The Shaman’s Feast

The Shaman’s FeastYekuana music We’re listening to the sounds of a hunting ceremony in the rainforests of southern Venezuela. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.Guss: “They’re calling the wild boar through his song. They’re saying ‘Come to our gardens, let us be your friends.’ So the power of the song is that the dancers themselves turn into the wild boar that they’re calling.”Author and anthropologist David Guss has lived among the Yekuana people at the headwaters of Venezuala’s Orinoco River. He tells the story of how he came to witness a ceremony few westerners had ever seen.Guss: “A group of Pemon Indians had come to the Yekuana community, because they didn’t have any food, and it was during the winter which is the scarce time, the rainy season. And so they showed up at this Yekuana village asking if they could stay during the winter. And the Yekuana let them stay, and at the end of their visit, their leader was a very powerful and old shaman. And as a favor in repayment to the community, to give them food, in return, by calling the wild boar, he performed this ritual which the Yekuana participated in as well.” During the ceremony, the dancers are symbolically transformed into wild boars and the musical instruments they’re playing make the sounds of the animals.Guss: “And not only was it an extremely powerful experience, these two different tribes performing this ritual together, but immediately after the ritual was over, all the men of course went out hunting and there were wild boar in the gardens right around the village. And the village feasted for a week.”Celebrating three decades of Pulse of the Planet, here’s a program from our archives.This archival program is part of our thirtieth anniversary celebration. Im Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

The Shaman's Feast

The power of song can symbolically transform men into animals. This archival program is part of Pulse of the Planet's 30th anniversary celebration. David Guss is a professor emeritus at Tufts University.
Air Date:06/26/2018
Scientist:
Transcript:

The Shaman's FeastYekuana music We're listening to the sounds of a hunting ceremony in the rainforests of southern Venezuela. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.Guss: "They're calling the wild boar through his song. They're saying 'Come to our gardens, let us be your friends.' So the power of the song is that the dancers themselves turn into the wild boar that they're calling."Author and anthropologist David Guss has lived among the Yekuana people at the headwaters of Venezuala's Orinoco River. He tells the story of how he came to witness a ceremony few westerners had ever seen.Guss: "A group of Pemon Indians had come to the Yekuana community, because they didn't have any food, and it was during the winter which is the scarce time, the rainy season. And so they showed up at this Yekuana village asking if they could stay during the winter. And the Yekuana let them stay, and at the end of their visit, their leader was a very powerful and old shaman. And as a favor in repayment to the community, to give them food, in return, by calling the wild boar, he performed this ritual which the Yekuana participated in as well." During the ceremony, the dancers are symbolically transformed into wild boars and the musical instruments they're playing make the sounds of the animals.Guss: "And not only was it an extremely powerful experience, these two different tribes performing this ritual together, but immediately after the ritual was over, all the men of course went out hunting and there were wild boar in the gardens right around the village. And the village feasted for a week."Celebrating three decades of Pulse of the Planet, here's a program from our archives.This archival program is part of our thirtieth anniversary celebration. Im Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.