Understanding the mapuche world view implies understanding their whole culture. One of the most important ideas in their point of view is that the natural and the supernatural worlds coexist, because the mapuche people assume that the latter is as real and tangible as the former. In the mapuche culture, everything is understood as a duality – there is ‘Anthü’, the sun, and ‘Küllem’, the moon; there is man, and there is woman; there is the old man and the child. And most important is the belief that human beings are part of the earth, and people live in harmony and balance with it.
Before looking into the mapuche spirituality, it is important to notice that when describing the religious tradition of the mapuche people there are no written records of the old legends and myths, since their world view was transmitted orally. This means that their beliefs are not totally homogeneous among the different ‘Lof’ or communities.
The world view in the mapuche religious thought can be taught using the ‘Kultxüg’ and can be summarized in two planes: a vertical plane, which is spiritual, and a horizontal plane, which is earthly.
The Vertical Plane
In general terms, in the vertical plane (fig. 1) the mapuche people describe the ‘Wall Mapu’ or ‘all the land’ where they identify the existence of a central earth and two other dimensions or levels.
The central earth’s name is ‘Nag Mapu’, which is the visible space where human beings and nature inhabit. The ‘Wenu Mapu’, above the Nag Mapu, is the sacred and invisible space where the divine family, the good spirits and the ancestors live, and which corresponds to the dimension of goodness. The third dimension is the ‘Miñche Mapu’ – the underworld – which is below the Nag Mapu and is the space where the bad spirits or evil forces live. These are the three dimensions which shape the structure of the mapuche universe in the vertical plane.
It is important to notice that the Wenu Mapu is depicted in the kultxüg as the sacred space where the sun, the moon, the stars and the Divine Family dwell. ‘Kuse’ or old woman, ‘Fücha’ or old man, ‘Ülche’ or young woman, and ‘Weche’ or young man (Fig. 2) compose the family that reproduces the Nag Mapu, and also reproduces itself in the mapuche family on earth. This means that the elder give their wisdom and knowledge to the young people, and they, in turn, hand over what they learnt from the elder to the new generations.