Incas Religion and Religious Beliefs



Incas Religious Beliefs and Religion: Names of Gods:

The Incas worshiped a pantheon of nature gods and goddesses. The most important were: Inti (the sun god), Viracocha (the creator), Illapa (the weather/thunder god), Pachamama (the earth goddess), Mamacocha (the sea goddess), and Mamaquilla (the moon goddess). Inti was considered to be omnipotent and the highest god.

The Incas believed that the members of the royal family were direct descendants of first emperor, Manco Capac and his sister-wife, Mama Occlo Huaco, children of Inti. (The emperor always married his sister as his official wife, therefore his heir was a pure-blood descendent of Inti and ruled with divine authority.) Viracocha was a culture hero for the Inca.

Incas Worship:

The Inca worshipped the dead, ancestors, founding culture heroes, their king whom they regarded as divine, nature and its cycles. The worship of nature and its cycles suggest that for them time and space were sacred, and consequently the calendar was religious and each month had its own festival. The most important cult was directed to Inti the god sun who nourished the earth and man with his rays.

The most important feast was the one dedicated to Inti, called IntipRaimi. This rich ceremony, with its splendid costumes, and gold and silver offerings and decoration, was opened by the Inca emperor, his family and the curaca.

After the opening the emperor made a libation to the sun and drank chicha (a maize drink) with his family, then led a procession, followed by everyone into the sun temple, where the imperial family made offerings of precious vessels or images to the god. Following this, omens were read and llamas were sacrificed. The ceremony ended with eating and drinking.
Another important cult was directed towards Pachama who was the mother of the earth.

Wiracocha was also a very important god, and though some scholars may explain his importance due to the Christian influence, others emphasize his importance as a culture hero that transformed, and as a god that created, claiming that his full name was "Con Ticci Wiracocha-pachaya" which means: the ancient foundation, the Lord and Instructor of the world.

The Incas believed in the notion of polarity that was expressed by the words hanan and hurin. Hanan expressed the high, superior; right, masculine, and hurin expressed the low, inferior, left, feminine. This polarity was evident in the cult to the moon (Quilla), considered as female and the sister and wife of the sun considered a male entity.

Incas Sacrifices:

Furthermore, priests presided over sacrifices, an essential part of many rituals and ceremonies. The majority of the sacrifices involved animals, such as llamas or guinea pigs. However, in times of disaster or at very sacred ceremonies, a woman or a child might be sacrificed to the gods.
These people would be given chicha, a thick beer made from fermented corn to drink in golden goblets while the priest sang songs of their virtue before they were strangled. The bodies of the sacrificed were then buried in a cocoon of fine textiles and surrounded by gold and silver statues, bags of corn and other offerings.

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