Secret history of the conquest of Peru: the prophetic dream of the Inca Viracocha and the coming of the Spaniards

di Marco Maculotti

In an earlier essay from this cycle [cf. Viracocha and the myths of the origins: creation of the world, anthropogenesis, foundation myths] we were able to distinguish, in the Andean tradition, three types of characters called "Viracocha": the creator god of the origins, which we called "Divine Viracocha"; the civilizing hero of the beginning of the era of the "Fifth Sun", creator of Tiahuanaco, whom we have defined "legendary Viracocha"; and finally a historical figure, the eighth Inca ruler, the Inca Viracocha. If we have said enough of the first two, we now have to investigate the role of the third, referring to the most suitable chronicle in the study of the Inca royal dynasty of the "Sons of the Sun". We are obviously talking about the Royal Commentaries of Garcilaso Inca de la Vega, the only ancient source that has the supreme merit of listing, one after the other and with related enterprises, the twelve Inca who ruled the empire of Tahuantinsuyu.

Garcilaso described with great effectiveness how, while still a child, he was taken by the future chronicler Polo de Ondegardo to view a row of mummies leaning against a wall, in a room of his home in Cusco: the bodies of past Inca, which he had saved from destruction. . Little Garcilaso was very impressed by one of the mummies who, unlike the others, had hair "white as snow". Ondegardo told him that this was the mummy of the eighth prince of the sun, the "Inca white": Viracocha. From a similar testimony, it would be natural to infer that his royal name derives precisely from his external resemblance to the legendary Viracocha, as handed down by the myth. The ancient chroniclers affirm that this ruler was white-skinned and bearded, and nevertheless they define his wife "white as an egg"[Honoré, p.22]. However, according to other authors, the eighth Inca would have taken its name from the supreme divinity of the Andean pantheon by virtue of the restoration, under his command, of the original cult of Viracocha against the cult of Inti, god of the Sun.

brooklyn_museum _-_ viracocha_eighth_inca_1_of_14_portraits_of_inca_kings _-_ overall
The Inca Viracocha, eighth ruler of Tahuantinsuyu.

The prophetic dream and the coming of the "viracochas"

But the editor of the Royal Commentaries hypothesizes another thesis: he affirms [Book V, p.191] that the eighth Inca would have been so named because of a prophetic dream, in which the god himself appeared to him to warn him of the future coming of the Spaniards. In this night vision the Inca was shown how one day bearded white men would arrive who would put an end to both the empire of the "Sons of the Sun" and ancestral cults. Taking into account the nefarious implications of such a revelation to the people, it was decided that this prophecy should remain secret and transmitted orally by every Inca ruler to his successor, "so that the dignity of the Incas and their presumed supernatural origin are not in any way questioned".

It should be emphasized here how, by virtue of the memory of the prophetic dream of the eighth ruler of Tahuantinsuyu, as well as for the peculiar - for a population of Amerindian ethnicity - physiognomic characteristics (remember that the beard was a prerogative of the Viracochas, mysterious builders of Tiahuanaco who believed themselves linked to the myth of the creation of humanity of the "Fifth Sun") [cf. . The enigma of Tiahuanaco, cradle of the Incas and "Island of Creation" in Andean mythology], the Spaniards on their arrival were believed to be by the natives "i sons and envoys of the god Viracocha”, And this is why they were generically called viracochas [Book V, p.192].

Cieza de León wrote that the name "Viracocha" was first attributed to the Spaniards by the followers of Huascar (who at the time of their arrival contended for power with his brother Atahualpa, guilty of horrible massacres against the opposite faction), to which i conquistadores they appeared as liberators, like gods. Sarmiento de Gamboa wrote that the Spaniards had suddenly and mysteriously appeared from the same sea towards which, once, the god Viracocha had left: toeven the direction of origin of the Spanish vessels, therefore, helped to give credit to the ancient prophecies. With the arguments we have just examined, historians generally interpret the otherwise inexplicable attitude of the invaders in the face of the invader and the tone, between poignant and surreal, with which the last Incas passively accepted the conquest that was about to be fulfilled.


Baleful prodigies preceding the conquest

In book IX of the Royal Commentaries Garcilaso describes, with the usual eventful prose on the border between the historical and the mythical, a series of negative wonders that occurred in the Inca empire three years before the landing of the first Spanish invaders, under the reign of Huaina Capac, twelfth and last ruler. During the'Inti raimi, the traditional festival of the Sun that was celebrated during the solstices, a golden eagle (according to others a condor) was shot down by a flock of vultures and fell right at the feet of Huaina Capac, begging for his help. The priests of the temple, remembering the dream of the Inca Viracocha, saw with horror in the impotent agonizing raptor the empire of the "Children of the Sun" coming to its end, and in the sinister vultures its future invaders: the Spaniards.

This prodigy was followed by increasingly sinister and catastrophic events: earthquakes, floods and an ever-increasing number of comets streaked the skies. Finally, on an unusually bright night, "a curious, mysterious fear hovered over all of Peru, when the Moon appeared with a large halo formed by three rings: the first was the color of blood, the second greenish black and the third seemed to be made of smoke"[Book IX, p.357]The temple workers interpreted this sign in horror as well: the first ring revealed that the blood of the lineage would be shed and irremediably shed; the second link conveyed the idea of ​​an external constraint that would crush and eliminate the imperial organization and ancestral cults; finally, the smoke ring meant that "all that the ancestors did will vanish like smoke" [Book IX, p.358]: ancient traditions will be lost forever. Of course, qhis frightening series of adverse auspices only confirmed the suspicion that had already been brewing in the royal court for some time, and the arrival of the first Spaniards shortly thereafter only further confirmed that the prophecy of the Inca Viracocha was about to come true.

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Allow us now a brief excursus concerning these "wonders". The historical chronicle enthusiast will have noticed how not infrequently in the narratives concerning epoch-making events in the history of a civilization - facts that often constitute the point of transition from one epoch to the next (in the Andean translation: pachacuti) -, cosmic changes are accompanied by empirical phenomena of an exceptional nature, such as catastrophes and wonders. In this sense, we note how - in such distant territorial areas - traditional narratives always link a particularly ominous event (e.g. the nefarious dream of the Inca Viracocha, the assassination of Julius Caesar, the death of Jesus Christ) * to a series of natural wonders (the eclipse of the moon or sun, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions) and supernatural (such as the appearance of the dead, or animals with speech), as if nature itself - and the occult intelligence that governs - yes united in mourning the pains of suffering humanity, as if there were one Communion even empirically experimentable between the inner consciousness of man and the external representation of The world.

* It was Virgil who narrated the extraordinary events that occurred after the assassination of Julius Caesar: first of all there was a solar eclipse (the Poet writes: "Who dares to call the sun a liar? Sometimes he too warns us that blind riots and treachery brood, and in secret they foment wars. And even at the death of Caesar he wept with Rome, covering his shining face with dark haze and the accursed century feared eternal darkness."); then "globes of fire" and showers of flames from the sky fell, or volcanoes erupted ("How many times have we seen in the fields of the Cyclops of Etna flooding from the broken furnaces, overturning globes of fire and liquid lavas!"); roars and other strange noises were heard coming from the sky, and creatures never seen before appeared ("The sculptures in Germany heard the clash of arms in the sky and unusual tremors shook the Alps. A great voice was also heard several times in the silent woods, and strange, pale ghosts were seen in the shadow of the night."). Finally, the definitive symbol of the complete overturning of every natural order, they were seen, "unheard of, talk animals”, The rivers stopped, earthquakes occurred, inside the temples the bronze statues of the gods prodigiously sweated. As far as the Judeo-Christian tradition is concerned, according to the synoptic Gospels, following the death on the cross of Jesus similar miracles occurred: an eclipse of the Sun occurred which lasted a few hours, during which an earthquake occurred which destroyed the veil of the temple. of Jerusalem and finally followed by the "apparitions of the dead", similarly to the account of Virgil (Matthew 51-53: "And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom, the earth shook, the rocks broke, the tombs were opened and many bodies of dead saints were raised. And coming out of the tombs, after his resurrection, they entered the holy city and appeared to many.").

Rightly, in our opinion, Jünger hypothesized when he wrote [At the wall of time, p.217]:

“That an organic thrust is not only accompanied but also heralded by cosmic and telluric signs is extremely probable; one could think of a sort of contraction, of periodic pains from which the whole of nature suffers. "

In these "periodic pangs" of nature - or, better said, of the cosmos understood as the "order of space-time" - we can identify the intersections between the eras, ages or "Suns" of traditional doctrines, pralaya among the various "exhalations and inspirations of Brahma" of the Hindu tradition - and in these particularly significant phenomena such as the death of the hero or the prophetic dream of the Inca Viracocha we see the manifestations on the plane chronic and terrestrial - we could almost say the "milestones" placed on theKronos highway-, announcing the imminent change of state of the cosmos and, consequently, of the world-Earth and, ultimately, of humanity itself.

In these critical moments of transition from one cycle to the next, which the Andean tradition refers to with the term pachacuti [cf. Pachacuti: cycles of creation and destruction of the world in the Andean tradition], indeed everything appears turned upside down like a glove: the social order, the hero's destiny, the telluric movements and the progress of the stars, the gift of speech to the beasts. And yet, just such reversal in the functioning of the cosmos — which, as will be noted, occurs on several levels: cosmic, telluric, human; that is to say the "Three Worlds", celestial, terrestrial and underground, of the Andean tradition - precisely this reversal of the norm is functional to externalize an imminent change of state that ha to occur, not so much for particular sins of humanity as for the necessary renewal of the cosmos.

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Huaina Capac, twelfth and last Inca.

Huaina Capac, Atahualpa and the fulfillment of the prophecy

We have said that the last of the twelve Inca rulers recognized by the annals of Garcilaso was Huaina Capac. Following his departure, the Tahuantinsuyu he experienced a fierce civil war between the supporters of Huascar and those of Atahualpa, both sons of Huaina Capac, for the seizure of power. Atahualpa, the "bastard" son of Huaina, proved particularly cruel towards his brother (who formally should have become the 13th Inca) and his followers, who killed in huge numbers in what historiography remembers today as a real massacre. Even before the arrival of the Spaniards, therefore, the Andean people had already plunged into a collective drama of chaos and death, probably also due to the sinister prophecies which were increasingly referred to. On the other hand, just by referring to the prophetic dream of the Inca Viracocha, Huaina Capac, turned to her children before taking her last breath, saying these words [Garcilaso, Book IX, pp. 360-361]:

“Our Father the Sun revealed to us long ago that there would be twelve Inca, his own children, to reign; [and he revealed to us that] after them, unknown people would arrive; that they would gain command by submitting our kingdom to their Empire, as would many other lands. I believe that the people who have recently come to our shores are the one to whom [Our Father the Sun] was referring. They are strong, powerful men who will surpass you in everything. The reign of the twelve Incas ends with me […] I command you to obey them and to serve them, in the same way that everyone should serve those who are superior; because their law will be better than ours, and their weapons more powerful and invincible. "

Atahualpa, "bastard" son of Huaina Capac.

These recommendations - with all the extreme historical consequences that have since occurred - will be taken into account by the last Inca when they find themselves in the presence of the Spaniards. For this reason, Atahualpa addressed them in a reverential way beyond the absurd [Garcilaso, Book X, p.403]:

“We believe that you are children of our great god Viracocha and messengers of Pachacamac. Our father left us the instructions to serve and worship you […] and no one will dare to take up arms against you. You can do with us as you please, and if it is your desire that we perish, it will be a matter of pride and glory for us to die at the hands of God's messengers. Your actions and your only arrival has indeed given us proof that God commands you and sent you to us. "

In confirmation of the attitude that we can define as "nihilistic passivity", it is significant how Garcilaso affirms that for Atahualpa resisting the Spaniards would have been at the same time "vain and criminal", that is, useless and sinful. Only later will he fully realize that the actions of the Spaniards do not at all correspond to the acts of an ideal squadron of divine messengers: the ferocious unjustified massacres of natives left no doubt about it. Because of this, in a second moment, Atahualpa expresses his consternation to the invaders, after a long preamble with which he links again to the mythical contents of the prophetic dream of the eighth Inca, telling them [Garcilaso, Book X, pp. 415-416]:

"[My father, Huaina Capac] ordered us, at his bedside, to serve and honor bearded men, like yourself, who would come to our land after his departure [...] and he told us that their laws, their customs, their science and their courage would have been greater than ours. This is why we call you Viracochas, meaning that you are the messengers of the great god Viracocha: his will and his indignation can only be righteous, and on the other hand who can resist the strength of his arms ? But he is also full of pity and mercy, and therefore you, who are his messengers and his ministers, you who are not human but divine, how can you allow such a series of crimes, devastation, plunder, and all the others. cruelties that have been repeated in Tumbez and in the other regions you have passed through? "

Meeting between Francisco Pizarro and Atahualpa.

The four Viracochas

The vision of the Inca Viracocha and the recommendations of Huaina Capac, in the light of what will follow, take on a meaning that goes beyond the surreal and the dramatic: Myth and History, intersecting, influencing each other, provide us with the exemplification of the doctrine Inca del pachacuti and of the cyclical flow of cosmic ages. In this unfolding, from century to century, of exemplary events, History provides us with the supreme symbol of the cyclical nature of time: in the golden thread of mythical narratives, the legendary Viracocha appears on one side (who visits the Inca in a dream Viracocha, warning him of the future coming of the Spaniards), on the other the historical Viracocha, eighth ruler of the Tahuantinsuyu, from whose dream vision the whole story to follow will be influenced.

But — it comes to our attention — another “Viracocha” finally imposes itself on the scene. After a Viracocha creator, a civilizer and a reformer, here is the fourth and last: a "Viracocha destroyer ", obviously in the role of Francisco Pizarro, who, by virtue of the power of arms, did not take long to earn the title of "Viracocha" and "Inca". On the other hand, the Andeans themselves believed that he was a avatar of the god, who came to punish them for their failures. This fourfold pattern can be found in the Andean tradition since its earliest myth (the division of Tahuantinsuyu; the calculation of the "Suns" excluding the first, which is believed to be enveloped by a sort of "primordial darkness" and therefore ontologically differs from the following 4) lends itself well to a comparison with the traditional doctrines of the ancient world, and in particular here with those concerning the cyclical essence of time, its composition in aeons and the subdivision of the latter into four periods, such as the Yuga Hindu and the ages of the Greco-Roman tradition [cf. Pachacuti: cycles of creation and destruction of the world in the Andean tradition].

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In this regard, it is necessary to underline what has already been reiterated by many authors, including the philosopher Ernst Jūnger, namely that "the subdivision made by the ancients in the age of gold, silver, bronze and iron does not refer to metals in the material sense" - as is commonly done in geology when speaking of  "Stone age", "bronze age", etc.—, but rather it is "akin to the way alchemists speak of metals: properties are virtues of being" [At the wall of time, p.105]. With this premise, returning to what we said previously, we could ideally enumerate in the (mythical-historical) Inca tradition four Viracocha, which we could define hesiodly:

1. A “Viracocha d'Oro”: the creator god of the origins, connected to the creation of the cosmos and of man and to the faded memory of a primordial golden age. Gold is traditionally linked to the Sun, and therefore to creation and birth (connected to the symbol of Dawn), as well as to a primeval and pure state, still undivided and undifferentiated, of being.

2. A “Viracocha d'Argento”: the cultural hero with the white beard, pale as the moon, initiator of the arts and culture; silver being traditionally linked to the selene star, and therefore to the night and initiation. In this phase (the beginning of the "Fifth Sun") humanity appears similar to the silver race of Hesiod, described as "childish" and "immature", far from the glories of the previous age.

3. A "Bronze Viracocha": the historical Viracocha, an important religious reformer and daring ruler, known for implementing highly successful military tactics from a young age and for having wisely ruled the empire throughout his reign, reintroducing the cult of Viracocha. Since bronze is an alloy of copper with a variable metal (which can be aluminum, nickel, beryllium or tin), and since copper is traditionally linked to Venus, it is significant to find in his character all those heroic characteristics and so to speak titanic that tradition connects to the symbolism of the "Light Bearer" (Venus / Lucifer / Prometheus). On the other hand, the Inca Viracocha perfectly covers the double symbolism of the brightest star: on the one hand Morning Star, as the initiator of a new era of worship, on the other of Evening Star, having announced the future end of the Empire with his vision.

4. And finally, an "Viracocha di Ferro", namely the conquistador Pizarro, who, similar to the metal that represents him, influences Andean history only with brute force, doing what is traditionally typical of iron: to hurt indelibly (the collective soul of the Andean people for the following centuries) e cut (with him the history of the Andean civilization ends). One could mythically say that he, in the economy of the Inca tradition, embodies the archetype of the "wrathful god" who, returning to his people after a long absence, punishes him for his "failings", ending his existence with a catastrophe (flood, fiery rain, etc.). On the other hand, Sarmiento de Gamboa handed down that Atahualpa undoubtedly identified Pizarro with the god himself, who had returned from the East to regain possession of the empire he created [Hemming, p.514].

We think we have put enough meat on the fire and we believe that for the purposes of the mythical rather than historical understanding of the Andean-Inca cycle, analyzes based on the symbol and on the archetype are more pertinent than on historical-rational explanations; which is why we will avoid examining the purely historical role of Pizarro and the gods conquistadores, having however dutifully emphasized their symbolic-archetypal function within the traditional conception of pachacuti. Therefore, to conclude, clet's just quote an enlightened (and little known) aphorism by Ugo Foscolo, which reads verbatim [cit. in Leonardi, p.67]:

"From the fable under the guise of history and from the story clothed in a fable, the naked reality of those facts also emerges which are certain and perpetual because they are in the invariable nature of things."



  1. John Hemming, The end of the Incas (Rizzoli, Milan, 1975).
  2. Ernst Junger, At the wall of time (Adelphi, Milan, 2012).
  3. Garcilaso Inca de la Vega, The Royal Commentaries of the Inca (El Lector, Arequipa, 2008).
  4. Pierre Honore, I found the white god (Garzanti, Milan, 1963).
  5. Evelino Leonardi, The origins of man (1937)

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