Finding faith in an ancient Peruvian town
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I've never been a religious person. Yet I find myself here – on the most pious continent on Earth, halfway down the long, rough hem of the Peruvian coast, listening keenly as a guide explains the worshipping habits of his ancestors. “It's not like today,” he says with a shake of his head. “Only one god, and one I’ve never seen. I do not call myself Catholic.” Two thousand years ago, near the city that is now called Trujillo, the ancient Moche people looked to the sun, the moon, the stars for guidance. This was a civilisation richly characterised by ritual sacrifice and a furious, unwavering belief in the afterlife. They also worshipped the natural world: tangible elements they could see, interpret, and appreciate. They revered the galaxies and oceans, built temples (huacas) for the sun and the moon, and fell to their knees at the sight of a rainbow – joyful at the promise of rain in this arid land. Pots of liquid gold aren't often found here; thirst would spell the eventual demise of the Moche. “It didn’t rain for 30 years,” our guide tells us.
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