Some mythical beliefs I have run across:
Last December at Christmas time, I was talking with a woman about the holiday. Somehow the subject of Santa Claus came up. She said she was sure that there was not one now but was not sure if there was one in the past. She was talking about a Santa Claus that went to each home on Christmas eve delivering gifts, not about a historical St Nicholas, for example (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Nicholas).
Several times this year the subject of ‘La Bruja” has come up. La Bruja means the witch (feminine). The version I heard says that the Bruja hides at night and jumps upon unwary passers-by in desolate areas. She reserves special mistreatment for those who doubt her existence.
Ngäbe beliefs I have collected. Ngäbes are an indigenous people who live in reserved areas called Comarcas, which are somewhat and only somewhat independent.
1) as related by a young Ngäbe woman in Santa Clara, Chiriqui in July, 2010
- A woman liked to drink blood during the full moon. She would go to a funeral to mourn but it was just to get near the body and at night she would drink the blood. Her activity was eventually uncovered and she was killed. The diviner told them to bury her face down or she would comeback. They failed to do so and she came back at the full moon, upon which they saw the shape of a donkey. She took the donkey form and then ate some people. But the diviner took the form of a tiger and killed her, cutting her into pieces for the animals to eat so she could not return.
- If someone dies under mysterious circumstances it can be blamed on people who badmouth others.
- If a baby is ill they think a spirit is tormenting it. They come together and pray to get rid of the bad spirit.
- A baby was ill. An uncle went for medicine and while he was walking he saw a naked person and a dog which began to run towards towards the naked person. He closed his eyes and when he opened them again the naked person had disappeared. Rocks began to fall on the uncle but he continued on. A voice said, “ Go no farther, the baby is already dead.” He went on anyway to buy the medicine but he had no money and could not make the purchase. He went back home and the baby had died when the voice spoke to him. 2) as related to me by a volunteer who has lived with the Gnäbes for two years.
Myth of the headlamp: When they were still nomadic, people with lights coming out of their heads came and ate some Gnäbes. The Gnäbes went to the forest to find a protective herb, put it in a bottle, and the next time the people with lights came the Gnäbes were protected.
If you keep candles lit the ‘maleantes’ (bad guys) can not bother you. If the candles go out, the maleantes will come.
If the theory of evolution were true, then monkeys would be becoming humans, said one in response to an explanation of evolution.
Evil eye stories (ojear is the verb for ‘to give the evil eye’)
B was supposedly the victim of an evil eye because some woman wanted him.
A previous volunteer in the community was also the victim, which caused her knee problems.
E related the story of a boy who was walking to his family’s secondary dwelling. He complained of being tired and returned home. That night his sister woke up to find her brother standing in his bed with his head on backwards. He was dead the next morning.
Twins have the power of the evil eye and they know it. One of them is always good and the other always bad. In T’s community one of them, was only fed chocolate beginning soon after birth. The parents had determined which of the twins would be evil and had deliberately caused his death.
In E’s community the village matriarch died suddenly. E returned from an outing and found the village deserted. He eventually found them living in the rough, fearing her spirit would harm them. They had gathered some belongings and a piece of metal roofing, using it or just trees for shelter from the rain.