The Meaning of Lake Titicaca

She is like the mother of all living things, the raised sea, the heart of the continent, of the earth…

Kota in Andean Cosmology

Patricia Veronica Peronace Argentina
Patricia Veronica Peronace

The Andean world is very different from many other worlds, it is a vertical one, uphill and downhill, where life is challenged by the constant pull of gravity. Hillsides are drained from their nutrients, 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 realm, a place between the inner and the outer, the upper and the lower. This is essential in Andean philosophy and cosmology, and is reflected by the physical cosmos they live in: the longest mountain range in the world.

For Andean natives the earth grows sacred as it extends upwards and downwards away from the middle place we are bound to live in. Towards the sky, the cold of snow is the reflection of a white, sterile, male realm of sky-like sacredness, difficult for organic life to thrive in. Towards the earth, thrive the female hidden forces of the planet, powerful inner-like powers that are as deeply respected as sky forces are. Time is perceived in the same manner. 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.

Throughout 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, polarities are complimentary not contradictory (like modern dualism) and everything has a masculine and feminine gender to it, be it a plant, a mountain or lake. All Kotas and lakes are spiritual sons of the great Kota Mama, the great Mother Lake.

The Mother of Life

South America is home of the world’s largest desert and the world’s longest mountain range, and thanks to this thrives the world’s largest and most biodiverse rainforest, the amazon. In the middle of this mountain and forest laden landmass, lies the middle world, the center stone, and inside it, the Kota Mama, the mother lake, the mother of life. So it is, for Andean Cosmology, Titicaca Lake is the great cradle of life and human civilization.

Wiñay Marka

A supposed thermal image of the Minor Wiñay Marka Lake revealing something inside it.

It is the name given to the “Minor Lake”, a section of lake Titicaca that would be a completely separate body of water if it wasn’t because of a thin 300 meter long 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 could thrive. They stabilized the weather, created mountains, and created a “laboratory of life”, a large square-shaped area around lake Titicaca where all the climates converge, and where the different species we rely on today for human alimentary sustenance 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 to help it keep the angle it has, supporting with it stable climates and henceforth the biodiversity explosion we know today. 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 linked to the search of  the “fountain of youth” and the legend of “El Dorado”. We natives believe this wisdom 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 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 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. Native stories don’t necessarily support in full the hypotheses proposed by this writer, but we agree on the fact that this region is the place where an incredible ancient mystery lies.

The Cat, the Fish and the Human.

The name Titicaca is a composition of two native Quechua words, Titi, which is the name given to the highland wildcat, leopardus jacobitus, 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 a satellite image or a map with the south pointing upwards, we will see three figures: a feline, a fish and a human.  The feline faces east (left on the image) 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 identified 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.

Teaching the world

Not too long ago has the native wisdom and spirituality of the Andes opened to foreign minds. A new mission has been put forth to teach the world about this great legacy and this great place. Visiting lake Titicaca shouldn’t be about visiting a tourist attraction, it should be about  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.

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