Magic can be a dangerous and mysterious force for those who believe. Those faithful who reside in the Amazon are always wary for the perceived effects of magic. Whether it be assault sorcery, dark shamanism, or witchcraft those that hold to these beliefs are ever watchful. Shamans however can also bring light and understanding to the people of their land. They heal, guide, and protect those they love and cherish.
The book In Dark and Secrecy allows us to read the observation of Dominique Buchillet who observed the Desana shamans and people of the Upper Rio Negro Region of Brazil. In this area of the world spells are cast primarily by blowing. Exhaling and projecting the spell away from oneself and to the target of one’s ire. This is not a unique phenomenon among the shamans of the world and is a common practice for magic casters in most of the Latin world.
One unique point that can be made for the Desana in the book In Darkness and Secrecy is their belief in that “those who cure can also kill” (Buchillet 109). What this means is that according to Desana beliefs those who heal with magic will also know how to destroy with magic. It can be a very fine point trying to find the division between the two and the Desana work every day towards not to become a village of killers.
For the Desana healers, or kumu (Buchillet 110) the power of healing and destruction originate from the same points. They believe that all the therapeutic and dark spells can be traced back to the origin stories of the tribe. The Desana work their healing magic by telling of the origin of the problem and using that to alleviate the suffering the patient is undergoing and righting the body’s natural functions. However it seems that also using this story on a healthy person can cause these problems to become manifest in their beliefs.
For Desana shamans trying to pass on their art can be a very difficult prospect. They cannot just select someone that they will think would make a good shaman. Instead they keep it strictly to the family and even anyone other than a son is will more than likely never learn the totality of a families magical arts.
Since they believe the arts they practice can be deadly in the wrong hands it is ingrained on the son from a young age that they must never use this magic lightly. It becomes such a big part of their life and philosophy that most Desana shamans “will only make use of evil magic for one highly justified reason: to0 retaliate the death from an illness induced by sorcery of a family member” (Buchillet 125).
For the Desana tribe shamans it is very important for them when they cast spells to not speak it aloud. This is one of the overriding rules of the shamans for their tribe. There are a few different reasons for such caution with their magic. Most of the time it is actually a very thought out procedure.
One reason they do not speak out loud the magic they are casting...