Indigenous Caribbean Network

Tradicion taina de sanacion....................Taino healing tradition

Takaji Datiaono

Saludos mis parientes

Greetings My Relatives

 

En su cronica llamada RELACION SOBRE LAS ANTIGUEDADES DE LOS INDIOS, escrita en el a~o 1498, el monje Ramon Pane escribio lo siguiente en el capitulo XVI con respecto a la labor del bohitiu, el medico taino: "Entrando el medico en la casa del enfermo, se sienta y callan todos...sin estar en la casa mas que uno o dos de los principales; estando asi solos, toman una yerba de gueio, ancha, y otra yerba envuelta en una hoja de cebolla de media cuarta de ancho...

Hecho esto, y estando quieto un poco, se levanta el buhitibu, y va hacia el enfermo, que esta sentado solo en medio de la casa, como se a dicho, y le da dos vueltas alrededor, como quiere. Despues se pone delante de el, y le coge de las piernas, palpandole los muslos y las piernas hasta los pies. Despues tira fuertemente, como que quiere desollar alguna cosa, y de alli se va a la salida de la casa y cierra la puerta, y habla diciendo: 'vete al monte' o al mar o a donde quiere decir; y con un soplo como quien sopla una paja, se vuelve otra vez, pone las manos juntas, cierra la boca y le tiembla las manos, como cuando hace gran frio, soplase las manos por encima y tira asi, el aire, como cuando se chupa el meollo de un hueso, y va chupando hasta el enfermo por el cuello, estomago, manos, barriga, o por muchas partes del cuerpo.

Hecho esto empieza a toser, y a hacer gestos como si hubiera bebido una cosa amarga, y escupe en su mano..."

In his historic record called RELACION SOBRE LAS ANTIGUEDADES DE LOS INDIOS, written in the year 1498, the monk Ramon Pane wrote the following statement in chapter XVI, concerning the work of the bohitiu, the Taino medicine man: "The medicine man, upon entering the house of the sick man, sits and everyone goes quiet...Having emptied the house of everyone except one or two of the most important people,  They are therefore alone there, and take some sort of herb called gueio, with broad leaves, and another herb wrapped in onion leaves, of a smaller width...

Having done this, and having been very quiet for a while, the buhitibu rises and moves toward the patient, who sits in the middle of the house, as I said earlier, and then he gives him two turns around, to his satisfaction. Then he gets in front of the patient and he grabs him by the legs, massaging his thighs and his legs down towards his feet. Then he pulls on them forcefully, as if he were attempting to skin something, and from there he walks over to the entrance of the house and shuts the door after saying the words: 'go away to the hills' or other times he'll send it to the ocean or some other place of his choosing; and he gives off a puff as if blowing off a straw, and then he returns again, puts his hands together, shuts his mouth and his hands begin to tremble as if he were very cold, he blows on his hands, and then begins to draw air in as if he were trying to suck the marrow from a bone, and he goes sucking different parts of the patient's body, his neck, his belly, his hands, and other parts of his body.

Having done this he starts to gag and cough, and makes faces as if he had tasted something bitter, and he spits it out unto his hand..." 

Esta descripcion fue la primera explicacion escrita por un historiador europeo, de los procedimientos adoptados por los shamanes de las Americas. En realidad es un documento de extraordinaria importancia, no solamente por  el hecho que fue la primera escritura etnografica de este continente sino por la semejanza que demuestra entre aquellos procedimientos del ciglo 15, y las tecnicas usadas presentemente por los shamanes y otros que aun mantienen vigentes las tradiciones de sanacion aqui.

 Aqui en esta ponencia quisiera exponer como nosotros en el Circulo Caney hemos estudiado las manifestaciones modernas de estas tradiciones que nos legaron nuestros ancestros, y como las hemos integrado a nuestro culto espiritual.

This description was the very first explanation by an European historian, of the procedures adopted by the shamans of the Americas . The fact is that this is a document of extraordinary importance, not only because it is the first ethnographic record of this continent but also because of the fact that it demonstrates a striking  similarity between those procedures of the fifteenth century and the techniques used in the present day by shamans and other practitioners who still maintain  these healing traditions alive here.

Now in this blog I would like to present how we in the Caney Circle have studied these modern manifestations of those traditions which were bequeathed to us by our ancestors and how we have integrated them into our own spiritual lore.

Lo primero que quiero mencionar aqui es el comentario que Pane hace de yerbas medicinales y espirituales. Al inicio el fraile menciona el gueio que es una planta que todavia no a sido propiamente identificada por los expertos. Entoces el menciona otra yerba que obviamente es usada envuelta en un paquete o un rollo de alguna forma. Pane menciona ojas de cebolla. Pero los antiguos tainos no conocian la cebolla, por lo cual no puede ser esa la planta usada. Ahi Pane cometio un error. Lo unico que podemos suponer aqui logicamente es que la yerba envuelta o enrollada a la que se refiere Pane es el tabaco que los antiguos tainos si envolvian en largos y estrechos bultitos enrollados de hojas, conocidos ahora con el nombre "puro" o "habano" o simplemente "un tabaco".

The first thing I would like to mention is the comment that Pane makes concerning medicinal and spiritual herbs. At the very beginning the friar mentions gueio which is a plant that still has not been properly identified by the experts.  Then he mentions another herb that is supposedly wrapped in onion leaves. But the ancient Tainos did not know the onion plant, which is the reason why this could not have been the correct leaf. Pane made a mistake in this case. The only thing we can reasonably infer by this comment is that the herb which he saw used in a rolled or bundled form was tobacco, which the ancient Tainos indeed used in a rolled form now called a "cigar".

La costumbre de usar el tabaco en forma de un puro persiste en las tradiciones contemporaneas de sanacion de las zonas rurales de Cuba y otras islas del Caribe.

E aqui fotos tomadas durante una ceremonia del kasike taino cubano Don Panchito, de la comunidad de Caridad De Los Indios, Guantanamo, Cuba.

The custom of using tobacco in the form of a rolled cigar persists to this day in the contemporary healing traditions of the rural regions of Cuba and other Caribbean islands.

Here we present photos taken during a ceremony offered by the Cuban Taino kasike Don Panchito, of the caridad De Los Indios community in Guantanamo, Cuba.  

En la pelicula titulada SHAMAN, TRADITIONAL MEDICINES de Ali May, se presentan estas escenas de un shaman de la Amazona sudamericana que usa el humo del tabaco en forma de puro para desempe~ar su trabajo de sanacion:

In the film titled SHAMAN, TRADITIONAL MEDICINES by Ali May, we find these images of a South American Amazonian shaman who uses the smoke of a cigar to carry out his healing work.

La tradicion de fumar el tabaco en forma de puro es usada por muchos curanderos indigenas de las antillas presentemente y es un elemento fundamental de la tradicion de sanacion en nuestro Circulo Espiritual Caney.

The tradition of smoking a cigar is in use by many of the traditional healers of the Caribbean currently and it is a fundamental element of the healing tradition in our own Caney Spiritual Circle.

Ahora quiero hacer referencia a la descripcion que Pane hizo de darle "dos vueltas" al enfermo. Esta expresion se puede interpretar de dos maneras diferentes; primero, de la manera que el bohitiu se paro y camino alrededor del enfermo dos veces. Pero tambien es muy probable que el medico halla causado que el enfermo girara dos veces, tomandolo de la mano y causando que el enfermo gire y de vueltas.

Durante los 38 a~os de nuestro matrimonio mi esposa a compartido conmigo tradiciones de los campos de Cuba que algunos miembros de su familia mantienen hasta estos tiempos. Entre esas tradiciones se encuentra una de sanacion. Esta tradicion de sanacion incluye una costumbre en la cual la persona que cura le da dos vueltas al pasiente causando que el enfermo gire fisicamente alrededor. Esta costumbre forma una parte muy importante de las tradiciones del Cordon. El Cordon es un complejo de tradiciones que se mantienen en fuerza en las zonas rurales de Cuba, que incluyen costumbres heredadas de nuestros antepasados tainos. Estas costumbres fueron cuidadosamente estudiadas y reveladas al mundo por el etnologo cubano Jose Antonio Garcia Molina en su libro Huellas Vivas Del Indocubano, Habana: (Editorial De Ciencias Sociales 2007). Garcia Molina cito el Cordon en su libro. En Marzo del 2014 yo tuve el honor de presenciar una sesion del baile del Cordon en el cual esa costumbre se manifesto. Una de los principales de la sesion tomo a otro de la mano y le dio dos vueltas como parte de un proceso de sanacion.

Now I would like to make reference to the description Pane made about the "two turns" around of the patient at the beginning of the procedure.  This expression could be interpreted in two different ways; One is by saying that the bohitiu walked around the patient two times. But it is also very probable that the medicine man caused the patient to spin two times. taking him by the hand and turning him around and around.

During the38 years of our marriage  my wife has shared traditions from the Cuban countryside with me that members of her family maintain to this day. Among these traditions there is a healing technique. This healing tradition includes a custom in which the healer spins the patient two times around while holding his or her hands. This custom  is a very important part of the Cordon tradition. The Cordon  is a complex of traditions that are maintained in force in the rural areas  of Cuba, and those traditions include customs inherited from our Taino ancestors. These customs were closely studied and presented to the world by the Cuban ethnologist Jose Antonio Garcia Molina in his book  Huellas Vivas Del Indocubano, Havana: (Editorial De Ciencias Sociales 2007). Garcia Molina cited the Cordon tradition in his book. In March of 2014 I had the honor of witnessing a session of the Cordon dance in which this custom manifested itself. One of the main persons of the ceremony took another participant by the hand and gave her two turns, spinning her around physically as part of a healing process.

Aqui presento fotos tomadas durante ese evento:

Here I present photos taken during that event:

Es nuestro criterio que esta accion de hacer girar al paciente, tomandolo de la mano es una sobrevivencia directa de la costumbre antigua que Pane presencio y describio en su cronica en el a~o 1498.

We are convinced that this habit of making a patient spin around while holding him or her by the hand is a direct survival of the ancient custom witnessed and described by Pane in his records in 1498.

Pane menciono un procedimiento en el cual el bohitiu agarra al paciente por las piernas y tira de ellas como para sacarle algo y despues lanzarlo hacia el exterior de la casa, mandandolo al mar o a otro lugar remoto. Mi esposa me ense~o que en las tradiciones que ella conocio como ni~a, la persona que esta realizando una sanacion agarra al paciente por los brazos, sobandolos por todo su largo hasta las manos y tirando de ellos fuertemente como arrancandole algo malo, y despues se deshace de eso sacudiendo sus propias manos. Es verdad que entre estas dos tradiciones parece existir una discrepancia de extremidades por ser las piernas y no los brazos lo que el bohitiu agarro en el caso que presencio Pane. Sin embargo a mi me parece que puede ser muy probable que en aquellos tiempos eran ambos, brazos y piernas lo que aquellos medicos de anta~o agarraban, que Pane no llego a presenciar la ceremonia en la cual fueron los brazos los que agarro el bohitiu, y con el paso del tiempo y el proseso de sincretizacion se perdio la costumbre de agarrar las piernas pero persistio la de agarrar los brazos.

En el Circulo Caney usamos las dos costumbres, brazos y piernas, como lo hicieron nuetros antepasados, pues nuestra intencion no es solamente rescatar las tradiciones que persisten en el sincretismo, sino tambien renovarlas, cambiar lo que existe ahora para volverlo a su forma original, autentica y taina.

En nuestra tradicion nosotros solemos echar los males que extraemos del paciente hacia un cuerpo de aqua como un rio o un lago o el mar. Preferimos el agua corriente. Nosotros impulsamos la negatividad de la cual queremos deshacernos soplandole furtemente en la direccion deseada como lo hacian nuestros antepasados tainos.

Pane mentioned a procedure via which the bohitiu grabs the patient's legs and pulls on them as if yanking something out of them, and then later casting it out of the house, sending it off to the sea or off to some other remote place. My wife taught me that in the traditions that she learned in her childhood, a person who was doing a healing would grab the patient's arms, rubbing downwards towards the hands, and pull on them forcefully as if yanking something evil out of them, and then would get rid of the evil by shaking it out of his or her own hands. It is true that there appears to be a discrepancy of limbs treated between these two traditions, being the legs and not the arms what Pane witnessed being pulled. Nevertheless I believe that it could have been BOTH arms and legs that were treated in that manner in those days by those nedicine men and women of old, that Pane may have missed the ceremony in which the arms were pulled and thus he did not record it. We believe that with the passage of time and the process of syncretism, the habit of grabbing the legs may have disappeared but the habit of grabbing the arms persisted.

In the Caney Circle we use both customs, arms and legs, as was done by our ancestors, because our intention is not only to salvage the traditions that persist within the complex of syncretism, but also to renew them, change them back to what they used to be, and return them to their original, authentic and Taino form.

In our tradition we tend to cast the negativity that we extract from the patient towards a body of water such as a river, or a lake, or the sea. We propel the negativity in the direction that we are aiming it by blowing on it like the ancient Tainos used to do.

Parte de la tradicion de sanacion, tal y como la presencio Pane, incluye  la accion de extraer del enfermo a chupones con la boca algunos de los males que lo esta molestando. Despues de extraer el malestar el shaman tose y escupe la negatividad. Esta costumbre todavia esta en vigor entre los curanderos Shuar de la Amazona del Peru y otros shamanes de los tropicos sudamericanos.

Part of the healing tradition, as Pane witnessed it, includes the extraction some of the offending negativity from the patient via the act of sucking on various parts of the body. After sucking the negativity into the mouth it is gagged and coughed up, and spit out. This custom is still in use among the healers of the Shuar tribe in the Amazon and also other shamans of the South American tropics.

La tradicion de sanacion en el Circulo Espiritual Indigena Caney no tiene como fin sustituir los procedimientos medicos modernos a los cuales normalmente nosotros los miembros de la humanidad que vive en el ciglo 21 acudimos cuando nececitamos ayuda medica. Sin embargo existe evidencia muy creible que los procedimientos de sanacion que persisten desde los tiempos de nuestros antepasados forman parte de un elemento importantisimo de apoyo fundamental, y multidimensional, a cualquier procedimiento medico moderno. Por esto en el Circulo Caney nos informamos y aprendemos a integrar esas tradiciones antiguas a lo que es la medicina moderna, para ofrecerle a nuestra jente una experiencia de sanacion mas completa y holistica.

The healing tradition in the Caney Indigenous Spiritual Circle does not have as its goal to substitute the modern medical procedures which we 21st century humans normally seek in times of medical necessity. Nevertheless there exists convincing evidence supporting the idea that the healing procedures that have persisted since the times of our ancestors are part of an extremely important support element which can prove fundamentally and multidimensionaly valuable to any modern medical procedure. That is why we in the Caney Circle inform ourselves and learn to integrate those ancient traditions to the modern medicine that we all are familiar with, to offer our people a healing experience that is more complete and holistic.

LINK 1.) video of The Cuban healing dance tradition EL CORDON

LINK 2.) video Amazon Native shaman healer

LINK 3.) video Caney Circle healing technique (partial demonstration)

Seneko Kakona

Muchas Bendiciones

Many Blessings

Miguel Sobaoko Koromo Sague

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Comment by Nelson Kauamarix Zayas on September 9, 2014 at 8:55am

I thought as much. I am grateful to have you and others, to share your collective knowledge/insights.

Comment by Miguel Sobaoko Koromo Sague on September 9, 2014 at 8:46am
It is obvious that Pane understood very little of what those bohitihus were doing and thus was at a loss to understand the efficacy of their methods many of which are still successfully being used to this day
Comment by Miguel Sobaoko Koromo Sague on September 9, 2014 at 8:42am
Talaji Nelson....the skeptical Spanish were quick to accuse Indigenous people of fraud and deception while their own barbaric medical practices such as bleeding patients until they were at death's door and not observing basic rules of hygene such as bathing regularly which the Tainos did several times a day, caused inner able deaths and disease among their own people and appalling, practically exterminatory mortality among the Natives they presumed to "civilize".
Comment by Nelson Kauamarix Zayas on September 4, 2014 at 6:52pm

I have been wanting to post a question about the healing ceremony but I struggled these past few days on how to word it. My hope is that my question does not across as coming from a skeptic but rather, a student trying to understand and learn.

In Pane's book: An Account of the Antiquities of the Indians, 1999 (English translation), on page 22, he writes...and then they (behique) pick up some little bones and a bit of meat. And wrapping all this up in something so it will not scatter, the physician puts it into his mouth...

Later on while describing the healing Pane writes: When this is done, he begins to cough and to make ugly faces, as if he has eaten some bitter thing, and he spits into his hand and takes out those things we have already told he put into his mouth while in his own house or on the way to the sick man, whether stone or bone or meat, as has already been said.

My question is this. Do we believe that the behique puts something in his mouth and then during the ceremony spits it out as a representation of the sickness? or is Pane's description inaccurate, since the Spanish's agenda was to spread the word of God, and not to support what they would probably call pagan beliefs/rituals. In other words, do we think something was actually drawn from the body and spit out without previously putting something in one's mouth?

Comment by Tenanche Semi-Ata Rose Golden on September 4, 2014 at 3:11pm

Thanks for the clarification. I appreciate it.

Comment by Miguel Sobaoko Koromo Sague on September 3, 2014 at 6:43pm
The despojo is another word for that particular aspect of the sanacion
Comment by Miguel Sobaoko Koromo Sague on September 3, 2014 at 6:42pm
Takaji Tenanche
That was exactly correct how you handled it. When a body of water is not available there are other options which you obviously knew already and you are an experienced hand at all this.
Comment by Tenanche Semi-Ata Rose Golden on September 3, 2014 at 3:00pm

Takaji Brother and Behike Bo,

I really enjoyed reading this very informative information. The photos really help one to visualize the Ceremonia de Sanacion in all of its phases. I also viewed the videos by clicking on the links at the end and was pretty blown away by what I saw. I do have a question/comment: When I was living in Arizona several years ago, in my role as a Behike/Boitiu of the Caney Circle, I was asked to perform a few despohos on individuals and properties. When working on people, I recall carrying out the shaking of the arms and brushing of the body, then blowing the negative energy out towards the mountains or into a gourd, which I would then blow towards a water source, which was rarely available in the desert, or I'd take  he gourd to a crossroads and crush it so that the energy could be released and neutralized. Any comments on the "Despoho" - same or similar to the "Ceremonia de Sanacion"?

Hahom,. Tenanche

Comment by Martha " Bajacu" on September 3, 2014 at 4:00am

Gracias por compartir. Muy educativo Behike.

Comment by Joey Karei Inherst on September 1, 2014 at 10:28pm
Hahom Behike, Seneko Kakona!!

Notes

La Bruja

Created by Miguel Sobaoko Koromo Sague Apr 4, 2016 at 12:07am. Last updated by Miguel Sobaoko Koromo Sague Apr 4, 2016.

Angel Rodriguez Caguana archeoastronomy

Created by Miguel Sobaoko Koromo Sague Mar 29, 2016 at 3:10pm. Last updated by Miguel Sobaoko Koromo Sague Mar 29, 2016.

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