Many times in the jungle one is confronted with the reality of the spirit world. I know that in our modern society many do not believe in witches, demons, angels or even God, but this is not the case with the indian cultures. They know good and evil spirits exist and even interact with us mere humans.
The Ye'kwana culture is replete with myths and lores of the spirit world. Some are based on historical events and what their ancestors observed.
There are spirit beings as lowly as wee folk who play annoying pranks hiding things from you or troubling the hunting dogs, all the way up to "Canaima" who is the embodiment of our "Boogey Man". There is the often seen "wiyu". This is a spirit which comes after someone has died and tries to trick another person into accompanying the dead one. They even have a mermaid! And don't forget the terrible" macuchis"! My children even sang a song about the macuchis to tease each other.
The macuchis gonna get you if you start to pout!
The macuchis gonna get you if you don't watch out!
Whatever the case may be, I have seen and experienced things that I often do not share as I fear people will think I have lost my mind. I have seen people who were visited by Canaima appear to be in a trance and die a few days later with mysterious bruises and bleeding. I have been touched by a demon possessed person, only to wake up hours later with the print of their hand burned into my flesh. I have awakened at times with a smothering feeling of heaviness only to find my husband awake and experiencing the same. Talk about a cold chill, to wake up at night and feel as if an elephant is sitting on your chest and the night is so black you can not see your own hand, but you know there is a presence there. At times like these, the only relief comes from calling out to God.
After building our house and finally getting a small generator to replace our Coleman lanterns, we learned of an interesting event that had taken place. We learned of it in a most unusual way.
One night, we were both awoken simultaneously by a strange rustling sound which seemed to surround our house. We arose from our hammocks to investigate and found our house to be totally encircled by indians. More importantly, christian indians!
My husband went out side and asked what was going on. Shyly, they explained that they were watching out for us as they had observed "spirits" dancing upon our palm roof. Then they proceeded to tell us of a story that had unfolded several years before our arrival.
The old witch doctor of the village, Manweda, had snorted the hallucinogenic drug which the witch doctors use to enhance their visions, and after several hours of being in a trance, he awakened to tell the village a prophecy.
In his vision, he said he had seen a strange, strong light glowing out of a building upon the small hill which arose at the edge of the village. No one lived there and it was not even cleared yet, but he said he heard a loud noise which came from the house as well as the light.
As is often the case, the villagers discussed what this could mean and had not a clue. Until we showed up and asked if we might build our house upon that very hill. However, we only used Coleman lanterns and had no generator or loud noises coming form our house for several months.
Until that night!
The whole village, unbeknownst to us, had met to discuss if this was the fulfillment of Manweda's vision. As they ventured out to see, the unbelievers were frightened by what they saw around our house.
Spirits dancing on the roof!
The Christians feared for us and bravely decided to confront the spirits on our behalf, knowing we were not knowledgeable or aware of the great danger we were in, due to the nature of the evil demons and the fact that we were so reckless as to have built our house with HUGE windows in every room. Surely, Canaima would come for us one night!
But this night, the christians surrounded our house and joined in prayer to God for our protection. They were amazed that we could all sleep through the night with the demons dancing above our heads. We finally awoke from hearing their muffled prayers on our behalf.
As we spoke to them, we were told of the prophecy the witch doctor had made of our arrival with the lights and loud noise coming from a non-existent house on this exact spot.
Could God use a witch doctor to foretell of our coming? I don't know, but he has used stranger things...such as Balaam's donkey!
Whatever the reason, the people of Chajudaña had welcomed us unanimously and the new christians were greatly encouraged that we were not bothered by the spirits. Soon they were opening up their houses with larger windows to allow for better light and air flow, no longer so afraid of the spirits!
No longer were they bound in the darkness and superstition that had enslaved them and caused them to live in unhealthy smoke filled, dark houses cowering in fear.