Monsters, Tricksters, and Sacred ... Animal Tales





Joanna Overing

Jaguar ... in Piaroa Images of ... Identity


Garry H. Gossen

Animal-Souls, Co-essences, and Human Destiny


Dell H. Hymes

Coyote, the Thinking ... Trickster


Jay Miller & Vi Hilbert

Lushootseed Animal-People


Kandioura Drame`

Trickster as Triptych



2. (pp. 50-79) "Jaguar ... in Piaroa Images of ... Identity". [Venezuela]

p. 55 Piaroa anthropoid deities; origin of humans

"Animals are human when dwelling beneath the earth in the primordial homes of their parents, and the "fathers" of these human-animals can still today with their gigantic penises impregnate sleeping Piaroa women.

Likewise, plants, fish, and some artifacts and stars are still human in the ever-present "before time" of mythic times."

pp. 56-8 Piaroa mythology

p. 56

1. "Out of spite, Buok>a proclaimed, and thereby created, all the dangers that the Piaroa would thereafter experience ... . ... He announced that these people ... would die ... from the cannibalistic raids of dead souls."

p. 57

2. "Wahari ... decided to pay his people a visit. ... Wahari approached the Piaroa without ornamentation, and they were not afraid."


3. "Along the rapids of the Orinoco, Wahari came upon the son whom he had fathered through an incestuous union with his sister, Cheheru." {cf. name of the heroine /S`EH^ERezad/ of the 1001 Nights. (/s`ah^ir / ‘to snore, snort, neigh, whinny’)}


4. "Cheheru ... her brother, Wahari, ... had exchanged for six boxes of Paruna’s ... goods ... . Instead of staying with Paruna as his wife, Cheheru became a promiscuous wanderer."


5. "Wahari ... was arrogant with his sister’s sons and accused them of cowardice for desiring water when working in the hot

p. 58

sun. Soon after, Wahari ... wandered for years living a ... promiscuous life among other peoples. ... Wahari played with the White women, while Cheheru with the White men."

pp. 62-8 Re>yo & Ahe Itamu

p. 62

"the two creator gods, Wahari and Kuemoi, ... became transformed toward the end of mythic time into Tapir {grey tapir : with the name /WAHARI/ cf. [<arabi] /WAH^T./ ‘grey-haired’} and Anaconda, respectively ... . For "today time" (time subsequent to creation events) action,"



replaced __

as owner of the __ domain


Ahe Itamu








"One ruwang (the Piaroa shaman-leader) described the master of water as he saw him in a

p. 63

trance : Ahe Itamu, he said, was always ... dressed in blue-green clothing, standing alone upon clouds of patterned and multicolored air {cf. Taoist gods on their multicolored clouds} at a great depth beneath the water. ...


In contrast to ... Ahe Itamu, Re>yo was the ugly ogre of the forest ... . He was a peculiar black giant {"The large black armadillo ... may be referred to the twelve-banded species, which is the largest of all the armadillos" (NH, vol. 5, p. 389)}, clothed with ... armor {ARMORed ARMadillo} to protect himself. The color of his eyes was "clear," ... gray ... . ... Re>yo took out his eyes and placed them on the ground before he ate. {cf. the small size of armadillos’ eyen} He had ticks attached to his oversize penis. He was a cannibal {black armadillos notoriously exhume and devour buried human corpses (ML, vol. 20, p. 57a)} and a very dangerous seducer and kidnapper of women."

p. 64

[myth of Re>yo] "Soon he had an erection (the penis of Re>yo is very large ...). But ... he tires to put it into her ... mouth, throat, ... and breasts – before he finally finds her vagina. ... "Your cunt is very tasty," he tells her."

p. 65

"Re>yo is ... a giant ogre, he was said to "paint himself ..."".

p. 66

"A powerful ruwang can call upon the more benevolent Re>yo to do battle against the Re>yo intent on harming people."

p. 67

"it is Re>yo who orders the diseases of the animals to be sent to the Piaroa, while Ahe Itamu directs the fish diseases to them."

"The Piaroa can wear a black face paint when walking in

p. 68

the jungle to protect them ... . This paint, when sung over by the ruwang, emits the odors and sounds of Re>yo and Ahe Itamu, which frighten ... predators and drive them away from their potential victims."

"One ruwang I knew had a tiny quartz stone within which he could see Re>yo when he took the drug yopo at night. This Re>yo dwelt inside the stone ... . He or she could be called forth each night as both a male and a female giant."

NH = William Smellie's 1781 English translation of Buffon's Histoire naturelle .

ML = The Mirror of Literature. London : J. Limbird, 1832.

pp. 69-71 Tianawa deities

p. 69

"The Tianawa gods are ... the owners of all forces of thought (ta>kwaru:)".

p. 70

"the Tianawa gods. Sitting on their celestial clouds with their crystal boxes of thoughts beside them, they take their hallucinogenic drugs and chant for eternity their songs of productivity." "Inside the

p. 71

crystal box of curing chants owned by the fertility goddess are

the sublime lights of her songs;

there is a long cord of beads that has all the colors of the rainbow;

her brilliant crown of toucan feathers lies on a rafter ... .

Within her crystal box of hunting prowess are her resplendent amulets and necklace of medallions, and

within all her boxes of power dwell many ... waterfalls."

pp. 72-3 Kuemoi

p. 72

"Kuemoi ... even raped his own daughter and committed the further outrage of reeling off the names of all the sacred places beneath and above the earth while raping her"

p. 73

"It is ... the powerful forces of "thought" originally created by Kuemoi that the ruwang draws (carefully) from the crystal boxes of the Tianawa gods". .

p. 73 praesence of leopard-powers in humans

the __

is also called the __

"spirit of the songs (autunisa)"

"spirit of the jaguar’s breath"

"power of the breath ... to sing"

"jaguar’s roar (uhuru)"

p. 73 animal-souls departing at death from a ruwan (shaman) [Overing, "Predation", p. 201]

from his __

depart __


a leopard





"Predation" = Joanna Overing : "Death and Loss ... among the Piaroa". L’HOMME, no.s 26-28 (1993):195-215.


3. (pp. 80-107) "Animal-Souls, Co-essences, and Human Destiny in MesoAmerica".

pp. 81, 83 animal-souls of humans

p. 81

"indeed the vast majority of ... Indians in Mexico and Central America today, have a private spiritual world of the self that is expressed through the concept of animal souls".

p. 83

"human-animal spiritual affiliation in Mesoamerica does ... designate ... predestined and relatively immutable individual relationships with particular supernatural forces. These forces or co-essences are called tonalli in Central Mexico; chanuletik (animal souls) ... in Tzotzil".

pp. 89-90 Nahuatl tonalli

p. 89

"It was said that in the thirteenth heaven

our destinies are determined.

When the child is conceived,

when he is placed in the womb,

his destiny (tonalli) comes to him there;

it is sent by the Lord of Duality.

(Sahagu`n, Florentine Codex, bk. 6, chap. 22)"

p. 90

"These tonalli, destinies, will determine everything in each human life, from birth to death. The tonalli is essentially an individual’s i–macehual, "that which is granted to one, that which one deserves.""

pp. 93-5 leopard-deity & animal-souls of humans in C^amula of the Tzotzil

p. 93

"it is also obvious to any ethnographer with knowledge of Indian languages who works in contemporary Mesoamerican Indian communities that tonalismo and nagualismo remain vitally alive in the late twentieth century."


"Chamula is watched over and protected today by the sun deity... . ... He gave to ... (... Tzotzil ... totik bolom, [Our Lord Jaguar]) the responsibility of individual human destiny. ... . As ... the Chamula Tzotzil pantheon, his senior aspect sits with the Sun ... on the third (highest) level of the sky. His junior aspect

p. 94

lives in a sacred mountain called Tzontevitz, which lies in Chamula territory. In both his aspects, [Totik Bolom] carries out his mandate for overseeing human destiny".

"?ora, meaning ... "fate," and "destiny." ... A kind of predestination that is irrevocable from conception onward, the ?ora of each person has the form of a multicolored candle that is placed by [Totik Bolom] in the third level of the heavens at the time of conception. ... As long as the individual’s candle burns in the sky, the associated person and his animal soul companion live. When it goes out ... the person and his soul companion die. ... The ?ora is represented in the living human body by the ch>ulel, which is an invisible essence located at the tip of the tongue. ... It is this essence of the individual that goes to live eternally in the underworld ... . The ch>ulel has thirteen parts; any or all of the parts may become afflicted. ... A final significant fact about the ch>ulel spirit is that it is also present, with the same attributes, on the tip of the tongue of one’s animal soul companion. ... the animal soul companion itself, called chanul, deriving from chon, which means "animal." ... This animal shares every stroke of fortune that its human counterpart experiences. It is also of the same sex as its human associate. The chanul has two aspects, a junior (itz>inal) and a senior

p. 95

(bankilal), each of which has thirteen parts. The junior aspect of the chanul lives in the sacred mountain named Tzontevitz, located in Chamula municipal territory, where it is tended to by the junior aspect of [Totik Bolom]. The senior aspect of the chanul lives on the third level of the sky, where it is tended by the senior aspect of [Totik Bolom]. During the day, these soul animals roam about ... . However, at night, [Totik Bolom], in both his junior and senior aspects, herds them into corrals – the junior one on the sacred mountain, the senior in the third level of the sky. ...

By far the most common cause of illness in Chamula is believed to be the loss of ... one or several of the twenty-six parts of the chanul (thirteen for each aspect, junior and senior). Loss can occur during sexual intercourse; during a period of fright ... . ... This makes a total of thirty-nine parts of the human spirit (twenty-six for the double chanul and thirteen for the ch>ulel) that can be ... lost. It is the shaman’s role to ascertain, by taking the pulse of the wrist ..., what parts of the soul are afflicted. He or she must then prescribe the necessary candles, ... flowers, and ... prayers at a formal curing ceremony whose purpose is to restore ... integrity to the soul configuration." [p. 105, n. 6 : "See Vogt ... 1969, 416-76, for details on curing ceremonies".]

Vogt 1969 = Evon Z. Vogt : Zinacantan. Harvard U Pr, 1969.

p. 98 soul-animals in dreams

"All people ... may learn the identity of their animal soul companions through dreams. Typically, people have the same dream three times. ... In these cases, a shaman must be consulted. While shamans ... can usual ascertain the meaning of their own and their clients’ animal soul dreams, many people ... sure of the identity of their soul animals ... are reluctant to discuss the matter publicly."

p. 100 confession of faith by a Maya woman {She is apparently using the word /nahual/ to refer to what is usually designed the /tonal/.}

"Every child is born with a nahual. The nahual is like a shadow, his protective spirit who will go through life with him. ... The nahual is our double, something very important to us. ... our nahual is like ... an animal. ... We Indians have always hidden our identity and kept our secrets to ourselves. ... So ... I can’t tell you what my nahual is because that is one of our secrets. (Menchu` ... 18-20)"

Menchu` = Rigoberta Menchu` (transl. by Ann Wright) : I, Rigoberta Menchu` : an Indian Woman in Guatemala. London : Verso, 1984.


4. (pp. 108-37) "Coyote, the Thinking [Wo]Man’s Trickster". [Oregon]

p. 122 distribution of the myths

"Versions ... from speakers of the three languages of the Willamette Valley,

Clackamas (closely connected to Wishram-Wasco),

Santiam Kalapuya, and


All share the feature of Coyote himself asking for news, only to find that the news is about him. This frame of finding that the news is oneself ... is known from the Oregon coast in stories of a young man copulating with his grandmother,

knowingly and enthusiastically in Tillamook ...,

deceived and ashamed in Miluk Coos ...;and ...

in a ... Colville-Okanagon story of Coyote confronted by the wife he has abandoned." [p. 135, n. 18 : "Tillamook : ... Jacobs, ... in Nehalem, pp. 61-62. ... Colville-Okanagon : Mourning Dove ..., pp. 117-18."]

Jacobs = Elizabeth Jacobs : Nehalem Tillamook Tales. Eugene : U of OR Pr, 1959.

Mourning Dove = Christine Quintasket/Mourning Dove : Coyote Stories. Caldwell (NE) : Caxton, 1933.

pp. 128-9, 135 content of the myths

p. 128

"She saw, Duck saw you, while you were sucking it. ...

[p. 87 Tuxtla statuette : "a human ... animal ... a duckbill ... and bird wings and claws. The ... glyphs ... say : "The animal companion is powerful" (Justeson and Kaufman, ... 1703)."]

p. 129

‘Coyote has been sucking his penis.’ ... To Duck he said, "Never will you carry news. You will be (just) a duck now.""

p. 135, n. 17

[Colville] "Some people were gathering eggs at Npak ... . Once the eggs were being cooked, the people laid down to rest.

{/NoPeK/ (Strong’s 5306) is ‘emerald’ : "emerald ... supposedly ... prevents epilepsy" ("E"; cf. "CE"). The crossbill’s "water left in its drinking bowl was a certain remedy for epilepsy." (FF, p. 19)}


Coyote came along, saw these people sleeping, and blew on them, causing them to sleep more deeply. Then he dug up their eggs, ate all of them ... .

{"if a child fell asleep in direct moonlight, ... crossbills would watch over the children" (FF, p. 20).}


When they woke up, they ... noticed that Coyote had ... twisted Crossbill’s beak. ...

{The crossbill’s beak is useful for prying out fir-seeds (FF, p. 19); whereas pin~on was obtained either despite (Was^o – PP, p. 83) or by (Hopi – PP, p. 85) Coyote.}


Coyote was sitting under an overhanging rock cliff, amusing himself by swallowing his penis."

Justeson & Kaufman = John Justeson & Terrence Kaufman : "A Decipherment of Epi-Olmec Hieroglyphic Writing". SCIENCE 293 (1992):1703-11.

Strong = Hebrew & Aramaic Dictionary of Bible Words.

"E" = "Emerald"

"CE" = "Crystals for Epilepsy" "Paracelsus's younger contemporary Georg Agricola stated that the emerald fights with epilepsy as with a deadly enemy. If the stone is stronger than the disease, the stone remains whole; if, however, it is conquered by the disease, it is broken into several parts. ... Anselmes de Boot, a seventeenth century philosopher, was another who recorded that it prevented epilepsy."

FF = Peter Tate : Flights of Fancy: Birds in Myth, Legend and Superstition. Bantam Dell, NY, 2007.

PP = Ronald M. Lanner : The Pin~on Pine: a Natural and Cultural History. U of NV Pr, Reno, 1981.


5. (pp. 138-56) "Lushootseed Animal-People". [Puget Sound, WA]

pp. 140-1 variants of the Star-child myth

p. 140

[according to the Skagit -- Sampson, 51-5 :] Around Clear Lake on the upper Skagit, "the noble sisters wished to marry the stars, and ... a hill with banded rock is still called Yudwasa (heart) because it marks the place where the escape rope fell to earth and coiled up."


[according to the Snoqualmie :] "a small hill near Mount Si also marks where their rope ladder fell down. In

p. 141

the Snoqualmie version, the rope hung in the air for some time and the Animal People used it for a swing until Rat ... chewed through the rope and it fell to earth."

Sampson = Martin Sampson : Indians of Skagit County. SKAGIT COUNTY HISTORICAL SERIES, 2. Mount Vernon (WA), 1972.

pp. 141-5, 148-54 the Star-child myth




"Two women ... were digging for fern roots. ... The oldest one looked up into the night sky and saw two stars. ... she said, "... Wouldn’t they make good husbands for us! ... The red one would be yours, and the white one would be mine." The stars were listening to them ... . .. When the women went to sleep, they were ... taken to the sky. ...


She, the unhappy wife, ... dug through. ... Her sister lowered herself down. ... She walked again on the earth. ...


Again she walked until she came to an excellent dry rotten log. ... She kicked it four times. Immediately, an old lady got up ... and ... spoke ... . "Oh, my granddaughter, I have awakened. I was asleep." {She had been "sleeping like a log".} ... . Then she wove her fish trap. ... She was there and then she gave birth to her child. ... . {cf. the child Taliesin found in a fish-weir} .


... this old woman ... was kicked. Now again she was a rotten log. ... The mother took the soiled diaper of her stolen child. ... Suddenly the diaper cried out. ... she now had her Diaper Child.


... Oh, when Raven goes outside he relieves himself on the face of his slave. His feces cover the sides of the boy’s head and face, which are stuck with the excrement of Raven."

{"Maya accounts say that obsidian is the excrement dropped from shooting stars" (SGM, p. 250b). According to the Tepehuan the Lycoperdon (puffball) is the "excrement of the stars fungus"; whereas according to the Mapuche the Lycoperdon is the "tobacco of Chuncho" : "Chuncho or Chonchon is a bird with a

human head" ("L-P"’; "L"). "Bird-bodied, girl-faced things they [the Harpuiai] are; abominable their droppings" (V:Ae 3:209)}


"Star Child ... approaches his younger brother and brushes his face. ... Then he, Diaper Boy, was able to see him, Star Child. ...


"Are there any women ...?" ... "Yes, ... There are three ... . There is Mouse, there is Mole, there is Magpie. They are the three. ..." ...


Then Little Green Frog is advised by her mother ... . ...


Little Green Frog tossed the elk over her shoulder and carried it inland. ... Then she invited her mother ... . ... Suddenly, Raven says, "Uncover the roof ... . ... We are getting too hot." ... The people uncovered the roof. Raven ... became a raven forever.


... The brothers ... made moccasins ... to travel the earth. Everywhere they went, they scattered ashes ... . Humans sprang from these ashes and began all of the tribes. ...

Star Child, went in the morning and traveled through the sky. ... It got too hot! ... The peoplegot into the water, just to the neck are they showing out in the water ... The people complained about Star Child. ... Diaper Boy laughed and said, "You were too hot!" ...


"Oh, I guess that means I’ll go by night," Star Child said. ... So it was done that way. ... Star Child said, "... My wife will go too." ... He took his wife. That is why there is a little frog on the moon. Her markings are visible ... . {The Chinese likewise consider that there is a toad visible in the moon.} Star Child goes as the moon ... . ... Mink occupies himself by bringing in wood. ... The woman cautions, "Oh, that river is difficult. ..." {river = galaxy} ... He showed himself a little, and the sun would look like two. {double-sun = sun with sun-dog} ...


When he, Diaper Child, arrived at the river, he told Mink. "You hold on tight now. ..." So Mink held on while Diaper Child jumped. {Diaper Child is evidently the sun, with faeces on the diaper being similar to sun-spots on the sun. The stench of the faeces would be similar to that of the Skunk whom the Hopi consider to be sun-god.} He jumped, jumped {a visionary’s sun may move suddenly in the sky, as was witnessed, e.g., at Fatima in Portugal}, this Mink and his father. {Diaper Boy was regarded to be [adoptive-]father of Mink.} ... Mink goes. He arrives at the river, known as the Milky Way, and ... then he jumped, but just to mid-river he got and he landed!" {So is Mink one of the dark patches in the galaxy, commonly regarded as mythic deities by South American Indian tribes?}

SGM = Susan Milbrath : Star Gods of the Maya. U of TX Pr, Austin, 1999.

"L-P" =

"L" =

V:Ae = Vergilius : Aeneid.


9. (pp. 230-54) "The Trickster as Triptych". [West Africa]

pp. 238-9 the 3 sons of God [Gold Coast tribes’ myth]

p. 238

[Dagaare & Waale -- Dakubu] "God had three sons : Night, the eldest; Moon; and Sun, the youngest. ... The time came

p. 239

when God ... devised a contest for his children. Whoever names the yam he has dug up will be given the leopard skin and become king. ... Spider ... disguises himself as a bird and sits on top of God’s gate. He is able to hear God’s spoken words, reports them to Sun, and coaches him successfully through the contest."

Dakubu = M. E. Kropp Dakubu : "Why Spider Is King of Stories". AFRICAN LANGUAGES AND CULTURES, 3, NO. 1 (1990):22-56.

pp. 242-3 chameleon & chameleon-myth

p. 242

"Turner’s 1949 ... cites the word nanse in Gullah meaning spider and ... nansi as chameleon in Bambara."


[Bambara – Ba^] "Nonsi serves as the messenger of Massa Dambali (Uncreated King; God) ... . ... .

p. 243

... using the rainbow, the celestial bridge, to travel while on duty, he appropriated its colors."

Turner 1949 = L. D. Turner : Africanisms in the Gullah Dialect. Ann Arbor : U of MI Pr.

Ba^ = Amadou Hampate’ Ba^ : "Sur l’animisme". PRE’SENCE AFRICAINE, 24-25 (1959):142-52.

p. 246 Buki the hyaina

"Bouki-the-Hyena ... is ... a scavenger who is too easily inclined to dig up cadavers in cemeteries for his meals".

"Fortier identified the etymology of bouqui as deriving from the Wolof word for hyena."

Fortier = Alcee Fortier : "Bits of Louisiana Folklore". TRANSACTIONS OF THE MODERN LANGUAGE ASSOCIATION, 3 (1887):100-68; reprinted in :- Louisiana Folk-Tales. AMERICAN FOLK-LORE SOCIETY MEMOIRS, Vol. 2. Boston, 1895.


A. James Arnold (ed.) : Monsters, Tricksters, and Sacred Cows : Animal Tales and American Identities. U Pr of VA, Charlottesville, 1996.