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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.

    paint39.tiff                       GLOSSARY NEVER TO BE SOLD

    Yacana: (n) The Llama, one of the dark cloud constellations, or Pachatira, recognized in Mayu. MAN ROR

    yacarca: (n) A diviner by fire. They were greatly feared by the Inca as well as by the rest of the people, and wherever he went, the Inca took them with him. IRC

    Yacumama: See, yakumama.

    yachaj: See, yachaq.

    yachachi, yachachej: (n) Teacher. HOI

    yachachiy: (n) A principle, a teaching. (v) To teach. PSL

    yachachiykunawan tratokunawan: (n) Doctrine and covenants (sp. trato). PSL

    yachai sami rumi: (n) A shaman's stone that contains the kawsay of a dead shaman, a spirit, or a soul, or some combination thereof. AYV (See, yachay, sami, rumi, khuya, encanto.)

    yachakuy: (v) To learn. PSL

    yachana: (n) Schooling. RS Cultural knowledge which the individual must balance with ricsina. WCE See, also, yachaq.)

    yachana wasi, yachawasi: (n) Schoolhouse. RS The boys of the nobility were sent to a school where they were taught by carefully chosen tutors. Garcilaso tells us about their educational philosophy in the words of Inca Roca, “It is not licit to teach the children of low people [the runa] the sciences which pertain to the noblemen and to nobody else so that, as lowly gentry, they do not rise and become proud; it is becoming enough that they learn the trade of their parents, since the science of government does not belong to the plebe…”

    yachanaway, yachay: (v) To learn. RS

    yachapu: (n) A know-it-all. DYE

    yachaq, yachaj, yacha: (n) The one who knows; the possessor of knowledge. IGMP The one who balances ricsina with yachana, and muscuna with yuyana. WCE One who knows, master teacher of the Andes. ANON1

    yachay, yachai: (n) (1) Wisdom, the impersonal application of knowledge. Head, intuition, seeing. Shamanic yachai is the wisdom of open spaces. There is nothing out there for you to discover because it is already known. The power of intellect grounded in experience. AVO JLH The attribute of wisdom that involves acquiring knowledge beyond intellectual understanding. PSPM (See, llank'ay and munay.) (2) A magical phlegm the novice vegetalista receives (as an empowerment) at some point in the initiation, either from the senior shaman or from the spirits. It is then coughed up as needed during ceremonies, acting as a magnet to attract a virote, which is then sucked out by the shaman. It also stores a sorceror's virotes and marupas. As yachay increases, the vegetalista gains increasing access to the underwater world. AYV (See, also, yausa, mariri.) (3) The upper energy center comprised of chakras six, seven and eight. JLH (adj) Wise, intelligent. PSL

    Don Dimitrio [the teacher] regurgitated during a ceremony what looked like a small coiled millipiede! When I met [the initiate], he confirmed it was like a physical thing, and he still feels it inside him. The yachay received by [another initiate] was passed on to him by smoking a pipe filled with flowers of a special plant that don Ruperto gathered from the river, once they naturally fell in water. The dry flowers were mixed with mapacho (and we don't know what else) and smoked. This was the way don Ruperto himself got his second yachay, and passed it on to [initiate], who maintains that the yachay received directly from the mouth of the maestro is weaker
    and less effective than the one that is obtained by smoking the pipe.

    yachaynin: (n) Knowledge. DYE

    yachaypak: (adj) Able to learn. DYE

    yachayniyoj: (adj) Wise, intelligent. PSL QP

    yachayniyoj palabra: (n) A word to the wise (sp). PSL

    yacu: See, yaku.

    yagé, yajé: (n) See, ayahuasca.

    yagecero: See, ayahuascero.  

    yagé del monte: (n) Banisteriopsis inebrians. Another plant of the same genus as ayahuasca (sp). DYE

    Yagé Woman: (n) According to Tukano belief, she is directly responsible for providing the Amazonian tribes with yajé, or ayahuasca. Impregnated by the sun, when her son was born she rubbed him with leaves from special plants until he shone bright red. She then took him to the first men, each of whom claimed to be the father and each taking a piece of the child. Thus each tribe acquired the plants used to make the psychedelic brew. MAN

    yahuar, yawar, llawar: (n) Blood, blood lineage. PSL RS

    yahuar-piripiri: (n) (Eleutherine bulbosa) The spirit of this plant is the yahuar-toro (blood bull); its icaro serves as a cure for those who suffer mal aire or who have been harmed by the ayañawi, ch'ullanchaki or maligno. AYV

    Yahuar Huacac: Also known as Inca Yupanqui, was the legendary seventh Inca king, probably sometime in the 14th Century. MAN

    His name means weeps blood. He was the ruler who wept blood and who kept weeping blood every time he had some political difficulty. Naturally it is very difficult to say with any degree of certainty just what was ailing him. Chronicler Salinas y Cordova states that the Emperor “wept blood when he was born and every time he made sacrifices to the Sun god.” Father Bernabe Cobo says that “whenever he was overcome by his enemies, he would weep blood.” Most other sources agree that he wept blood for the first time when he was kidnapped by the political enemies of his father, whereupon he was immediately returned to his home lest the gods would destroy those who dared put their hands upon him. DYE

    Yahuar Huacac, from a drawing
    by Felipe Guaman
    Poma de Ayala.

    yahuar raymi: See, raymi yahuar.

    yaku, yacu: (n) Water; spirit of water element. RS All bodies of water are feminine. When water falls vertically to the ground as rain, it is considered masculine. IGMP

    yaku-lancha: See, supay-lancha.

    Yakumama, Yacumama: (adj) Left, feminine, magical. (n) A giant anaconda, the mother (spirit) of waters, mother of rivers. Deity of the river. This mythical being lives exclusively in the water. RS Yakumama means Mother of the Water. This water goddess was portrayed as a snake. When she came to the earth's surface, she transformed into a great river. She could also pass to the upper world. In that shape she was called . MJO She is a huge anaconda thought to live at the bottom of lakes and rivers. It's the water counterpart of what the Sach'amama is on earth. EMM The Yakumama can dive deep into the water and become a submarine or travel on the surface of the water as a steamboat. AYV An ancient legend refers to two mythical serpents who operated on all three levels of the universe. [See, Hanaqpacha, Kaypacha, and Ukhupacha.] They both began in the Ukhupacha. When they reached the Kaypacha, Yakumama crawled and was converted into the Ucayali River. Upon reaching the Hanaqpacha, Yakumama turned into lightning and was called Illapa and was god of the storm, thunder, and rain. The three worlds were united by these serpent gods of water and fertility. WOFW See, Wayramama for definition and another picture, mama, purahua.)

    Yakumamas. Detail from a painting by Pablo Amaringo, an ayahuascero, of one
    of his visions. Here, the mamas are guarding the gates of a golden city beneath
    the waters, into which a muraya is being led by two mermaids. The mamas are
    guarding the city with their tongues, and they capture anyone who tries to enter
    by force. Yakuruna can be seen eating fish (lower right corner).

    yaku phajchay: (n) Waterfall. PSL

    yaku puma, yana yaku lobos: (n) Giant river otter, also called a water jaguar and river wolf. Black water wolves used by healers as guards of the aquatic hark'anas because they move very quickly in the water. AYV

    Reaching 2 meters and 30 kilos in adulthood, the yaku puma
    was called
    water wolf by the Spanish.

    yakuruna, yacuruna: (n) Mythical amphibious, humanoid and hairy (ape-like) water denizens, who, along with mermaids and the pink river dolphin (bufeo colorado), help the jungle vegetalistas. Yakuruna are reputed to kidnap people to keep as consorts, taking them to their underwater cities. They use boas stretched between trees as hammocks, turtles as benches and their shells as sandals, alligators as canoes, and pink dolphins as horses and messengers. Very powerful and sovereign in their water environment, they can shapeshift at will, ascending to the highest clouds to cause storms. Responsible for tearing up large trees with heavy arms, they are also responsible for the whirlpools which overturn heavily laden canoes. There are several types of yakuruna: masha yakuruna, taksha yakuruna, yana-sacraruna, puka-ninaruna. AYV The yacuruna are very often associated and even identified with the bufeos (considered malignant beings). MSIN (See, pictures at jenin-yushinbaon carcel and yakumama.)

    yaku warmi: (n) Underwater spirit wife of a vegetalista. (See, warmi.)

    yana: (n) (1) Girl-friend; boy-friend. RS (2) An Incan serf. GPA (adj) Black. RS Dark, obscure. ACES Sometimes translated as black; however, in the Quechua conception of light or color classifications, yana is thought of as dark (or obscure) in opposition to light, rather than as black opposed to white. ACES

    yanachakuy: (n) (1) Wedding. QP (2) The Andean ritual for joining together two different energy bubbles. (See, yananchaku, masichakuy, yanantin, masintin.) (v) (1) To come together in marriage. (2) To drink the second glass of alcohol. RS

    yana chunpi: See, chunpi.

    Yanahuanga, Yanahuanca: See, Chaparrí.

    yanakuna, yanacona: (n) Literally, the blacks (yana = black + -kuna, plural suffix). The servant class in Inca society. The association of the color black was with people who had no kinship to the Inca ruler, not with race. The yanakuna were the male equivalent of the akllakuna, although their tasks were mainly secular. They were not necessarily of low status; some scholars see them as the beginning of an upwardly mobile middle class. CSCR Slaves; people forced to compulsory service for the landlord; home servants. RS Servants and artisans. WOFW

    yananchaku: (n) Union. RS

    yananchanakuy: (v) To meet, reunite. RS

    yanantin: (n) Unconscious side. Relationship of dissimilar energies. Harmonious relationship between different things; what we usually conceive as opposites the Incas conceive as complements; ie, male and female, light and dark, right and left. A pair; bride and groom. RS ROR “Yanantin is the ring, masintin is the resonance inside the ring.” Yanantin is also a similar quality or equivalence. The zero point of this is hapu. JLH What we usually conceive as opposites the Incas conceive as complements. NND

    yanapay: (v) To help, assist. QP

    Yana Phuyu: (n) Literally, dark cloud. (1) The collective name for the dark cloud constellations within Mayu. MAN Pachatira are still thought of as animal constellations. The movement of the dark cloud constellations across the sky is used to predict zoological cycles on earth and to time fauna-related activity. This traditional knowledge was kept by the Misminay. MAR They are listed here in the order in which they rise along the southeastern horizon (see fig. below): Mach'ácuay (Serpent), Hanp'átu (Toad), Yutu (Tinamou), Llama, Uñallamacha (Baby Llama connected to mother by umbilicus), Atoq (Fox), and Yutu again. ACES (2) "We've known that it [dark matter] exists for more than 25 years," says astronomer Virginia Trimble... How can astronomers be so certain of something they have never seen? The answer comes from observations of how stars and galaxies move.... Within spiral galaxies, individual stars and clouds of gas are orbiting faster than they should if they were only being affected by the gravity of the galaxy's visible matter. The same is true for clusters of galaxies: The motions of individual galaxies can't be explained by the gravity of what astronomers can see.  To explain these observations, astronomers have deduced that galaxies are surrounded by vast halos of a different, unseen kind of matter. This so-called dark matter is invisible to us because it does not radiate energy. But it does have mass, and that means it can supply the extra gravity necessary to hold galaxies, and clusters of galaxies, together. Even in the bizarre world of cosmology, it's a strange proposition. WSC1 Mysterious dark matter is spread around the universe just like regular matter... The studies show that both forms of matter work in concert to build delicate filaments (see, ceke) in space, with dense junctions where galaxies cluster together.... The resulting structures look something like spider webs... [D]ark matter and galaxies trace out the same shapes and structures. They become sculpted into nearly identical sheets and filaments, with vast expanses of near-nothingness in between. WSC2 Astronomers have deduced that galaxies are surrounded by vast halos of a different, unseen kind of matter. [See, image below of such a halo.] Dark matter is invisible and non-reflective, it cannot be seen directly. The technique astronomers used to find the ring pictured below is called gravitational lensing. No one has ever seen dark matter. LAT1 Dark cloud constellations are located in that portion of the Milky Way where one sees the densest clustering of stars and the greatest surface brightness and where the fixed clouds of interstellar dust (Pachatira) which cut through the Milky Way therefore appear in sharper contrast. ACES

    (Def. 1) The Yana Phuyu as viewed from Misminay. ACES

    [IMAGE LEFT] (Def. 2) A ring of dark matter. This ripple of dark matter was formed by the collision of galaxy clusters. (Hubble). [IMAGE RIGHT] (Def. 2) Although shaped like a kidney, the dark cloud known as Barnard 68 appears to beat like a heart, pulsing once every 250,000 years.

    Yana Puma: (n) (1) The black jaguar. (2) The black jaguar that mythically lives both on earth and in water and is considered by Amazonians to be a bridge between the two elements. It is destructive and voracious. Its icaro is used for mal aire and to put an hark'ana on the newly born to ensure strength, to make it easy for pregnant women to give birth, and as a defense when one is attacked by a sorcerer during a trance. She can make people sleep in order to devour them. AYV

    Yanapuma, the black jaguar.

    yana-saqraruna: (n) Literally, black evil people. This type of yakuruna is so named because he is a practitioner of black magic. His sole purpose is to kill, and he take great pleasure in causing riverbanks to collapse. The yana-saqraruna is an ally of the sorcerers. He lives in the deepest, darkest caves of the underwater world and uses a red conch as a fan to cast his evil spells. AYV (See, saqra.)

    yanaymi: (n) My equivalent one. JLH

    yana yaku lobos: See, yaku puma.

    yangunturo: (n) Priodontes maximus. The giant armadillo of the Amazon, also called Carachupa Mama. AYVThe Giant Armadillo can grow up to 5 feet in length and weigh up to 130 lbs. The Giant Armadillo population covers a wide area. Although most are found in the Amazon Basin its territory stretches from North Eastern Venezuela and South to parts of Northern Argentina. Its habitat is varied and they have been found in floodplains, tropical and subtropical rainforests, dry woodlands and even up to 1500 feet above sea level. A large population of termites and ants is a prerequisite for Giant Armadillos inhabiting an area. It is thought that they live in an area of about 2 square miles. Once a Giant Armadillo encounters a termite mound it will completely consume all its inhabitants. It is thought that Giant Armadillos can swim but generally they stick to dry land. They are usually loners only meeting up with others to mate. They are nocturnal and spend the daytime in burrows which they dig with their strong legs and extra long claws. The Giant Armadillo can stand on its hind legs and reach into the higher parts of termite mounds if it has to. Usually when they have destroyed a termite mound they bury themselves beneath it and stay there for some time before moving on. The Giant Armadillo has a bony shell which covers most of its body, its head and other extremities can be hidden underneath the shell when attacked by a predator. They also have a very big central claw. IPT

    A yangunturo, or giant armadillo.

    A Venezuelan bank note honoring the yangunturo.

    yankallan: (adj) Free, no cost. QP

    yapanapukuna:(n) All the holy mountains. JLH

    yas: See, borrachero.

    yatichatha (AYM): (n) Teach. ASD

    yatichiri (AYM): (n) Teacher. ASD

    yatiña (AYM): (n) Science. ASD

    yatiri: (n) Medicine woman from the Island of the Moon in Lake Titicaca. They are known to melt lead and drop it into cold water, divining forms and invoking Koa. JLH Special Aymaran diviners who ascertain the future through the medium of coca. A yatiri may locate lost or stolen property, divine the outcome of a marriage or trading venture, discover infidelity, or tell whether a sick person will live or die. Much attention is also paid to dreams. WOFW (See, Appendix B for map of Lake Titicaca, yatichatha, yatichiri, yatiña.)

    yausa: See, yachay.

    Yauyos: (n) One of the legendary lineage ayllus of Cajatambo. MAN

    yawar: See, yahuar.

    yawarchay: (v) To bleed. QP

    yaya: (n) Priest, God. QP

    yawning (Eng): (n) Once a mesa [def. #5] has begun, yawning is a sign of daño. GOL

    Yaya-Mama: (n) Literally, Father-Mother. A religious tradition which endured for centuries (ca. 800 B.C. to ca. 300 A.D.) and that unified the diverse peoples living around Lake Titicaca for the first time. It is named after a tall carved stone monument from a site at the Northern end of the lake. Because it displays stylized male and female figures on opposite faces (see image below), this monument is called the Yaya-Mama stela. The beliefs were perpetuated by the Tiwanako cultures and later repeated by the Inca. The longevity of Yaya-Mama aesthetic forms reflect the depth and power of the ancient beliefs and practices. TAI (See, lo andino.)

    The Yaya-Mama stela which gave the religion its name. TAI

    yclesia (AYM): (n) Church/sacred place (sp). From Spanish iglesia.ASD

    ychurichuc: See, ichuri.

    yellow ayahuasca: See, cielo ayahuasca.

    Ynti: See, Inti.

    yerba del moro hembra, and yerba del moro macho (Span): (n) Achyranthes obovata and Achryranthes rigida, respectively. Both specimens are employed in decoction to lessen bleeding. Crushed with salt, they are applied to lessen bloody hemorrhages and heal ulcers: the poultice is changed every 24 hours. The natives heal bruises and cuts of the feet caused by by splinters when shoes are not worn. REPC

    yoc, yoq: (n) The power subscribed to and that flows through the shaman. JLH

    -yoc, -yoq: (suff) With; possessing; having; having as property. RS

    yocalla (AYM) : (n) Young man. ASD

    yoq: See, yoc.

    yoco, yoko: See, huarmi-yoco.

    yonque: (n) Cane alcohol. GOL    

    yoqsi: See, lloqsi.

    yuca: (n) Manihot esculenta, also called manioc, tapioca (predominantly in India) and manioc root,. Native to South America, it is extensively cultivated as an annual crop in tropical and subtropical regions for its edible starchy tuberous root, a major source of carbohydrates and gluten free. It differs from the similarly spelled yucca. Cassava, when dried to a powdery (or pearly) extract, is called tapioca. Cassava root is a good source of carbohydrates, but a poor source of protein. Cassava is classified as sweet or bitter. Like other roots and tubers, cassava contains antinutritional factors and toxins. It must be properly prepared before consumption. Improper preparation of cassava can leave enough residual cyanice to cause acute cyanide intoxication and goiters, and may even cause ataxia or partial paralysis. [emphasis mine] Cassava must be cooked properly to detoxify it before it is eaten. A safe processing method used by the pre-Columbian indigenous people of the Americas is to mix the cassava flour with water into a thick paste and then let it stand in the shade for five hours in a thin layer spread over a basket. In that time, about 83% of the cyanogenic glycosides are broken down; the resulting hydrogen cyanide escapes to the atmosphere, making the flour safe for consumption the same evening. Cassava root has been promoted as a treatment for bladder and prostate cancer. WIKI

    Yuca, or cassava, is native to South
    America. Now grown all over the world,
    it is the source of tapioca. Larco Museum

    yumbo (Ecua): (n) A fierce native of the jungle. Villagers dress as Indians and “attack” the loa and the patron of a festival by throwing sugar and candy, trying to hit their faces and draw blood. TAV

    yunka, yunga: (n) (1) Jungle, forest. PSL Coastal valley; jungle; forest. RS (2) Named after the low valleys of the Pacific coast, the yunka were people adapted to hot and either dry or humid climates, biologically fit not only to withstand high temperatures and dehydration or dampness, but possessing a long-standing, inbred immunity to malaria and many other tropical diseases common to those areas. DYE See, climatology, quechua (def. 2), colla.

    yupana: (n) Literally, counting tool. The yupana is a device used by the Incas, presumably as a type of calculator. According to Spanish priest José de Acosta (1590), “In order to carry out a very difficult computation for which an able computer would require pen and paper, these Indians make use of their [maize] kernels. They place one here, three somewhere else and eight. They move one kernel here and there and the fact is that they are able to complete their computation without making the smallest mistake. As a matter of fact, they are better at practical arithmetic than we are with pen and ink. Whether this is not ingenious and whether these people are wild animals let those judge who will! What I consider as certain is that in what they undertake to do they are superior to us.” Researchers believe that such calculators were based on Fibonacci numbers to minimize the number of necessary grains per field. WIKI Click here to download an article regarding the mathematics of this device. See, also, quipu and Appendix C.

    Yupana in a display case. WIKI  

    yupaycatha (AYM): (v) To honor. ASD

    yupaychana: (n) Punch'ay, sabbath. QP

    yupaychay: (v) To honor, to worship. PSL

    yupaychay wasi: (n) Church, temple. QP (See, wasi.)

    yura-aya: (n) Literally, plant (or bush) spirit. This creature has four horns as antennae that pick up all kinds of supernatural bodies. (See, picture at allpa-pishco.) AYV

    yurag: (n) Plant spirit.

    yuritha (AYM): (n) Birth. ASD

    yuruhuacta: (n) Solanum luteoalbum. The natives of Peru apply the leaves upside down to bring ulcers and sores to a head. When applied under side down, the leaves are believed also to heal sores. REPC


    Yuruhuacta leaves (left, EOL) and flower (right).

    Yutu, Yutu-Yutu: (n) The tinamou (a partridge-like bird), Eudromia elegans – one of the pachatira, or dark cloud constellations. MAN One of the Yana Phuyu. The Yutu of Quechua astronomy is equivalent to the Western constellation of the Coalsack (one of the few dark spots recognized and named in Western astronomy). The partridge-like yutus resemble a game bird with short legs, compact body and small head with slender neck. They lay eggs of all the colors of the rainbow. In Mayu, which is considered the equivalent of of a nocturnal rainbow, Yutu is located at the top of the arc. ACES

    A yutu, or tinamou. One of the most ancient living groups of bird,
    they are most closely related to the flightless ratites and first
    appear in the fossil record in the Miocene epoch. They are
    generally sedentary, ground dwelling and, though not flightless,
    when possible avoid flight in favour of hiding or running away from danger.

    yuya: (n) Wisdom, primary meaning. Acquisition of knowledge through observation and knowing. One of the major organizing principle(s). (See, saiwa, munay, nuna, chekak, ch'ulla, kallari, kawsay.) JLH A root word common to concepts like soul, thinking, imagination, remembrance, decision, learning and many others related to psychological functions which not only gives us an idea of the richness of Quechua, but also of the knowledge which the Incas had about these functions. DYE See, words below beginning with yuya.

    All the derivatives of the root yuya always related to the activities of the mind. Only occasionally one sees the root uma – which signifies head – in reference to concepts which present knowledge ascribed to this area of the human organism. DYE

    yuyacuni: (v) To decide. DYE

    yuyachiq, yuyacheq: (n) Reminder; remembrance. RS

    yuyachiy, yuyachina: (v) To remind. RS

    yuyana: (n) Memory, idea; supposition. RS Learning, which the individual must balance with muscuna. WCE Imagination. DYE (See, also, yachaq.)

    yuyani: (v) To think. DYE

    yuyaq, yuyac, yuyak: (adj) Thoughtful. Judicious. DYE (n) (1) Adult; elder and wise adult. RS A thinker. DYE (2) Soul. DYE [The word for soul here is also the word root for other words about mental functioning. In English, the Greek word psyche is a word used the same way. Psyche originally meant spirit or soul, but is now used (some would say politically redefined) as the function of the brain. -- Patt]

    yuyarayani: (v) To memorize. DYE

    yuyarini: (v) To meditate. DYE

    yuyariy: (v) To remember. QP

    yuyay: (n) Thought, memory. (v) To think, to remember. PSL

    yuyaychini: (v) To remember. DYE

    yuyaynin: (n) Thought, intelligence. DYE

    yuyay pantay: (n) Mental confusion. QP

    yuyayquy: (n) Advice. QP

    yuyayukuy: (v) To realize. QP

    yuyaychay: (v) To counsel. QP

    yuyaychaj: (n) Counselor. PSL

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