Pachamama is a goddess revered by the indigenous people of the Andes.
She is also known as the earth/time mother. In Inca mythology,
Pachamama is a fertility goddess who presides over planting and
harvesting, embodies the mountains, and causes earthquakes. She is
also an ever-present and independent deity who has her own
self-sufficient and creative power to sustain life on this earth.
Her shrines are hallowed rocks, or the boles of legendary trees, and
her artists envision her as an adult female bearing harvests of
potatoes and coca leaves. The four cosmological Quechua principles
- Water, Earth, Sun, and Moon - claim
Pachamama as their prime
origin, and priests sacrifice llamas, cuy (guinea pigs), and
elaborate, miniature, burned garments to her. After the conquest by
Spain, which forced conversion to Roman Catholicism, the figure of the
Virgin Mary became united with that of the
Pachamama for many of the
indigenous people. In pre-Hispanic culture,
Pachamama is often a
cruel goddess eager to collect her sacrifices. As
Andes cultures form
Pachamama remains benevolent, giving, and a local
name for Mother Nature. Thus, many in South America believe that
problems arise when people take too much from nature because they are
taking too much from Pachamama.
2 Modern-day rituals
2.1 Household rituals
2.2 Sunday parade
New Age worship
4 Political usage
5 See also
7 External links
Pachamama is usually translated as Mother Earth, but a more literal
translation would be "World Mother" (in Aymara and Quechua). The
Inca goddess can be referred to in multiple ways; the primary way
being Pachamama. Other names for her are: Mama Pacha, La Pachamama,
and Mother Earth. La
Pachamama differs from
Pachamama because the "La"
signifies the interwoven connection that the goddess has with nature,
whereas Pachamama—without the "La"—refers to only the goddess.
Inti are believed to be the most benevolent deities;
they are worshiped in parts of the Andean mountain ranges, also known
Tawantinsuyu (the former Inca Empire) (stretching from present day
Bolivia, Ecuador, Chile, Peru, and northern Argentina.
known to Andean people as a "good mother". Therefore, people usually
toast to her honor before every meeting or festivity, in some regions
by spilling a small amount of chicha on the floor, before drinking the
rest. This toast is called challa and it is made almost every day.
Pachamama has a special worship day called Martes de challa (Challa's
Tuesday), when people bury food, throw candies, and burn incense. In
some cases, celebrants assist traditional priests, known as yatiris in
Aymara, in performing ancient rites to bring good luck or the good
will of the goddess, such as sacrificing guinea pigs or burning llama
fetuses (although this is rare today). There have been many
circulating stories of homeless people being lured to building sites,
given alcohol until unconscious, and buried alive into the foundations
as a sacrifice. The festival coincides with Shrove Tuesday, also
celebrated as Carnevale or Mardi Gras. The central ritual to Pachamama
is the Challa or Pago (Payment). It is carried out during all of
August, and in many places also on the first Friday of each month.
Other ceremonies are carried out in special times, as upon leaving for
a trip or upon passing an apacheta (es). According to Mario Rabey
and Rodolfo Merlino, Argentine anthropologists who studied the Andean
culture from the 1970s to the 1990s, "The most important ritual is the
challaco. Challaco is a deformation of the Quechua words 'ch'allay'
and 'ch'allakuy', that refer to the action to insistently sprinkle.
In the current language of the campesinos of the southern Central
Andes, the word challar is used in the sense of "to feed and to give
drink to the land'. The challaco covers a complex series of ritual
steps that begin in the family dwellings the night before. They cook a
special food, the tijtincha. The ceremony culminates at a pond or
stream, where the people offer a series of tributes to Pachamama,
including "food, beverage, leaves of coca and cigars.
Rituals to honor
Pachamama take place all year, but are especially
abundant in August, right before the sowing season. Because August
is the coldest month of the winter in the southern Andes, people feel
more vulnerable to illness. August is therefore regarded as a
"tricky month." During this time of mischief, Andeans believe that
they must be on very good terms with nature to keep themselves and
their crops and livestock healthy and protected. In order to do
this, families perform cleansing rituals by burning plants, wood and
other items in order to scare evil spirits who are thought to be more
abundant at this time. People also drink mate (a South American hot
beverage), which is thought to give good luck.
On the night before August 1, families prepare to honor
cooking all night. The host of the gathering then makes a hole in
the ground If the soil comes out nicely, this means that it will be
a good year; if not, the year will not be bountiful. Before any of
the guests are allowed to eat, the host must first give a plate of
food to Pachamama. Food that was left aside is poured onto the
ground and a prayer to
Pachamama is recited.
A main attraction of the
Pachamama festival is the Sunday parade. The
organizational committee of the festival searches for the oldest woman
in the community and elects her the "
Pachamama Queen of the Year."
This election first occurred in 1949. Indigenous women, in particular
senior women, are seen as incarnations of tradition and as living
symbols of wisdom, life, fertility, and reproduction. The Pachamama
queen who is elected is escorted by the Gauchos who circle the plaza
on their horses and salute her during the Sunday parade. The Sunday
parade is considered to be the climax of the festival.
New Age worship
See also: Goddess movement
There has been a recent rise in a
New Age practice among white and
Andean mestizo peoples. There is a weekly ritual worship which takes
place on Sundays and includes invocations to
Pachamama in Quechua,
although there are some references in Spanish. Inside the temple,
there is a large stone with a medallion on it, symbolizing the New Age
group and its beliefs. A bowl of dirt on the right of the stone is
there to represent Pachamama, because of her status as a Mother
Earth. Many rituals related to the
Pachamama are practiced in
conjunction with those of Christianity, to the point that many
families are simultaneously Christian and pachamamistas. Pachamama
is sometimes syncretized as the Virgin of Candelaria. Certain
travel agencies have drawn upon the emerging
New Age movement in
Andean communities (drawn from Quechua ritual practices) to urge
tourists to come to visit Inca sites. Tourists visiting these sites,
Machu Picchu and Cusco, are offered the chance to participate
in ritual offerings to Pachamama. The tourist market has been using
Pachamama to increase its draw to tourists.
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Pachamama features proprominently in the Peruvian national
narrative. Former President, Alejandro Toledo, held a symbolic
inauguration on 28 July 2001 atop
Machu Picchu which featured a
Quechua religious elder giving an offering to Pachamama. Pachamama
has also been used as an example of autochthony by some Andean
Law of the Rights of Mother Earth
^ a b Dransart, Penny. (1992) "Pachamama: The Inka Earth Mother of the
Long Sweeping Garment." Dress and Gender: Making and Meaning. Ed. Ruth
Barnes and Joanne B. Eicher. New York/Oxford: Berg. 145-63. Print.
^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Matthews-Salazar, Patricia. (2006)
"Becoming All Indian: Gauchos,
Pachamama Queens, and Tourists in the
Remaking of an Andean Festival." Festivals, Toursism and Social
Change: Remaking Worlds. Ed. David Picard and Mike Robinson. N.p.:
Channel View Publications. 71-81. Print.
^ Murra, John V. (1962). "Cloth and Its Functions in the Inca State".
American Anthropologist. 64 (4): 714.
^ Merlino, Rodolfo y Mario Rabey (1992). "Resistencia y hegemonía:
Cultos locales y religión centralizada en los
Andes del Sur".
Allpanchis (in Spanish) (40): 173–200.
^ Molinie, Antoinette (2004). "The Resurrection of the Inca: The Role
of Indian Representations in the Invention of the Peruvian Nation".
History and Anthropology. 15 (3): 233–250.
^ a b c Hill, Michael (2008). "Inca of the Blood, Inca of the Soul".
Journal of the American Academy of Religion. 76 (2): 251–279.
^ a b Lira, Jorge A (1944). Diccionario Kkechuwa - Español (in
Spanish). Tucumán, Argentina.
^ Mario Rabey y Rodolfo Merlino (1988). Jorge Flores Ochoa, ed. "El
control ritual-rebaño entre los pastores del altiplano argentino".
Llamichos y paqocheros: Pastores de llamas y alpacas (in Spanish).
Cusco, Perú: 113–120.
^ a b Merlino, Rodolfo y Mario Rabey (1983). "Pastores del Altiplano
Andino Meridional: Religiosidad, Territorio y Equilibrio Ecológico".
Allpanchis (in Spanish). Cusco, Perú (21): 149–171.
^ a b Hill, Michael D. (2010). "Myth, Globalization, and Mestizaje in
New Age Andean Religion". Ethnohistory. 57 (2): 263–289.
^ Manuel Paredes Izaguirre. "COSMOVISION Y RELIGIOSIDAD EN LA
FESTIVIDAD" (in Spanish). Retrieved 2010-02-15.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Pachamama.
Bolivia's offerings to Mother Earth, October 2007
Bolivian Indigenous Activist: We Must Respect Mother Earth, Our
Pachamama - video by Democracy Now!
Bolivia enshrines natural world's rights with equal status for Mother