In an earlier blog I wrote about the generic shamanic view of the cosmos, the lower world, the middle world, and the upper world. If you didn't read that blog don't worry, the upper and lower worlds are not heaven and hell. They are places to which we travel on shamanic journeys to meet with totem animals, guides and teachers. Eventually we will get to world views in this blog, but a few preliminaries first.
Remember that we live in the kawsay pacha, the energy world and part of becoming an Andean shaman is learning how to sense and work with that energy. One of the two classes of Andean shamans is the pampa mesayoqs (pampa = land, mesayoqs = priest, shaman, literlly a "mesa carrier"). The pampa mesayoqs are ceremonialists. They have learned the rituals and ceremonies, especially those that honor pachamama (1). The second group are the alto mesayoqs (alto = high). These shamans may be skilled in rituals like the pampa mesayoqs and have also developed a relationship with nature energies and spirits and are able to experience them directly.
[Quick aside in case you are interested in Quechua. Don't confuse the Spanish word mesa which means "table" with the mesa in mesayoqs. In Quechua a generic “table” is a misa and a table made of wood is a qiru misa. Quechua is one of the many official languages of Bolivia, the other two most important ones are Spanish and Aymara. Although Quecha speakers have "borrowed" some words from Spanish, Quechua is not a Spanish dialect. It is the language of the Inca, the language that was spoken in Peru, Bolivia and Southern Ecuador before the arrival of the Spanish. Now back to shamanism.]
When I was learning Quecha one of the first phrases that I learned was Ima kay? or "What is this?" I would walk around while visiting a Quechua speaker, pick something up or point, and say, "Ima kay?" It was was a great way to build vocabulary. It also helped me understand the concept of kay pacha. Kay pacha (this earth) is one of the three worlds in Andean cosmology. Kay pacha is middle earth, the physical world were we normally reside. The upper and lower worlds are hanaq pacha (hanaq = sky, high, heaven, elevated) and ukhu pacha (ukhu = interior, lower, under, inside, room).
The totem animals of the three worlds are:
Andean shamans, unlike individuals who practice core shamanism as popularized by Michael Harner, and some traditional shamans, don't take shamanic journeys to the three worlds. They stay firmly rooted in Kay pacha. Nevertheless Andean shamanas work with the energy from the three worlds, have visions and dreams, and use nature-based rituals. In addition Andean shamans, the Paqos, work to facilitate the flow of ayni (the idea of mutual effort and reciprocity) between the three worlds. The column of energy that they create is called a saiwa. I have always thought of the saiwa as tool to balance the energy between the three worlds, a way to get Kay pacha back into balance.
In my next blog I think that I'll write about the Andean shaman's mesa (good guess, but it is not a table) and despachos.
(1) If you wondered if mother earth or Pachamama has a male counterpart the answer is yes. He isIntitayta or father (tayta) sun (inti).
I'm Dr. Dave, an eclectic shaman. I lived and worked in Bolivia and Peru for over six years, where I and was trained by Andean Shamans, and today practice eclectic shamanism.