Here are three more rituals and magical beliefs related to the jagua fruit, as practiced by two different Indigenous groups in the Amazon.
To Exorcise Devils
A Kuna exorcist and his assistant employ the equivalent of a magic wand, or spiritually powerful cane, made from the wood of the jagua tree in rituals to rid a person of demonic possession.
Similarly, a specific four-day ceremony to chase any devils away includes encircling the village in a “cloak of darkness” by having every family bury under each house a split jagua fruit wrapped in cloth.
To Prevent and Cure Diseases
Kuna shamans make all manner of amulets, talismans, and effigies of the gods—specifically for each patient—from the wood of the jagua tree in order to prevent or heal a variety of illnesses, from heartburn and venereal diseases to fever and athlete’s foot.
To Communicate with Birds so as to Ensure a Good Harvest
The Sapara women of east-central Ecuador endeavor to keep birds away from their manioc (or yucca) fields by painting their faces with jagua during the time of planting. They believe that dyeing their faces with short, jagged, horizontal lines on the forehead, across the bridge of the nose and outward to the temples, and at the corners of the mouth will recreate the look of turtle doves, which will stop birds from eating their crops.
Excerpted from Jagua: A Journey into Body Art from the Amazon by yours truly, Carine Fabius