Poem / Reflections

A Love Letter to the Munay-Ki

A poet exuberantly gives thanks for the Munay-Ki rites enlivened across the ages and shared by the Q’ero people in the Peruvian Andes.
A photograph features a landscape lush with green grass with a body of water in the center and a large mountain range in the background. The mountain range is cut in half by a valley and topped with a sky full of white clouds.

An alpine lake rests in the Peruvian Andes.

Yamil Alvarez/Unsplash

“A Love Letter to the Munay-Ki” is part of the collection Indigenizing What It Means to Be Human. Read the introduction to the collection here.

A Love Letter to the Munay-Ki - Listen

Dedicated to the Munay-Ki, an ancient body of knowledge that was gifted by the Great Spirit to the Q’ero people of the Andes in Peru.


Greetings and honor to:
Pachamama (Earth Mother)
Inti Tayta (Father Sun)
Yacumama (Mother Water)
Taita Wayra (Grandfather Wind)
Mama Ch’aska (Mother Star)
Mama Killa (Grandmother Moon)
Taita Nina (Grandfather Fire)
Apu Ausangate (Sacred Mountain)

How do I speak to you, lineages of Munay-Ki,
to grandmothers and grandfathers I have never met?
How do I dwell within the space you offer us
grandmothers, grandfathers, ancient ones, the Source?
How do I drink from the wellspring that you offer up so generously
like a birthright, a birth right?

When I started on this journey,
I stumbled,
I wobbled,
I questioned,
I doubted constantly,
as I tried to find my way
my voice
my self in the shadows.

As I grew, my feet became sturdier,
connecting me to the great Mother,
to ancestors, ancestral lineages beyond self
and to forces of nature
that are older than time.

As I listened, my heart opened like a butterfly
to those who speak to us in the wind,
visit us in dreams
ritualize our space
nurture our bodies and souls
calming the hurricanes and sandstorms
that teach us relentlessly.

As I rejoiced, air traveled into my capillaries
to oxygenate my insides, my cells, my memory,
moving all that no longer serves me,
refreshing everything with new beams of hope, joy, and peace
into ecstasy, steadying
renewing, and balancing me.

This is love, a great love—
a gift from the ancient ones,
the lineages of the grandmothers and grandfathers who teach.
To the moist earth I walk on
that holds my weight and space in a time continuum
connecting me to a new awakening.
To a consciousness that fuels me
a knowing that has been with me since birth
but now recollecting.


And now,
to all the beautiful ones who dwell in light
who drift atop the mountain of Apu Ausangate
Apu Ausangate
to the Itu Apu, masculine spirit of the birth-place
and Paqarina, feminine spirit of the birth-place
who ask us to put down our weights
to tell new stories wherever we are
who help us unleash our potential
who show us it is okay to cry,
to be uncertain in a state of nothingness
and sit in silence
where great lessons await us.

And to the lineages of Munay-Ki
the Hampe
the Chumpi
the Ayni
the Kawak
the Pampamesayok
the Altomesayok
the Kurak Akuyek
the Mosok
the Taitanchis Rantis
the Rite of the Womb
I love your wisdom,
thank you for teaching and showing me the way.
I love how you lightly tap each nerve on my head,
creating orgasmic ripples
from my head down through the spine
opening and clearing like a luminous
bright light.
Traveling along crevices of hope,
valley of dreams and aspirations,
mending our lost potentials and healing us.
Asking us to release all the pain that has
tied us down
depressed us
dimmed our light
diminished our voice
and hindered our growth.

We release with our exhale
We release with our sweat
We release with our stride
We release with our smile
Marching as rejuvenated beings.


And to the grandfathers who ground us
who speak so affirmatively
and so lovingly in ways
to reassure us
that our failing is not our future.

To the grandfathers who have made a way,
who constantly show up for us
in the most perfect way
to say that we matter, and we are okay.
We salute and honor all that you gave to make us whole.
Thank you.

Grandmothers, grandmothers,
you woke us up to our true potentials
to a dreaming that births new beginnings,
Grandmothers, grandmothers
you speak into our occipital,
whispering healing into our bones
teaching us how to fuse our wishes and desires
to the reality we are creating
and to the being we are becoming.

Grandmothers, grandmothers, you are love.
You love us in a way we did not know existed
you love us beyond our imperfections, doubts, and questions.
You love us without reserve
in our vulnerability, you see our light.
Your love feels amazing.

Your love is a most deserving love,
with no judgment, no expectation
it feels guilty to be the recipient
to know such love exists for us
if we sit still enough in that love
and are grounded in it and all that it offers,
we become more than we are.


To the air,
the fire,
the water,
the light,
the earth,
the divine energies we are steeped in.
We open our mouths like newborns to be fed
by your ancient knowledge
feed us.
We are hungry to connect
we hunger for new beginnings
to tell new stories of empowered selves
to be of service
feed us, Munay-Ki,
feed us.

We honor you,
we thank you,
with gratitude that beats from our Munay, our heart center,
we become new beings dancing with the Great Spirit
in blissful luminous light.
By your side waiting
we kiss the face of the moon,
we sing to the stars and to the galaxies,
we tell stories of the ones coming into being.

We are the lineages,
and the lineages are us,
In gratitude, in Ayni, sacred reciprocity,
we become love and emit the essence.

Grandmothers, grandfathers, ancient ones, the Source,
your essence is our spirit
it lives
with each breath we take
it lives.



Munay-Ki in the Quechua language means the “Power of Love,” an unconditional love that the Creator has for all its creation. This ancient tradition provides a framework for healing ourselves, and it is from our heart center that we can undergo this great transformation to live a life of ease. The Munay-Ki rites have become known in the United States because of Alberto Villoldo, a medical anthropologist who was gifted the rites by Q’ero shamans. He has since dedicated his life to teaching about Munay-Ki.

Azuka Nzegwu holds a Ph.D. in philosophy, interpretation, and culture from Binghamton University. Her research focused on virtual whirlpools as new sites of knowledge that are reshaping the old politics of knowledge production. Nzegwu also explores how ancient spirituality can assist us in dealing with the ups and downs of our lives. She draws on the principles of African spirituality to inform her work. To that end, she guest edited two special issues on the African-based practices of Vodou and Santeria in the Americas for the peer-reviewed publications Journal on African Philosophy and JENdA: A Journal of Culture and African Women Studies. She interviewed practitioners about their personal journey, growth, and insights. The interviews add to a growing body of research that debunks assumptions and stereotypes about African spirituality. Nzegwu hopes to combine her training and spiritual insights to bring about positive change in the world.


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