In Darkness and Secrecy __________________________________________________________

pp. 21-50 Johannes Wilbert : "The Order of Dark Shamans among the Warao." [Orinoco delta]




"the candidate’s empowerment as a "master over pain" (wisaratu; wisimo is the plural form). The mentor hands the candidate ... six wads of tobacco that, on ingestion, enter the pupil’s body as his sons, or tutelary "pains," and accommodate themselves, in pairs, on both sides of his throat, chest, and abdomen. On his initiatory journey, the neophyte follows a psychopomp ... past deadly creatures. He contemplates a pile of bones left by unfortunates who failed to clear a dangerous passage of rapidly opening and closing doors.


Only after making it safely through these crushing gates does the apprentice, finally, behold a true horned viper balancing a bright red ball on its protruding tongue." {cf. [the Irish] Cu-chulainn, who "was said to swell up like a ball when angry" (MM, p. 149), when "over his head were visible ... sparks of ruddy fire" (ibid., p. 150).}"A priest-shaman healer expects to be compensated ... A man unable to provide compensation mortgages his body by sitting back to back with the shaman, pledging to be his lifelong neburatu (servant)."


"an ordinary priest-shaman ... makes his inquiries and pleas by plaintive chant, accompanied by a sacred rattle that contains a family of tutelary spirits in the form of quartz pebbles.""Old Spider Woman placed it [sago-starch] ... into the stem of the primordial palm, after the god of the noon sun had fashioned her from the bleached bones of ancestral Warao.""The order of light shamanism is generically known as bahana {cf. [Navaho] /bahane/} and is practitioners as bahanarao (bahanarotu is the singular form), meaning those who ... "suck." ... its cosmic center is a two-story ovoid structure, located ... northeast of the world axis. ... the avian God of Origin, residing on the world mountain at equinoctial sunrise [the east] ... is the father of the swallow-tailed kite (Elanoides forficatus), who, in primordial times, emerged from a cave in the mountain. From there he tracked the sun to the brightest region in the sky [the zenith], where he built the egg-shaped house near the top of the firmament ... This house connects with the apex of the world axis via a rope bridge that conveys a beam of power down to the earth and to the nadir of the universe. The bridge is bordered on both sides by flowering tobacco plants, whose leaves were harvested by the architect of the cosmic egg to convert them into thickened smoke of which the bridge, the house, its inventory, and its residents are fashioned. In addition to housing the Tobacco Spirit and his consort, the building’s upper floor is


home to the very first light shaman and his wife, as well as to four insect men and their families. {cf. Navaho insect-deities} A plumed serpent lives on the structure’s lower level. Periodically, the insects gather around a gambling table on which they move specific counters to invade each other’s spaces according to an arrow dice cast by the Spirit of Tobacco. On completion of a game, the snake erects itself above the gamblers, jingles {cf. jingling ornaments on the costumes of Siberian shamans} the chromatic feathers on its head, and presents an orb of radiant light on its forked tongue.""the Tobacco Spirit ... manifests as the swallow-tailed kite. The insects materialize as a honey bee (Trigona capitata), a stingless bee (Trigona hyalinata branneri), a wasp (Stenopolybia fulvofasciata), and a termite (Nasutitermes corniger M.), while the serpent is modeled on a blind snake (Leptotyphlops sp.)."


"The first light shaman ... was only four years old when ... he fell asleep, and ... a psychopomp conducted him northeasterly to the oval house of smoke. Inside the house, ... the four insect men gave him four different gambling-board counters, consisting of a crystal, a ball of hair, quartz pebbles, and a puff of tobacco smoke. ... The boy began manifesting a halo around his head, and the radiance of the serpent’s glowing orb filled him with instant knowledge of all things bahana." "four young insect replicas (the two bees, a wasp, and a termite) ... began opening a lumen in each of his arms, ending in exit holes at the base of each of his fingers (other than his thumbs)." {the Navaho tunnels through one’s body are for winds}"At age sixteen ... the young man wed a bee girl ... in the tobacco Spirit’s house, where the wife changed into a frigate bird (Fregata magnificens) to become the first white shamaness, specializing, like her human successors, in curing nicotinic seizures. Once the Warao began populating the earth, the first light shaman shot two gambling tokens – the termite’s quartz pebbles and the stingless bee’s puff of tobacco smoke – into a young man’s upper body ... to perpetuate light shamanism on earth ... modern practitioners ... carry


only one tutelary spirit (termite) in their right torso and one (stingless bee) in their left, requiring but a single exit hole in the palm of each hand." {stigmata}


"The owner awakens the effigy [of the swallow-tailed kite] by fumigating it with tobacco smoke ... Suddenly, the figurine lifts off with the roar of a hurricane and flies to the targeted village, who residents can hear the missile approaching but do not see it. Only the local white shaman beholds the flying image ... When in the air, the quartz pebbles surge in a triangular formation closely followed by the figurine." {cf. the "whirlwind" accompanying the beings of amber in YH.ZQ>L 1:4} {those accompanying Paulos were able to hear, but not to see, Iesous Khristos (Acts of the Apostles 9:7)}


Those having ability to influence rain are referred to as /NaHarima/ ‘rain-father’ or /NaHarani/ ‘rain-mother’ {cf. /NoH./ in whose time occurred a deluge occasioned by water falling from the sky.}


"a weather shaman ... candidate ... meets a manifestation of the supreme rain lord in the form of a waterspout or tornado. Lifted up and swallowed by the colossal spirit, the novice journeys through the lord’s serpentine physic ..., receiving instantaneous and total knowledge of the masters of the night sky and their ways. On leaving the twister spirit (via the rectum), the new shaman has aged precipitously {In order to have awarded to himself the golden fleece, Iason allowed himself to be swallowed by the dragon which guarded it. In being "restored to the world of the living", Iason was re-emitted from the dragon’s mouth : "He hung fainting from the dragon’s mouth" (MM, p. 144).}, and the rainbow, the lowest –ranking rain lord, takes up residence in his chest to ... serve as his familiar."


"the rain lords stride with pounding heels to congregate on the celestial plaza below the top of the cosmic vault, where they perform a dance. Their stomping thunders through the clouds, the impact of their walking staffs sparks sky-rending lightning and their sweating causes heavy rainfall, while bellowing alligators dialogue with them in the sky. ... widespread famines every four to five years are caused by alligators, the naguals (animal doubles) of dark shamans".


"The ruler over this domain [the west] is Hoebo, the Ancient One, residing on the western mountain of the setting equinoctial sun. ... Only two small lights – one white, the other yellow, illuminate ... its surroundings. ... Miana ... occupies a house located near the zenith, west of the world’s axis, and is considered the soul of Hoebo ... Miana ... favors soft crepuscular light : broad daylight dazzles him and causes him to squint." {cf. the squinting sun-god in the Books of C^ilam Balam} "Hoebo manifested as the red macaw (Ara chloroptera) ... the parrot people built a settlement of humble houses near macaw’s colossal iron (or aluminum) mansion, and they gathered there with their lord to drink of human blood from a thirty-foot canoe. ... Wind instruments of human tibias ... are playing, and partakers in the banquets are attired in their feather coats adorned with necklaces of human costal bone." "Miana ... used a hosepipe (hoa ahutu) that was fastened to a high-rise structure near the drinking trough. The line ran up ... to reach a place halfway between Hoebo and Miana’s stations, from where it dangled over the encampment of the newly formed Warao. The duct was furnished with a brilliant headlight, which helped it find, at night, the heads of unsuspecting sleepers." {cf. S.ufi^ & Mormon ascription of prophetic capacity to a beam of light shining down from above onto the top of the head of the prospective prophet.}


"the blue-and-yellow species (abuhene; Ara ararauna), macaws (abahera)"


"Abahera ... the jilted suitor ... sliced his rival [Hoebo] horizontally in half. ... The headlight of the duct, which had been seen above the village like a small-sized moon, crashed with Hoebo’s body to the dance floor."


"Hoebo’s soul rose to his father’s (Miana) place west of the zenith. ... trainees must come here to receive the singing power that activates the sucking snare (kaidoko) that they will receive as a proboscis ... Hoebo bids the novice to enter his dark house ... and implants a wound-up snare of hoebo power in his chest, below the sternum. ... the tendrils of this bifid sucking snare emerge from the corners of his mouth each time he chants Miana’s song".


"the novice meets a demonic spirit who beats him on the neck with a heavy cudgel. The spirit comes a second time and places him into a wooden dugout coffin. {cf. the enclosing of the living Osiris in a wooden coffin.} The fearsome demon then manifests a third and final time to entomb him in a sarcophagus ... the neophyte beholds a beam of sunlight entering a crack in the coffin wall.""Vampires [vampire bats] descend from a nocturnal tribe of people who ate children and who acquired their present form through a promiscuous bat woman. Blood-sucking insects stem from a young man who preyed on his sleeping wives".


"the light-globe of the blood duct shattered""When ... the time has come for the dark shaman to begin his service to the netherworld, the zenithal Hoebo takes the shaman there ... The visitor ... sees the blood canoe ... He also sees the house in the village of diseased dark shamans (hoarao) {cf. the lookman (‘shaman’) of Wayana, who is expected to be diseased.} that he ... will dwell in permanently after death, when he assumes, like all his predecessors, a ... form that is half-parrot and half-human with a simian tail."


"the sorcerer’s body in its nagual form of ... teju lizard (Tupinambis nigropunctus) of blackish color with yellow bands across its back."


"Veteran shamans ... sat on wooden stools (duhu) and smoked ritual tobaccco (kohoba)."

MM = Ev Cochrane : Martian Metamorphosis. Aeon Pr, 1997. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------pp. 82-108 Robin Wright : "Witches and Prophets in the History of the Northwest Amazon". [Baniwa]




"the universe is organized into an enormous vertical structure of twenty-five layers, or worlds (kuma), with twelve


layers below "This World" (Hliekwapi) of humans and twelve above."the highest :- that of Nhia~perikuli "the "Illuminated One," whose body shines "like a brilliant mirror," {Tezcatli-poca or else Tezcatla-nextia}. ... The sun is considered to be a manifestation of Nhia~perikuli’s body. {A praevious sun was considered to be Tezcatli-poca.} The twelve worlds below ours – collectively known as Uapinakuethe – are inhabited ... With the exception of the people of the lowest level and one other, all other peoples are considered to be "good" and assist the shaman ... The worlds above ours – collectively known as Apakwa Hekwapi, the "Other World" -- ... have to do with sickness and curing. With the exception of levels five and six, which are inhabited by the spirit "Owner of Sickness," Wamundana or Kuwai (who is Nhia~periculi’s son), and his "secretary," {cf. Citra-gupta?} the white sloth (tchitamali), all other levels are likewise inhabited by "good people."""This World is frequently characterized as the place of evil, maatchikwe; place of pain, kaiwikwe".


"witchcraft, manhene, literally means "one does not know," ...""Kuwai, the son of ... Nhia~perikuli, left all forms of poison in this world as vengeance for his own killing. Nhia~perikuli gathered up this poison in a pot and hid it in his house., but a tribe of ancestral monkey-spirits, called Eenunai {"monkey or sloth" (p. 87) : surely sloth-spirits, in view of the sloth-deity being evil (as on p. 85) in contrast with the monkey-tailed curer (on p. 38)}, stole this poison and became ... "poison-owners" (manhene iminali). They poisoned one of Nhia~perikuli’s younger brothers".


"the poison-owner’s soul is, according to shamans, a spirit of the dead, inyaime, which inhabits the periphery of This World."


" "thought" (ianheke, the negative of which is manheke ...)""Hiuiathi ... are evil spells sent by persons who desire to cause harm to their enemies."


"Kuwai ... taught hiuiathi to Nhia~perikuli’s younger brother Eeri who, thinking that they were to do good, transmitted them to humans. Other versions say that in the great fire that marked Kuwai’s death, he passed on all his knowledge about hiuiathi to the spirits of nature called iupinai". {cf. city /YaPo^/ ‘more beautiful’ (Strong’s 3305)}


"iupitha`tem {item of natural beauty?} ... is collected immediately after the person’s death, it is kept wrapped in a bundle".


" T h e v e n g e a n c e - t a k e r " s e n d s a g r e a t w i n d t o w h e r e t h e i n t e n d e d v i c t i m i s , a n d t h e v i c t i m b e g i n s t o g o m a d ( i k a k a ) . . . r u n s a f t e r w o m e n a n d a t t e m p t s t o r a p e t h e m " . "


" T h e v e n g e a n c e - t a k e r " s e n d s a g r e a t w i n d t o w h e r e t h e i n t e n d e d v i c t i m i s ; p . 1 0 4 , n . 7 9 1 T h e v e n g e a n c e - t a k e r " s e n d s a g r e a t w i n d t o w h e r e t h e i n t e n d e d v i c t i m i s , a n d t h e v i c t i m b e g i n s t o g o m a d ( i k a k a ) . . . r u n s a f t e r w o m e n a n d a t t e m p t s t o r a p e t h e m " . "

1 0 4 , n . 5 "

" i n B a n i w a s o c i e t y : t h e m a r i ` r i , o r s h a m a n , w h o u s e s m a r a c a ` r a t t l e s a n d s n u f f s t h e h a l l u c i n o g e n i c p a r i k a ` t o p e r f o r m c u r e s ; d z u r i , o r c h a n t - o w n e r , w h o u s e s p r i m a r i l y o r a t i o n s a n d t o b a c c o , m u t a w a r i ; a n d t h e m a h ~ e m i n a r e ( e q u i v a l e n t t o t h e m a n h e n e i m i n a l i , p o i s o n - o w n e r ) , w h o a r e t h e s o r c e r e r s , o r m a i t a ` r a i n t h e l i n g u a g e r a l "

1 0 4 , n . 5

" i n B a n i w a s o c i e t y : t h e m a r i ` r i , o r s h a m a n , w h o u s e s m a r a c a ` r a t t l e s a n d s n u f f s t h e h a l l u c i n o g e n i c p a r i k a ` t o p e r f o r m c u r e s ; d z u r i , o r c h a n t - o w n e r , w h o u s e s p r i m a r i l y o r a t i o n s a n d t o b a c c o , m u t a w a r i ; a n d t h e m a h ~ e m i n a r e ( e q u i v a l e n t t o t h e m a n h e n e i m i n a l i , p o i s o n - o w n e r ) , w h o a r e t h e s o r c e r e r s , o r m a i t a ` r a i n t h e l i n g u a g e r a l "

106, n. 16

"In ancient times, ... it was Huiti Uanakale himself who reccommended that they kill him. ... they simply cut off his head and threw it into the river. The head floated downstream still with its brains and the knowledge of how to cause all illnesses and also how to cure them. {cf. the decapitated head of Orpheus, which floated down the river Hebros (GM 28.d)} When the head reached a place a bit above Jui`vitera (on the Ic,ana River), the Guahibo shamans called Dzauinaikada got the head, took out the brains, and got all the shamanic powers in them ... {cf. attack by Lemnian serpent on the decapitated head of Orpheus (GM 28.g)} After the Guahibo had taken out the brains, the head continued on downriver, but already empty." {The voyage by Orpheus on the ship Argo to Kolkhis (GM 28.b) may be related with the Desana myth of the voyage by transformation-canoe (In Darkness and Secrecy, p. 128, n. 9) "to Ipanore`, on the middle Uaupe`s River"; as well as with the Irish legend of the voyage Bran the son of Febal, in view of the singing by (GM 28.1) the decapitated head of Bran.}

GM = Robert Graves : The Greek Myths. 1955.


pp. 109-131 Dominique Buchillet : "Sorcery Beliefs, Transmission of Shamanic Knowledge ... among the Desana of the Upper Rio Negro, Brazil".




"the jaguar-shaman (yee) and the blower of spells (kumu). The yee, who derives his power from direct contact with spirits during a trance induced by ingestion of hallucinogenic snuff (Virola spp. and/or Anadenanthera peregrina), is said to have the ability to transform himself into a jaguar" {viz., during dreams when under the influence of the same hallucinogen?}.

"By contrast, the kumu’s skills and reputation stem from his great knowledge and mastery of mythology".

"the yea (the plural form of yee)"


doreri (‘illness’) may be caused by "the kumu’s involuntary forgetting of animal or spirit names during the recitation of protective spells in the life cycle rites or during the shamanic ritual to decontaminate food".


"near the Uapui rapids on the Aiari River ... There, Kuwai ... was burned to death because he "killed" young boys who were being initiated."


"Dohari refers to ... evil spells that are silently cast ... in the direction of a person when he or she is nearby [thereby introducing into the victim’s body harmful substance] ..., provoking illness."

"Yee-weheri refers to sorcery practiced by the jaguar-shamans ...


[The yee] can throw an illness onto his victim’s body like a garment."

"Birari refers to collective assault sorcery effected ... by a yee through a lightning bolt."

"Bia`-soarin~e is the term used to refer to countersorcery, which consists in sending aggression back .... It is said that when the sorcerer’s identity is discovered, a bee falls into the cooking pot. ... The bee is said to represent the spirit/heart of the sorcerer. ... The spirit/heart arrives in the form of a bee that the kumu strikes and throws into the cooking pot."


"the kumua (plural form of kumu)"


"N~amiri masu, the "Master of the Night," who did not want to teach the primordial ancestors of humanity the rituals to install the alternation of day and night in the world, made them fall asleep during his explanations by making them fix their attentions on the designs of the benches on which they were seated."


"envy, jealousy ... have always existed in the world, and there is general agreement ... that Bupu, "Grandfather Thunder," is responsible for this state of affairs. ... Angered because Boreka, the principal Desana ancestor, and his younger brother Toaramu-yee, did not consult him before undertaking the transformation of humanity, Bupu .... magically put a poisonous snake (Bothrop sp.) under the tree that the two brothers intended to use to make the transformation canoe that would serve to transport the primordial humanity ro the upper Ri`o Negro region. The snake bit Toaramu-yee, who then died, but Boreka brought him back to life".


"myths are known as bayiri pagusuma~ "the fathers of the spells"; that is, they are the "trunk" or the "root" of the spells".


caerimony empowering neophyte to become kumu :- "Whereas the therapeutic spells are put into his brain, the evil ones are placed in his belly".


Neil L. Whitehead & Robin White : In Darkness and Secrecy. Duke U, Durham (NC), 2004.