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Matses-Mayoruna Indian Girl

Mayoruna Poison Frog Ceremony

Page 2 of 5

The Mayoruna-Matses believe that the toxin increases ones endurance and strength, making them invincible hunters, hence the term "hunting magic." Additionally, they give it to individuals that are perceived as lazy, believing it will make them better workers. Almost immediately after taking the poison, one experiences a rapid heartbeat, vomiting and incontinence, and later one enters a dream-like state. After awakening from a deep sleep, these Amazonian Indians say one can hunt for long periods without feeling hungry or tired, and that their hunting arrows always hit their prey. Some have remarked that taking frog poison is similar to getting high, but in reverse. First you get a hangover (vomiting) and later you feel euphoria.

<I first experienced this ceremony when I traveled with my Canadian friend Jason to the Javari (Yavarí) Valley which occupies the frontier of Peru with Brazil. Jason and I visited a Mayoruna tribe "maloca" (long-house) near the Javari River where we witnessed and participated in the ceremony.  At the Mayoruna "maloca" we met Tchampicassi, a beautiful young Mayoruna woman.  Shortly after arriving I asked her to boil some water for us as we had run out of drinking water.  While the water was being heated, she showed me some of the plants in her garden.  First she showed me a plant they call "awaka" which she explained they use to kill fish.  Next she showed me a poisonous plant that she said some Mayoruna women use to kill their husbands. Shortly after the tour of her garden, she brought me the boiled water. The water was muddy and murky, and after viewing the collection of poisonous plants in her garden, I just couldn't bring myself to drink it and went the whole day without water.


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