Pachamama is an ancient Inca fertility goddess, referred to in other cultures as Gaia and Mother Earth. She is still honored in ceremonies, throughout the Andes Mountains, to thank her for what the land provides.
Pachamama in History
Pachamama (translating to “World Mother” or “Mother Earth”) was honored by the indigenous people of the Andes Mountains, predominately by the Inca in Peru and parts of Bolivia, Chile, Colombia and Ecuador. She is the mother of Inti, the Sun god (although some sources say this was her husband), and Killa, the Moon goddess. Pachamama was the Inca’s generous fertility goddess who presided over planting and harvesting, providing the earth’s inhabitants everything needed to sustain life.
When people would take too much from the land or did not treat her with respect, the Inca described Pachamama as a dragon beneath the mountains that would shake, causing earthquakes, as a reminder to honor her.
Pachamama is still honored with rituals, festivals and feasts all throughout the year across the Andes. Different offerings are given to Pachamama including the first sip of a person’s chicha, a traditional drink made of corn, and the burning of incense (i.e. coca leaves and cigars) to honor her and show gratitude.
During the month of August, the Challa or Pago (payment) Festival takes place to celebrate the harvest and fertility of the land. On the eve of August 1st, families cook a lavish meal in honor of Pachamama. Before anyone is allowed to eat, a hole is dug in the ground and the first serving is given to the earth. People also appease the elements through offerings of sacred plants, seeds and chicha during this cold winter month. Women who still follow closely to the ancient traditions, will travel to the fields during this time to talk softly to Pachamama, sometimes pouring a thankful offering of cornmeal on her surface. The climax of the August festivities is the Sunday Parade, which has been celebrated since 1949, where the community’s eldest woman is named the “Pachamama Queen of the Year.”
In the short video below, indigenous people of the Andes describe who Pachamama is to them and the rights of Mother Earth.
Incorporate Pachamama in your life by…
…performing your own Despacho Ceremony
A Despacho Ceremony is a beautiful and ancient ceremony still performed throughout Peru. During the ceremony, a shaman constructs the despacho – a gathering of sugar, incense, grains, herbs, coca leaves and other symbolic offerings – on behalf of an individual or the entire community. The despachos are then burned during a fire ceremony as a formal way of sending prayers to Pachamama and Apus (the mountain spirits).
You can create your own despacho by gathering some traditional items mentioned above and offerings that are symbolic for you. Send your prayers of gratitude to Mother Earth, as well as requests for things such as good health and prosperity – with a fire ceremony using a fire pit or an incense burner. (*Please make sure to take appropriate precautions anytime you are using fire in your ceremonies.)
…touching the earth
A very simple way to feel more connected to Pachamama is to sit on the earth. Take a few seconds to notice how you are feeling – the state of your energy. Then place your hands on our Mother Earth and, with intent, connect the energy of your body through you hands with the energy of the Pachamama. Ask her to bring your energy into harmony with hers. Notice how your energy shifts to a more calm and grounded state. Thank Mother Earth and fill your heart with this connected awareness as you move through the rest of your day.
…calling in the four elements
The indigenous people of the Andes Mountains believed that everything that exists is alive – trees, plants, animals, reptiles, insects, rocks, rivers, fire, smoke are alive, and all have a spirit.
A very special ceremony you can preform alone or in a group is the Calling in of the Four Elements to honor the spirit of water, fire, air and earth – the elements that make our Mother Earth. I have written out an acknowledgement and calling in, that you can also use in your own practice. Visualize and really feel the spirit of the element with each line you read. (Fun fact ~I actually wrote this originally for my first Pachamama Goddess Circle.)