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Glossary of Terminology
of the Shamanic & Ceremonial Traditions
of the Inca Medicine Lineage

as Practiced in the United States

CAUTION: The inclusion of herbs, symptomatology and treatments for disease within this glossary
is not meant for diagnosis of, nor prescription for treatment of, any medical condition.
This information is included for anthropological and historical study only.



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Ch, Ch' & Chh
F & G
K' & Kh
N &
P', Ph
Q', Qh
T' & Th


    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.



    q'anchaykuriy: See, k'anchaykuriy, RS

    q'anchay: See, k'anchay.

    q'apachi: (n) Incense. ROR

    q'ayma laq'a, qayma laqa: (adj.) Completely insipid. RS

    q'aymarayay, qaymarayay: (v) To become sad; to lose heart; to give up. RS

    q'aymasqa, qaymasqa: (adj) Awful; in bad condition; indifferent. RS  

    q'ayma sonqo, q'ayma sunqu, qayma sunqu: (adj) Apathetic; indifferent; in a bad mood. RS  

    q'aymak sonqo, ccaymak soncco: (n) Indigestion. DYE

    q'aymay, qaymay: (v) To be in very bad condition. RS  

    q'enqo, q'inqu: (n) Zig-zag, labyrinth. (adj) Sinuous; meandered; zigzag; complicated. RS

    Q'enqo: (n) A sacred site located above Cusco near Sacsahuaman. The Inca carved a zig-zag channel on the top of a rock. By pouring blood or chicha on it, the Inca forecast the future. THIM (See, Inti Watana for another image.)

    q'enti , kente, kinti, kinte: (n) The hummingbird. Curanderos believe that the hummingbird symbolizes the shaman's capacity to suck magic pathogens out of victims of sorcery. WOFW See, siwar q'enti.

    q'epe, q'epi, q'ipi, quipi, qipi, qepi: (n) A bundle carried on the back supported by the shoulder and tied across the chest. TLD Bundle; luggage; load carried on the back; package. RS

    q'ero, kero: (n) Ceremonial wooden vase carved from dark wood. THIM

    Wooden figure holding a q'ero
    found at a Chimu burial site
    dating from ca. AD1000.

    Q'ero, Quero: (n) Name of a farming community, the members of which have stubbornly refused the civilization imposed by the conquerors. THIM A town and people in the Cusco Valley. The second place that the staff thrown by Inkari stuck in the ground. Although it did not come down straight, Inkari established the town of Q'ero. This infuriated the Apus, who punished Inkari. MAN For the Q'ero, life is a mystery to be lived, not a problem to be solved. ACAI (See, Roal and Appendix N.)  

    Q'ero women.

    Perhaps genuine nobility is not found in kings and queens or modern politicians, but far from civilization and among people who practice a way of life and earth-based traditions tens of thousands of years old. If the planet is to be saved from exploitation and ecological ruin, I don't think it will be by scientists or environmental activists, but by pure-hearted people like the Q'ero.
    -- J.E. Williams

    Q'eswachaka, Qeswachaka, Qheshwachaka, Keshwa Chaca, Keswachaka: (n) The last remaining Inca rope bridge spans the Apurimac River near Huinchiri, Peru, in the Province of Canas.  Even though there is a modern bridge nearby, the residents of the region keep the ancient tradition and skills alive by renewing the bridge annually, in June. Several family groups have each prepared a number of grass-ropes to be formed into cables at the site, others prepare mats for decking, and the reconstruction is a communal effort. In ancient times the effort would have been a form of tax [mit'a], with participants obligated to perform the rebuilding; nowadays the builders have indicated that effort is performed to honor their ancestors and Pachamama. The event has also been supported by video productions for Nova and the BBC and is becoming a minor tourist attraction, with some small tolls charged for tourists to use the road during the festival or rto walk the newly completed bridge. In 2009 the government recognized the bridge and its maintenance as part of the cultural heritage of Peru, and there is now some outside sponsorship. WIKI Q'eshwachaka is sometimes used as a symbol for the K'uychi Chaka, the rainbow bridge. ANON1 (Click here to download a PDF of restoration slides below.) (Click here for a video of the restoration. The quality isn't great and there is some weird 22 second intro.)

    The Q'eswachaka, the last Inca rope bridge (restored).

    q'ispi, q'ispe, kispe: (n) Glass. RS Crystal, usually quartz. ANON1

    q'ipi: See, q'epe.

    q'iyachay: (v) To become infected. QP

    q'oa: (n) Sagebrush, incense burned to a virgin or saint. PSL

    Q'ollori'ti: See, Qoyllur Rit'i.

    q'osi: See, q'usmi. PSL

    q'oyana: See, markachana. ROR

    q'uchukuy: (v) To celebrate. QP

    q'ui unquy, q'oionqoy: (n) Fever. RS

    q'usmi, q'usi, q'osi: (n) Smoke. QP


    qhali kay: (n) Health. QP

    qhalilla: (adj) Safe. QP

    qhapaq, qhapaj, capac: (adj) Rich, powerful. PSL QP

    qhapaq ch'unchu: (n) (1) A mythical figure of jungle origins who became tied into the Inka cosmology as the Inkas retreated into the jungles upon the arrival of the Spanish; in Q'eros, this figure has become somewhat blended with concepts of Wiraqocha and is frequently represented in weavings as an hourglass shape. ANON1 (2) A traditional dance of Peru. These dancers represent native warriors from the Qosñipata jungle who have sworn loyalty to the Virgin and protect her as she is carried around the streets. They wear mesh masks and a brightly coloured headband adorned with jewels and feathers from jungle birds. They wear kilts and carry a spear made from native chonta wood. The dancers are often accompanied by a monkey character (kusillo) who entertains the crowds. MPO

    A qhapaq ch'unchu dancer.

    qhapaq hucha, capacocha: (n) Human sacrifices were rare and intended as special offerings. Children were considered purer than adults; a sacrificed child was believed to have become deified -- a representative of the people, living with the gods forever. Such children would be worshiped. NGEO5 Ritual practices that involved human sacrifice, usually children of high-ranking kinship ayllus of the provinces, bringing them to Cusco to be trained for the ritual, sanctified in the Qoricancha, and then marched along cekes to their homes and killed.  There are three major theories concerning this practice. (1) It reconfirmed and reasserted Inca sovereignty over the provinces. MAN (2) The Incas were convinced that their fate was intertwined with the movements of the stars and planets: the stars foretold their civilization's doom in 1532. (See, mayu.) The Incas used war and human sacrifice in an attempt to forestall the cataclysm that would destroy their world, representing an attempt to halt the march of time and prevent the apocalyptic events foreshadowed by changes in the night sky. Therefore, qhapaq hucha means plea of the Inca. SIMA (See, qhapaq.) (3) The fact that many high elevation sacrificial sites are located near trans-mountain roads suggests that sacrifices were also made in conjunction with the expansion of the Inca civilization itself. The extensive roads in the southernmost regions were integral to the expansion of the empire southward. Especially important were the trans-mountain, or east-west, roads, which linked north-south running ranges and valleys over high-mountain passes. Near such routes, the Incas chose high peaks, climbed them, built their platforms, and made sacrifices to assure safe continued passage and to bless the roads. The mummy of a young boy discovered in 1985 is near one of the most important trans-mountain paths which today is virtually the same route as the major international highway linking Argentina and Chile. NPM The typical methods of ritual killing were strangulation, live burial and blows to the head. WP2 Sacrifice in obligation to the king. Each of four ayllus had assigned to it another kind of child sacrifice. The first ayllu had sent children to Cusco from where they returned to be sacrificed at home. The second ayllu had sent children to Cusco to be sacrificed there and the third to different important places in the empire including Titicaca. The last ayllu, of potters, had sacrificed children at home in order to obtain good clay. The children traveled for their solemn missions in directions as straight as possible; their attendants followed more normal roads. February 1, when the passage of the sun through zenith was marked by a race between young men, the ashes of all sacrifices in the previous year were thrown into the river. The runners, with burning torches in their hands, first followed the ashes down the river to where it flowed into the Villcanota river and then continued along this river to where it started to reach its more tropical part.RTZ1 In the square of of the Coricancha, a huaca where earthquakes formed, they made sacrifices so that it would not quake, and they were very solemn sacrifices, because when the earth quaked children were killed. [At a different huaca on a Lake Titicaca island] sacrifices were frequent and lavish.They were conscientious in making sure the persons to be sacrificed were not ugly and had no blemishes on any part of their bodies. Once a fourteen year old girl was brought to this island to be sacrificed, but the chief attendant exempted her. In carefully examining her body, he had found a small mole under one of her breasts. For this reason she was not considered to be a worthy victim for their god. [Sacrifices for purposes of healing were made] on the premise that an enraged god wanted to take a life. If a healer concluded that the patient was going to die, the patient did not hesitate in killing his own son, even if he had no other, with which they thought health would ensue. IRC The qhapaq hucha ceremony was held when some very important person, at times the Inca himself, became severely ill. They gathered the most healthy and beautiful boys and girls from the surroundings and, after having brought them in contact with the important patient, they were sacrificed. The offended god thus received the homage of young blood. DYE (See, Ampato and Llullaillaco.)

    The mummified remains of a child
    sacrificed in the qhapaq hucha ritual.

    Qhapaq an: (n) The Great Inca Road, constituted the principal north-south highway of the empire traveling 6,000 kilometres (3,700 mi) along the spine of the Andes. The Qhapaq Ñan unified this immense and heterogeneous empire through a well-organized political system of power. It allowed the Inca to control his Empire and to send troops as needed from the capital, Cusco. WIKI See, ñan for more on the Inca roads.

    qhapaq quipu: (n) Royal quipu. The literary quipus were qhapaq quipu, according to new information coming to light. See Appendix C. CBV

    A page from Blas Valera's book,
    Exsul Immeritus depicting and
    translating the knots of a
    qhapaq quipu.

    Qhapaq Raymi, Cpac Raymi: (n) The December summer solstice celebration in honor of Inti which focused on initiations for boys of royal lineage.  Plotting and confirmation of the date were done by observations from the Qoricancha. MAN Before the introduction of nativity festivities to Peru, the Incas would hold celebrations around the same dates of modern day Christmas festivities. The celebration Cápac Inti Raymi Killa, which coincided with the winter solstice, was a religious festival in honour of the Sun and took place towards the end of December. Together, the Incas made animal sacrifices, drank chicha de jora, chewed coca and danced. This festivity corresponded to the first month of  the Incan calendar and it was on this day that the ashes of the sacrifices were gathered and thrown to the rivers, in order to be taken out to the sea, to Wiracocha, as an offering to their maker. It was during the celebrations of Cápac Raymi, that the huarachicuy occurred (see). This time was completely feminine and today it is still known as Warmi Pascua, a feminine Passover. During this time, fathers and mothers of our communities were accustomed to choosing the destinies of their boys and girls according to the abilities and skills that they had demonstrated during their first years of life, from before conception until approximately 6 or 7 years of age. It was the time of Mushuk Wara, when the males would receive their first pair of pants (because until this stage all children wore only dresses) and the women in turn would receive their very first ribbon for their hair. These items served to indicate the beginning of a new chapter in their lives. In addition, both men and women would now begin to perfect their skills and abilities, that until now, had only been demonstrated at best within areas of play, imitation, their likes, meals etc. Cápac Raymi is no longer celebrated as it once was in pre-colombian eras, greatly due to the process of cultural syncretism. In present day, there are elements in these festivities that are as much Incan as they are Christian and they take place around similar dates in various towns of the Peruvian Andes. . GVO The high festival whose ceremonial practices were destroyed and remain unknown. ANON1  (See, Inti Raymi, qhapaq.) MAN

    Qhapaq Raymi illustrated by Guaman Poma.

    Qhapaq Toco: See, Capac Toco.

    Qhapaq Simi, Imperial Quechua: (n) High Quechua. ANON1 At the head of the Court sits the Golden Throne of the Sun: Where the Sapa Inca sits and oversees the Courtly Process. An extremely complicated and elaborate language came to be used in the court known as Imperial Quechua, or High Quechua because only the Elite Classes up could understand and communicate in it without being misunderstood or misunderstanding someone else. QPAWN  See, pukina.

    Qhapaq Usnu, Qhapaq Ushnu: The navel of the universe, it stood in the sacred Qoricancha in Cusco, the center of the empire.  It was the first huaca on a sacred ceke line that connected it to two stone pillars on the city's western skyline, and from there to the huaca at Catachillay spring. The Qhapaq Usnu comprised a stone pillar and stone seat that was the throne of the Sapa Inca. The usnu also served as a sighting point for astronomical observations.  Through the pillars on the skyline, the setting of the Pleiades on or about April 15  and other astronomical phenomena could be observed and plotted. MAN See, usnu.

    qhaqya, kaq'lla: (n) (1) Thunder. QP (See, illapa.) (2) In medicine, tuberculosis; also called qhaqyayoc. DQ See, also, chhaqueunccoy.

    qhaqya mesa: (n) Literally, thunder mesa. The mesa given to the paq'o candidate awakening from a lightning strike. It is a strangely shaped stone mixed with the blood of the mountain spirits containing supernatural power that lasts about three years. After this time the stone is believed to lose its power. WOFW
    qhari: (n) Man, husband. QP  (See, warmi.)

    qhari warmi: (n) Man and wife. PSL

    qhawachiy: (v) To show. QP

    qhawakin: (n) The energy of the Creator. TP (See, qhawaq.)

    qhawaq, kawak: (n) (1) Guard; watcher; keeper. (2) Clairvoyant; visionary; seer of living energy. RS One who sees; or, spiritual vision itself. ANON1 (See, Appendix I.)

    qhawaqchiokis apacheta: (n) Apacheta used for personal communion with the apus, for protection and guidance prayers and for release of hucha during personal process; used as a barometer of spiritual progress. ANON1

    qhawariy: (v) To look, to look after. QP

    qhaway, kaway: (v) To look, to watch, to see. (n) Sight, vision. QP RS

    qhilli: (adj) Dirty. QP

    qhusi rumi: (n) Turquoise ; literally, blue stone used in ceremony. RS JLH

    qhuyay: (v) To love. (n) The embodiment of love. PSPM See, khuya.

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