Yacuruna

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Yacuruna are a mythical water people, similar to human beings, who are said to live in beautiful underwater cities, often at the mouths of rivers. Belief in the yacuruna are most prominently found among indigenous people of the Amazon.[1] The term is derived from the Quechua language, yacu ("water") and runa ("man").

Characteristics[edit]

Varied accounts describe the yacuruna as being hairy with their heads turned backwards and deformed feet.[2] Various illustrations depict the yacuruna as a man-like creature accompanied by a serpent and riding a crocodile. The yacuruna is considered by many to be a mythological god who has the power to change into an attractive man.[3] The yacuruna have an enticing and alluring quality to help them in capturing their victims.

Yacuruna roam the Amazon rainforest at night using a black crocodile as a canoe and a giant boa as a necklace. The local people believe during the day the yacuruna sleeps at the bottoms of rivers and lakes with one eye continuously open.[4]

Yacuruna have the ability to communicate with aquatic animals of the Amazon and have ultimate control over them. Locals believe that yacuruna can transform into an Amazon river dolphin (commonly known as a pink dolphin) which is attracted to the odor of blood in menstruating women. Once the woman is found, the yacuruna transforms into a handsome and luring man who then uses aphrodisiacs to kidnap her and bring her into his kingdom in the depths of the river.[5]

Underwater Cities[edit]

Yacuruna are said to inhabit underwater cities that mirror upside-down human cities. The cities can be interpreted as reflections on the surface of the water. Within the city, the yacuruna live in palaces of crystal with multicolored walls of fish scales and pearl, reclining on hammocks of feathers under a mosquito net of butterfly wings. The hammocks of the yacuruna are snakes, their seats are turtles, their canoes are crocodiles.[6]

Abduction[edit]

Yacuruna can be characterized as seductive and sexually dangerous spirits who lure humans into the water by taking on human forms. When people of the Amazonian community disappear and do not return such as fisherman, husbands, and young girls (who become mysteriously pregnant) the assumption is the yacuruna have seduced and captured their victims. The yacuruna harbor their abducted victims in their underwater cities.[7]

The abducted victims gradually come to resemble their captors, the yacuruna, over a period of time. First, their eyes turn to resemble the yacuruna, then their head and feet turn backward. Once the full transformation is complete, the human has turned into a yacuruna. Transformation into a yacuruna is irreversible and a person so transformed may never return to his or her home.[8] The yacuruna may turn the person's head around so that they may not find their way home, but must continue onwards to the underwater city.[9]

Don Juan Flores Salazar describes a story of how his little sister was taken by a yacuruna. One day she was swimming when she was pulled underwater and vanished. It was not until years later when he saw her again, still alive but had transformed into a mermaid. She had married a yacuruna, and gained knowledge in becoming healer of the waters. They complimented one another for he was a healer of the lands. He believed as though it was her destiny to become a yacuruna.[10]

Shamanism[edit]

Yacuruna have the ability to heal others. The yacuruna as a familiar can be summoned by a shaman to help him or her in the process of healing. The yacuruna may pass on healing knowledge to an sick person or shaman, and in this way they establish trust. Once trust has been established, the yacuruna will turn the person's head towards the front again, allowing the individual to return to the human world. Yacuruna may abduct people from a community, and it is the job of the shaman to persuade the yacuruna to return the body safely.[11]

Yacuruna can be sources of shamanic powers, and can be a powerful ally to the shaman.[12]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Beyer, Stephan (2009). Singing to the Plants. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. p. 319. ISBN 978-0-8263-4730-5.
  2. ^ Luna, L.E. "Vegetalismo: Shamanism among the mestizo population of the Peruvian Amazon". Stockhold Studies in Comparative Religion. 27.
  3. ^ Pantone, Dan James. "Iquitos News and Travel Guide". Iquitos Legend: Yacuruna.
  4. ^ Pantone, Dan James. "Iquitos News and Travel Guide". Iquitos Legend: Yacuruna.
  5. ^ Pantone, Dan James. "Iquitos News and Travel Guide". Iquitos Legend: Yacuruna.
  6. ^ Beyer, Stephan (2009). Singing to the Plants. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. p. 319. ISBN 978-0-8263-4730-5.
  7. ^ Beyer, Stephan (2009). Singing to the Plants. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. p. 318. ISBN 978-0-8263-4730-5.
  8. ^ Luna, L.E. "Vegetalismo: Shamanism among the mestizo population of the Peruvian Amazon". Stockhold Studies in Comparative Religion. 27.
  9. ^ Beyer, Stephan (2009). Singing to the Plants. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. p. 319. ISBN 978-0-8263-4730-5.
  10. ^ Tindall, Robert (2008). The jaguar that roams the mind. Rochester, VT: Park Street. pp. 210–211. ISBN 978-1594772542.
  11. ^ Bear, J. (2000). Amazon magic: The life story of ayahuasquero and shaman don Agustin Rivas Vasquez. Taos, New Mexico: Calibri. p. 140.
  12. ^ Beyer, Stephan (2009). Singing to the Plants. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. pp. 319, 321. ISBN 978-0-8263-4730-5.