Social Life of Spirits, 4



"Spiritual Praesentiae" in Toba Society of the Gran Chaco

Florencia C. Tola


pp. 69-70 Toba legend about a woman stricken by levin

p. 69

"Huoqauo> {Woqawo>} lae> (lit. "where the guaicuru` {wayquru`} bird abounds")" ...

p. 70

"is a place where guaicuru` birds appear. In that place, ... a woman had been struck by lightning. ... the cause of the woman's death (whose spirit still lives there) had been the action of "she who makes the water fall." ... this periphrasis ... refers to qasoxonaxa, the ... {goddess} "owner{ess}" of thunder, lightning, and rain"

{Heroine Koronis (daughter of Koronos) "was changed into a crow by her protectress" (DCM, s.v. "Coronis 2", citing O:M 2.542 sq) Athene to enable her to escape the attentions of Poseidon.} {"A princess of Phokis ... who was pursued by Poseidon ... cried out to Athene for help and was transformed into a crow (koronis)." ("PL2 -- Mortal Loves", s.v. "Koroneis", citing O:M 2.569sq)} {"In Titane [Sikyonia] there is also a sanctuary of Athena, into which they bring up the image of Koronis ..., and ... it, too, was struck by lightning." ("AC2", citing P:HP 2:12:1)}

(depicted in Figure 4.1 as snapping a whip

{"Pallas {'Brandisheress' as "Pythag. name for five" (LSJ, s.v. "Pallas III") -- the thundrebolt being depicted 5-pointed in Vajrayana art} Athene took up the whip" ("SA", s.v." "Diomedes", citing H:I 5.699).}

while riding an elephant).

{The Crimson Moth (C^u O) "is said to be like an elephant." (CM&S, p. 211)}

DCM = Pierre Grimal (transl. by Maxwell-Hyslop) : The Dictionary of Classical Mythology. Blackwell Publ, Oxford, 1986.

O:M = Ovidius : Metamorphoses.

"PL2" = "Poseidon Loves 2".

"AC2" = "Athene Cult 2".

P:HP = Pausanias : Hellados Periegesis ('Description of Hellad-').

LSJ, s.v. "Pallas III".*palla/s#lexicon

"SA" = "Summary Ares".

H:I = Homeros : Iliad-.

CM&S = Anne Birrell : The Classic of Mountains and Seas. Penguin Classics, 1999.

pp. 73-4, 76-7 Toba place-names

p. 73

"Eraxai ("firefly") designates a dense forest that the Toba ...

p. 74

illuminated with this insect.

Qo>oxoi the name of another site ... that ... a shaman was asked by his nonhuman {divine} companion to dig a ditch to hide those with him".

"lashe n>naxaganaxaqui ("lagoon where a beast of the water lives")" : "A menstruating woman approached the lagoon and invoked ... the nonhuman {divine} people there ... for the menstrual blood. The story of Huoqauo>lae> {cf. infra p. 76} ... is the part of this ... story {about the menstruating woman}".

p. 76

"In ... the story of Huoqauo>lae>, ... two men listened to the song of guaicuru`es birds ... . ... One of the men talked with the bird, who

advised him that fishes were in that lagoon,

{Cf. the ekpe`-voiced fish who was disclosed to the men by the woman Sika`n's menstruation (according to the Abakpa secret-society of the Calabar coast).}

since this bird wished to feed the Toba people."

p. 77

"in the case of the Toba people, the most widely used ... ethnic name -- is Qom."

{cf. /qo^m/ (/qawm/) 'tribe, nation' (DMWA, p. 935b); /qawwam/ 'manager, custodian' (p. 936a)}

p. 246, n. 4:9

"Toba ... means "frentones." This term made reference to the ancient custom to shave the eyebrow (Balmori 1957, 24-25)."

DMWA = J. Milton Cowan : Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic. 4th edn.

Balmori 1957 = Clemente Hernando Balmori : "Notas de una viaje a los tobas". REVISTA DE LA UNIVERSIDAD 2:23-36.

pp. 71, 79 Toba body & soul

p. 71

"In previous publications (Tola 2007, 2009), I showed that the

nqui>i {'consciousness, mind'} ...

{/NKI>I/, cf. Bantu /NKIsI/ 'deity'}

makes possible agency, cognition, emotion, and communication between different beings and that it is shared by humans, animals, and nonhumans {divinities} alike."

p. 79

"Several authors have reconceptualized the body/soul {body/mind} dualism in Amazonian societies (Taylor 1996 ...) and have shown ... ways in which the body and soul are related to each other."

Tola 2007 = Florencia Tola. MANA 13.2:499-519.

Tola 2009 = Florencia Tola : Conceptions du corps et de la personne dans un contexte amerindien : les toba du Gran Chaco. Paris : L'Harmattan.

Taylor 1996 = Anne-Christine Taylor : "The Soul's Body and Its States : an Amazonian Perspective". J OF THE ROYAL ANTHROPOLOGICAL INSTITUTE 2.2:201-15.

{The similarity to the Bantu word for 'deity' may indicate an understanding that the mind is constituted of a colloquy of deities.}

pp. 82 & 84 pursuit, by a shaman, of a spirit in dreams; dream-travel by shamans

p. 82

[shaman's own description of dream] "It went away and I had to follow it under the earth. The doctors ["shamans"] can enter the earth {in their dreams}.

There is water below, and I pass to the other side.

{cf. passage over the subterranean mythic netherworld-river Akheron}

In the last earth, there is pure earth.

{cf. Manichaian "'spnd'rmyd" / "ispandarmed" 'the pure earth' (DMMP&P) : "righteous Ganges over the pure earth" (DTB)} {That "pure earth which is contained in the centre of all composite elementals" (MC, p. 190) "from pure elements" (MC, p. 16, fn. 62), relating to the "son of the widow" (MC, p. 64) known to Mani and to FreeMasons (MC, p. 64, fn. 69) as Malkut the composite of elementals.}

When I arrived at the last one, I had to return. Down below, I saw people who walk. It seems that they ... live down below."

p. 84

"The Toba shamans are able to travel among the different levels of the universe and perceive ... nonhuman {divine} beings. ...

During therapies, shamans tell people about the appearance of nonhuman {divine} beings, their habits, and the magnitude of their powers."

{When this is being told (by a shaman who personally observed those deities in the course of dreaming) directly to a patient afflicted with ailment, then the deities (who had been observed by the shaman in such dreaming) immediately feel obliged to cure said patient, and generally succeed in so doing.}

DMMP&P = Desmond Durkin-Meisterernst : Dictionary of Manichaean Middle Persian and Parthian. Brepols Publ, Turnhout (Belgium), 2004.

DTB = Douglas Q. Adams : A Dictionary of Tocharian BLEIDEN STUDIES IN INDO-EUROPEAN 10. Amsterdam – Atlanta, 1999.

MC = Carl G. Jung : Mysterium Coniunctionis.

pp. 82-4 qomonaxalo of the Toba

p. 82

The divinity "qomonaxalo ... can be a rainbow or a water snake".

"The most habitual is to ... invert the world : the terrestrial world of humans is buried under the earth, and

{"Puta then, having called on the gods, struck the ground with his knife, the earth turned upside-down, and all living beings perished except Puta and his followers." ("M&LDL", p. 12a)} {Or else, Para-whenUa-mea (a female -- "NMM", pp. 115-6) and Tupu-nui-auTA sought "to find some human beings, but none remained; the earth was changed; it had cracked in parts and had been turned upside down." ("M&LDL", p. 12b)} {"In the Tuamotus, the spirit of the murdered Temahage, called Overturner-of-earth, is aided by his grandfather" (HM, p. 318).}

those who live under the earth rise to the surface."

{Ge-genees ('Earthborn') (ARh:A 1.901 sq -- "GG"}

p. 83

"And there was a river called "where the tiny water-beast always appears." ... The next day ... all was already buried." "This thunderclap was was the consequence of the anger of a qomonaxalo."

p. 84

"A Toba shaman told me that "under the Earth there is another earth where qomonaxalo lives. When qomonaxalo is entering the water, he leaves his clothes aside. The colors of the rainbow are his clothes."

"Myths & Legends : Deluge Legends". KALEI <AMELIKA 1 (2011).3:12-15.

"NMM" = Elsdon Best : "Notes on Maori Mythology". J OF THE POLYNESIAN SOC 8 (1899):93-121.

HM = Martha Beckwith : Hawaiian Mythology. Yale Univ Pr, New Haven (CT), 1940.

ARh:A = Apollonios Rhodos : Argonautika.

"GG" = "Gigantes Gegenees".

p. 83 veraic of the Toba

"Veraic ... are the nonhuman {supernatural} inhabitants of the water that take people under when a woman does not notice that she is menstruating.

Veraic, who combine human and animal bodies, kidnap humans and usually take them to live under the water. When the Toba people hear human voices laughing near the river, they know that these voices are from humans who, now, live with veraic people."

p. 85 Toba shaman's projection of the astral body. Toba shaman's dreamings : dreams of theriomorphic spirit-helpers; and apparent dream of having a cat-body

"Sometimes, he who has one vertical eye and one horizontal eye appears to me. ...

{Perhaps (on account of the Ts>ou-dynasty Chinese 4-seye funerary-ritual bear-mask) this is repraesented by the ursine-transforming man (F-LMI, p. 6).}

I leave my body, and I see that my body is there, intact in bed. ...

{projection of the astral body}

Then, I remain seated behind my bed. ...

The snake,

{"dreadful large snake" (F-LMI, p. 4)}

the iguana [Latin /LACeRta/]

{"their tears" (F-LMI, p. 5) : [Latin] /LACRima/}

the spider, and

{"kept a hard face. (F-LMI, p. 5) Cf. the death's-head spider.}

a black bird

{"became a crow" (F-LMI, p. 7).}

appear to me. ... And I am above, watching these".

{"flew up toward the smoke-hole." (F-LMI, p. 7)}

"And I have a cat's perspective. At night, I am a cat. ... Qasorot gave me a cat to protect me. ...

{When having summoned "the souls of his sons back to Heaven, but left their lifeless bodies", thereupon in order restore the souls, a cat was sent on this mission, bathed [this being, of course, a variant of the Sumerian myth of the nostalgic return-trip of Bilgames^ from Ziusudra], and revitalized a tree-stump therewithal (Liberian myth -- "10IBO 2", citing DWM, p. 236) : cf.

how "trees fell down" to "make the dead alive." (F-LMI, p. 15)}

When he gave me the cat, he opened his chest and he had inside a brilliant sword, and when he takes it, it was not a sword, but a cat."

{Cf. the S^into myth of swords found within the body [of a dragon : in Taoist yoga, the dragon-deity is in control of inhalation -- (ChDM, p. 115) "the dragon decided to inhale."]; whereas the tigre-deity is in control of exhalation -- breathing being the expanding and contracting of one's chest from inside.} {Cf. Bodish "sword of the sky-gods" (mentioned in Dunhuang IOL Tib J 466 -- "B&E3DhK").}

"10IBO 2" = Alan Boyle :"10 Incredibly Bizarre Origins Of Death From World Mythology : 2. A Forgetful Cat".

DWM = Arthur Cotterell : Dictionary of World Mythology. Windward (imprint of W. H. Smith & Sons), 1979. [reprinted 1986 Oxford Univ Pr]

F-LMI = Maria Alicia Owen : Folk-Lore of the Musquakie Indians. London : Nutt, 1904.

"B&E3DhK" = "Buddhism and Empire III : the Dharma King".

{As for the "brilliant sword", its brilliance may be paralleled by the luminosity of the sky-cord of mythic Bodish royalty : at death "they ascended back to the sky – beamed up along a “sky-cord” made of light." ("B&E3DhK") : similar to the Maasai mythic "cord from the sky to the earth" ("E1M"), the cord climbed by the hyaina (Nuer -- "10IBO 4", citing E&RCM, p. 19). Cf. the beaming grin [grinning at the craftiness of employment of a cheese as bait for mice] of the "Cheshire cat" (AAW), for "cheese was formerly sold in Cheshire moulded like a cat that looked as though it was grinning" (BDPh&F) : this would match the antient crescent-moon cheese-moulds for "cheeses, which were stamped with the figure ... of the moon" ("LL") at Luni (archaic Losna); and the lunar crescent is, among the Nus.ayri, likened to a divine scimitar (instead of sword).}

"E1M" = "Eng’ai and the first Maasai".

"10IBO 4" = "4. Hyena Severing The Rope To Heaven".

E&RCM = Paul F. Luquin & Linda Stone : Evolution and Religious Creation Myths. Oxford Univ Pr, 2007.

AAW = Lewis Carroll : Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

BDPh&F = Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable.

"LL" = "LUNI — LUNA". Cap. XXXV of George Dennis : The Cities and Cemeteries of Etruria. John Murray, London, 1848.*/35.html

p. 88 descriptions, by same Toba shaman, of his own dreams

"two fingers appear to me. ... .

{"A demon was an arm, long as a blacksnake, the hand sucked blood." (F-LMI, p. 13)}

... a little thread appears also with an ear. ... First of all the ear appears

{"A demon was an ear, great as a hillside." (F-LMI, p. 13)}

and later on a face. But his face has no body. ... I felt a great swelling in my head, and I felt that my body was my head ... . ...

{"The women ... had eyes in their breasts, they had mouths in their bellies." (F-LMI, p. 13)}

First, I saw the head of a goat, with a little horn. He had not eyes".

{"I have made rivers of tears [while weeping cannot see, as though lacking eyen], ... like a herd of bulls." (F-LMI, p. 15)}


Ruy Blanes & Diana Espi`rito Santo (edd.) : The Social Life of Spirits. Univ of Chicago Pr, 2014.