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Qoyllur Riti “An Inca Festival Celebrating the Stars”

Qoyllur Riti “An Inca Festival Celebrating the Stars”bySeti Gershberg

The Inca followed both solar and lunar cycles throughout the year. However, the cycle of the moon was of primary importance for both agricultural activities and the timing of festivals, which reflected in many cases celebrations surrounding animal husbandry, sowing seeds and harvesting of crops. Important festivals such as Qoyllor Riti (Resplendent Snow or Snow Star), perhaps the most important festival given its significance and meaning, are still celebrated on the full Moon.

This year on May 25th, 2013 tens of thousands of indigenous andinos will trek to the 16,000 ft. Sinakara Gacier surrounded by four important mountains or Apus (Ausangate, Hunacauri, Qanyaqway and Colquepunku) that the Inca and their present day descendents believe are sacred spirits, some from as far away as Bolivia, to celebrate the transition of time from the past world to the new world, which is the significance of the Qoyllor Riti festival.

The Qoyllor Riti festival falls in a period of time when the Pleiades constellation, or Seven Sisters a 7-star cluster in the Taurus Constellation, disappears and reappears in the Southern Hemisphere. The star movement signals the time of the coming harvest and therefore a time of abundance. For this reason Incan astronomers cleverly named the Pleiades “Collca” or storehouse in their native language Runa Simi (people talking) or Quechua as it is called today by the West.

Metaphorically, due to the star’s disappearance from the night sky and reemergence approximately two months afterwards is a signal that our planes of existence have times of disorder and chaos, but also return to order. This outlook coincides with the recent Pachacuti or Inca Prophecy literally translated from the two root words Pacha and Cuti. “Pacha” roughly meaning an age or era of time or more specifically location along the space time continuum on all planes of existence, and “Cuti” a period of rectification, or returning too or setting right.

The prophecy therefore represents (according to the Glossary of Terminology of the Shamanic & Ceremonial Traditions of the Inca Medicine Lineage a period of upheaval and cosmic transformation. An overturning of the space/time continuum that affects consciousness. A reversal of the world. A cataclysmic event separating eras in time.

In the current “pacha” it is said that we will set the world rightside up and return to a golden era. This era will last at least 500 years. The andino people and their native historical culture will see a resurgence and rise out of the previous period of conquest and oppression and begin to thrive and return to a period of grandeur.

The Pachacuti also speaks of the tumultuous nature of our current world, in particular the environmental destruction of the earth, transforming and returning to one of balance, harmony and sustainability. This will happen as we as a people change our way of thinking and become more conscious. Therefore the pachacuti is representative of the death of an old way of thinking about the world in which we live, and an elevation to a higher state of consciousness. In this way, we can describe ourselves not as who we are or were, but who we are becoming.

The Qoyllur Riti festival is also celebrated by the Catholic Church who would have you believe it is a Christian holiday founded in 1780. It is not, the Catholic version is a myth designed by the Church to superimpose a foreign belief system on the local indigenous population. This practice of stealing holidays from pagans is nothing more than spiritual oppression and part of the war on consciousness which has been endured in the region since the conquest.

About the author:
Seti Gershberg is an anthropologist, photographer and filmmaker. His feature length documentary "The Path of the Sun" is due to be released to film festivals throughout the world in the Fall of 2013. The film is about shamanism, ancient wisdom and sacred plants and tries to answer the question "what value does shamanism have for the global community in the 21st century. Seti is an active lecturer on the topic of shamanism and leads shamanic journeys to Peru.


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