The most frequently repeated words of the woman are freshness and tenderness; those of the shaman, whose discourse we will now consider, are fear and terror: what one might call the emotional poles of these experiences. There is an illness that the Mazatecs speak of that they name fright. We say traumatism. They walk through their mountains along their arduous paths on the different levels of being, climbing and descending, in the sunlight and through the clouds; all around there are grottos and abysses, mysterious groves, places where live the laa, the little people, mischievous dwarfs and gnomes. Rivers and wells are inhabited by spirits with powers of enchantment. At night in these altitudes, winds whirl up from the depths, rush out of the distance like monsters, and pass, tearing everything in their path with their fierce claws. Phantoms appear in the mists. There are persons with the evil eye. Existence in the world and with others is treacherous, perilous: unexpectedly something may happen to you and that event, unless it is exorcised, can mark you for life.
The Indians say following the beliefs of their ancestors, the Siberians, that the soul is sometimes frightened from one, the spirit goes, you are alienated from yourself or possessed by another: you lose yourself. It is for this neurosis that the shamans, the questioners of enigmas, are the great doctors and the mushrooms the medicine. It is the task of the Mazatec shaman to look for the extravagated spirit, find it, bring it back, and reintegrate the personality of the sick one. If necessary, he pays the powers that have appropriated the spirit by burying cacao, beans of exchange, wrapped in the bark cloth of offerings, at the place of fright which he has divined by vision. The mushrooms, the shamans say, show: you see, in the sense that you realize, it is disclosed to you. "Bring her spirit, her soul," implores the medicine woman to whom we have just been listening. "Let her spirit come back from where it got lost, from where it stayed, from where it was left behind, from wherever it is that her spirit is wandering lost."
With just such a traumatic experience, began the shamanistic vocation of the man we will now study. In his late fifties, he has been eating the mushrooms for nine years. Why did he begin? "I began to eat them because I was sick," he said when asked.(7)
No matter how much the doctors treated me, I didn't get well. I went to the Latin American Hospital. I went to Cordoba as well. I went to Mexico. I went to Tehuacan and wasn't alleviated. Only with the mushrooms was I cured. I had to eat the mushrooms three times and the man from San Lucas, who gave them to me, proposed his work as a medicine man to me, telling me: now you are going to receive my study. I asked him why he thought I was going to receive it when I didn't want to learn anything about his wisdom, I only wanted to get better and be cured of my illness. Then he answered me: now it is no longer you who command. It is already the middle of the night. I am going to leave you a table with ground tobacco on it and a cross underneath it so that you learn this work. Tell me which of these things you choose and like the best of all, he said, when everything was ready. Which of these works do you want? I answered that I didn't want what he offered me. Here you don't give the orders, he replied; I am he who is going to say whether you receive this work or not because I am he who is going to give you your diploma in the presence of God. Then I heard the voice of my father. He had been dead for forty-three years when he spoke to me the first time that I ate the mushrooms: This work that is being given to you, he said, I am he who tells you to accept it. Whether you can see me or not, I don't know. I couldn't imagine from where this voice came that was speaking to me. Then it was that the shaman of San Lucas told me that the voice I was hearing was that of my father. The sickness from which I was suffering was alleviated by eating the mushrooms. So I told the old man, I am disposed to receive what it is that you offer me, but I want to learn everything. Then it was that he taught me how to suck through space with a hollow tube of cane. To suck through space means that you who are seated there, I can draw the sickness out of you by suction from a distance.
What had begun as a physical illness, appendicitis, became a traumatic neurosis. The doctors wheeled him into an operating room-he who had never been in a hospital in his life-and suffocated him with an ether mask. And he gave up the ghost while they cut the appendix out of him. When he came to, he lay frightened and depressed, without any will to live, he'd had enough. Instead of recuperating, he lay like a dead man with his eyes wide open, not saying anything to anyone, what was the use, his life had been a failure, he had never become the important man he had aspired all his life to be, now it was too late; his life was over and he had done nothing that his children might remember with respect and awe. The doctors couldn't help him because there was nothing wrong with him physically; contrary to what he believed, he had survived the operation; the slash into his stomach had been sewn up and had healed; nevertheless, he remained apathetic and unresponsive, for he had been terrified by death and his spirit had flown away like a bird or a fleet-footed deer. He needed someone to go out and hunt it for him, to bring back his spirit and resuscitate him.
The medicine man, from the nearby village of San Lucas, whom he called to him when the modern doctors failed to cure him of the strange malady he suffered from, was renowned throughout the mountains as a great shaman, a diviner of destiny. The short, slight, wizened old man was 105 years old. He gave to his patient, who was suffering from depression, the mushrooms of vitality, and the therapy worked. He vividly relived the operation in his imagination. According to him, the mushrooms cut him open, arranged his insides, and sewed him up again. One of the reasons he hadn't recovered was his conviction that materialistic medicine was incapable of really curing since it was divorced from all cooperation with the spirits and dependence upon the supernatural.
In his imagination, the mushrooms performed another surgical intervention and corrected the mistakes of the profane doctor which he considered responsible for his lingering lethargy. He went through the whole process in his mind. It was as if he were operating upon himself, undoing what had been done to him, and doing it over again himself. The trauma was exorcised. By intensely envisioning with a heightened, expanded consciousness what had happened to him under anesthesia, he assumed at last the frightening event he had previously been unable to integrate into his experience. His physiological cure was completed psychologically; he was finally healed by virtue of the assimilative, creative powers of the imagination. The dead man came back to life, he wanted to live because he felt once again that he was alive and had the force to go on living: once exhausted and despondent, he was now invigorated and rejuvenated.
The cure is successful because not only is his spirit awakened, but he is offered another future: a new profession that is a compensation for his humble one as a storekeeper. The ancient wise man, on the brink of death, wants to transmit to the man in his prime, his knowledge. What he encounters is resistance. The other doesn't want to assume the vocation of shaman, he only wants to be cured, without realizing that the cure is inseparable from the acceptance of the vocation which will release him from the repression of his creative forces that has caused the neurosis with which he is afflicted. It is no longer you who command, he is told, for his impulse to die is stronger than his desire to live; therefore the counterforce, if it is to be effective, cannot be his: it must be the will of the other transferred to him. You are too far gone to have any say in the matter, the medicine man tells him, it is already the middle of the night. By negating the will of his patient, he arouses it and prepares him to accept what is being suggested to him.
He shows him the table, the tobacco, the cross: signs of the shaman's work. The table is an altar at which to officiate.. When the Mazatecs eat the mushrooms they speak of the sessions as masses. The shaman, even though a secular figure unordained by the Church, assumes a sacerdotal role as the leader of these ceremonies. In a similar way, for the Indians each father of a family is the religious priest of his household. The tobacco, San Pedro, is believed to have powerful magical and remedial values. The cross indicates a crossing of the ways, an intersection of existential paths, a change, as well as being the religious symbol of crucifixion and resurrection. The shaman tells him to choose. Still the man refuses. You don't give the orders, says the medicine man intent upon evoking the patient's other self in order to bring him back to life, the I who is another. Whether you want to or not, you are going to receive your diploma, he says, to incite him with the prospect of award and reputation. Living in an oral culture without writing, where the acquisition of skills is traditional, handed down from father to son, mother to daughters rather than contained in books, for the Mazatecs wisdom is gained during the experiences produced by the mushrooms: they are experiences of vision and communication that impart knowledge.
Now he is spoken to. The inner voice is suddenly audible. He hears the call. He is told to accept the vocation of medicine man that he has hitherto adamantly. refused. He cannot recognize this voice as his own, it must be another's; and the shaman, intent upon giving him a new destiny, sure of the talent he has divined, interprets for him from what region of himself springs the command he has heard. It is your father who is telling you to accept this work. A characteristic of such transcendental experiences is that family relationships, in the nexus of which personality is formed, become present to one with intense vividness. His superego, in conjunction with the liberation of his vitality, has spoken to him and his resistance is liquidated; he decides to live and accepts the new vocation around which his personality is reintegrated: he becomes an adept of the dimensions of consciousness where live the spirits; a speaker of mighty words.
In his house, we entered a room with bare concrete walls and a high roof of corrugated iron. His wife, wrapped in shawls, was sitting on a mat. His children were there; his family had assembled to eat the mushrooms with their father; one or two were given to the children of ten and twelve. The window was closed and with the door shut, the room was sealed off from the outside world; nobody would be permitted to leave until the effect of what they had eaten had passed away as a precaution against the peril of derangement. He was a short, burly man, dressed in a reefer jacket over a tee shirt, old brown bell-bottomed pants down to his short feet, an empty cartridge belt around his waist. In daily life, he is the owner of a little store stocked meagerly with canned goods, boxes of crackers, beer, soda, candy, bread, and soap. He sits behind the counter throughout the day looking out upon the muddy street of the town where dogs prowl in the garbage between the legs of the passers-by. From time to time he pours out a shot glass of cane liquor for a customer. He himself neither smokes nor drinks. He is a hunter in whom the instincts of his people survive from the time when they were chasers of game as well as agriculturalists: inhabitants of the Land of the Deer.
Now it is night-time and he prepares to exercise his shamanistic function. His great-grandfather was one of the counselors of the town and a medicine man. With the advent of modern medicine and the invasion of the foreigners in search of mushrooms, the shamanistic customs of the Mazatecs have almost completely vanished. He himself no longer believes many of the beliefs of his ancestors, but as one of the last oral poets of his people, he consciously keeps alive their traditions. "How good it is," he says, "to talk as the ancients did." He hardly speaks Spanish and is fluent only in his native language. Spreading out the mushrooms in front of him, he selected and handed a bunch of them to each of those present after blessing them in the smoke of the copal. Once they had been eaten, the lights were extinguished and everyone sat in silence. Then he began to speak, seated in a chair from which he got up to dance about, whirling and scuffling as he spoke in the darkness. It was pouring, the rain thundering on the roof of corrugated iron. There were claps of thunder. Flashes of lightning at the window.
Christ, Our Lord, illuminate me with the light of day, illuminate my mind. Christ, Our Lord, don't leave me in darkness or blind me, you who know how to give the light of day, you who illuminate the night and give the light. So did the Holy Trinity that made and put together the world of Christ, Our Lord, illuminated the Moon, says; illuminated the Big Star, says; illuminated the Cross Star, says; illuminated the Hook Star, says; illuminated the Sandal, says; illuminated the Horse, says.
One who eats the mushroom sinks into somnolence during the transition from one modality of consciousness to another, into a deep absorption, a reverie. Gradually colors begin to well up behind closed eyes. Consciousness becomes consciousness of irradiations and effulgences, of a flux of light patterns forming and unforming, of electric currents beaming forth from within the brain. At this initial moment of awakenment, experiencing the dawn of light in the midst of the night, the shaman evokes the illumination of the constellations at the genesis of the world. Mythopoetical descriptions of the creation of the world are constant themes of these creative experiences. From the beginning, the vision his words create is cosmological. Subjective phenomena are given correlates in the elemental, natural world. One is not inside, but outside.
"This old hawk. This white hawk that Saint John the Evangelist holds. That whistles in the dawn. Whistles in the light of day. Whistles over the water." Wings spread wide, the annunciatory bird, image of ascent, circles in the sky of the morning, drifting on the wind of the spirit above the primordial terrain the speaker has begun to explore and delineate, his breathing, his inhalations and exhalations, as amplified as his expanded being: an explanation for the sudden expulsion of air, the whooshes and high-pitched, eerie whistles of the shamans on their transcendental flights into the beyond.
"Straight path, says. Path of the dawn, says. Path of the light of day, says." Through the fields of being there are many directions in which to go, existences are different ways to live life. The idea of paths, that appears so frequently in the shamanistic discourses of the Mazatecs comes from the fact that these originary experiences are creative of intentions. To be in movement, going along a path, is an expressive vision of the ecstatic condition. The path the speaker is following is that which leads directly to his destination, to the accomplishment of his purpose; the path of the beginning disclosed by the rising sun at the time of setting out; the path of truth, of clarity, of that revealed in its being there by the light of day.
"Where the tenderness of San Francisco Huehuetlan is, says. Where the Holy Virgin of San Lucas is, says. Where San Francisco Tecoatl is, says. San Geronimo Tecoatl, says." He begins to name the towns of his mountainous environment, to call the landscape into being by language and transform the real into signs. It is no imaginary world of fantasy he is creating, as those one has become accustomed to hearing of from the accounts of dreamers under the effects of such psychoactive chemicals, fabled lands of nostalgia, palaces, and jeweled perspectives, but the real world in which he lives and works transfigured by his visionary journey and its linguistic expression into a surreal realm where the physical and the mental fuse to produce the glow of an enigmatic significance.
"I am he who speaks with the father mountain. I am he who speaks with danger, I am going to sweep in the mountains of fear, in the mountains of nerves." The other I announces itself, the transcendental ego, the I of the voice, the I of force in communication with force. His existence intensified, he posits himself by his assertions: I am he who. The simultaneous reference to himself in the first and third person as subject and object indicates the impersonal personality of his utterances, uttered by him and by the phenomena themselves that express themselves through him. Arrogantly he affirms his shamanistic function as the mediator between man and the powers that determine his fate; he is the one who converses with all connoted by father: power, authority, and origin. He is the one who is on familiar terms with the sources of fright. The conception of existence manifested by his words is one of peril, anxiety, and terror: experiences of which he has become knowledgeable by virtue of his own traumas, his life as a hunter, and his adventures into the weird, secret regions of the psyche. Where there is foreboding and trembling, the medicine man tranquilizes by exorcising the causes of disturbance. His work lies among the nerves, not in the underworld, but on the heights, places of as much anguish as the depths, where the elation of elevation is accompanied by the fear of falling into the void of chasms. This is perhaps why, throughout Central and South America, the conception of illness in the jungle areas is the paranoic one of witchcraft, whereas in the mountainous areas is prevalent the vertiginous idea of fright and loss of self. (8)
"There in Bell Mountain, says. There is the dirty fright. There is the garbage, says. There is the claw, says. There is the terror, says. Where the day is, says. Where the clown is, says. The Lord Clown, says." In vision he sees, throughout his being he senses a repulsive place of filth and contamination, a stinking site of pustulence, of rottenness and nausea, where lies a claw that might have dealt with cruel viciousness an infected wound. His words, emanating evil, seem to insinuate some horrible deed that left an aftermath of guilt. The sinister hovers in the air. Where? Where the clown is, he says. Concern and carefreeness are linked together, dread and laughter, from which we catch an insight into the meaning of the matter: during such experiences of liberation, there are likely to be encountered disturbances of consciousness by conscience, when reflection comes into conflict with spontaneity, guilt with innocence. It is as if the self drew back in fright from its ebullience, from its forgetfulness, unable to endure its carefreeness for long without anxiety. But the exuberant welling up of forms is ceaseless, in this flux, this fountain, this energetic springing forth of life, the past is left behind for the future, all is renewed. Beyond good and evil is the playfulness of the creative spirit incarnated by the clown, character of fortuity, the laughing one with his gay science.
Thirteen superior whirlwinds. Thirteen whirlwinds of the atmosphere. Thirteen clowns, says. Thirteen personalities, says. Thirteen white lights, says. Thirteen mountains of points, says. Thirteen old hawks, says. Thirteen white hawks, says. Thirteen personalities, says. Thirteen mountains, says. Thirteen clowns, says. Thirteen peaks, says. Thirteen stars of the morning.
The enumeration, by what seems to be a process of free association, of whirlwinds, clowns, personalities, lights, mountains, birds, and stars, is an expression of his ecstatic inventiveness. Whether he says what he sees or sees what he says, his activized consciousness is a whirlwind of imaginings and colored lights. Why always thirteen? Because twelve is many, but an even number, whereas thirteen is too many, an exaggeration, and signifies a multitude. What's more, he probably likes the sound of the word thirteen.
The mushroom session of language creates language, creates the words for phenomena without name. The white lights that sometimes appear in the sky at night, nobody knows what to call them. The mind activated by the mushrooms, from out of the center of the mystery, from the profoundest semantic sources of the human, invents a word to designate them by. The ancient wise men, to describe the kaleidoscopic illuminations of their shamanistic nights, drew an analogy between the inside and the outside and formed a word that related the spectrum colors created by the sunshine in the spray of waterfalls and the mists of the morning to their conscious experiences of ecstatic enlightenment: these are the whirlwinds he speaks of, gyrating configurations of iridescent lights that appear to him as he speaks, turned round and round and round himself by the turbulent winds of the spirit. Clowns are frequent personae of his discourse, the impish mushrooms come to life, embodiments of merriment, tumbling figments of the spontaneous performing incredible acrobatic feats, funny imaginations of joyfulness. Personalities are more serious. Others. Society. The faces of the people he knows appear to him, then disappear to be succeeded by the apparition of more people. The plurality of incarnated consciousnesses becomes present to him. Multitude. His is an elemental world where cruel, predatory birds wheel in the sky; where the star of the morning shines in the firmament. Outside the dark room where he is speaking, the mountains stand all around in the night.
I am he who speaks with the dangerous mountain, says. I am he who speaks with the Mountain of Ridges, says. I am he who speaks with the Father, says. I am he who speaks with the Mother, says. Where plays the spirit of the day, says. Cold Water Mountain, says. Big River Mountain, says. Mountain of Harvest and Richness, says. Where the terror of the day is, says. Where is the way of the dawn, the way of the day, says.
It is significant that though the psychedelic experience produced by the mushrooms is of heightened perceptivity, the I say is of privileged importance to the I see. The utter darkness of the room, sealed off from the outside, makes any direct perception of the world impossible: the condition of interiorization for its visionary rebirth in images. In such darkness, to open the eyes is the same as leaving them closed. The blackness is alive with impalpable designs in the miraculous air. Even the appearances of the other presences, out of modesty, are protected by the obscurity from the too penetrating, revealing gaze of transcendental perception. Freed from the factuality of the given, the constitutive activity of consciousness produces visions. It is this aspect of such experiences, to the exclusion of all others, that has led them to be called hallucinogenic, without any attempt having been made to distinguish fantasy from intuition. The Mazatec shaman, however, instead of keeping silent and dreaming, as one would expect him to do if the experience were merely imaginative, talks. There are times when in the midst of his ecstasy, whistling and whirling about, he exclaims: "Look at how beautiful we're seeing!"-astonished by the illuminations and patterns he is perceiving-"Look at how beautiful we're seeing. Look at how many good things of God there are. What beautiful colors I see." Nevertheless, the I am the one who speaks enunciates an action and a function, weighted with an importance and efficacity which I am the one who sees, hardly more than an interjection of amazement, totally lacks.
"I am he who speaks. I am he who speaks. I am he who speaks with the mountains, with the largest mountains. Speaks with the mountains, says. Speaks with the stones, says. Speaks with the atmosphere, says. Speaks with the spirit of the day." For the Mazatecs, the mountains are where the powers are, their summits, their ranges, radiating with electricity in the night, their peaks and their edges oscillating on the horizons of lightning. To speak with is to be in contact with, in communication with, in conversation with the animate spirit of the inanimate, with the material and the immaterial. To speak with is to be spoken to. By a conversion of his being, the shaman has become a transmitter and receiver of messages.
"I am the dry lightning, says. I am the lightning of the comet, says. I am the dangerous lightning, says. I am the big lightning, says. I am the lightning of rocky places, says. I am the light of the dawn, the light of day, says." He identifies himself with the elements, with the crackle of electricity; superhuman and elemental himself, his words flash from him like lightning. Sparks fly between the synaptic connections of the nerves. He is illuminated with light. He is luminous. He is force, light, and rhythmic, dynamic speech.
The world created by the woman's words, articulating her experience, was a feminine, maternal, domestic one; the masculine discourse of the shaman evokes the natural, ontological world. "She is beseeching for you, this poor and humble woman," said the shamaness. "Woman of huipile, says. Simple woman, says. Woman who doesn't have anything, says." The man, conscious of his virility, announces: "I am he who lightnings forth."
"Where the dirty gulch is, says. Where the dangerous gulch is, says. Where the big gulch is, says. Where the fear and the terror are, says. Where runs the muddy water, says. Where runs the cold water, says." It is a landscape of ravines, mountains, and streams, he charts with his words, of physical qualities with emotional values: a terrain of being in its variations. He evokes the creation, the genesis of all things out of the times of mist; he praises, marvels, wonders at the world. "God the Holy Spirit, as he made and put together the world. Made great lakes. Made mountains. Look at the light of day. Look at how many animals. Look at the dawn. Look at space. Great earths. Earth of God the Holy Spirit." He whistles. The soul was originally conceived of as breath. The wind, he says, is passing through the trees of the forest. His spirit goes flying from place to place throughout the territory of his existence, situating the various locations of the world by naming them, calling them into being by visiting them with his words: where is, he says, where is, to create the geography of his reality. I am, where is. He unfolds the extensions of space around himself, points out and makes present as if he were there himself. "Where the blood of Christ is, says. Where the blood of the diviner is, says. Where the terror and the fright of day are, says. Where the superior lake is, says. Where the big lake is, says. There where large birds fly, says. Where fly dangerous birds." The world is not only paradisiacal in its being there, but frightening, with perils lurking everywhere. "Mountains of great whirlwinds. Where is the fountain of terror. Where is the fountain of fright." And the different places are inhabited by presences, by indwelling spirits, the gnomes, the little people. "Gnome of Cold Water, says. Gnome of Clear Water, says. Gnome of Big River, says. Big Gnome. Gnome of Burned Mountain. Gnome of the spirit of the day. Gnome of Tlocalco Mountain. Gnome of the Marking Post. White Gnome. Delicate Gnome."
The shaman, says Alfred Metraux, is "an individual who, in the interest of the community, sustains by profession an intermittent commerce with the spirits or is possessed by them." (9) According to the classical conception, derived from the ecstatic visionaries of Siberia, the shaman is a person who, by a change of his everyday consciousness, enters the metaphysical realms of the transcendental in order to parley with the supernatural powers and gain an understanding of the hidden reasons of events, of sickness and all manner of difficulty. The Mazatec medicine men are therefore shamans in every sense of the word: their means of inspiration, of opening the circuits of communication between themselves, others, the world, and the spirits, are the mushrooms that disclose, by their psychoactive power, another modality of conscious activity than the ordinary one. The mere eating of the mushrooms, however, does not make a shaman. The Indians recognize that it is not to everyone that they speak; instead there are some who have a longing for awakenment, a disposition for exploring the surrealistic dimensions of existence, a poet's need to express themselves in a higher language than the average language of everyday life: for them in a very particular sense the mushrooms are the medicine of their genius. Nonetheless, there is a very definite idea among the Mazatecs of what the medicine man does, and since the mushrooms are his means of converting himself into the shamanistic condition, the essential characteristics of this particular variety of psychedelic experience must be manifested by his activities.
"I am he who puts together," says the medicine man to define his shamanistic function:
he who speaks, he who searches, says. I am he who looks for the spirit of the day, says. I search where there is fright and terror. I am he who fixes, he who cures the person that is sick. Herbal medicine. Remedy of the spirit. Remedy of the atmosphere of the day, says. I am he who resolves all, says. Truly you are man enough to resolve the truth. You are he who puts together and resolves. You are he who puts together the personality. You are he who speaks with the light of day. You are he who speaks with terror.
It is immediately obvious that a discrepancy exists between the Indian conception of the mushrooms' effect and the ideas of modern psychology: whereas in experimental research reports they are said to produce depersonalization, schizophrenia, and derangement, the Mazatec shaman, inspired by them, considers himself endowed with the power of bringing together what is separated: he can heal the divided personality by releasing the springs of existence from repression to reveal the ecstatic life of the integral self; and from disparate clues, by the sudden synthesis of intuition, realize the solution to problems. The words with which he states what his work is indicate a creative activity neither outside of the realm of reason or out of contact with reality. The center of convergent message fields, sensitive to the meaning of all around him, he expresses and communicates, in direct contact with others through speech, an articulator of the unsaid who liberates by language and makes understood. His intuitions penetrate appearances to the essence of matters. Reality reveals itself through him in words as if it had found a voice to utter itself. The shaman is a signifier in pursuit of significance, intent upon bringing forth the hidden, the obscure into the light of day, the lucid one, intrepid enough to realize that the greatest secrets lie in regions of danger. He is the doctor, not only of the body, but of the self, the one who inquires into the origins of trauma, the interrogator of the familiar and mysterious. It is indeed as if that which he has eaten, by virtue of the possibilities it discovers to him, were of the spirit, for perception becomes more acute, speech more fluent, and the consciousness of significance is quickened. The mushrooms are a remedy to which one has recourse in order to resolve perplexities because the experience is creative of intentions. The way forth from the problematic is conceived of, the meaning of resolved. The shaman, he is the one in communication with the light and with the darkness, who knows of anxiety and how to dispel it: the man of truth, psychologist of the troubled soul.
Where is the fear, says. Where is the terror, says. Where stayed the spirit of this child, says. I have to search for it, says. I have to locate it, says. I have to detain it, says. I have to grab it, says. I have to call it, says. I have to whistle for it in the midst of terror, says. I have to whistle for it through the cumulus clouds. I have to whistle for it with the spirit of the day.
Once more there appears the notion of alienation, the malady of fright, the loss of the self. The task of the shaman, hunter of extravagated spirits, is to reassociate the disassociated. He explains his method himself in these words:
Under the effect of the mushrooms, the lost spirit is whistled for through space for the spirit is alienated, but by means of the mushrooms one can call for it with a whistle. If the person is frightened, the mushrooms know where his spirit is. They are the ones who indicate and teach where the spirit is. Thereby one can speak to it. The sick person then sees the place where his spirit stayed. He feels as if he were tied in that place. The spirit is like a trapped butterfly. When it is whistled for it arrives where one is calling it. When the spirit arrives in the person, the sick one sighs and afterwards is cleaned.
It becomes evident from the words used to describe the condition of fright-the spirit is said to have been left behind, to have stayed somewhere, to be tied up, and as we will see later, to be imprisoned-that just as in the etiology of the neuroses, the sickness is a fixation upon a traumatic past event which the individual is incapable of transcending and from which he must be liberated to be cured. It is not by chance that the mushrooms, which cause a flight of the spirit, should be considered the means of chasing what has flown away. The shaman goes in search; by empathic imagination, sometimes even by dialogue with the disturbed one, he gains an insight into the reasons for the state of shock, which allows him to make his invocations relevant to the individual case. The patient, by the mnemonic power of the mushrooms, freed from inhibitions and repressions, recalls the traumatic event, surmounts the repetition syndrome that perpetuates it by virtue of the ecstatic spontaneity that has been released from him, suffers a catharsis, and is brought back to life, integrated again.
Another method of regaining the lost spirit, used as well as invocation, is to barter for it. Merchants, the Mazatecs conceive of all transactions in terms of commerce, of trading one value for another. Throughout his discourse, the shamans a storekeeper in daily life, dreams of money, of richness, of freedom from poverty. "Father Bank. Big Bank. Where the light of day is. Cordoba. Orizaba." He names the cities where the merchants of Huautla sell their principal commercial crop-coffee-in the market. "Where the Superior Bank is, says. Where the Big Bank is, says. Where the Good Bank is, says. Where there is money of gold, says. Where there is money of silver, says. Where there are big notes, says. Where the bank of gold is, says. Where the bank of well-being is, says." It is not surprising that among such mercantile people it should be considered possible to buy back the lost spirit, to retrieve it in exchange for another value.
"Where the fright of the spirit is. Going to pay for it to the spirit. Going to pay the day. Going to pay the mountains. Going to pay the corners." The shaman becomes a transcendental bargainer. He is told by the supernatural powers how much they demand as a ransom for the spirit they have expropriated, then he undertakes to transact the deal. He explains it himself in this way:
Cacao is used to pay the mountain and to pay for the life of the sick one. The Lord of the Mountain asks for a chicken. This is an important matter because it is the Masters of the Mountains who speak. That is the belief of the ancients. The chicken is the one who has to carry the cacao. Loaded with cacao it has to go and leave the offering in the mountain. Once it is on the mountain, seeing it loaded no one bothers to catch it because already it belongs to the Masters of the Mountain where it is lost forever. The cacao that it carries is money for the Master of the Mountain. The bark paper is used to wrap the bundle and the parrot feather that goes with it. The signification of the parrot feather is that it is as if the parrot himself arrived on the mountain. It is he who arrives announcing with his songs the arrival of the chicken loaded with cacao, the arrival of the money to pay what was asked for, as if the liberty of a prisoner were being paid for. It is as if an authority said to you, "This prisoner will be set free for a fine of one hundred pesos and if it isn't paid, he won't go free." The transaction probably has the psychological effect of assuaging anxiety with the assurance that the powers angered by a transgression have been appeased.
As we have seen, though these shamanistic chants are creations of language created by the individual creativity of the speakers, the structure of the discourses, short phrases articulated in succession terminated by the punctuation of the word says, tend to be similar from person to person, determined to a large extent by culture and tradition as is much of what is said. An instance is the invocatory reiteration of names, a characteristic common to all the Mazatec shamanistic sessions of speech. The names repeated by the Indian medicine men, devout Catholics, are those of the Virgin and the saints. In ancient times, other divinities must have been named, but without any doubt, to name and make present has always played a role in such chants. "Holy Virgin of the Sanctuary. Holy Virgin. Saint Bartholomew. Saint Christopher. Saint Manuel. Holy Father. Saint Vincent. Saint Mark. Saint Manuel. Virgin Guadalupe, Queen of Mexico." To sing out the holy names serves the function for the oral poet, like the stereotyped phrases of Homeric song, of keeping the chant going during the interludes of inspiration; at the same time, the rhythmic enunciation is a telling over of identities, an expression of the interpersonality of consciousness. To recall again the affirmation of Husserl: Transcendental subjectivity is intersubjectivity. The name is the word for the person. In the mind of the speaker one identity after another becomes present, names call up people, the vision of people calls up names. Instead of naming his own acquaintances, which might occur in a desacralized discourse, the shaman invokes the holy ones. The sacred nomenclature is a sublimation of the nomenclature of family and social relationships.
It is now his everyday self, his wife and his family whom he speaks about. "Our children are going to grow up and live. I see. I see my wife, my little working woman. I love her. I speak to her through space. I speak to her through the cumulus clouds. I call to her spirit. Nothing will befall us." Man and woman, the couple and their children, that is his theme now that love for his family wells up in his heart.
Nothing can happen to us. We will go on living. We will go on living in the company of my wife, of my people. We should not make our wife irritable. We went to receive her before God, in the sight of God, in the Sacred Sacrament, in sight of the altar. There was a great mass, there was a mass of union. We were able to respect each other forty-three days and therefore God disposed that our children should be born and live. Because of that our seeds bore fruit, our offspring grew, offspring and seed that God Our Lord gave us.
He who speaks and says, perhaps it is rumored that the work he is doing, this person, is great, that his ranch is large. He is not presumptuous. He is a humble person. He is a laborious person. He is a person of problems. He is a person who has al ready loaned his service as an authority. He has realized himself, his gifts are inherited, he is of important people: Justo Pastor, Juan Nazareno. He is of a great root, an important root. Large trees, old trees. All our children will live, says. Will have a good harvest. Will rear their animals. Well-being and pleasure in their sugar cane, in their coffee groves. I will live much time yet. I will become an old man with gray hair, I will continue living with my offspring and with my people. My children will have education and well-being. Education must be given to my sons.
He says the changes through which he passes, the transformations and permutations of his ecstatic consciousness in the course of its temporalization-the sense of gamble, the risks, the moments of fright, the presence of light and vigor. "It turns into a game of chance, says. It turns into terror, says. It turns into spirit, says."
He whistles and sings and dances about. "That which sounds is a harp in the presence of God and the Angel of the Guard. Plays space, plays the rocks, plays the mountains, plays the corners, plays fear, plays terror, plays the day." He plays the facets of the world as if they were musical instruments. Things and emotions, at the contact of his singing and touch are magically resolved into ringing vibrating tonalities, into music-music of mountains and rocks, of space and fear. "Where sound the trees, says. Where sound the rocks, says. Where sound baskets. Where sounds the spirit of the day." He is hearing the ringing and the buzzing and the humming of his effervescent consciousness and finding analogies for the sounds he hears in the echo chambers of his eardrums: the soughing of the wind through the trees, the clinking of stones, the creaking of baskets. He whistles and sings. His words issue forth from the melodic articulation of inarticulate sounds, from the physical movement of his rhythmic whirling about and scuffling in the darkness. "How beautiful I sing," he exclaims. "How beautiful I sing. How many good pleasures concedes to us the Lord of the World." He dances about working himself up to a further pitch of exaltation. "How beautiful I dance. How beautiful I dance." Repetition is one of the aspects of the discourse as it is of the pulsation of energy waves.
"This person is valiant," he says of himself. "He is of the people of Huautla, he is a Huautecan. With great speed he calls and whistles for the spirits among the mountains; whistles the fright of the spirit." Then he flips out. He throws himself into the shamanistic fit, his voice changes, becomes that of another, rougher, more guttural, and beginning to speak in the speech of San Lucas from where came his old master, a town in the midst of the corn on a high windswept peak, he recalls his spiritual ancestor, the ancient wise man who taught him the use of the gnomic mushrooms. "He is a person of jars. He is of San Lucas. A person of plates. He is a person of jars and bowls. He is an old one." San Lucas is the place where all the black, unadorned, neolithic pottery used throughout the region is made. Men go from town to town carrying the jars, padded with ferns, on their backs to sell them in the marketplaces of the mountain villages. "Old man of pots, dishes, bowls. These are the people of the center. They speak with the mountains arrogantly. He is from San Lucas. He speaks with the whirlwind, with the whirlwind of the interior."
From what he himself tells of this old shaman, appear vestiges of the days when the shaman of the People of the Deer, intermediary between man, nature, and the divine was a thaumaturge who presided over fertility and the hunt. "I had to visit the same medicine man," he recounts, "when we went to the hunt. I had to prepare for him an egg, an egg to be offered to the mountain. It all depends on the value of the animal that one wants. It is as if you were going to buy an animal," he said.
He is the one who says what one is to pay. He goes to leave the egg. Afterwards the dogs go into the woods and begin to work. It is necessary to rub tobacco on the crown of the dogs' heads. But with the egg and twenty-five beans of cacao, the master is sure that the deer is already bought. I have paid for the game, says the true shaman. And every time we went to hunt, we were therefore sure to encounter deer because a good shaman from San Lucas can transform a tree or a stone into a deer once he has exchanged its value for it with the Lord of the Mountain. We were sure to come upon deer because they had been paid for.
"Here come the Huautecans. Here come the Huautecans." Dancing about in the darkness, flapping his coat against his sides to imitate the bounding of a startled deer through the underbrush, he, the hunter of spirits and of game, barking like the dogs closing in around the cornered animal, tells a hunting story, talking rapidly with intense excitement in the gruff voice of one from San Lucas who sees from his vantage point the hunters of Huautla in the distance:
Listen to how their dogs bark. It's an old dog. Here they come by way of the Sad Mountain. They are bringing their kill. There is barking in the mountain. Here they come. Listen to how their arms sound. Already they have shot a colored deer. They pay the mountains. They pay the corners. The deer was killed because the Huautecans pay the price. They paid the spirit. Paid the Bald Mountain. Paid the Hollow Mountain. Paid the Mountain of the Spirit of the Day. Paid fifty pesos. You can't do just as you like. It is necessary to pay the White Gnome. The Huautecans are like clowns. They are carrying the deer off along the path. The rifles of the Huautecans are very fine. These people are important people. They know what they are doing. They know how to call the spirit. The Huautecans call their dogs by blowing a horn. Already the dogs are coming close.
The story comes almost at the conclusion of his discourse. The effect of the mushrooms lasts approximately six hours; usually it is impossible to sleep until dawn. In all such adventures, at the end, comes the idea of a return from where it is one has gone, the return to everyday consciousness. "I return to collect these holy children that served as a remedy," the shaman says, calling back his spirits from their flight into the beyond in order to become his ordinary self again. "Aged clowns. White clowns." The mushrooms he calls sainted children and clowns, relating them by his personifications to beings who are young and joyful, playful, creative, and wise.
"The aurora of the dawn is coming and the light of day. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, by the sign of the Holy Cross, free us Our Lord from our enemies and all evil. Amen."
What began in the depths of the night with the illumination of interior constellations in the spaces of consciousness ends with the arrival of the daylight after a night of continuous, animated speech. "I am he who speaks," says the Mazatec shaman.
I am he who speaks. I am he who speaks with the mountains. I am he who speaks with the corners. I am the doctor. I am the man of medicines. I am. I am he who cures. I am he who speaks with the Lord of the World. I am happy. I speak with the mountains. I am he who speaks with the mountains of peaks. I am he who speaks with the Bald Mountain. I am the remedy and the medicine man. I am the mushroom. I am the fresh mushroom. I am the large mushroom. I am the fragrant mushroom. I am the mushroom of the spirit.