To begin ...

As the twentieth century fades out
the nineteenth begins
it is as if nothing happened
though those who lived it thought
that everything was happening
enough to name a world for & a time
to hold it in your hand
unlimited.......the last delusion
like the perfect mask of death

Monday, April 18, 2011

Alvaro Estrada: Shamanistic Songs of Román Estrada

Recording & translation from Mazatec into Spanish by Alvaro Estrada
Translation into English by Henry Munn

[As a comparison to the chants of María Sabina, found elsewhere on this site, Román Estrada's shamanistic songs open to the language of a contemporary Mazatec male shaman. They also give some indication of the differences from singer to singer, poet to poet, within a specific indigenous culture.  For examples -- written and audio -- of María Sabina's chanting, check the following:  (J.R.)]

Medicinal herb, remedial herb
Cold herb, Lord Christ
Free this person from his sickness
Where is his spirit trapped?
Is it trapped in the mountain?
Is it enchanted in some gully?
Is it trapped in some waterfall?
I will look for and find the lost spirit

Ave María!

I will follow its tracks
I am the important man
I am the man who gets up early
I am he who makes the mountains resound
I am he who makes their slopes resound
I am he who makes the spirit resound

I make my paws resound
I make my claws resound
Christ Our Lord
Lord Saint Martin is present
The Lord of Dry Tree is present
The Lord of the Lake is present
Santa María Zoquiapan
I am the dawn
I am he who speaks with the mountains
I am he who speaks with the echo
There in the atmosphere
There amid the vegetation
I will make my sound felt
Father Saint John the Evangelist
We see how the dolls and eagles already play in the air, already play on the mountains, already play between the clouds
Whoever curses us won't do us any harm
Because I am the spirit, the image-day of the person
I am Christ the Lord
I am the spirit
There is the serpent, coiled up, alive
(It is coiled up
It is alive )
I alleviate, I give life
(I give life )
I am the tall and handsome one
I am Jesus Christ
I am Lord Saint Martin
I am Lord Saint Mark
In whose dominion there are tigers
Whoever curses us has no influence on us
I give strength to the sick
I am the medicine, I am the fresh herb
Come back lost spirit, I will whistle to lead you back (he whistles), come back
May there come with you
Thirteen deer
Thirteen eagles
Thirteen white horses
Thirteen rainbows
Your steps move thirteen mountains
The big clown is calling you
The master clown is calling you
I will make the mountains sound
I will make their abysses sound
I will make the dawn sound
I will make the day sound
I will make Jar Mountain sound
I will make Mount Rabon sound
I will make Stone Mountain sound
I will make the Father Mountain sound
I am the big man
The man who alleviates
The man of the day
It is time for the sick one to get well
It is time for the miracle to happen
The miracle of the Holy Trinity
Like the miracle of creation
Like the miracle of the moonlight
The miracle of the starlight
Of the Morning Star
Of the Cross Star
The dawn is coming
The horizon is already reddening
There is no evil outside
Because I am he who alleviates
I am he who gives the dawn
Santa María Ixtepec speaks
Santa María Ixcatlan speaks
There where it is dry and thorny

Of course this is only a fraction of the long chant of the wise man, who told us that on the day his initiation ended – Román said this in Spanish – he received a diploma from the hands of the Principal Ones. (Román died the fifth of August 1986. Reader of cards, magician and excellent hunter, in his veladas he imitated a pack of dogs after the quarry, usually a deer.)

[From Alvaro Estrada, La Vida de María Sabina, Siglo Veintiuno editores, México 1977]

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