Offering to Pachamama

If you plan to build a house in La Paz, it is very important to make an offering to Pachamama (Mother Earth) before you do so.

While doing a walking tour in La Paz, we visited the witch market. It is one street with many little shops in which you can find all sorts of weird things: love potions (with very explicit names), health potions (for any heath issue really…), figurines, dried llama foetus…

So our guide explain: the llama foetus is an important offering to Mother Earth when one is building a house. Before the construction starts, one goes to the witch market and asks for a ceremonial stove:

The stove is made of aluminium. First the witch will layer llama wool of all colours, then coca leaves. On top of that comes all sorts of sugar made figurines that represent the wishes one has (money, health, love, children…). In this case it would be house shaped candies. Once the wishes have been laid out, a llama foetus is place in the center, and finally a few of those very strong rolled cigarettes that aren’t meant to be smoked but just puffed on and then laid out onto the ceremonial stove.

The person who is constructing the house will set the whole thing on fire where the new house will be built, and wait until Pachamama has consumed all of it. This gifting to Mother Earth is believed to bring her strengths because when you build a house, it hurts her.

This ceremonial takes place for absolutely all buildings in La Paz (or so said our guide). When the United States built their new embassy in the city, the architect explained that workers would not start the constructions before this ritual was made. A representative of the embassy had to assist the offering before constructions started.

In the 70’s, about 130 foreigners constructed houses without making an offering to Pachamama. Within the years that followed, 110 of these houses collapsed.

Coincidence or witch believes?…

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