Amazonian Mythology has a very native culture that is based on a great variety of spectacular myths and legends.
The Amazonian Mythology refers to the extensive and vast culture of all the countries that make up South America. This mythology includes the myths and legends of the Amazon, which occupies territory in different countries.
It extends through the tropical rainforest, the Guianas, the Gran Chaco and the tropical jungle. This entire region is considered worldwide as the “lungs of the planet”, thanks to its extensive and still virgin vegetation.
It is full of myths, legends and mythological beings, which represent the features and where related to nature and animals that inhabit this area. And also these are transmitted by generations until today.
Mythological Beings of the Amazonian Mythology
This is a creepy mystical being belonging to the Amazonian mythology, it has its origin in the Amazonian territory of Colombia. It inhabits the Vaupés river and according to the beliefs, it is said that it is a man with black hair; many times it appears without fingers and others without navel.
He has upside down feet and very sharp fangs, thanks to the inversion of his feet he manages to confuse hunters. All the aborigines of this area are very afraid of him, and he announces himself through thunderous meows that he makes from the river.
The Boraro loves to eat humans. It hugs its victims very tightly, until the body of its victim is left as a pulp of flesh. After this, it devours them and leaves their skins completely empty.
Yacuruna belongs to the Amazonian mythology of the Peruvian territory. He is considered a god and is the most important mystical being of the region. He usually appears in the rivers, to those people who live near the waters of the jungle and have had contact with demons.
The aborigines of the Amazonian territory of Peru, usually invoke Yacuruna in the “ayahuasca ceremonies” through their shamans. These invocations can have a double purpose, since Yucuruna attends to good and evil; he can be invoked for evil acts or for blessings.
It is said that Yacuruna dwells in the rivers and sleeps on top of a crocodile, sometimes it is said that he has a snake around him. He is very famous for deceiving young and beautiful aborigines, showing himself to them as an attractive man. Then he takes them to the bottom of the river and they are never seen again.
This is one of the mystical beings that comes from the Amazonian territory of Brazil, specifically from the village of the Cashinahuas. Iasá was a beautiful young woman, whose beauty drove the gods crazy.
The god Tupa of the heavens and the young Iasá were in love; however, the god Anhangá who dominated hell also fell in love with Iasá. So to stay with the young woman he went to talk to Iasá’s mother; offering her a life full of abundance if she gave him her hand in marriage to the young woman.
Iasá, upon hearing the terrible news, accepted on the condition that she would allow him to see the god Tupa for the last time. Then, Anhangá would do so only if the young woman would cut herself and mark the path with her own blood.
Tupa asked the sun that the traces of blood of his beloved would take different colors; but Iasá could not reach the sky because she bled to death, so the trail of colors of her blood became a rainbow.
He is known as the creator god of the world and of man within the culture of the aborigines that belong to the Amazonian territory of Venezuela. Specifically of the Amarivaca and Amaruaca tribes.
According to the beliefs of these peoples, it is said that Amalivaca was the creator of the Orinoco River and men. At the beginning of the creation, men had the where to be immortal. However, after having bad behaviors among them, Amalivaca punished them by turning them into mortal beings.
Kuartam, the frog
Kuartam belongs to the culture of the Amazonian people of Ecuador. He is a hunter of the Shuar tribe, who one day went into the jungle to look for his prey. His wife warned him about the frogs in the jungle, he could not listen to them or make fun of them or something terrible would happen to him.
Ignoring his wife’s warnings, the hunter heard the frog and made fun of its peculiar sound. The frog, very annoyed, devoured the hunter and turned into a puma. The hunter’s wife got revenge, after killing the frog.
Mascha is a jaguar considered a sacred mythological being in the beliefs of the Amazonian territory of Bolivia. It has very powerful abilities, such as providing man with a good harvest and increasing the number of animals for hunting. It is also believed to have the power to become invisible.
For this reason, the Mascha can only be seen by the great wise men of the Cucusi or Yanacona tribes. These at the time of witnessing the visit of a Mascha, offer him a girl; which is a drink made from the fermentation of corn kernels.
Rites of the Amazonian mythology
Matses in Ecuador
This is an energy ritual from the Amazonian mythology, specifically from the Ecuadorian territory. In this ritual there is an exchange of vital energy, generally between an older man and a young man.
When it is time for a young man to live an experience in an important area, this ritual is done where an older man close to him transfers his energy. It is very common that this type of ritual is accompanied by a lot of pain.
Healing rite, in Peru
It is a ritual performed by the shamans of the Peruvian tribes, especially for the healing of diseases such as alcoholism, drug addiction, contagious diseases, among others.
The shamans, through chants, dances and tobacco, connect with the universe in order to make their healing requests to the gods and provide healing to the sick.
Although this type of rituals are free among the Amazonian tribes of Peru, it is a tradition that the sick person brings an animal offering as a sign of gratitude to the shamans.
La pelazón, in Colombia
Famous initiation ritual for young girls in the Ticuna tribe in Colombia. When the young girls of the tribe get their first menstrual period, they are immediately locked up for a period of preparation.
During the time they are locked up, special women are with them to prepare the girls for their new world of womanhood; they explain to them how to be future wives, mothers and women of the tribe.
At the end of the preparation period, the young women undergo the peeling rite. This consists of pulling out their hair by parts until the young women are completely bald. At the end they are thrown into the river, when they come out, the first man who touches them will be their husband and companion for the rest of their days.
Giant snakes of Amazonian mythology
- Boltatá: this giant snake of the Amazonian mythology, from the Brazilian territory. It is one of the fearsome ones, protector of the forests and the animals that inhabit them; it spits fire at anyone who dares to harm them.
- Boluna: its name means “the black cobra”, this is a giant snake that appears in the Amazonian territory of Brazil, has the ability to become a beautiful woman and also takes the form of all kinds of boats. It is a man-eating snake.
- Yacumama: this snake is one of the most gigantic, it can reach up to 50 meters in length. It is commonly confused with the anaconda, but this one is bigger and its head measures more than two meters. It usually lives in the lagoons near the Amazon River. It is the protector of the Amazonian waters.
- Sachamama: it is also known as “mother of the mountain”. This snake is a giant boa that lives deep in the Amazon jungle. It has the ability to hypnotize its victims and then devour them. It has an appearance that allows it to camouflage itself without any problem, it resembles an old abandoned log.
- Sucuri: this giant snake is directly related to the creation of the Amazon River, in all the legends of Amazonian mythology. It measures more than 40 meters and is a kind of anaconda.
- Cotomashaco: this is one of the most mysterious and strange snakes in Amazonian mythology, it has two heads; one at each end of its body. To attract hunters, it imitates the sound of a coto monkey and its skin is red.
Myths and legends of Amazonian mythology[foogallery id=”1183″]
The legend of the Yacumama
In the tribe of Ucayali, there is a legend of a gigantic boa that appears in the lagoon of Yarinacocha; which they call “Yacumama”. It has a hypnotic power to attract its victims, only a young warrior girl at some time was able to catch one.
According to the beliefs of Amazonian mythology, the Yacumama is the protector of the Amazon River. And during all times, it is there protecting the waters that flow into this river.
Also called “Hachamama”, it is a giant snake that lives in the swamps deep in the jungle. It can live more than a thousand years, and there comes a stage in its life when it grows so large that it can no longer crawl.
At this time the Sachamama goes into a cave and only attracts its victims through its hypnotic abilities. She then devours them quickly and falls into a deep sleep until her next victim.
The tunche originates from the legends of the Amazonian territory of Peru, it can be presented as a bird, a spirit or even as a sorcerer. This evil spirit appears at night and reflects what is really the person who crosses its path.
When people are good-hearted, the Tunche simply lets them pass; but if on the contrary people are misbehaving, they are punished by the Tunche. Generally, according to the legend, the people of bad behavior who suffer the revenge of the Tuche, remain alive but lose their heads.
The Red Bufeo
This legend is about the pink dolphin of the Amazon, they call it “el bufeo colorado” due to the legend that exists about this animal among the Amazonian tribes.
The colored bufeo has the power to adopt the appearance of a good-looking humanmale, which seduces the young girls of the tribes that are near the Amazon River. He showers them with gifts and visits, until the young women are enchanted and decide to throw themselves into the river to be with the red bufeo for eternity.
Runapumas are jaguars that are totally black in color. According to the legends of the Amazon, they are evil sorcerers who made pacts with the demons of the jungle.
In their hunger for power through evil chants they conjure demons; these give them the ability to become runapumas to devour human beings and thus increase their evil power.
This is the name given to a goblin who lives in the Amazon jungle, is short in stature and always wears a colorful poncho. His specialty is to make beautiful young women get lost in the jungle, distracting them by taking any human or animal form.
All the people that the chullachaqui makes get lost in the jungle, after a while belong to his legion of goblins. Where they are in charge of growing food that looks like vegetables but are actually poisonous plants.
It is the legend of a woman who is half human and half mule or horse, according to the Amazonian legend speaks of a married woman who was seduced by a Spanish missionary. Because of their forbidden relationship the woman was turned into Runamula.
From there she scares the villagers; and when her terrifying neighing is heard near a house, it is to announce that there is a person who is having a forbidden relationship.
It is a giant black jaguar that is also called “lord of the pashin”. It has the ability to extend one of its legs to any distance, which has a corkscrew shape.
This ability helps simpira to catch all those people who are sinners and deserve to be in hell. He takes them away and they never come back.
It is a giant turtle that has lived for thousands of years in the Amazonian territory. According to Amazonian mythology, Motelo mama carries an island on its shell, because the turtle does not move for a very long period of time; it is almost imperceptible to notice its existence.
But when it decides to change places, Motelo mama creates such sudden movements and thunderous sounds that they are heard throughout the jungle and the movement of the waters becomes violent because of its movements.
Also known as “the father mountain”, is a protective spirit of the jungle of the Amazonian territory, has the height of two men and his skin is completely covered with hair, has very sharp claws and fangs.
The Mapinguari exhales a terrifying smell, which serves to scare away all those hunters and people who want to harm him or any creature of the jungle. It is often mistaken for a giant sloth.
This is the name given to the giant owls that inhabit the tops of the tallest trees in the Amazon jungle. Evil sorcerers conjure them through pacts to send evil spells to their enemies.
They are also often used as spies in Ayahuasca ceremonies; however, like the Urcututos, they are considered birds of bad omen. In some areas it is believed that their song foreshadows new pregnancies.
According to Amazonian legends it is believed that the Tanrilla, which is a very beautiful and flirtatious little heron; has the secrets to cast love spells. The bones of the Tanrilla are used to prepare magic spells that help lovers.
The legend of ayaymama
This legend is about two children, who were abandoned by their mother in the deepest part of the jungle; in a desperate attempt to get them away from the plague that was ravaging their village. The two children had food and water, but at nightfall they missed their mother and went in search of her.
As they traveled through the jungle they got lost, and began to cry, calling their mother “aymama, aymama”. After a long time, the god of the jungle took pity on them and turned them into birds so they could fly to look for their mother.
However, when these children, already turned into birds, managed to fly to the village, all the inhabitants had already died from the plague, including their mother. Since then they continue flying through the jungle crying “aymama, aymama”.
Amazonian mythology has a very native culture that is based on a great variety of myths and legends, which have greatly influenced the lifestyle of the inhabitants of these territories.
The countries that make up the Amazon territory are: Venezuela, Peru, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana. They all share a culture that has common beliefs about mythical beings that represent Amazonian folklore and still survive today.