By Gonçalo Valadas
In the depths of the Amazon rainforest, tribes remain without any civilized contact, they hunt as our primordials did centuries ago, for that same purpose they need to be always alert and have inhuman stamina and strength or sickness they seek for plants to provide those elements and only shamans (some languages translated to clever man) have that knowledge, in between them Mambe.
Mambe or Ypadú is a crude powder made out of Coca leaves (Erythrolixum Coca) and ashes of several other plants, traditionally the Coca leaves would be toasted in am earthenware pot, crushed and mixed with the ashes from Yarumo (Cecropia spp.) The Ypadú powder is stored in a hollowed-out calabash, and scooped out with a spatula made from the legbone of a peccary or tapir. About a teaspoon of the powder is placed between the cheek and gum and molded into a quid, which is not chewed but allowed to gradually dissolve and be swallowed, in recent experiments done by Anthony Henman in Lima and São Paulo have shown a modern way of creating Mambe and proved that any variety of coca leaf can be used and mixed with the ashes of quinoa straw.
Natives would use this method to increase their focus, give them a boost of strength, energy, and pain reliever, it helps in digestion and suppressing fatigue, hunger, thirst needed for long hunts, long expeditions looking for food or needed items for survival, as the name indicated the most known alkaloid present in Erythrolixum Coca is Cocaine (0.3 to 1.5%, averaging 0.8%) in fresh leaves.
Both Coca and Cocaine have a place in clinical and pharmaceutical history, as early as the 19th century some recipes have been scavenged, recipes such as:
1 in 6 of simple elixir, the dose would consist of 1 to 4 drachms in water.
Extractum Cocæ Liquidum
(Extractum Erythroxyli Fluidum) Dose 1/0.5 to 2 drachms.
The leaves would be exhausted by percolation with proof spirit, the second part of percolate concentrated and dissolved in the first portion, and the strength would be adjusted so that one ounce would equal one of leaves; this preparation would contain all the properties of the leaf. If the alkaloids are freed from the wax they are miscible with water and with a richer taste and purified, if added to a spirit beverage in the proportion of half a teaspoon to a
wineglass it becomes a mild stimulant.
By distilling the spirit and concentrating the mixture by evaporation, a solid semi-alcoholic preparation is obtained, this mixture is stronger than the recipe above. It is known as:
The dosage would vary from 2 to 15 grains in pills or tablets.
1 in 50 boiling water, as the name describes an infusion made from coca leaves, this brew would be prepared like a hot tea with milk and sugar or with a slice of lemon, it would also be used in tonsillitis administered by gargling with warm water.
Coca Pastils, 2 and a half grains of the extract, one every two to 3 hours. They would be administered to patients with asthma, hay fever, spasmodixaathma, and post-nasal catarrh.
1 in every 8 of sherry, this wine brew sometimes administered with water wasn't sold without a license. Coca Wine this was the most popular form, 1in 20 or 30 of a red wine, the dosages were measured by "wineglassful" this practice was used for irritable stomach and vomiting.
Often Cocaine (Cocaina) and its salts would be used.
Doses would vary from 1/20th to 1 grain in a pill or tablet, the alkaloid was first isolated by Niemann in 1860, the formula C32H20NO8 was given, later to be assigned as C17H21NO4 by Lossen in 1862. Cocaine crystalizes in monoclinic prisms and it requires around 700 ml to dissolve in water, it dissolves quicker in hot water, but rapidly decomposes forming an acid solution containing benzoyl-ecgonine, ecgonine, and benzoate of cocaine, these compounds don't separate after cooling down. Cocaine is also soluble in alcohol about 1 in 20, in chloroform, ether about 1 in 3, and plenty other volatile oils and fixed oils.
According to Hesse (A story of Coca Leaves and their Alkaloids 1891), the alkaloids Hygrine, Benzoyl-Ecognine and Ecognine, Cocamine and Cocaidine, as well as Coca-Tannin and Coca Wax were met, Hesse claimed that all the Coca alkaloids derived from Ecognine methyl ester and ecognine itself from pyridine, being cocaine the most notable among the others.
As pure Cocaine is soluble in fats and oils its salts are not, that meaning it should always be used when combined with fatty or oily substances.
Bougies of Cocaine
1/2 grain with cacao-butter was often used for painful affections of the urethra
In 30 of petroleum cerate. Used for burns, urticaria, and pruritus.
2% in collodion. Diminishes itching and cures inflamed chilblains
1 dissolved in 50 of lead plaster heating in a water bath. For intercostal neuralgia, sciatica, bruises.
A saturated solution of the alkaloid in oleic acid, which hasn't been proved to be satisfactory.
Oleum cum Cocaina
2% solution in almond oil or any other nut oil. Used for earache, for the eye, a 2% solution in castor oil was advised for catheters.
Suppositories and Pessaries of Cocaine
1/2 grain or more if advised by a physician with cacao-butter.
1/20th grain in each with chocolate, it would be administered every quarter, half-hour or hour, quickly eaten and swallowed for seasickness, chloroform or alcohol sickness, pregnancy sickness, etc.
1 in 30 of lard or lanoline, cocaine is soluble in anhydrous lanoline if warmed. It would be absorbed for facial neuralgia, shingles, eczema, urticaria, etc.
4% suitable for smearing catheters, burns, scalds.
Citrate of cocaine
Is used by dentists, the adequate dosage would be from 1/20 to 1 grain.
Dosage 1/20th to 1 grain in a pill or solution, a stable salt, in odorless, small, and acicular crystals.
The medical Rolls Royce of Cocaine salts, 1/5 to 1 grain was given in aqueous solution pill or pastil, this method was the most used among clinics as a local anesthetic, if pure it's hard, colorless, granularlooking crystals, if inspected by light it has a distinct chemiluminescense, it is odorless and pretty much tasteless. It is soluble in spirit and glycerine, insoluble in ether, fats, and oils, therefore, it isn't compatible with them.
This salt will crystallize with two molecules of water but the anhydrous salt alone is official. When it dissolves in cold sulphuric acid there is some effervescence but colorless, but chars if heated. If ignited it burns without residue. If one drop of a solution of permanganate of potassium is added to a solution of 1grain in a drachm of distilled water, acidulated with three drops of sulphuric acid (diluted) the bright deep color should remain unchangeable indicating the absence of other Coca alkaloids.
The salt should not only be in a good crystalized form but should yield a distinctly crystalline precipitate of pure cocaine within three minutes when 1 grain is dissolved in two ounces of water and added six to eight drops of Ammonia, are added and well stirred. The precipitate redissolves in 24hours or more, the cocaine is then converted into methyl alcohol and benzoyl-ecgonine.
If there is a trace quantity of calomel and breathed upon the mixture turns black, this will only happen with the salts of cocaine, not the alkaloid itself.
As an aqueous solution of sulfate of atropine and so with the aqueous solution o hydrochlorate of cocaine some samples seem prone to grow in fungi while others don't. This fungoid grows have related troublesome uses in the application of cocaine as a local anesthetic in several dental and eye operations. Whether those happenings were caused by the impurity of the salts or the condition or idiosyncrasy of the patients remains unknown.
Various modes to keep the solution Fungi free have been suggested throughout the time, carbolic, boric and benzoic acids, perchloride of mercury, thymol, camphor, and chloroform have been added to check their growth. Boric acid has been the most recommended of Boric acid grows fungi itself sometimes. Chloroform is unobjectionable except for eye drops, perchloride of mercury is useless as it forms a double salt with Cocaine. Salicylic acid has been proven to be the most effective.
Buginaria Cocainæ Hydrochloratis
One-sixth of a grain in each gelato-glycerine basis, used in hay fever sometimes combined with 1 hundred twentieth of Sulphate of Atropine in each.
Injection Cocainæ Hydrochloratis Hypodermica
1 in twentieth, used for sciatica and many other local infections it acts better than Morphine.
Are prepared containing 1 fourth grain in each.
Gelatinous discs containing 1 two-hundredth grain of hydrochlorate of Cocaine, these should be prepared in a sterile environment free from dust, fungi, germs, or diseases. Also combined with Atropine, Homatropine, and Physostigmine Liquor.
10 percent of Hydrochlorate of Cocaine solution, 2 or 10 minims, Hydrochlorate of cocaine 100 salicylic acid 1 in 1/2, boiling distilled water to produce fluid parts when cold.
Pastillus Cocainæ Hydrochloratis
1/20 grain to 1/5grain or more if ordered. It was often used for irritation of the throat and hoarseness, invigorate the vocal organs of spokesman and singers.
Pastillus Cocainæ et Morphinæ
Contains 1/30 grain of Cocaine and 1/60 grain morphine. Used for coughs
Pilula Cocainæ Hydrochloratis
1/5 grain in each with sugar of milk and syrup o make a grain pill.
Tabloids of Hydrochlorate of Cocaine
1/10 and 1/6 grain each, the mixture would be prepared for hypodermic injection.
Trochisci Cocainæ Hydrochloratis
1/12 grain the use would be similar to the pastils
1/5 to 1 frain or more recommended for the use of oculists and in spasmodic asthma.
2 ounces Dried Phosphate of Calcium 1 ounce of Powdered Orris 30 grains of Myrrh in powder Mix and add in a solution of Cocaine 1.1/2 and 12 minims of eucalyptus oil. Used for spongy gums and toothache.
From aphrodisiac grasshopper that kills if one can't get a partner immediately. It has been reported people running around after being in contact, a vine that causes tooth loss after chewing, a Bigfoot kind of creature named Mapinguari, thought to be an old shaman who turned himself into the monster while performing magic, Mapinguari is typically known for its rotten flesh and feces smell, single eye and a gaping mouth in his stomach, hollow empty lookalikes of ourselves roaming around the world soulless and memoryless living nearby ceiba trees to lure people deeper to the forest.
A monkey named El mono machin, that protects the Aguaruna when they are threatened by a family of cannibals, he sets up an elaborate trap to defend them by rigging up a rope bridge and convincing the cannibals to cross it. As they do so, he speaks to the vines that hold up the bridge and they loosen, letting all of the cannibals fall to their deaths.
An evil spirit that wanders in the night named as El Tunche, never seen bug can be heard at night as an insistent bird call. If one tries to imitate the sound, El Tunche casts a spell that makes you hear the sound of the bird in your sleep-driving one mad eventually.
Terrifying stone faces with bulging eyes, flared nose trills with grinning fanged oversized mouths, short legs giving the idea that the statues could be crouched ready to pounce. Feline motifs depicting human beings turned to mythical beasts including various types of human-jaguar morphs. Postmortem shamans that can transform into a jaguar and walk among the living.
A woman who found a boa egg in the forest, cooked it and ate it, while the boa mother watched her eat the egg then took the form of a pigeon and sang that the women had eaten the egg. Confronted by the society the woman tried to vomit out the egg unsuccessfully, been impregnated with a boa. She gave birth to a boy-child who was boy by day and boa by night when he slept coiled on his mother's breast.
Giant boulders engraved with figures of unknown ancient origins in Kananarí. evil spirits who are cast into stone and show their faces on the cliff walls in Kananarí perilous rapids and in the Rock of Nyi, it is said to be dangerous to look upon for more than a glance. Bö-pö-ma, the tree of the spider web, named after the resemblance of gigantic spider webs through the canopy from a canoe. The Makuna tribe says that bö-pö-ma was planted before man came to earth, in an era when the "spirit of the sun" threw fishnets (spider web) from the sky onto the land, indicating where the Makuna should settle and build their malocas.
A plant won from the gods by the ancestral karipulanka, received the semen from the sun when yeba its daughter scratched his penis and planted semen in the dust. (Brunfelsia chiricaspi)
The Ayawa, known as the primordial ancestors or "Thunders", came up the Milk River from the east, passing the Water Door, pushing before them as plows the sacred trumpets of the Yurupari,that created valleys and waterfalls. Rivers are born of their saliva. Slivers of wood were broken by the effort raised as first ritual artifacts and musical instruments.
As the Ayawa journeyed to the center of the world, the trumpets played notes that brought mountains and uplands, the posts, and walls of the cosmic maloca.
Every turn, the Ayawa confronted demonic forces, spirits that thrived on the destruction of the world. The Ayawa cast those demonic forces into stone bringing order into the universe, causing the essence and energy of the natural world to be released and benefit all the creatures and every form of life.
After creating rivers and mountains, the Ayawa fertilized the Ancestral Woman Shaman, before rising into heavens to become thunder and lighting. Realizing she was pregnant the shaman went downriver to the Water Door of the East, where she'd give birth to the Ancestral Anaconda, this myth is concluded with a great noise sent the anacondas fleeing the maloca, scattering them into the ocean. The supernatural creators gathered them and the ancestral anacondas emerged from the Water Door migrating to the Amazon river retracing the paths of the Ayawa. As they swam, they stopped to provide knowledge as a gift, sacred plants, and a multitude of sacred sited with powerful cosmic energy.
At the end of the journey, the anacondas arrived at Apaporis river, where they came onto land and morphed into people at locations known as "waking up houses" nowadays considered to be birthplaces of various clans that still inhabit the region.
The Makús unevolved tribes (close to stone age era) aren't born from the anaconda, they are less than humans, the rivers are the son of the anaconda, we learn in our dreams but it's more real than what "we call real"
Caapi medora a plant that existed before the snake came down and will take who consumes it to see the snake, the embracing of the snake will take the one who takes the plant to ancient places where life doesn't exist not even a single embryo, the shaman would often draw circles on the user's back down his spine then administer the brew followed by rapé.
Tales of a shaman who took Yagé (ayahuasca) for seven days, this allowed him to commune with friendly spirits, together they raised a series of mountains across the Apaporis forming impassible rapids imbued with magical spells that protected the tribes of lower Apaporis ever since.
The amazon rainforest homes many different cultures, myths, folklore, and knowledge about nature and unfortunate history of abuse.
For the tribesmen, latex symbolizes death, abuse, and slavery done by the latex Barons, often they would pursue, kidnap and imply them religious customs, these Latex Barons would inflict unspeakable cruelties on the local indigenous people, several of Indigns would have their ears and fingers lopped off for being a few pounds short in their collection.
The Witoto were just one of the many tribes who suffered from these atrocities, it is said that they numbered around 15,000 in 1900, when the collapse of the rubber trade happened by 1914 it's speculated that only around 2,000 Witotos were left.
The most recognizable case was the Casa Arana run by the most brutal rubber baron Julio Arana. In the early days, the Witoto and Bora exchanged rubber freely for goods. Arana turned this trade system into a slave labor enforced by institutionalized violence, natives were required to bring 75kilos of rubber each quarter. If they failed to do this task they were put in stocks and get whipped to the bone or had their limbs chopped off with a machete. These scars and wounds became known as "La Marca Arana", the mark of Arana.
Some other reports of brutality include that a rubber baron opening fire into a group of men, women, and children for target practice, and burning a communal longhouse with forty families inside.
They would be told that if they tried to leave the oppressive violence their children would be held over fire and tortured, hunting expeditions were made to catch the natives, called 'orrerías, a name inherited from colonial times, many of the victims of these expeditions looked cadaverous and attenuated, nearly lifeless.
In the headquarters of Arana's empire, La Chorrera, young girls were captured to serve as "wives" by his agents. Generally, they would give them fifty lashes with scourges until the flesh drops from their bodies in strips, or else they'd be chopped to pieces with machetes.
This tale of butchery was brought to light by journalists and diplomats, eventually, Arana's company was shut, but many offenders escaped punishment, in between them the owner Julio Arana, he kept himself hidden with enough money to live comfortably until he died in Lima in 1952.
The Amazon rainforest was also a victim of several “Messiah” and cults that glorified death, considering one particular case.
Venancio Aniceto Kamiko was raised by a Zambo preacher from San Carlos del Rio, known as Father Amaoud, Venancio was also trained in shamanic arts. He suffered from Cataplexy and interpreted his cataplectic attacks as a portal to the divine, a tool to speak to God, he claimed God would give him powers to absolve the depts of the people and guide them to salvation.
Aniceto began to call himself "Christu", like Nhiãperikuli, the creator of the Baniwa and other Mohawk peoples of the region, Christu was considered a savior who freed the world from threats and defend with his miraculous powers. That is where Aniceto's training has a
shaman had place.
Kamiko reinforced Christian symbols and values, he assumed priestly functions of marrying, baptizing, hearing confessions, and forgiving sins which created a new sense of authority and religious power. He prophesied the end of the world caused by a cosmic fire, an important theme in the mythology of Baniwa creation, he claimed this event would take place on St.John's day (24th of June,1858), that day God would come down to earth and announce an era of peace and happiness.
In the eyes of Aniceto, his disciples had to avoid any material goods and ideas brought by whites, preaching that only their complete submission to his orders would be the way to break the oppression, only those who completed his ideas would obtain salvation.
Kamiko changed the beliefs of Baniwa and even went against some of their customs, he claimed he had orders from god to go back to the practice of Polygamy. He'd hear confessions and absolve sins with the traditional function of the shaman to advise and admonish afflicted consulting the divines while being in trance. He used the cross parallel to the use of the maraca by the shaman during the healing process.
Venancius would have an annual death. During the Holy week, he'd tell his disciples he was going to leave this world for his home in heaven and come back soon. He spoke to his wife to take care of his body and pray to him while he went to heaven. His disciples would be told to pray for him while he was going to heaven, they could not dance, eat, or drink until he has returned two days after.
Whenever someone broke the promise of praying for him, they would be killed or not heal the sick, this happened to several members including his wife, after breaking the praying, Venancio waited for her to become ill, denied to heal her, and gave her a paper informing her she was permanently denied to access God.
This glorification of Venancio death occurred in several other occasions, whenever he had a catalepsy attack when he had any sort of threat that would put his life at risk and he survived, there was an occasion where he was thrown into a river inside three times and survived, people began to glorify him calling him a saint.
His legacy was followed by Alexandre Christu among the Tukano of Uaupés who taught songs and rituals to other people. Even nowadays there are Amazonian Israelites implanting Jew costumes and beliefs.
The Amazon Rainforest homes so many traditions, historical values, cultures, tribes, mythology, folk and psychedelic plants.