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Observations placeholder

Reichel-Dolmatoff – Amazonian Cosmos - Master of Animals



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Gerardo Reichel-Dolmatoff – Amazonian Cosmos

AII animals are thought to be subject to an "owner" (kege), chief (dorege, from doreri/to give orders), who is their protector and master. This "Master of Animals" is Vai-mahse, perhaps the most important divine personification for the Desana hunter.

The name Vai-mahse is derived from vai/fish, but this name is applied to both the Master of Fish and the Master of Animals of the forest, mainly the mammals. The two are equal in their respective functions of protectors, and each one lives with his charges in different places.

But fundamentally, there is only one being, one concept. At times the Vai-mahse of the forest is also called vai-mera, a word that means "beasts" and is mainly applied to animals that fly - birds, bats, or insects. But by calling him by this name, all mammals, fish, and reptiles are also put under his dominion. The word meera also means "old," "ancient," not in the sense of chronological age but in that of "father" or owner. For example, an animal or a person who has many lice is called meera kegu/the owner of insects.

Vai-mahse appears under diverse forms and generally is described as a small man, a dwarf with his body painted red. His presence can be detected by the strong odour of magical plants with the juice of which his body is covered.

The source of the experience

South American shamanism

Concepts, symbols and science items

Science Items

Activities and commonsteps