Use the Firefox browser with the CoolPreview add on. CoolPreview will give a magnifying glass icon at every link when you put your cursor on the link. Click on the icon and it will open a separate, smaller window with the definition of the term in it. You can either lock the window by clicking the padlock icon in the top bar of the little window, or move your cursor off the window and it will automatically close. This is almost as good as mouseovers.
INTRODUCTION AND USAGE GUIDELINES
This third edition is dedicated to
all of those who are teachers of this tradition. Each and every one has
answered the call and stepped up
courageously for those who are
yet to come.
This page contains:
Notes on Pronunciation
You Can Contribute Definitions
Because the Romans and the Greeks were exceedingly wise as well as enterprising, one does not marvel that they did things worthy of commendation and great praise. Nevertheless I believe the Incas should be no less praised for the mighty things they performed, while having none of the knowledge possessed by Greek and Roman. In truth if the Incas had had chroniclers who remembered and wrote down the deeds of their captains and doughty soldiers, all this would be known to us. -- Pedro Gutiérrez de Santa Clara, in Historia de las Guerras Civiles del Peru (1544-1548) y de otros sucesos de las Indias, 1905
"The respectable Father Bernabe Cobo, one of the early Spanish chroniclers of the Inca Empire, found the native Peruvians to evince a peculiar and most compelling impulse toward the divine, and a special curiosity about it, with the result that most of what they did, made, and nurtured, was done and raised to offer to the gods. Intensity of religious feeling was therefore everywhere the norm. Cobo states that the two principal deities were the Sun and the Earth. The Sun (Inti) was not the most universally acknowledged before the Inca brought him into prominence. Pachamama, the Earth Mother, has the distinction. She represents even today a level of religious understanding so basic, so pervasive and protean that the specialized cults of Pachacamac (the Creator), Inti and Thunapa (Thunder) -- more friendly to priestly manipulation -- gave no reason for change. Pachamama never altered; She stayed down among the lowly potato-growing peasants. The leaders had no intention of denying Her because they and everyone else so thoroughly accepted Her. To the peasants She was the earth itself, and She was that mysterious sheaf of powers residing in the substance of the earth. She was worshipped as a tilled field and as the soaring ranges of the Andes. The mountains were Her plenteous breasts, the milk of Her waters flowed out of them to nourish Her children. Therefore the confluence of two streams always formed a superior sacred site, a huaca. Pachamama was the experience of the Peruvian native as he moved wonderingly, humbly, delightedly, and fearfully from the cradle to the grave." EOTI
Then came the Conquest and the savage dismantling of the Inca Empire. Along with the Conquistadores' lust for the gold and silver of the Inca sacred sites, came the umbrage of the Catholic Priests at the Empire's perceived idolotry and devil worship**. However, just as a conquerer attempts to force change, he himself is changed.
When Buddhism migrated to Tibet from India, the native Bön shamanism was persecuted by the newly dominant Buddhism. Eventually, Buddhism subsumed Bön and now the aspects of each within the other are quite inseparable. Thus we have what is probably the only shamanic practice on the planet in which the shamans do not journey because Buddhism values keeping consciousness in the here-and-now. With its validation by the Dalai Lama, Bön is enjoying a resurgence and new respect among expatriated Tibetans and is spreading and flourishing in the United States.
A similar phenomenon occurred in South America. As the Inca spread their empire through conquest of neighboring cultures, they incorporated the local religious beliefs into their own. And when the Spanish arrived this phenomenon repeated with the native shamanic traditions and Catholicism, each reflecting aspects of the other. Such subsumation was also the policy of the Catholic Church, i.e., the construction of churches over native sacred sites and the celebration of Catholic holidays at the same time and place as native rituals. This cultural blending is reflected in the language. For example, arrepentikuy means to repent; the Quechua verb ending ikuy is appended to the Spanish arrepentir. I did find one credible source that claimed the word quechua itself means of the temperate valleys; however, all other credible sources said quechua is actually a Spanish appellation, taken from the Quechua word kkechuwa, which means “plunderer” (the pot was calling the kettle black).
Attempting to communicate with various regions was made simpler by forcing non-Quechua speaking natives to learn it. In an historical irony, “the Quechua language under the aegis of the Spaniards spread further than had ever been the case under the Incas, and in the process caused the disappearance of numerous languages spoken by small groups.” (www.aymara.org/biblio/html/quechua.html)
“Quechua is often regarded as the legacy of the Inca, yet the language was spoken in the northern Titicaca Basin long before the Inca conquest of the region. However, Quechua-speaking groups in the southern part of the basin are the descendants of settlers (mitimaes) transplanted there from other regions as one element of Inca imperial policy.” TAI Perhaps there is a basis in fact for the Incas’ claim to have originated from the world’s highest lake.
Among Quechua speakers (roughly 11 million in five countries), the language is called Runasimi, which means human speech. After the Conquest, Runasimi was used as a pejorative by the Spanish. But now, during a resurgence in the language worldwide, the term Runasimi is used with pride.
Aymara, spoken in Bolivia in the region of Lake Titicaca, is considered by some language experts to be the oldest language in the world. Thus an old Aymara/Spanish dictionary, written in 1610 and recommended as a source for this project by Jose Luis Herrera, was scoured for ceremonial terminology, and cross-referenced herein. Bear in mind that this is Aymara usage and spellings that are 400 years old.
This glossary is far from being definitive. There are 22 distinct dialects of Quechua spoken in Peru alone! Quechua is also spoken in other countries, such as Bolivia. In Ecuador, it is called Quichua. Added to the difficulty is the fact that Quechua was not originally a phonetically written language, and we find a wonderfully chaotic situation in attempting any kind of glossary.
When we realize that most of the material we have at our disposal is the result of the clash of two cultures which did not establish contact through the knowledge, but only through individuals who happened to be there, mostly unprepared and unwilling to establish a fruitful relationship, then we begin to realize that many of these questions do nothing but attract our curiosity without satisfying our thirst for real knowledge. We have to interpret a culture (Inca) through the eyes of another culture (Renaissance) which, in its turn, is different from our own
(Modern Occidental). DYE
Notes on Pronunciation
Although the government of Peru has attempted to standardize the language, in reality this is an ideal. The letters k, c and q, the vowels a, o and u, for example, are pretty much interchangable. The ( ’ ) after ch and k in some words, for instance, is often missing in common usage; i.e., sacha means wild, sach’a means forest. Thus you will often see the spelling sachamama for mother of the forest, instead of the more correct spelling (according to its pronunciation) of sach’amama. Machay means to get drunk; a mach’ay is a sacred cave.
Peru has posited chh as a letter of the official alphabet, but it is rarely seen, having dropped out of common usage for the most part. You can often find the letter v in Quechua spellings in various reference books, i.e., Viracocha, even though this letter does not exist in the official alphabet and is likely an injection of the Spaniards who first wrote the language. Because it is interchangable with w, that is what I have used in this project. Appendix A contains the official alphabet and a pronunciation guide.
Much of our medicine tradition comes from the Amazon rain forest. Therefore, there are terms that are non-Quechua included for spice in this amazing mixture. Culling material from so many different sources gave me the opportunity to connect a lot of dots, to compare and differentiate. For example, I was very awed by the sophisticated, global mythological dexterity of the jungle vegetalistas who employ the mythical beings of many cultures, both terrestrial and non-terrestrial, in their healings with a power that goes well beyond any book learning of mythology.
To understand the Inca, it is necessary to study cultures that preceded them in their territory, as well as those that were contemporaneous -- conquered and subsumed, thus lending their flavors to the stew. Therefore, there is some terminology from such cultures as the Wari, Tiwanako, Moche, et al.
Begun as a personal project, an aid for my own use, these are terms I came across in my studies and, therefore, should be of use to other students. This list is extremely idiosyncratic and by no means exhaustive. I have tried to keep it more playful than pedantic, stimulating rather than stultifying, inspiring but not insipid. The intent is to connect us more closely.
Please do not think that I am any kind of Quechua expert. I'm not. I am a lexicographer. This could just as easily be a glossary of music terminology or aeronautical engineering terms. I cannot compose music and you wouldn't want to fly in an airplane I designed!
There is also no attempt with this glossary to set a standard for Quechua spelling. Millions of Andeans have not been able to achieve such a standard in 500 years. It doesn't seem achievable in this context, does it? I have also observed that the teachers of this subject with whom I have had the privilege of studying get a nervous, hunted look when asked about spelling of terminology. So, I have done my best to be consistent, but it is a near impossibility.
You may find information in here that contradicts something you were taught. I am just the messenger. Take it up with your teacher or, better yet, get on the internet, read some books, find out for yourself.
Always bear in mind that history is written by the conqueror and will reflect the conquerors’ worldview.
Included are some words that are not ceremonial that caught my attention. Admittedly a word nerd, a secret agenda I have in making this glossary public is the hope that you, the student, will sit down and actually read it. In so doing, you will learn a little more Quechua, see a bit of how the language is structured, and acquire a deeper understanding of some of our ceremonial terminology.
Boundless gratitude goes to the large number of people who contributed to the body of knowledge of humanity that I have researched and culled -- the people who wrote the books and articles, the artists and photographers who posted the web pages and images. Most of the contributors are listed in the bibliography and image sources pages. Many of the photographs, graphics and text entries in this glossary are copyrighted and the intellectual property of others. No copyright infringement is intended here and no financial gain for any individual will ever be made from these pages. This glossary has been assembled for educational purposes only and follows the fair use doctrine of the copyright laws. If you use any of this material in your own writings, kindly cite the source(s) I have provided or cite this glossary. Some of the citations have been lost in the transliteration of the text through three software programs, and they were not retrievable. Web pages come and go. For this, I apologize. It seemed to me important that the info be included, even if the source was lost.
There are three main traditions of shamanism within Peru: the curandero of the Pacific coast, the paq'o of the Andes, and the vegetalista of the Amazon. Many of the teachers in the United States, who also travel throughout the world, have trained in more than one tradition and their own practice reflects much crossover. Within Peru, where the oral tradition of teaching the student is prevalent and preferred, there is less mixing. The glossary reflects this crossover tendency of the American teachers, thus the terminology may actually mean something slightly different from one tradition to another. This must be kept in mind by those using this glossary, as well as the truth for most of us that you must study with a teacher so that you can experience this path. Learning shamanism by reading books is like trying to understand sex from a book. Both must also be experienced fully to be fully appreciated. Working with the third edition and focusing somewhat on the curandero tradition, this has become clear to me and I wish to pass this caveat along to the student. Language is a living, changing thing. (Try reading Shakespeare.)
Since English is the dominant language spoken by the students of Inca medicine traditions in the United States -- for whose use this glossary has been assembled -- only English terms that are not in common usage are included, such as point zero. Quechua words have no designation because this is basically a Quechua-to-English glossary. Some terms are combinations of Quechua and Spanish, such as inkari (Inka rey, rey is Spanish for king) and are designated at the end of the definition with (sp.). Other Spanish terms (designated as (Span.) immediately preceding the definition) were used by teachers and authors of this lineage in the United States, such as ajo macho, alma and amparo. Common Spanish usage is not otherwise included; translations are widely available in Spanish/English dictionaries. Other languages are given in parentheses following the word, i.e., (Aym) for Aymara. Note that Aymara has the letters tt, cc and cch which do not exist in Quechua and therefore Aymara entries such as ccana and cchiuu that begin with cc and chh have been alphabetized under the letter C. Words beginning with tt are alphabetized under the letter T. See alphabetization guide below.
Exotic traditions have entered our practice, so I have included terms such as chakra, chaos, nagual and medicine wheel. There are words used in sources where the language that the terms came from is not clear. However, there is geographical context, and so I have put, e.g., (Mex) for Mexico or (Amaz) for Amazon where I could not find the actual etymology. Chakra (energy center) is under the letter C, just as it would be in an English dictionary, because it is not a Quechua word. However, chacra (farm) is under the letter Ch because it is a Quechua word.
If there is more than one spelling in use (a frustratingly common occurrence), they are given together separated by a comma, i.e., Apocatequil, Apotequil.
Words in the glossary are in the order below which follows, but does not duplicate, the Quechua alphabet (some of these letters do not exist in Quechua, but crept in from Spanish). Please note that alphabetization will follow this guide below, i.e., alquimia will precede allin because the ll is a separate, subsequent letter. A pronunciation guide to Quechua is given in Appendix A.
Words in this color designate terms defined elsewhere in the glossary and are now links to that term.
Acronyms in THIS SIZE AND COLOR following a definition are designations of sources given in the text sources page and in the bibliography.
Comments in brackets [ ] are my own.
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**PLEASE NOTE that I am conflicted between accurate, objective scholarship and my conscience. Witches and witchcraft have become entangled in the prejudice of Christianity against such practices. The practitioners of witchcraft (Wiccans) are peaceful and life affirming. I am loathe to pass this too-common calumny along where it contains a negative or black magic connotation. However, the integrity of the glossary demands an accurate reflection of the culture surrounding the practice of shamanism in contemporary and historical Incan South America. Please keep this in mind when you run across mentions of witches and witchcraft vis-a-vis dark magic. We can all pray for an end to this unjustifiable hatred from other people. (For more on this click here.) And don't bother writing me spouting Christian fundamentalism. I KNOW with unshakable certainty in my heart and soul that God loves us all equally and hates no one.
With multiple possible spellings, omitted apostrophes, tildes and accent marks, not to mention very few Quechua-English dictionaries (none are comprehensive), searching for Quechua words is a daunting challenge for the non-Quechua or non-Spanish speaking student. If you are literate in Spanish, you will have many more resources at your keyboard.
I'm going to give you tips from a non-Spanish, non-Quechua speaker (me) that comes from several years of experience researching this glossary.
• Don’t worry about capitalization, accent marks or tildes (ñ) if you are searching GoogleTM. (Whew!)
• Different spellings can’t be entirely ignored, although GoogleTM does seem to use some fuzzy logic in search algorithms. Try substituting ch’ for ch (sacha / sach’a), t’ or th for t, q’ or qh for q, p’ or ph for p, k’ or kh for k.
• Try interchanging c, q, and k in spelling the word; also b for w and p,v for w; o, u and a often interchange (tambo/tampu); z for s (zampoñas/sampuñas).
• Also consider changing w for hu (yahuar / yawar) and g for h (Spanish g sounds closer to h than an English g). Huaca is also often found as guaca.
I have entered all different spellings I come across, so use the search box located on every page. The bibliography contains several Quechua/English dictionaries, although they are not all just an Amazon.comTM click away. Most of them I had to get through my library. Good luck.
My husband, Paul, deserves more thanks than I can possibly give him for his support of my studies and while I have been teaching and working on this glossary; without him, none of it would have been possible.
Muchas gracias to Litza Arce, a dedicated student of our lineage and mesayoc, who took the job of reading the old Aymara/ Spanish dictionary mentioned above, as well as other sources, in a search for appropriate terminology, thus saving me many tedious hours of translating the archaic and modern Spanish.
Appreciation goes to ANON1, a source who wishes to remain anonymous and whose dedication to the people of Peru and their culture and language is evident in the glossary he had compiled and sent to me.
The people who wrote the information that I have included in the appendices: Meg Beeler, Rose De Dan (both of whom are teachers and mesayocs), Dr. Fernando Cabieses, Douglas Sharon, Don Eduardo Calderón, Dr. Charles Stanish of UCLA, Madge Miller of Sweet Briar College, and Viviano Domenici and Davide Domenici are acknowledged here.
This glossary would not have been possible, at least not to this extent, without the assistance of the staff at the Palm Springs (California) Public Library's Interlibrary Loan Department. Dedicated librarians acquired for me materials that are rare and loaded with information.
My many teachers and fellow students also have my deepest appreciation.
You Can Contribute Definitions
If you have terms or images (or corrections/amendments) that you feel belong in this glossary, feel free to write to me. You must include your source, unless, of course, you are an indigenous teacher. If and when enough additional terminology accumulates, I will publish another edition and give you credit as the contributor. My expertise lies in writing and the compilation of information; I am only another student of the tradition. This is OUR glossary, you mesayocs, and your input is very welcome.
Send any communication or contributions of terminology to incaglossary located on a server belonging to earthlink with a suffix of period net. If you do not want my spaminator to dump your message, ignored and unsung, put “Glossary” in the topic line. Or you can reach me through my blog here. I promise to answer each and every email.
I love to hear from y’all.