Animism (the belief that natural phenomena, plants, animals and even objects possess souls and power) runs strong in many hunter-gatherer societies. It is also the origin of lots of magic and wizardry. That was also true for the Amazonian tribe we visited.
The Shaman of the Siona tribe demonstrated on us their ritual for communicating with plants. With the guide’s translation, he explained that both mental and physical illnesses could be cured by genuine communication with the souls of plants. Sounds superstitious, right? I couldn’t believe too at first.
One of the guides was an American who lived in the tribe for 8 years. He was taught by the Shaman and mastered the tribal language. As he grew up in “modern society” and was a native English speaker, there shouldn’t be any problem of communication, or so-called “backward” mindset. Therefore, I took him as a “reliable witness” for the “superstitious beliefs”, and was eager to know his personal experience.
One interesting story: once he was bitten by a very poisonous spider. According to modern medical knowledge, he would die for sure without injecting serum at a hospital. But if you’ve read the previous article, it was basically impossible to get to the city before it was too late. So, the Shaman treated him by psychic ways. Unbelievably, he recovered!
這讓我想起三毛《撒哈拉的故事》中的「死果」。在現代社會，誰還會相信巫術、符咒之說呢？解釋權被科學壟斷，宗教和文化又在全球化下不斷滅絕，世上好像再也沒有神秘的空間。但三毛又切切事實地體會了符咒的力量 – 是巧合？誇張法？謊言？也許要等我自己經歷過才會有答案。
It reminds me of the Mauritanian spell in Taiwanese author Sanmao(三毛)’s book, The Stories of the Sahara. In the modern world, who would believe in magic or spells? Science controls all power of explanation, religions and cultures keep dying out under globalization – there isn’t any space left for mysteries. But Sanmao really did experience the power of spells – or did she? Was it a coincidence? Exaggeration? Or a lie? Perhaps I’ll only know when I experience it one day.
(Taking hallucinations into account, perhaps I’ll never know)