"Munachi" is a Quechua word, a compound of the verb "muna" -- which means "to desire, to want" or, when applied to human beings, "to love" -- and the verb-modifying suffix "chi," which means "to cause to happen." One translation for munachi is "to cause to love."
Like the modern North American Indescribable Lucky Charm and the brass Kama Sutra pocket pieces from Nepal, the munachi represents a man and a woman engaged in coitus. The couple is shown in the position Chretien de Troyes called "head-to-head, heart-to-heart, and foot-to-foot," their arms wrapped about each other. They are kissing, faces pressed together, and there is a hole drilled through the stone to reresent the space where their necks do not touch.
The munachi is ued in a simple love spell as follows: Two hairs, one from each of the lovers, are either wrapped around the lovers' necks or doubled and threaded through the little hole in the object and secured by making a larkshead knot. (For folks who are unfamilar with knotcraft, a larkshead is the knot that you often see used to attach sales tags to merchandise; it can be made in a closed or an open loop of line.)
The munachi love spell is not like the average lucky charm or pocket piece which is carried on the person because the hairs would be too valuable and fragile to subject to casual handling. Once prepared, it is kept in a safe place (e.g. beneath the marriage bed), or buried in the ground (e.g. beneath the door stoop or the bedroom of newlyweds). The burial of soapstone lucky charms and amulets is a significant part of the rituals of the Quechua and their neighbors, the Aymara. Similar Quechua munaiwarmi charms for marital fidelity and Quechua and Aymara animal illa, canopa, mulla, and chacra amulets for the fecundity of domestic animals are carved of soapstone and activated by burial in "Pachamama," the Mother Earth.
MUNACHI #1, SOAPSTONE
This love spell charm was made in Peru, but nearly identical ones come from Bolivia. A small, crude carving of soapstone, it is 1 inch tall by 1/2 inch wide by 1/4 inch thick, and roughly a long triangle in outline. The figures can be positioned so that either partner is on top or so that both partners are lying on their sides facing each other. Alternatively, they can be seen as experiencing a rite of sex magick or sacred sexfloating upright in space, or standing on their flat-topped heads. Legs, toes, fingers, and hair are mere parallel grooves carved into the surface of the simple, squared-off triangles. The design is so schematic and geometric in form that at first glance, one might almost not "get it," but when the image is wholly perceived, its frank and equalitarian sexuality is very moving, Holding a munachi in my closed hand always gives me a heightened sense of sexual consciousness and an appreciation of the beauty of physical love.
As sold, munachi stones are coarsely carved and entirely unpolished. To increase their physical and spiritual luster, i think the buyer should take the time to finish them before use. Soapstone is so soft that polishing a munachi is the work of a few minutes with any of the common oil-and-abrasive metal polishes, such as Brasso or Simichrome. While polishing the loving couple, you can "concentrate on your desire," as the old hoodoo catalogues would say.
MUNACHI #2, BLACK TERRACOTTA
This 1" x 1 1/2" munachi is made of black unglazed terra clotta clay, pressed into a mould. The back is flat. Like most munachis usd in love spells, it has a hole in it for the threading of the hairs of two lovers. Found in a market in La Paz, Bolivia, it seems to be of a type not encountered in Peru.
My daughter Althaea bought the entire stock of the vendor who made these. Communication was difficult because the Quechua seller spoke only rudimentary Spanish, but Althaea learned that this form of munachi is designed to be placed on a regional style of altar called a "mesa" (table). The mesa is made by flattening carded rolags of llama wool -- white, black or rainbow multi-coloured -- into a circle about 12" in diameter. The lovers' hairs are threaded through the hole and the munachi is surrounded by offerings of sugar candy, plus thin rectanglar plates of coloured sugar pressed into moulded forms. These flat sugar "mysteriosos" (mysteries) are embossed with images that depict subsidiary wishes, such as for an open road, rain on the crops, a llama herd, money in the bank, and so forth. Althaea said that the vendor who made these flat terra cotta munachis did not understand why she was not buying rolags of llama wool to wrap them in, and she strongly recommended placing them on a mesa of llama wool with sugar offerings to activate them in a love spell.
MUNACHI #3, BROWN TERRACOTTA
This munachi is of a type also called a pachamama. Pachamama figures are used by a curandera (healer) in the Bolivian Andes to ask the Pachamama (Earth Mother) for fertility, luck, prosperity, or protection. They come in the form of frogs, lizards, and other animals and are modelled in the round.
Like the smaller soapstone and terra cotta munachis, this larger one represents a stylized man and a woman engaged in coitus. They are kissing, faces pressed together, and a hole was drilled through the clay before firing to represent the space where their necks do not touch, and where the two lovers' hairs may be threaded. One stylistic oddity of the design is that the couple's faces are displaced to the tops of their heads: they press their mouths together, but their large eyes stare upward, toward heaven. The munachi can be positioned so that the couple squats upright in place or so that both partners are lying on their sides facing each other. The figures are beautfully sculpted, in a simple, rounded, voluptuous style, and appealing details such as the woman's two long braids are lovingly worked out. The piece feels very good in the hand. This munachi is a work of real artistry made of lightly glazed terracotta. At 1 3/4 inch tall by 1 inch wide by 3/4 inch thick, it is also considerably larger than those shown above. It is far too large to use as a lucky charm or amuletic piece of jewelry but it works well as a small altar object for use in a love spell; in fact, this very item is at present placed in a shrine at the head of the bed i share with my dear, sweet, very own copulation-partner.
For other lucky charms in the form of genitalia or copulating couples, see:
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