The Q’ero live their lives in ayni which is reciprocity — the balance of life. It is the give back, the exchange of energy. We give to Mother Earth, so she can give back in return. We water a tree, so the tree grows and gives us oxygen and fruit. We mulch the land, so the crops can grow. The need for energy exchange is everywhere from human relationship to relationships with the Otherworld, the Elementals, the animals and the Earth.
Ayni is understanding that everything is connected and interrelated.
When I worked with the Spiritual Leader of the Qero, don Franscisco, I was struck by how he always offered whatever he was eating or drinking to Mother Earth and Father Sky before he had any himself.
He understood the importance of giving to these very real sentient beings. In return, they give back.
I’ve had personal experience of how the sentient being Mother Earth was nourished by the oats I left on her, in exchange for the berries I took from the Hawthorn Tree. With my Other sight, I Saw how the energy was absorbed. I saw the ground literally move. And I knew I was being gifted this Sight to share with others
I was also reminded by Hawthorn Tree to never take all the berries. To leave some for the Tree and for others.
Humans tend to think of the gifts of fruit to be for them only. Some people consider the bird life. But there are Others as well.
It is important we don’t fall into the trap of always being the “Ones Who Come Empty Handed” or “Those Who Take”.
Offerings and Balance
Many cultures understand this and give to the earth in various ways. Here in Australia, I asked the spirits of place and the fae what they would like as an offering. I was told oats were fine “but cake is better”. So on special Gateway Days, when the veil is thin, I bake special cakes. The intention is important and so it is filled with love and left neatly. (I don’t offer chocolate cake because I don’t want the dog, cat, rat, mouse, possum, bird, goose, goat, sheep, horse who finds the physical to get sick or spinout on caffeine.)
Collecting rubbish, providing nutrients…giving the gift of heartfelt appreciation and gratitude and blessings…these are all ways we can give back.
But its not just about making offerings. In our own life where does the energy feel off? Women especially are renowned for giving to the point of exhaustion. Where are you giving too much energy? Are you leaking energy? Are you allowing energy vampires to drain you? Do you need to express your needs and claim your boundaries? Can you say no?
If you are giving too much of yourself to your family, or work or both, can you take a step back and ask to be given to. This might just be an hour or a day to recharge your batteries. You just have to recognise where you are out of ayni. And correct it.
Can you keep in balance with yourself? Can you give and receive? You might not receive from the person you are directly giving to, but from someone or something else entirely.
The law of reciprocity is a valuable one on all levels.
On a higher level, staying in ayni or balance with the universe fosters a path of grace. The higher levels of ayni include keeping promises, watching your Word, and walking the path of impeccability. Remember, you are in relationship with Great Spirit/Creator/Source. How you walk in beauty in this world matters.
Many people give to a cause without expecting anything back. But they do get a lot back because that is the law of reciprocity. They may receive the benefits of the cause they are enabling through their contribution, for example, freedom from oppression or a kinder world to animals. They might get more personal peace from knowing they are contributing to making a difference, feeling good about supporting animals saved from slaughter, euthanasia or some other horror, and getting into the flow of abundance themselves from understanding that giving (in this case tithing) is a demonstrable show to the Universe that you know you are abundant enough to give to others.
This is another level of ayni at work — the giving to community and cause, and receiving more life meaning and other gifts.
There are so many gifts to giving. It can change your life.
But ayni is about keeping the balance.. with yourself, the world, and Spirit.
In Native American spirituality we have the Give Away. where goods are given away. There is a lot going on in the concept of The Give Away but briefly we can learn much to wind through our own lives and communities because in the West, our focus is on the accumulation of things, greed and scarcity.
Today give-aways are held for many different reasons in the Native American culture. But let’s sit with that idea of non-ownership. of giving to support the greater community rather than hang onto things we think we might need. The idea of non-attachment. The idea of providing food (and often gifts) to guests rather than doing pot lucks and receiving gifts at certain gatherings and ceremonies.
As anyone who declutters regularly can attest, it feels good to let go of things we no longer want or use.. which could be beneficial to someone else.
Not only that, it works on a spiritual level, activating the flow, releasing blocked energy, getting some forward movement in life going again.
On one level, the give-away is an indigenous way of philanthropy. It’s about giving so that others might benefit. Can you give away something which means something to you, and feel empowered by the giving? Perhaps you don’t use it any more, but it could be useful to others, or be more valued by another.
On another level, the give-away can be a ceremony where we give away all blocks to our forward movement in spiritual and personal growth. It could be old ideas, habits, or belongings that we need to let go. We can let go attitudes that don’t serve us. Those attitudes of “poor me”, of neediness, or abandonment. We can let go fears and move into more trust in the Great Spirit. It’s important to remember that Spirit is always communing with us. So be observant in your life, to the results of your Walk and your Thinking. What is being mirrored in the outside world? We need to be awake to our creating.
When I worked with indigenous peoples, I always had a supply of small but meaningful gifts to give away to the special people who touched me. And I would receive the same. Not always from the same person, and never expected, but when it would come, I was always touched, grateful, and humbled.
It was during a peace gathering that a Native American woman slipped me a beautiful quartz crystal. Her give-away to me. How did she know I would not only value it, but use it often as an aid to help animals?
Much later, Andrew and I ended up driving this woman and another Elder all the way to the airport. A three-hour drive. In return for our petrol and time, they gave us a stick of smudge. This was an expression of ayni. It might not have been equal in price, but it was equal in value, because the teachings we received from the conversations we had in the car were invaluable.
I still have the crystal she gave me. I’ll never forget her or her teachings.
To give a gift in return for teachings, wisdom, friendship, advice, in acknowledgement of another’s work — that is all something we can do to shift our culture of taking.
The give-sway is also a way of helping others in the community so that everyone is cared for. In our Western world we have people living in poverty, homeless on the streets. This wouldn’t happen in a true culture of sharing.
Meitheal is the Irish word for when groups of neighbours would help each other out with farming work. Lunch would be provided and a party with perhaps song and dance could be had after the sun went down. This embodies the idea of “give-away” and ayni. People receiving the help would provide food for all the other neighbours, and also their own labour when it came to helping the next farmer. This helped keep the balance.
In Australia we have “working bees”. In America “barn raising”. It is this idea of communal spirit, helping each other freely in return for lunch and companionship, but also help with your own work if and when needed.
Years ago, when Andrew and I lived in the Blue Mountains outside Sydney, we were active in the LETS community. LETS (Local Exchange and Trading System) was a system of “money” based on points earned and spent. It was better than barter, because you might not have anything the person wanted for an exchange of value in the barter system. But everyone can accrue points to spend. So there was a lot of value in the community through this system, not the least of which, was bringing the community together.
One woman for example, had her entire home built and garden created. Once that was done, she was able to give back to the community, earning points (creating balance) as a dog walker and sitter, and baby sitter. There was no money exchanged, but there was an exchange of value to the people involved. The builders and gardeners who helped create her home had lots of points to exchange for goods from others who were exchanging their talents and goods. In all, it was a lovely system and brought us back to the idea of offering who we are instead of what we are trained for, when our training has been from conditioning rather from the heart.
- Recall your Lost Energy: Find a comfortable space and sit down. Take some deep breaths to calm and relax you. Close your eyes and call in all the people, situations and animals who you have unwittingly given away energy to. Make a statement like “If you have taken energy from me, please return it.” “May my lost energy please return now.” We aren’t talking normal giving here. We are talking energy taken. And most times it is not malicious in intent. it is simply unconscious You can lose energy in the shopping mall, to a sick child, and even to animals you love. There are also “energy vampires.”, people and entities who drain others t feel better themselves. And again, often this is unconscious as well. If you are good at visualising, you might See them in front of you, on the cinema screen of your mind’s eye. You might be surprised how many are with you. Ask them to give your energy back to you. Allow time for this to happen. If you can’t See, then simply Feel, and trust that it is all happening according to your Intention. When you feel done energetically, thank them all, and release them with deep peace and divine love. Come back into the room and rub your hands together to ground. You may want to journal your experience. And you may feel very different. More energised.
- Think of ways we could use these ideas of ayni, give away and Meitheal to shift the way our western culture works. How could we use this in our own life and community? How could we give more to Mother Earth for example? Share your ideas in the Facebook group if you are in it. We can all benefit. Start a discussion. How also could you take this to the work place and in the family and the community. Do you have LETS where you live? Would you consider starting one or something similar in your community?