and Goddesses: The Incas were known as
the "Children of the Sun". They worshiped gods of nature - the
sun god, the god of thunder, Moon, rainbows, mountain tops, stars,
planets, and many more. Like the ancient Greeks, the Incas believed the
gods could intervene to help you or hinder you. To avoid problems, they
worshiped all the gods every day.
Omens, Signs: The Incas believed that the
gods and their dead ancestors could communicate with them through
dreams, omens, and other signs. The priests were very
powerful because people believed they could read the signs. Priests saw
signs everywhere. They could read signs in the flames of a fire, or in
the way a plant grew.
Ancestor Worship, Mummies: Like
the ancient Egyptians, the Incas believed in an afterlife. They
mummified their dead. The family held a funeral for eight days. Women in
mourning wore wore black clothes for about a year. They also cut their
hair really short.
The bodies and tombs of the dead were carefully
tended. The mummies of dead rulers remained in their palaces. These
rulers were treated as if they were still alive. Servants brought them
things. Their family consulted them for advice on daily affairs. On
parade days and other special occasions, their mummies were carried
through the streets.
Even the very poor mummified their dead. It was
easy. They simply set the dead body out in the cold in above ground
tombs. The Incas could enter and reenter these tombs, leaving gifts of
food and belongings. They could also retrieve these gifts if needed.
The Incas also worshiped huacas - sacred
places or objects. Huacas were everywhere. A huaca could be a large
building, or a tiny statue that fit in the palm of your hand. Every
family said daily prayers to little family huacas. Priests performed
daily ceremonies at the temples, offering prayers to the huacas in their
Every month, the Incas held a major
religious festival. Festivals were held outside. Games, songs, dancing,
food, parades, and sacrifice (of animals usually) were all part of the
festivities. If something special was happening, like the crowning of a
new emperor or a drought, the Incas would include human sacrifice as
part of the festival.