Apus are spirits of Andean mountain peaks. An Apu is simultaneously:

• The sacred spirit of a mountain

• The mountain itself

• The spirit who lives atop the mountain

Paradoxically, the Apu is inseparable from the mountain even though the spirit itself is completely mobile and perfectly capable of traveling far. Apu literally means “lord.” Female Apus are addressed as “Mama.” Most are male, but some are female, including Mama Simona of Cuzco; Mama Putukusi of Machu Pichu; and Mama Veronica (Quechua name: Wakay Willca) near Cuzco. Theoretically every mountain peak in the Andes has its own Apu, but the most famous are the twelve associated with Cuzco:

• Apu Ausangate

• Apu Salkanaty

• Mama Simona

• Apu Pikol

• Apu Manuel Pinta

• Apu Wanakauri

• Apu Pachatusan

• Apu Pijchu

• Apu Saqsaywaman

• Apu Wiraqochan

• Apu Pukin

• Apu Senq’a


Apus frequently take the form of mischievous, playful, but helpful children. For instance, Apu Ausangate, considered the most powerful Apu of Cuzco, manifests as a blond, fair-skinned child wearing white clothes and riding a white horse. Don’t let their chosen form fool you: they are ancient and powerful spirits.

Gifts: Small stones resembling animals or plants are sacred gifts from the Apus and may be used to bring whatever the stone resembles into your life. (Resemblance may be enhanced by carving.) These gifts are not limited to one person: they may be given to others or passed down through generations of a family. They may also be purchased at Andean pilgrimage sites. Modern versions of these amulets include miniature trucks, tools, and even passports.


Andes Mountains


Travel to the Apus to request their blessings and protection.


Coca leaves; libations of water and alcoholic beverages


Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses– Written by :Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.