nature and the Cosmos. The ability of interacting, for example, with an Apu (a being who is a majestic mountain peak) is not just a skill, it is a relationship between two beings, the Apu and the paqo. Learning from another paqo how to open the door to that relationship is one step, what happens after that is up to the paqo and the Apu. The skills of the paqos, thus, are not just based upon what the paqos have learned to do, they are also the result of their subsequent relationship with Nature and the Cosmos.

Summary

In looking over the past few posts this is what I see. There are at least three patterns of healthy relationships in the Andes.

1) When two differing energies/beings (complementary opposites) come together they can retain and honor their differences, yet form a union, and this is called ‘yanantin’, the harmonious bringing together of complementary opposites, which leads to a whole that is greater than the sum of the parts. From this union of complementary opposites new life force emerges from the synergy of the complementary energies dancing together. A harmonious interaction of female and male energies is an example of yanantin.

2) When two similar energies/beings come together this is called ‘masintin’. I do not know if the alliance of two similar energies also produces a whole that is greater than the sum of the parts, or if it creates a whole that is equal to the sum of the parts. I suspect it is the latter but none the less beautiful for that. In our lives we have the opportunity to form many yanantin and many masintin relationships.

3) A third option is one that might be called co-evolution, where we start off by noting our differences, specifically differences in our abilities, and then we endeavor to pull each other up to our best levels. What starts off as difference ends up as equality, not by finding a mean but by mutual elevation. This, as I see it, is the path of the paqos.

 

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Giving Flowers to the Cosmos

An important part of my journey on this path is to regularly give despachos (offerings) to the Pachamama (the great Being who is the planet Earth), to the Apus (the Beings who are the majestic mountain peaks), and to the creek who flows so beautifully past where I like to meditate. Despachos are offerings made to nourish our relationship with Nature and the Cosmos. In the Andean Cosmovision it is possible to form a relationship of respect and  love with Nature and the Cosmos, for the Andean people live in a physical world that is as conscious of them as they are of it (see the post Barefoot in the Mountains).

Despachos can be very simple or very elaborate. The despachos I have seen the Q’ero (also spelled ‘Qero’) make are both elaborate and beautiful, with each element carrying important significance. The intent of a despacho can be to express gratitude and nourish the relationship with the facet of the Cosmos to whom the despacho is offered, or it can be to express some specific desired outcome. In this post I would like to share how to make simple despachos of gratitude.

Joan Wilcox in her informative book Masters of the Living Energy: The Mystical World of the Q’ero of Peru draws a distinction between ‘despachos’ (made for specific outcomes) and ‘pagos’ (simple expressions of gratitude). I have not heard don Americo Yabar draw that distinction. Both terms are Spanish in origin, and when I turn to my English-Spanish dictionary to see if it can clarify the meaning of the terms I am led to wonder how either  every came to be associated with the offerings made in the Andes. Perhaps the dictionary doesn’t tap a subtle use of the terms that would indeed fit the despachos of the Andean people.

I use the term ‘despacho’ for any offering made to Nature or the Cosmos in the spirit of ayni, no matter how simple or complex, including those made just to express gratitude. As I write this my mind wanders back to a workshop by don Americo that I attended in Hawaii. We made a group despacho, consisting simply of flowers that we all brought to lay upon the Pachamama (in this case the verdant slope of a volcano).  After the despacho was complete a hole opened in the cloud cover and a shaft of sunlight slanted down to illuminate just the flowers. It was a beautiful experience.

Simple despachos of gratitude have become an essential part of my Andean meditative practice. This began one time when I was teaching some of the Andean meditations to friends. We were sitting out in the woods. We started with the Touching the Pachamama meditation and then moved on to the Releasing Hucha meditation. When it was over I was overcome by a deep sense of appreciation of living in a conscious Cosmos where the Pachamama will accept our hucha from us, where the Cosmos will send down refined energy to replace the hucha, and where all the facets of Nature and the Cosmos are available to help support our personal and interpersonal transformations in a relationship of mutual respect and love.

Up to that point my despachos had been mainly rather formal rituals I went through out of a sense of obligation. But all  changed in that moment. Since then I always bring some tequila with me when I go into the canyons to meditate. After clearing my hucha I pour a little tequila onto the Pachamama with the intent (sincere pretending) that it carry my gratitude to her, if I am sitting next to the creek I give a little to the creek with the same intent, and I throw a little tequila into the sky for the Apus. This–the simplest of despachos–is my heart-felt way of connecting to these facets of Nature. Despachos are not the material components of some spell to control nature, they are not bribes nor payment for services rendered, they are like giving flowers to a loved one, they nourish the relationship. And as I write this it occurs to me that gratitude is indeed an interesting thing, it is something that cannot be faked.

Sometimes I want to offer a more elaborate despacho, and this takes a little bit of preparation. I base these despachos on a few of the elements I have seen go into the elaborate Q’ero despachos. For a despacho to the Pachamama I bring three red flowers and three white flowers. Red and white flowers are an important part of Andean despachos. Red flowers represent blood, the Pachamama, the feminine. White flowers represent the masculine energy and the Apus (most but not all of whom are male), white  also represents the stars. I also bring three sugar cubes. Once when I was in Peru, and a Q’ero woman was explaining the significance of the various elements she was adding to her despacho for the Pachamama, she placed some candy into the despacho and explained that the Pachamama has a sweet tooth. Americo, who was translating for us, winked and joked that this might be a projection. Still, candy or sweets are a nice touch for a despacho to the Pachamama.

To complete a despacho for the Pachamama I dig a small hole into the earth. In the Andes the despacho would be wrapped in a large sheet of paper and tied with a string before burying, but I skip the paper for Western, ecological, reasons. I hold the flowers up to my mouth and gently blow on them three times, with the intent of imbuing them with the very finest of my energy. I then gently place the sugar cubes and the flowers into the hole, and pour a little tequila on them while holding the intent of expressing my gratitude to the Pachamama for all that she gives us. Finally, I fill in the dirt on top of the despacho and gently press it down with my hands.

For the creek that flows past my meditation spot I bring three red and three white flowers, gently blow on them three times to imbue them with the very finest of my energy, and then I cast the flowers into the flowing water, and follow that with a little tequila, again with the intent of expressing my gratitude to my brother the creek, for his beauty and for what he brings to me as he flows through my life.

For the Apus, I use the same elements as I do for a despacho for the Pachamama, but I bundle them into a piece of paper, tied with a string, that I then place in a fire. As I rarely make a fire I don’t make this despacho very often.

OK, that’s it, that is what I do. Ayni. Very simple. If you would like further information on making despachos I would like to refer you to Joan Wilcox’s book. I may write further about despachos in this blog.

I have made the point repeatedly in these posts, particularly when discussing some meditation or another, that I believe the essence of the Andean approach is our relationship with Nature and the Cosmos. The various beneficial results of the meditations, including personal and interpersonal transformations, are but byproducts of the beauty and actualization of this relationship. It is a relationship that is not even seen as possible in the assumptions of Western culture. But we don’t have the only set of assumptions on this planet.

For the past summer I have meditated a lot outdoors, and I have gotten a lot from the meditations, and I’ve given many despachos, and it is all ayni, all reciprocity, given with respect and love. I’ve changed, my experience of reality has changed, the reality around me has changed, all in subtle ways, but enough for my heart to sing a soft melody.

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Shedding Hucha

‘Hucha’ is heavy, discordant, chaotic energy. If you haven’t yet, I recommend that you read the earlier post dedicated to hucha. For me the prototypical example of hucha is how I feel when I come home from a bad day at the office. Unfortunately, not only does it sour my experience of reality, I can see the effect on my family when I arrive home full of hucha. There is a beautiful scene in one of the Commissario Brunetti books (by Donna Leon). Brunetti arrives home after a day when something terrible has happened at work (he is a police commissioner). He comes in the front door and his daughter greets him from the other end of the hallway with a happy ‘Hello pappa!’ He greets her back with the happiest voice he can manage, and turns to put his coat away so she can’t see the expression on his face. He hears her say “Mamma, something horrible has happened to pappa!”. The people I love pick up on my hucha even when I am trying to put it behind me when I arrive at home. My wife seems to notice it right away. My sons, when they were younger, would soon begin to bicker and fight.

This is a quick way to shed hucha before entering the house. Quick is not necessary a virtue, but it does make it easy to routinely do this after getting out of the car and before entering the house from the garage. As we will see in future posts, this is also a good way to get rid of your own hucha before working with other people’s energy.

While standing raise both your arms above your head with the palms of your hands facing the sky. With intent (sincere pretending) connect to the energy of the Cosmos with your right hand and let that energy flow into the right side of your body. When you feel that your right side has filled up with this energy, and still keeping your arms raised, bring your two palms together and with intent let the energy flow through your right hand into your left hand and down your left arm into the left side of your body and from there into your heart (munay), where you transform the energy into love.  This is simply accomplished with intent.

Now, bring your hands slowly down over your body, from your head down to your toes, with the intent of gathering up all of your hucha with your hands. When you finish at your feet put your palms down on the Pachamama (the great Being who is the planet Earth) and ask her to take all of the hucha from your hands. One of the great gifts of the Pachamama is to take our hucha and recycle it into refined energy.  This is basic paqo work.

Do this process just slowly enough to maintain the intent of what you are doing. If you do it too quickly it can become a mechanical process without intent and will lose its quality. Still, this is something that doesn’t take very much time and it can easily be tacked onto your arrival at home.

As always, remember, this is not just a way to get rid of hucha, it is a dance step in your relationship with the Pachamama, a relationship guided by ayni (reciprocity). In love she has taken your hucha, remember to at least express to her your gratitude, and next time you are having a drink perhaps pour a little first onto the Pachamama in thanks. A fundamental aspect of the Andean Cosmovision is the balance of giving and receiving. The full expression of the Andean approach is a life where that balance is maintained not out of a sense of obligation but out of love and mutual respect and gratitude. It is a relationship from which special and beautiful things can arise. The larger content of this meditation, then, is our relationship with the Cosmos. As I crank out future posts I will be sharing more ways for living a life of balance with the Cosmos, especially through ‘despachos’.

Source of this meditation: don Americo Yabar.

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Ayni Revisited

Ayni is, perhaps, the most fundamental principle of the Andean Cosmovision (please read the earlier post on ayni). It does not fall easily into Western thought, for it is essentially about relationship while we in the West tend to focus on outcomes. Ayni is about a balance between giving and receiving; between people, between people and Nature, and between people and the Cosmos (in a way that is hardly conceivable within the Western world-view of the basic inanimate nature of the Cosmos). Ayni is the organizing principle for the flow of energy in the expanded view of reality of the Andes.

In this post I would like to focus on the ayni between you and me, and between our culture and the Andean people. Let’s first consider ayni between you and me. It would be great for me to receive something back for the effort I put into this web site, but only if it has value for you. If you would like to participate in a relationship of ayni please make a donation on the Salka Wind Donate page. I have no recommended amount in mind, it rather depends on the value to you of what I have made available on this site and your financial circumstances.

After covering the minimal costs of maintaining the domain name and having Salka Wind hosted on a server I give 50% of what I get from my classes and presentations, and from donations, to the people of the Andes as ayni for what they have given us. I usually give the money in person to people in Peru, in ways that I think will nourish the traditional Andean culture and our relationship with that culture. This is almost always done in a context where asking for a receipt just wouldn’t be appropriate. I have hesitated on this web site to be so specific about what percent of the donations I give back to the people of Peru for ayni as I have no receipts to back it up, nor will I in the future, so please be aware of that.  The other 50% I use to defer my costs for going to Peru, or to have a beer, but mainly it is the effect it has on me to receive support for sharing what I can of the Andean Cosmovision with the people of my culture.

Giving to the Andean people in a way that both benefits them personally and nourishes their culture is a very important practice of ayni. You can bypass me and do this in a number of ways if you would like. Please see the Resources page of Salka Wind for a couple of options.

To keep this post from being too serious I would like to share a snippet from the delightful book Zen Without Zen Masters by Camden Benares (already referenced in the earlier post ‘Fallacies‘). Ho Chi Zen used to keep a careful watch on which of his students put money in the donation bowl before each of his classes. Any student who donated three times in a row was dismissed for being too gullible.

Oakley and the Club of Mothers

Oakley and friends and the Club of Mothers

 

 

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Three Worlds Meditation

In the previous post I introduced the three worlds of the Andean Cosmovision; the uju pacha, the kay pacha, and the janaq pacha. I recommend you read that post before your read this one. In this post I would like to share a meditation that involves evoking a conscious connection with those worlds.

Before doing this meditation I like to prepare my internal state, my energy, to create a good foundation for the meditation. I usually begin by doing the Touching Pachamama meditation, this just takes a few minutes. I then clean my energy with the Releasing Hucha meditation, which also takes just a few minutes. Of course, the neat thing is that these preparatory mediations are themselves very beneficial over the long run and–simple though they are–they can take you far down the Andean path.

It is also important when doing these meditations to remember that while they may serve as processes for personal transformation this transformation is just the byproduct of something more fundamental, a shift in our relationship with Nature and the Cosmos, and ayni is the guiding principle of that relationship. Whenever possible I do these meditations outside in nature, and I bring along a little offering to give in gratitude to the Pachamama and the Apus.

Once I have set the context by cleaning and harmonizing my energy and by nourishing my relationships with Nature and the Cosmos, I turn to the meditation. The first part of the meditation comes from the research I described in the previous post (what I have created to inform the meditation I learned from don Americo Yabar). Here is how to do it…

I recommend your first spend a moment surveying your energy, noticing what it feels like to be you right now. The ‘meaning’ of the meditation is the effect it has on you, and to explore that you need to compare how you feel before you start to how you feel when you have finished. You can do this meditation while either standing or sitting on the ground.

Begin by getting in touch with the uju pacha. Gesture toward the earth and with your intent (sincere pretending) send filaments of your energy from your hands down into the deep interior of the Pachamama, saying ‘uju pacha’ (pronounced ‘ukhu pacha’) as you do this. With your intent connect not only with the deep interior of the Pachamama but also with the deep interior of time; with the distance past, the origin of things; with the less distant past, with the ancestors; and up to the more recent past where the seeds that blossomed into who you were, who you are now, and who you are about to be were planted. Take the time to experience this connection with the consciousness of deeply interior space and time.

Next, move your hands up to your chest and then spread them out horizontally to connect to the surface world and the present time, the world in which we are living now. Say ‘kay pacha’ (pronounced ‘kie pacha’) as you do this. Use your intent to connect to the consciousness of the world around you and who you are at the present moment. Again, take your time.

Finally, throw your hands up to the sky and send the filaments of your energy through your finger tips up toward the stars, saying ‘janaq pacha’ (pronounced ‘hanak pacha’). Use your intent to not only connect to the Cosmos above but also to the future, in alignment with the the stars which hold the perfect archetypes of spiritual being.

That is what I do before moving into the meditation I learned from Americo, which I present below.

The following is best done with a good deal of panache.

Throw your hands down toward the ground and exclaim ‘ukhu pacha!’, grab the energy from the uju pacha and pull it quickly into your chest and exclaim ‘kie pacha!’, then throw the energy into the sky and exclaim ‘hanak pacha!!’, do this quickly, only spending a second at each world. Pause for a couple of seconds and do the process again, then a third time, and a fourth time. Adding more and energy each time until the fourth ‘hanak pacha!!!’ skyrockets with enthusiasm into the Cosmos.

Now…notice how you feel immediately after you have finished. It leaves me feeling a little elongated in time, as if I can sense my ‘long body’ (the me that exists through the passage of time). Whatever effect it has on you is the meaning of the meditation, from this experience you can decide whether to continue to explore this process.

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