"Shamans, Prophets, Priests"

pp. 36-43 the 2 contrasting vocations





Arawakan Wakue`nai Baniwa on the Ic,ana & Guainia

"malirri – shamans proper – and

malikai liminali – the owners of chants."

36 & 38

p. 36 "The shamans ... work sitting on a stool and singing songs ... that refer to the fate of the patient’s conscious, individual soul."

p. 38 "the chant owners ... work alone, sitting motionless in a hammock, ... they cure entirely by continuous singing .... these songs refer ... to the fate of the patient’s unconscious, collective soul."

38, fn. 3


"the "owner of blowing" and

the "owner of prayers."


The former inspire fear; have access to the spirit world, where they consult good spirits and fight with enemy shamans and bad spirits; and can diagnose illness.

The latter blow spells prescribed by the former and inspire no fear."


Tukanoans of the Vaupe`s

"yai – "jaguar" or paye` -- and

~kubu –"priest.""



"When seeing the diseases the shaman takes "fish-yage`." ... When he is singing thus he ascends to the rainbow. The shaman carries a rattle adorned with the feathers of the oropendola bird. ... With the rattle and with his shaman’s stones he banishes the disease. ... The splinters {cf. "cast out the beam that is in thine."} ... become visible to him. ... he simply grasps them and throws them away."

"The ancestors of these paye`s obtained their powers ... from the master of thunder".




"Novice paye`s ... must obtain a number of spirit weapons and tools of office."


39, fn. 4


"A small gourd rattle ... is the the insignia and special tool of the Tukanoan paye`, the vehicle of his travels. ...

The ~kubu’s equivalent of this rattle is a long, feather-ornamented ceremonial lance ... During the dances, he uses this rattle to mark ... Time. His equivalent to


the paye`[’]s crystals is

a long white cylindrical quartzite pendant ("jaguar stone") worn hanging from his neck."



"the lower-grade rude or huti reagi ("one who blows and throws illness away") and

the more powerful and knowledgeable oko yuegi ("water thrower").

40-1 ...


[p. 40] The former do their curing outside the house at night, blowing tobacco smoke over their patients’ bodies and sucking ...

[p. 41] The latter ... operate only in the hot midday sun, using water scented with aromatic leaves, which they throw over the patients’ body. The water acts as a sieve that that trawls through the patient’s body ... amid much ... clapping of hands. The reflection of the sun in the water provides the medium for the shaman’s ascension to the sky to consult with ancestral spirits and seek their aid."



p. 41 "the paye` ... using hallucinogenic snuff to visit the master of animals to obtain game and fish and to enable him to tell the hunters and fishermen where to find their catch. ... The relations between the master of animals and human beings ... have a ... sexual character."

p. 42 The ~kubu "is given small quantities of yage` (Banisteriopsis) to help him learn."

p. 43 "The ~kubu ... blows spells ... into some vehicle – food, drink, coca, cigar, paint, nettles – which is ingested by the beneficiary or applied to a part of the body.

... the tapir figures in ... myths as a ~kubu and as an owner and master of tree fruits."



"The curing activities of the paye` involve trance and vertical ascents through various cosmic layers;

the spells of the ~kubu imply more horizontal travel, in thought, to different places on this earth. His spells have ... a list of animal, plant, and other spirits together with their harmful attributes; an inventory of geographical locations associated with each category of spirit; and ... the ~kubu travels from place to place cleansing and neutralizing the different dangerous attributes and powers he encounters."

pp. 48-61 prophets



prophet or prophetess



"The prophets organized mass meetings in special houses where ... the people danced, ... singing "ma`ariye, ma`ariye" ("heron, heron") – a common refrain from ... sacred dance music found among the contemporary Arawakans and Tukanoans".

"The shaman-prophets ... as curers ... anointed people’s bodies with magical substances and covered them with leaves. They also went into trance and acted as mediums, ascending to the sky to bring down the spirits of the dead so that they could communicate with the living and assist the shamans in curing the sick."


Desana of the Makuku, an affluent of the Papuri`

"Maria was the daughter of an old woman also called Maria. ... she had no father; ... she witnessed her own conception. ... the young Maria ... began to sing strange songs ... which could ... make the souls of the dead ascend to heaven."


Tukano of the Papuri`

"Lino Se^wa or Santo Lino ... taught them sacred songs, and preached that all his



followers would ascend to heaven. He also effected many cures with medicines of his own creation and was responsible for an extraordinary flush of flowers in the local forests".


" "

"Yewa` ... used a sacred mirror given him by God to foretell the arrival of the missionaries". {cf. [Aztec] use of sacred mirror to praedict to initial arrival of Cortez.}


" "

"~Yehuri announced the end of the world, a period of darkness when jaguars and spirits would punish all sinners by eating them, the Indians would become white people, children would give birth, and babies would be born hairy and would speak from their mothers’ wombs as a sign of their divinity."

pp. 62-68 incipient cargo-cult : saga of ""Bitter" (Sie) {cf. Bitterroot-god in Idaho} or ~Waribi ("He-who-went-away’)", from the Barasana in the Pira`-Parana` region




"~Waribi has rid the world of the last evil creatures and cannibals left over from earlier times. ... He was about to create the ancestors, all the peoples of the world, with his songs. ... He went up to the sky to fetch a small gourd of special water. He was going to pour it over himself ... Now he was ready to begin his songs, so he called all the people to him. He did this where he came to earth, were they first sang Bitter’s songs, on the Vaupe`s at Bitter’s beach, at Bitter Jaguar’s mountain. The Tukano were the first to hear his songs, then he taught our people [Barasana] at Huriti, where there is another of


his mountains, the place where he sang.

He called our ancestor Yeba, and he was prepared to listen. ... But lots of people doubted him ... [so he responded to them by] cursing them, causing them to fall down, and making their hands and feet stiff. He turned them into wild beasts – caimans, tapirs, deer, and jaguars. ... The ones who refused to listen to him were turned into animals with horns and with paws ...

Stone Flycatcher [a mythical character identified with the Holy Ghost] was there with him. ...


~Waribi had a special drink with him, Bitter’s wine. Yeba sipped a little bit of this drink. ... Then he began to sing. ...


At a place on the Tiquie`, ~Waribi made Bitter’s flesh and Bitter’s drink. The drink was pineapple wine {cf. the ritual use of "rotten pineapple" in rites of kanaima`}, which came from


a plant the Star people had planted. The people drank the pineapple wine from little gourds, saying "It’s really Bitter’s blood." ... ~Waribi brought green plaintains and made little round flat cakes, which he roasted of the griddle for them just like what the priests give out today."


"The aim of the rites ... was to bring white people and their goods back from the edge of the world, where ~Waribi had sent them when he created people ... To command the spirits of white people to come and to bring them down to earth, the shamans blew spells onto a book painted with red paint and into a gourd of beeswax. The gourd was the gourd now used in the men’s cult of flutes and trumpets ... When they blew spells on the gourd, white people arrived ...

To effect their cures, the shamans used bunches of leaves as rattles and went up into the sky on ladders or vines to call the ancient jaguar shamans who live alongside ~Waribi and the spirits of white people. Their abode is like a white people’s town, with many house and constant light. The old jaguar shamans would come down to earth dressed in jaguar-shin cloaks. While they were down below, the shamans remained up in the sky. When they had finished their cures, they would swap places once again."




34, fn. 1

"Among the Bororo, ... aroe-shamanism ... has disappeared while bope-shamanism persists."

40, fn. 5

Barasana :- "the constellation Caterpillar jaguar (roughly equivalent to Scorpius), is one of danger".

40, fn. 6

"Barasana shamans ... say that fish yage` belongs to the fish spirits {cf. [Kic^e`] twin-brethren gods Hun-ahpu and X-balam-ke, who became fishes (according to the Popol Vuh)} and Virola belongs to the tree spirits {cf. [Kic^e`] their uncles Hun Hun-ahpu and Vucub Hun-ahpu, whose heads grew on a tree in heaven (according to the Popol Vuh)}."

42, fn. 11

"The presentation of the sari feast, which also involves sacred flutes and trumpets, likewise marks the attainment of the status of ruwang itso’fha, or the high status of priestly shaman ..., among the Piaroa."

44, fn. 13

Barasana :- "protection was ... embodied in ceremonial shields owned and used by the ~kubu."

45, fn. 14

Barasana :- "Two major cycles of mythology, one dealing with the creation of the sacred flutes and trumpets used in clan rituals and with the ancestral or he {cf. GE nationality in Brazil?} people who are represented by them ..., and the other dealing with the origins of alliance and intergroup exchange ... of truly human society".

Nicholas Thomas & Caroline Humphrey (eds.) : Shamanism, History, and the State. Ann Arbor : U of MI Pr, 1994. pp. 32-75 Stephen Hugh-Jones : "Shamans, Prophets, Priests and Pastors".