CHAKANA Reply

CHAKANA, ANDEAN CROSS

One of the most outstanding virtues of the Andean people and their Masters, was that of
respect for the Earth. They integrated with it as no other society or culture of their time
paramount rule over all others, and called it Pachamama (Mother Earth). Ultimately, she is
our Mother and through her openings she reveals to humans the signs of Heaven. This is
how they understood that we are the microcosm, the reflection of a world progressively
infinite and eternal. It is within this ascending scale that they defined their world and the
universe into levels or dimensional planes, which became a vital necessity for the
organization of their own societies.

As the knowledge and understanding of both humanity and Cosmos evolved, the Andean
Sages created a cosmic view that was highly farsighted as well as comprehensive. This
interpretation of visible and invisible reality enabled them to define in stone, clay, ceramic,
metal, textile and wooden form, the semiotics and codification of a higher rank that would
be utilized by the initiated in their magical and ceremonial phases. In Andean people have
a number of important symbols, one of them having come to be known as the “Chakana.”
This word derives from the Quechua “Chaka” meaning bridge and, we can see that the
function of a “bridge” makes it possible for us to cross from one place to another. But a
more important meaning is the one that refers to the Chakana as a “stepladder for passing
from one place to another,” which in time has derived into “stepped,” hence, the “Stepped
Symbol.” Within the context of Andean iconography, this symbol has been interpreted into
many stepped designs that in turn has led to its name “the Square Cross,” or “Andean
Cross.”

We must remember that in the firmament, the “celestial vault,” during many months on very
clear nights, we can observe the majesty of the constellation of Crux, more commonly
known as the Southern Cross. This celestial cross was utilized as a reference point for
orientation by navigators and travelers as well as great Sages who used its four primary
visible stars to plot various geometrical projections. More importantly, they made it the
basis for the creation of the most important symbol of the Andes: The Square Cross.

Chakana, the Square Cross

When traveling through the Andes and coming upon artifacts and cultural evidence left by
our ancestors, we discover that the symbol of the Square Cross is present in the majority
of their works and creations. We find its presence expressed in the most resistant
materials as well as in the most fragile ones. This reflects that their conception of the world
and of the Cosmos must necessarily move progressively, and that nothing exists in static
form.

The world and the Cosmos are an endless system of connections and influences which, in
order for us to understand, requires that we ascend through progressive stages, just like
the steps that form the Square Cross, or Chakana. The Masters and Andean Initiates did
not limit themselves only to the number three, by which I mean the chakana of three levels,
because they possessed a cosmic projection that was not confined or did not stop at the
point of the single unit, but rather moved on unceasingly. Nevertheless, they gave shape
and material expression in the form of certain numbers to those codes accessible to the
common folk. That is why the number three became the most popular. Within the hermetic
circles, they worked with the number one and all of its possible projections. In a masterful
vision, their span encompassed the numbers from one to seven and they established
these configurations in their temples, palaces and ceremonial instruments of higher
ranking. The Universe is like a great spider web, in which everything is communicated and
linked, through a most diverse means. The spirit cannot be constrained in any way, shape
or direction, and in the chakanas we discover the magical world of the People of the Sun.

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