In this essay, I examine the distinction between the use of the Spanish word creencia in early colonial evangelical instruments and the Aymara term criyincia employed today on the Bolivian Altiplano. Whereas the colonial and contemporary uses of creencias refers to practices that have been expelled or have been located in the past, criyincias refers to the willingness to continue practices that secular and religious discourses have indentified as erroneous. This essay underscores the paradox of remaining within the influence of the wak'a (Andean deities) that have been emptied of meaning and power since colonial times—indeed, the willingness to partake of forbidden beliefs and practices. Why choose to remain vulnerable to the influence of the wak'a when their power, often destructive, could be neutralized by simply not believing in them? Colonial and contemporary samples suggest that if the power of the wak'a depends on believing in them, they prove to be unwieldy agents resilient to Christian and scientific unmasking of superstition.

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