Inca Religion -
The Inca are an ancient South American people that had their
own distinct set of religious beliefs. They were a pagan religion,
much like that of Greece or Rome in that they worshipped many
different Gods. Most of these gods centered on nature and
its cycles since planting and harvesting were the source of
continued life to their culture.
Their highest and most important god was Inti, or the sun
god. He was the bringer of warmth and light to the people.
Each god had a festival dedicated to them covering the twelve
months of the year. The king and his family were believed
to be descendants of Inti, a notion used frequently in ancient
religions to keep a family ruling for generations.
Daily offerings and sacrifices were a standard part of Inca
religion, but they were not usually animal or human sacrifices
except on special occasions. When a new king was enthroned,
for example, 200 children were killed by being taken high
atop a mountain and sacrificed, usually by a blow to the head.
Other times when human sacrifices were performed were during
times of crises such as famine or epidemics ....
Another part of Inca religious life was divination. Consultation
of the oracles was done using simple things such as the meanderings
of a spider, the disposition of coca leaves or drinking ayahuasca
(a hallucinogen). Depending on what the priests saw in these
everyday things they would investigate crimes, determine illness
or define what sacrifices should be made to what gods.
The power in the culture was divided between the king and
the high priest who was chosen from a noble lineage. There
were also priestesses who were chosen women that were to remain
chaste unless they were chosen as concubines or wives of someone
of the imperial families.