Pachamama or Mama Pacha, is the Earth Goddess of South America’s Andean population, still honoured by people who even nowadays recognise themselves in the Inca’s culture.
Literally Pacha Mama means “mother space time” or "mother universe" in Quechua language, all one with Mother Earth. Mountains’ tops are her breasts, rivers are her milk of life and fields are her fertile womb.
Among these so called “underdeveloped” populations, in addition to a greater respect for the earth, a role of superior social primacy is also found, which is allocated to the elderly, as well as an attitude of better attention towards women, children and all socially weaker groups.
Pachamama had a spouse (who was also her brother), Pachakamac, from whose union two twins were born, a male and a female.
THE INCA'S PANTHEON
In the Incas' conception, the world is subdivided in three levels: Hanan Pacha, the world of above where divinities reside; Kay Pacha, this world; Uku Pacha or Urin Pacha, the world of below, where the spirit of the dead and unborn children reside.
The people’s religion
In the Incas' dualistic vision, Inti was the high masculine divinity, with a low feminine counterpart, Pachamama.
The èlite’s religion
Wiraqucha was the supreme divinity creator of the Sun, the Moon and the Stars, the God that had formed the first men from clay.
Wiraqucha also had a daughter, Mama Quilla, sister and wife of Inti, who generated Mama Ocllo and gave birth to the first Inca.
There are other myths on Wiraqucha, among which:
Other minor gods of this complex pantheon are Apu (God of mountains), Apocatequil (God of lightening), Catequil (God of thunder), Cavillaca (fruit-eating virgin Goddess, from whom Coniraya, Goddess of moon, was born ), Chasca (Goddess of dawn, of dask and of the planet Venus, protector of virgins), Chasca Coyllur (Goddess of flowers), Mama Coca (Goddess of health and joy), Coniraya (lunar divinity ), Ekkeko (God of heart and good health), Kon (God of rain and wind coming fron South), Mama Allpa (Goddess of fertility), Mama Cocha ("mother Sea"), Mama Quilla ("mother Moon"), Mama Zara (Goddess of wheat), Pariacaca (God of water, born from pre-Inca mithology), Supay (God of death), Urcaguary (God of metals), Apu Illapu (God of rain and thunderstorms).
The Inca religion was evidently the reflection of the state structure, with the God Inti being the image of the emperor, or Sapa-Inca (Head of the Inca).
During the kingdom of Pachacuti (ninth emperor of Cuzco’s empire, between 1438 and 1471-1472, whose name means “him who reforms the world” in Quechua language, so much so that he began an era of conquering that saw Cuzco expand its dominion from the valley to most of South America), the cult of Viracocha expanded as well, also transforming him from creator to civilizing hero in various myths.
The imperial caste and the clergy dedicated their cult to Wiraqucha, while people’s religion was devoted to natural forces and to earth.
Another important god after Inti and Wiraqucha was Inti Illapa, The Thunder. He travelled in the sky with a flash of lightning and a bat in order to generate thunderbolts. He would draw from the Milky Way the water to be poured on earth.
Unlike one could think, during the times of devotion and celebration of their many divinities, the Incas used to practise human sacrifices only rarely, opting instead for animal sacrifice. The employment of human sacrifice was dedicated to times in which catastrofies and state crisis occurred, and the choice of the child to sacrifice took place everywhere within the territory. The child had to be handsome with no physical defects of any kind; he was accompanied in the presence of the emperor and thus taken to a mountain where the sacrifice took place by a shot to the skull. These sacrifices are confirmed by the discovery of a little mummy.
The Year of the Incas
The year of the Incas consisted of 12 months of 30 days, starting from December with the important festival of Capac Raymi, followed by a monthly festival. Cerimonies were often long and very complex, and were more often associated to issues relating to human health as well as crops and agricultural products. Perhaps the most important figure of male priest was for the Inca Willaq Uma who had the power to appoint new priests and to teach them the religious doctrine; besides this, they also acted as healers and magicians who devoted themselves to divination on behalf of others. Women also had an opportunity to become Mamaconas, a privilege reserved to noble and very beautiful girls who could learn the secrets of this art after years of study and work, and swear an oath of chastity to serve the God Inti (the Virgins of the God Sun); otherwise they could prepare themselves to become wives of noble ranks. Unfortunately, despite numerous researches and studies around this population and its culture, the secret and the halo of mystery accompanying the Incas for centuries could not been unveiled in its depths. From what's left as proof of this civilization, the monumental remains of temples like the fortresses of Sacsayhuaman, near Cuzco, and the towns of Machu Picchu and Ollantaytambo represent the most popular examples together with the enormous terraces built for cultivation, bearing in mind that these colossal structures were built without using mortar that would have sealed the massive boulders employed for their construction, enough to consider that the Incas were the depositaries of more than 3000 years of Andean cultural and technological development.
In the medical field, the Incas used to perform cranial drillings and practised cranial bone remodelling in very young children, so that the shape of their heads would become conic. Their kingdom internal hierarchy structure, based on their conception of dual, had two Inca rulers: an Inca hanan above and an Inca hurin below. Their expansionistic projects still arouse today some perplexities: there is evidence of direct expeditions to Polinesia, especially during the period of king Pachacutec who conquered the kingdom of Chimu and other areas of the Ecuador Sierra with his son Tupac Inca Yupanki. After him, Tupac Inca Yupanki extended his achievements to the central-meridional shore of Peru, the Southern Bolivian plateau, the Northwest Argentinian plateau, the Northern and the centre of Chile and next the Ecuador, where he founded the secondary capital of Quito. The instruments used daily by the Incas to write were called Quipus, a system of knotted threads still not understood and therefore failing to reveal the method by which it was employed.
RITE FOR PACHA MAMA
Every loving gesture of respect toward Mother Earth is a rite cherished by Pachamama.
Any act of love is appreciated by Pachamama.
PRAYER TO PACHA MAMA
"Earth, divine Goddess, Mother Nature, who generates everything and always makes the sun given to people reappear; guardian of the sky, of the sea and of all Gods and powers; by thy influence all nature quietens and sinks in to sleep. And again when it is convenient to thee, thou send the pleasant light of day ahead and give nourishment to life with thy eternal promise; and when the spirit of man passes away, it returns to thee. Indeed, to good right, thou are called Great Mother of Gods; Victoria is thy divine name.
English herbarium of the XII century, British Museum.