Today we visited the brothers Jose Ramon and Jose Luis that were both shamans. This trip took us down the Paraguaza River into the state Bolivar.
Jose Ramon lived in a village which is not open for foreign visitors. One is only allowed to go in there if one had the the invitation of the captain [during the english colonization as the indians came across other languages for the first time they often heard the word captain being used for the leader so they took this word for describing their structure].
To the question which diseases he could not cure Jose Ramon told us that he was invited to a conference in Canada where the shamans should prove their knowledge by curing a lot of patients. Two women came to him there. One of those had killed her own child. The other one had become pregnant from her own father. He couldn't help those women and so did the other shamans. Besides of this he told us he had healed all patients which came to him. He also told us about the effective healing of a man smoking cannabis which had become problems with his stomack because of his strong smoking.
Jose Luis lived some kilometers away from this village along the river. He lived alone with his family right in the jungle in Cuarital. He told us about his apprentice as a shaman which was quite unusual. After 8 years of studying by a Piaroa shaman Jose Luis was sent for another 2 years to study with the Yanonami and then with the Yekuana. During our dialog he always mentioned how dangerous his work is.
There we had also the chance to meet a young shaman, the son of Jose Luis Diez named Jose Daniel. Besides his young age this child had gone through some initiations.
The Piaroa tradition says that a child later becoming a shaman is already born as a shaman. So the newborn shaman is blown over with tobacca shortly after birth. In another ritual a few days later he konsumed for the first time Dada -a tea which is made out of mushrooms. A few years after this (about the age of 12 whereby this time varies from child to child depending on his strength and knowledge ) in the next initiation ants (Myenew) are put on the naked body and the child has to stand the very painful bites a few minutes. How painful this bites must have been we could imagine as the shaman wanted us to show some of the ants. His son and our leader J.C. accompanied him in the jungle but as the boy saw the ants he fearfully snaped J.C. hand and then run away as fast as could. It was obvious that Jose Daniel knew this ritual already. In later ceremonies the initiant becomes a stick into his tongue which has a film on it so that the bleeding does not stop. The initiant has to stoop the bleeding by their own strong mental will.
The powers of a shaman are quite impressing as we have been able to see. The shaman took one of the ants on its leg and ... short and tough and the ant became unconscious for at least 5-10 min .. we could examine it. Jose Luis told us that he had sent the spirit of the ant to a trip outside the village.
We also came across following story. Jose Luis together with his brother Jose Ramon and 24 other shamans had been invited to a conference to Canada [I told about this conference before]. The people of th village had warned them because fo the deadly cold in Canada. So Jose travelled mentally (out of body travel) to Mexico, Californa and Canada. There he saw how a canadian indian killed an elk. During this conference the shamans showed their powers. For protection the shamans worked together and made a shield against negative powers and energies. All worked together. Only one shaman of the Hoti -another tribe living in Venzuela- wanted to work alone. During a ceremony when he wanted to heal a woman he began bleeding from mouth and nose and died. This was taken as a sign for being bewitched.
Jose Luis took Yopo all night long and got the vision of a canadian shaman with a beard and long hair which could be found and which was healed in another ceremony from the evil that had taken controll over him. During this ceremony black blood had run out of his nose he said. This was taken as a sign for his healing.
As long as we could observe it by those shamans in Venezuela there are three different kinds of preparing Yopo. In most cases only the semen are used. But sometimes also the whole fruit or parts of the stem. To intensivate the effects Caapi is swallowed and a mint-like plant is put under the tongue.