Profile of a Goddess: Pachamama

By catalyst

Goddess of Earth—our loving, giving mother.
by Carol Koleman
goddess.jpgReligion: Incan

AKA: Mama Pacha

Translation: Mother Earth or more precisely (from Aymara), Mama = Mother, Pacha = Time or Universe

AKA in other mythologies: Acthonian (Greek), Ajysyt (Turkic Yakut), Arinna (Hittite), Asase Ya (Ashanti), Beira (Scottish), Celu (Etruscan), Coatlicue (Aztec), Cybele (Phrygian), Erecura (Celtic), Etugen (Mongolian), Gaia (Greek), Ida (Hindu), Joro (Norse), Khaltesh-Anki (Ob Ugrian), Ki (Sumerian), Libera (Roman), Lurbira (Basque), Mat Zemlya (Slavic), Ninhursag (Sumerian), Ops (Roman), Prithvi (Hindu), Rhea (Minoan), Papa (Maori), Ten Ten-Bilu (Chiloe), Terr (Roman), Tlazolteotl (Aztec), Toci (Aztec), Uras (Sumerian), Zeme (Slavic), Zemyna (Lithuanian)

Symbolism: Pachamama takes the form of a dragon that lives beneath the mountains. Though benevolent, when Pachamama is angered she causes earthquakes. She is goddess of fertility, planting and harvesting. She presides over the heavens, the earth, pregnant women, and really, over everything.

Pachamama is perhaps the most prevalent 'Mother Earth' that we know, but I am compelled to also look at earth goddesses in other cultures since they are where our deity worship began.

Long before male deities bestowed judgment and punishment for our human faults, there was our benevolent Earth Goddess. She is found as the first and foremost deity across the globe. She can be found 4,000-5,000 years ago in the Temples of Malta that were devoted to Mother Earth. They exist as the oldest standing structures in our world, predating the pyramids of Egypt and Stonehenge by centuries. With their rounded structures, vagina-like passageways and egg-shaped chambers, it is not difficult to see that these temples symbolized fertile woman. Ancient civilizations worshipped her for the abundant gifts she bestowed upon us; food, water, shelter, warmth and so much more. Our ancestors were deeply connected to the earth and considered themselves part of her. One of the first known fetishes (religious icons) and apparently the first deity to be worshipped by our ancestors was created around 35,000 years ago. Known as Venus of Willendorf, she was depicted with large breasts and full womb, a bountiful mother who could nurture all. Ancient cultures didn't attempt to explain the mysteries of our natural world or the inner workings of the self, they simply accepted their existence as part of the earth and everything she had to give and receive.

Earth Goddess Experience: As a modern culture, we are also deeply connected to Pachamama, but we may have forgotten her embrace. From my childhood, I remember this connection so clearly; summer days spent running barefoot through the woods, stopping to create my own fetishes out of mud (are there frog deities?), climbing to the very top of trees and swaying perilously in the wind. I searched for secret underground chambers that I was certain existed if I were only to find the right place. I communed with her in my adolescent way, and I accepted this earth without question as part of myself. Even with my immature mind, I could acknowledge how she gave and received. I had moments of the sublime; as when I lay on the earth pressing every possible part of my body to the ground and feeling it pulsating with life. I constantly injured myself and was often frightened while trying to comprehend the earth. She held mysteries that I might never resolve, and that was what made her so exciting and beautiful.

As I matured, the earth always remained focal in my life, but I lost some of that connection, becoming  preoccupied with the details surrounding my immediate world. Through the years, I have had experiences that bring me back as the youth who hugged the earth. Some natural phenomenon occurs while say, I walk in the mountains, bombarded by mysterious winds. In moments like this, I find myself feeling that whole connection to the universe, and I am reminded that we are made of the same stuff as stars.

Intention: These suggestions may help remind you of your connection to our earth mother. In this season of reaping what our mother provides to us, a celebration in her honor is called for. Gather those who share your gratitude and together create a harvest dinner. Eat the food that has been so lovingly grown for us, take in each bite with intention. Ask, "where has it come from, how does it taste, whose nurturing will created it?" Drink the wine and ask, "Where does this grape grow, what is its process?" Be present in every moment.

So, have you tried hugging the earth? Go do it, you'll see what I mean. You'll find that you may feel its vibrations, and quite possibly the spirits of all those residing in her. And while you're there on the ground, change to a seated position for a meditation focusing on your first chakra. Visualize your root spiraling far down into the earth, growing out more roots and holding on. Acknowledge that you are inextricably connected with the earth and that she is here to nurture you. As you move on from this meditation and into your hectic life, you'll find peace. Fears are removed and you are safe.

My last challenge is fortunately a popular trend, making your options plentiful and easily accessible- conservation. This challenge is may be vast but simple; just consider our mother and in what way you may be able to give back to her. This is the highest honor you could pay to our Mama Pacha and a way to give back for all that she gives. 

Music: "Tema De Maimara" by Los Incas is a nice example. (You may listen to a sample on Amazon.) I suggest taking a hike while listening to Incan flute music which seems very fitting for meditating on Pachamama.

Links for our Mother:;

References: "Dictionary to Ancient Deities" (Turner and Colter);; "Goddesses, A World of Myth and Magic" (Muten); "Oracle of the Goddess." 

Questions for the Goddess? Email:

This article was originally published on October 31, 2007.