PATHS OF INCANTATION: SHAMANIC DISCOURSE AND FOREST TRAVEL AMONG THE HUPD’ÄH

Danilo Paiva Ramos Patience Epps About the authors

Abstract

Protected by a shaman’s incantation, the young Hupd’äh travelers pick up the forest trails, embarking on a trek to visit sacred sites in their ancestral territory. Under the mentorship of their elders, these young people engage with the ecological and topographic details of their lands in historical and cosmological context, underscored by discussions of history, mythology, dreams, and shamanic incantations that are interspersed throughout their journey. In this article, we consider the parallels between the two types of travel that are evident in these events - treks through the forest to visit sacred ancestral locations (mountains and caves), and the metaphysical travels of ritual specialists, as detailed in the exegetic texts of the incantations performed to protect the travelers. The features of movement, dislocation between sacred places, and engagement with the flora, fauna, and landscape that are shared by these two travel experiences highlight the close articulation between ritual and more mundane experience for the Hupd’äh, as well as their mutual role in shaping young people’s understanding of their world. Our discussion locates the Hupd’äh and their forest orientation within the broader ‘multiethnic system of shamanic geographies’ (Cayón and Chacon 2014) of the Upper Rio Negro Region.

Key words:
Shamanism; Mobility; Discourse; Hupd’äh people; Alto Rio Negro region

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