ethnopoetics poems

ethnopoetics home


As a comparison to the chants of María Sabina, found elsewhere on this site (see under "Soundings" and "Discourses"), Roman 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.


Translation from Mazatec by Alvaro Estrada
Translation into English by Henry Munn

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 search and I will find the lost spirit

Ave María!

I will follow his 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 sides resound 

I am he who makes the spirit resound 

I make my tracks resound

I make my nails resound 

Christ Our Lord

Lord Saint Martin is present 

The Lord of the 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 on the mountains

Already play between the clouds 

Whoever curses us won't do us any harm

Because I am the spirit and the image

I am Christ the Lord

I am the spirit 

The serpent is present

It is coiled up

It is alive 

I give relief

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 damp cloth 

Come back lost spirit 

I will whistle to guide you 

[He whistles


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 the Jar Mountain sound

I will make Mount Rabon sound

I will make the Stone Mountain sound

I will make the Father Mountain sound 

I am the big man

The man who gives relief

The man of the day  

It is time for the sick one to recuperate

It is time the miracle happens

The miracle of the Holy Trinity

Like the miracle of the creation

Like the miracle of lunar light

Like the miracle of the starlight

Of the Morning Star

Of the Cross Star 

The dawn is coming

The horizon is already reddening

There is nothing bad outside 

Because I am he who gives relief

I am he who gives the dawn 

Santa María Ixtepec speaks

Santa María Ixcatlan speaks 

There is the drought and the thorn 


This is only a small part of the chant of the Wise Man. He has told me that the day his initiation ended -- Roman explained this in Spanish -- he received a diploma from the hands of the Principal Ones.

Back to UbuWeb | Back to UbuWeb Ethnopoetics