Phantom Gringo Boat [the Embera` of eastern Panama`]

[umlaut is written to indicate nasalization of vovel]

p. ix "Embera` and Waunan are thus the names of ... two cultural groups commonly known as Choco`". "the Waunan (= Nonoma`)". "Two other closely related indigenous groups are the Catio and Chami`."


p. 21

"The water burst forth from the wild cashew tree, creating rivers and lakes. In Ancient Times, Woodpecker and Horned Lizard were stealing water from the tree. ... Woodpecker and Horned Lizard were skilled axmen. When the world changed, they were swinging their axes. And there the axes stayed, right on top of their heads."

p. 23

"There’s a story about a girl who falls in love with a shad. ... When her father discovers the relationship, he catches the fish and gives it to her to gut and boil."

p. 27

"The people inside wondered if they might escape out of a small opening at the top. They thought of using the wrapped bark of women’s skirts. These were tied together for a rope, leaving the women nude. They began climbing out one by one. ...

p. 28

But when about half the people had climbed out, a tremendous bolt of lightning lit the sky". ["Pa, the Embera` spirit of thunder and lightning" (p. v)] {cf. lightning-struck tower as tarot-card}

p. 177

"Born from the calf of his mother’s leg [he:i:ro], He:ir:opoto’s birth was his mother’s death.

Born the calf of his father’s leg, Dio-nusos’ gestation was the cause of his mother Semele’s death.


Raised by his grandmother, he ... wanted to know why his mother died. He wanted to drink the monthly blood that seeped from women’s wombs. He kept asking for it. ...

The rites of Dio-nusos include imbibing of wine supposedly transsubstantiated into blood.


"The moon [he:i:deko] killed your mother." And so he tried to cast the moon down to earth; climbing ... up a bamboo pole, he grabbed the moon badly, and the bamboo broke.

The name of Dio-nusos’ mother "Semele is usually explained as a form of Selene (‘moon’)" (GM 14.5).


He:ir:opoto fell ... like the fluff of a balsa flower ... into other land below where the humanlike beings called Cha:mbera live ... . Doing everything backward, Cha:mbera sleep in the day and

Dio-nusos descended into the netherworld under lake Lerne (= [Irish] Lorna Dun).

p. 178

work at night. ... They cannot eat. They can only inhale smoke from their cooking pots, for ... their anuses have only tiny holes big enough for cockroach-size turds.

Io died on (Ch ii p. 28 – GM 56.d) mt. Silpion [cf. Hellenic /SILPhe, tilphe/ ‘cockroach’].


So He:ir:opoto stayed and cut anuses for them ... .

Dio-nusos indulged in rectum-piercing for Pros-humnos (EG 2.30 -- JU).


And when he returned from the land of the Cha:mbera, he brought the women fruits that they had never seen before : he:i:a (pejibaye), tue`taho: (guava), ne:nzara`ho: (star apple). ...

Dio-nusos originated the grape.


When he was swallowed by the He:i:, ... he was searching for He:i:’s heart. When he found it, he cut it ... and returned to the women again. He brought the little sons that had been devoured ... .

"Dionusos in terror dived into the salt surf, and Thetis took him to her bosom" (I 6.135 -- SRTh).


Then he, in that way of his, changed into mosquitoes ..., ... horseflies, blackflies ... . He’s still drinking blood."

Io died "from the sting of the gadfly" (GM 56.c).

Ch = Ioannes Malalas : Chronicles. ed. Dindorff.

EG = Clement of Alexandria : Exhortation to the Greeks.

JU =

I = Homeros : Iliad.

SRTh =

GM = Robert Graves : The Greek Myths. 1955.

encounters with spirits without controlling those spirits

p. 108

"Tuli Vieja is ... an animal with breasts hanging down to her waists. Tuli Vieja’s face is covered with little holes. Her long hair falls to the front, hiding the sieve face that sucks the life from an unprotected human glance. ...

p. 110

Tuli Vieja had put on a blue paruma [‘skirt’, E. wa].

... The face,

It is like a colander, ... a gourd with holes, thus. ...

It is the face that scares us. ...

This one, she ...

Covers her face so that it cannot be seen. ...

Tuli Vieja, it is she who carries off children."

p. 167

"the boat was a phantom, ... it was hai sent ... from the Cha:mbe:ra, the non-human beings who live below the earth."

p. 169

"The gringo spirit crew wandered the village outskirts ... . There had been a recent epidemic of spirit attacks, mostly among young women. When youth encountered a spirit in the forest, they were said to feel their bodies whirling. When they returned, they ... suddenly saw and sang with the power of extraordinary vision appropriate to practiced shamans. ...

She saw the boat. It was tied up their below the calabash tree ... . The traveling shaman ... could see it also."

shamans’ control over spirits

p. 91

"Antumia` is the demonic messenger of the shaman. ... Like the snake, Antumia` has its own hai [‘spirit’]. The bird that lives below the earth, the faceless black humanoid who comes up out of the river to drown people ... – these are the forms associated with the hai of this demon".

p. 141

["learning to become a ha:i:mbana`" from his father, a ha:i:mbana` (‘shaman’) in the Cauca Valley of Colombia (translated from J, p. 36) :] "In dream I saw pure fire ..; I climbed up a tree ... . I was given fire ... . Thus it happened many times. Finally, I climbed down from the tree ... . There was an animal. I fought, dragged it by the tail, and brought it to father."


"As the Colombian texts describe, a student is challenged by animal spirits, which must be conquered in the learning process. If this is achieved, rather than getting sick from the contact (as an unsuspecting person would), you become their owners, turning them into helpers whose extraordinary abilities of sight and movement are bent to tasks motivated by your intent. ...

p. 142

Even after a master’s death, you may call upon those who have taught you in order to assist a cure.


Every shaman builds up his or her own storehouse of power by capturing spirits who have the power to see into bodies. But just as animals can be let out of a corral, spirits can be let loose and trapped again by someone else, or they may be trapped while on a mission. A shaman who cures may capture the spirits causing the sickness ... . Thus curing, while requiring spirits, also provides a means to gain control over more spirits. ... In order to maintain control, the shaman must keep "feeding" the spirits by holding a song event periodically. ...


Long journeys to meet shamans of powerful repute are undertaken by those who ... want to learn how to become shamans themselves ... . ...

p. 143

From Panama to Ecuador, those searching for cures and knowledge will hear of Embera` and Wauman Choco` shamans, the lowland healers of great renown."

p. 150

"In position, the shaman uses the song to call his or her spirit helpers, the ... animalitos who see. In this, the shaman opens up his or her own body ... to spirit allies".

p. 154

"The shaman ... visited in the rivers of Colombia has extrasensory perception; he can see people coming to him through the forest before they get there; no one has that kind of power here in Panama."

p. 162

"His power is not over people but over spirits. And although he owns his spirit familiars as if they were pets, he must nevertheless entice them into helping him see. The shaman learns the art of seduction, rather than the rule of law."

p. 167

"In the process of curing himself, Grandfather acquired the power of the Cha:mbe:ra’s familiars. He held this power in his batons".

J = Luis G. Vasco : Jaibana`s : los verdaderos hombres. Bogota`, 1985.

accoutrements for shamans

p. 147

"Batons, called barra in Embera`, are pieces of carved wood in which human and animal figures are sculpted, often one on top of the other. ... They say the little animals ... stay in the batons as if it were their house and that the shaman who is the owner ... of the batons is the owner of the animalitos that live inside."

pp. 153-4

"batons ... got ... gathered together all in a big sack tied from the beams of his house."

p. 149

"A little bench (E. ambuge`), a manifestation of the transformative power of the mythical serpent called He:i: (Vasco 1985:56), the shaman’s otherworld connection, is" sat upon by the shaman "in the ritual space."

p. 165

[praeparations for a healing-session :] "they gathered balsa and natural dyes with which they carved and painted a curing house and dolls, gathered golden palm fronds that they wove and hung from walls and ceiling".

p. 168

"Others went out ... to gather balsa wood and achiote [S. Bixa orellana], source of the red paint ... . With these materials, they sculpt4ed and painted distinctive classes of animal dolls. They brought ... pa:ra:ra: palm fronds for braiding and hanging. They caught a horned lizard [E. ochorro`], made it drink chicha, and tied it up with pata`koro plantains for the hai to eat.

Grandfather could see all the crew members of the boat. He made a model of it. He put in the captain with no head or neck and the crew members with no feet". {is this the Kemetian boat of the sun-god in the netherworld? the [Astika] sun-god likewise lacketh feet; the sun-god hath multiple forms, according to practitioners of yoga.}

shaman’s song of invocation to spirits

p. 151

"The song is a waterfall ... full of possibility. Calling the spirits, froglets, bird, cicada, all the hai to come and drink together, it’s a party."

p. 154

[song :] "Bird cicada rub their wings together. ...

p. 155

Of all know the clouds.

Dreaming, that I will drink, all that is going to be. ...

p. 156

Arriving here are ... lots of froglets. I say, I call the spirit of my ... froglet."

p. 160

"He may be attracting hai with the pretty ... image of a boat of many colors riding on the sea. The image resonates with ... the phantom gringo boat sent by otherworld spirits called Cha:mbera ..., suggesting ... cross-world attraction."

p. 181 women’s dance : "their gestures signify a series of wild animals – armadillo, parrot, agouti."

Stephanie C. Kane : The Phantom Gringo Boat. Smithsonian Institution Pr, Washington, 1994.