South America: Ancient Peoples Believe Catholicism and Animism
An ancient indigenous race in South America, the Aymara, combined their traditional beliefs of animism along with Catholicism, which was brought to the region by the Spanish in the 16th century, and currently live following the mix.
CNN reported the Aymara, who are in Bolivia, Peru and Chile, are modern-day witchdoctors who were able to keep their traditions alive throughout the generations since the Spanish settlement, and live a sort of paradox in today's world.
"The Aymara people have an approach to life that seems paradoxical from the outside," Raphael Verona, a Swiss photographer who released a book on the community, told CNN. "In Europe you are either one religion or another, either traditional or modern. "
Although the Spanish tried hard to convert the Aymara to believe in a new set of gods, the indigenous and ancient group refused to conform and instead, alongside the pantheon of spirit gods, the Catholic gods were included.
And their traditions reflect that unison, with all the gods being given equal priority or clumped together when the Aymara pay homage.
For example, there is a belief that on Tuesdays and Fridays, ordinary people become vulnerable to harmful spirits and the evil eye, so the Aymara stay awake all night and smoke.
"When you exhale the smoke, you send back the evil spells to the sender," Verona said. "You must also constantly pay homage to the spirits. There is a great variety of different spirits, such as the earth mother Pachamama, Supay, the god of the underworld, and the Virgin Mary."
Verona told CNN he eventually married a person of the Aymara group after watching their customs.
"I found myself entering an alien and beautiful culture," he said. "My parents-in-law would regularly carry out rituals involving offerings of cocoa leaves, alcohol, threads of dyed wool, sugar, and molded figures to the spirits."
Despite their acceptance of modernity, they still practice and believe many of the traditions -- wholeheartedly. There is no distinction between the stories they hear from their traditional faith or from Catholicism.
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