Music of the Warao [in delta of the river Orinoco], 10-15

pp. 293, 300, 314 hoa curing songs & their singers

p. 293

"During some hoa naming, the object or animal is discredited. In one hoa, for example, a wound-causing hatchet is called "a nothing"; in another, a snake that bit a Warao is called "a nothing, a little ant.""

p. 300

"The name ... occurred nearly every other sung phrase. If the act of naming the cause of the affliction releases ... and alleviates the pain, then ... repeat the name many times until the pain and the affliction are gone".

p. 314

[curing a woman] "Unique ... is the use of a female helper; ... who carries the healer’s breath and passes it over the patient’s back. The reason is because the bahanarotu ... must not touch a pregnant woman ..., for such contact will weaken the shaman’s ... power".

p. 318 identification of ogres (hebutuma)




"Male ogre that lives in the trees in the northern rainforest, the husband of Yorokiamo"


"Female ogre that lives in the trees in the southern rainforest, the wife of Yorobiamo"


"Male ogre of the west, who makes the sound "hu ..." and is the husband of Ahiware"


"Female ogre of the east, who makes the sound "ah ..." and is the wife of Huramu"


"Little one-eyed ogre in the sea"

Hotuda Kamiana

"Thunder ogre, born in hokonamu"

Inareko Sanuka

"Little silence ogre that is quiet except for making a few bumps and is invisible"

pp. 317, 328, 330 further information on hebu

p. 317

"a male hebu named Nobowerutu ... is found in the rain forest and sounds like trees falling, although it sound not have a voice.

... a male hebu named Yebu Kamo ... lives in the rain forest where it eats a fruit called hiorohi in Warao and camoare in Spanish."

p. 328

"nahakahotu, the name given collectively to the male and female ogres who inhabit the treetops" : "A person has to blow like this [he blew through his fist] and then the spirits will go away."

p. 330

"Muyawana Sanuka is a hebu which has one large eye that is like the moon. This hebu is found in the sea, and its one eye is like a spotlight."

p. 326 witch-bird

"The owl (Strix passerina) is known as lechuza in Spanish and imanaid arotu in current Warao, although [there is also] the word tobesia, its ritual or archaic name. ... Barral (1957, 200) explains : ... "Chauro." The Warao call it imanaid-arotu, "sen[~]or de la noche avanzada" or "lord of the approaching night." ... "If, when the owl is singing and a person imitates it, that mocking person will be converted into a jaguar." From his expression comes the name tobesia (tobe-isi`a, "with the tiger" or "in tiger")."

pp. 333-334 the 2 types of hoa for magical love

p. 333

"The nisahoa is sung by a young man or by a father for his son to make a girl fall in love and marry the young man."

p. 334

"The marehoa is also sung by a young man or by a father for his son; however, it is performed to make a woman of choice unable to resist the male’s sexual desires. ... When this is sung the woman goes crazy and takes off her clothes."


"Turrado Moreno (1945, 172) writes ... : ... For the bewitching ceremony the wizard builds a hut out of temiche palm fronds and cazupo leaves not far from the house of the girl. ... Later the assistant who is present at the ceremony tells all of this to the girl who ordinarily, for fear of death, renders herself to the male suitor."

pp. 344-345 marehoa invoking 2 animals

pp. 344-345

p. 345

p. 344 "this is a mockingbird ...; this is a good thought for the woman. The thought I put, I put this way so the woman lifts up her dress; suddenly, when the dress is up it is good."

"a black mockingbird (arrendajo in Spanish)"

p. 345 "There is a sea within the sea, this is where a monkey was born {a "sea-monkey" (brine-shrimp Artemia)?}; this is it, there, woman, to make you lose your sense and make you crazy".

"the monkey is no ordinary monkey – it is owaraka".

p. 346 sexual relations of a man with a goddess (tree-nymph)

"Another type of hoa ... is related to the marehoa because sexual intercourse is one of the intended results of its power. The desired sexual relations, however, are not physically with a mortal woman, but supernaturally with a divine being, the mother of the forest, who is the cachicamo tree from which a Warao canoe is made."

pp. 350, 354, 356 dreams & prayer concerning cachicamo

p. 350

"a master canoe maker receives a calling in a dream to build a large canoe. ... The morning after the dream, just before dawn, the master craftsman sings from his hammock a song of announcement about the construction that will soon begin."

p. 354

"The master craftsman stands, holding his heresemoi conch-shell trumpet, and greets the sun with the following song (Wilbert 1976, 341) : "... We will take the right road at the fork, the one that leads to your house. It is dry like sand, and clean, and without danger. The left road is boggy, covered with thorns and infected with toads and snakes and jaguars. I have seen you house in my dreams. ...

The men ... are led by the master craftsman who "alternately blows his conch trumpet and chants, addressing the cachicamo tree selected to be transformed into a canoe" (Wilbert 1977, 26)."

p. 356

"Dauarani, the mother of all trees ... "has to release a tree before the workers may put an axe to it. ... In order to obtain this permission, the ... [wisiratu] communicates with the spirit of the cachicamo in a special se’ance. ... If the shaman receives agreement from the tree maiden, she will appear in the dream of the master and invite him ..." (Wilbert 1977, 31). ... Wilbert (1976, 341-42) details ... the master sings the following words when the maiden appears : "... I am the one you accepted. I am fond of you. I came to touch your body, to caress you lovingly." ... The cachicamo maiden replies : ... Looking at my body, do you like what you see? You will notice that I also have adorned my body. This I did while awaiting your arrival." {"The spirit, which is "blinded" by ... sexual desire, will perceive the intruder as a harmless lover" (SH, p. 101).}

SH = Rane Willerslev : Soul Hunters. U of CA Pr, Berkeley, 2007.

pp. 358-359, 362 leave-taking by cachicamo-goddess; invitation is extended to sky-serpent; bird

p. 358

"Wilbert (1976, 344) writes ... : The cachicamo takes leave ... of the many birds who formerly lived in her crown. She says goodbye to the animals and to the stump remaining behind as abode of her soul."


Wilbert (1976, 345) explains ... : On the morning of the day when the boat is burned [fired, hardened with fire "built beneath the open cavity to temper the craft"], the master orders the women to begin baking sago cakes. He intends to invite the sky serpent to an agape of moriche bread ... and then send her back to her celestial home. ... In fact, he [the wisiratu] and the master builder arrive at the work place early

p. 359

in the morning before anyone else in order to start calling the sky snake and the spirits of all the predecessors of the master who have died. It is they who have spent their lives in the service of Dauarani and now, after death, enjoy their afterlives in her divine company. All of the moyomotuma – that is, the serpent protector spirit and the souls of the defunct master craftsmen – respond to the invitation of their young colleague. They come to admire his boat, eat the sago".

p. 362

"the bird ... dekwamoidya" : "the canoe builder ... names a bird whose fast flight and noise are metaphors (to us) for the rapidity and ease of ... of his boat, assuring its ability to go fast over the water."

p. 364, 371 dreams indicating kanobo commanding that a nahanamu be performed

p. 364

"The guardian of the kanobo, the wisiratu priest-shaman, receives a dream in which the kanobo speaks the following message : "... make an isimoi ... to get a nahanamu out. If you pay no attention, fevers ... and other illnesses will come over the people and you will be eaten by the vultures" (Heinen and Ruddle 1974, 129). ... Upon awakening, the wisiratu explains his dream to his people".

p. 371

With "all-night dancing", "The kanobo appears to the wisiratu once again in a dream ... . When the wisiratu has finished announcing his dream to his people, the dates for the nahanamu festival (feast and dance) are set to coincide with the next full moon."

Heinen and Ruddle 1974 = H. Dieter Heinen & Kenneth Ruddle : "Ecology, Ritual, and Economic Organization ... among the Warao". J OF ANTHROPOLOGICAL RESEARCH, vol. 30/2 (summer 1974), pp. 116-38.

pp. 369-370, 375 spirit-animals (fishes & monkey) interested in moriche or in nahanamu

p. 369

"This long-eared temblador fish is a spirit ... . It is a spirit called himabaca [to have a hatchet] in Warao. He has a hatchet with a long handle. ... if the women act badly, and the spirit doesn’t like it, he brings a fever; he brings it with horn of the hatchet, because it is long ... .


... a little red morocoto spirit fish ... can kill a person.

p. 370

... little red morocoto ... is called mehukware in Warao. ... This morocoto ... likes to eat worms. It is a wormer ... . ... This little red morocoto fish is ... eating worms." ("The worms ... are edible and savored moriche larva, commonly found in ... the moriche palm ... . ... they taste like soft cheese.")

p. 375

"The nahanamu ritual complex continues during the night, ... including the song of the howler monkey, ... the arawato or howler monkey."

pp. 371-372 ritual dances performed during nahanamu festival (in honor of the sago)


dance of the __

namely, of __

p. 372 description of dance



"the fellers of the moriche palms"

"the men dance with energetic movements".



"who chopped out the pith and removed the pulp"



"the women who sifted the pulp into flour"

"each woman dances ... by bouncing up and down in place".



"comic dance of women and men"

"Heinen and Ruddle (1974, 131) succinctly describe ... : "the women jokingly attack whichever male is carrying the rattle, pretending ... to tear out his penis.""

pp. 375, 377 habi sanuka ("little rattle") festival, comprising both : (1) animal pantomime; and (2) sexual antics (quoted from Wilbert 1985, 155)

p. 375

"Animal pantomime are performed by means of steps, postures, and the little rattles, until at one

p. 377

point enormous straw images are presented of a vulva (by men) and of a phallus (by women). In the ensuing melee ... these effigies are clawed by members of the opposite sex who will not rest until the images are shredded and destroyed.


During the ritual ... ties between spouses become suspended and replaced by ritual bonds known as mamuse. Husbands agree to exchange wives, and upon payment of a substantial price, called horo amoara, "skin payment," the partners are free to engage in dancing and sex."

pp. 381, 383-385 headless supernatural snake

p. 381

"the patron of the habi sanuka is a headless snake (perhaps Hahuba), a deity that lives beneath the earth in a cave or hole. The supernatural snake is without head, mouth, tongue, eyes, and ears; yet it sings, sees, and hears. ...

The headless snake is large. She is from the beginning of the world and she lives where the sun rises. ... She ... is beneath the earth in a hole. ... She, the headless snake, has no head, no mouth, no tongue, yet she has a body. And, nevertheless, she speaks and sings. ... She knows, she is wise. ... Thus, she ... continues, singing the following :

"... I know everything. ... I have my body, but I have neither a head, mouth, tongue, eyes, nor ears; nevertheless, I see everything, and I see every one of you.

p. 383

... for me, the world is small. I, slithering back and forth in two hours, arrive to the other part. Then, going back, I return to my cave ..., but always singing, singing my song ... . ... Everyone who lives in this world will look for me when they need me, ... will sing my song. ... Just as they sing my song, I will accompany them, singing my song"... ." {Would the "need" by each mortal be after death, a need to be transported swiftly by her to whichever after-death world each particular mortal is having to travel to? If so, cf. the "death-song" sung, individually, by Great-Plains North American Indians.}

p. 384

"the habi sanuka ritual ... festival belongs to the headless snake, and her song is sung ... by a bahanarotu. ... Now, this snake leaves her cave ... only at night, at midnight. {cf. the netherworld-serpent "through which the midnight sun has to pass on his journey into the afterlife." (BP, pt. 1)} When the snake leaves from her cave she comes up to the top of the earth, here, and looks around. ... She looks around at us."

p. 385

"The dream of the wisiratu says, "Look, now the headless snake is seeing." ... Then, the wisiratu awakens and speaks to the others -- ... "Listen everyone, last night I had a dream," says the wisiratu." {In the 4th Hour of the DW3-t Netherworld, "the Headless God ... was used for dream oracles and exorcisms by the Graeco-Egyptian magickians." (HG)}

BP -- In the 5th Hour of the DW3-t Netherworld, there is a "serpent, which in celestial terms is the constellation of Draco, which when Cygnus is in the underworld hangs above the northern horizon like a string of beads, its head only out of view below the earth - a striking pose that in Graeco-Roman times gained it the title Akephalos, the Headless One." (Andrew Collins : Beneath the Pyramids, pt. 1. )

HG = "Headless God (Akephalos)"

pp. 386-390 for the habi sanuka festival : crabmeat-eucharist; full moon of dream; divine incest

p. 386

"we dance the habi sanuka ... with korokoro, the small maracas".

"for the habi sanuka dance ... the yuruma cakes are to be

p. 387

served with crabs, ... because they are going to be put together with the crabs." {"I only ate a small amount of crab" (C-FC, p. 248) for "naked ladies this time" (C-FC, p. 249).}

"We have to take advantage of the full moon because ... there will be ... rompings with the women". {[Sotho] "The crabs left after expressing their gratitude ... that they were going to be cooked on behalf of the queen" for the "Moon Prince" (M&LB, p. 131).}

p. 388

"the custom is for the men, women, and children to paint their

p. 389

faces ... collecting the ingredients from the sangrito trees for making facial paint".

p. 390

"both menstruation and the habi sanuka ritual are related "to the Moon, who, as a young man, had an incestuous relationship with his sister and was punished by transformation" (Wilbert 1972b, 101)."

C-FC = Cao Xueqin (transl. by David Hawkes) : The Crab-Flower Club. 1977.

M&LB = Jan Knappert : Myths and Legends of Botswana, Lesotho, and Swaziland. R. J. Brill, Leiden, 1985.

pp. 405, 408 states of consciousness

p. 405

"Charles Tart (1969, 3) writes that ... "almost every normal adult has the ability to go into a trance state and be possessed by a god; the adult who cannot do this is a psychological cripple.""

p. 408

"Rouget (1985, 318) considers ... musical instrument use and trance in shamanism ... : The shaman’s musical instrument is endowed with ... the world or worlds he visits during his trance."

Tart 1969 = Charles T. Tart (ed.) : Altered States of Consciousness. Garden City : Doubleday, 1969.

Rouget 1985 = Gilbert Rouget : Music and Trance. U of Chicago Pr, 1985.

pp. 410, 412-413 belief system

p. 410

"L’evi-Strauss (1967, 162) delineates ... : There is ... no reason to doubt the efficacy of certain magical practices."

p. 412

Grim (1983, 25) stresses : "the shaman ... realm .. is ... of the mystery of power."

p. 413

The author (Olsen) asserted his own opinion : "experience confirmed my belief in the reality of the Warao spirit world".

L’evi-Strauss 1967 = Claude L’evi-Strauss : Structural Anthropology. NY : Basic Books, 1967.

Grim 1983 = John A. Grim : The Shaman. Norman : U of OK Pr, 1983.

pp. 414-415 "The man changed into a beast" (quoted from Wilbert 1970, pp. 140-2, narrative 53)

p. 414

"Two brothers set out in their corial to shoot morocoto (Myletes) fish ... . The younger, who was steering, started singing."

p. 415

The singing younger brother, by means of the power inhaerent in his singing, "changed into a beast from the neck downward, with two big teeth on his belly." {A large face, including mouth with teeth, appeareth on the belly of a deity (as depicted carven in bas-relief) at Chavi`n, Peru`.}

writings by Johannes Wilbert quoted from :-

(1965) "Los instrumentos musicales de los warrau". ANTROPOLO`GICA 1(1956):2-22.

(1969) Textos folklo`ricos de los indios Warao. U of CA, Los Angeles, Latin American Center, vol. 12. 1969.

(1970) Folk Literature of the Warao Indians. U of CA at Los Angeles, Latin American Center, vol. 15. 1970.

(1972b) "Tobacco and Shamanistic Ecstasy among the Warao Indians". In :- Peter T. Furst (ed.) : Flesh of the Gods. pp. 55-83. NY : Praeger, 1972.

(1974) "The Calabash of Ruffled Feathers." In :- Anne Trueblood (ed.) : Stones, Bones, and Skin. pp. 90-3. Toronto : Artscanada, 1974.

(1975a) "Eschatology in a Participatory Universe : Destinies of the Soul among the Warao Indians of Venezuela." In :- Elizabeth P. Benson (ed.) : Death and the Afterlife in Pre-Columbian America. pp. 163-89. Dunbarton Oaks Research Library, 1975.

(1976) "To Become a Maker of Canoes". In :- Johannes Wilbert (ed.) : Enculturation in Latin America. LATIN AMERICAN STUDIES, vol. 37. UCLA Latin American Center Publications, 1976.

(1977) "Navigation of the Winter Sun". In :- Elizabeth P. Benson (ed.) : The Sea in the Pre-Columbian World. pp. 17-46. Dunbarton Oaks Research Library, 1977.

(1983) "Warao Ethnopharmacology". JOURNAL OF ETHNOPHARMACOLOGY 8(1983):357-61.

(1985) "The House of the Swallow-Tailed Kite". In :- Gary Urton (ed.) : Animal Myths and Metaphors in South America. pp. 145-82. Salt Lake City : U of UT Pr, 1985.

(1987a) Tobacco and Shamanism in South America. New Haven : Yale U Pr, 1987.

Dale A. Olsen : Music of the Warao of Venezuela. U Pr of FL, Gainesville, 1996.