The magic of La Paz…

3 Aug

The Witches’ Market in La Paz is quite simply magic.  This is a place where the ancient traditions of respect and making offerings to Pachamama (Mother Earth) still survive in abundance.

It is a busy time in the Witches’ Market just now.

I noticed this when wandering through it the other day, captivated by the many little sculptures, the plates with an arrangement of offerings on them and of course the llama foetuses hanging from every stall.

I was intrigued as to why there were so many people buying offerings and then I discovered that the month of August is the time when the cycle of fertility of Mother Earth begins.  It is a time when offerings are made by believers for the things they have received during the year and also for the things that were missing.

The plates prepared by “yatiris” contain little tablets representing many different things.  I saw tablets with “health”, “good fortune”, “an office”, “a car” and also “a bank” and “$1,000”.  The “yatiris” give those wishing to buy an offering a list of all the things that it needs to contain. The price of each of the “ingredients” for the offering varies between half a boliviano and 20 bolivianos depending on what it is! Seems intriguing.  I would assume that “$1,000” would be at the upper end of this scale but I am not sure!!!!

As to the llama foetuses…well I remain divided about this.  There is something of the macabre about them…something not quite right..you are supposed to have one in your house to ward off bad spirits…though I am very unsure that customs would allow this back to Scotland! Although once at Edinburgh Airport at customs I saw a guy who was asked by customs what was in his rucksack as something weird had turned up on the x-ray.  He replied, nonchalantly “sheeps’ heads” and the lady at customs replied “oh is that what it is, no worries”.

I decided to buy a little tribute at the market so I got the guy to explain them all to me.  Eventually I left with the one for good luck on my travels though not before he tried to persuade me to take the ones for my house, my health, my family, and my intelligence…I started to wonder if he just wanted to make money out of me….

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