Just as in other countries, so too in Meso-America and South America did the gods reign. In Central America, most of the gods were harsh, cruel and capricious in their treatment of the people. Among the followers of Huitzilopochtli, this was especially true. As the sun approached winter solstice, its path through the sky waned, getting lower and lower, providing less and less of life giving light and heat, and striking fear in the hearts of the people. The sun was life. Huitzilopochtli, after having led his people to Lake Texcoco, was not content with the usual worship from them. He began to insist that the sun was dying, that his power to sustain the sun was waning, and that he needed the blood of sacrifice to regain his strength. Thus began the cult of sacrifice.
Not to be out done, Camaxtli of the Tlaxacalan did the same thing among his people, but claimed that the sacrifices were to provide his strength to give them victory in battle. But not all the gods were driven simply to plumb the depths of depravity and suffering to which they could push the people. One goddess had been born in a brothel and was subjected to unspeakable abuse, repeatedly being raped at the capricious whims of men. Izpopolotl was 15 when she first channeled. A group of customers had paid for the use of her one evening and in her fear and rage she channeled, ripping their hearts from their chest. From that time on, the only way she could wield her power was when a bloody heart had been ripped still beating from a living chest. She became the protector of poor and destitute windows and girls, but the price was always a bloody heart of a man.
Other gods in Meso-America, while not necessarily demanding sacrifice, made the lives of the people miserable. The Mayan Lords of the Underworld called Xibalba, in particular One Death and Seven Death, challenged people to Ollamaliztli, the Meso-American ballgame, where the team that lost the game also their heads. And yet players had no choice to do their best against beings for whom the 9 pound rubber ball moved through the air as if by magic. The other Lords had their own fun causing illnesses and torments and playing “tricks” on people.
But in South America, some of the gods were much more benevolent. Amana, in particular, was a mysterious goddess who inhabited the river regions of Venezuela. She deeply cared for her people and made sure they were safe from outside threats. Among her tools was an ancient object she’d discovered. When she’d learned to activate it with her power, it subtly shifted the region she cared for so that they were no longer exposed to outsiders. They had become a hidden realm.
Gradually, the villages she watched over became the stuff of legend. A person could walk along the river and catch partial glimpses of homes and smoke, but when approached, there would be nothing there. Other travelers told of taking a particular path and suddenly finding the jungle strangely different. One could walk for hours and seem only to move a short distance. Whenever such travelers inevitably turned back to leave that bewitched place, it seemed like almost immediately they were back in their normal greenery. But, the strangest thing was that even though they claimed to have only walked for a short time of minutes or hours, when they came out they found that days or weeks had passed. Legends grew about these lands and the goddess of time who watched over them.
Further southwest lay the mighty Inca empire, founded and ruled over by Viracocha, who’d come from a tiny village by the sea. Another benevolent god, he taught his people to domesticate alpaca and to spin their wool into fibers. He taught them the quipu, the corded strings to record the stories of the people. He showed them the potatoes and oca and how to store these to get them through leaner times. But, in all this time, Viracocha never took a mate.
That continued to be true for many years until one day Viracocha himself was on a trip through Venezuela’s river regions and came upon that enchanted jungle. As he walked up the river, he too was subjected to the strange effects. And then, to his surprise, a beautiful woman showed herself. It was Amana, having been alerted by the device that another god had entered her land. She was stronger than him and took him captive back to her village, where she planned on learning what threat he represented. Their conversations went on for many weeks and very soon Viracocha was no longer her captive, but rather, her friend and then lover.
They were bonded together with both the power and with ceremony; but Viracocha had been gone for what seemed years to his own people and he keenly felt his responsibility. Eventually, he persuaded Amana to come with him, at least for a time, to his own kingdom. When they returned together to the Inca heartland, she was hailed as Mama Qucha, goddess of the sea.
Amana missed the quiet rivers of her home, but found some solace in the endless and peaceful waves of the sea, and in her dear Viracocha. Eventually, she bore two sons, Tamusi and Tamula; and they were happy. But, as time went by, Amana felt her people’s need. She could not abandon them simply for her own happiness’ sake. Painful as it was, she decided to return home, taking their two sons. She would spend part of the year watching over her lands, and part of the year with Viracocha; a painful arrangement for them both. For Viracocha, those months she spent at her home amounted to years without her and his sons. But they were gods, and their responsibilities were more important than their needs. It was enough that they had the time together they did.
The Lords of Xibalba and Civil War
If it were not for the Lords of Xibalba and a foolish wager, things would have stayed that way for all, but One Death and Seven Death had become jealous at the growing influence of One Hunahpu and Seven Hunahpu. These younger gods were powerful and discovered many new uses of that power. They even walked the Underworld itself, the place where people dreamed and which the Lords of Xibalba claimed as their own. Many battles in that world were fought and the people lived nightmares as they slept, and some never awoke. Finally, One Death and Seven Death challenged One Hunahpu and Seven Hunahpu to the ballgame with their lives as the prize. With the secret aid of Seven Macaw, One Death and Seven Death defeated the two gods and their heads were taken.
But One Hunahpu had two sons, Xblanque (“Jaguar Sun”) and Hunahpu. These gods were powerful, having been taught all they knew by their father and uncle, and they wanted revenge. They rallied many other younger gods to their sides. The Lords of Xibalba and the other older gods’ time was over. It was time for a newer generation to rule. The ensuing war spread so that not just the underworld, but the land itself saw bloody battle. Gradually, the chaos spread across Meso-America, as Aztec and Tlaxacalan gods split along age, gender, or any other lines that hid resentment, envy, and lust. Thus, fire spread across Meso-America.
Civil War in South America
The gods of South America looked uneasily at the chaos to the north. Refugees poured across the isthmus into their lands, seeking shelter and respite. Amana and her sons were with Viracocha at the time when the news of the refugees reached them. Amana, along with Tamusi and Tumula, immediately began their journey home, needing to protect her homeland. Viracocha could not leave his people undefended, however, and stayed behind. He attempted to rally the other South American gods to take preemptive steps to keep the chaos from spreading. What he did not realize was that the gods in the south were also susceptible to the lure of ambition and opportunity for vengeance. Not all of them, but enough. Viracocha watched in sadness as his own lands fell into the chaos. The land descended into tragedy as people sought somewhere to go. Viracocha begged Amana to take his people and she, his dear beloved wife, opened her lands.
Amana, along with Tamusi and Tamula, used their power to modify the device that created their protected realm. The object was pressed far beyond what it had been created for and required constant control by Amana and her sons. They divided the day into three shifts and each took turns. And yet the refugees just kept coming.
Viracocha fought the other gods, trying to stem the chaos that was spreading. Two goddesses, Mama Killa and Pachamama, hated Viracocha since he’d banished them from his lands when he discovered them exploiting his people. These two brought forth giants and monsters to wreak havoc on the land and people and to defeat Viracocha. Viracocha was only able to win against them by releasing the waters of Lake Titicaca, creating the great flood Unu Pachakuti. But the waters had done their damage, leaving but a fraction of the people alive.
Death of Amana
The refugees continued to pour into Amana’s lands as she and her sons strained to keep the machinery that kept them safe running. Sadly, it had never been designed to protect so large an area over such a long period of time. The north of the entire continent was shifted and contained inside a bubble, but that bubble was tenuous and fragile. Finally, it could not stay stable and it popped. The ensuing blast killed Amana, Tamusi, and Tamula in an instant, reverting those protected lands to normalcy.
Viracocha felt their deaths hundreds of leagues away and his heart died with his wife and sons. He drew on the Power in rage and grief and threw all his might at those gods that had taken his family and spread death and destruction across the once beautiful land. But, in doing so, even as they were killed, Viracocha drew too much of the power and burned himself out. The loss of the power, however, was as nothing compared to the devastation felt in his heart.
Though he was dead inside, for a time, Viracocha struggled to do what he could for his people. Eventually, while in a remote village, he was killed by a man; a man who had lost his own family in the violence; a man who had been taught that one day the gods would begin to oppress the people. This man, and others who also followed that tradition, took advantage of the chaos. Soon the people were warring against the gods, and eventually, after decades, the gods were eliminated.
But the memory of those gods remained. People passed on the stories and remembered their deeds. Yet, as with all stories that test the passing of time, details were changed and facts forgotten. Amana’s story spread from Venezuela to the Guyanas as the tribes moved out across the land. She became the eternal goddess of the rivers, thought by the Cariña Caribs to protect her people as she cooled the fearsome heat of the sun each night instead of hiding them from danger. It was said that her sons helped her with this task.
Many legends spread about Viracocha, among them some credited him with the creation of mindless giants that displeased him. In these legends he used the flood to rid the world of the beasts and start a new world with smaller creations. It is said that he then sent Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo to bring civilization to the world. In others, his sons were named Imahmana and Tocapo.
In the end, Viracocha was said to have walked across the waters, disappearing over the Pacific Ocean. It is said he wandered the earth disguised as a beggar, teaching his new creations the basics of civilization, as well as working numerous miracles. Some still believe that Viracocha will re-appear in times of trouble.