A guest post by Eduardo O’Shee
“With the right herbs, anyone is a witch doctor”
The Poor Entrepeneur Handbook
“Shamán” is a Russian word originated long ago in the barren Siberian steppe and it has the same meaning as the North American powwow, – witch doctor,- or the Spanish curandero. It made its way to the Amazon parlance, not so long ago.
The shaman is an intermediary between two worlds: the one we perceive through our senses, – so plenty of deceptions, – and the spiritual one beyond the threshold, which remains invisible and unknown to us.
In a way, a shaman is like a Catholic “cardinal”, – literally the “door hinge”, – between the faithful and God, the man who leads the hiking of the traveller along the shady path.
In the boundaries of the spiritual realms signs, codes and symbols abound.
The shaman, the powwow and the priest developed a wide variety of material and sacred elements to show their condition, power, wisdom, rank, and also to open hidden doors, unveil the great misteries, glean the ignorant or to heal the ill.
They still use ancient secret books, staff poles, garments, jewelry, holy water, herbs, food and beverages, music and rituals. Sometimes they use even stones.
John Andy’s grandfather was an Ashuar shaman and, according to him, a very famous one in the forests of western Ecuador.
Shortly before his death, the old man left the boy a healing stone, more or less the size of a brick, which contained within the sculpture of a naked mermaid.
I asked him if they had cut the stone in half to embed the mermaid into the stone and then glued the two pieces together and he said “No, it was a one piece stone and it had never been cut.”
Then I asked, this time to myself, how could they ever see the sculpture inside the stone? Anyway, the answer would not have mattered. Magicians never tell their secrets and besides, who discusses the likelihood of a legend?
Shipibo parents feed their newborn baby with the brain of a certain kind of little parrot, so the boy (or the girl) will be given the gift of eloquence. Superstition? An absurd belief of the natives? Possibly, though I think those who know Shipibos can agree on their uncontrollabled eloquence. But, anyway, I never heard anybody say “That´s crap” about Blarney´s Stone and its “gift of gab,” or call into question the tourist´s routine of throwing coins into the Fontana di Trevi to make sure they will get back to Rome.
The essential point about John’s story was the concept of an enclosed, captive mermaid in the heart of a stone who can bring relief to the ill, and he expressed it much better than me. It was, – at least, – a beautiful figure.
He said that his stone had been stolen by another shaman, a casual partner in a riverine journey, but John felt comforted because he knew that the thief could never cure anyone, because there is a clause in the unwritten shaman’s code which states that magic stones bring about the desired effects only when in the hands of someone who has inherited it from a direct ancestor.
A third and envious healer in this story put on a lethal curse on John Andy’s grandfather which caused the old man a swelling throughout the body, which turned so grotesquely dimensioned that he “looked like a toy.”
And once again, the burden of proof weighed upon me.
Guest post by Eduardo O’Shee
If you enjoyed Eduardo’s story, chances are you will also enjoy his other short stories; click on the links below;