Customs

The Earth Receives Gifts this Month

Offering a Gift to the Earth (Wayra)

The month of Pachamama, the lady of the Earth and Time dawns on August first. This is an important time in traditional Andean society. The depth of the dry season, when brown can be seen everywhere and rain seldom appears, Andeans turn to think about feeding the mother earth, a payment as they call it, for her to return in fertility and brilliance.

Even away from the agricultural domain, in the City of Cuzco, this month is important. People turn their thoughts to finding a papacho, an Andean ritual specialist, also known as Andean priest, who can make an offering to the Pachamama for them and their household. They seek her blessings to keep away misfortune and enhance fortune.

Gathering to Participate in the Offering (Wayra)
Gathering to Participate in the Offering (Wayra)

It is a dramatic month of anticipation of another year ahead, or growth and harvest, with daily rains in between or simply a year of family growth with all the challenges that entails. There will be happiness and hopefully only the minimum of sorrow. May there always be work and income. May family and friends come round and stay together solidly to be with each other and support each other. May the home stand well.

This morning the municipality of Cuzco engaged known papachos to make an offering to the earth in the name of Cuzco by Saqsayhuaman.

The ceremony of offering is elegant. People first buy the ingredients requested by the papacho. They then sit with him while he composes a complex and layered gift to the Mother of All. Slowly and carefully. They will select coca and make k’intus, small bundles of leaves which will be layered on top of each other with flowers, spices, sugar images, seeds, yarn, and fat. Then the misa, as it is called, the mass or table (it is a homonym and means both) will be carefully enclosed in gift wrap and taken to the appropriate place where the gift will be given to the earth.

Smoke Carries the Gift (Wayra)
Smoke Carries the Gift (Wayra)

This ceremony will be repeated throughout out the month in house after house. Confetti outlining the home’s boundaries or flower petals will be the signs to everyone that the offering was made.

This celebration and period of reflection and offering is increasingly called Pachamama Raymi, the feast of the Pachamama.

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