Pachamama: Fertility Goddess and Mother of All
Pachamama is a fertility goddess whose origins are found in Inca mythology. Her name, often translated as “Mother Earth,” actually means “Mother of All” (mama refers to a sacred female mother figure and pacha is a complex term that indicates concepts such as time and space, the Divine, earth and sacredness). Although Spanish invaders destroyed the Inca Empire during the 16th-century, representations of Pachamama were preserved and continue to permeate Andean culture today, found in the contexts of art, religion and everyday life. Women did not hold authority within the religious institutions of the Inca civilization, yet they were crucial to the civilization’s belief system. As a key part of that system, Pachamama symbolized the giver of life both for the Inca people and for the earth, birthing forth people and nourishing them and the land upon which they lived. Today, Pachamama exists as figure of Universal Mother for many in Andean society, and is ritualized as fertility figure and protector of the earth.
In this image of Pachamama, the goddess is depicted with her body spread in symmetrical fashion, her entire form enveloped peacefully within a circle. With her legs outstretched, a smiling baby descends from within her, the top of its head dilating Pachamama’s birth canal. While opening herself up for her baby, Pachamama rests her legs in a relaxed squatting position, floating them comfortably beneath her bottom. Her arms turn outwards, elbows pressed into her thighs to support the weight of her torso. Looking out at her viewer, Pachamama smiles, pressing her baby calmly out into the world.
Visually, the Pachamama image provides women with an empowering representation of a calm woman at a peak moment of labor in which her baby begins to emerge and she opens up. Her body remains relaxed and tranquil during this birthing process. Symbolically, the goddess reminds women of the cultural reverence for the female figure that has survived and been celebrated for hundreds of years by Andean people.
 Michelle Skye, Goddess Aloud!: Transforming Your World Through Rituals & Mantras, Minnesota: Llewellyn Worldwide, 2010, page 42.
 Truman State University: http://www2.truman.edu/~marc/webpages/women08/leahincas.html
 Skye, page 44.