Pachamama is the goddess of fertility, generosity and the feminine in Andean cultures in Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Chile and Argentina. In Quechua and Aymara, ‘pacha’ is the word for the world, cosmos, time and space, while ‘mama’ means mother, making ‘Mother Earth’ a common English translation.
Devotees of Pachamama believe that, as they live and eat from the land, they must maintain a respectful and balanced relationship with her. And Pachamama’s cultural influence remains extremely strong today. Children learn about her from a young age through TV programs like Los Mundos de Uli (Argentina) and Tikitiklip (Chile).
Furthermore, Bolivia and Ecuador recognise Pachamama as an entity with rights in their laws. For example, Bolivian law assigns to nature the right “to not be affected by mega-infrastructure and development projects that affect the balance of ecosystems and the local inhabitant communities”.
Worshippers commonly venerate Pachamama through ‘pagos’ (payments). This is why you might see people pour the first few drops of their beer onto the ground before they take their first sip.
In many Andean communities, the biggest pago is offered up on August 1, which marks the halfway point of the dry season, the start of a new year, the perfect time to pay thanks and pray for a bountiful year to come. Practices vary from region to region, but many communities gather and dig large pits in the ground, filling them with offerings of clay pots, coca leaves, wine, chicha, food, incense, cigarettes and dried animal foetuses.
SLAFF’s Pachamama Festival
SLAFF created the Pachamama Festival in 2014 as a platform for people from diverse cultural backgrounds to renew their connections to nature, in a world seemingly at war with nature. It begins as a blank canvas each year and is filled by offerings of music, film, dance, food and storytelling in celebration and respect for a living earth that sustains us.
Through Pachamama Festival, we aim to showcase diverse experiences and alternative perspectives on the world. In 2014, for example, we presented Huicholes: The Last Peyote Guardians, a film that explores the Wixárika People’s struggle to preserve their pre-Hispanic culture and land.
Furthermore, we strive to create inclusive spaces, spark thoughtful discussions and encourage the sharing of knowledge. Some of the most memorable Pachamama Festival experiences have included workshops with Chirimeros and the Manos Healing Centre, Kathleen Gonzalez’s danceology performance (pictured at top), and last year’s YARN Circle. To continue these conversations, we also have two virtual spaces: Our Pachamama People Facebook page and Facebook group.
In 2017, Pachamama Festival takes place at Addison Rd Community Centre from 23-24 June. This year, we explore how we can grow an idea into a movement, how small actions can influence, support and strengthen communities.
Pachamama Festival 2017 will be made up of multiple events including live music, film screenings, a YARN Circle, spoken word workshops, and a virtual reality film experience like no other. To stay up to date on all things Pachamama Festival 2017, subscribe to SLAFF’s eNews and follow us on Facebook.