From the Oak: Let’s hear it for the God!
Many are those that focus on female divinities, leaving male divinities in the shadows if they get mentioned at all. This is a shame. Here I will share my thoughts, stories and prayers on male divinities.
Axomama, the potato goddess
Axomama (deity #19 from the atheists’ god graveyard) is one of the daughters of Pachamama, the ancient Peruvian Earth mother. Her name literally means Potato mother. Potatoes were a staple food and main energy source for ancient Peruvians and still are for modern Andeans.
There are almost 5000 different types of potatoes, most of which are found in Peru alone. They vary in size, shape, color, texture and taste. Wild potatoes are bitter in taste and contain a small amount of toxins, solanine and tomatine. Quite a bit of effort had to have gone into selecting the right tubers for eating and finding the best method of cooking that tuber. Sailors to the new world brought potatoes back home with them. It took some time before the tubers became an accepted food item. However the arrival of the potato in Europe spelled an end to famine, an increase in population and enabled the spread of European political power. At the same time, it set the stage for the eventual potato famine (because of the creation of a monoculture as only one variety of potato was typically used) which in turn started the modern pesticide industry in attempts to deal with that problem.
While I did not find much on Axomama, I did find that modern Andeans still perform rituals for planting and harvesting potatoes, although it seems that Pachamama receives those offerings instead of her daughter. There is even one type potato that is given to a possible future daughter-in-law by the man’s mother. It resembles a knobby pine cone. If she removes too much of the meat of the potato during peeling, the young woman is not allowed to marry the older woman’s son. Due to the wide variety of potatoes, they have many different uses from eating to uses in the treatment of illnesses.
From what I’ve read, Andeans describe the potatoes we typically find at our grocery stores as rather bland and unappetizing. I’ve never been a big fan of potatoes for that very reason. Which leaves me wondering…what do their many potatoes taste like?
May Axomama be praised for the many she’s fed. May her tuber always grow, despite climate change and pests.
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