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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 & Ñ
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.

    paint40.tiff                  GLOSSARY NEVER TO BE SOLD

    ractania: (n) A type of geranium whose roots were charred and, while still very hot, packed around the teeth and left there to cool. It was very painful, but a treatment of last resort for people with gum disease. It burned away the diseased flesh which allowed new, healthy gum to grow. ACA

    rainbow: See, k'uychi.

    raio, rayo: (n) Rays of jungle lightning that come from the fire of the cosmos (sp). MBE Raio is often female lightning, but may be used for both male and female. Female lightning is vertical and strikes very quickly, almost without noise, straight down into the earth. It has the power to kill or carry away women, but not men. She is also a thief, striking into the earth where someone has hidden coins and takes the treasure up to the sky. ACES (See, illapa, relámpago.)

    raise the soul (Eng): (phrase) This procedure is performed by the two alzadores of the curandero session in two different procedures depending on which part of the ceremony is being performed. The first time consists of snuffing the alcohol and perfume mixture, lifting the shell containing the brew with both hands in three phases to demarcate the sections of the patient's body: (1) feet to waist (followed by snuffing), (2) waist to to neck (followed by snuffing, and (3) neck to crown of the head (followed by snuffing). This purifies and protects the patient. The second time the alzadores move their shells all over the patient's body, ingesting the entire contents of their shells whenever they discover a painful spot. At the same time they press their heads against the troubled area. Then the shells are refilled and the search for sore areas continues. WOFW  

    raise the staff (Eng): (phrase) In a divination session, it is the inhalation of a perfume or a liquid mixture of boiled San Pedro cactus and tobacco while holding a staff from the curandero's mesa over his head. The operation of “raising,” which is performed by the curandero, his assistants [alzadores], and the patient(s) several times as a libation, offering, or tribute to the cosmos intended to clear the mind. If those involved have a difficult time raising the staff after the divination, it is a certain sign that witchcraft is involved. WOFW  

    ramra: (n) Betula nigra. The bark soaked in urine gives colour to sole leather, it can also dye cottons and woolens a cinnamon hue. The bark serves also as a tannin. Pounded up and mixed with lard, the leaves are applied as a poultice to cleanse and heal ulcers. Without lard, they are valued in treating inflammations. When applied to fresh wounds, they staunch the flow of blood. REPC

    Ramra, also known as river birch.

    Bark of ramra tree.

    randa (UNK): (n) Cleansing with a chicken to free a victim of the evil spirits which have possessed him. The chicken, once cut open and stuffed with purple and white corn, is fed to the huacas, together with three bottles of chicha, salted fish, and hot peppers, in order to quench their thirst and placate their hunger, thereby saving the victim. GOL  

    ranti: (n) Complimentary quality; soul mate. The unity of two harmonized masintin energies. KOAK The most powerful relationships are either hapu or ranti. Ranti relationships are relationships of equivalence with a common theme. They have masintin qualities (opposite) that bring power to aspects of life. JLH Equal, double, shadow, twin. ANON1 (adj) Equivalent. RS QNO

    rantintin: (n) An idiosyncratic term referring to a transfer of energy or medicine. ANON1

    rantiymi: (n) My complementary one. JLH

    raqra kunka: (adj) Hoarse. QP

    rastreador (Span): (n) From rastrear, to track, trace, trail. SEES A tracker; one who helps the curandero see during a healing session. WOFW  

    rastreo (Span): (n) From rastrear, to track, trace, trail . SEES Divination/diagnosis. One of the curing acts in the curandero session. WOFW Divination. GOL  

    rattle ayahuasca: See, ayahuasca cascabel.

    raurak sonqo: (adj) Irate, angry, fervently mad. Etymologically identical to sonqo raurahuan. DYE  

    rawway onqoy, rawway unquy: (n) Fever. QP

    raya-balsa (Span): (n) By taking the juice of the shoots of raya-balsa (Montrichardla arborescens Schott) and dieting, one would be able to travel under the water. MSIN  


    rayamama: (n) The mythological mama of the river ray (Potamotrygon hystrix), also known as a pambamuri. AYV

    raymi : (n) Celebration; festivity; party; fiesta. RS A festival, celebration (originally ceremonial in nature). ANON1

    raymi napa: (n) A llama flock dedicated for sacrifice. HOI (See, napa.)

    raymi yahuar, raymi yawar: (n) A blood celebration. THIM The [sacrificed] animal's blood (life) and fat (power) returns to the apu. WOFW  

    The ritual shows that the individual's corporeal life is dependent upon the environmental life. The ritual symbolically circulates the blood to the ecological parts of the ayllu body, which in return assures the life within [the inhabitants'] own bodies by providing a good harvest. They must physically, ritually circulate the fat and blood through all the parts, or they may wither just as plants do. WOFW (Compare, qhapaq hucha.)


    Raymi yahuar. A family sacrifices a
    white lamb and llama during
    preparations for Tinku.

    razcataricuni: (n) Double vision. DYE

    recados (Span): (n) Literally, gift, message. Items placed in a despacho. KOAK

    recapitulation (Eng): See, kutichiy.

    red ayahuasca: See, ayahuasca colorada.

    red magic: (n) In the Amazon, the equivalent of black, or harmful, magic. BOA

    refresco (Span): From Spanish refrescar (to refresh, to cool). SEES The last step in the curandero healing ceremony. The participants and the location are orally sprayed with a mixture of holy water, white cornmeal, white flowers, white sugar, sweet-lime juice, and powdered lime in the faces, on the necks (front and back), and over the hands (front and back). The space where the mesa was laid and the four corners of the room are also drenched. WPH This final oral spraying is often followed by a symbolic meal where small amounts of these refreshments are consumed by all present, serving a double function. Not only does the refresco refresh and sweeten to bring good fortune to all present, it also cuts the effect of the huachuma because it counteracts the hot nature of the hallucinogen with its cool or fresh properties. GOL Compare, kamay.

    rejsiy: See, riqsiy.

    relámpago (Span): (n) Male lightning, associated with loud rumblings, does not come to earth. It either flashes from cloud to cloud or partway to earth at a diagonal. ACES (See, illapa, raio.)

    remocaspi: (n) (Aspidosperma excelsum, Pithecellobium laetum.) This plant's cathartic medicine facilitates the knowledge of magical esoteric sciences, but will kill those who do not diet strictly before ingesting it. AYV (See, palero.)

    remolino (Span): (n) (1) A whirlpool. The symbol of the spiral. It's mystical significance is “as above, so below,” and “from a point of departure is born and delivered the point of origin.” One adopts this concept as a base, since from one point all is born and contained. In other words, man is endowed to take everything from its origin and embrace and absorb all that the universe contains. The spiral represents the creative aspect of the mandala, which gives expression to something new and unique in psychic development [emphasis mine]; the spiral manifestation contrasts with the conservative circular aspect of the mandala, which restores a previously existing order in the psyche. WOFW Whirlwind, whirlpool. GOL  (See, also, medicine wheel and the image of a mandala therein.) (2) The “drunkenness” associated with ingestion of huachuma infusions. GOL (3) Geomagnetic anchor and transmission points, natural vortices, are understood as places that inherently possess sacred space. Many believe the veil between this world and the spirit world is more easily breached in these places and a blending of the two worlds is more evident. The Qoricancha (see, for more on this) is built upon one of the most powerful of these sacred places acting much like the hub of a wheel . PSPM


    The whirlpool or spiral seen from the side is a cone. Under the base of the upper cone there is a lower cone that is a mirror image of the first, with its apex pointing downward. The region where the bases of the two cones meet (heavy black line) corresponds to the kaypacha and the sacred space delineated by and around the mesa. (The spiral is one of fifteen basic motifs based on phosphenes that apparently are triggered by hallucinogens.) The Quechua describe the world as a top floating in space with man occupying the upper portion and the inhabitants of the Ukhupacha on the lower portion. WOFW

    renaco, renaquilla: (n) Ficus trigonata is said to give the vegetalista the ability to travel underwater. MSIN If those who ingest this bush have dieted properly, the mama of this plant will come in dreams and teach the quester how to heal with the plant, which is unmatched in curative powers for fractures and lesions. It can be applied raw or cooked. AYV 


    reqsiy: See, riqsiy.

    Revash: (n) A funerary complex 60 km from Chachapoyas appearing in cliffs like tiny houses stuck to the rock. Revash's funeral mansions are located in line, on the narrow hall shaped by the cavity that was excavated in the rocky wall of an imposing canyon. They remain almost intact. But the mummies located in there, with their coverings and their belongings, were pillaged a long time ago, by rodents and also by man's hand. The mausoleums resemble small houses forming miniature "villages". WIKI

    Mausoleums at Revash.

    rhea: (n) The ostrich-like bird of South America. The brown and white plumes are believed to connect the wearer with his ancestors back to ancient times. IGMP

    A Rhea americana, height 4 to 5 feet.

    Andean celebrants with rhea-feather headwear.

    ribereño (Span): (n) A person who lives on the river bank in the Amazon forest. AYV

    ricachicuy: (n) A fund-raising ceremony for an ayllu during which members who made pledges pay them and return their limandas (sp.). AWE

    ricsi: See, riqsi.

    ricsina: (n) Experiential knowledge, which the individual must balance with yachana. WCE (See, also, yachaj.)

    richacayani: (n) Insomnia. DYE

    rigsi: See, riqsi.

    rikch'akuq: (adj) Similar. QP

    rikch'aq: (n) Kind, type. QP

    rikch'ariy, rikch'arichiy: (v) To wake up. QP

    rikhurichiy: (v) To make appear, to organize. PSL

    rikhuriy: (v) To appear. PSL

    rikoj: (n) Seer. RS (See, qhawaq.)

    Rikramanta (Amaz): (n) A snake with arms and female breasts whose icaro is sung to visit distant planets. AYV

    Rikramanta. From a painting by vegetalista
    Pablo Amaringo.

    riksiy: See, riqsiy.

    rikuchikuy: (n) Gift, present. QP

    rikuchiy, rikurichiy: (v) To show, to exhibit. PSL

    rikuy: (v) To see. PSL QP To notice. RS

    rilihiyun: (n) Religion (sp.)

    Rimacpampa, Limacpampa: (n) A large flat area on the eastern edge of ancient Cusco in which a number of important festivals were held. AEAA (Derived from a word for speech, conversation. RS)

    rimanakuy: (n) Traditional Andean wedding. ROR

    rimarcarini: (v) Talking nonsense. DYE

    rimay: (v) To speak. (n) Language, word. QP

    rimaykuy: (v) To explain. QP

    rimayta-muzpani: (v) To hesitate and stammer due to nervousness. DYE

    rinriymichhuñin: (n) Tinnitus, ringing of the ear. DYE

    rinriychuñipa yahuan: (n) Tinnitus; severe roaring of the ear. DYE

    riparay(v) To realize. PSL

    riqsi, ricsi, rigsi: (n) Acquaintance; friendship. RS

    riqsichiy: (v) To introduce someone. QP

    riqsinakuqmasi: (n) Friend. QP

    riqsiy, reqsiy, rejsiy, riksiy, ricsina: (v) To know; to recognize; to examine; to have seen. RS To know (people and places), to recognize. QP

    rit'i: (n) Snow.

    riy: (v) To go. QP

    Road of Wiracocha: (n) The ceke connecting Tiwanako, Pucara and Cusco, each city equidistant along the line. IGMP

    Road of Wiracocha. A line drawn from Tiwanako to
    Cusco, goes directly through Pucará, which is exactly
    equidistant along this line from Cusco and Tiwanako.

    Roal: (n) A guiding principle of power of the Altomesayoc; a fully embodied Altomesayoq; the equivalence of power of the Altomesayoq; directors of the mesa. JLH The creator spirit and head of the Apu gods who proposed the foundation of a city where they could all live in harmony. None of the Apus responded, for which Roal punished them, creating the sun and the moon. The Apus could not tolerate the light of the sun, which dried them out, turning them into skin and bones, so they preferred to remain in the darkness. CDC Creator deity of the Q'ero community of the Andes near Cusco. MLN The creator spirit (kamac) who occupies the top of the hierarchy and governs the forces of nature and maintains their equilibrium, assigning supervision of specialized activities to the mountain spirits of lesser rank, the apus and awkis, who originated from him. JNP  

    roctto: (adj) Deaf. DYE

    rocttocay: (n) Deafness. DYE

    rocttomcani: (v) To become absolutely deaf. DYE

    ronsapa (Amaz): (n) A bee, used by marupa sorcerers as a mariri. AYV

    roq'a: (n) Spiny plant (Colletia spinosa) used in folk medicine. ROR


    rumi: (n) (1) Rock, stone. (2) Stone spirit. RS (See, khuya, encanto, yachai sami rumi.)

    rumi maki: (n) Literally, stone hand. The martial arts of the Inca, historically known only amongst the elite. RMFA

    Rumiñahui, Ruminawi, Ruminavi, Ruminagui: Literally, stone face. PGO (See, ñawi.) The name of a general of the Inca army and a brother of Atahualpa. When the Spanish imprisoned Inca Atahualpa in 1533, he promised roomfuls of gold and silver to ransom himself. From his territories Rumiñahui demanded basket loads of sacred objects placed on a caravan of llamas to transport the treasure through the mountains to Cajamarca, where the Inca was imprisoned. Before he could be ransomed, however, Atahualpa was executed. In his fury Rumiñahui ordered his horde of treasure hidden somewhere in the Andes. [Compare this story with the one at Quilliscacha.] FAE Born late 15th century, died June 25, 1535, was a general during the civil war between Atahualpa and Wascar, who after the death of Emperor Atahualpa, led the resistance against the Spanish in the northern part of the Tawantinsuyu (modern-day Ecuador) in 1533. His given name was Ati II Pillahuaso. WIKI  

    Rumiñawi depicted on a banknote from
    Ecuador, where he is an historical hero.

    rumi sonqo: (adj) Hard hearted, cold hearted, literally, heart of stone. PSL

    runa: (n) Person, being. Plural is runakuna. ROR RS Person of indigenous descent. CSCR

    Runa Antilis: (n) A purported UFO landing site at Lake Titicaca. (See, spaceships.) IGMP

    runachakuy: (n) A church wedding. Also called casarakuy or warmichakuy.

    runakuna: (n) (1) Plural of runa. (2) Tradition of the people. JLH (3) The common people.

    runa kurku k'anchay: (n) The luminous body. PSPM Idiosyncratic term for the human light body or luminous body; differs subtly in meaning from poq'po, or human energy bubble, in that it refers to a light body that is juxtaposed with the physical body, whereas poq'po refers to the living energy fields that are intimately tied into and connected with the human body; a preferable phrasing would be k'anchaypa runa kurkun. ANON1

    runa masi: (n) Fellow man. PSL

    Runasimi: (n) Literally, language of the people. The native language of the ancient Incas and still the dominant indigenous language of the Andean people.

    runa tinya: (n) The Incas made war drums of human hides, which they called runa (man) tinya (drum). The most important enemy leaders, or perhaps those of whom it was most important to make an example, were turned into artifacts. SIH See, Quilliscacha.

    runauturuncu: (n) It is a zoöanthropomorphic entity, like the werewolf (loup-garou) of Western lore, a human being who transforms or shapeshifts into the jaguar. PGO There is a South American myth that the ancient dwellers of the forest called runauturuncu. This name is formed with two Quechua words: runa (man) and uturuncu (jaguar). This creature is a sorcerer. Its power is believed to have been obtained through a pact with Supay, from reasons relating to revenge, and/or possession of animal vigor with human intelligence. WTC (See, nagual, double and therianthropy.) One of the most prominent figures to appear in the archaeological record has been what archaeologists call the were-jaguar. This figure is known by distinctive snarling mouths, toothless gums or long, curved fangs, and even claws. It is believed in myth that a jaguar was to have copulated with a human female and gave rise to this creature. EWO

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    runtu: (n) Egg. PSL

    rupay, ruphay: (n) (1) Inner sun, solar plexus, connects us to everything. (2) Heat; ardor. (3) Inti and the sun. JLH RS

    rupha: (n) Fever. QP

    ruphariy: (v) To run a fever. QP

    ruphasqa haywa: (n) Burnt offering. ROR (Also called, ofrenda quemada.)

    ruqya: (n) Noise. QP

    ruq'tu: (adj) Deaf. QP

    rutuchikuy, rutuchico: (n) The second official ceremony in the life of the individual [the first is ayuscay] taking place when the child was weaned and consisted of cutting the hair. Preceded by religious rites, the haircutting was started by the oldest maternal uncle who was followed by each of the other adult men of the ayllu who, in their own turn, would cut a lock of hair and deliver a personal gift or donation, usually consisting of a piece of clothing or a toy. Sometimes these presents could be of great economic value and, if the child belonged to a very important family, the wealth accumulated at this ceremony could be fabulous. It is said that on such an occasion a son of Huayna Capac, the child Tupac Cusi Huallpa, received such a large quantity of gold objects, that his father ordered the manufacture of a large chain, which was called huasca, from this metal after which the child was nicknamed Huascar [Wascar], a name he used from then on. On the rutuchico the child received a second name, which was usually derived from his father's or that of a parental ancestor. DYE Ceremonial first cutting of the hair; the ritual is of pre-Spanish origin. ROR Performed when the child reaches one year of age. HOI The hair and nails were cut by the most venerable uncle of the child using sharpened stones. There was dancing and drinking; gifts were given according to the child's station in life. ACA  An initiation ritual marking the transition from crawling to walking. MOC See, also, other important childhood rites: ayuscay, quicuchicuy, huarachicuy.

    The hair is wrapped in coca leaves
    in an unkhuña. It is kept until death
    and accompanies the individual
    to the Hanaqpacha.

    ruway: (v) To do, to make. QP

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