Offering to the Mother Earth or Pachamama, Andean Rituals and Religiousness
The offering ceremonies what are commonly known by the andean population like pagos to thePachamama or despachos to the Apus, are rituals with ancestral origin, they are part of a system of reciprocity between the material world and the spiritual world.
The offerings to the mother earth have as a fundamental origin the relationship between the andean man, specifically the farmer with the mother earth or Pachamama. The ofrenda is a symbolic way in which the man gives back to the Pachamama what he has taken out from her. The main objective is the re-stablishment of the reciprocity between the human being and nature. With the offering or pago the farmer asks permission to the Pachamama to be able to open it and give back in a symbolic way something of his fruits. These rituals are also offer to the Apu or spirit of the mountain, it is made through thedespacho. The Apu is the masculine appearance of the nature and the pachamama is the feminine appearance. The Apu protects to the animals and to the human being and they fertilize to the Pachamama. The offering is an act of cosmic reciprocity, is the achievement of the universal and cosmical justice, the fulfilling of a mutual duty. The breaking of this principle would cause serious distortions of the balance in the natural, social and religious systems. For the andean man the offerings have a sense of reconciliation with the spiritual forces of nature, the purpose is to avoid misfortune. And they represent rites of passage.
These offering rituals are guieded by specialists in the andean religiousness and according to the learning obtained and to the facultaties they get, they can be classified in different hierarchies or levels of priest. The process of learning to progress in the degrees is long and complex, it is full of proofs. The first step is to be a pampamisayoq "the one who has his table of work in the pampa(land)". The pamapamisayoq must know how to do the table, offering ordespacho, he must know how to do the ceremonial blanket and to prepare the paper for thedespacho where it is wrapped the offering, he or she must know how to choose and order the coca leaves for the k'intus (three coca leaves that are used in a ceremonial way) that are used in offerings, and also he or she must know about all the other elements that are used in thedespacho; as the shells marine, seeds, huayruros and other items, depending on the intention of the despacho, pago or offering. The Pampamisayoq can also cures with herbs, to do divination and magic diagnostic, to read the coca leaves and to see the bad or good luck. They can provide amulets, talismans and things like those.
The altomisayoq or Hatunmisayoq is one that is considered in the level of a priest, his work has a prophetic, charismatic and mystical character. It is said that he has the power to communicate with spiritual entities or beings from the religious World, to reach this status he has to pass through a test called Karpay and after that, he is devoted to the service of a particular Apu, the condition is temporary and it could be lost by a misbehavior, such as misuse of power, charging money to enrich himself or sexual misconduct. There are several types of altomisayoq and they have the ability to communicate with the spirits of the mountains, receiving instructions, guidance and information from them. They can make divinations of special character and they can give initiation to new priests. They may also perform all the functions of a Pamapamisayoq. There is another higher rank in the andean priesthood, it is the Kuraq Akulleq who has the ability to make contact with higher spiritual forces.
The Andean priests accomplish essentially a function as Chakana or cosmic mediator, and during the development of their function, they remain a celibate life, because a sexual relationship with their partner during this time, would deform the cosmic connection established in their role as mediator. Outside of their priestly functions, the yatiri, altomisayoq or paqo, they can have a partner and they can have sex, expression of complementarity which is essential to life and conservation.