Mama Quilla (Quechua: Mama Killa), in Inca mythology and religion, was the third power and goddess of the moon. She was the sister and wife of Inti, daughter of Viracocha and mother of Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo, mythical founders of the Inca empire and culture. She was the goddess of marriage and the menstrual cycle, and considered a protector of women. She was also important for the Inca calendar.
Myths surrounding Mama Quilla include that she cried tears of silver and that lunar eclipses were caused when she was being attacked by an animal. She was envisaged in the form of a beautiful woman and her temples were served by dedicated priestesses.
Mama Quilla was known as "Mother Moon", and was goddess of the moon. According to Father Bernabé Cobo, writing in the mid-sixteenth century, the moon was worshipped because of her "admirable beauty" and the "benefits she bestows upon the world". She was important for calculating the passage of time and the calendar, due to the fact that many rituals were based upon the lunar calendar and adjusted to match the solar year. She was also oversaw marriage, women's menstrual cycles and was deemed the protector of women in general.
Myths surrounding Mama Quilla
One myth surrounding the moon was to account for the "dark spots"; it was believed that a fox fell in love with Mama Quilla because of her beauty, but when he rose into the sky, she squeezed him against her, producing the patches. The Incas would fear lunar eclipses as they believed that during the eclipse, an animal (possibly a mountain lion, serpent or puma) was attacking Mama Quilla. Because of this, people would attempt to scare away the animal by throwing weapons, gesturing and making as much noise as possible. They believed that if the animal achieved its aim, then the world would be left in darkness. This tradition continued after the Incas had been converted to Catholicism by the Conquistadors, which the Spanish used to their advantage. The natives showed the Spanish great respect when they found that they were able to predict when the eclipses would take place. Mama Quilla was also believed to cry tears of silver.
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