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  • Deep in the Amazon rainforest in the river Nea'ocoyá,

  • lived, according to Siekopai legend,

  • a school of particularly big and tasty fish.

  • When the rains came and the water rose, the fish appeared,

  • swimming away as the waters fell again.

  • The villagers along the river reveled in this occasional bounty

  • and wanted more.

  • They followed them upriver deep into the jungle

  • to a lagoon that thundered with the sound of flapping fish.

  • The whole village set up camp by the lagoon,

  • bringing barbasco, a poison they would put in the water to stun the fish.

  • Meanwhile, their young shaman took a walk.

  • He sensed he might not be completely alone.

  • Then, he came to a monse tree humming so loudly

  • he could hear it even above the thunder of the fish.

  • With that, he was sure: spirits lived here.

  • Back at camp, he warned his people these fish had an owner.

  • He would find the owner.

  • Until he returned, no one should fish.

  • He went to the humming tree.

  • Inside was a hollow as big as a house, full of busy weavers.

  • Their chief invited him in,

  • explaining that the juicy little siripia fruits were ripening,

  • and they were weaving baskets to collect them.

  • Though they looked and acted like people,

  • the shaman knew they were juri, or air goblins,

  • who could fly and control the winds.

  • They taught him how to weave.

  • Before the shaman left,

  • the goblin chief whispered some cryptic instructions in his ear.

  • Finally, he told him to tie a pineapple shoot outside a hollow log

  • and sleep inside that night.

  • Back at camp, the villagers were fishing with barbasco poison, cooking, and eating.

  • Only the shaman's little sister refrained.

  • Then, everyone else fell into a deep sleep.

  • The shaman and his sister yelled and shook them,

  • but they wouldn't wake.

  • It was getting dark, so the shaman and his sister

  • tied the pineapple sprout outside the hollow log and crawled inside.

  • A strong wind rosethe mark of the air goblins.

  • It broke branches and brought down trees.

  • Caymans, boas and jaguars roared.

  • The water began to rise.

  • The fish flopped off the drying racks and swam away.

  • The pineapple sprout turned into a dog.

  • All night it barked, keeping the jungle creatures away from the fallen tree.

  • When dawn broke, the flood receded.

  • The fish were gone, and most of the people were, too:

  • the jungle animals had devoured them.

  • Only the shaman's relatives survived.

  • When his family turned toward him,

  • the shaman realized what the goblins meant when they said the fruits were ripening:

  • they weren't really collecting siripia fruits at all,

  • but human eyes.

  • The shaman's older sister called him over,

  • trying to touch his face with her long, sharp nails.

  • He backed away and, remembering the goblin chief's instructions,

  • threw palm seeds at her face.

  • The seeds became eyes.

  • But then she transformed into a white-lipped peccary and ran away

  • still alive, but no longer human.

  • The shaman and his little sister's whole community was gone.

  • They went to live with another village,

  • where he taught everyone to weave baskets, as the air goblins had taught him.

  • But he couldn't forget the last of the goblin chief's words,

  • which told him how to get revenge.

  • He returned to the air goblins' home carrying chili peppers wrapped in leaves.

  • As the goblins watched through their peepholes,

  • the shaman made a fire and put the chili peppers on it.

  • The fire began to smoke the tree out.

  • The goblins who had eaten people's eyes died.

  • Those who hadn't were light enough to fly away.

  • So the goblins, like the humans, paid a steep price.

  • But they also lived to tell the tale, like the shaman.

  • In Siekopai legend, where the spirit and human worlds meet,

  • there are no clear victors,

  • and even death is an opportunity for renewal.

Deep in the Amazon rainforest in the river Nea'ocoyá,

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B2 shaman fish goblin sister hollow chief

The myth of the stolen eyeballs - Nathan D. Horowitz

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/10/23
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