I Foresee My Life [Kayabi tribe of the Xingu river basin in Mato Grosso]

the Kayabi are just south of the Kayapo`(p. xi) Ė

the Kayabi are to the southwest of the Kayapo`; the Suya`, however, being located between these two tribes (map on p. xviii).















The Self-Conscious "Indian"



Healing Power of Shamanic ... Narration



Songs & End of Mourning



Development of a Dialogic Self



Cosmic Management of Voices


pp. xv-xvi orthography



is pronounced



as /i/ (unrounded /u/)



as epsilon



as in German



as guttural nasal (/n/)

p. xvi the name "Kayabi", however, is so spelled instead of /Kajabi/


0. (pp. 1-11) "Introduction".

p. 1

"The Kayabi are a Tupi-speaking indigenous people".

p. 3 deities seen in performance

"He is seeing one of the spirits called Mait because the sloth spirit pierced a hole in his thigh. The is an eagle spirit underwater in the deep, but the Mait are things that come from the sky above us. ...

Thus, I foresee my life."


1. (pp. 15-33) "Contemporary".

p. 18 Kayabi, as residents of the Xingu, are immigrants

"The first Kayabi families came ... from the upper Teles Pires River area in the state of Mato Grosso. Later ..., more families came from the Peixes River area Ė a tributary the Arinos River situated to the west of the Teles Pires. ... other families ... came from ... the lower Teles Pires in the state of Para`."


2. (pp. 34-53) "Narrative".

p. 39 humor

"Headmen who are not shamans rely more on humor ... to bring about a sense of happiness. ... a headmanís sense of humor is important".


3. (pp. 57-75) "The Self-Conscious "Indian"".

pp. 70-2 coexistence peacefully without- warfare as the original condition of humanity, with degeneration of ethical standards only subsequently

p. 70

"the culture hero Tujarare, who gave rise to the Kayabi, married into a people called the People-without-Understanding."

[p. 31 "The Upper Xinguans ... were called the "People-without-Understanding" (Kawaip Kwaapa re>ema). ... The Upper Xinguís reputation as a community where several language groups coexist peacefully also resonates with the ignorance that "People-without-Understanding" have about warfare."]

p. 72

"Prior to Tujarare, the People-without-Understanding ... called ... deer ... "owls.""

p. 70

"at the beginning of the cosmos ..., humans lived alongside extremely powerful, nonhuman {divine} beings and had access to their knowledge and abilities. ... That Kayabi myths should offer ... increasing weakness

p. 71

and distance from original power, is not entirely unusual in mythology ... found elsewhere in the Amazon (see Whitten 1976, 49)."

Whitten 1976 = Norman Whitten : Sacha Runa : ... Ecuadorian Jungle Quichua. Urbana : U of IL Pr.


4. (76-111) "Healing Power of Shamanic ... Narration".

p. 77 curing by shamans

"While they dream, shamans search the cosmos for the human souls that one or another of the Masters of the Game has taken. A Maraka cure is held for the shaman to wrest a soul away from one of these beings and replace it within a human body, often with the aid of benevolent spirit beings called Mait. Before this climactic ending, however, a shaman will sing about where in the cosmos he has traveled in dream and what he has found there."

"This continuity will connect the present generations with much more ancient power beings who control health, life, and death. According to shamans, as time passes, each generation becomes more tenuously connected to these beings than the one before it. ... Shamanic cures therefore offer ... a "degenerative perspective" or, in other words, the view that humansí access to power is waning."

pp. 78-9 spirit-helpers of shamans

p. 78

"In addition to trading and fighting with the Masters of Game to win back the human souls they have taken, shamans also socialize with them. These beings are themselves shamans or ... are in a state of empowerment (ipa~je~) and know how to perform all sorts of curative procedures and transformation. Shamans ...

p. 79

also study and socialize with Mait, the more benevolent celestial beings ... . [Great shamans (pa~je~rete, p. 78)] are married to Mait spirit women as well as to Kayabi women, and they spend long periods eating and visiting at the homes of their spirit in-laws." "spirit beings such as the Masters of Game ... live far away from Kayabi villages and are remnants of beings who lived in earlier epochs, or "earths" ... . Through their dream travels, shamans revive relations with these former beings and repositories of the past."

pp. 79 apprenticeship into shamanhood

"shamans achieve their position only after long apprenticeship under their elders, one that continues in dream even after specific elders have passed away. ... . ... they first work as apprentices to older ones, accompanying them on their dream travels and codreaming {"C-D"} along with them for a period of time. After learning how to interact with spirits, a shaman can then travel on his own, learning directly from these beings or bringing back the souls of their patients from the spiritsí clutches. Even when a more experienced shaman dreams on his own, however, ... spirits of dead shamans come to help him."

"C-D" = "Co-Dreaming" http://www.hyperluciddream.com/p/far-journeys.html

p. 80 possible unintentional harm-causing through shaman

"If, in an odd case, a shaman is suspected of causing harm, the blame is placed on his spirit familiar (his rupiwat), the spirit being who acts as a guide ..., rather than on the shaman himself."

p. 80 involuntary vocation into shamanhood; involuntary acceptance of fees

"Shamans describe themselves as not actively wanting to become empowered but rather as having been chosen by a spirit being, such as the Master of Monkeys or the Master of Tapirs. ... When I asked shamans ... if they had ever wanted ... to become empowered, I was given the automatic response that they absolutely did not because shamans suffer too much during their dream travels."

"Likewise, the fees that shamans charge for cures are considered to be requested directly from their spirit familiars, not a result of their own desires ... . Not to pay a shaman is viewed as dangerous for the shaman because the spirit familiar may inflict harm upon him if it does not get the item requested."

p. 81 aitiology of sickness

"The Masters of Game are vengeful when of their charges is not treated properly. ... Remarkable animals are either one of the Masters of the Game in disguise or one of their special pets. A hunter who has killed one of these animals is a sure target for soul loss. Similarly, someone who has laughed at a dying animal or has spoken rudely to an animal will incur their wrath."

pp. 81-2 determining location of patientís soul, which is being held prisoner as caged pet of sickness-deity

p. 81

"If a shaman determines that his patient is suffering from soul loss, he sets out to find his patients >ang, traveling in dream to the guilty spiritís home either underwater, deep in the forest, or at the horizon. For a period lasting from a few hours to several months ..., the shaman searches for his patientís soul while napping during the afternoon or sleeping at night. After the shaman has determined the location of his patientís soul, he prepares to hold a Maraka cure. ...

Maraka are understood to be battles between the shaman and the spirits over the patientís >ang. For the Kayabi the recall a mythic battle between two brothers and a monster called >Angja~ng (see also Travassos 1984, 147). ...


the>Angja~ng killed innumerable people by tricking them into dancing with him around a hole with a spike embedded in the bottom. He would tell people to grab his thin arm ..., and then as they were dancing he would push his partners to their deaths at the bottom of the hole.

[p. 180, n. 4:2 : "Charles Wagley reports a Tapirape version of this story (1977, 180), in which the monster (anchunga-aiuma) dances around a pot of boiling water rather than a pit."]


After discovering that the >Angja~ng had killed their father, the two brothers set out to kill me. ... After killing the >Angja~ng and his wife, the two

p. 82

brothers liberated a small human boy whom the couple was keeping as a pet in a penlike cage.

People often say the spirits keep human souls as pets in the same way as the >Angja~ng couple kept this small body as a pet in a previous epoch."

Travassos 1984 = Elizabeth Travassos : Xamanism e Mu`sica entre os Kayabi. MA thesis, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro.

Wagley 1977 = Charles Wagley : Welcome of Tears.

pp. 82-4 maraka

p. 82

"Each Maraka consists of one great shaman singing about his spirit encounters for several consecutive nights. ... Men in the chorus repeat each of the lines the shaman sings verbatim ... . ... . ... the

p. 83

men together as they sing. They dance in a closed circle, in rhythm to the music, each holding the hand of the man next to them on both sides. They lead with their right foot and bring the left in line with it. Their dancing is said to recall the way the >Angja~ng danced with the two Kayabi brothers when he fell to his death.

At the close of a Maraka, during the dawn of the final morning of singing, the shaman replaces the patientís soul within his or her body.


The soul first reenters the earthly community through a ball of cotton thread that is placed within a basket on the ground near the shaman. The soul is attracted to a partially unwound thread and then through this thread enters the cotton ball. ... The shaman then picks up the basket and passes it over the body of the patient. The >ang reenters the patientís body, and the cure is complete."

{cf. "Máel Dúin caught the ball of thread, and he could not let go of the ball. The Queen easily pulled them back to the harbour." ("QuMC")}


"Maraka songs ... describe a great shamanís journey into various spirit villages as he searches for his patientís lost soul. He sings about how he talks during his travel with the spirits with whom he has established an alliance (his rupiwat) and asks them for further information about the location of the lost soul. He describes his encounters with these different beings in detail, telling how they look, sound, and move and how he, in turn, effectively speaks and acts toward them."

p. 84

"At the outset of a night of Maraka singing ..., a shaman begins with a spoken account of how he first became empowered, how he was originally made sick by the spirits, how he was cured, and how he was tutored by a senior shaman of the past. Next he will sing about dreams that he had previously had in some of his own successful past cures."


"Though ... fully conscious and interactive with others, a shaman is said to be literally "sleeping on his feet" as his sings his dreams. Some say that shamans dream once while sleeping in their hammocks and then re-dream as they sing publicly in a Maraka. ...

{Officially to designate this waking activity as "sleeping ... dream" is intended to remind the dream-deities (who are invisibly observing the performance) that such deities are, during this maraka, obliged to redeem their pledges (made during the actual sleeping dream) to help cure the patientís soul.}


Even past dream travels are considered to reoccur (that is, they are re-dreamed) as the shaman sings about them again. As one man explained ..., they are happening "live.""

{Officially to designate past dream travels as redoccurrent is intended to remind those dream-deities who assisted curing in the same shamanís past to urge the dream-deities who are now involved to fulfill their curing duties.}


"Maraka songs are sung in the first person, from the perspective of the traveling shaman they are understood to be repetitions of music originally produced by the spirits. Shamans are said to "imitate maraka" (maraka >ang).


These songs are not, however, moments when the spirits speak. ...

[p. 181, n. 4:6 : "Spirits do ... speak through the voice of he shaman in the Mairok seremony Ė a shamanic cure".]


A shamanís Maraka music is somehow {during a dream?} "authored" by the spirits".

"QuMC" = "The Queen and her Magic Clew" (an episode in the Imran Curaig Maile Duin) http://www.timelessmyths.com/celtic/voyages.html#Queen

p. 85 menís soul become husbands of goddesses when abducted by those goddesses

When sick[the man was alive, the "soul" involved being merely a health-aspect of himself], "one man was diagnosed ... as suffering from soul loss because his wife gossiped about him continually. According to [the diagnoser], this manís >ang was taken by Ku~ja~mutat, or the True Woman. This spirit often takes menís souls in order to keep them as her own husbands.

The implication is this case seems to be that the womanís ... care for her husband resulted in her losing him to Ku~ja~mutat."

{The wife, in displaying excessive solicitude for her husband by talking about him incessantly, induced a covetous interest in him on the part of the goddess.}

p. 86 hearing the deities, vs. seeing the deities

"Shamans, especially great shamans, ... are able to see as well as hear spirit beings.

The nonempowered can only hear the spirits. Any swimmer, or example, may hear the music of the Masters of the Fish, the Karuat,

but only shamans (who know the Karuat {personally}) actually see these beings and know what their underwater villages look like.

Similarly, nonempowered people can speak with spirits ...,

but only shamans can actually see them. They see spirits hovering in the air".

p. 87 souls of implements & of animal-bones

"[A certain shaman] explained that when a shaman enters a house, where most people see normal {material} objects such as mortars and pestles, baskets, and benches, a shaman often sees the souls of these things. The objects appear "like people."

{vide OLTh} {The Eskimo likewise believe human-made artefacts to have living souls.}

Shamans also see the souls of individual animals hovering around ... in the garbage midden behind the houses, whereas non-shamans see only their discarded bones."

{Is this why Bodish (and other) households keep an abundance of animal-bones on display, namely to attract the animalsí souls?}

OLTh = Santos-Granero (ed.) : The Occult Life of Things. U of AZ Pr, Tucson, 2009.}

p. 87 praeternatural projectiles

"Shamans are also able to see intrusive objects that angry spirits place under peopleís skin to cause pain and discomfort. The Masters of Game as well as the spirits of dead animals throw projectiles into peopleís bodies in retaliation for pain caused during the hunt. ... Kayabi shamans tell their patients that they have extracted ... and then carry the invisible object out of the patientís house. Often they will scream from "the heat" of the object as they carry it ... .

In part this special shamanic perception is aided by tobacco. Smoke [of tobacco] allow the shaman (but not laymen) to perceive more than they would be able to without it."

{Inasmuch as being an uwis^in (shaman) is defined as a regular imbiber of natem, therefore it may be the co-ergative activity of natem with tobacco which may provide an ability to seem the praeternatural projectiles.}

pp. 87-8 the divine world as experienced in dreams by shamans

p. 87

"[A certain shaman] described his own experience of entering the world of spirits in dream as a process of gradual illumination. According to him, the first sensation is darkness. Then one sees oneís spirit associates (the rupiwats). He said these beings have large eyes like flashlights and smoke cigars. One sees their eyes and cigars as spots of light in the darkness. These spirit beings show their human shaman associates the path to various spiritsí villages. According to [a certain shaman], when one enters the villages the darkness disappears, as if it were daytime."

p. 88

"The spiritsí Maraka songs are first heard by the shaman in dream. These songs produce visual images for the shaman."

pp. 107-9 songs describing mutual dreams of encountres with deities

p. 107

"he originally dreamed along with his brother years ago, when his brother was alive. According to audience members, [this shaman] often begins his Maraka performances with this shared dream. ... Also unlike most dream songs, in which a shaman meets only one spirit at a time on his "path" to different spirit villages, here he and his brother meet a double manifestation of the eagle spirit. ... .

p. 108

... it becomes apparent that there are two eagle spirits each affecting [the singer] and his brother in exactly the same way. After describing ... the eagle ..., [the singer] sings that there are two eagles. [Audience members] explained that the action [the singer] describes is happening in tandem for the two men."

{Evidently, the two dreaming brethren had dreamt the same dream (about an eagle-deity) separately. Would the two-headed eagle (emblem of, e.g., the Byzantine and Habsburg empires) be intended to repraesent this sort of dreaming?}

p. 109

"Previously dreamed dreams like this are supposed to be heard and seen again for the singer as well as the audience, just like the first time they were dreamed. They are "just a little further away.""

{Dreams are "heard and seen again" in the sense that the eagle-deity is pleased with their being recited, and will given benefits to the audience; just as that eagle-deity was gratified with the dreamers in the original dream, and then awarded benefits to them.}

p. 110 consecrated host of the holy eucharist, in 2 kinds

"women at Diauarum collectively prepared large pots of sweet manioc drink called mo>yfet as well as other delicacies such as a toasted manioc-peanut "cookie" called kanape. These foods are viewed as being made "for the spirits" or to "attract the spirits," yet all of the participants eat the delicacies."

{The deities eat vicariously, by means of eating by the participants : firstly, to "attract the spirits" into the participants, then to feed the spirits by eating.}

pp. 96, 99-100, 105, 110 a performance







"spirits tell [the shaman] to get in their canoe (lines 40, 42), and he does"



"he [the spirit] brought a canoe for me.


"Get in.""


"Inside there was a jeju fish.


A black jeju was in there for me."


"a lizard appeared for him between his brotherís shoulders"



"Then, here between his shoulders the jaguar bone [flute] turned into my lizard." {The flute which had been dreamt by the singerís brother is aequated with the lizard which had been dreamt by the singer.}


"to go get the frog that he had heard singing in the river"



"My frog was singing in my port inside a pool of still water. ...


"... You all go get it for me.""

{This aequation of the flute with lizard would match the attribution in Hellenic mythology : the flute was invented by Apollon (GHS&PM, vol. 1, p. 77b), who was also sauroktonos (lizard-slayer).}

GHS&PM = Sir John Hawkins : A General History of the Science and Practice of Music. London, 1853. http://books.google.com/books?id=OvcsAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA77&lpg=PA77&dq=

p. 111 great shaman

"Elderly healers frequently say ... that they are the last link for the living to the powers of health, implying that" they (as lowest link in the heavenly chain of command) intercede for the living to the deities in order to provide health for the living.

"A great shamanís claim to singularity is a result of his relationship to spirit beings. Each great shaman has an individualized set of spirit associates (his rupiwat), a unique set of powers that are available only to him. These nonhuman spirit beings live in various far-away domains : underwater, at the horizon, deep in the forest, or in the sky. Shamans visit with these beings in their homes and learn about their distinctive ways of life and powers."


5. (pp. 112-40) "Songs & End of Mourning".

pp. 119, 122-3 funeral; souls of the dead

p. 119

"people do not call out the name of someone who had died because one of their spirits ... will think they are being summoned and will come to harass the living."

p. 122

"the deceased is buried in the floor of their house, usually underneath the place where he or she slept when alive. Again, during the burial ... Spouses or children might hold onto body and let themselves be partially buried ..., eventually being pulled from the grave by one of their affines or cousins. After burial, children or spouses may also hang their hammock and sleep directly over the grave for a period of time."

"Adult women keen at sunrise and sunset for several weeks, "calling out," as Kayabi say, to the soul of the dead as it makes its way across the sky. Kayabi keening consists entirely of vowels, which begin high and then fall in pitch. ...

p. 123

[A certain shaman], with his shamanís pipe in hand, described for me how he was watching his relativeís >ang depart across the western sky, with the aid of tobacco smoke."

p. 136 cycle of metempsychosis of souls of the dead, according to various Amazonian tribes

"Philippe Descola has pointed out that Amazonian cosmologies often view "the universe as a gigantic closed circuit within which there is constant circulation of the substances, souls, and identities held to be necessary for the conservation of the world ..." (1992, 116). According to Descola ["(1996) ... modified ... to include a third mode ..., "protectionism." (p. 183, n. 5:18)],

for some lowland peoples this circulation is understood to take place ... between human groups,

while for others it takes place as an exchange between humans and animals.

The Ji`varo are an example of the former. For them only a set number of identities exist, ... capturing these identities from other humans (Descola, 1992, 118; Taylor 1993). {likewise among the Marindese and Boetinese people of the Southern New Guinea ("SH-HT")}

The Desana are an example of the latter. For them death is understood to transform people into animals, augmenting the number of game depleted by hunting (Descola, 1992, 117).

The latter category could also include the Wari> and the Kulina. For the Wari>, ancestorsí spirits present themselves in the form of white-lipped peccaries in order to be shot and eaten by their surviving human relatives and later to inhabit yet second peccary body (Conklin 2001, 205-8).

For the Kulina the spirits of the dead go to the underworld to be devoured by peccaries, reincarnated as peccaries, hunted, and eaten by their human kin (Lorrain 2000, 296 ...)."

{According to the Ac^uar, the amana (divine patron) of collared-peccaries is Hurihri, who "the nape of his neck he has a mouth with big teeth. And with that mouth he eats people ... . He lives underground" (ST, p. 130)}

{In New Guinea, the entrance to the netherworld is aedified as the mouth of the mythic swine Saido/Sido.}

[Kayabi redincarnation of souls captured by Deity-Masters-of-Game-Animals] "Shamans ... sing about how human spirits are kept as pets or as foster children by the Masters of the Game before they are born. Shamans either offer to trade something for these souls or secretly take them so that Kayabi women can become impregnated."

Descola 1992 = Philippe Descola : "Societies of Nature and the Nature of Society". In :- A. Kuiper (ed.) : Conceptualizing Society. London : Routledge. pp. 107-26.

Descola 1996 = Philippe Descola : "Constructing Natures". In :- P. Descola & G. Pa`lsson (edd.) : Nature and Society. NY : Routledge. pp. 82-102.

Taylor 1993 = Anne-Christine Taylor : "Identity, Mourning, and Memory among the Jivaro". MAN 28 (4):653-78.

"SH-HT" = Justus M. van der Kroef,: "Some Head-Hunting Traditions of Southern New Guinea". AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST 1952 Vol. 54: 221-235. http://www.publicanthropology.org/archives/american-anthropology/american-anthropologist-1950/american-anthropologist-1952/

Conklin 2001 = Beth A. Conklin : Consuming Grief. Austin : U of TX Pr.

Lorrain 2000 = Claire Lorrain : "Cosmic Reproduction". J OF THE ROYAL ANTHROPOLOGICAL INSTITUTE, 6:293-310.

ST = Philippe Descola (transl. from the French by Janet Lloyd) : The Spears of Twilight. New Pr, NY, 1996.

p. 137 perspectivism (in other Amazonian tribes) (Viveiros de Castro 1998, pp. 478)

what to us is __

is __

to the __




soaking manioc

a rotting corpse

souls of the dead

a muddy waterhole

a great caerimonial house


Viveiros de Castro 1998 = Eduardo Viveiros de Castro : "Cosmological Deixis and Amerindian Perspectivism". J OF THE ROYAL ANTHROPOLOGICAL INSTITUTE, 4 (3):469-88.


6. (pp. 143-60) "Development of a Dialogic Self".

pp. 154-6 personal traits acquired from deities by shamans while journeying in dreams

p. 154

"Because of their extensive travel in the dream world, great shamans have some of the largest repertoires of names."

p. 155

"As a great shaman sings about the nonhuman spirits he meets in his dream travels during Maraka, he portrays himself as taking on their attributes, often a whole cluster of them."

"In addition to taking on the habitus of a spirit during Maraka songs, shamans also establish a more long-term identification with the spirits : after many dream meetings with a shaman, spirits often exchange their names with the shaman."

p. 156

"The Maraka songs that recount shamansí dreams ... are first sung by the spirits and only reproduced by the shamans."

pp. 157-8 not losing track of oneís way in the dream-world

p. 157

"his spirit familiars will lead his through the cosmos and show him the way to the various spiritsí homes because they ultimately want to trap him. They want to lose him in the dream world. A dreaming shaman must, therefore, always keep track of which path he took and where he turned so that he can find his back

p. 158

to the living community by himself. ... Shamans who follow their spirit guides in an unthinking manner never come back to the living."

"Shamans, likewise, reach the spirit world only after they have identified with and come to share the dreams of their elder teachers. In the spirit world the spirits of these deceased former shamans will also help a lost shaman and guide him back to the living."


7. (pp. 161-71) "Cosmic Management of Voices".

pp. 166-7 unborn souls of babies

p. 166

"The souls of Kayabi babies come to earth from the distant domains where the creatures of the past now reside (see Cormier 2003, 109 for a similar belief among the Tupian Guaja`). The souls of newborns are in the sky, living with the Mait, or in the homes of the Masters of the Game."


"shamans also sing about those yet to be born, those souls still living with the Mait or the Masters of Game who will animate future Kayabi babies. Many of the songs a shaman sings on the final morning of a Maraka cure are about the unborn children he has brought or will soon bring

p. 167

to women, describing what their life is like in their prebirth spirit homes. Through their Maraka songs, shamans can bring these souls into the community of the living. [vide p. 136] At Maraka the unborn souls are drawn by Maraka music {a maraca-instrument is commonly a rattle, similar to one which the baby will shake after being born} and congregate in the pot of sweet tapioca drink {sweet as the milk which the baby will suck after being born} made for the occasion. Women can become impregnated simply by taking a drink."

p. 170 scarification of shamanís body to advertise his successful curings of patients

"Although shamans leave their bodies during travel to spirit villages, they bear the marks of their dream adventures on their physical bodies. [A certain shaman], in his cures, shows the scars on his thigh gained from the sloth spirit and well as scars on his arms inflicted by other spirit beings."

{Is this scarification done (secretly, by his human ritualist cohorts) in order to impress any further ailment-causing spirits with his redoubtable prowess in having defeated already various disease-causing spirits? (This would be readily possible if the disease-causing spirits are watching and listening to the Maraka performance.)}


Suzanne Oakdale : I Foresee My Life. U of NE Pr, Lincoln, 2005.