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Posts on the Andean Cosmovision

Tag: kay pacha


While I learned this unnamed meditation from don Americo it seems to fit the definition of a saiwachakuy as described in Joan Wilcox’s excellent book Masters of the Living Energy, so I am calling it that. On the whole, the meditations I have covered in this blog help us explore the full essence of who we are, or nourish the beauty and quality of our dance with Nature and the rest of the Cosmos, or both. This meditation to me feels more like a service to the Cosmos and the Pachamama. It returned to my meditative practice after hurricane Sandy and it feels like something well worth doing both as a response to that as well as for upcoming times of change.

I usually begin with the Touching Pachamama and Releasing Hucha meditations (the latter also fits Wilcox’s description of a saiwachakuy). The meditation then proceeds as described below. I do this while sitting on the Pachamama.

With intent (sincere pretending) open the energy center at the crown of your head and let the refined energy of the Cosmos flow down through your head and into your munay. When the energy enters your munay use your intent to transform the energy into love. Open up the energy center at the bottom of your spine and let the love flow into the Pachamama. For as long as you like sit there and serve as the conduit of energy from the Cosmos to the Pachamama, transforming the energy into love as it flows through your munay.

Joan Wilcox describes a saiwachakuy as a column of energy that connects the the three worlds of the janaq pacha, kay pacha, and uju pacha.  In this meditation I frame it as being the Cosmos, our own body right here and now, and the Pachamama (which is how I learned it from Americo).  Joan describes a saiwachakuy as being an important service we can provide at this time of necessary and inevitable change.  When I do this meditation it feels like an act of love for the Pachamama and the Cosmos. I have an “I’m happy to exist just so I can do this” moment. If you play with it I would appreciate hearing your own experiences.

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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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Pacha and the Three Worlds

This post will serve as a lead-in to one of my favorite meditations from the Andes. It is another meditation that I have learned from don Americo Yabar. The meditation involves connecting with the three levels of existence, the ‘Three Worlds’, of the Andean Cosmovision. They are the ‘uju pacha’ (the ‘lower world’), the ‘kay pacha’ (the ‘surface world’) and the ‘janaq pacha’ (the ‘upper world’). I have given these Quechua words the spelling they would have if written in Spanish. Phonetically in English they would roughly be ‘ukhu pacha’, ‘kie pacha’, and ‘hanak pacha’.

Like all of the meditations I have shared, this meditation is quite simple. As I began exploring it, however, I found that I wanted to have a better understanding of what the meditation was all about. In searching my notes I found only the briefest descriptions from Americo concerning the uju pacha, kay pacha, and janaq pacha. I decided to turn to what literature is available on the Andean Cosmovision to see if I could flesh out my understanding of these terms. What I found has helped me to hone my intent with the meditations, and I have really enjoyed the results. I would like to share with you what I have found (but keep in mind the fallacies I posted earlier).

The three worlds of uju pacha, kay pacha, and janaq pacha are so fundamental to the Andean Cosmovision that there is actually a fair amount of information available concerning how the Andean people interpret these terms. These interpretations, however, vary widely across the sources I have found.

Part of the breadth of meaning of the three terms comes from the 500 years of Christian influence on the Andean culture. It takes no great conceptual leap to link the uju pacha (the lower world) with the Christian concept of hell, and the janaq pacha (the upper world) with the Christian concept of heaven, and this has changed the meaning of the terms in the post-conquest culture. Even the Q’ero, the people with whom I have worked and who are viewed by many as being among the purer ‘keepers of the flame’ of the indigenous Andean Cosmovision readily identify themselves as being Christian (see Wilcox, 2004). What they exactly mean by this is hard to say. It brings to mind my hearing the women in Mollamarka, Peru sing about Apu Jesucristo (loosely translated as ‘Jesus the Sacred Mountain’).

If we look at the conceptualization of the three worlds which predates the Christian conquest of the Andes then a very different understanding emerges. Even then, however, there are still some differences among sources concerning how these terms are to be interpreted. When faced with a multitude of interpretations of the nature of the uju pacha, kay pacha, and janaq pacha, what did I do? I picked the one I liked, the one that fit my understanding of the Andean Cosmovision, and ultimately the one that enhanced the power of the meditation.

The following description of the nature of the uju pacha, kay pacha, and janaq pachca is based upon a chapter entitled ‘Andean Cosmology and Cosmography in the North-Peruvian Shamanic Mesa’, written by Mario Polia, in the book Mesas & Cosmologies in the Central Andes, edited by Douglas Sharon (2006). An understanding of these three terms depends upon an understanding of the word ‘pacha’.

The Quechua word ‘pacha’ does not correspond directly to any term or concept we have in the West. It is, instead, a bringing together of three of our concepts, an integration of place, time, and consciousness. One facet of ‘pacha’ encompasses the concept of space/earth/world/place. We have already in this blog run across Pachamama as the great Being who is the planet Earth. A second facet of ‘pacha’ involves time/era/period. The term ‘tarpui pacha’, for example, is the time for the sowing of seeds. ‘Pacha’ thus encompasses both place/location and time/period, a particular location at a particular time, but there is a third element involved in ‘pacha’, namely consciousness. In the Andean Cosmovision consciousness is an inherent, immanent, aspect of the Cosmos, if we are talking about a time and a place then we are talking about consciousness as well. Now let’s take this idea of ‘pacha’ and develop a useful understanding of the ‘uju pacha’, ‘kay pacha’, and ‘janaq pacha’.

In terms of a world, or location, or place the uju pacha is the lower world, the world below, the interior world, a place associated with the depths of the planet. When the Andean people want to communicate with the uju pacha they may go to a spring or to a crack in the earth’s surface that provides a conduit into the interior of the world. The uju pacha is the deeply interior world, closer to the surface is the ‘urin pacha’, where seeds are planted to take root and grow. The uju pacha also refers to time, in this case it is the past, the distant past (uju pacha) and the recent past (urin pacha). The uju pacha is the time of our ancestors and before. I like to think of the urin pacha, the more recent past, as the time when seeds were planted in our lives that have blossomed into who we were, who we are now and who we are about to become. Connection with the uju pacha is accomplished by connecting to the interior world (e.g. the interior of the planet) and intrinsically tied to that act is the connection with the past, both distant and recent. Consciousness exists outside of all of our mind’s constructs of space and time so whatever consciousness is it is there and then as well.

The kay pacha is the surface world, the world in which we live, and it is also present time, not necessarily this exact moment of Now but the general neighborhood of time around it.

The third world, the janaq pacha, is the superior world, the world above. The near above, the realm of the majestic mountain peaks, is known as the janan pacha. The janaq pacha is the highest zone, the realm of the stars, ‘the seat of archetypal forms of spiritual principle of all living things’ (Polia, pg 35). The janan pacha and janaq pacha also refer to the future, the near and distant future respectively. Connection with the janaq pacha is accomplished by connecting to the sky above, possibly as far as the stars themselves, and this is intrinsically tied to connecting with the future. If connecting with the uju pacha connects us to the seeds that have blossomed into who we were, who we are now, and who we are about to be, connecting with the janaq pacha is a connection to who we are in the future as Beings in harmony with the archetypal forms of the spiritual principle of all living things. And of course, consciousness, which is outside of time and space, is there and then too.

As Beings we are older than the Grand Canyon, but not as old as the stars.  don Americo Yabar.

Next post, a meditation which brings this into blossom.


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