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Introduction to the Yawanawá Creation Stories
Walking with the Serpent
In the upcoming weeks, I plan to share some parts of the creation story of the Yawanawá. These stories are part of the bigger creation story that has been passed on by the tribe for many generations, maybe even since the beginning of time.
I would like to start by expressing my deepest gratitude. First of all, gratitude to our Creator, called Sheni in the language of the Yawanawá, for giving us the opportunity to learn, explore, and realize who we are, and where we came from—so that we all are able to remember the Creator and this magnificent creation.
Second, I want to thank the Yawanawá—this beautiful tribe that called me in my dreams, my spiritual family, my brothers and sisters, dear friends sharing the path of truth—for allowing me to learn with them, for opening up their study to me, and for giving me the permission to share these sacred stories.
I also want to thank all of you for being part of this journey and reading this substack.
Through many ages, and many different levels of time, these stories have survived and been passed along. The Yawanawá have only learned to read and write in the past few decades, in the schools founded by the missionaries. Before that, all the stories, all the wisdom, all the teachings, and all the history were passed on orally, from grandparents to grandchildren, from generation to generation: sitting around the sacred fire, sharing sacred space, and telling sacred stories. It is a huge blessing and a gift that these stories have been passed on over centuries, maybe even millennia—and that the lineage has not been broken. Many other tribes have lost their tradition with the arrival of the white men, and much knowledge has been lost. Much gratitude for all the people that guarded this sacred knowledge, and these sacred stories, and passed them on throughout time.
Several times in the history of the tribe, the Yawanawá were at war with other tribes. There was a time of a Great War, one of the greatest in the history of the tribe, and this war lasted for a very long time. There was a small break after that war. The leader who had started and lost the war had a son, and the son, wanting to avenge his father’s defeat, started the second Great War. Even through those times, amidst many deaths, much hunger and thirst, and much sorrow and loss, where there was not much time and space for telling sacred stories, the stories were passed on and kept inside the tribe. Much gratitude for all the people who lived through the great wars for preserving these sacred stories.
When the white people came, the rubber tappers entered the territory. The tribe was said to be around 4000/5000 people strong. Mukaveini, a great Yawanawá leader from the past, lived in a time when the tribe was only aware of some neighboring tribes. On his deathbed, he received a vision that another tribe, living on the other side of a great water, would come and enter their territory through the river, and look for the seringueira, the rubber tree. I plan to share the story of Mukaveini and his vision later here on substack.
The Industrial Revolution in the Western world had demands that only natural rubber could satisfy. For example, cars and planes needed rubber for their wheels. At that time, rubber was found only in the Amazon forests of South America. The rubber industry, which grew rapidly in the Amazon, called for a high amount of local labor. As the industry grew, labor shortages increased. What happened is that the Indians were basically enslaved by rubber barons. Abuse, killing, and systematic brutality were widespread. In some areas of the Amazon, the rubber tap industry wiped out 90% of the indigenous population. The Yawanawá were forced to work in those times in exchange for being able to meet their own basic needs. This is a massacre that is hardly talked about in modern history.
The time and the wealth of the rubber barons in Brazil started to end when an Englishman smuggled a box of rubber-tree seeds out of Brazil in 1876. The English then planted rubber trees in their colonies in Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and tropical Africa. On the new plantations, the rubber trees were more easily accessible, with the trees standing in rows on large fields. In the Amazon, the rubber trees are scattered across the forest, wherever Mother Nature has planted them, and the workers have to walk long distances in the deep forest to find and tap the trees. The forest is full of snakes, jaguars, and many other dangers. The new plantations were far more effective and productive, which resulted in much lower harvesting costs. The Amazon’s rubber industry fell, and the regional economy stagnated. The Yawanawá came out of this time decimated by disease and abuse, mired in poverty, and teetering on the edge of losing their tradition and wisdom. But even through those hard times, the ancient stories survived, thanks to all the elders of the tribe passing the stories on to the next generation.
Around this time, missionaries came into Yawanawá territory with the goal of converting souls to Christianity. They held the belief that these Indigenous people were savages and forbade the Yawanawá to use their language, tell their stories, use their medicines, and hold their ceremonies and rituals. The missionaries considered all of these practices to be pagan, and the church preached that they came from the devil. The missionaries played a clever game. They built schools and provided health care for the tribe, but when a tribe member would not live by church rules, the missionaries would exclude their children and family from schooling and health care. The result of those decades was that the tribe almost completely lost its traditions, language, wisdom, connection with the plants, medicines, ceremonies, rituals, and stories. In the 1970’s, the tribe had only a shocking one-hundred-twenty people left, showing very high rates of alcoholism, as well as social and cultural breakdown.
During the time of the missionaries, just a few elders held the knowledge inside of them. It is because of Tatá, Yawá, Raimundo, and some others that we can now tell these stories. Much gratitude for those elders who kept those stories inside their hearts, understanding the truth and importance of them, and passing them, sometimes in secrecy, on to the next generation.
Just before the turn of the millennium, there was a big shift in the tribe. In the nearly forty years before the year 2000, not a single person had entered the dieta of Muka, a rite of passage, a deep study of the spirituality of the Yawanawá culture. This dieta has always been a breeding ground for leaders, warriors, healers, pajés, for people holding the tradition and the lineage of the Yawanawá not just through their words, but in their actions, becoming living examples of what it means to be a spiritual human walking this planet.
Around the year 2000, three strong men decided to take the root of Muka in dieta. They felt the calling to reconnect with the ancient wisdom and lineage of the tribe. Around the same time, the missionaries lost their ground in the Yawanawá land and were thrown out of the territory. Slowly, the tribe came out of the era of decline and loss and rebirthed itself into a New Time. This new era of growth and alliance had been prophesized by a vision of Tatá a few decades ago. Tatá was one of the elders of the tribe that died at age 103 in the year 2016. In this vision, he received the instructions to plant the seed of Kairau in the territory. It was transmitted to him that when the seed of Kairau was tended to well, and it had grown and was blossoming, the culture, the stories, and the songs of the tribe would be known throughout the world. It seems that we are living in that time, right now. It is a gift that the tribe has survived these last 2 centuries. I plan to share about this vision and Kairau in one of the upcoming musings.
Even through these times, the ancient stories were not lost and were passed on and on. The tribe has now grown at least 10 times in size compared to a few decades ago.
These stories are normally told in very special and sacred moments. Sometimes in a ceremony, while being with the force of Huni (Ayahuasca), these stories are shared.
These stories require some instruction in terms of how to connect with, receive, and read them. When listening to, or reading stories like these, it is important to be completely concentrated and not distracted by anything else around you. There is a Yawanawá saying that goes:
“Listen well, open your ears, and listen to what is inside of this message.”
This expression indicates it’s important that you pay attention when you connect with the creation stories. If you are not paying attention, how are you connecting? Why did you ask to listen if you are not paying attention? When the story is being told, you have to be focused. You cannot be walking, doing something, or paying attention to someone else. To receive these ancient stories, it is advised to be fully present.
These stories come through and are very connected to the spiritual force. That force is aware of everything, all the time. The way this force sees things could be likened to a million cameras that are looking at everything, all the time. Not only from the outside but also from the inside. That force sees all of you, every thought, every intention, all your actions, even the most secret ones that you do when you are all by yourself and think nobody is aware. The spiritual force sees all. These stories are like living scriptures, ancient books, that are kept in this great force, and only those who are prepared to receive them can open those ancient books. To receive these stories, it is important to be fully present while reading or listening to them.
When reading or listening to these stories, the spiritual force will be observing you, going inside of you, and working with you. If you are fully present for these ancient stories of creation, you can discover many more things. Many lessons are hidden inside.
Therefore, you need to prepare yourself and respect these stories when you read or listen to them. Be aware of this, and only listen to the Yawanawá creations stories that will be shared if you are really present. If you are not fully present, then it is better to continue with the other chapters and to come back to these stories at a later moment.
Another thing that is good to know about these stories of creation, is that every spiritual leader will tell the story as he or she studied it, and learned it. The person telling the story uses their own knowledge of the story—it is inside of their heart, and they pull it out. Two people telling the same story will not tell it in the same way; they each will have their own version. They all have the same pieces as a basis, but their heart gives them the power to choose the words.
That doesn’t mean that the person telling the story is changing the story, or that one version is better than another. It means that the heart of one person is not the same as the heart of someone else.
This is important to appreciate. This truth might help explain why so many of the indigenous people of this planet, who have carried so much knowledge and wisdom through the ages, never learned to read or write for so many centuries. They understood that stories have a consciousness. They understood that the teller of the story has a consciousness. They understood that the listener has a consciousness. And consciousness is always shifting and changing on different levels and at different depths. Consciousness filters the story, and the story that is heard today might differ from the story that was transmitted in the beginning. A story that is told by the same person this day, and told by the same person 10 years earlier might differ, as the consciousness of that person has shifted over those years. Tatá, with his age and a tremendous amount of study, told these stories differently than a younger person, as his consciousness is different, and his level of study is different. A good storyteller also highlights certain passages or events in a story, or explains them differently, depending on who is listening.
One of the first reasons people learned to read and write thousands of years ago was to record business transactions. In the beginning, writing was not used to record stories. When people started writing stories down, they began forgetting that the story has a consciousness. A story can be seen as a being that is shifting, changing, and evolving. Also, they might have forgotten that the writer of the story has a consciousness—and that this consciousness filters the story. By writing a story down, you lock the story into a certain form, and in a way inhibit the evolution of the understanding of a story.
We have seen what can happen when a story is written down, and when the written form is perceived as the ultimate truth. Especially when people hold onto that truth. Wars have started, nations have fallen, and millions and millions of people have died and suffered as a result of people defending “the word”. This happens even today.
When looking back in time, we see that the great masters, prophets, and enlightened ones have rarely ever written down stories. They were oral storytellers who used stories as powerful tools to express their teachings.
Jesus was an amazing storyteller. So were Mohammed and the Buddha. But none of them wrote the Bible, the Koran, or any other holy scripture. Those scriptures were written down by their disciples, almost always several generations later.
Indigenous people and wise masters might have understood this a long time ago and thus never looked for a way to record their stories. They passed them orally from generation to generation, from grandparents to grandchildren, sitting around the sacred fire, being together in sacred ceremony.
Learning this these last years, I have wondered sometimes who are the savages… The people who learned to write and read, or the ones who didn’t.
The true depth of these stories can possibly only be studied and perceived while being in dieta, in the jungle, out of communication. Being in dieta is very powerful. It calms the mind and the body in many ways. The dieta weakens the body, allowing you to connect more strongly with your spirit, your soul. The dieta process is like putting a glass of muddy water on a table and leaving it there for a period without shaking it up. The mind slowly settles down and goes into deep layers of clarity and connection. In dieta, the mind can become crystal clear. Being in that state to receive these stories is very special. In dieta, it is possible to connect with deeper layers of these stories.
I am sharing this, just to let you know that the stories I will share in the upcoming weeks are just basic versions of these stories. I will share the stories as voice recordings, and most of them will be recordings that have been made in ceremonial spaces, on the force of Huni.
Listen to them, connect with them, study them, and see what they bring to you.
If you’d like to learn more about the history of the Indigenous tribes in the Amazon, and the influences of the rubber industry and the missionaries I would recommend you to watch the movie/documentary Embrace of the Serpent. It gives a clear view of the effect of European colonialism on the Amazon, and might bring a deeper appreciation of which times these stories have survived.