The ancient peoples of the vast continent of South America never formed a coherent cultural unit. They cannot, therefore be treated as such in describing their religions and mythologies. Thousands of languages and dialects were spoken throughout South America, but there were no writing systems before the Spanish conquest. The sources of ancient myths are therefore native oral records transcribed by Europeans or European-trained natives in Spanish, Portuguese or, in a few cases, Quecha (the language of the Incas), accounts by contemporary chroniclers and modern anthropological studies. Legends and mythological accounts, together with deductions based on archaeological evidence, constituted the religions of South American societies. Like all peoples, they felt compelled to explain the important things in their universe, beginning with where they came from and their place in the larger scheme of things. Despite the regional and cultural diversity of South America, there were common elements, some almost universal. In most regions, for example, there was a named creator god. Among the Andean civilizations Viracocha, with many variations, was the creator. Although his worship was prevalent among coastal civilizations, there was also confusion and/or rivalry with the supreme god Pachacamac. Among the Amazonian tribes, four almost universal themes can be recognised. First is the presence and power of shamans, and the associated use of hallucinogenic drugs to gain access into the spirit world for the wellbeing and guidance of humankind. Second is the belief in the power and ancient divinity of jaguars. Third is the practice of cannibalism and fourth, less widespread, is headhunting, a practice steeped in supernatural and ritual significance for the purpose of capturing an enemy’s soul.
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I'm a fantasy writer and on this site you'll not only find samples of my work but also articles concerning folklore, myth and legend, reviews of movies, books and graphic novels and much else besides (including the occasional short story - you lucky people!).
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The Inn at the Edge of the World
The Witch of Wicken Fen
Hour of the Wolf
The Chronicles of Merlin
- The Weird and Wonderful World of Disney
- The Extraordinary Journeys of Jules Verne
- The Witch of Wicken Fen
- An Interview with William Horwood
- Spirits of the Sacred Skies
- The Fantasy World of Christmas
- Philadelphia by Night
- Samhain, Feast of the Dead
- The Realm of Ice and Fire
- Celtic Otherworlds
- The Wolf in the Attic
- The Piper at the Gates of Dawn
- Fearsome Critters
- Songs of Earth and Power
- Of Wood Woses and Wild Men
- The Lost Kingdoms
- The Man in the High Castle
- India’s Eternal Cycle
- Star Wars The Force Awakens Review – No Spoilers
- Fantasy Masterworks: the founders of fantasy
- 23 Things You Missed From the Warcraft Movie Trailer
- The Dark Fantastic
- The Light Fantastic
- Spawn of Ungoliant