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Updated: Mar 11

gold printed linocut print on black paper of pachamama
Pachamama by The Coventina Press

The Meaning of Pachamama

Pachamama is more than just a deity in Andean culture, she embodies the very essence of Mother Earth, nurturing and sustaining all living beings. Understanding the meaning of Pachamama goes beyond simple folklore, it delves into a deep connection with the land and the natural world. She is a representation of nature and the life cycle. She is the fertility of the land and the fertility of people on it. She holds a sacred place in Andean culture especially around themes of generosity, abundance and reciprocity.

The origins

The roots of Pachamama can be traced back to the ancient Andean civilizations, where the reverence for the earth and its bounties was central to their way of life. This deep connection with nature was ingrained in their daily rituals, agricultural practices, and spiritual beliefs. Pachamama represented the fertility of the land, the abundance of crops, and the cycles of life and death. Through ceremonies and offerings, the Andean people honored and appeased Pachamama, seeking her blessings and protection. In the ancient myths of Incan culture there is always duality. Each female thing had to have male counterpart. Pachamama had Inti the Sun god as her male opposite. There was also Kay Pacha, the earth world and Hanna Pacha, the heaven world to name just one other pairing.

Modern World

Pachamama is still an important feature of andean culture today, although the ceremonies and beliefs may differ from area to area.. It is still believed by many that she protects the inhabitants of her land and nourishes them if balance can be maintained.This mythology teaches the importance of harmony and respect for the Earth and its gifts and the belief that if we take too much, the Earth will fight back with natural disasters and famine. Gifts are regularly offered to her in a ritual named ‘pago a la tierra’ - payment to the earth at the beginning of August.

In the words of an ancient Andean proverb, "The earth does not belong to us. We belong to the earth." We should honor and protect the legacy of Pachamama, as the wisdom gained from this mythology can only be a force for good in this world where we so often take more much than we give.

The Pachamama hand printed linocut by The Coventina Press is available to buy here



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