At the highest altitudes in the Andes Mountains in Peru, live a group of indigenous Indians called the Q'eros. They are the direct descendants of the ancient Incan people who were invaded by the Spanish Conquistadores in the 1500's. During that time, many of the Incan people were forced into labor in the gold and silver mines by the Spanish, but a few others escaped to the "villages in the clouds" in the refuge of the holy mountains (apus). These people survived and safe-guarded much of their sacred knowledge, keeping it intact over the centuries.
One of the most recognized words in the Quechua language is the word Munay. But what is the meaning and significance of the word? Munay in the Quechua language of the Incas of Peru is an action word or a verb that means to LOVE. It is also a noun or description of a state of love and being which is unconditional, eternal, and is a love without thinking or reasoning. However, the word, munay, implies even more than the Western understanding of what we think of as love, even in its unconditional sense.
For the Q'ero Incan people of Peru all of life is sacred. Every tree, plant, stone, mountain, river, animal and all of nature has living energy and spirits who are connected to them in individual ways. The Q'eros consider trees and plants as very sacred beings. Some specific trees sacred to the Q'eros include the Palo Santo Bursera graveolens (holy tree) and the Willow native to Peru, but all trees are sacred to them.
This is apparent in their form of their Tree of Life represented by the Chacana or Incan Cross.