Traditionally the chakana (cruz cuadrada meaning square cross in Spanish) represents the Southern Cross constellation which the ancient Andeans believed to be the center of the universe and was easily distinguished while gazing upon the night sky. It held great significance to the Incas and has numerous meanings in its design. Its three dimensional levels are said to represent the three worlds, which in Quechuan, the ancient Andean language, were called: Janan Pacha - Representing the Upper World/Above/Universe; Kay Pacha - Representing the Middle World /Here & Now/Mother Earth; Ukju Pacha - Representing the Lower World/Inner Realms/Other World.
Interestingly, these three worlds seem to correspond with the Holy Trinity; the Father, Son and Holy Spirit seen in Christianity, as well as the Body/Mind/Soul (Spirit) idea seen in Eastern Religions. The Incas had three spirit animals they felt symbolized the three worlds; the condor, puma or jaguar, and the serpent. Symbols honoring spirit animals are found in many of the ancient sites and structures in the Andes. In fact, the city of Cusco, Peru was built in the shape of a puma. In addition to the Three Worlds, there are twelve steps that surround the chakana. Each of the twelve steps is said to represent a level of initiation and an attainment of consciousness. The chakana can also represent within its design the four directions, North, South, East & West, as well as the four elements, Earth, Air, Water & Fire.
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