In the beginning, Viracocha emerged from the sacred waters of Lake Titicaca, or so goes an Andean myth. He created Earth and time, summoning the sun, moon, planets, and stars to emerge from the Island of the Sun in the center of the lake. He took stones from the shore and molded them into human beings. Viracocha and his sons gave people clothing, seeds, songs, and spirituality.

Viracocha is not a personal name but a title indicating Supreme Creator in various pre-Inca Andean pantheons. It is sometimes poetically translated as “sea foam,” but it literally means “sea of fat” in the Quechua language. In twenty-first-century industrialized civilization, fat has horrendously negative connotations, but way back when, in the Andes where life was tough and people struggled for calories not weight loss, fat had the connotation of extra power, wealth, and ease. Fat was perceived as the source of energy, and so Viracocha implies “Sea of Creation” or “Sea of Potential.” Viracocha is the force of creative energy. (The title later became an honorific for the Spanish conquerors and eventually for white people in general.)

Viracocha reigned as an omniscient, all powerful deity but was also remote and inaccessible. (In some legends, Viracocha and sons sailed off across the Pacific, promising to return someday.) Andean cosmology acknowledged him as supreme creator but also recognized a world filled with all sorts of spirits who might be more responsive.

Among the masses, Viracocha was never as significant or beloved as Pachamama and the mountain spirits. The ruling Incas adopted Viracocha from the people they conquered, and he became part of their official myth. According to Inca legend, Viracocha personally gave Manco Capac, the first Inca ruler, a special headdress and battle axe.


Wiracocha; Kon-Tiki


Andes Mountains


Viracocha wears the sun as his crown. His tears are rain.


Lightning bolts


  • Apu
  • Nakaq
  • Pachamama

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.