Pacha mama, a vision of the world that represents the human environment in its totality, the balance that surrounds us and the respect of our planet and its resources.
This concept comes from the Inca culture and the Quechua language. Quechua is an agglutinating language, where each word has a meaning as a base. It is then accompanied by a suffix (i.e. an adverb). Etymologically, “pacha” is a term that can mean “earth, world, universe, time, epoch”, but also “excellence, completeness, uniqueness, security and truth”. “Mama” simply means mother. The juxtaposition of these two terms gives rise to a special meaning: the concept of mother that generates, nourishes, protects, guides and gives affection, and the concept of universe with its own notions of a spatio-temporal order of infinity” (Alberto Alabí, 1996).
In the Andean culture, Pacha mama is the goddess who protects all material possessions, and at the same time she dominates the spiritual universe. For this reason, she represents the human environment in its totality. Therefore, those who believe in her must maintain a balanced and reciprocal relationship with her.
The notion of Pacha mama thus refers to a balance to be found with the nature that surrounds us, a respect for our planet and its resources. As a Shenandoah proverb puts it, “we are made of Mother Earth and we return to Mother Earth…”. So it is an infinite circle. This concept is central to the belief system of the indigenous peoples of the Central Andes of South America in terms of ecological and social performance.
The rituals of Pachamama:
There are several of them. We suggest you discover the one that usually takes place in the northwest of Argentina, in the province of Jujuy (in particular in Humahuaca). There, the Pachamama ritual takes place throughout the month of August. The Pachamama ceremony aims to thank the Earth for the offerings she has given us over the past year. Men and women take turns digging a hole, called “Boca”, referring to the mouth of the Earth. This path is a channel that goes directly to the heart of the earth.
Once this hole is dug, two cigars are lit and placed around the hole. The smoke that comes out of the hole purifies the environment and banishes evil spirits. In order to prove that they are healthy, each participant smokes the cigar. Then comes the time to bring their offerings (cereals, coca leaves, alcohol, etc.).
Once everyone has passed by and all the alcohol has been drunk, a mixture of crushed corn is placed in the hole and then closed while praying. In the last part of this ritual, the men play music around the “Boca” and everyone sings in honor of Pachamama.
Discover some artworks dedicated to the Pachamama: