The Guambiano people, also known as the Misak or Guambia, are an indigenous community residing primarily in the Cauca Department of southwestern Colombia. They inhabit the Guambía Reservation, located in the Andean region of the country. As with many indigenous cultures, the Guambiano people have a rich tradition of beliefs, mythology, and rituals, which are deeply intertwined with their daily life and practices. This article will provide an overview of their belief system, mythology, and rituals, focusing on deities, heroes, and mythological creatures.


The Guambiano people practice a traditional belief system rooted in animism, which holds that all things in nature possess a spirit or life force. They revere a pantheon of deities, each associated with specific aspects of nature, such as the sun, moon, water, and earth. Their beliefs emphasize harmony and balance between humans, nature, and the spiritual realm. Guambianos believe in the cyclical nature of life, with birth, death, and rebirth playing a central role in their understanding of existence.


The Guambiano pantheon is comprised of several deities, each embodying a particular aspect of nature or human life. Some of the most prominent deities include:

  • Sua: The sun god and supreme deity, Sua is considered the source of all life and energy. He governs the day and is often depicted as a golden disc with radiating rays.

  • Chía: The moon goddess, Chía is the embodiment of the night and the ruler of the tides. She is believed to have the power to influence emotions, fertility, and growth.

  • Yurupary: Associated with water, Yurupary is a guardian deity responsible for protecting the rivers and aquatic life. He is often depicted as a serpent or dragon.

  • Gaia: The earth goddess, Gaia represents the nurturing aspect of nature and is revered for her role in sustaining life through the provision of food and shelter.

  • Bochica: The cultural hero and civilizing deity, Bochica is credited with teaching the Guambiano people agricultural practices, social norms, and the value of hard work.

Heroes and Mythological Creatures

The Guambiano mythology also includes numerous heroes and mythological creatures, which serve as symbols of moral and cultural values.

  • Nemqueteba: A culture hero, Nemqueteba is believed to have been sent by the gods to teach the Guambiano people how to live in harmony with nature and one another. He is associated with the establishment of the community's social and political systems.

  • The Tucan: A mythical bird, the Tucan represents wisdom and knowledge. It is said to possess the ability to communicate with the gods and impart their wisdom to the Guambiano people.

  • The Jaguar: A symbol of strength, power, and agility, the jaguar holds a special place in Guambiano mythology. It is believed to embody the spirit of the warrior and serves as a protector of the community.

Unique Beliefs

One noteworthy belief unique to the Guambiano culture is the concept of the "Three Worlds." They believe in a tripartite cosmic structure consisting of the Upper World, the Middle World, and the Lower World. The Upper World is inhabited by the gods and celestial beings, the Middle World is the realm of the living, and the Lower World is the domain of the dead and ancestral spirits. The shaman, an important figure in Guambiano society, is believed to possess the ability to travel between these realms, communicating with the gods and ancestral spirits to maintain balance and harmony within the community.


Rituals play a crucial role in Guambiano culture, serving as a means of connecting with the spiritual realm and maintaining harmony in their society. Some of the most significant rituals include:

  • Agricultural Rituals: Given the importance of agriculture in Guambiano society, rituals surrounding planting, harvesting, and fertility are central to their culture. These ceremonies often involve offerings to deities such as Gaia, Sua, and Chía, seeking their blessings for abundant crops and the community's well-being.

  • Initiation Rites: As Guambiano children transition into adulthood, they undergo initiation rites that mark their passage into the social and spiritual life of the community. These rites often involve learning traditional knowledge, acquiring practical skills, and developing a deeper understanding of their connection to the spiritual realm.

  • Shamanic Ceremonies: Shamanic ceremonies are essential in Guambiano culture, as they facilitate communication between the human and spiritual realms. During these ceremonies, the shaman enters a trance-like state, often through the use of sacred plants, and travels between the Three Worlds, seeking guidance, healing, and wisdom from the gods and ancestral spirits.

  • Funerary Rites: Funerals in Guambiano culture are important rituals that ensure the proper passage of the deceased's spirit into the Lower World. These rites often involve offerings, prayers, and symbolic acts that demonstrate respect and honor for the departed and their family.