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  • In one of her stories, Four Directions, Barbara Shipka talks about North, South, East, and West from the Native American perspective. When we were in Peru we were lucky to have a number of Quechua Indians as our guides and interpreters. They gave us a quick course in Inca Mythology, and in particular, the Inca Cross [Chakana] . The Inca added three levels of existence to the four directions of the Chakana. Look at the image and you will see that the four compass points have a square superimposed on them. The square represents the upper world which is inhabited by Hana Pacha. The circle is Kay Pacha or the everyday world in which we live. A triangle [Unin Pacha], drawn from the first black notches on either side of the cross, that meets at the top, represents the underworld which is the realm of the spirits of the dead. The hole is the passageway between the levels and also represents Cuzco – the center of the Inca Empire and thus the navel of the world. Some crosses have a seed [huayruro] in the hole which is considered a powerful good luck charm. The four flat sides represent the elements: Water, Air, Earth, and Fire. The twelve points of the cross represent additional elements. Inca Mythology defines them as:


    Hana Pacha----------Condor--------------I Love-------------Don't be lazy
    Kay Pacha------------Puma----------------I Work-------------Do not steal
    Unin Paha------------Snake----------------I Live--------------Do not lie

    Subsequently, we found out that there are other interpretations that we did not know about and some disagreement over which beliefs the cross represents.

    Sources: Quechua Guides & Wikipedia
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