Learning from Inca History: Exploring the Psychology of the Ego


I am interested in the psychology of Incas themselves and what we can learn from it. All around us, similar mechanisms are at play in human psyche of today, as well as in society at large.

I was never impressed by the abilities of certain people to force others into a difficult labor, such as piling lots of bricks or stones, these systems of oppression and its fruits called civilization. You may argue that lots of people are, and they willfully supported and worshipped their Inca ( = ruling elite ) masters, but a system of ruthless punishments for disobedience recorded in chronicles, as well as similar sights of conquered, occupied crowds in Eastern European streets forced into cheering their Stalin’s suggest otherwise.

Ancestral Inca messages that we can still learn about today

What can we learn from a society that is constructed out of pathological overgrowth of one of the components of human being, that is parasitical, always hungry ego. Society of domination, unlimited as cancer expansion, which in reality suffers deep void, emptiness, covered up by shiny artifacts and propaganda, all because of denial of the shadow. Society of unchecked sun, proud master, that forgotten or even demonized the wisdom of the snake.

The ego and the oracle of Pachacamac

ego - carrying liters
Photo: Tata Mundo

Ego wants to speak, does not want to listen to uncomfortable truths. Ego is control, chaos kept at bay, all little elements must be dominated, put into order of the empire of the soul, there is no space for the trickster, no space for questioning the dogma. Certain ancient cultures knew this danger and carefully preserved the remnant of shamanic voice in form of oracles, the irrational source of wisdom, to be consulted and listened to, despite own desires and plans. But totalitarian tyrants tend to forget about this balance.

There was such an oracle in Peru, a place called Pachacamac, serving for generations, until the Incas took it, in their quest to subdue everything to their one and only – as is the Sun – authority. It was allowed some degree of independence, even sons of Sun were afraid of the old chaotic force of the earth. But if one reads their story as a tale of subconscious being progressively conquered by the sunny egos of the rulers, then it is not surprising that eventually it acts against them, and in the crucial moment of Spanish conquest, when consulted by Atahualpa, Pachacamac lies to him, saying that newcomers are no threat to fear. We all know the further story of the fall, what goes too much up, must go down.

If the ego takes all control, it brings disaster.

Just as the arrogant rulers of the highlands who failed to penetrate the thickness of the jungle and to subdue its wild inhabitants, angry at their failure devised a view of the spiritual world divided into pure and sophisticated high world, Hanan Pacha, connected with male and solar values, andHurinn Pacha, low land of the death, moist and feminine, so their Christian counterparts, rooted in Semitic desert traditions, worshipped only ancient high wind creator, Jahwe, and scorned the inner wisdom of the serpent.

The truth was to be imposed from above, royal edict not be questioned, be it from masters in Cusco, “navel of the world”, or Catholic monarchs of the Vatican representing even higher lord. The exoteric, formal knowledge and rules are what ego loves and it is useful for creating empires, effective piling of bricks, but devastating for nature, both the one at large and the one inside.

It eventually brings disaster, and this is what happened to the Incas. Their shiny egos climbed to such heights, that they were just calling out for the likes of conquistadors, their mirror reflections, to come and conquer, because the ego, like cancer, in the end, is its own destroyer. It was the love of solar gold, and disregard for own brother, it was the love of own words, own theological creations, that all protagonists of this story shared, and that until this day continues to destroy their souls, and sometimes, in a serpentine twist of fate, when things are bad, they end up coming to drink ayahuasca with us, to the green matrix of the jungle, to listen to the snake again.

A final proclamation

This is where I’d rather be, in balance and coexistence, in vibrating matrix of life, matrix of constant checks and balances, not domination over scorched plain, or stony plaza build upon it, where artificial idols, constructs of human mind, are paraded just as before Incas paraded their own mummies, in love with themselves only, with their own WORD, silencing all others, this rich symphony of nature, full of paradoxes. I want to be the serpent sneaking out of the boring palace of one and only truth before it crumbles to its doom.







Cover photo: Tata Mundo



Tata Mundo has been working with indigenous communities of the Andes and the jungle for number of years. He is part of an organization, Psychonauta, which organizes expeditions into realm of unconscious, natural medicines, indigenous techniques of healing, music, plants, travel. Amazon, Andes and beyond. To find out more, please visit psychonauta.com