In Darkness and Secrecy (tribes south of the Maran~on)


pp. 157-178 Carlos Fausto : "Shamans and Jaguars among the Parakana~ of Eastern Amazonia". [between the Tocantins & Xingu` rivers]




"a dreamer (opoahiwete`-wa>e`) and a shaman (moropyteara)"


"karowara is ... cannibal spirits, who cause diseases by eating, from the inside, the flesh of humans. .... Among the Asurini do Xingu, Karowara are anthropomorphic spirits with whom a shaman interacts and who may penetrate a human body and eat it up".


acquisition in a dream of the power to cure diseases, among the Asurini do Tocantins :- "The definitive experience of a novice shaman is the dreaming about the jaguar, from whom he has to extract the karowara. Before doing that, however, he is submitted [subjected] to a test {in the dream} : he has to eat the jaguar’s food, which is raw meat ... If he fails, he wakes up ... : if he succeeeds, he is ready to suck a karowara from the jaguar, which he will retain in his mouth as the source of his curing power ... During his profession life {as a curer of ailments}, he will repeat this act many times {in the waking world, on human patients instead of on jaguars}, but instead of keeping the karowara he extracts from his patients he will spit and inter[r] them." {I.e., ones in the waking-world cause ailments instead of curing, whereas ones in the dream-world cure ailments instead of instigating; waking-world jaguars are harmful, whereas dream-world jaguars are helpful.}


how to become a karowarijara (‘master of karowara’) : acquisition in a dream of the power to cure diseases, among the Parakana~ :- "the Parakana~ hold that to acquire a curing power a shaman must suck the karowara from ... a bat, a capybara, or an anthropomorphic creature."

"One should never eat capybara" in the waking world.


"all oneiric interlocutors are "others" (amote) ... : they are termed "pets" (te>omawa) ... They are faithful ... adopted pets that are under control of the dreamer."


befriending of deities in a dream in order to have the same ones as [invisible] allies in the waking world :- "First, the dreamer’s double (a>owa) {i.e., the dreamer’s own self while having a dream-body, in contradistinction to one’s status in that sort of dream wherein one is without a body and therefore unable to speak with or otherwise to interact with any of the deities there in the dream-world} meets ... people and brings them back to the village. Second, he awakes, and interacts with {by praying to?} them ... in wakeful state. ... Whenever ill, he will be cured by them {but will remain unable to cure others?}, and will also learn many ... {divine} names and receive many ... {divine} songs to give to his kin." [The Parakana~ assume that, just as in the case of jaguars (where dream-world ones are benevolent in contradistinction to waking-world ones which are malevolent), dream-deities have their counterparts in the waking world : namely foreigners (members of other tribes), who are assumed, by parallelism with the jaguars, to be all malevolent and in need of being killed!]


[a dreamer] "dreamt about the karaja`, the ... oneiric ... most helpful pets. The karaja` {in the dream} took [the dreamer] to


their village when he was ill. Their main shaman, "the one who knows how to make people stand up" (oporo>opmohowa>e`), came to him, shaking his victim’s [dreamer-patient’s] bones as if it was [as if his skeleton were] a maraca. {So, was the dreamer already in fleshless skeletal form in his dream?} He made an incision ... Then, ... he sucked my blood that was flowing out, ate it up. ... --- Come on, stand up! I stood up. ... Then he said to his sister : -- Bring me water to wash my mouth. She brought it in a long pot. He drank ..., dropping perhaps completely the stench of my blood (jerowypyji>oa)." The dream-karaja` "eat a red-tinted flour that makes one fly".

"We could adduce other examples here of auxiliary spirits who are characterized by hematophagy, as is the case of Titipiur among the Achuar".


"opetymo, the tobacco festival ... is an initiation into the science of dreams"


"the flute festival ...was ... performed for a woman recently captured in a war expedition. ... As the Parakana~ say, she was "to put her heart into the flutes" (toji>omonem takwara-pope`) and stay long with them, menstruating, procreating".


"The Toba-Pilaga of the Chaco ... recount a myth in which a woman is incinerated after having eaten many of her kin. From her ashes, the first tobacco plant sprouts."

"The Terena myth begins with a woman who poisons her husband by spilling menstrual blood on his food. ... the man gives her honey mixed with embryos of a snake he had killed. In revenge, she tries to devour him. While chasing him, she falls in a pit that he had dug to trap game."


"In a Bororo myth, we find a ... reference to embryos and the snake. ... The women go ... to fetch the game. One of them carries an anaconda, whose blood drips and penetrates into the woman. She gets pregnant. The "son of the snake blood" goes in and out of the mother’s belly at his will. Frightened, the mother asks her brothers to kill the unborn baby, which goes out and is killed."

"In another Bororo myth, some men, while preparing newly caught fish for the grill, find tobacco in the belly of one of their prey. They smoke it. The aroma attracts the master of the tobacco, who appears in the form of a [vampire-]bat – that is, of a blood sucker. ... the master of the tobacco transforms them into otters."


"Among the Parakana~ ... Originally it was the men who menstruate[d]. One day the armadillo shot the moon. The men told the women not to leave the house, but they came out to the plaza and the moon’s blood dripped on them. Thereafter they menstruate, and the men do not." {Inasmuch as armadillos dig up newly-buried human corpses in order to devour them, the moon may in this myth be the realm of souls of the unburied dead (preta-s, in Skt.), and the blood be (as in the Odussseid) that offered to be quaffed by ghosts of heroines firstly, but soon usurped by heroes. If so, the armadillo may be Odusseus himself, reputedly a son of (GM 67.c) Sisuphos the imprisoner of (GM 67.g) the death-god Hades.}


"Those who have shame (jeroji) cannot ... be ... giving ... names and songs to their kin."


"All dream narratives ... contain the following theme : the pets may act as captors and keep their master as a pet, which means adopting and turning him into one of them." {Being adopted would entail a human’s becoming a deity (at least in mental outlook); rather than merely being subjugated by the deities.}


"were-jaguars ... eat people, which appear to them as peccary. They travel long distances so as to avoid eating their friends and kin. Especially during the months of March through June were-jaguars are on the prowl of children or in shamanic terms young ‘peccary,’ ..." "about the Wari> shaman : ... Such action is unintentional, ... a ‘technical failure’ ..."

GM = Robert Graves : The Greek Myths. 1955.


pp. 202-214 Donald Pollock : "The Paradox of Kinship among the Kulina". [upper Puru`s river]




"The Kulina are an Arua-speaking group ... scattered throughout the Purus / Jurua region."


"As a sorcerer, a shaman extracts a portion of the dori {cf. witchcraft at <e^n-DO>R} from his body and mystically hurls its into the body of his victim. There it grows until it kills the victim."


"The tokorime ritual is held only in the dry season, and normally at night ... In the tokorime curing ritual, shamans become transformed into the adzaba {cf. /<unZ.AB/ ‘thick lobster’ (LA-L 3:180B), implying effects on the lobes of organs?} spirits, and invoke the spirit forms of animals to assist in curing. ... The shamans snort tobacco snuff and enter a trance, in which they become transformed into the adzaba spirits who suck out the dori on the afflicted part of the patient."


"With a normal burial, the spirit, kurime, of deceased travels down to the underworld village of white peccary spirits, where the human spirit is eaten and transformed into a white-lipped peccary, the hidzama {cf. /H.Z.My/ ‘Althaea sicifolia’(LA-L 1:398B); /H.aZ.aNi^/ ‘louse’ (LA-L 1:399A)} ... Sorcerers, however, are denied this reincarnation : for several days their spirits wander the village where they were killed, but ultimately are eaten by a jaguar".


"Ayahuasca (Banisteriopsis caapi) allows its users to communicate with spirits in the sky. Its use is not associated with curing but rather is connected with visions of the future and of the mythic past. Notably, both Kulina men and women take ayahuasca; the Kulina regard it as an introduced drug they acquired from the local Panoan-speaking peoples, and they call it by the same Panoan term, rami, that is used by the Kaxinaua and the Sharanaua along the upper Purus."

LA-L = Lexicon Arabico-Latinum. Beirut, 1975.


pp. 215-243 Ma`rnio Teixeira-Pinto : "Sorcery and Morality among the Arara". [Iriri river]




"To be alive ... is to have the capacity of otchitoketpi:t – moving"


kuru (‘bodily substances’) :-

"blood (ima~nkuru),

sperm (ekuru),

saliva (ilaptchikuru),

breast milk (mongukuru),

urine (tchikuru)"


"menstrual blood (imandem)"


"odor (inun)"

"sorcery (tchano)"


"pain and "illnesses" are abudup"


"Every game animal obtained is to be exchanged for fermented drink."


"Nearly every species is under the metaphysical control of spiritual beings called oto, who act as the animal owners or wardens. It is only through a kind of agreement between humans and the oto that the latter can hunt." {this is the usual North American Indian belief likewise.}

"through the musical festivities ... the Arara give notice to the oto"


"the Arara exclude from their diet ... Sloths, anteaters, owls, and otters (as well as other mustelids) ... because they are animals that are not under the protection and control of an oto." {this is likewise the usual Siberian reason for not eating bears – that bears have no divine spirit-guardian in charge of them.}


[according to the author’s interpretation,] the iami:t "deceives and deludes the animal’s metaphysical warden [oto]" {but in usual North American Indian belief, the animals’ supposed spirit-guardian deity is actually their betrayer, who on behalf of humans will surreptitiously misguide the animals to where the hunters are waiting to ambush them – so is the South American Indian scheme of iami:t (‘pet-owner’) not likewise more likely to be a collusion of humans with the oto in order to lull the animal-species into imagining that humans have no intent to slay animals of that species? (Animal individuals of a species are made pets of by some hunters, while ambushed and killed by other hunters of the same village, who are additionally invited by the pet-owners to slaughter their pets for them.) The animals would apparently detect the ruse if the pet-owners were to slay their own pets, so they requaest their fellow-hunters to do the slaughtering for them, an act which must surely must be carried out in order to help the oto to misguide the species, so that even if they realize that other members of their species have been ambushed, they will continue to imagine that those past ambushers were different from any (supposedly benevolent) ambushers now lying in wait.}

242, n. 15

"the Arara notion of person is like a synthetic principle that temporarily unifies the multiplicity of body parts. {this is also the Daoist notion of person, as according to Z^uan Z^ou.} After death, the body is separated (through the intercession of Akuanduba ...) into many parts, from which just a few retain ... cognitive abilities, feelings, memories, wishes, and yearnings."


"Akuanduba, the most powerful supernatural being in the Arara pantheon, ... transforming corpses into jaguars to scare those who are still living, and masquerading himself as a black jaguar". {cf. /<aqod/ ‘ring-straked (striped)’ (Strong’s 6124) : this would describe a ‘tigre’ better than a ‘leopard’}

"the shaman’s aim is to seek out those jaguars that are the reappearance of deceased relatives in a new bodily form. ... one of the ... shamans ... would go to meet a jaguar just to stimulate its memory that the people alive in the village are still its "relatives" and thus should not be prey".


"ikurukitpi:t as a shamanic action toward the jaguar as a dead person’s specter does not apply to any of the many other "spirits" that a deceased body releases ... : tcharupa~ngma~, ikauala~ngma~, and editen. It is only the okoro that is subjected to the extreme loss of memory that entails the deep forgetfulness of the former affiliation with the living people."


"being still alive (enge) {cf. [Sumerian] ki-ENGi as the land of the living} and being already dead (irumbot) ... fact of being alive (engouete)"

Strong’s = Strong’s Dictionary of Bible Words.


pp. 244-271 Elsje Lagrou : "Sorcery and Shamanism in Cashinahua Discourse and Practice". [Puru`s river]




"the dauya, "the one with medicine" ... who heals through the use of medicinal plants; and

the mukaya, "the one with bitterness" who heals ... with the help of spirits (yuxin) through a bitter substance (muka) that is a materialization of yuxin power."


"nawa is ... used ... to refer to ... Panoan-speaking peoples (the Nawa of the Yurua`-Purus region, including the Cashinahua, Yaminahua, and others), or as part of an ethnonym ... to mean "people," as in such forms as cashi (vampire bat) –nawa (people) {cf. the Zo>tsil ‘bat’ people of Watemala} or yami (stone axe) –nawa (people)."


"whereas xinaya for the Cashinahua means no more than a "knowledgeable man (or woman)" ..., for the Yawanahua xinaya indicates a special kind of song healer".


"the term rao, the Katukina equivalent of the term dau, which among the Cashinahua ... can ... refer to a bewitching oration"


"Among the Yawanahua ... killing songs are known ...

Among the Marubo ... "wrong songs" were ... used ... to kill".


"when a baby cries at night it is understood that a yuxin is attempting to abduct its soul, and thus herbs are burned to frighten the spirits away; when an adult has been caught by a yuxin ... medicine is squeezed in the eyes (to treat the eye soul)"


2 kinds of evil spirits cause epileptic fits in a human child : the "peccary child" and the "capybara child". "The peccary child bites its tongue ... Aah!, aai!, it screams, foaming at the mouth and trembling. ... The capybara child’s teeth chatter, xenx xenx, they bite."


"Sad ... people ... are said to be prone to hear yuxin callings at night, and then disappear as they "sleep walk" into the forest."


"Animals with a strong yuxin are not only killed but consumed raw with the intent to communicate with the yuxin of their owner (as is the case of the ritual killing of the boa and the oropendola bird ...)."


"The poison to kill is red. When you pass it, you say, ‘I know you already,’ and you keep going. You look at it from a distance. If you say, ‘I never saw this medicine;’ you die."


"Like the vine [liana] and leaves of the ayahuasca ["to enhance the effects of the vine, ... most frequently used is a leaf from the Psychotria viridis tree, which is considered to be responsible for the vivid visions produced by the brew." (p. 269, n. 7)] – said to be the transformed body parts of the first man who learned to drink the brew with the snake people – it is claimed that poisonous plants are the transformed body of the first


sorcerer [sorceress], an old woman named Yuxankudu."

"Yuxankudu (the old grey woman) was the first one who knew how to use poison. She used to kill when she was desirous of human flesh ... She leaned forward so much that her thing, xebi (vagina), became visible. Her son-in-law saw it and took her with force. {cf. [North American Indian] myth of Coyote’s raping his own mother-in-law from behind.} ... Hi kin decided to kill her. ... One brother came jumping ... and she laughed. Then another brother appeared and hit her with a club. She died." {this would be an instance of "to die laughing".}


[actual historical event of supposed killing of woman an account of her laughter, similarly as befell the mythic Yuxankudu :-] "she had been laughing with her kin and the old man ... followed her ..., and she died".

"The dauya is ... a ... person with no sense of humor : "If you make fun of his bald head, because dauya are always bald, if you think it’s funny, he ruts poison on you."


"A dauya never eats meat and does not smell perfume."


"The first sign of a man’s calling to become a mukaya is his failure to kill animals, not because they escape him but because they talk to him."


"During pregnancy, the interference of yuxin produces deformations in the child’s body, which is why exceptional births, like babies with six fingers ..., are called yuxin bake (spirit’s children)".


"someone has been caught by a yuxin – a process described in terms of violent assault and combat resulting in the victim’s fainting ..., followed by the planting by the yuxin of muka in his or her heart"


a shamaness "did not claim to have muka and was therefore called a yuxian (someone who lives with yuxin) instead of a mukaya, but her prayers had the power to heal thanks to her spiritual snake husband, Yube Xeni. ... she "married" Yube Xeni (the snake yuxin). From that moment Yube Xeni came to make love to her at night, and because of her new yuxin husband ... she no longer had sex with her human husband." {likewise in India, it is usual for a woman who hath acquired a divine husband, to refuse sexual intercourse with her human husband.}

269, n. 9

"This "mystical marriage," ... is ... clear ... for some other Panoan groups, as among the Katukina ..., the Marubo ..., and the Shipibo-Conibo ..."


"the Katukina ... value their (deceased) romeya (real shaman) over their song healers (... shoitiya, or koshoitiya) because the latter do not have the power to heal sorcery".

Yawanahua :- "powers, those of plant healers (niipuya) along with those of the xinaya (song healers), and, at the top ..., the yuvehu (plural of ... yuve) or tsimuya, the one with bitterness, who is


characterized by his power to incorporate spirits."


"there are different rituals involving the killing of a boa (yube xeni) and the consumption of different parts of its body by men and by women, separately, to obtain luck in men’s hunting expeditions, or to enhance a woman’s intelligence in learning of designs". {in the Solomon islands, however, the learning of designs is for men, who need to know the designs in order to satisfy, after death, the admission-requirements of the divine guardians of the netherworld.}


"among the Katukina ... encounter with the boa or anaconda ... produces dizziness ... and can be completed with the transference of rome (a shamanic substance of which the anaconda is the owner)".


Cashinahua :- "the ritual consumption of different parts (leaves, stem, root) of a plant called dade. ... Dade is administered to small children to strengthen them and enhance their concentration."

Cashinahua :- "twins, whose words were said to have power to kill because of their status as spirit children (yuxin bake, yubebu) conceived through intercourse with the spirit of the boa."


"Song healers among the Shipibo, Marubo, Yawanahua, and Katukina all make use of ayahuasca in their healing rituals. In some cases, such as the Shipibo, Katukina, and Marubo, the patient is present at healing sessions, while in others the patient is absent, such as among the Yawanahua".

"In contrast with many other reports on the ritual intake of ayahuasca, the Cashinahua do not restrain [scil., themselves, i.e., refrain] from meat or fish at dinner before taking the brew. They say that if the owner of the ingested animal {i.e., the deity who had betrayed the animal to human hunters} appears in a vision, something that is considered almost inevitable {because the deity is arriving to congratulate the humans on their success in catching the animal which the deity had betrayed to them}, they will deal with him through song {hymn praising the deity for helping them to catch the animal-prey}. It seems almost as though they eat the animal to see its yuxin in a vision."

"Elderly people tend not to take ayahuasca, alleging ... that their eye soul (bedu yuxin) has already learned how to dream."

269, n. 10

"Where[as] the Peruvian Cashinahua tend to distinguish between a dream soul (nama yuxin) and the eye soul (bedu yuxin) ..., the Cashinahua from the Purus River on the Brazilian side of the border [in Acre] consider eye and dream souls to be one and the same". {is perhaps the supposed sameness found by them in rapid eye movements of dreamers?}


"Ayahuasca is taken with the intent to get information about distant places and their beings, the hiding places of game, the real intentions of opponents in conflicts, the motives of visitors, future events, and illness-causing agents."


"possibility for a mukaya to use nixi pae (ayahuasca) to acquire more information, a new song, or the indication of another [medicinal] plant."

"what defines a mukaya is exactly his ability to discover the truth about illness or future events by means of his ... communication with yuxin, without having to resort to the help of ayahuasca or any other substance." {it would be after taking ayahuasca often and with its assistance becoming familiarly acquainted with particular yuxin, that the capacity for summoning them without such assistance might be acquired.}


"Other methods used by someone wanting to become a mukaya include very intensive dreaming and solitary walks in the forest with the intention of being caught by yuxin. During the seizure the yuxin will plant their substance in the shaman’s body."


"tobacco snuff (dume). Romeya, the equivalent of the Cashinahua term dumeya ("the one with tobacco"), indicates among the Marubo and Katakina a specialist with attributes very similar to those of of the mukaya : he can call spirits at will, and he has a magical substance in his body that he can ... sent to victims in the form of invisible darts. He can also such out the same kind of objects from the bodies of his patients."

"The Cashinahua also have a myth about a very powerful shaman with the strength to conquer all the powerful monsters inhabiting the paths that separate the houses of his kin. This shaman, whose name is Dume Kuin Teneni (tene, real tobacco, a dumeya), has a body smell so bitter that each time he takes a bath the fish die as if by poison."


"For a mukaya the prohibition to eat any sweet kind of food or meat ... holds for the time he wants to keep the muka in his body. As soon as the diet is violated, the muka disappears. {but if the muka is very specific to a particular action (a particular hunting-expedition, a ritual on behalf of a specific person, or the like), may it have to be expelled in order to make space for a fresh muka for a new particular action?} Not only can a mukaya not eat meat, he is also not allowed by the yuxin to kill game. Yet another severe restriction ... is the prohibition of sexual intercourse." {are these also all temporary until a new client or set of clients is obtained by another ritual?}


"It was the yuxin who taught the huni kuin who got their muka from the yuxin".

"A mukaya does not need to be deku (dextrous), nor unan (intelligent, learned), because it it the yuxin who acts. Yuxin heals through him. Muka is yuxin acting in his body."


"the txana ibu ("the song leader"; also translated as owner of the oropendola birds) is said to be xinan haidaki – that is, "to know a lot" (note the similarity of this term with that for "healer" among the Yawanahua; xinaya)."


"The txana ibu is a kind of instructed adult who has experienced several initiation rituals ... : the ritual killing and consumption of a boa, of dade, of ayahuasca and tobacco snuff, and of pepper (in this case from the beak of an oropendola bird, in order to obtain an infallible memory as part of his consecration as new song leader)."


"To become a shaman, you go alone into the forest and decorate your body with bark and palm leaves. You lie down on a crossroads with arms and legs spread out.

First come the nightly butterflies, called husu, covering your whole body. {The spirit-butterflies which walk upon the body of one who is endeavoring to become a shaman in the countryside at night are mentioned by Carlos Castan~eda.}

Then come the yuxin eating the husu until they touch your head. {These yuxin who eat "nightly butterflies" must surely be moth-eating [spirit-]bats. Cf. the bat-like ghosts of the dead in the land of the Kimmerioi, according to the Odusseid.} You embrace them with all your force.

The yuxin become transformed into a murmuru palm tree, full of thorns." {cf. the tree-climbing MURMidones (GM 66.e-f); cf. more specifically the s^it.t.i^m ‘acacia-trees (thorny)’ (Strong’s 7851) : s^ ‘scourge’ (Strong’s 7850) – Proteus metamorphosed himself into a tree (GM 169.a), when he was grappled by Mene-lawos, according to the Odusseid.}

If you are strong and do not let go, the palm tree will transform itself into a snake that coils around your body.

You hold on; it transforms into a jaguar." {Serpent and lion were also metamorphoses of Proteus – but the sequence of Proteus’ (lion, serpent, ..., tree) was in the reverse order from the Kaxinawa order.}


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