Complementary duality is one of the central precepts of indigenous Andean and Aztec/Toltec wisdom and spirituality (as well as many other spiritual traditions and cultures). In the origin myth of the Toltec, our world was begun by two beings (not one). Colloquially translated as “Mr” and “Mrs” – they are believed to together have created life on planet Earth. Both were necessary; both were equally important and, here is the key, it is precisely because of their differences that life could and did spring forth from the infinite vastness of nothing – the kernel of all.

Staring with the premise of an original pair, rather than a sole source of life, brings about different ways of viewing our connection with each other and with other life forms. To start with, the Biblical Genesis that has the male (Adam) being birthed first by God, and then creating female (Eve) from his rib does not work from the complementary duality perspective. Neither does an original Earth Mother who alone creates life. Rather, it is in the pair, the group with its differences where life happens.

This concept of ‘complementary duality’ is expressed symbolically in the oriental yin-yang symbol, which you are probably familiar with. Within a circle are two rounded shapes that fit together perfectly. One is black (yin); the other white (yang). Within the yin section is a small white dot while within the yang piece is a small black dot. This shows that within each, the other exists. They are complementary because they are each different and yet they contain aspects or qualities of the other. Such a simple design; such a profound message.

This concept of complementary duality is often applied to elements of folk medicine and healing in the Toltec and Andean traditions. One way this can be seen is through the perception of hot and cold in Aztec/Toltec healing practices. Different than the kind of temperature a thermometer picks up, Aztec/Toltec healers place great importance upon sensing whether a person in need of healing is too hot or too cold from an energetic standpoint. It is thought that certain maladies manifest in conditions of excessive internal heat while others radiate a frigid vibration.

When I first learned this from curanderos (Mexican folk healers), I was doubtful how accurate or possible it is to sense this kind of temperature aberration. But in the psychic surgery I have been conducting recently, I have discovered that when I pass my obsidian wand a few inches in the air above the place where a malady exists, an energetic opening is made temporarily that allows me to easily sense the temperature there. And indeed I have found that in some cases (inflammation of the foot, anger issues, etc.) it radiates great heat, which needs to be cooled down, while in other instances (depression, cataracts) excess cold can be felt and needs to be warmed up.

The Mapuche are one of the lesser known indigenous nations in the Andean region. Residing in the southern part of what is now Chile and Argentina, they number over a million strong, making them one of the most important South American indigenous groups. Never conquered by the Spanish or even totally by the Chileans, their language is sui generis. Some of the oldest artefacts in the Americas have been found in southern Chile, dating back at least fourteen thousand years, making the Mapuche possibly some of the most ancient inhabitants of the Americas.

A Mapuche man once showed me two very special stones he called caucura stones believed to give one protection. He told me that when he became an adult his grandmother told him the time had arrived for him to find his own caucura stones. It took him several days of searching at a beach to find them. “The most important is their color – one has to be very black, the other very white,” he explained. Then he went on to say, “We don’t really think these stones will protect us like a shield, keeping problems away. What we believe is that these stones help our internal energy stay in balance so that whatever happens to us, we stay strong and do not get knocked off balance. This is what we mean by protection.”


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