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Inka shamanism or Inka religion?

Defined in general terms, shamanism describes the ideas and practices of a shaman who takes care of a small community, a tribe or a clan utilizing his spiritual powers. The shaman has the ability to call on supernatural (metaphysical) forces and use them for the benefit of his surroundings.

Interview mit Elizabeth Jenkins, Autorin und Lehrerin, über ihre Erfahrung mit der Inka-Tradition

In shamanism, a shaman is also considered a traveler or mediator between the real world and the “otherworld.” Shamans are not only expected to address the spiritual questions of their followers, but usually also healers or people with healing powers. The following demonstrates why the term Inka shamanism is misleading and why the terms Inka religion, Inka tradition or spiritual art of the Andes are much more appropriate.

Shamanism

An important factor in the work of a shaman is the achievement of an altered state of consciousness to undertake a transcendent journey to the otherworld. In shamanism, the shaman enters a state of trance or ecstasy with the aid of drumming, rhythmic movements, singing, meditation or through the intake of psychedelic substances. Interaction with spirits or spirit guides is an important aspect, as are journeys of the soul, during which the shaman finds answers to questions or recognizes causes of problems and solves them.  

The shaman’s knowledge of spiritual relationships, healing, and initiations or ceremonies is often passed on by one member of the family or the tribe that holds the position to another candidate over an extended period of time. Shamanism can therefore be said to mean the making available of a spiritual framework to a limited number of people and can be defined with the help of the following features:

- an altered state of consciousness
- journeys to the otherworld
- communication and exchange with a spirit guide
- personal transfer of knowledge from a shaman to his successor  

Inka religion

Im Unterschied dazu versucht ein Paqo, ein Praktizierender der Inka-Tradition, nicht, einen anderen Beusstseinszustand zu erreichen, da sein Ziel darin besteht, "die Realität zu sehen, wie die Realität ist". Er bewegt sich mit Hilfe seiner Intention spielerisch zwischen den Welten: Zwischen der greifbaren Welt (kay pacha), der oberen Welt (hanaq pacha oder auch höheres Selbst) und der uju pacha, der inneren Welt bzw. der Schattenwelt. Er sucht keinen veränderten Bewusstseinzustand, da er immer komplett angebunden ist an diese drei Welten und immer in Kontakt steht mit Pachamama, den Apus und Ñustas, seinen Ahnen, Lehrern und Helfern. 

A Paqo, a practitioner of the Andean tradition, behaves a bit differently as he does not seek a state of altered consciousness but a state to "see reality as reality is". With the help of his intention he moves in a playful way between the three worlds: The world we we live in (kay pacha), the upper world (hanaq pacha oder higher self) and the uju pacha, the inner world or shadow world. He does not seek an altered state of consciousness as he is always connected to these three worlds and is always in direct touch with pachamama, the apus and ñustas, his itu apu, paqarina and his guiding star as well as his ancestors, teachers and helpers.

Besides the Inka tradition differs from shamanism in some more aspects. The civilization of the Inkas began around 1,000 AD and developed from earlier cultures such as Chavín, Tiahuanaco, and Wari (see also The history of the Inkas). At the height of the Inkan empire around 1550, the Inka tradition was the source of spiritual nourishment for about 16 million people.  

Juan Apaza

It was thus able to sustain a world empire in matters of faith, and not just a tribe or a clan. Furthermore, it had a structure and organizational form that was divided into hierarchies and tasks and kept this system alive.  

Structure & training

The practitioners of the Inka tradition also refer to themselves as priests. These priests (or practitioners) of the Inka tradition are classified within a 4-level hierarchy. The levels are well defined and the criteria for each are very complex. On the one hand, the level is connected with the level of training of a Paqo as pampa mesayoq or alto mesayoq, because this in turn determines which living beings or powers he can communicate with (Ayllu Apus, Llaqta Apus, Suyu Apus or Tekse Apus) and how this communication takes place: Is energy merely addressed or sent to the Apu or does he answer (meaning there is an exchange between Paqo and Apu)?

In addition, the Inka religion includes 7 levels of consciousness development, with each level defined very precisely, including an explanation of the steps by which a person can graduate to the higher levels. Today (2013) the first four levels are already available and reveal or have revealed themselves in people like the Dalai Lama, Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Ghandi, Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II. The New Age (Taripay Pacha) awaits people who reach the next level (the so-called “fifth level of consciousness”).

Ollantaytambo

During the times of the Inka, the first six levels were available to ascend. The important thing is the view that all of these levels of consciousness development were (and still are) clearly and comprehensibly defined using explicit criteria and that the Inka religion provides exercises and initiations to show any person how he or she can ascend from one level to the next in an individual process.

Thus, the Inka tradition has a training program similar to those inherent in other world religions such as Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism and other respected traditions of the world.

Shamanic travel

If we consider the training within the Inka religion and work with Western teachers such as Juan Núñez del Prado, Elizabeth Jenkins, Americo Yabar or with respected and recognized elders such as Benito Qoriwaman, Andres Epinoza, Melchor Desa, Mariano Apaza, Manuel Qispe, Humberto Sonqo, Francisco Apaza and Martin Qispe, we will find that neither trance nor ecstasy is needed to see the other reality, work with it and receive answers to all of life’s questions. There are no drums, no rattles, no puffing and no substances involved; all of the work is performed internally, calmly, “invisibly” and fully consciously.

The aim of the Inka tradition is to see reality for what it is – not only with the physical eyes but also with the Ñawis, the energetic eyes of a human's energetic body.  And reality is best recognized if we dispel our projections, because only then will things reveal themselves as they really are – and not as we often believe they are. The Inka tradition makes all this knowledge available, so that each person can develop to achieve precisely this goal.

Healing

For the Inka religion, the entire universe and all that is in it consists of living energy. People can move this energy using their intentions (i.e. their minds). Christianity does this with the aid of prayer and Buddhism through meditation. 

Qeros

The more spiritual power a person has, the more energy he or she can move. Since diseases also consist of energy, humans can potentially cure diseases and bring healing. The extent to which and how often – sometimes or always – a person succeeds in doing so depends solely on how much energy he or she can drive. The Paqos in the Inka tradition or the priests of the Inka religion are also able to heal. They do so with the help of their Mesa or Misha or with the help of despachos (offerings in the form of a mandala).

If one looks at shamanism and compares it with the Inka tradition, it is easy to see why it is not quite correct to refer to this tradition as Inka shamanism. Extensive introductions to the Inka tradition in Europe, the United States and South America are offered through the courses and workshops of Juan Núñez del Prado and Elizabeth Jenkins. An original initiation into this wonderful tradition can be obtained during a spiritual journey, called Hatun Karpay, which takes place in Peru and Europe.