The Last Shaman [Amarakaeri sub-tribe of the Harakmbut tribe in Madre de Dio`s, Peru`]

shamanic terminology

p. term its meaning
21 c^indign "curing chant"
wayorokeri "interpreter of dreams"
ndak[mba]yorokeri "good dream beings"
wamanoka>eri "curer and diagnostician"
24 c^indignwakeri "sorcerer" causing illnesses
80 wayorok "dream"
113 wandik "names’
144 e>nopwe "knowledge"
145 e>mbac^apak "myths"
e>mac^inoa "songs"
waerik "funny stories"
150 wac^ipai "spirit controller"


46 "universe is divided into three spheres : the sky (kurudn); the earth, which is divided into the hak (... settlement), wawe (river), and ndumba (forest); and the two underworlds, Seronwe below the river and Totoyo below the forest".
47 "At the highest point of the sky ... is the abode of otiose spirits called kurudneri who rarely come down to earth. The kurudneri were once human beings who went up into the sky with the culture hero Marinke when he had to flee from the jaguars ... . However, ... they ... descend during a ritual known as mbakoykoy. ... The spirits would come down in the form of a small bird (mbakoykoy)".
47-8 "Seronwe under the river – whose master is the moon (pugn) – is mainly the abode of beneficial spirits (ndakyorokeri) ...; Totoyo under the forest – whose master is Manco who is connected with the sun (miokpo) – is the haunt of harmful spirits".
48 "these spirits ... are ... waweri or ndumberi from the river or forest respectively." "otiose wachipai, ayahuasca plant spirits (chongpai) and the nameless apoining ... are usually benign."


22 "One day he was waiting by the river ... when ... he was surrounded by different species of fish who suddenly spoke. They old him that they were spirits form the river and that they wanted to communicate with him in dreams so that he could become knowledgeable. In his dreams and visions he frequently repeated this experience and gradually became proficient at understanding their messages. The spirits began to advise him where to hunt and fish".
46 "The spirits ... can transform their images from human to animal with ease".
52 "dreams from the spirit world" : "beneficial spirits ... usually appear as sensual women who easily fall in love with a young man ... . These women (the ndakoyokeri) ... tell the hunter where game may be found and how many animals can be taken."
59 "the mamori fish are pineapples to the river spirits. ... several species of fish are difference crops to the spirits" : A zungaro is yuca (tare), paco is a large pineapple (wakawa), and carp-like boquichicos (ambaru) are
60 maize (toket)."
86 "For the keme, ... the tortoise appeared as a seat."
91 toto (dangerous spirits) are "old thin white ... demons"
244 "The toto was in the form of a long, thin, pale creature".
245 "a spirit can take the form of a person or an animal and change instantaneously."
"The other aspect of the soul, the wamawere, can travel ‘like the wind’ {cf. [<ibri^] ruh.a ‘spirit, wind’} ... when torch-lights were seen passing" {cf. fire of the Holy Spirit at the pentacost}

souls of the dead

29 kapiro "herons are ... considered ... to precede [a dead shaman’s] nokiren (soul) to Seronwe."
31 "paron bird (turkey hen) ... signifies that dead person was killed by a snake."
34 "appearances are to dying relatives in the form of spirits called wambetoeri who show the way to the underworld."


42 The people "wanted to become animals. Animals also wanted to become people" : "Keme (the tapir) was making arrows ... and Torogn (the opossum) was annoyed. ... Bawi [‘deer’] said ‘I want the bark of the tawiresindak tree as my skin.’ Then he put on the red tree bark and it was light so he could run in a straight line. Keme put on
43 a wakumbueshindak which is much heavier, and so he moves in circles."
"The tapir liked the black {with /KeMe/, cf. /KM/ of al-CHeMy, the ‘black’ art} dye ‘huito’ (o) and the tortoise [Sawe] came and took a bite. ... Sawe bit Keme’s penis and would not let go. Keme ran through the forest with Sawe hanging behind. {must have been a snapping-turtle}
44 [From the stomach of the tapir, Sawe took the killing power for talon-claws, and distributed it to paredator-carnivores :] "the jaguar (petpet) ..., and the harpy eagle (sing), which eats monkeys, ... and the jaguar put it in his claws so that they could kill ... . Matuk {cf. [Polynesian & Fijian] MATUKu, a mythic bird} (gallinazo -- vulture) also did it."
50 "They met a large toad called Orognorogntone ... and it began to sweat ... . ... The toad came to him in a dream and said, ‘Only you will be saved. ... When the attack happens you must cover yourself in a yaro leaf. ...’ ... The young man woke up sweating. ... Then there came a small money sipin (black mantled tamarin) ... scout. He shot at the sipin but he missed it and ... a torrential rainstorm started. {cf. [Aztec] Ecatonatoniuh (‘Wind-Sun’) of the monkey-people} First came an ihpi or washa (common squirrel monkey), then ... squirrels. ...
51 Each large monkey had its ohpu – animal guide and leader. ... Those that died [in the fire set under their tree] do not have an ohpu. The ohpu monkeys are toyori (red howler monkey), shiok (common woolly monkey), sowe (black spider monkey) and kapiwi (coati). ... The next day the surviving monkeys descended from the tree, killed the youths and ate them. The youth who helped the toad ... hid in his yaro leaves. ... One monkey, the hor (mono martin), refused to eat human flesh." ["The ohpu monkeys are the same species ... prohibited from eating during pregnancy".]
56 prayer to the stars (c^iokpo) by woman, : its effect was "to help her cultivate the chacra. ...
57 But that night she told people that the star man had helped her in her chacra."

p. 53, fn. 5 [Wac^ipaeri subtribe myth] "a man took a chick out of a nest. {this is the "bird-nester" myth} It was a kokoy bird ... and it taught the man how to kill people with ... knives".

pp. 68-69 c^idign (‘chant for curing’) : species by-passed by moka (peccary) on path

p. species
68 kerontogn tree-fruit
menkeromba bird
c^upit bird
ekhomba leaf
69 weomba fruit
koragnba fruit (for parrots)
sopi grubs
waya palm-tree
pio fruit-tree
masonara ‘aguaje-palm’
mantoro ‘achiote’
topobaudnihpi (fruit-eating squirrel)

p. 70 this sequence of species "has to be known ... to find the soul" :

"The soul of the curer hovers about a foot above the ground and floats through the misty forest passing the same route which the mokas take ... to follow the trail of the mokas until he finds them in the circle with the soul in the centre. ... In this case, the curer suddenly shouts and ‘sticks like a fly’ to the soul of the sick person".

curing of sick patient by shaman

70 "The shaman induces a harmful spirit to leave the patient by the application of ... chili and garlic ... with isanga (macherik) nettles".
71 "A shaman will also suck the body of the patient to draw out any harmful elements there might be within."
72 "The mbakoy c^indign (‘small bird chant’)" helps a child who "would not go with anyone other than its mother".

p. 71 aetiology, cure, and symptoms of ailments

animals causing ailment remedy symptoms
kayare (picuro) mac^erik pains in legs, arms, and chest
moka (collared peccary) blow over patient vomiting and fever
bi>ign fish put tobacco in mouth sore stomach, diarrhoea
sowe (black spider monkey) tobacco convulsions, hands clenched, teeth chattering
mapi (agouti) hit affected area children crying
mamori (sabalo fish) tobacco stomach ache, diarrhoea, and vomiting

p. 80 author’s personal experience (in astral projection)

"I realized that I had the ability to float on air. I hovered a few feet above the bed and turned over so that my arms were outstretched, then flew across the village ... . As I flew, ... sparks flew from my fingers ... . As I returned I concentrated by looking through my closed eyelids to keep me from falling down. On reaching my bed I rejoined my sleeping body."

p. 175 animals

keme (‘tapir’) : "The weika bird accompanies keme. It ... takes ticks from keme’s skin with its beak. ... When keme dies there is lightning and there is thunder."
nekei ("Blue and yellow" {should be : blue-and-orange?} macaw : "They fly to koragn (pacay palm) where they eat the fruit."

p. 245 sexual conception of embryo

"formed by the passing of semen (wandawe) from father to mother during [sexual] intercourse by means of orgasm (e>mbuey)"

p. 248, Fig. 12.1 categories of spirits, their social activities and states of nokiren

spirits activity state
toto c^indign (sorcery) oc^inosik (hatred)
c^onpai e>pak (desire) wanopo (affections)
ndakyoroken e>yok (generosity) e>nopwe (thought)
wamawere kawe (inactivity) nowe (depression)

Andrew Gray : The Last Shaman. Berghahn Books, Providence (RI), 1997.