Occult Life of Things, 4-6


4. (pp. 105-27) Fernando-Santos-Granero : "The Multiple Ways of Being a Thing in the Yanes^a Lived World". [eastern Peru`]

p. 109 souls

"Yanesha people assert that human beings have two kinds of souls :

yechoyeshem, "our shadow" – a kind of soul that is inert and permanently attached to the body until after death – and

yecamque:m~, "our vitality" – a kind of soul possessed of sensory faculties and that can detach from the body under certain circumstances (Santos-Granero 2006). All "vitalities" are believed to be a manifestation of the vital breath/strength (camuequen~ets) of the creator deities."

Santos-Granero 2006 = Fernando-Santos-Granero : "Sensual Vitalities : Noncorporeal Modes of Sensing in Native Amazonia". In :- Santos-Granero & Mentore (edd.) : In the World and about the World : Amerindian Modes of Knowledge. (special issue of TIPITI`) pp. 57-80.

pp. 109-10 specificity of substances as divinities

p. 109

"strong winds are believed to be ancient people, huomenque:s>."


"specific ponds, lakes, waterfalls, and salt springs are self-transformed divinities."

p. 110

"some [stones] are ancient people transformed into stone and others are the hiding places of particular mellan~ot~en~ spirits."

p. 114 to feed the deities

"Yanesha hunters and fishermen ... blow tobacco smoke and spray coca juice in all directions as an offering to the masters of animals or the mellan~ot~en~ spirits that guard particular fishing pools and salty waterholes so that these spirits will allow some of their wards to be hunted or fished."

"nourish the souls of the panpipes so as to activate them. ... this act triggers, in turn, the vitality inherent in the panpipes ... when the panpipes are played in honor of the divinities ... in the celebration."

pp. 115-6 shamanic curing with divine leopards encountred in dreams

p. 115

"Jaguar stones, sometimes referred to as ma>yarromapue>, are rare and prized gifts bestowed by Yato> Yemats, Our Father Tobacco, upon diligent shamans ... . Yemats is considered to be the owner of all spirit jaguars.

Shamanic apprentices strive to obtain familiar spirits (pabchar) ... . But the key to obtaining such spirits is the intensive consumption of concentrated tobacco juice. In tobacco-induced state of consciousness, the apprentices hear the songs of different animals – generally fierce animals or animals of prey. ...

The most powerful pabchar are jaguars. Indeed, the power of Yanesha shamans is often measured by the number of jaguar spirits they are said to possess. Yato> Yemats gives away his jaguars to worthy shamans either in dreams or while they are under the effects of the ingestion of tobacco juice. Some he gives away in their spiritual form; others he transforms into stone, telling the shaman where he can find them. These jaguar stones are

p. 116

thus the result of a double metamorphosis : they have been transformed

from people into animals by Yompor Ror and

from animals into stones by Yato> Yemats. ...

Shamans use their jaguar stones ... to combat the downriver spirit jaguars that periodically attack the upriver communities in search of people to eat. Under such circumstances, they activate their jaguar stones by blowing tobacco smoke on them and reciting some magical chants .. . Thus animated, the potent spirit jaguars summon all carnivorous animals and with their help fight off the intruders. Once the battle is over, the shamans recall their spirits jaguars and induce them back into their stone shape."

p. 118 feathern "book"

"most important ... was the solemn "reading" of a book made of feathers ... . It is more than possible that the feathers used ... were those of Amazon parrot (of the Amazona genus), which are renowned for their capacity to talk. By using such feathers, the priest of Palmazu would have sought to appropriate the power of ... divine messages – through the communicative skills of native parrots."


5. (pp. 128-51) Aristo`teles Barcelos Neto : "Subjectivization of Masks and Flutes among the Wauja of Southern Amazonia". [of the upper Xingu]

pp. 129-35 shamanic curing

p. 129

There are supernatural "nonhuman entities (... beings in ... monstrous forms) endowed with their own intentions and points of view ... . These entities, called apapatai, lie at the origin of all illnesses and cures alike. ...

p. 130

For the Wauja, every serious illness corresponds to multiple and successive captures of fractions of the sick person’s soul by various apapaatai. [p. 149, n. 1 : "The soul ... is the upapitsi, ... translated literally as "the other body." This "other body" has a "spiritual" nature".] ... The cure ... can only be achieved by the yakapa`, the visionary-divinatory shamans, who use secret songs and musical instruments (mainly the maraca` and bamboo flute) to remove from the sick person’s body the pathogenic substances ... . ... In order to achieve this, ritual specialists known as kawoka`-mona must make the apapaatai ... masks, flutes, and/or other objects. ... Thus,"


the __

had been made by __








large pestles

"Yamurikuma~ (groups of apapaatai women)"

p. 131

"As soon as the apapaatai killing the sick person are revealed, one of the co-resident women arranges for the distribution of cold manioc porridge (usixui) from various small cauldrons, the number of cauldrons matching the number of apapaatai who kidnapped the sick person’s soul(s). ... Then ... the akatupaitsapai [person looking after the patient] cites the names of the persons who must consume the porridge. ... "Come and bring apapaatai." The person convoked ... asks ... :

p. 132

... "Which apapaatai am I?" He or she is told the answer and then given a small pot of porridge to gulp down on the spot ... . ... the convoked persons assume the identity of the different apapaatai ... . This entails bearing improvised adornments, insignias, and/or objects characteristic of their particular apapaatai – such as a tuft of straw placed on the head, a cord tied around the waist, or a manioc stalk – and chanting the songs that belong to that apapaatai. ... The summoned participants perform ...

p. 133

dance choreography on the path from the enekutaku ["patio in front of the flute house" (p. 131)] to the patient’s house and on their way back. ...

p. 134

Each visiting apapaatai returns to the kama~i [sick patient (p. 131)] the fraction of soul it had captured earlier. By blowing and rubbing tobacco on the kama~i’s body, the visitors induce the reintroduction of the patient’s soul-fractions".


"However, if the patient relapses, the performance of a more "complex" ritual for rescuing his or her soul(s) becomes necessary : this is called Pukay." [p. 149, n. 4 : "Descriptions of this ritual can be found in ... Carneiro (1977)".]

p. 135

"When the apapaatai visit the sick person and return his or her soul, they become kawoka` -- shamanic sprits who are able to protect the ex-patient against future attacks by apapaatai."

Carneiro 1977 = Robert Carneiro : "Recent Observations on Shamanism ... among the Kuikuro Indians of Central Brazil". ANNALS OF THE NY ACADEMY OF SCIENCES 293:215-28.

p. 136 aequivalents to kawoka` & kawoka`-flutes in other tribes

"comparison can be made with the Yawalapi`ti, whose own term for [kawoka`] is apapaluta`pa. The word Apapa`lu refers to the Kawoka` flutes (known as Jakui` in Kamayura` and Kagutu in Kuikuro/Kapalo)".

p. 140 mythic deity-owners of potent ritual substances

"totu (... species of bush) ..., whose "owner" is the Jaguar, may be consumed by ... a kapiyeheko (wrestling champion), since Jaguars are the prototypical kapiyeheko.

Clay ... carries the ... potency of its "owner," the mythic snake Kamalu Hai". [p. 149, n. 7 : "This myth was published by Barcelos Neto (2002:156-58)."]

Barcelos Neto 2002 = Aristo`teles Barcelos Neto : A arte dos sonhos. Lisboa : Museu Nacional de Etnologia.

pp. 140-1 ritual objects made of specific woods, in decreasing of order of hardness of the wood



ritual object






"a drum made from the whole trunk of a tree of the same name." [p. 149, n. 9 : "drum made from a hollowed-out tree."]



"the Kuluta and Kawaoka` Ota~i flutes ... and the Tankwara and Talapi clarinets"


"softer wood"

Yakui masks

p. 142 myth of elopement of the womenfolk with spirit-men

"According to the myth, while the men were making "clothes" and flutes in oder to turn into "animals" in a remote fishing camp, the women were left hungry in the village ... . The women ... decided to do the same, transforming into Yamurikuma~ and running off with the apapaatai-men".

[p. 149, n. 10 : Barcelos Neto (2006b) contains an analysis of the Wauja myths of the origins of human and Animals."]

Barcelos Neto 2006b = Aristo`teles Barcelos Neto : "Doenc,a de i`ndio ... em uma cosmologia a mazo^nica". CAMPOS : REVISTA DE ANTROPOLOGIA SOCIAL 7(1):9-34.

pp. 134, 146 abandoned ritual objects

p. 134

"When these objects are abandoned or during eclipses, these animal "parts" may leave them and flee from the village to reunite with their "owners," whether as animals or as monster-artifacts".

p. 146

There are subaquatic holes (memulu) "made to store ... wooden masks (Yakui) for periods of mourning ... . ... There are many ... Yakui abandoned in memulu. These ritual objects can no longer be recovered, however, since they have been transformed forever into extremely dangerous beings., capable of killing who[m]ever touches them. Their lethalness emerged due to the long time they remained without cooked food and ritual care."

p. 147 dreaming

Asserted afterwards by dreamers "who wander with the apapaatai in their dreams ... : "I was with strange people; they were people, but ... they were ugly; they had fingers of toads.""


6. (pp. 152-69) Terence Turner : "Valuables ... among the Kayapo of Central Brazil".

p. 154-60 Bemp persons

p. 154

"the Bemp naming ritual. (For a full description of this ceremony, see Turner 1965:167-246.)"

"When done to confer the Bemp name-identity on a living person, the dance is performed

p. 155

by a double line of dancers. ... The dance performed for the dead man, in contrast, consisted of a single file only."

p. 156

"The same dance would be performed in a single file for a deceased Bemp name bearer."

p. 159

" "Beautiful" names are distinguished ... in consisting of semantically untransparent ... prefixes attached to semantically transparent names of the "common" type. These prefixes, of which there are seven, are also the names of ceremonies held to bestow the names."

p. 160

"Bearers of Bemp names ... may use a kind of bird-bone whistle ... . ... They may not eat the flesh of araras, because after death they become araras – their souls are said to assume the forms of araras and perch on the rays of the setting sun. Bearers of Bemp names should, if possible, be buried with bunches of arara plumes fastened to their arms, evocative of the arara wings on which their souls will soar from the grave to their perch on the setting sun. They must also avoid eating ... the Bemp fish, which has a mouth shaped like an arara’s beak. All bearers of "beautiful" names ... are obliged to eat only "beautiful" animals, like tapir, tortoises and peccaries."

Turner 1965 = Terence Turner : Social Structure ... among the Northern Cayapo. PhD diss. Harvard U.

p. 164 humanlike societies of animals

"large animals, birds, and fish are thought to hold their own ceremonies and possess songs and other ritual knowledge that they can communicate to shamans. ...

So far as Kayapo myth and other beliefs are concerned, no animal species has ever learned and imitated a human ceremony." {That is because the "animals" involved are all actually divine spirit-guardians of those animal-species (disguised as those animals themselves, and appearing under such guise n dreams) – and immortal deities never, of course, learn from nor imitate, mere mortal humans.}


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