Tales of the Yanomami [on the uppermost Orinoco river in Venezuela]

[phonetics :- vowel-clusters are pronounced with a glottal between them (/e>e/);

/th/ is aspirated]

sexual, praegnancy, and nursing behaviors




"One doesn’t make love with a woman who is nursing. ... Sexual intercourse is prohibited until the process of weaning begins".


sexual dream :- "He talks, continues to caress her pubis, ... Will you let me fondle your vulva? ... She doesn’t answer but laughs into her hands, which amounts to an acquiescence. He lets his hand drop to her genitals and feels the softness of the vulva under his fingers."


"Society dictates the exchange of ... sisters,

... a homosexual relationship with a brother-in-law prefigures the future heterosexual relationship with his sister"


"The girl was a virgin of course, and they merely rubbed their organs [penes] on her vulva without penetrating her."


"when two young people paint themselves for each other’s sake, they are immediately suspected of being in love."


"Nothing is more mortifying to an Indian than to be seen with his glans [of the penis] uncovered" {likewise to the Maori man}


girl [mentioned also on p. 55] "goes out behind the shelter with a girlfriend; they urinate, standing with legs apart and arching their backs to make the stream of urine spurt as far as possible."


"His interest first turned to "green" little girls; he persuaded several to go with him into the bushes, where he would rub his saliva-coated penis against their vulvas".


omens to prospective mother of her unborn child’s gendre : "If twigs become entangled in toes when she is walking in the forest, she concludes that she will have a boy; if the bananas she is roasting on the embers split lengthwise, she deduces it will be a girl. She catches a grasshopper, pulls out the long hind legs, which she places on the coals" in order to decide the child’s gendre.


A praegnant woman "must avoid looking ... where the canoes are moored : The glance


of a pregnant women causes wood to split. ... expectant mothers were not permitted to hand the pots for fear they might crack." They "avoid eating the biggest fish : Their spirit, or rather the vital principle that inhabits them, can take possession of the fetus and torment it to death."

The midwife "has cut the umbilical cord with a reed splinter; she has smeared blood on the child’s lips so that he will later learn to speak more quickly".


"Like all Yanomami mothers, she stuffs her dark nipple into the grimacing little mouth every time the baby cries. She insists on giving him the right breast, because he is a boy. Girls are associated rather with the left side."

"Because she doesn’t want to lose the bit of umbilical cord left on the child’s belly, [the mother] twists a cotton thread around it and ties it behind the baby’s back. In a few days the cord will be dry and naturally separate from the navel; she will ... hang it on the rope of her hammock. Later still, she will tie it to a "ghost tree" (bore ke" hi) and ... will walk several turns around the trunk : The child ... will be assured of a long life."


" "menstruation leaves" (yibi ke: henaki) .... from a shrub ...; when in bloom the plant produces modest, dark purple flowers that appear at each leaf joint of a fused calyx."


condition of the menstruant female :- "completely naked"; drinking only through a hollow cane; scratching herself only with a stick; blowing on the fire only with a fan; speaking only in a whisper; her food roasted, not boiled


"[A man] sleeps and dreams. [A woman (in the dream)] calls him ... He goes to her and they couple, standing. When he withdraws, he sees that his penis is red with blood. He asks :

Aren’t you menstruating?

Yes, I am."


"it is accepted among the Yanomami that a man have [sexual] access to his brothers’ wives"


heri festival of mashed banana-pulp :- "he flings this pulp, warm and sticky like sperm, onto the faces of sleeping women ... and women become the targets of gluey missiles aimed especially at the genitals, the buttocks, and the face."

novitiate of candidate for shamanhood




drug praepared by candidate to be initiated as shaman :- "the bark of the Virola elongata tree, from which a powerful hallucinogenic drug is prepared; he dries this bark and crushes it to a fine powder before pouring it into a long, narrow tube tightly sealed with the skin of a toad.’

drug praepared by initiator of shamans :- "pulverizing seeds of the Anandenanthera peregrina, another hallucinogenic substance"


invocation of great hekura at the initiation of candidate to become shaman :-

"Moon Spirit!

Spirit of the Whirlpool!

Vulture Spirit! Come down into me!"


"the little folk, the minor spirits ... have no power of their own; they are only the attendants of the great hekura -- ... parts of the ornaments that the hekura use in their dances. These minor spirits are

the aphrodisiac woman,

the one who has "value of palm leaf,"

the one who has "value of kumiti leaf,"

the tail of the ocelot, and so forth."


"When he is treating a patient, [a shaman’s] gestures move upward, for he must uproot from the body {cf. [Skt.] Mula-barhan.i ‘uprooting’ : moving upward from Mula-dhara} the demons that contaminate it. Now [for the making of a candidate in shaman] his movements are reverse : they channel the hekura and direct them toward his pupil’s chest."


"It is not adult hekura who will answer to the [initiators-]shamans’ exhortations, but children [hekura] who will develop inside the human habitation thus assigned to them and who will bestow increasing power upon their master as they grow in strength." {likewise in Daoist internal al-chemy, a divine embryo is sought to be emplaced; which embryo will gradually mature, benefiting its human host.}


"Then they lead toward the novice

the moon Spirit,

the Darkness Spirit,

the Spirit of the Whirlpool,

the Milky Way Spirit,

the witiwitimi bird,

the marashi woman".


[The initiator] "is embodying the Moon Spirit, a powerful and frightening cannibal who is advancing with measured steps to take possession of the body that is assigned to him."


dialogue (candidate is to repeat the sayings of the initiator) :-

"Here comes the black jaguar. ...

I speak like the bore koko bird. ...

The ushuweimawe: {/us^u/ ‘formula recited to ward off misfortune’ (p. 194); cf. /US^Uaia/ in Tierra de Fuego} bird speaks through my mouth. ...

The eeeeri birds are gathering. ...

They are shaking the tail of an ocelot. ...

on the horizon rises a gigantic tree. ...

Sloth Spirit ... is going to seek for you the free hekura who wander in the forest. ...

We are sewing end to end the skins of black toucans. ...

The red tree answers the songs of the hekura. ...


Human beings ... rouse the magic tree to song. ...

The red waterfall tumbles and leaps into emptiness."


dream by candidate :-

"fantastic beings and landscapes. A number of streams run through the forest ... A whole population of tapirs is following them downstream to reach a waterfall so high ... Roucou trees covered with red


pods are bending under the weight of innumerable capuchin monkeys. Beneath a tangle of acaulous plants, ... opens the path of the kowahito, a people of water demons personified by the wild rabbit. {cf. the "lake of waters" beneath [C^ippewa] rabbit-god Minaboz^o (MAN—NA, p. 40)}... Garrulous parrots chatter ... : A child leaps toward them, only to be snapped up by a jaguar. ... An animal comes out of the mist; it looks like ... a giant anteater ..., someone invisible shoots a headless arrow against the beast. The anteater collapses ...

Some hekura come to him, ... They call him by name, ... They hand bead necklaces round his neck. A hekura spits out the magic plants".


"At night or in the afternoon, ... the shamans ... show him the blaze in which the miserly are consumed and the great dwelling of the souls in the sky. They continue to bring into his breast the different parts that make up the dwelling of the hekura."

"To the usual substance – bark and seeds – they now add cultivated plants of the genus Justicia, which are psychedelic and aromatic."


"On the third day, [the initiator] has led the powerful Electric Fish Spirit into its new abode. ... Here are the cannibal spirits : the Moon Spirit, the Night Spirit! The sides of the mountain are peopled with macaws. ... The Toucan Woman Spirit is dancing toward you with a rustling of palm leaves. ... The rocks sparkle with unknown lights. ... The hekura are carrying me, and I see on their backs the slender tongues of toucans that they have tied one to the other."


"On the fifth day, the novice is crowned with the watoshe. It is a diadem of woven palm leaves covered with the white down of birds of prey. ... The watoshe is also an ornament of the hekura."

"It is on the eighth day that the ceremony culminates ..."


"Captured by the shamans, the little hekura enter the breast of the man who is meant to become their


master; that is where they will grow into adults. They are eventually freed by the death of their mortal host. This can have cosmic effects if their master was a great shaman : ... thunderbolts are unleashed, rain whips the trees. The people say : "A great shaman has just died." The hekura scatter; they leave for uninhabited rocks. It happens, however, that one of them goes to dwell with another great shaman. .... the hekura who undertake this transmigration from one body to another ... are the habrabiwe:. When they reach the shaman they have chosen to inhabit, the habrabiwe: announce and introduce themselves. They say : "I have come from the breast of such-and-such [they mention the personal name] where I was before.""


an act in the initiation of candidate into becoming a shaman : theatrical performance by shamans in the ro^le of great hekura-s :- "The shamans ... make their appearance frightening : Their bodies are deformed [contorted], their faces are grimacing, and their tongues, thrusting out of their mouths, flicker in all directions. ...


[one shaman-actor] "is the Spider Monkey Spirit; he is on the alert, ... when suddenly he ... has recognized [an alien spirit, in the guise of another actor] ... The shamans ... unleash a multitude of fiery bolts by means of the inhaling tubes

... the Whirlwind Spirit is ... whirling his two arms in order to absorb the intruder. ... [yet another shaman] is the


Tarantula Spirit with stinging hairs. ... The enemy is ... overwhelmed by itching stings, cleft in two, and finally routed. ...

The Oriole Spirit comes ..., immediately followed by

the waroo Snake Spirit ["greenish, tree-dwelling" (p. 194)] who haunts the dwellings of the hekura ...

Here comes the Woodpecker, who flutters to and fro ...

Here comes the Caiman Spirit, carrying a bow on his shoulder ...

Here come Ghost, master of the bananas and the plantain; he is miserly and he mispronounces his worlds.

The plantain woman rounds off their heterogenous host

... [a shaman] embodies all these different characters in turn, with consummate mimicry".


restrictions applied to new shaman :- "For a long time he will not be able to approach women. ... How many before him were not able to resist the temptation, and the hekura, driven out, went back to their rocks!

He must withdraw when an animal hide is singed, for the hekura abhor the smell of [burning hair].

He is advised not to go into the forest, in order to avoid the many cobwebs that hang across the trail."


"On the second day, [the initiator] sends upon him the Wild Pig Spirit; the shamans then rub their brows with ashes {cf. Ash Wednesday} ... Then it is the Sloth Spirit that is called. [The candidate] can finally consider himself a real shaman."


"If a new shaman makes love, he loses all his hekura. He is "empty." ... those shamans can only begin tracing the path of the spirits all over again. Only a new initiation can give them back what they have lost and enable their nostrils to smell the perfumes of the magical dyes."

MAN--NA = Hartley Burr Alexander : Mythology of All Nations – Vol 10. "North American" http://www.oldandsold.com/articles26/indian-mythology-10.shtml

curative shamanry, remedying ailments




diagnosis :- "he wants to see what ill afflicts him and saps his health, and he discovers the nasty black bees, the shaki ke: na, that feed on spoiled meat and offal. The foul honey has blocked the patient’s vital organs and intestines; thousands of voracious mandibles are about to eat his soul."

invocation :- "Giant Armadillo Spirit, descend into me!"


possessing-spirit speaking through the shaman :- "I am the Giant Armadillo Spirit!"

curative activity by that spirit :- "He is near the patient, he crawls under his back. His claws, his powerful limbs dig ... and throw out the black bees’ gluey honey ...

summoning of implement for that spirit :- [shaman] "has called the Spirit of a stone ... It is kakuruwe:, that tears, saws, slices ...

result :- "Then they remove the evil honey, banish it to the underworld where it will contaminate a people of strange, hairless beings, the amahiri."


"The shamans ... assert that the redness of sunset comes from diseases that are released by a demon ..."


toothache : "teeth are gnawed by palm worms."

"practice peculiar to women" : "she gather a handful of leaves with which she deals him little blows ... By performing this ..., she is warding off the risk of disease announced by the dream.


... to escape an epidemic, they perform this rite in order to mislead the shawara, who will lose the fugitives’ track."


"You can repel the demons of disease; they enable you to recognize them by their smell. Each one has his peculiar odor, and their hammocks are impregnated with it; it comes from the watota [‘armbands’], which they all possess. ... One can make out the smell of the oriole, that of the yei palm or of the rasha palm, or that of the more: tree or the momo tree. The moon smells of old things and garbage."


"A long time ago, there was a shaman who was tormented by an ardent desire to make love. He ... met a beautiful young girl. He took hold of her arm and tried to draw her under the trees; but she bit him so ... that he released her. ... One day, when she was in the forest cutting wood, he sent the hekura, who made a sharp branch fall on her ... and the woman died ... His companions ... decided to kill him and pierced him with their spears. The hekura came to fetch his body and carried it away to the makayo mountain to place it in a recess in the rock. ...

I know the call song of that shaman, thanks to the spirits that deserted him and came into my breast. They help me cure little children. ...


"Near the rivers live dark-feathered, swallow-like birds with a two-pronged tail; they ... snatch insects in flight, and gather on the dead branches of trees that have fallen into the river. They are called shoro [Chaetura cinereiventris – p. 194], and they constitute the shorori, a people of water demons who are also masters of fire; Kakamawe: rules them. Under the water, ... they put on a human appearance. ... Children must not linger near stagnant waters in the evening, lest the shoro steal their souls. ...


[personal account of a childhood experience : curation, by his father, of a boy-child (narrator, now adult) of an abscess caused by s^oro-ri] My father ... inhaled the drug and discovered that the shorori had taken possession of my soul. ... My father changed into a hekura and set out on the path of the shorori. This path is fiery hot; he was suffering from the torrid heat; the soles of his feet became covered with blisters ... He had just restored my soul to me when he collapsed on the ground with a great cry : The fire of the shorori was consuming him; he was about to die."


[account by same narrator of same father’s exploit in curing an adult man] "My father immediately took the drug. He traveled with [fellow-shaman] on board a long flying canoe. They flew so high that they almost touched the Milky Way; the heat was stifling. They swooped down ..., rained fire bolts ..., and, taking advantage of the confusion provoked by their assault, they recovered the soul. ... [The fellow-shaman], hit in the throat, was unable to regain his seat in the canoe. My father was out of breath and had to abandon him, and it was [still another shaman] who went to deliver him on the occasion of a visit.

Another time, [another adult male patient] came to see us ... to have his eye cured. ... My father called down the hekura and saw that the Sun Spirit had taken the vital principle of the eye ... To get to the land of the Sun one must first reach a distant, embryonic, and diaphanous world of torrid heat, the Milky Way. My father changed into a spider monkey and climbed a supporting post. Other shamans joined him on the expedition; some were howling monkeys, others, saki monkeys, others yet were squirrels. They started to climb toward the roof. The heat increased as they rose ... When they set foot in the superior world, they again changed their natures; my father had become a hailstone so that the cold might protect him from the fire; [another shaman, the one who had accompanied in the flying canoe, supra] was an anaconda; [still another shaman, the one who had been an eye-patient, supra] a rahara, and it was the water where these animals live that enabled them to bear the oven-like heat, Sun wanted to drive them off in order to keep the eye and eat it, and he aimed powerful rays at them. ... In that basket, Sun was keeping the eye. My father ... untied it, and carried it away. All the shamans had again changed into saki monkeys. They were shouting :


ho~se~! ho~se~!"


"A rainbow ...; the Yanomami call it boa’s belly, saying that it is the path where Omayari, the demon, watches human beings to sent them diarrhea ... For the Yanomami, a rainbow, like a red sunset, always has a baneful connotation".


[curation of a woman from "terrible abdominal cramps" {intestinal influenza?}] "That night, the shaman has a dream that reveals the cause of the illness : He sees Titiri, the white-haired demon of the night, creep up to the sleeping [woman], press her waist between his thighs, insert his monstrous penis into her vagina, and force the opening until the flesh tears. Hence the pain she feels.

In former days, endless daylight reigned over the earth. Titiri ... was only a gigantic curassow {cf. [Skt.] /tittiri/ ‘partridge’} ..., always sitting on the same branch that he never left. ... They could hear the Curassow Spirit ... sining, naming rivers, mountains, rocks :

That way is the "rock of the ghosts,"

that way is the "mountain of the taro,"

this way is the "river of the thoru flowers,"

Here is the "river of thorns."

It is he who gave their names to the places of the forest. ...

The branch on which he sat bent down to the ground under his weight. ... Ho~ro~nami ... pierced the Curassow Spirit whose body, wounded to death, fell heavily. ... Some white feathers loosened from the bird’s lower abdomen and moved away in a long file after changing into demons of


twilight, the weyari. The night was pitch-black ...; they made bundles of firebrands to light their way. ... They fell into a deep sleep and dreamed for the first time. ...

Since then, Titiri has changed into a demon ... His penis is inordinately long and thick. He couples with women and sodomizes men, without their knowledge, while they are asleep, tears their flesh with his member, and captures their souls after he has ejaculated. ...

And Titiri lives at the meeting point of the earthly and celestial worlds. ... The log represents Titiri’s penis, and the loincloth symbolizes the sick girl’s soul. ...

[incursion on lair of Titiri by curative shamans] The shamans ... join their efforts ... Thanks to the drug, ... they have become hekura. First they scatter, look for firebrands, which they tie into bundles, then line up in single file ... squatting ... The familiar hekura ... dispel the fog that envelops them. ... To prevent them from reaching the soul, Titiri urinates on the firebrands; several times he almost puts them out ...


[The leader of the shamans] handles the penis [of Titiri] until he provokes ejaculation; the demon’s sperm gushes forth in a copious flood, spills on the ground, and splashes over everything. [That shaman-leader] now needs only to draw out of the girl’s body the "reflection" – it is also called "the image,"


the "shadow" of the male member that is still contaminating her {cf. the need to extract the amputated penis of Coyote out of the vagina of the swimming woman (LP – Coast-Plateau)}; then he gives the penis back to Titiri and sends him to Rumirumiyoma, his mother-in-law, so that she may watch over him."


a "baby is sick. They say that he has lost his "image" (noreshi), embodied in a small lizard. ... The "images" of small children are represented by a tiny, blue-tailed lizard; they ... have a tendency to get lost frequently, so that they must be sought. As children grow, their "images" become embodies in other animals. These [other animals] "images" are inherited : Boys take their fathers’; girls usually receive their mothers’ ... Among the central Yanomami, a whole class of animals includes the emblems assigned to the men, namely the capuchin monkey, the spider monkey, the harpy eagle, the jaguar, the toucan, and the macaw. A completely different class ... included the animals reserved for women : the otter, the snake, the toad, and the tapir. ...

There is a direct relationship between a person and his or her emblematic animal ...; if one is sick or dies, his or her counterpart immediately falls ill and dies. The animals live far away from the humans whose image they are, so that the two can never meet. ...


The only exception is the harpy eagle, which lives quite near the men whose "image" it is. {cf. [Kemetian] actual living mundane falcon (or else as "falcon of gold", appearing in one’s dream – IDANE, pp. 251b, 206b-207a) as animal-double of nobility } And that is why the man who kills one is bound to submit to the unokai ritual, like all murderers. ...

A person who loses his or her "image" becomes weak ... and may die ... To cure him or her, friends and relatives imitate the cries and attitudes of the "image."

... the emblematic animals served to identify matrimonial classes. One can sometimes hear people say : "Spider monkeys marry only otters" or "Jaguars do not marry snakes.""

LP = http://www.ruthenia.ru/folklore/berezkin/eng/031_16.htm

IDANE = A. Leo Oppenheim : The Interpretation of Dreams in the Ancient Near East. Philadelphia, 1956.

shamanry to increase the growth of tree-fruits




"he takes hold of each post supporting the forward section of the roof, shakes it while invoking the name of Boreawe:, master of the plantain ... to hasten the flowering of the banana trees".


"more~ fruits" ["which look like small brown olives" (p. 55)] : "The trees that grow these fruits produce only every fourth year; to account for this oddity, the Indians say that Thunder is their master and that he delays their flowering as long as possible. In order to compel Thunder to make the trees produce, the shamans undertake the voyage toward the celestial vault where he lives. They find him there and, by tripping him into the water, give him such a fright that he grants them their demand".


"Thunder is the master of the more~ fruits. Formerly he was a tapir. He was killed by Fe~ife~iyomi’s elder brother ... Fe~ife~iyomi {cf. [S^into] god /tuki-YOMI/} ... was offered the pancreas. He was so angry at receiving such a bad portion that he flung it into the sky where it became Thunder. {cf. slingstone hurled, resulting in deaths of 27 in the Irish account} As for Fe~ife~iyomi, he changed into a bird; he is Thunder’s son-in-law and lives with him in the shelter of the souls. {/YOMI/ is name of the S^into mythic realm for souls of the dead}

Recently, my father went to Thunder to ask for the more: fruits. He prepared the drug, called [the shaman who had in a praevious adventure become a rahara], and they ... reached the celestial disk, set foot on it, and took a moment’s rest. They first met Thunder’s son-in-law, and convinced him to go to his father-in-law and divert his attention. Fe~fe~iyomi perched on the rope of Thunder’s hammock and started to sing : Fe~i, fe~i, fe~i, yo! ... In the meantime, the two shamans entered the dwelling of the souls; they saw from afar Thunder with his curly hair and his eyelids heavy with warts. {cf. [Irish] god Balor, whose eyelid was so heavy that "Four men would raise the lid of the eye" (CMT, p. 61)} They took more~ trees and scattered their fruits over the earth, which was thus made fruitful." {is this Dacryodes "that fruits every four or five years" (p. 193) repraesented in the 5 transformations, the last a tree, which Proteus became (GM 169.a)? – He was accompanied "by hundreds of seals", just as 12 of Balor’s grandsons became seals (CBL, p. 144).} ... They burst into tears and ... we started to sob". {[Hellenic] /Dakru-/ ‘tear (weeping)’ may refer to the dripping from the eye of Balor. Incidentally, the variation between [Norse] /turs/ = [Old English] /torn/ as the name of one of the runes can be explicated by /turs/ : */tursi-/ ([Latin] /turris/) ‘tower’ as the ‘Great Tower’ for the daughter of Balor (CLB, p. 143) as related with the ‘thorn’ used by (CLB, pp. 143-144) Ceannfhaolaidh (Kineely), son-in-law of Balor.}

CMT = Elizabeth A. Gray : Cath Maige Tuired: The Second Battle of Mag Tuired. London: Irish Texts Society, 1982.

CBL = ORAL TRADITION, 7/1 (1992):143-149 Joan N. Radner : "The Combat of Lug and Balor". http://journal.oraltradition.org/files/articles/7i/10_radner.pdf

other shamanic beliefs & practices


practice / belief


"a greenish toad ... called kunamaru ... goes at nigh to sit on the chests of sleepers, whom it douses with its noxious urine. ... it was formerly a famous shaman; and if ... one were to kill or wound it, others would surely come to avenge it."


"There is also the underworld of the amahiri, who are ... hairless. ... To their country our shamans send the evil demons they ... get rid of after drawing them out of sick peoples’ bodies. ... The rays of the sun reach them, for our ground is transparent to them." {cf. the transparent (jeweled) foundations of the Nea Hierosolume in the Apokalusis of Ioannes.}


"In order to recognize each other when they move about in darkness, the Yanomami crush fireflies on their chests and shoulders, which thus become phosphorescent. They say that fireflies are stars that fall from the sky." {meteorites}


"amphibaesna – a kind of limbless lizard, blind and harmless, whose body is ringed with black and white stripes; it spends ... its life underground. .... The Indians believe that an amphibesna comes out of the spinal column of every man killed in war. They hold that this lizard is in contact with the underworld where dwell the amahiri".


psychedelic effects from hallucinogenic drugs consisting of "Gray, green, olive powders" :- "He sees fantastic landscapes bathed in orange, red, carmine, or scarlet light. The shelter has convulsions and buckles grotesquely. Suddenly a bloody whirlwind arises and submerges everything ... Uncanny and frightful figures take shape and dissolve again : A headless man is pursued by a many-limbed being who is quickly replaced by a man crowned with a quarter of a head. Sometimes these creatures are swollen like balloons, sometimes their skin is covered with repulsive blisters. [The practitioner] feels his nose lengthen ..."


"At night, the spirits are all around him. They murmur into his ear ...


He must answer when they address him; he purses his lips and makes them vibrate. This is the way of the shamans when they communicate at night with the supernatural world.

His dream activity ... sees all sorts of waterfalls with waters of many colors, a host of beings whom heads are covered with down; he crosses the path of horrible macaws ... He says : When I am awake, a breeze surrounds me : It is the hekura ... I see them ... in my sleep; they emit a ... sustained buzzing. If they face me, ... lightning flashes ...

When he utters his call, he can detect the perfumed breeze that surrounds his body. He ... feels them climb up the side of his leg, swirl around his kneecap, reach his thigh, rise above his hip. ... {cf. the Bodhi-sattva’s "dream of white worms with black heads crawling up the ... leg" (NRCR, p. 542)} He can hear their song : "a re~re~re~re~re~ ..."; this is the sound the shamans make with their tongues at the time of the first call. A tube protrudes from his mouth; its lower end is sunk into his side. The breeze hesitates and finally rushed into the tube, thus gaining entry into his body. Magical trees have grown in his chest. ...

The parrotlets skip from branch to branch and sing "bre~, bre~, bre~ ..." The kreo~mari toucans speak with their hoarse voices : "kreo~, kreo~, kreo~ ..." ... These are not ordinary birds, but hekura, of course ...

Enormous boulders, ... mountains, immense rivers, landscapes unknown to him appear. The hekura teach him their names. ... With them he enters the underworld of the amahiri, where he meets a great anteater with powerful arms who wants to embrace and crush him. The amphisbaena crawls beside him; it raises its white head and dances. ... Thanks to the hekura, the exquisite perfume of the dyes wafts out of his body; it is they who sprinkle him with their nourishing nectar, sweet as honey and red as blood".


"The path of the hekura is visible, luminous; ... Their paths become luminous for me. I am sleeping, they approach and summon


me to answer them. They suddenly wake me by shaking my arm or pulling on my ankle. ... Those who are not ... shamans do not hear them. He who is really a shaman hears a kind of buzzing : bouu ... during his sleep, and this song echoes, rebounding off the celestial vault. ...

The kneecap is their shabono. ... The big toe is their main path and the other toes their secondary paths : They all converge on the kneecap. ... There is in your body a long tube hollow like a bamboo. One end is inserted into your hip, the other is set flush with your lips. Below your throat, the hekura have placed a hollow sphere through which your breath must pass.

I saw the hekura ... They give off a heady perfume; it comes from the dyes and the magic plants they carry with them."


"I had this dream : A shaman was inhaling an unknown drug; soon he started to spit out magic plants, the objects belonging to the spirits. At his feet lay the bamboo from which the hekura fashion their fire bolts. There was at that spot a waterfall so high that its water became foam while it was falling; at its summit the toucans came to roost; they too carried the magic substances in their beaks. ... If you go near the water, its level rises all at once; you are suddenly in it up to you lips {cf. Tantalos "thirst-parched midst waters, catches at fleeting waves with cheated lips" (A 20) }, and the demons that live in it enter your breast ... I like to listen to the toucans’ song; they appear when I sleep and sing : yaukwe~, kwe~, kwe~ ...


In that direction rises the Kanae rock. It is very high. Toucans roost at the top. They are all hekura and carry in their beaks the purple ornaments that they have just spit out. ... The toucans of ... [the other world, those seen in dreams] are magnificent – they are ... red ... and their breasts are covered with down.


The moment I utter the call to the hekura, my breath no longer passes through my chest. It takes the path of the hekura : It follows my leg, swirls around my kneecap and continues its way up to my mouth; it becomes identical to the breeze produced by the movements of the spirits. My breath is fragrant with the exquisite perfume of its charms."


"the aphrodisiac plants, the aromatic "leaves for women," the plant for "making children grow," the one that gives fortitude for working in the garden, and the one that ensures a successful incest."


I had a dream. I saw some hekura, very far away, who were carrying a snake. They flew over me, almost stopped, hesitated, then continued their flight : ... I woke ... the dream I had just had ... was a bad omen, and I knew that I would be bitten if I ventured into the forest. ...


I was bitten by an aroami snake. ...

At night I dreamed. I saw the hekura shooting fiery darts at me. ... They brought down from the sky an object unknown to me. The night was pitch-black; the moon had been "dead" for several days. When that unknown object was near me, I had a premonition and opened by eyes. My chest was glistening from a viscid, greaselike substance."

"When shamans want to cause death by means of a snake, they cut a length of vine and split one end to simulate the mouth. They paint designs of the body and glue


white down on the head. Then they stroke their creature, which comes alive and really becomes a snake. ...

At other times, they send the hekura into the sky, to the land of Thunder and of the souls. They meet hera and ask him for a snake : He has numbers of them, coiled around him; they are his domestic animals. ... The hekura’s snakes are frightful; ... Only the kaomari bird [Micrastur ruficollis, feeding on snakes] can fight them successfully."


hekura, encountered through drugs :- "the Puma Spirit with his enormous testicles,

the Giant Armadillo Spirit with his impressive penis and ridiculous gait,

the Tamandua [arboreal anteater] Spirit,

the Sloth Spirit who gives order to others and stoically bears the cruelest wounds. ...



son of Thunder, and

the Jaguar Spirit. ...

the beings of the storm : Ruwe:riwe:, Spirit of dark weather and thick, deep fogs, and

Ihirothawe:, Spirit of clouds and mists."


"Women cannot be initiated, but some of them are acute clairvoyants who sometimes receive the revelation of the hekura. ... They take hallucinogens, sing to the spirits ..."


hekura who assist in the remote killing (supernaturally) of a male child :-

"the Ant Spirit,

the waroo Snake Spirit,

the Scorpion Spirit."


hekura who are "great eaters of souls", who eat the captured soul of male child :-

"The Moon Spirit ...,

the Vulture Spirit,

the Buzzard Sp[irit,

the voracious Sha~kinari".


"The rahara, gigantic aquatic monsters, swallow those that approach them and rush ashore to devour those foolhardy enough to pronounce their name near the deep hole. ... two curassows ... are the "beast’s" mascots; it uses them to draw us to it. These curassows always roost above the waterhole where the monster is hiding. ... When the rahara are in a friendly mood, they emit a kind of snapping sound ... The rahara always have near them some pet animals, most often hoatzins."


"to stop dreaming one must eat a tarantula."

"It is believed that lice that fall to the ground change into scorpions."

NRCR = The Notion of "Religion" in Comparative Research. 1993.

A = Seneca : Agamemnon. http://www.theoi.com/Heros/Pelops.html

hunting & game-animals




"Sometimes his arrow remains caught in the foliage, and then he addresses to the hummingbird the propitiatory formula : Hummingbird, hummingbird, give me back my arrow!"


"These charms are all plants of the genus Cyperus. Their bulbs, when dried over the fire and fastened to the arrowheads, are supposed to ensure the success of the shots. Each plants has a specific use : One is for hunting partridges, another for curassows; one is for toucans, one for armadillos, and another is for small birds."


When the sun is on the horizon, the ho~rema bird says "were, were, were ..." ...

Toward morning, the yo~ririmi bird utters his : "yo~riri, yo~riri ..." ...

Soon after, another bird, hutumi, says : "hutu, hutu ..."

The bat scolds : "irosisi, irosisi ...""


"the hunters would feel dishonored if they ate of the animals they kill; they are permitted to have only insects, frogs, and the entrails of certain animals."


"people are able to kill great numbers of pigs because they are generous to animals by offering them earlobe plugs : The pigs respond to this gift ... by offering themselves as game. ...

When someone has noticed fresh tracks or seen the animals, ... he hurries back ... to notify his friends. On his return, he uses a conventional formula in a prescribed tone of voice ...; one never names the desired object, for that would make it disappear."


o~rihiye~ : a game-animal found "lying on the ground, still alive but unable to move. ... The animal bears no trace of a wound. ... O~rihiye~ animals are really tricks ... When hunters on a foray meet an o~rihiye~ animal, ... The omen is most baneful, and they immediately turn back."


"A hunter never partakes of the game he brings back; if he did, he would violate the rigorous moral code that enjoins exchanging with others ..."


"a whole category of animals is forbidden to young people between the ages of twelve and eighteen, boys as well as girls. Thus, pacas, peccaries, agoutis, the whole deer family, coatis, howler monkeys, saki monkeys, and capybaras are prohibited, and other meat must be found for them. ... the forbidden animals change according to the region."

the dead




cremation of corpse, "smoke rising from the pyre. And that smoke is full of evil demons of disease, the shawara, that rise with it, having been released by the cremation."


"The pyre has gone out ... the ... brothers of the dead man go to gather the bony remains ... depositing the bones in baskets; only their right hands are working ...


The brothers crush the bones in the mortar, careful to produce a perfectly fine powder that they pour into gourds tinted red with roucou and hermetically sealed with beeswax."


"Our ancestors were immortal : they ceased being immortal when they had possession of fire. Souls leave the body at the time of death. They rise along the ropes of the hammocks and climb up the supporting posts of the shelter to go to live on the celestial disk. When the body is burned, the soul[’s] ... nose, its eyes start to glow ... In the land of souls, ... souls are gathered together in a great shelter and Thunder rules over them. Lightning is the son of Thunder; his beauty is marvelous; he couples incestuously with his mother. {cf. lightning-wielder Zeus’s coupling incestuously with his own mother} In the dwelling of the souls lives Hera {cf. [Skt.] HERAmba the elephant-god}; he is a demon, master of the snakes he wears about his body ... Sometimes Hera simulates death; then his mouth exhales a foul stench ... The souls think that he is really dead ... But ... Hera comes back to life and sneers ... {cf. [Aztec] variants : "... Sahagún, according to which a nigromant dies for deceiving people at the market of Tula; then his body starts to stink and many people die. After that, they tie the body with ropes but "it is so heavy that the Tolteca cannot carry it." Many get together to try to move it, but when the ropes break, those who are holding them also die, and it is necessary to chant it verses. Finally, it is taken to the mountain "and those who come back cannot remember what has happened to them because they feel as if they were drunk."4 In the version of the "Anónimo mexicano", there is a reference of a giant who used to hold and kill people. The next day, a very beautiful child with a white face appears, but his head is rotten and it stinks, and many die because of this. Finally, the child is taken to a lagoon where he disappears in the water.5 The same subject appears in the Códice Ríos. Here, the dead body appears with the intestines outside the body, and when people drag it to the mountain, they fall into a hollow between two hills which come together and crush them all. The "Leyenda de los Soles"6 indicates that a toothless lad was caught with his mouth filled with dirt, and that after they had killed him, they saw he had nothing inside: no heart, no intestines, no blood, but that it stank and caused death. He was also dragged with ropes. Finally, Ixtlilxóchitl also mentioned the catastrophes of Tula, and the white boy, blond and beautiful. The boy was taken before the king, and his head started to rot, and the stench killed most of the Tolteca.7 (DA, vol. 18)}

Those Yanomami who in life have been to mean [stingy] with their possessions do not go into the great dwelling of the souls. Crouching at the edge of a path ... is Watawatawe:. He shows their lost souls the route they must follow; they then travel along a narrow trail that curves around a big hill. Behind that hill is a gigantic blaze, ... enclosed in a huge new and tender leaf {is this the "leaf" securing the umbilical cord on p. 73? – "the heat of the fire replaces the warmth of the mother’s body" (loc. cit.)} : The souls are drawn to it {like moths?}, they fall into it and are consumed."


funeral feast consisting of "boiled plantains ... with ... the light grey dust of crushed bones"


incestuous woman : "She won’t burn well when she is cremated. The bodies of those who indulge in incest do not cremate well : the fingernails don’t burn, and the eyes remain untouched by the flames".


"The smoke of cremation is particularly dangerous in the case of a young child. The arrows and the dogs must be taken along to be washed; it this were not done, the arrows would miss their marks and the dogs would no longer find and follow the scent of animals."


"One must always beware of ghosts. Some are completely harmless; others, on the contrary, capture the "vital center" of people to make them die, or else, stealthily coming up to them while they are walking, apply their [the ghosts’] knees against their [the people’s] backs to break them in two."


destination of souls of the dead :- "The souls wander in the forest until the time when the partridges take flight. Then the souls follow them to heaven : That is where they gather. ...


The souls go with the partridges. ... The souls hear the partridges cluck, and they wonder : ... why are they invisible? ... But the partridges are invisible to the souls."


"only women may "drink" the remains of a man killed in war."

DA = DIMENSIO`N ANTROPOLO`GICA http://www.dimensionantropologica.inah.gob.mx/index.php?sIdArt=586&cVol=18&nAutor=CASTELLON%20HUERTA,%20BLAS%20ROMAN&identi=50&infocad=Volumen%20No.18%20periodo%20%20a%C3%B1o%202000





origin of fire :- "Long ago it was Caiman who possessed fire. He lived ... near ... the river "of the two who have eaten their tongues." ... the Caiman used to go together with his wife to cook caterpillars without being seen. In those days, indeed, the Yanomami had no knowledge of the use of fire and ate their food raw ... When Caiman returned followed by his wife, Brueheyoma, a small-sized frog, ... Hummingbird ... sent a stream of liquid excrement splashing all over the spectators. Caiman was hiding the fire in his mouth; he burst out laughing and dropped it. The Yorekitirawe: bird seized it immediately, but he was unable to rise very high, and Brueheyoma threatened to extinguish the fire by pissing on it. That’s when another bird, Kanaboromi, came ... and deposited the fire high up in a tree."


menstruant girl erroneously emerging too soon from seclusion :- "everything was sinking into the ground : persons as well as things. ... Soon ... had all sunk into the ground where they had become rocks."


resuscitations :- "Our ancestor who lived at the beginning, in legendary times, those were great shamans. ... The hekura would then come of their own volition, without having to be called. When they [the shamans] ceased being immortal, the hekura carried them on their shoulders; they started them breathing again, and ... handsome ... came back to life. One day, a jaguar killed a dog running on the track of a tapir; it took its head off ... Its owner ... placed it on a rock and sang to the spirits, who hastened to respond. Then the head reset itself in its place ... Then the dog arose : it was alive."

magical protection from jaguars :- "The famous shaman ... Since he harbored the Land Turtle Spirit, he changed into that animal ...


The shaman ... announced : "Totorifanawe:, the Turtle Spirit, granted that my head was not exposed!" The others ... were just finishing their meal of tripe ["the intestines of a tapir" (p. 104)]."


"it was Opossum who first used a deadly substance for purposes of black magic. ... two female visitors arrived ..., where they were welcomed by his mother, the Mushroom Woman. {Mushrooms praefer shade, cf. S.lel-po^nit (B. B. 91a) or ha-S.lel-po^nit (Num. R. x. 13) ‘shade-facing’ (Strong’s 6753) as name (JE, s.v. "Samson") of mother of S^ims^o^n} ... The Mushroom Woman drew a muscle out of her own thigh {cf. the "sinew which shrank" in the thigh to Ya<qob} and offered it to them, saying : "Eat this tapir meat!" ... They immediately forgot Opossum and gave their preference to Honey. Opossum was jealous and ... That night he prepared a deadly charm with the hairs of a red rodent – the be:na – {cf. the reddish fox-fur used by S^ims^o^n? (S^PT.YM 15:4)} ... Honey fell and expired. When his body was cremated in the central plaza, the coals changed into honeybees. {cf. the honeybees found by S^ims^o^n (S^PT.YM 14:8)} ... Opossum ... grew feathers and flew away. He took refuge in a rock cave {cf. S^ims^o^n, who took refuge in rock (S^PT.YM 15:11)}, but was discovered. ... the toucans, with their massive beaks, ... made the rocks fall on Opossum. {cf. the stone temple which collapsed upon S^ims^o^n (S^PT.YM 16:30)} His blood spread out into puddles where the birds came to paint themselves : The curassow covered his beak with it, and it had been orange-red ever since; the colored partridges traced a circle around their eyelids; the toucan dipped in it the base of its tail which, since then, has been amaranthine; the kingfisher rubbed his breast with it; and the macaw made spots with it on his feathers. ... From now on they were all hekura and immortal."


"The dog swallowed the fish ... He started spinning around like a top, tried to bite his tail, and ran about in ever-larger circles. ... He was finally swallowed by the river ... : He had changed into a fish."


story of the men of Hasubiwe: -- "They were busy building a footbridge over the Orinoco to make it easier to reach their gardens when a gigantic wave suddenly rose and swallowed them; they never reappeared, and ... a rahara had swallowed them."


"Moon Spirit was struck by Suhirina’s arrow when he invaded the dwelling, eager for human flesh; and from his wound, from his spilled blood, were born a multitude of flesh-eating vultures. ...

The dragonflies gather in the sky. Omawe: pierced the earth with his bow; out of the hole he made sprang a gusher of water that reached the sky and formed a canopy. Up there the dragonflies multiply ...

Moon piles up the roots of rotten manioc with which he makes cakes that he cooks in old potsherds. When the cakes are ready, he prowls around the dwellings and calls to the children from afar, shouting :

Come to me, I am hungry for human flesh!

The scatterbrains go to him, and he carries them away to eat them with his cakes. Formerly, Moon was a true hekura who lived in the body of a great shaman. When


that shaman died, Moon was liberated from his chest and wandered freely in space. ... They built the pyre and burned the body. ... Moon came down ... and made his way to the ashes of the pyre and the bones, which soon could be heard cracking between his teeth. The deceased’s son approached and thought that it was his father, for the Moon looked vaguely like him. ... When the child was near him, Moon rose ... rising in the sky. ... Suhirina ... pulled his bow and took aim ... Suhirina said : ... the vibrations of the arrow ... will travel far. Indeed, it rose, higher and higher, and sank straight into the Moon. Blood gushed out in great spurts ... From that blood were also born Sha~kinari, the cannibal demon, and the vultures, which are also cannibals.

We, the Yanomami ..., ... are the sons of the Kanaboromi bird whose calf [shank] was impregnated by his companion."

Strong’s = Strong’s Hebrew and Aramaic Dictionary.

JE = The Jewish Encyclopedia http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=122&letter=S&search=Samson

Cambridge Studies in Social Anthropology, 55 = Jacques Lizot (transl. from the French by Ernest Simon) : Tales of the Yanomami. Cambridge U Pr, 1985.

{/HeKURa/ < [Kemetian] /H.QL/ (/H.K.3/) ‘magic’ [as is usual, /KW/ or /KU/ is a reflex of /Q/; /R/ is a reflex of /L/}