Since the time of the Incas (and most probably before then), Pachamama – meaning Mother Earth in the ancient Quechua language – has been revered as the world’s fertility goddess. It is she who harvests the land so that farmers can grow potatoes, corn and coca leaves; it is she who embodies the mystical snow-capped mountains; and it is she who will bring the rains, cause an earthquake or strike with a lightning bolt. Essentially, it is Pachamama – the ever-present spirit of the Andes – who has the power to sustain, or destroy, life on Earth.
La Ofrenda a la Pachamama (The Offering to Mother Earth) started as a way for the humble Andean campesino – who, more than anyone else, was indebted to Pachamama for his survival – to be able to give back what he had taken from her; a kind of reciprocity between the material and spiritual world, and a chance to rebalance the relationship between man and nature so that he may take from the land once more. The ceremony also offered the rare opportunity to formally share your dreams and aspirations with her. What is it that you most want from this life? During the ritual, you have Pachamama’s undivided attention. If she’s appeased with your offering, she will muster up the rains during the wet season, grant you a good harvest, and protect you and your family from harm.
The ritual starts by preparing a small package that will serve as our offering to the Apus (divine mountain spirits in Quechua). What goes into these small packages, can vary each time. If there was a bad harvest season, or if there has been a major tragedy in the community, usually includes coca leaves, incense, nuts, dried Amazonian flowers, brown sugar, a bit of vicuña wool, and a splash of red wine. The important thing is that every small offering be completely natural, symbolizing giving back what has been taken from the Earth.
When all the small offerings have been put together, a paper is folded up to make a small square package. With his eyes fixed on the Apus, a shamans then blesses the package by holding it close to his face as he whispers a few words of thanks to Pachamama. He then wraps it up in a llama-wool blanket, setting the package aside for a moment, the shamans quickly set up a fire made from hay and manure with a small gap in the centre to place our offering. As the flames start to rise and the home-made oven starts to heat uncontrollably. The shaman politely asks us to get down on our knees and close our eyes, facing the mountain we’re about to climb. He then begins to lightly press the package to our heads, hands, back and feet as he chants more words of thanks to Pachamama and asks her to protect us on our long journey to Hampa’s summit.
After a moment in silence watching the flames flicker in slow motion, there’s just one last thing left to close the ceremony. Three coca leaves are carefully selected and put on the floor with each stem facing down towards the ground. This is called the K’intus: a “bouquet” that represents the coming together of a prayer or offering, with the tips of the leaves reaching up to Inti Tayta (Sun and Sky) and the stems down to Mother Earth.
The ceremony is finished when giving one last thanks to Pachamama, holding the leaves, and its gaze, to the magical Apus of Ausangate. If you’d like to be in this mystic ceremony and experience firsthand what is really like a payment to the earth, don’t hesitate in contacting us.
These are some of the experiential tours we are doing in Via Natura. Get to know better all the cultural richness of the Peruvian history with us. For more information on our mystic experiences in Cusco and the Sacred Valley, please visit our website: www.vianatura.com our send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org