Siwar Q’enti: Royal Hummingbird

Gabrielle Lucci

Who doesn’t love the iridescent splendor and seemingly magical ability of a hummingbird as it floats and flits in mid-air?  As a birder and animal lover, I still get a thrill at seeing hummingbirds at my nectar feeder.  In the Midwestern United States, I usually see the Ruby-throated version of these flying jewels. Visitors to the Tuscon Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, can see many different kinds of this wondrous bird in their hummingbird aviary.  It was at the Desert Botanical Gardens in Scottsdale, Arizona where I saw for the first time a hummingbird in the wild land on a tree branch and stay in place for a good while perching over my head, all the time vocalizing its high pitched squeaky sound as if saying, “Hey, take a good look at me, I’m holding place for you.”

In some Peruvian shamanic traditions, the Royal Hummingbird is known as Siwar Q’enti in the Quechua language, the language of the Incan Empire, still spoken in parts of South America today. Hummingbird is one of the most important archetypal creatures, known for its ability to fly in many directions:  up, down, backward, forward and also to stay hovering in place.  Maybe for that reason, Hummingbird is known to accompany shamans to the Three Worlds, Upper, Middle and Lower, during the journeying process and also regarded as a psychopomp, or one who guides souls to the afterlife.  Siwar Q’enti is also invoked during the calling in of the North direction during some shamanic opening ceremonies, “whispering to us in the winds” and “teaching us to drink deeply from the nectar of life.”

In Peruvian Shamanism, The Pachakuti Mesa, Matthew Magee retells the story of the Hummingbird. The myth of Siwar Q’enti tells us that hummingbird once tricked Kuntur, or Condor, by sneaking under its wings to hitch a free ride to visit Wiraqocha, the supreme deity in the Hanaq Pacha, Upper World, usually a job reserved for Kuntur alone. The condor was not permitted to look upon the face of Wiraqocha and so Kuntur would sit facing away from the Supreme Deity. Siwar Q’enti upon arriving at the meeting between the large bird and the Deity, surprised them both and flew out from under Kuntur’s wing, buzzed around Wiraqocha and landed on his right shoulder. Upon seeing the face of the God, he then became Siwar Q’enti, the Royal Hummingbird.

Known as an efficient pollinator, of hummingbird Don Oscar Miro-Quesada says “Hummingbird medicine takes our nectar and cross pollinates us with the universe so that we are always connected to the great web of life.” Hummingbird helps us recognize our role in this web, so creating a real connection with Royal Hummingbird as a spirit animal –– an animal ally and guide –is part of the process of healing on a personal level and also for the world.  “When we call forth the energies of Royal Hummingbird, we open to a profound relationship that gives us the ability to weave the beauty, peace and lightness of the heavenly realm into our everyday for a greater sense of love, gentleness and service in our lives.”

Summer is the perfect time to celebrate the spirit of Hummingbird in your life and at your personal altar space, thanking it for its medicine.  Browse our collection of hummingbird sterling silver pendants, books, flower essences, rattles, ocarinas and more.

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Gabrielle Lucci - Blog Post Author

Gabrielle Lucci

Gabrielle – Long-time student of Native American and Peruvian Shamanism, and Seeker on the Path. Gabrielle has worked at Shamans Market for many years with intimate knowledge of our products in her role as product listing specialist, writer, photographer, and major contributor to the Shamans Market newsletter. She is an avid nature and animal lover and a proud companion of a Peach-faced Lovebird.