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The Meaning of Lake Titicaca

The Meaning of Lake TiticacabyJulian Katari

The Andean world is very different from many other worlds, it is a vertical world, uphill and downhill, where life is challenged by the constant pull of gravity. Hillsides are washed from their nutrients, the mountains washed from their gold, addicting riches compensate the harshness of producing an organic life, chosen still, by many Andeans. According to them, we live in a middle place, a place between the inner and the outer, the upper and the lower. This is essential in Andean philosophy and cosmology, and is reflected the material cosmos they live in: the longest mountain range in the world.
To them the earth grows sacred as it extends upwards and downwards away from the middle place they prefer to live in. Towards the sky, the cold of snow is the reflection of a land of sky-like sacredness, difficult for organic life to thrive in. Towards the earth, thrive the hidden forces of the planet, powerful inner-like forces that are as deeply respected as sky forces are. Time is perceived in the same way. The present as a middle place, where life strives, and is the axis of twin realities, one past where it all comes from, and one future, of where everything is going.

Inside this vertical world, it is in the middle, where a flat dimension is possible. The energies of creation and destruction, Wiracocha and Pachakutec, balance out and allow a physical manifestation of creation in the present, in the Kay Pacha, the middle world. In that same way, vertical mountains that demand human struggle in exchange for life, give way to flat Cocha, or Kota places, where life itself comes from, where human and animal life are allowed to thrive in. Kotas are mountain lakes, a natural occurrence throughout the vertical Andean world, where water, birds, plants, fish and humans are allowed a flat rest in the vertical struggle. In the Andean world, everything has a masculine and feminine, a mother and a father. All Kotas and lakes are spiritual sons of the great Kota Mama, the great Mother Lake.

The Mother of Life

Thanks to the world’s largest desert and the world’s longest mountain range, thrives the world’s largest and most biodiverse rainforest. In the middle of this mountain and forest laden landmass, lies the middle world, and inside it, the Kota Mama, the mother lake, the mother of life. It is so in Andean Cosmology, Titicaca Lake today is the great cradle of life and human civilization.

Wiñay Marka

It is the name given to the “Minor Lake”, a section of Titicaca that would be a completely separate lake if it wasn't because of a thin 300 meter strait called Tiqina (apparently man-made). Wiñay Marka means “The eternal land” in local Aymara language. According to Andean history and cosmology, the world was once colonized by ancient foreign beings that engineered the earth so that in it biodiversity may thrive. They stabilized the weather, created mountains, and created a “laboratory of life”, a large area where all the climates converge, and where the different species we rely on today for human alimentary sustainment were developed (like corn and potatoes). It is also the place that has survived different Pachakutis or “earth turnarounds” that may include diluviums and other recorded catastrophes.

According to Andean Philosopher Javier Lajo, it is also here where the earth’s axis is fixed by an ancient technology that keeps the angle it has, allowing stable climates and therefore biodiversity explosion. This life engineering wisdom is what historically was known as the “secret of life” that the Incas secretly held, and hid, upon arrival of the invaders.
The existence of this wisdom may have been once related to the search of the “fountain of youth” and the legend of “El Dorado”. We natives believe this is the true treasure that was hidden by the Incas: the secret of life, the wisdom to create and sustain life, or “grow the earth” as we perceive it. According to Lajo, also engineered by the ancient, was a type of climatological and earth-stability (they did not account for today’s social pathology) system that makes so no more extinction-level catastrophes may occur again in the future.
Modern stories and books about what lies here are abundant. Underground cities and civilizations are some of the mysterious possibilities that many people are beginning to know about thanks to these books, which probably are based on stories told by native people. The path is long to revealing the truth, the hidden secret, and to recover this lost treasure of mankind. But it is a path that it is being walked by many, some people research with honest intentions, others, they do it to make a living by giving fictional life to the undeniable mysteries that plague this region of the earth.


According to J.M. Allen, the Plateau around Titicaca lake, was once the great inner sea where the mythical city of Atlantis was located. You may read his investigations here. What is useful to us natives is the wisdom that we have inherited from these ancestors about which western man is begging to discover.

The Cat, the Fish and the Human.
The name Titicaca is a composition of two native Quechua words, Titi, which means feline, and Qaqa, which means stone. The name “stone of the cat” has more than one apparent reason why to bear that name. One of them is the sacredness related to the feline, the stone and the lake. Titicaca is the Taypi K’ala, the middle stone, the philosophical center stone of creation for the Andean Natives. Their main Wak’a, ceremonial site, and could be considered also one of the main “divinities” or as I prefer to call them, sources of life.

If we observe the shape formed by the lake looking at it from the sky with the south pointing upwards, we will see three figures: a feline, a fish and a human. The feline faces east and it can be clearly identified by a mouth an ear and a tail. Underneath it, a fish points west (right on the image), easily odentified by its tail and head. Then, on the left side, above the fish’s tail, the minor Wiñay Marka lake forms the figure of a human being kneeling with long hair, with its hands reaching to the mouth of the Titi.

The Meaning of Titicaca

To the native people, Titicaca Lake means “the sacred center of the world”. As it is to the natives, it should be to everyone. A visit to Titicaca lake should mean visiting the heart of the earth itself, a sacred heart that is believed to have reawakened in the last years. Visiting Titicaca lake should mean deepening into the most intimate truths about humanity and about yourself. We invite you to learn more about Lake Titicaca and about Andean Cosmology in our Andean Cosmology Workshop Retreat in Lake Titicaca.

About the author:
Julian Katari is a walker and practitioner of Native American (north and south) spirituality and wisdom. He is the creator of the Muxuq Nina Fuego Nuevo civilizational paradigm project, the Paititi Ecovillage conservation project in the Bolivian amazon; and of Native Journey, a native-operated travel operator that offers healing and spiritual journeys.


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