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What is Munay?

One of the most recognized words in the Quechua language is the word Munay.  But what is the meaning and significance of the word? Munay in the Quechua language of the Incas of Peru is an action word or a verb that means to LOVE. It is also a noun or description of a state of love and being which is unconditional, eternal, and is a love without thinking or reasoning. The word munay, however, implies even more than the Western understanding of what we think of as love, even in its unconditional sense.

For the Q’ero Inca paqos (shamans), munay is one of the three pillars that supports one’s path in becoming a shaman, or more specifically, a pampamesayoq (keeper of the earth).

It is not only a kind of love, but the meaning is intertwined with willpower and is an exercise in working with infinite levels of divine willpower in that sense. Munay has been remembered by the paqos as being the force that lifted the gigantic megalith stones at sacred sites into place in ancient times, and is the sort of will that moves mountains.

It is an energetic power that by far exceeds physical power.  It is a power that derives from the living energetic field that animates the universe (kausay).

The energy of munay is located at the heart center (sonqo nawi). For a shaman to work with his or her own munay is the exercise of power, connection, and purity. It is considered one of the major organizing principles and the first of the Three Inca Laws. It is the law of love. Rather than an emotion, munay is seen as an attitude of respect and appreciation for everyone and everything.  It is also connected to ayni (reciprocity). We can speak many languages with the heart. We can communicate with all creation this way (mineral, vegetable, animal, human, and Light Beings). To walk in munay is to walk in the power of love and walk your own walk, the path of living from your heart.

When you begin the path of becoming a shaman healer in the Andean tradition, you receive a three part initiation called the Hatun Karpay, or Great Initiation. The first part of this initiation is called the Munay Karpay and activates your heart chakra so you can set the stage to begin the journey. That is how important munay is for the Inca shamans and Incan people. Without opening and activating the heart, one may not proceed further on the path. All actions of healing must be done with integrity, and integrity can only come when you act from the heart. Many people, in fact, have closed hearts due to the pain they have suffered in some way in life. They do not trust their own hearts to be exposed to anyone fully, and perhaps not even themselves. Therefore, in order to walk the path of a healer, you must be willing first to heal your own heart before you try to work on others, in that sense.

As you cleanse the layers of hucha (heavy energy) from your heart, then your sacred sight becomes even clearer. You will be able to see others more lucidly instead of judging them or having preconceptions about them. You will be working with compassion. Once your heart is free and open, you will gain more personal power. You will be able to more precisely draw upon the light and pure living energy (sami) from the universe in unfathomable ways. The channels will be open and unrestricted. You will be able to gain and store this power in your heart, as a shaman in great levels of reserve. Once the Divine power of light comes in and can be stored, then you can learn to direct it with your will. Once you face your pain and open your heart more and more, you will have the munay necessary to create deeper and deeper connections and relationships with all of life on Mother Earth. Strengthening your connection to all of nature with love, respect, and integrity helps you be able to communicate and hear nature so you can call upon the support you need and give back that support. In essence, it is truly how one can become a caretaker of Pachamama (Mother Earth). All these things together and much more demonstrate the profound value and significance of munay.

Author: Gina O’Connor


Keeper of the Ancient Knowledge: The Mystical World of the Q’ero Indians of Peru. Joan Parisi Wilcox. Boston: Element, 1999

Path of the Energetic Mystic: A Key to Open Your Heart. Inge Teunissen, Dennis Alejo, Mango translations from the oral teaching of the Inca Q’ero paqos: Trophonios Publishing, 2013

Personal trainings with the Inca Q’ero paqos through oral teachings during their visits to Holland 2010-2014.


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