The Gods of Inca Mythology

The Gods of Inca Mythology

The majority of the world?s religions speak of a single God who created the universe, but in Inca mythology, many deities were involved in the creation of the cosmos. They each had a role in forming different elements of the sky, earth and underworld.

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The most important god to the ancient Inca was Viracocha. He was the first of the creator deities, responsible for designing the heavens. From his own form, he established the sun, moon, planets and stars. When he commanded the sun to move over the sky, time itself was created, allowing for the rise of civilization. He was represented as wearing the sun for a crown, with thunderbolts in his hands, and tears descending from his eyes as rain.

The second most important deity of the Inca pantheon was Inti. He was the sun god, and it is uncertain whether he was a brother of Viracocha, or his son. He brought light and warmth to the lands, and became known as the ?Giver of Life?. He later sent his children to earth to start the Inca civilisation. Inti and his sister, Mama Killa (Moon goddess) were generally considered benevolent deities.

Coniraya was a male Moon God, associated with the creation of life. Legend says that as he wandered over the earth, plants and animals appeared. He held dominion over agriculture, and helped the farmers irrigate their fields. He once fashioned his sperm into the fruit of the Lumca Tree, which was eaten by Cavillaca, a beautiful virgin goddesses. Cavillaca became pregnant and ran away in shame. Coniraya went in search of her and his child, but sadly, when he found them, they had both turned into stone.

Kon was the first born of Inti and Mama Killa, who resided over the rains. He was strong and lithe, which allowed him to move quickly over the the plains of Peru. Kon was lonely, so he created the first race of humans. He set them down in a pleasant, fertile land, and gave them grain which they could harvest, and fruits which ripened quickly. His creations wanted for nothing.

During the rule of these early gods, Kon?s human creations became lazy and wicked, so Kon punished them with drought. He would only dispense his life giving waters if they worked hard enough to earn his favour. Kon?s tyrannical regime soon came to an end with the appearance of his brother Pachacamac (Inti?s son).

Pachacamac was known as the ?Creator of the World?, and immediately challenged his brother Kon. After a tremendous struggle, Pachacamac managed to drive Kon from the land. His became the new god of Peru, and redesigned it as a paradise. He wasn?t so fond of the Kon?s mortal creations, however, and turned into monkeys. In their place, he created a new race of humans (the ancestors of the Inca). In return, these people made Pachacamac their supreme deity.

After the dethronement of Kon, a new god was needed hold dominion over the rain. This role was gifted to llapu, who used the power of the storm to fertilise the lands. The Incas believed the Milky Way as a heavenly river, where Illapu?s sister stored a great water jug. When Illapu struck the jug with a bolt of lightning, it would create the sound of thunder, and release a heavenly rain. He appeared as a man in shining clothes, carrying a club and stones.

Catequil was another storm god, linked specifically to lightning. Legend say?s he created thunder-bolts by striking the clouds with his sacred spear and a mighty club. He was venerated as a weather deity, who could divine the future. Catequil was linked to a myth about the twins Apocatequil and Piguerao. Many Incan people believe Apocatequil was none other than the lightening god in human form.

The story goes that the twin brothers, Apocatequil and Piguero, were conceived by a woman who had sex with a sky god. Her name was Cautaguan, and she bore her sons within two eggs. Close to their birth, the goddess was killed by her brothers (the Guachimines). Once her sons hatched, they revived their mother, and took vengeance on their uncles by hurling lightening bolts at them.

Apocatequil become the prominent leader of the Inca, and served as the chief priest for the lunar deity, Coniraya. To keep Apocatequil happy, the Inca built statues of his noble self and placed them upon the mountaintops.

Below these mountains lived Urcaguary, a chthonic deity, who resided over underground treasures (metals and jewels). He guarded them from greedy interlopers who tried to steal them, and had a formidable appearance. He was often depicted as a large snake with the antlers of a deer, and a tail coiled with gold chains.

For those who wished to secure a safer way to wealth, there was always Ekkeko. He was the god of abundance, called upon by his followers for luck and prosperity. The ancient Inca made dolls that represented him and surrounded them with miniature version of their desires (pets, treasure, food, etc). This was believed to help manifest whatever it was their hearts desired.

Another God revered for his prosperity was Urcuchillay. This bestial god was worshipped by Inca herders, who watched over the herds of Peru. He was prayed to for their well-being. Urcuchillay would often bring good fortune to his followers, ensuring their protection in the wilderness. It was said he possessed a bright, multicoloured coat, a symbol of life and wonder.

Yet life and prosperity couldn?t last forever, as all paths eventually lead to the grave. This final feature of the Inca life was ruled over by Supay, the god of death. He lived in Ukhu Pacha (the underworld), with an army of demons. Miners would also pray to him for a safe decent into the underworld, when they went digging for precious treasure. Ukhu Pacha was not such a terrible place, for it was linked to the womb of mother earth (Pachamama). The subterranean waters of ?Ukhu Pacha? were believed to have rejuvenating qualities, which linked the health and prosperity of the Inca people.

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