"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.
MUNACHI #4, BLACK TERRACOTTA
Here we have a smoothly finished, albeit crudely conceived, Bolivian munachi. It is 2 inches tall by 1 inch wide and 1/2 inch thick. The pottery surface is rubbed to a high polish, as if to compensate for the extreme simplicity of the figural detail. The size is such that this munachi cannot be carried as a pocket charm or worn as jewelry, so it should be used as an altar piece or buried in the soil under the home to draw and fix love.
The figures in this representation are kissing and looking upward as they embrace, as also
seen in munachi stones number 1 and 3. The piece is fairly flat and cannot be made to stand upright
with any assurance that it will stay that way, so it is best positioned with the couple laying
on their sides.
MUNACHI #5, BLACK TERRACOTTA
This munachi was made in Bolivia, is suitable for altar work or deployment in the home, and,
like the others shown on this page, it not only evokes an image of intimacy and sexual
fulfillment, it also expresses the individual artistry of the
person who made it. No two munachis are alike, and this one is certainly the sweetest and most
cheerful of the lot.
For other lucky charms in the form of genitalia or copulating couples, see: