Peruvian Mountain Spirit

Peruvian Mountains and The Spirit World

This blog was prompted in part by a training session I had in a class with Jose Luis Hererra. He spoke about the mountains (Apus) of Peru. Apus are typically thought of as male spirits, although some female examples do exist. In the Quechua language spoken by the Incas and now the second most common language in modern Peru-the plural of Apu is Apukuna. 

Inca mythology works within three realms: Hana Pacha (the upper realm), Kay Pacha (the human realm), and Uku Pacha (the inner or lower world). Mountains- rising up from the human world toward Hanan Pacha – offered the Incas a connection with their most powerful gods in the heavens.

The Apu Mountain spirits also served as protectors, watching over their surrounding territories and protecting nearby Inca inhabitants as well as their livestock and crops. In times of trouble, the Apus were appeased or called upon through offerings. Its believed they predated people in the Andes regions and that they are constant guardians of those who inhabit this area.

Small Offerings

Small offerings like cocoa leaves are common. In modern Peru, the mountain spirits did not fade away following the fall of the Inca empire. They are very much alive in Peruvian folklore and with the wisdom keepers of Peru. Many Peruvians today, especially from traditional families, still hold the beliefs of the Incas, oftentimes combined with Christian beliefs, mostly Catholic. 

Especially in the higher elevations, Peruvians still make offerings to the mountain spirits. Trained Shamans communicate with the Apus by using cocoa leaves as divination tools. Many times the leaves are dropped onto woven cloths and the Shaman studies the messages received. 

The highest mountains are thought to be the most sacred. Cusco has 12 sacred Apus including Ausangate (keeper of the mystery teachings, king of mesas) which towers 20,945 feet above, Sacsayhuaman (oracle, keeper of records), and Salkantay (the first king of mesas, the untamed, random, primal energy).

Machu Pichu

Machu Pichu (the old peak) after which the archeological site is named – is also a sacred apu, as is the neighboring Huayna Pichu.

Other meanings of Apu are great lord or authority. In Quechua, Apu has a variety of meanings besides its spiritual significance including rich, mighty, boss, chief, powerful, and wealthy.

Apus and Their Meaning

Other Apus and their meanings include Walkaywillka (tear of God, compassion), Illimani (light bringer, healer), and Sinka (weather bringer).  In fact, the mountains are spirits in and of themselves. Jose Luis talked about how the mountains communicate and their use of Seiki lines to communicate over long distances. This class was in early 2021 and he said that contact is being made from mountains in Peru to mountains all over the world. 

This brings me to the US and the great smoky mountains. As luck would have it I and my family are taking a trip there over the Easter holidays. I did a little research and to no surprise, found there are sacred mountains there, too! Many American Indian Cherokee legends speak of them and mysterious creatures and happenings in the area. One such creature is the Wampus Cat an ancient mythological creature who according to legend, was a woman who was cursed by tribal elders as punishment for watching a sacred ceremony take place without permission.

The Wampus Cat

The Wampus cat is described as a mountain lion-type creature with 6 legs, others say it is amphibious and others say half bear/half-cat. Cades cove and Mount Le Conte are two sacred areas of many. This is also, unfortunately, part of an area called the trail of tears. Long ago, the  American military was told to round up the Cherokee Indians and force march them to the Louisiana territory. It was in the dead of winter and at least 4,000 Cherokees passed away due to harsh conditions. It is said, 1,000 escaped into the mountains where their descendants live today. I will be doing research on sacred sites and bears while we are in the mountains and report back.

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