Among the Apu Ausangate´s populations, mythology and magical imagination are still alive and fused with the shepherds´ daily life. Even though these myths are impregnated by the catholic cosmogony and mixed interpretations, the natives tell that …the magical beings are born in the mountains´ entrails, and cohabitate between the Sacred Apu´s plains and valleys.
In the collective imagination of the Snow-capped Mount Ausangate´s populations, the dead´s world, known as the Ukhu Pacha (Under or Inner World) is the place that shelters the Supay. As they pass on to the other life, the Supay go to live in the Supaymarca; a parallel world where they take-on another shape, converting themselves into magical beings that live with the local native populations.
The Machula are beings that belong to a primary age, or ancestors of a time period in which the Sun didn´t exist, and these beings used to live only under the Moon´s pale and cold light, during the Spirits´ Time. Although they are attributed a barbarian way of life, they had exceptional strength, since they were capable of moving mountains and building temples. When the Machula´s Era ended, after the Sun´s arrival and that of the humans, these beings took refuge inside the mountains and in their caves, waiting for night to come, to go out and bother the Andes inhabitants or their remains buried in the mountains.
The Machula´s female counterparts are the Paya or women that look old, but, who have the energy and strength that characterize them. In the Ausangate´s villages, it is said that they come down from the glaciers, to take newly born babies away. This is why, when women are about to give birth, they go down towards the valleys, to conceive “where corn grows”, and they remain there during the first three weeks of their baby´s life, until it is completely adapted to the local environment.
The Kukuchi are spirits trapped in the world of humans, due to the fact that, when alive, they committed some condemnable act, such as incest, murder or because they mistreated their parents. This is why they are returned to the world of the living, where they are cannibals who devour whoever they find on their way, or otherwise, they isolate themselves in faraway places, and catch unwary travelers. In addition, they have the capacity of transforming into animals or young and attractive people who seduce solitary shepherds. The Kukuchi feed on the “animu” or spirit that animates and gives life to humans, and are feared for being physical assassins, as well as spiritual ones.
The Sirina are women who live at the bottom of lakes, and who seduce unwary men, to rob them their “animu”. According to local inhabitants, the Sirina live in underwater villages, where men under their spell wander, lost and forgotten by their families. It is said that, during full-moon nights, one can see the Sirina´s cities, and that these are respected and feared beings, due to the fact that they demand humans or lamas and alpacas in sacrifice, as well as offerings, when the inhabitants use the water, or build infrastructures, nearby their lakes.
In Pitumarca which is one of our two communities´ districts, it is told that Maximo Apaza; a famous local harp player was enchanted by a Sirina, and made a pact with her. The Sirina would give him a prodigious voice and skill for music, in exchange for his promise that he would never get married again. After years of success, Maximo wanted to get married and, on his wedding´s day, he mysteriously disappeared. Up to this day, in the area´s communities, people talk about him, and some community members say that they saw him, on festive days, nearby the Apu Ausangate´s lakes.
By: Bruno López
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Operation team made up of community members trained as guides, kitchen staff, housekeeping, guardianship and maintenance.