In Peru you will encounter quite a few snakes, pumas, and condors throughout your surroundings. From paintings, sculptures, and nazca lines, to souvenirs, restaurants and bars, these three holy inca symbols remain a respected part of culture and history. Learn a bit about the significance of each so you can understand their prevalence and appreciate them for all they are worth.
The Inca worshiped Pachamama (Mother Earth) from the beginning. From sacrifices to Pachamama to respecting and preserving the fruits of her labor, this cultural thread remains a vital part of the weave of Cusco and its historical significance. It is quite beautiful and fascinating to know that three unlikely animals were considered holy by the Inca and still remain a vital part of Inca and Quechua culture.
The snake represents the underworld. Bringing wisdom and knowledge to the trinity, in the Andean tradition the underworld is where life begins. The snake brings new life and with it new wisdom, after shedding its skin and fulfilling its life transformed.
The Puma represents life in the present world, life on Earth. The city center of Cusco was actually built in the shape of the puma. Walk around the center and you will see little silver and gold plaques on the ground reflecting the shape of the puma and the city.In Inca mythology, the Puma was believed to be the guardian of the Earth. Symbolizing strength and courage, the Puma helps teach us how to walk this Earth with bravery and patience.
The Condor is believed to be the messenger to the gods. One of the largest birds in the world with a wingspan of 10 feet, this Andean vulture was believed to carry the spirits of the dead on its wings up to heaven. Condors only prey on dead animals, making them seen as contributing positively to Pachamama as well by taking from it without harm. The condor represents power, virtue, and freedom. You can actually see condors flying around various lookout points around Cusco, and it is a very cool site.
In the Inca Trinity, we all pass through the various animal representations of the trinity as we complete the cycle of life. We begin as the snake, after we shed the darkness of the underworld and are born into the world renewed and restored with wisdom. We then roam the earth as the puma, gaining strength and bravery. Finally, we soar up to the heavens as the condor, achieving ultimate freedom.
It is quite a beautiful trinity that can be best explained by those who have direct cultural ties or history attached to the stories and mythology of the past. Hear the the significance of the trinity from a local expert and see the history firsthand by booking a tour to an Inca site with us.