Today Robbie Cheadle shares research on the ancient Inca tradition of appeasing the gods with human sacrifices.. including children. It served as an inspiration for a short story published in the Spellbound anthology.
Inca child sacrifices and the origin of my short story Death is About Choices
Last year I came across an interesting article which featured the mummy of Juanita, the well-preserved frozen body of an Inca girl who was sacrificed to the gods between 1450 and 1480. Her body was found by Johan Reinhard, an Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographical Society during his ascent of Mount Ampato in the Andes of southern Peru.
Juanita is estimated to have been 12 – 15 years old at the time she died and, as she was found frozen, her remains and garments are extremely well preserved.
The mummy of Juanita was found wrapped in a brightly coloured burial tapestry and wearing a cap made from the feathers of a red macaw. She also wore a woollen alpaca shawl fastened with a silver clasp. Her garments have provided a lot of insight into the sacred Inca textiles and how the Inca nobility dressed. Juanita was buried with a collection of grave goods including bowls, pins and figurines made of gold, silver and shells.
This article stimulated my interest in the topic of Inca child sacrifices and I proceeded to do some more research, coming across further information about the Mummies of Llullaillaco, three Inca child mummies also discovered by Johan Reinhard and his team near the summit of Llullaillaco on the boarder of Argentina and Chile. These children were sacrificed in an Inca religious ritual that took place in approximately 1500. The three children were drugged, allowed to fall asleep, and then placed in a tomb where they were left to die.
Further research established that these children were sacrificed in terms of an important sacrificial rite among the Inca, called Capacocha. The purpose of capacocha ceremonies was to mark key events in the life of the Inca Emperor, called the Sapa Inca, such as his ascension to the throne, his death or the birth of a son. Capacocha ceremonies were also undertaken to stop natural disasters in terms of the Inca theory that humanity’s best should be sent to join their deities in order to appease them.
The topic fascinated me so much that I decided to write a short supernatural story about a child chosen to be sacrificed in terms of a capacocha ceremony and this story was selected for inclusion in Spellbound horror anthology, compiled by Dan Alatorre.
Here is a short extract from my story, Death Is About Choices:
“Every night she awoke sweating and gasping with fear, knowing that high above the camp, in the bosom of the mountain, the sacrificial platform where she and the other children would meet their ending was being constructed. Several sealed tombs from previous ceremonies already existed at the mountain’s peak.
At least I’ll have company, she thought bitterly.
Wherever she went in the camp, people treated her as a spectacle, gawking at her and observing her every movement. Most of the observers demonstrated no common courtesy but stared at her in open-mouthed wonder as they took in her extraordinary beauty.
I never thought I would wish for death, but I want it over now.
The two other children attracted nearly as much attention as she did. They were both younger than her. Anku, a boy, was seven years old, and Palla, a six-year-old girl, was his sacrificial mate. They would be sacrificed together in a symbolic marriage.
The calmness with which Palla had accepted her destiny helped to sooth Juanita’s own fears, but Anku was a different matter, vacillating between angry tantrums and sobbing fits at the thought of his impending doom.”
Purchase links: Amazon : Amazon US – Amazon UK: Amazon UK
A selection of other books by Robbie and Michael Cheadle and as Roberta Eaton Cheadle.
My review for While the Bombs Fell November 7th 2020
Mother and daughter collaborate beautifully in this story of the war years based on Elsie Hancy Eaton’s memories of her early childhood.
As we sit in our centrally heated homes and pop to the supermarket to buy our week’s groceries with produce from all around the world, it is easy to forget that only 80 years ago it was very different for millions of people in Britain. Times were hard anyway after the great depression that hit the UK in the 1930s, followed very quickly by World War II and food rationing and restrictions on use of essential utilities.
This is a detailed snapshot of life on a small farm in Bungay in Norfolk. A place steeped in medieval history with a ruined castle now a playground for children. Apart from those evacuees seeking sanctuary from the big cities, particular Norwich, hard hit by bombing raids, there is a small community which includes four year old Elsie Hancy and her extended family of grandmothers, uncles, aunts and cousins.
Her father is a dairy farmer who supplies the town with milk seven days a week in all weathers, including on Christmas Day. Whilst the family has milk fresh each day, with food rationing in force, butter, cheese, meat and fresh fruit is scarce and feeding a large family is a huge daily challenge.
The story is told through the eyes of Elsie and she shares every aspect of daily life from building an air raid shelter in the back garden, freezing bathing routines during the winter, the farm activities that began at the crack of dawn until last thing at night, going to school for the first time and stories of grandmothers and newcomers to the town.
As children, Elsie and her brothers and sisters are very resilient as they take these tough times in their stride. There are fun times too as the children head off in the summer school break to paddle and swim in the river taking packed lunches of jam and bread. There is the delight of a hand me down doll in a pram for Christmas, and the family involvement in the making of the pudding rich with saved up dried fruit.
Added to this first hand account of this harsh time in our history, is a section containing authentic recipes used by millions to make dishes from the meagre ingredients available. Whilst they may not contain the rich and diverse produce we enjoy today, in many respects they are ingenious and also nourishing.
Definitely a recommended read.
About Robbie Cheadle
Robbie, short for Roberta, is an author with five published children’s picture books in the Sir Chocolate books series for children aged 2 to 9 years old (co-authored with her son, Michael Cheadle), one published middle grade book in the Silly Willy series and one published preteen/young adult fictionalised biography about her mother’s life as a young girl growing up in an English town in Suffolk during World War II called While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with her mother, Elsie Hancy Eaton). All of Robbie’s children’s book are written under Robbie Cheadle and are published by TSL Publications. Robbie has recently branched into adult horror and supernatural writing and, in order to clearly differential her children’s books from her adult writing, these will be published under Roberta Eaton Cheadle. Robbie has two short stories in the horror/supernatural genre included in Dark Visions, a collection of 34 short stories by 27 different authors and edited by award winning author, Dan Alatorre. These short stories are published under Robbie Cheadle.
I have been drawn to the horror and supernatural genres of books all my life. At the age of ten years old I embarked on reading Stephen King’s books including The Shining and Salem’s Lot. These books scared me so much I had to put them aside by 6P.M. in the evening in order to get a good night’s sleep but they also fascinated me. I subsequently worked my way through all of Stephen King’s earlier books as well as those of Dean R. Koontz.
I have read a large number of classics, in particular, I enjoy Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Charles Dickens and the works of the Bronte sisters.
I am hugely interested in the history of the United Kingdom as well as the mythology and tales of the paranormal that are abundant on this intriguing European island.
My thanks to Robbie for another very interesting article which as always is meticulously researched… I know that she would love your feedback. Thanks Sally.