Handbook of Contemporary Animism, 23



Souls, Bodies and Powerful Beings : Animism ... in an Amazonian Society

Isabella Lepri


p. 294 es^awa, according to the Ese Ehha of tropical-forest Bolivia

"The Ese Ejja can be described as "animist" in the sense that they endow {"they"? -- who, the impotent mortal tribals, or some potent deity?} some plant or animal with eshahua, a principle of volition and agency".

{very misleading! Animists (i.e., shamanists) do not consider the plants and animals themselves "endowed" with anything. Instead, they state that there are deities of much volition who control those species of plants and of animals. The intelligent volition is always that of a supernatural entity external to the plant or the animal, and controlling that plant or animal, which is thereby deprived of any independent volition. If there be any correlation of es^awa with plant or with animal, it is would be that es^awa is the mechanism through which the species-owning deity is in control of the entirely robotic actions of each membre of that species.}

{N.B. /ES^AWa/ is likely etymologically identical with /<ES`AW/, and with Yoruba /ES^U/. In B-Re>s^it, /<Es`aw is said to have fed on lentils, metonymic for lens-shaped flying saucers, who constitute the sky-based agency for assisting species-owning deities to control the species.}

p. 295 Ese Ehha (= C^ama = Warayo)

"The Ese Ejja, also known as Chama in Bolivia and Huarayos in Peru, are an indigenous Amazonian group of the Tacana linguistic family. They live along the banks of the Beni River, in the northernmost regions of Bolivia, in the departments of Pando and La Paz, and in the Madre de Dios province of ... Peru."

pp. 295-6 categories of deities by oikological region

p. 295

"The forest is the domain of edosiquiana ["suffix -quiana {/kyana/} characterizes collective nouns"], the masters {and mistresses} of game".

p. 296

"under the water there is said to be a world inhabited by powerful beings {deities} called ena (water)-edosiquiana, who are the masters of fish ... .

The sky is said to be divided into ... layers : the first layer, where the clouds and the stars are, is called eye tahua tahua {/-tawa-tawa/}, the blue ... sky.

Above the clouds, there is a river {= the Milky Way} teeming with fish ... . ...

Mari[`]a Chavarri`a Mendoza dedicates a whole chapter to the "World under the ground" described ... as inhabited by very small ... original inhabitants ... (1996). "It is ... a closed space that can be entered through a hole. ... following the hole one can ... reach another dimension of reality that is Kueihana" (ibid.: 155). My informants said that Cueihana was the land of the dead".

Chavarri`a-Mendoza 1996 = Mari`a C. Chavarri`a Mendoza : "Identidad y armonia en la tradicio`n oral Ese Eja (Tacana)". doctoral thesis, Univ of MN.

pp. 296-7 Edosi-kyana for eyamikekwa

p. 296

"Edosiquiana own forest animals ... .

Sometimes they are said to cook people in large pots and eat them, thereby transforming them into animals."

{In Siberian shamanry, the usual mode of becoming a shaman is to experience of dream of being having one's body cooked and eaten. After such an experience, one is a shaman, capable of dreaming of being an animal.}

p. 297

"edosiquiana also make shamans, teaching ... how to cure. ... a man or woman ... can ... go back to the forest to meet edosiquiana who disclose to them {in dreams} the secrets of shamanry and turn them into shamans called eyamiquecua {/kekwa/}. ... The body of the future shaman is pierced by edosiquiana's arrow, and he or she learns to see and to extract the arrows that cause sickness in others. Shamans are the only people who can be edosiquianaja epeejji {/-kyanaha epeehhi/},

friends of edosiquiana, whom they can call upon

{cf. S.ufi religious experts known as wali ('friend') of >al-Lahh .}

to discover the causes of sickness ... . I was told ... how they summon the dead, emanocuana".

p. 297 myth of origin of shamanry

"In myth, Deer ... plants a garden, initiating agriculture; however, ... he eats the vulture grandmother, who ... had intended to eat him. Deer is killed ... by the vultures, who eat him, but he comes back to life, transforms them into carrion birds and takes Condor's daughters as wives".

pp. 297-8 Ena-edosi-kyana

p. 297

"enaedosiquiana are powerful beings {deities} who inhabit the world under the rivers. ... From the point of view of enaedosiquiana ... fish are maize, manioc and pumpkin : when the Ese Ejja fish, they are taking from enaedosiquiana's gardens. ... Occasionally, they emerge from under the river, luring people into their world to make them their spouses ... . ...

p. 298

Nathan Wachtel describes ...

[quoted :] beings of human appearance, small in size, which they describe as imps, naked, with long blue hair ... they live in rivers and water holes and they play either a silver flute or a drum "that shines {glitters} like bronze". ... (1990:203)"

Wachtel 1990 = Nathan Wachtel : Le retour des ance^tres : les Indien Urus de Bolivie. Paris : Gallimard.

pp. 298-9 Ekwikya

p. 298

"Ecuiquia appears when a person dies and it is associated with the person's shadow {as are ghosts generally}. However, it is ... a ghost ... said ... to maintain the characteristics it had at the time of death {as is true of ghosts generally}. ... Ecuiquia live {reside} in the forest, in trees, and wander at night, from dusk until dawn ... . ...

One can tell {discern} they are present because they whistle. [p. 306, n.7 : "This resonates with Gray's (1996:180) description of the Arakmbut toto."]

{"There are also the lonely ghosts, who whistle at passersby." (WD, cap. 21)} {In the Gilbert Islands, "Whistlers were the ghosts of dead relations … not the very long dead ones … the more recently dead." (PI, p. 219)} {There are "ghosts Who whistle in key-holes" ("A&RLC", p. 78a) -- alike unto Ananda entring through bodily the keyhole, in the manner of an arhant.}

Ecuiquia sometimes is called cocoi, a word used by ... Bolivians to refer to the "bogey man". ...

p. 299

Ecuiquia ... live in the forest, they go around naked, they eat raw food, they roam at night and sleep during the day. ... they are tall and black, very hairy and with red eyes, large teeth and sharp nails ..., whistling in the trees and making a rasping sound."

Gray 1996 = Andrew Gray : The Arakmbut of Amazonian Peru. Vol. 1 : "The Arakmbut -- Mythology, Spirituality, and History". Oxford : Berghahn Bks.

WD = Florinda Donner-Grau : The Witch's Dream : a Healer's Way of Knowledge. 1985. http://www.federaljack.com/ebooks/Castenada/sites/rarecloud.com/fd_html/02/wd21.html

PI = Arthur Grimble : A Pattern of Islands. Penguin Bks, 1981. http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-GriPatt-t1-body1-d11-d2.html

"A&RLC" = N.S.Bochkareva : "Art and Religion in Francis Warner’s Ecphrastic Drama Living Creation". PHILOLOGY & CULTURE 32 (2013):76-9. http://philology-and-culture.kpfu.ru/?q=system/files/15_4.pdf

{Concerning whistling ghosts :- The boy who ate his dead mother's cadaver [Rutra did the same with his dead mother's cadaver (Sh&Sh"MR"). It is usual for octopod mothers to die soon after giving birth, and for their orphans to devour their cadavre; ravens likewise feed on animals which have died on their own.] afterwards incarnated as Txa`sEm ('raven') : (TsT, p. 236) "a boy who cries for the box in which the sun is kept. ... He puts his cap into a cliff. {Similarly, the abbot had inserted the proscribed Sethian manuscripts into the cleft in the cliff at Khenoboskion; therein by Copts they were discovered some 1600 years later.} He goes up Nass river and returns because ghosts whistle in front of him. Therefore the water of the river flows back." [The river started to flow downhill only when the ghosts started whistling : prior to that, the river had always run uphill. Cf. the book-title WhPF&WRU. This is luminous wisdom tapped from the dream-world's coffin-boxed mummy-cadavre, where the netherworld-caverns are illumined, each for an hour, by the dead sun upon its floating barque, to expound the tunneled passage (TsT, p. 235) for the masque of Sleep.]}

Sh&Sh"MR" = "Chapter 28 "Matam Rutra", in Arthur Avalon (Sir John Woodroffe) : Shakti and Shâkta. London: Luzac & Co., 1918. http://www.sacred-texts.com/tantra/sas/sas28.htm

TsT = Franz Boas : Tsimshian Texts. 1902. https://books.google.com/books?id=_-4NAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA236&lpg=PA236&dq=

WhPF&WRU = Jeremy Taylor : Where People Fly and Water Runs Uphill : Using Dreams to Tap the Wisdom ... . NY : Warner Books, 1992. http://www.amazon.com/Where-People-Water-Runs-Uphill/dp/0446394629

pp. 299, 302 simian owners of the netherworld {perhaps aequivalent to the Aztec mythic monkeys who had been transmuted from being humans at the epoch of Eca-tonatiuh}

p. 299

""he" is small ... and has along tail which he wraps around his victims. He comes out of a hole in the ground at night ..., when it is raining slightly."

p. 302

"But he also lives underground like the emanocuana, the dead."

p. 302 invisible abode of spirits on mapaho-trees

"edosiquiana lived in the forest on the branches of the very tall mapajo tree (Ceiba pentandra, Bombaceae), where he had his house ... . ... "At midday he opens his door and lets you in. He keeps you there for a week and then ... sends you home and when you get there you die.""

{This account is similar to European accounts of persons who have been temporary guests of faeries in Faerieland. It evidently an account of otherworld-trip praeternatural experience while the material body is in undergoing spirit-possession (for a period of some days) -- rather than a cataleptic trance of a degree of unresponsiveness (which may endure even for the entire residue of a lifespan, quite some years); for whereas unresponsiveness is due to the ill-befitting nature a spirit-possession entity, a more functional spirit-possession by a more co-operative (intelligent, etc.) entity, of the material body while the subtle body is visiting the otherworld, may be more productive (bringing back a useful account of the trip to the otherworld, as in this instance from the Ese Ehha).}

pp. 302-3 triple aspect of es^awa of dead humans

p. 302

"Eshahua is identified with the shadow projected by a body ... . ...

p. 303

Eshahua emanates from certain beings, but ... it acts independently ... reminiscent of the jam of the Wari` described by Aparecida Vilac,a as someone's double : "Although ... the double is ... a projection ...; it is mobile and has an existence somehow independent of the body" (1992:55).

The eshahua of humans is said to "come out after death in triple form :

as ecuiquia, who runs to the forest to live a lonely restless life, haunting the path of the living;

as ecojjashahua, literally the eshahua of the eyes or the face, that goes to the sky; and

as edojjoshahua, that of the inside, which goes to cueijana, the city of the dead, where the river ends. [p. 306, n. 10 : "the path to cueijana is the rainbow."]

When the edojjoshahua reaches cueijana it starts a new life as emanocuana, a dead person, which [scil., life] is very similar to the previous one. He or she finds a spouse, begets children and carries on his or her everyday activities such as fishing, hunting, making canoes and weaving mats. Moreover, he or she retains the memory of the living. He or she can be called upon by shamans at the request of living kin, enquiring after his or her health, and will go and talk, joke, eat and drink with them. Eshahua also manifest themselves in dreams : the Ese Ejja say that when a person dreams of a relative or friend, it is because that relative was feeling nostalgia and their eshahua went to visit them."

Vilac,a 1992 = Aparecida Vilac,a : Comendo como gente : ... Wari`. Rio de Janeiro : Editora UFRJ.

p. 303 ebinatta

"Food taboos prescribe that, when any meat or fish are left over from one day to the next,

{The deities in their dream-world will notice that that the eucharistic "reserved host" quality of the animal-meat must imply a recontinuation (for that night) of the marriage-contract between the hunter and the deity (of opposite gendre) who had awarded to the hunter that animal as lawful prey.}

the hunter must refrain from having sex until they have been [entirely, in their entirety] eaten, or the food becomes ebinatta {with this /eb-/ cf. Indo-Germanic reconstructed */ebh-/ > Hellenic /oiph-/ 'swive' -- /ebinatta/ is the swive-debt owed by a huntsman to a goddess}, causing anyone [viz., anyone other than the hunter who had hunted it] who eats it become ill and die."

{Erotic love-making between humans is evidently regarded as incompatible with the slaying of game-animals. This may be because (as in certain tribes in Siberia and elsewhere) the hunters are, while hunting, considered as married to deities (of opposite gendre from their own, of course) who control the animal-species which they are hunting and who, out of love for the hunters, allow the hunters to locate and to slay the animals.}

{After returning from the hunt, the hunters are deemed as yet legally married to the deities until they have entred a dream, when those deities will recognize that the hunters are no longer hunting, and that the marriages between humans and deities are therefore temporarily abrogated, and the erstwhile hunters are now free to have sexual intercourse, each with the corresponding human spouse.} {The deity is in effect paying the mortal for exclusive right to sexual intercourse (during the mortal's visitation to the dream-realm) over a fixed period of time, a time-interval delimited by the availability for consumption of ritually blessed food. In this way the male huntsmen are prostituting themselves to goddesses -- prostitution is indeed the oldest profession, but in hunting societies it is practiced only by males, and, at that, only in reference to their dreamings.}

p. 303 dread of unfamiliar red fruits

"even the more sceptical admitted avoiding {evading} at least red bananas {which had been brought to them by Spaniards, perhaps Catholic missionaries}, considered the most dangerous {because the most foreign} of fruits."

{This unnecessary dread is a xenophobia due entirely to the banana species' not being endemic to the Americas; banana species originated, instead, in Melanesia, and were not praesent in the interior of South America until quite recently. The Europeans, likewise, regarded for many years after introduction into Europe (from the Americas) as an ornamental plant, the red fruit of the tomato as poisonous.}

{Mayhap the shamans of South American Indian tribes have been unable to contact the spirits of banana-plants because those spirits have been bound into exclusive covenants with Melanesia sorcerers, binding established in dream-worlds via interworld tunneling.}

pp. 303-4 es^awa sent by deity-owners of animal-species

p. 303

"Finally, the eshahua is also the active principle of sorcery.

The most common form of sorcery is to put a [foreign, unfamiliar fruit] on the path of the victim to step on {Stepping onto the soft path must result in a footprint; and stepping onto a soft fruit must leave an impression on the fruit. (Cf. handprint-impressions made for, and kept in, modern governmental blotters praepared at each birth for each person's identity.)}, so that sorcery enters the body through his or her feet {much as the possessing-spirit is felt in Vodun to entre one's body through the sole of one's foot}.

{'To recite a charm for making a person trip and fall' is, in Maori (in M-PCD, p. 474), /TAPUWAE/; this is explained (by Tregear) as a compound abbreviated from /waewae/ ('footprint') and /taputapu/ ('pig's foot'); though the word for 'foot of a pig' is, in Kaua>i (HD, p. 348a), wa>ewa>e (< */wakewake/ -- is this cognate with /Waqwaq/ (name of mythic isles having magical fruits)?} {This may help to explain how certain South American Indian tribes bewitch peccaries to walk docilely into villages and to stand there while they are being cudgeled to death.}

This kind of sorcery is called ejiojji cuiajji, which literally

p. 304

to pierce or hit the feet ... . Andrew Gray (1996) has reported how some of the ... sorcerers in Arakmbut society ... perform wa>i {cf. Maori /waewae/}, which means "footprint". "These sorcerers use footprints to work their magic with ayahuasca ... . ... (Gray 1996:164)."

M-PCD = Edward Tregear : The Maori-Polynesian Comparative Dictionary. Wellington : Lyon & Blair, 1891. http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-TreMaor-c1-12.htmlhttp://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-TreMaor-c1-12.html

HD = Pukui & Elbert : Hawaiian Dictionary. Honolulu, 1971.

{If */wakewake/ hath pertinence to the name of Wake Isle in the mid-Pacific, then perhaps compare the name of neighboring Baker Isle with /bakara/ 'to be the first to take or to embark on' (DMWA, p. 85b) : those to "embark" are thus honored at /TAPUWAE/ ("PI"), for they allowed their downfall (at Gallipoli) to be plotted (at Whitehall, if not at Windsor) by the Imperial Government (whereas those participating in waewae-tapu are first-time admittees into a marae).}

"PI" = "Publicity Images". http://ww100.govt.nz/publicity-images

p. 304 postmortem experience, by souls, of effervescent water (known to the Maori as the rejuvenating wai-ora-a-Tane which is in the world for souls of the dead)

"Edosiquiana ... cooks his prey {consisting of human mortals} in a large pot, in which ... water boils without fire, and

transforms them into animals ... .

{According to the Odusseia, Kirke transformeth mortals into animals against their will; but according to the Politeia by Platon, most of the human dead volunteer to be transformed into animals.}

... the Arawete` (Viveiros de Castro 1992) ... souls of the dead are cooked in effervescent water -- boiling without fire -- in order to become gods and find celestial spouses.

... effervescent water [is] the medium of initiation ... among the Wari` (Vilac,a 1992)."


Graham Harvey (ed.) : Handbook of Contemporary Animism. Acumen Publ, Durham; ISD, Bristol, 2013.