Back to top

The Power of Huacas

The Power of Huacas
Change and Resistance in the Andean World of Colonial Peru

Based on extensive archival research, The Power of Huacas is the first book to take account of the reciprocal effects of religious colonization as they impacted Andean populations and, simultaneously, dramatically changed the culture and beliefs of Spanish Christians.

Series: Download the extended bibliography.

July 2014
Add to cart
478 pages | 6 x 9 |

The role of the religious specialist in Andean cultures of the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries was a complicated one, balanced between local traditions and the culture of the Spanish. In The Power of Huacas, Claudia Brosseder reconstructs the dynamic interaction between religious specialists and the colonial world that unfolded around them, considering how the discourse about religion shifted on both sides of the Spanish and Andean relationship in complex and unexpected ways. In The Power of Huacas, Brosseder examines evidence of transcultural exchange through religious history, anthropology, and cultural studies. Taking Andean religious specialists—or hechizeros (sorcerers) in colonial Spanish terminology—as a starting point, she considers the different ways in which Andeans and Spaniards thought about key cultural and religious concepts. Unlike previous studies, this important book fully outlines both sides of the colonial relationship; Brosseder uses extensive archival research in Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Peru, Spain, Italy, and the United States, as well as careful analysis of archaeological and art historical objects, to present the Andean religious worldview of the period on equal footing with that of the Spanish. Throughout the colonial period, she argues, Andean religious specialists retained their own unique logic, which encompassed specific ideas about holiness, nature, sickness, and social harmony. The Power of Huacas deepens our understanding of the complexities of assimilation, showing that, within the maelstrom of transcultural exchange in the Spanish Americas, European paradigms ultimately changed more than Andean ones.


2015 Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion in the category ofHistorical Studies from the American Academy of Religion




1. A Land Obsessed with Confessions; or, The Historians’ Insights into the World of Colonial Andean Religious Specialists

2. Civil Versus Ecclesiastical Authorities

3. The Sickening Powers of Christianity: A Response by Andean Religious Specialists

4. Talking to Demons: The Intensified Persecution of Andean Religious Specialists (ca. 1609–1700)

5. From Outspoken Criticism to Clandestine Resistance

6. Glimpses of the Protective Powers of Andean Rituals in the Highlands

7. Andean Notions of Nature and Harm, and the Disempowerment of Andean Healers

8. Weeping Statues: The End of Jesuit Demonology and the Survival of an Andean Culture

9. Epilogue



Consulted Archives


Download an extended bibliography.



Claudia Brosseder is a Privatdozentin at Munich University and holds a research position in the Excellence Center for Transcultural Studies at Heidelberg University. She is the author of Im Bann der Sterne. Caspar Peucer, Philipp Melanchthon und andere Wittenberger Astrologen.



Almost all of the Spaniards who came to the Andes from 1532 onward and left written records found the many different Quechua and Aymara terms for denoting what we can call, for lack of a better term, religious specialists highly problematic: achik, achicoc, achicamayok, amauta, aucachic, ychuri, calparicu, camasca, soncoyoc cauchu, runapmicuc, condeviza, hacarícuc, cuyrícuc, hacchini, hampicamayoc, hampioc or hampicoc, guacamayo, huasca, huachachik or huachachic uc, huatuc or watoq, layca, llulla, masca, villac, moscoc, omo, umu or homo, miuycamayoc, pacharicuc, rapiac, socayoc, vacanqui camayoc, vallaviza, viropiricoc, vizaconas, yacarcaes, yachaccunacta, yanca or layca, tala, tata, toqueeni, hamuni, hamuttani or umu, hacchini, toqqueni, tutu, phuu, supayona alicomaata, and laycasina or hayerla laycsitha. As the Spaniards transformed Quechua and Aymara into written languages, they spelled these terms in various ways. They also debated how the words should be translated, most often rendering them “diviners,” “priests,” “people who cast lots,” “wise men,” “confessors,” “sorcerers,” “high priests,” “herbalists,” “people who kill with poison,” “midwives,” and “practitioners of love magic.” Spaniards subcategorized “diviners” according to their “instruments”; for example, spiders, beans, spittle, entrails, llama dung, dreams, tremors of the arm, coca leaves, and grains of maize. Colonial Aymara was particularly rich in verbs indicating actions that Spaniards interpreted as divinations, including arokhaatha, khee, coca phahuatha, hacchitha, hacchirapitha, huákona vllatha, huanko cchaatha, piuirutatha, huankona anocarapana vllatha, ha muttatha, toqueni, hamuni, hamuttatha, aca hamani, and sapininitha. These different terms provided more detail than the blanket term “diviner” by specifying the instrument of divination.

Yet despite this diversity and specificity in native terminology and native arts, lexical univocality reigned in Spanish discussions of indigenous beliefs and practices. Most Spaniards simply resorted to the concept of hechizero (sorcerer) to label Andean religious specialists, and hechizería (sorcery) to encompass his or her acts. Evidently, Spaniards used the category of hechizería as a blunt tool, ignoring differences between Quechua, Aymara, and many other religious specialists. In early sixteenth-century Spain and colonial Peru, the meanings of hechizería were basically threefold: “false god, false cult, false actions,” or “idolatry, superstition, sorcery.” In his orderly cosmos, Thomas Aquinas elevated superstitio above sorcery, divination, magic, and idolatry. According to him, superstitio was “a-religio,” and the label belonged properly to any cult or belief deviating from the official religion, Catholicism. In this way, a concept of hechizería with implications of superstition and idolatry came to dominate Peruvian sources and Spanish actions toward certain Andean people. Even more, the dynamics of this Spanish discourse about hechizería and its constant dialogue with the Andean people had sociopolitical consequences that changed the Andean world in an unprecedented way.

To date, a few books have reconstructed the European discourse on Andean hechizería and its effects on Andean religious specialists. Important studies on which this book builds have treated different aspects of the complex history of colonial hechizería as it reached into many contexts that historians of the colonial Andes have examined: the Spanish and Creole extirpation-of-idolatry campaigns in the archdiocese of Lima during the seventeenth century; the emergence of an Andean Catholic world; the history of gender relations and, in part, of witches in a colonial setting; the history of the relationship between Andean and Spanish political institutions premised on colonialism; the history of the persecution of non-Andean Spanish, Creole, and Afro-Peruvian ritual specialists; and the ongoing history of Andean and Inca religious-and sociopolitical-economic structures, by Pierre Duviols, Kenneth Mills, Juan Carlos García Cabrera, Frank Salomon, Luis Millones, Gabriela Ramos, José Carlos de la Puente Luna, Sabine MacCormack, Ana Sánchez, Nicholas Griffiths, Juan Carlos Estenssoro Fuchs, Laura Larco, Bonnie Glass-Coffin, Irene Silverblatt, Maria Manarelli, Iris Gareis, Polia Meconi, Tristan Platt, Therèse Bouysse-Cassagne, Thierry Saignes, Gabriel Martínez, Josep Barnadas, and many others on the Inca and Andean world.

No single book, however, has analyzed the evolution of Andean rituals and their symbolic makeup during colonial times in more detail in an effort to reconstruct the effects of the discourse of hechizería on the Andean world and of accompanying transcultural interactions and dialectical dynamics between Spaniards, Creoles, and Andeans. Analyzing Andean rituals and especially their symbolic makeup allows this book to show in which respect the world of Andean religious specialists changed; how it changed, on both the level of concepts and beneath the level of theoretical discourse, on the basis of practices and due to the practical give-and-take between Spaniards, Andeans, and, in part, Afro-Peruvians; and why it changed. The book argues that certain elements within the complex world of Andean religious specialists’ rituals changed owing to the Spanish invasion and to cultural influxes that came in its wake, and yet maintained something that might be called an Andean logic. Among these elements, and one especially preserved among Andean religious specialists in the highlands, is an Andean concepts of the embodiment of specific powers (which we might call a concept of the “holy”), of nature, and of an Andean understanding of sickness, social harmony, and the coexistence of cultures. Most of these principles continued to work as fundamental organizational principles of the Andean world and even dictated the responses that ritual specialists gave to transcultural interactions and, in particular, the European invasion and the introduction of Christianity—despite changes that can be observed in the function of Andean religious specialists in colonial Andean society, within their rituals, their performances, and their symbolic makeup. The European introduction of a distinction between natural and supernatural spheres most radically challenged Andean concepts of nature. A nuanced tracing from an Andean perspective of where change and resistance to change—from precolonial to early and later colonial times—were located is one of the principal aims of this book, as is the analysis of the evolution of the European discourse on hechizería in Peru and in Europe, as the vicissitudes of the European discourse reflected back and forth across the Atlantic. This European discourse on magic serves as a mirror of the Andean world. It was also an important vehicle for change in the Andean world.

As the book strives to present explanations for either change or resistance on both sides, it analyzes the dynamics of the dialogue between Andean religious specialists and European and Creole Christians by analyzing shifts—existing or nonexisting—within the structure of Andean concepts of sickness, health, the embodiment of powers, nature, coexistence of two cultures, and social harmony; and within Christian concepts of representation, the natural, the preternatural and the supernatural, salvation, social harmony, and the “holy”-.something that in both worlds, even though it was differently conceived, required human respect and veneration and was, perhaps, beyond human reach. Analysis of these parameters of the interaction between European and native perceptions reveals that within the encounter of these different cultures, the grounding principles changed more radically in Europe and among Europeans in the Andes than among Andeans, where ritual specialists and commoners may have adopted Christian images and rites but retained the same basic understanding of what was important and how it could be defended, what was holy and what was the relationship between what Europeans perceived as natural versus the supernatural sphere. The book will also examine what assimilation really meant for different inhabitants of the Andean world.

This book relies on the perspective of a historiography that is at once historicist (taking into account historical change) and structuralist (uncovering underlying structures with a quality of longue durée). In doing so, the intent is to contribute to our understanding of the dynamics of transcultural processes in the Andean world—a world that was neither trapped in cultural stagnation nor upended by total cultural change.

The focus of the book

My investigation of the history of hechizería from the late sixteenth to the late eighteenth century and its related intellectual parameters from the perspective of the transcultural processes between different cultures rests on many different types of sources. The main informants of this history are the various chroniclers, the Huarochirí Manuscript, Jesuit cartas annuas (or litterae annuae, the annual letters, which are most explicit during the first half of the seventeenth century), reports by individual Jesuits, and other Jesuit manuscripts. Crucial are visitation records produced by the extirpation-of.idolatry campaigns in the archdiocese of Lima (sometimes identical with the information contained in the cartas annuas). I also make use of the records of civil visitas that were conducted mainly to collect tributes if they contain information relevant to our understanding of the world of Andean religious specialists. The same holds true for the relaciones geográficas, as these official reports to the Council of the Indies in Seville sometimes contained information on local Andean customs and knowledge. Scholarly treatises of both Peruvian and European origin (provided that they found their way into the Andes) were consulted, in addition to sermons by secular priests—mainly in Cuzco and Lima—and by priests who belonged to the various orders. Inquisition records from Lima documenting the persecution of Spanish, Creole, and Afro-Peruvian ritual specialists; colonial paintings, statues, and other objects from the central and southern highlands; and annotated books that I found in former colonial libraries in several Peruvian cities all provided vital information on how the Spanish and Creole discourse on hechizería evolved in its interaction with the Andean world and how the world of Andean religious specialists and of commoners changed. In all this, as the reader will notice, I concentrate on Jesuit sources and visitation records, given that the Jesuits undoubtedly were the most meticulous in describing the acts performed by Andean religious specialists from the late sixteenth century onward. In the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, the Jesuits considered Andean religious specialists to be their greatest rivals and focused a great deal of effort on persecuting hechizeros. This book, however, does not attempt to add to the existing histories of the Jesuit order in colonial Peru; doing so would require comparing their Peruvian engagements with their many other evangelical projects in other parts of the Spanish and Portuguese empires, as well as in Europe and Asia. Instead, the Jesuit views presented in this book are used mainly to provide an entry into the Andean world.

In sketching the world of Andean religious specialists from an Andean perspective, the book has to overcome a number of methodological traps—the major one being that Andeans, with the exception of a very few documents from the early seventeenth century, left no written record of their world that is understood today. But one of the most meaningful spheres for grasping the world of Andean religious specialists during the colonial period is that of rituals centered on “instruments,” or objects, used by healers, diviners, and priests. Such objects included stones, sebo (fat), maize, coca, guinea pigs, powders, feathers, toads, certain plants, and yllas (objects of various forms; sometimes stones that resembled maize or llamas). Members of two institutions paid particular attention to the enumeration of these objects, which were considered to be “idols,” often recording their Quechua (and, sometimes, Aymara) names: the Jesuits and the visitators (or notaries) in the extirpation-of-idolatry campaigns in Lima. The Jesuit reports indirectly drew on insights from private confessions that were products of psychological pressure. The visitators' records were the outcome of public confessions and persecutions that threatened the Indians with corporal punishment. And even though the Jesuits' or visitators' notaries did not describe these items as explicitly as an archaeologist would do today and, unlike ethnological data on modern-day mesas, often did not capture their exact place within a ritual performance, the obsessive documentation of the objects for the sake of their destruction provides many clues about cultural resistances and transformations, as these records show little influence of a Spanish interpretation. In contrast, when chroniclers, Jesuits, visitators, or notaries tried to record Andean narratives about ritual practices and performances, or to grasp an underlying intellectual foundation, Spanish concepts heavily influenced their narrative.

As this book will show, most of these objects—as well as practices of Andean ritual specialists and paradigms—were not necessarily only of local or regional importance, or even of importance only for an individual Andean religious specialist. Instead, each had a long tradition, and some of the objects had long-established symbolic meanings in various archaeological cultures or within various sociopolitical or ethnic Andean groups. These symbols and objects were embodied powers that retained a notion of sacredness and were conceptually tied to huacas. In examining some of these symbols and objects (such as stones, birds, villca, toads, the color white, huacanquis, yllas, bezoar stones, fat, coca), this book seeks to capture shifts in these objects over time, including their symbolic meanings and use in rituals. The first step toward that end is to decode some of these significations by carefully drawing on seventeenth-century practices, local Andean myths, Inca history, colonial Quechua/Aymara-Spanish dictionaries, and a close analysis of a European rendering. In some instances, we will look at archaeological and semiotic fields of some of the above-mentioned objects and symbols.

The second step will be to examine how the importance of these symbols and objects changed for religious specialists during the colonial period. The book also contextualizes Andean religious specialists’ practices as they, in the representation of the Europeans, were the ones that got most heavily imprinted by a European understanding (such as communication with huacas, taking "confessions," use of hallucinogens, fabricating figurines, healing, divination, inflicting harm). By contextualizing Andean symbols, objects, and practices in an Andean and (sometimes necessarily) Inca setting, as well as in its representation in the European discourse, Andean cultural paradigms are uncovered, layer by layer, as they were: notions of embodiment, nature, sickness, health, coexistence of culture, fertility, and social harmony.

Assimilations in the realms of symbolic meanings, practices, and beliefs are particularly difficult to grasp, especially in a society that possessed many local traditions. Adding to the challenge in the case of Andean religious specialists is the variability of their practices: their rituals depended on the cultural conventions of each specific ayllu, or even on the customs of one particular individual. But as archaeologists and ethnohistorians such as John Murra and many others have shown, one of the central features of the pre-Columbian (pre-Inca, Andean, and Inca) world was its remarkable exchange network, which enabled goods, ideas, and symbols to travel rapidly from the coast through the Andes to the Amazon region and vice versa. This ease of transmission, in turn, caused many symbols and practices to be shared by different sociopolitical communities and ethnic groups. During Inca and colonial times, Indians were forced to move between various regions at an astonishing rate, leading to more intermingling. As this book argues, religious specialists relied in essence on a supralocal cosmos of pre-Columbian symbolism and practices, with slight regional variations. Religious specialists throughout the Andes trusted in the meaning and power of a fairly limited set of symbols, though each specialist decided individually on the arrangement of these symbols within a ritual. The performance thus varied. The careful employment of archaeological and ethnological evidence to scrutinize the shifts in Andean beliefs and symbolic meanings that resulted from assimilation and the contextualization of Andean practices in Andean and European contexts, and especially the European discourse on magic, is new to this volume, as is the recognition of parallel processes of assimilation between Andean, Spanish, and Creole specialists with respect to love magic, and—with respect to sympathetic magic-.Afro-Peruvian ritual specialists.

Throughout the colonial period, as this book shows, religious specialists took different approaches to including symbols in their mesas and practices. As the array of sources suggests, many religious specialists (particularly those from the central and the southern highlands), despite changes in their social status and in their function, continued to adhere to long-established Andean symbolic meanings and powers throughout the colonial period and beyond (even to this day, in some local traditions). In the highland regions, although the material carrier of the symbol sometimes changed over the course of the later seventeenth century—for example, hard liquor might substitute for chicha (maize beer), tobacco leaves for ground tobacco, and smoke for colored powders—its meaning and associated power did not. Often the place of the symbol within the ritual conveyed a symbolic meaning that seems to have been established in the distant Andean past. As this book argues, mesas and their objects in the central and southern highlands condensed the essence of Andean notions of embodiment and the holy. As I will show, during the colonial period these symbols used in rituals proved to be the last bastion of resistance against Christian evangelization. Indirectly, resistance grew out of the Andean notion of embodied powers in Andean huacas. In contrast, the colonial Andean religious specialists of the northern and central coast more rapidly adopted the symbols of the Christian church. Moreover, as this book shows, during the colonial period the European discourse about sympathetic magic, as well as the practices of Spanish and Afro-Peruvian ritual specialists, affected the rituals of Andean religious specialists in both coastal and highland regions, as at different times they began to use such items as pierced toads or puppets, tobacco leaves, and spirits. Another peculiarity of the reactions of indigenous religious specialists to transcultural processes will also be investigated: especially in the highlands, religious specialists were more open to including invocations of Jesus, Mary, and the saints—and thus of something "ideal"—than to using material objects from the Christian tradition. Again, this peculiar assimilation was firmly rooted in an Andean notion of the embodiment of power. The varied responses over time and space of religious specialists to Christianity will be an important focus of this book in addressing a number of questions: In which areas did members of the various cultural traditions adopt ideas, practices, and symbols from a previously foreign culture? How and where did Europeans and Andeans allow assimilations within the concept of embodiment and the realm of the holy? In which areas did these assimilations follow a cultural logic, and in which are they instead best described by using the concept of mélanges?

The investigation of these multiple levels of interactions between Spanish, Andean, and rudimentary Afro-Peruvian cultures through the lens of Jesuits, ecclesiastics, and Andean religious specialists pulls together the metropolitan and local histories of the central and southern Andes, some small villages, and several Jesuit missionary outposts in colonial Peru. I concentrate (in geographic terms) on the central, south-central, and southern Andes, making reference to the coast from modern-day northern to southern Peru. As viewed by the Inca empire, this area represents the heartland of Inca Tawantinsuyo. As viewed by colonial ecclesiastics, the area under investigation includes the dioceses of Lima, Cuzco, Charcas, and Trujillo. As viewed by colonial administrators, this area was mainly identical with the Audiencia of Lima. I give some consideration to occurrences in the Audiencias of Quito and Charcas, but little to the Audiencia of Chile. In the terminology of Jesuit political organization, I concentrate on the province of Peru, established in 1568. I make some reference to the missionary activities among the so-called Mojos, celebrated by Jesuits as famous hechizeros, though I largely exclude the missionary regions of Maynas in the western Amazon and of Chiquitos near Santa Cruz de la Sierra. More sparing are my explorations into the Jesuit provinces of Paraguay and Nueva Granada. Colonial chroniclers considerably simplified the diversity of different ethnic groups of the Andean peoples, but from a linguistic standpoint of colonial times this book deals with Quechua-and Aymara-speaking Indians. These categories embrace a considerable number of so-called ethnic groups of the Inca and colonial era, including, among others, the Chanca, Vilca, Collagua, Chachapoya, Huamachuco, Conchuco, Chinchaycocha, Yauyo, Lupa, Cana, Canchi, Aymará, Sora, Yanahuara, Omasuyu, Atabillo, and Huanca.

This history of the Andean-Christian dialogue requires at once a transatlantic and local perspective, as well as a careful conceptualization. Investigations into the history of both European and Andean religion and science, into their medical knowledge and practices, and into early modern European natural philosophy are all necessary. Some scholars familiar with the complexities of Peruvian history may view writing such a book as sheer intellectual hubris. Others may question the utility of such a broad perspective, arguing that only a microhistorical approach—centering on one local tradition—can render valuable insights into the idiosyncrasies of these transcultural dynamics between Andeans and Christians. Yet if we are to reconstruct assimilations, changes, and resistances within Andean ritual practices and within the world of Andean religious specialists, we have to deal with the limitations of the available colonial sources. Unfortunately, they do not allow us to trace continuities and discontinuities in religious specialists’ rituals and beliefs within a certain geographic area, or even for a particular individual. An individual with his or her ritual appears—perhaps in only a glimpse—on the surface of history, and then is lost again in its unrecorded depths. Sometimes Spaniards revisited certain villages and added to the existing written record, but in most cases these new reports concerned other individuals, other huacas, and other rituals. And at least for the beginning of the early sixteenth century (and often beyond)—despite all the differences between Andean religious practices, rituals, and concepts of local origin—they can be clearly distinguished from the Christian rituals and concepts that missionaries, priests, and conquistadors tried to communicate to Andeans. In the beginning, Christianity is thus distinct from local Andean religions. This distinction is a necessary heuristic tool to discern assimilations, changes, and resistances—engagements that were mutual. In seeking to reconstruct these differences, and given the nature of the available sources, the book merges several local Andean traditions, almost in a macroperspective, to investigate their differences with Christianity. Only in this context does it mention an “Andean logic” and “Andean paradigms.”

I hope to convince my readers that data from these various areas, cultural groupings, and different fields of knowledge are not arbitrarily lumped together, but ultimately join into a coherent conceptual framework that reveals the idiosyncrasies of the encounter of different cultures.

The organization of this book

This book is mainly about discourses and their evolution. At the same time, it is about practices, as it examines their changes. Its investigation covers much of the colonial period-.that is, from the early 1540s to the late eighteenth century—and the choice of time frame is not arbitrary. During the colonial period, the church, civil authorities, and especially the Jesuits turned hechizería into a public issue. After 1800, the sources use a different language in discussing hechizería and healers. By then, the often ferocious, puzzling, concerned, and stirring tone that sixteenth-and seventeenth-century sources employed when talking about indigenous, Creole, mestizo, and mulatto forms of hechizería and healing practices had all but disappeared. Within this time frame, the dialectic that evolved between Andean religious specialists and Christian (especially Jesuit) priests dictates the book’s organization; that is, the book in its structure tries to capture responses of Andeans to European actions and arguments and vice versa. The book at large is chronologically arranged, but in the attempt to get at Andean notions it is often requisite to introduce flashbacks within single chapters. Moreover, the book depends on European representations but dismantles them layer by layer so as to get to an understanding of Andean beliefs. At the end, the book weaves together the different strands of contexts in which the history of Andean religious specialists, their beliefs, and practices was placed. None of the existing frameworks in the wide range of scholarship consulted on the relationship between religion and “magic” proved adequate.

At the end of this introduction I provide an overview of basic sixteenth-and early seventeenth-century Spanish assumptions regarding the concept of hechizería. Over the course of the book I show how this sixteenth-century, basically medieval notion of hechizería changed. In chapter 1, I jump directly into the seventeenth century and show the urgency Jesuits and others felt in making Andean religious specialists confess in order to liberate Andean souls and lands from the grip of the demon and to outwit the Andean hechizeros, whom they viewed as rivals. By trying to (re)define alleged Andean canons of sins, these authors collected—indirectly, en passant, and detached from the individual sinner—information on rituals and on the standing of ritual specialists in Andean society as they informed the annual letters. Together with the avowals of Andean suspects in the legal framework of ecclesiastical visitation processes, those turned out to be valuable documents about colonial Andean rituals. From an Andean perspective, these catalogs of sins reveal the notion and centrality of sickness for the well-being of Andean society during Inca times; a notion—as will be shown in chapter 2—that acquired a new quality due to the European conquest. From a European perspective, Spaniards in those times were still interested in highlighting similarities between Andean and Christian religion in an attempt to accommodate Christianity to Andean converts. Chapter 2 takes a retrospective look into the sixteenth century to discuss how and why the issue of hechizería gained momentum in colonial society in the first place. The chapter discusses the links between the first documented Andean response of religious specialists to Christianity in the so-called Taki Onkoy rebellion, Viceroy Toledo’s and Albornoz’s approaches to idolatry extirpation, and the execution of the last insurgent Inca, Tupac Amaru. As the Andeans presented Spanish presence as a new kind of sickness, and as the religious specialists’ argument in favor of two “republics” (another colonial Andean parameter) threatened Spanish political ambitions, Viceroy Toledo wanted to impose capital punishment for the teachers of Andean hechizerías; before long, this move was put on hold by the Jesuits, who soon after their arrival managed to gain political prominence in colonial Peru. The Jesuits ultimately became the ideologues behind the Peruvian discourse on hechizería in the archdiocese of Lima, as well as in their missions, until the second half of the seventeenth century. Civil authorities regained prime responsibility for a newly understood business of hechizería only during the latter half of the eighteenth century (as will be shown in chapter 8). Chapter 3 reconstructs key Andean notions about transformation, birds, stones, embodiment, huacas, and the necessity of active commemoration of the power of huacas as a precondition for the functioning of Andean society—beliefs that came under acute threat due to the conversions of Andean commoners to Christianity. This chapter also analyzes the Andean belief in the limits of the powers of Andean religious specialists, and how they were distinguished from the power of huacas, thereby showing that the prime task of an Andean religious specialist in early colonial times was to ensure and restore life with the help of huacas. It was on this fundamental level of what constituted the Andean concept of embodiment and the interrelated Andean concept of nature that a lack of understanding between Andeans and Christians with respect to notions of the preter-and supernatural, nature, and sickness was rooted. This chapter thus lays the groundwork for understanding the organizational principle of embodiment in the Andean world during early and, in many respects, as will be shown later, throughout colonial times. Only on the basis of this and the other principles mentioned above can we question, understand, and measure the impact of assimilations on the Andean world. In chapter 4, I show how Christians in the archdiocese of Lima as well as in Jesuit missions, as both Andean religious specialists and commoners responded to evangelization, slowly sharpened their ideological tools and their methods of persecution. Andeans who were first thought to have been the victims of the devil, to whom they spoke in stones, became the willful agents of the devil and made him enter idols. I add to existing accounts of this particular aspect of history the evidence of interconnectedness with the European discourse on magic, even in its earliest beginnings, and evidence that this trend simultaneously depended on and produced a parallel development: the convergence of the discourse on indigenous belief with the discourse on mulatto, Creole, and Spanish (and thus non-Andean) hechizeros and witches. The representation of the Andean religious specialist within this discourse not only afflicted the lives of many, but also changed the perception of Andean religious specialists through Andean commoners and thus contributes to our understanding of why and how changes occurred. The chapter ends by discussing the impact of this discourse beyond the archdiocese of Lima, especially in Jesuit missions. In chapter 5, I enter the spheres of Andean commoners and religious specialists to discuss their respective assimilations of and resistances to Catholicism, arguing that there were at least three “republics” during colonial times. For Andean religious specialists of the central and southern Andes, even though their role in society had changed and they worked clandestinely, assimilations never replaced Andean symbolic meanings and challenged but did not alter the concept of embodiment, and Catholic objects were not incorporated into southern Andean rituals. Therefore, along the lines of the Andean notion of embodiment, adopting Christian notions proved for some Andean religious specialists simpler than the adoption of objects. When Jesuits saw this resilience and, above all, became more critical about their order’s own evangelization methods and the perceived failure of a forceful persecution of Andean religious specialists, they resorted to different approaches. In part, they were willing to modify their own missionary strategies and symbols so as to disempower Andean religious specialists. Chapter 6 continues with the Andean perspective, discussing the function and structure of Andean rituals during the seventeenth century and providing insights into the Andean notion of sickness and healing rituals performed by ritual specialists from the central Andes (to the extent that the sources allow). The role of healers, which has always been fundamental to the role of Andean religious specialists in precolonial and early colonial Andean society, became the official profile of Andean religious specialists, one result of previous persecutions. It will be argued that many Andean ritual specialists continued to adhere to a notion of sickness that required a sacred geography in the lands they inhabited and required them to carry the sacred geography of Andean huacas in the minds and bags of Andean religious specialists, thereby maintaining an early colonial Andean notion of embodiment and of sickness despite assimilations. The Andean vision of two “republics,” which had already been formulated in times of the Taki Onkoy movement was now projected into the realm of sicknesses and healings and the competence of Andean versus Spanish healers. For some, the Incas rose to guarantors of health. Yet the role of Andean religious specialists, as will be shown in chapter 7, continued to change. The sixteenth-and seventeenth-century discourse on hechizería with its many facets, unfolded up to here, and interactions between Afro-Peruvian and Creole and Andean religious specialists challenged an Andean understanding of nature and fostered the introduction of a notion of sympathetic magic, challenging for the first time most radically the Andean concepts of natural processes. Simultaneously, the notion of sympathetic magic changed the way evil was believed to be inflicted during Inca times (and, for others, still valid during colonial times) and the way Andeans thought that evil was brought into the world (something that is also shown in chapter 3). By way of the fusion of concepts and symbols (such as evil harm and the symbol of toads) and practices (such as piercing puppets or toads) in instances related to sympathetic magic changed once more the role of Andean religious specialists in their society. Increasingly, they were sought after as protectors against evil as well as masters of it. Finally, in chapter 8, turning to the evolution of the Andean-Christian transcultural dynamics beyond the late seventeenth century, and after having analyzed how fundamental Andean principles (such as sickness, embodiment, a belief in huacas and the commemoration of their powers, and the vision of the separation of two cultures) dictated reactions of either assimilation or resistance to transcultural influxes, I show how the Jesuit interest in hechizería was replaced both by a new kind of naturalism and, framed in the words of the European discourse on magic, by an interest in natural and technical magic. Criticism of demonology was introduced into the Andes indirectly via the reception of Athanasius Kircher’s writings on technical magic. Nationwide interest in indigenous hechizeros dwindled, and it flared up again only in the provinces in contexts that exhibited a notion of hechizería that was new—different from the one that had dominated late sixteenth-and seventeenth-century discourse—and enforced by different agents: no longer the Jesuits, but now civil institutions and a local clergy under the tutelage of local bishops (Arequipa, Quito, Cuzco, and Cajamarca), and enforced for different ends: no longer for the salvation of “barbarian territories” or for the sake of “two republics,” but for social peace and cultural homogenization in Creole society, and as a response to a new kind of Andean ritual specialist, one that was a product of colonial encounters.

Throughout the book I have been careful in my use of language to avoid Eurocentrism, “essentialism,” and other red flags that scholars—sometimes rightly, sometimes polemically-.have waved at those entering the history of the colonial world. Despite talk of the religious specialist or the Spaniards or the church, we should never forget that alternative voices existed in every sector of society. Whenever the book speaks of the Andean highland ritual specialist, this implies the majority of them but never all. Just as the worlds of indigenous religious specialists varied, the Spanish church also encompassed great diversity. In fact, the persecution of hechizeros was often shaped largely by the personal inclinations of one particular priest, bishop, or archbishop. One group did push toward uniformity: the Jesuits, who, with their organization, incredible communication network, and powerful political influence during much of the early seventeenth century, forced a good deal of homogeneity upon the colonial world (despite the presence of dissenters in their own ranks). However, in the interest of uncovering both assimilation processes and structural differences between Andean and Christian concepts of nature, the holy, and human powers, I have made no effort to capture all of the deviations from the “standard” European or Andean discourses, though meaningful divergences or idiosyncrasies have been addressed. This book seeks to capture the flux of meanings of ideas, symbols, and rituals for both Andeans and Europeans, examining shifts in the argumentation and politics of representatives of European culture, and focusing on the continuities and discontinuities created by this dialogue. Above all, my aim is to put the indigenous world, the Spanish world, and sometimes even the Afro-Peruvian world into a context of constant dialogue, without making judgments about what is correct, false, brutal, good, or bad. We may certainly employ these adjectives when talking about political acts, but when it comes to perceptions, such labels rarely help us achieve deeper knowledge. Since many people from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds were involved in colonial-era Peruvian religious dynamics, I have chosen to apply the term “Spaniard” or “Creole” not only to those either born in Spain or in the New World, but also to any intellectual trained in the European tradition who brought that tradition to South America. Whenever I speak of "Creole society," I refer to the new colonial society established in Peru, disregarding its ethnic composition. The term “Andean”-.and sometimes “Indian” (in sources often called indios), “Amerindian,” “native South American” or “indigenous person”-.when not otherwise qualified, refers to an individual who advocated Andean or Andean-Christian traditions. But when sources have identified “Mestizos,” I kept that term. Blacks, in the sources sometimes labeled as “Negros,” are referred to either as Afro-Peruvians or as blacks. When the sources name Mulattos and specify other castas, I have maintained the original denotation. I did not attempt to identify their ethnicity—a task for other studies to fulfill. I embarked on this project well aware of the intellectual minefields in this area of scholarship; the book’s success at traversing them is left for the reader to decide.

On the use of terms; or the definition of hechizería at the outset of colonial times

One Iberian author, Martín de Castañega, who was especially popular among Spanish writers in Mexico and Peru, set ground for the transatlantic spread of the basic meaning of hechizería as “false god, false cult, false actions” or “idolatry, superstition, sorcery.” Writing on the background of a long and intricate Iberian history of hechizería that involved Christians, Moors, lawyers, poets, inquisitors, theologians, and natural philosophers (among many others, a pious Franciscan and a follower of Thomas Aquinas), Castañega perceived a deep cleavage in his world between, on the one hand, the Catholic Church and, on the other, the diabolical church. Hechizeros and witches belonged to the latter. His “subtle” and “thorough” treatise on the subject, Supersticiones y hechizerías, was published in 1529. This small book could serve as a vade mecum for medical doctors, healers, village wizards, and diviners, providing a ready reference to check the orthodoxy of certain rituals. In the course of these evaluations, Castañega labeled hechizeros base ministers of the demon, performing “vain and superstitious deeds.” Castañega provided a long-winded explication: “[S]ome have an occult pact with the demon, when they are—as they think, without abjuring—‘apostasizing,’ or losing the Catholic faith, believe in, and perform diabolical ceremonies and invocations; but these have an occult pact[,] . . . for their ceremonies entail apostasies from Christ . . . and what they do is against Christ and his law; these we commonly call hechiceros.” Witches, in contrast, consciously renounced Catholicism when entering a pact with the devil. Castañega’s criterion for distinguishing between orthodox and sinful acts of hechizería was adherence to Catholic rites and Catholic sacraments. The rites of the Jews, Moors, and hechizeros were not “sacramientos” but “execramientos”—excrements in the diabolical church. Castañega’s program equating non-Catholic beliefs and rituals with hechizería was unspectacularly medieval. His chief authorities were the Bible, Augustine, the church councils, and Thomas Aquinas—and not, for example, natural philosophy. Despite being somewhat pedestrian, Castañega’s vision of the Catholic and the diabolical church was adopted by José de Acosta (1540–1600) in his Historia natural y moral de las Indias (1590) when he deplored that Indians were in the grip of the demon and had to be rescued. In the second half of the sixteenth century, the Indians of Peru were not well enough instructed in key concepts of the Catholic Church and in Catholic rituals to consciously turn away from them, and it was thought that they only implicitly adhered to the demon. While Acosta viewed Castañega’s framework for definitions of hechizería as the best fit for the landscape of the Andes, Castañega’s treatise also served as a quarry for Acosta’s most reliable informant, whose own work most strongly influenced the key Third Council of Lima: Polo de Ondegardo (ca. 1520–75) and his De los errores y supersticiones de los indios (written around 1566 and later published as Instrucción contra las ceremonias y ritos que usan los indios and jointly distributed with the Confessionario para los curas de los indios of 1585). Despite Polo de Ondegardo’s keen and careful attention to details in the world of Andean religious specialists, he consulted Castañega, along with other authorities from the European discourse on magic, for an understanding of some individual rituals as well as some contextualizations. Castañega, as well as Polo de Ondegardo, held that hechizeros were always old and vile people. In the case of the Andes, the Incas chose to employ them when they had grown to be superfluous members of the Inca empire. Both authors argued that poverty lay at the root of all hechizerías. In the Andes, the poor old hechizeros originally fed themselves from the sacrifices that they were to offer the gods. Under colonial rule, these destitute men received not sacrifices but instead silver, clothes, or food in exchange for their services. For both authors, the meaning of the sacrifices transcends their socioeconomic value. Sacrifices served to (re)connect the Indian with the devil, demon, or, in similar vein, an Andean huaca. The congruence between the works of Polo de Ondegardo and Castañega extended further, to such subtle details as how Polo de Ondegardo organized his report, as well as how he describes the Indian manner of praying to Viracocha, how he distinguishes between hechizeros and healers, and how he discusses Catholic and superstitious healing methods.

Yet despite the influence of a medieval concept of hechizería on Acosta and Polo de Ondegardo, and their respective influence on church politics and the evangelization standards as laid down in the Third Council of Lima, as we will see later, other contemporaries did not necessarily follow Acosta’s and Polo de Ondegardo’s keen interest in defining hechizería, in considering hechizería a social problem, and finally, in putting hechizería on the political agenda. Prior to Polo de Ondegardo, and even prior to Pedro Cieza de León’s Crónica del Perú (published in 1553) and the Relación of the Augustinians of Huamachuco (written around 1560), alleged Andean hechizería did not receive much attention. According to Cieza de León (ca. 1518–54), Peruvian hechizeros were modern Roman vestals, as they served in temples. They were surely an integral part of a wondrous and fallen world, in which a demon could do wicked things. A demon could, for example, maliciously lift into the air an Indian who wanted to convert and stubbornly hold him there for several minutes, forcing two hundred people to chain the Indian to their belts and lead him away from a demonic barrage of stones and into the church, where holy water solved the problem. But Cieza de León’s interest in hechizeros was, at best, superficial. It was the Augustinians—specifically, Juan de San Pedro (ca. 1514–94)—who, similar to Polo de Ondegardo, were preoccupied with hechizeros and considered them a problem for a new Christian society: “[T]hese false priests, which we better call hechizeros, when they want to consult with the demon or want to call one of them [demons], use drums soaked in the blood of guinea pigs, others use some handcuffs[;] . . . afterward the demons appear.” In the early seventeenth century, Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala (ca. 1535–50 to ca. 1615) also labeled Andean religious specialists and those priests who served the ruling Incas hechizeros. But why? Juan Diez de Betanzos (?–1576) and Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa (1535–92?) would not have readily agreed with these equations, though they were well versed in Inca history. Diez de Betanzos, for example, deliberately called Andean and Inca priests of precolonial times "priests"—and not hechizeros-.though he claimed for Inca history another Merlin, the great medieval sorcerer. Sarmiento de Gamboa was equally reluctant to call anybody a hechizero. But in this respect, neither Diez de Betanzos nor Sarmiento had much effect on their peers. In political terms, Polo de Ondegardo and his avid readers—José de Acosta, Cristóbal de Molina from Cuzco (ca. 1529–85), Cristóbal de Albornoz (ca. 1529–ca. 1610), and, as I will show later on in this book, Pablo José de Arriaga (1564–1622) and his contemporaries and followers—turned out to be the most influential writers on things related to Andean religion. These authors all took note of Andean rituals in an attempt to uproot Andean practices. Sometimes they drew on the legal, theological, and natural philosophical European discourse on magic for an understanding of the performance and function of certain Andean rituals (something that will be shown later on in the discussion of individual rituals). These authors discussed novelties in the world of hechizeros that were introduced during the transition from the Inca to the colonial regime; some detected (or perhaps imposed) certain hierarchies among ritual specialists. Some tried to slot Andean rituals into neat categories, separating the diviner from the priest and the healer. Yet in 1653 Bernabé Cobo (1580–1657) corrected some of his predecessors by stating, “Most commonly, priests were confessors, medical doctors, and hechizeros at the same time . . . one should not assume that they held distinct offices.”

Sometimes, intellectual categories proved to be inconsistent. These sixteenth-and early seventeenth-century authors often used categories such as divination, borrachera (drinking), maleficio (evil sorcery), and superstition as shortcuts to describe acts performed by Andeans. In so doing, they ascribed meanings to Andean rituals that can never be taken at face value by the historian. Some inferior terms for religious specialists—such as idolatra/o, dogmatizador of idolatrías, superstitious healer, superstitious diviner, superstitious priest, superstitious hechizero, and mochador (venerator)—were used as well, but appeared harmless when compared with “minister of the devil,” “evil weed,” “diabolical plague,” and “poisonous animals.” These terms were all associated with hechizeros—and thus the triad of idolatry, superstition, and sorcery—and were used interchangeably. Yet all these European categories and efforts at making distinctions were ultimately subsumed under the umbrella heading of hechizería, superstition, and idolatry—as if no other interpretation were possible.

This paradoxical tendency to simultaneously differentiate and simplify was not a matter of different people discussing different things at different times, or of linguistic confusion, as it appears in the works of one and the same writer. It would be wrong to assume that any one author or order—say, the Jesuits—invented all this. On the contrary, Augustinians, Dominicans, Mercedarians, Franciscans, and the secular clergy also made use of the concept of hechizería. In general, however, these orders seemed less interested in the subject of hechizería than were the Jesuits; the Augustinians came closer to matching the Jesuits’ preoccupations.

Why then did Spaniards in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries produce ever more knowledge about different kinds of Andean diviners, priests, confessors, and sorcerers only to condemn religious specialists of hechizería? One could certainly view this movement from (a) searching for hechizería to (b) analyzing different actions of hechizeros to (c) corroborating the concepts of hechizería, idolatry, and superstition as a hermeneutic circle. But such an analysis does not explain much, for out of the Andean-Christian discourse on hechizeros evolved genuine Peruvian dynamics that had the theoretical potential to undermine the validity of these concepts. Nor can the constant production—and to a certain extent, recycling—of knowledge about Andean rituals, acts, and specialists be explained as a product of mere curiosity. One reason involved the attempts of missionizing orders to liberate and convert the inhabitants of Andean lands; another less known reason lies in the nature of the early modern European discourse on magic. European Catholics and Protestant theological polemics, viewing the discourse on magic as a battlefield in the struggle over confession, mandated the reconstruction of explicit details. The typical late sixteenth-and early seventeenth-century European author investigated a magical practice ad nauseam to determine its potential for heterodoxy or orthodoxy. Many went to great pains to formulate theoretical principles from which to derive notions of legitimate and illegitimate practices—beyond the rather simple criteria of their employment in the ceremonies of Jews, Moors, or Catholics. Yet pluralism within the criteria used for evaluation coexisted with general agreement on the need to seek and record ever more subtle details. Against the background of sixteenth-century natural philosophy—in which scholars, for example, paradoxically sought to reconcile such a detail-obsessed art as astrology with Aristotelian syllogisms-.this emphasis on observation might seem surprising. But in fact the early modern European discourse on magic, matching its legal heritage, proved resistant to deductive reasoning. This intriguing fact has important ramifications. For Spaniards in the New World, the attention to detail required by the formal nature of the discourse on magic meant that they could not simply censure Indian rituals or beliefs on principle, with eyes closed; instead, the Spaniards had to know and produce evidence of their unorthodox nature before condemning them.

The move of some influential Peruvian writers in the second half of the sixteenth century toward a medieval notion of hechizería had two major implications for the Peruvian discourse on hechizería up to the first decade of the seventeenth century. First, it successfully prevented the use of alternative terms from the European magical tradition. Second, it blocked the development of a naturalistic perspective on magic that had begun to take hold in Spain from the latter half of the sixteenth century onward.

Just as it elided differences between regional, local, and even individual traditions, so hechizería also replaced alternative concepts available in the European tradition. We cannot simply assume that Spaniards were sloppy linguists. Even if they sometimes were and employed categories fluidly, the absence of other terms already in use in the European discourse on magic points to a conscious objection of alternatives. For example, colonial sources employed forms of the term mago, or magician, very sparingly. Two (admittedly prominent) exceptions are González Holguín (1552–1618) and Ramos Gavilán (ca. 1570–ca. 1639), who both reserved it for someone who in Quechua was called umo, or “diviner.” González Holguín translated humu (umo) as “mágico hechizero,” suggesting that the humu was the deftest hechizero. Ramos Gavilán once alluded to “mágicos y hechizeros.” In both cases, magus appears in conjunction with hechizero. In the Augustinian context, this language served to accommodate Andean diviners to the three magi of Christian lore, an accommodation similarly followed by Jesuits and by Alonso de la Peña Montenegro (1596–1687) in his widely read Itinerario para párrocos de indios (1668). But nobody followed González Holguín or Ramos Gavilán in their cautious use of mago or magohechizero. At the other extreme were the Quechua umo and its Aymara equivalent layca (translated “diviner” and later sometimes equated with “witch”), the only words that sometimes are taken whole into the Spanish language, making clear that umos and laycas were widespread among Andeans. In between was the employment of the term brujo (witch), found by diligent historians in sixteenth-century chroniclers such as Martín de Murúa (?–ca. 1620). In other works of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, however, the term brujo, associated with the capacity to inflict harm, is used cautiously when not avoided altogether, as it was applied only slowly to the indigenous world. Its employment implied that the writer believed that the Indians already understood the truth very well and continued to consult demons willfully, and Murúa clearly was one such writer, as will be shown later on. Peruvian civil sources, such as secular visitation protocols and the Relaciónes geográficas, also use brujo more frequently, mirroring a similar trend in metropolitan Spain. Civil authorities were less lenient than ecclesiastical ones toward witches. The complex issue of why the term brujo began to be employed increasingly from the 1620s onward, flourishing particularly in eighteenth-century provinces, will be addressed later. Yet at no time did it supplant the term hechizero.

It is interesting to note that Peruvians also did not draw on terms originating from the European tradition of erudite magic—such as astrology, chiromancy, hydromancy, pyromancy, or necromancy—when referring to indigenous crafts. Only one or two Spaniards ever described indigenous actions or rituals as necromancy, an attractive term both because it was commonly used in Spanish poetry and because it befit the tradition of ancestor veneration in the Andes, which after the conquest remained an important feature in the Andean cosmos and in everyday life. But Spaniards seem to have avoided terms associated with erudite magic because these exquisitely learned arts (even though some of them were suspicious) had a clear profile in the European discourse on magic and required a well-established set of books, performances, and instruments. What those interested in hechizería found in the Andes was apart from the Inca regime and, according to their logic, involved peoples who were illiterate, ignoble, and prone to idolatry. The basic assumption was that Andeans had herbal knowledge and stones, but lacked script, scientific instruments, and natural philosophy. When confronted with complex cultural manifestations such as Sacsayhuaman (a stone wall in the shape of lightning, in modern day Cuzco), where Indians had piled up enormous stones on top of each other with great mathematical precision, Spaniards credited them to demons. Thus according to the Spanish discourse in early colonial times, the true wise man in the Andes was the demon and not the Indian.

The influence of Castañega’s writings on Peruvian discourse during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, which later in Lima’s archdiocese was replaced by Martín Delrío’s Disquisitones magicarum, forestalled yet another kind of general perspective on matters concerning hechizería that can be found in the Refutation of Superstitions and Sorceries (Reprobación de las supersticiones y hechizerías, 1530) by Pedro Ciruelo, an astronomer, theologian, mathematician, and Salamanca professor. Ciruelo followed the tradition of Thomas Aquinas, Castañega, and others in grouping hechizería with superstitio, idolatry, and implicit pacts with the demons, including it in the catalog of sins. But his treatise exhibited something potentially new when dealing with hechizería. According to Ciruelo, hechizeros performed superstitious deeds by relying on demonic powers, but there existed the possibility of producing unforeseen effects by following the “natural” course of natural causes leading to natural effects. All this gave rise to concern, and the outside observer was left with the difficult task of determining which effect was produced by natural causes and which had demonic underpinnings. Ciruelo referred the reader to “natural reason” and especially “experience,” nourished by a natural philosophy along Aristotelian lines. In his words, “There are some things which one duly knows by natural reason: but to know these, much work is required over a long time, making experiences and listening to the masters; but there are sciences and arts that show the effects of [natural] causes, thereby getting to know the virtues and properties of stars, stones, herbs, fishes, birds, and other animals of this earth.”

For Spaniards in Peru, this definition posed serious problems. Who was to decide what had been acquired through natural experience and what not? Who ensured that the scholarly community rather than the demon was the teacher of facts? Did new knowledge about nature—such as that obtained by Indians—belong to this orthodox canon of natural experiences? How, if at all, could New World indigenous knowledge become integrated into the canon? These questions were not as arbitrary as they might at first appear. As we will see, the Spanish idea that the demon was probably the teacher of all indigenous knowledge—including such useful knowledge as the virtues of native plants—challenged the Jesuits to find a way to gain access to this knowledge while simultaneously controlling Indians who were in the fetters of hechizería. Meanwhile, back in Spain, Ciruelo and others helped promote novel “naturalistic” arguments about witches among Spanish scholars and Inquisitors. They began to question what was and was not possible in nature, ultimately turning the accusation of witchcraft into benign disapproval of melancholic women’s self-delusions and antics. In Peru, however, such arguments were brought forth only rarely (though from the beginning of the seventeenth century onward, we sometimes encounter an “advocate of Indians” who argues along these lines). The fact is that those who produced the most extensive records of the world of Andean religious specialists, such as visitators, ecclesiastics, and Jesuits, hardly ever followed Ciruelo’s recourse to natural philosophy, relying instead on Castañega’s general equation (also shared by Ciruelo) of hechizería with “false gods, false cults, false actions.”

And even though this notion of hechizería did not necessarily bring the idea of inflicting harm to the fore, hechizería was and remained still terrifying for many individuals throughout the seventeenth century. At no stage in its history was the Peruvian discourse on hechizería a mere academic pastime, concerned simply with slotting this or that Andean specialist into this or that predetermined drawer. Fear lay at its heart: the threat of the demons turned hechizeros into the chief enemies of Spaniards in their attempt to build a Christian society, even though one of two “republics.” For example, Antonio de la Calancha (1584–1654), usually a careful scholar inclined favorably toward Inca—if not indigenous—customs, recounted that a “gran hechizero” by the name of Charimango wanted to challenge the monopoly on power claimed by God. Therefore, one day Charimango summoned his fellow “idolatrous Indians,” who all “hated baptism,” to a gathering at the base of a certain mountain so that he might display a power dwarfing Christ’s. Charimango then climbed the mountain, proclaiming that he would make the mountain collapse. With those words, he kicked the mountain-.probably not the one he was standing on, although Calancha was not precise on this point—and indeed, the mountain collapsed. When the dust cleared, it was half its previous size. According to Calancha, Charimango’s performance scared those Indians unwilling to be baptized, but not himself. He reasoned that the demon, through his knowledge of “natural philosophy,” had simply known the exact hour when the Earth would tremble and cause an earthquake. Calancha’s explanation is quite revealing, for although he was quick to mock Charimango’s pretenses, that ridicule did not extend to the demon’s power or perhaps the demon’s obedience to Charimango. As so often happens in Peruvian stories about hechizeros, Charimango ultimately met an unfortunate fate that Calancha apparently thought appropriate. A few days after this performance, the demon decided that it no longer wanted to be Charimango’s assistant and returned to its true nature: an evil bug. According to Calancha, the demon slipped into Charimango and tormented him with lice and worms until he died. In Calancha’s eyes, the story’s resolution contained a question mark: “I could not find out whether God had sent this chastisement on behalf of the sermons which the monks or the priests gave . . . or not.” But by implication, Calancha assumed Charimango’s infection to be the result of God’s volition rather than the demon’s.

We might think that Calancha was simply superstitious, but he was not alone in believing in a connection between collapsing mountains and supernatural powers. Another reasonable man, the Jesuit José de Acosta, told a related though much less spectacular story. According to him, one day a huge landslide occurred halfway between Chuquisaca (the modern Sucre) and Chuquiabo (the modern La Paz), destroying an entire village. This village, as Acosta carefully mentioned in a subordinate clause, was famous for its hechizeros. Thus, according to Acosta, its burial by an avalanche was God’s judgment. Together, these stories reveal much about Spanish fears of demonic powers and hechizeros as well as about Andean cosmology. Andeans considered mountains to be sacred places. These sacred mountains granted fertility to fields in the Andes often threatened with drought. Moreover, certain mountains secured health and social harmony among Andean communities. It is therefore not surprising that Calancha’s and Acosta’s reports centered on mountain sites. Not astonishing either is the absence of any tales by authors in Europe about magi or sorcerers who made mountains collapse. Obviously, European magi interacted with demons that lived elsewhere. In Peru, as Spaniards believed, indigenous hechizeros worshipped demons in the mountains, to name but one example. In this way, as Spaniards forced the concept of hechizería on the Andes, the Andean landscape and, even more forcefully, the logic of Andean culture affected the rhythms of their discourse on magic. And just as Spaniards were driven by fear, so were Andeans.



“Brosseder combines insights from history, anthropology, and art history (how depictions of saints, of confession, of hell, changed over time) to create a compelling narrative that is as powerful as it is surprising. . . . Very few books attempt to do what the author has done here, that is, establish what were the parameters of the discussion between European and native perceptions and how they influenced one another.”
Tamar Herzog, Monroe Gutman Professor of Latin American Affairs, Harvard University, and author of Defining Nations: Immigrants and Citizens in Early Modern Spain and Spanish America and Upholding Justice: State, Law, and the Penal System in Quito and coeditor of Polycentric Monarchies: How Did Early Modern Spain and Portugal Achieve and Maintain a Global Hegemony?

“Claudia Brosseder is an important new voice in South American studies. Her tour-de-force, The Power of Huacas, explores the interactions between Andean shamans and Jesuit priests in colonial Peru through the lens of the evolving European concepts of ‘witchcraft.’ . . . Brosseder’s new understanding of colonial Andean religion is convincing, innovative, and thoroughly researched.”
Sabine Hyland, Associate Professor of Anthropology, St. Norbert College, and author of Gods of the Andes: An Early Jesuit Account of Inca Religion and Andean Christianity, The Quito Manuscript: An Inca History Preserved by Fernando de Montesinos, and The Jesuit and the Incas: The Extraordinary Life of Padre Blas Valera, S.J.


Available for Kindle
Available on Google Play
Available on Kobo
Available for Nook
Available on the Apple Store

This book may also be available on the following library platforms; check with your local library:
3M Cloud Library/bibliotheca
UPCC/Project Muse