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Maria Sabina | UbuWeb Ethnopoetics



1. Sacred Mushroom Chant, 8:06




María Sabina: from The Mushroom Velada

A major Wise One (= shaman) among the Mazatecs of Oaxaca, Mexico, María Sabina received her poems/songs through use of the psilocybe mushroom at all-night curing sessions (veladas): a practice going back to pre-Conquest Mexico and witnessed by the Spanish chronicler who wrote: "They pay a sorcerer who eats them [the mushrooms] and tells what they have taught him. He does so by means of a rhythmic chant in full voice." The sacred mushrooms are considered the source of Language itself — are, in Henry Munn’s good phrase, "the mushrooms of language."

The selection presented here departs from the more extended, even "grandiloquent" language of most of the Chants, relying in part on techniques of fragmentation & the use of non-semantic sound (meaningless syllables, humming, clapping, whistling, etc.) The session itself goes on for a whole night, with many of the images, "self"-namings, etc., established early & repeated throughout in full or fragmented form.

Cayetano García, in whose home the session took place, acts also as the principal respondent. "The tone of voice in which this passage [begins]," writes Henry Munn, "is definitely playful, and at one point the man laughs with pleasure at her song. He thanks her for the beauty of her words."

 
translation

Ah, Jesu Kri
I am a woman who shouts
I am a woman who whistles
I am a woman who lightnings, says
Ah, Jesu Kri
Ah, Jesusi
Ah, Jesusi
Cayetano García
[She calls his name to get his attention. "Yes," he
responds, "Work, work."
]
Ah, Jesusi
Woman santa, says
Ah, Jesusi
[Here she begins humming and clapping, uttering the
meaningless syllables "so" and "si." Throughout the
entire passage that follows she goes on clapping
rhythmically in time to her words.
]
hmm hmm hmm
hmm hmm hmm
hmm hmm hmm
hmm hmm hmm
hmm hmm hmm
so so so si
hmm hmm hmm
hmm hmm hmm
Woman who resounds
Woman torn up out of the ground
Woman who resounds
Woman torn up out of the ground
Woman of the principal berries, says
Woman of the sacred berries, says
Ah, Jesusi
Woman who searches, says
Woman who examines by touch, says
ha ha ha
hmm hmm hmm
hmm hmm hmm
She is of one word, of one face, of one spirit, of one light, of one day
hmm hmm hmm
Cayetano García
[He answers "Yes …" She says, "Isnt't that how?" He responds:
"Yes, that's it." She says: "Isn't that it? Like this. Listen."
]
Woman who resounds
Woman torn up out of the ground
Ah, Jesusi
Ah, Jesusi
[In the background the man laughs with pleasure.]
Ah, Jesusi
Ah, Jesusi
Ah, Jesusi
hmm hmm hmm
so so so
Justice woman
hmm hmm hmm
["Thank you," says the man.]
Saint Peter woman
Saint Paul woman
Ah, Jesusi
Book woman
Book woman
Morning Star woman
Cross Star woman
God Star woman
Ah, Jesusi
Moon woman
Moon woman
Moon woman
hmm hmm hmm
hmm hmm hmm
Sap woman
Dew woman
[The man urges her on. "Work, work," he says.]
She is a Book woman
Ah, Jesusi
hmm hmm hmm
hmm hmm hmm
so so so
Lord clown woman
Clown woman beneath the ocean
Clown woman
[The other words are unintelligible.]
Ah, Jesusi
hmm hmm hmm
hmm hmm hmm
so so so
Woman who resounds
Woman torn up out of the ground
hmm hmm hmm
Because she is a Christ woman
Because she is a Christ woman
ha ha ha
so so so
so so so
so so so
Whirling woman of colors
Whirling woman of colors
Big town woman
Big town woman
Lord eagle woman
Lord eagle woman
Clock woman
Clock woman
ha ha ha
so so so
so so so
so so so
[That’s it. Work, work," exclaims the man.]
hmm hmm hmm
hmm hmm hmm
so so so
hmm hmm hmm
so so so
so so so
si si si
si si si
si si si
so sa sa
si si si
so sa sa sa
hmm hmm hmm
hmm hmm hmm
hmm hmm hmm
si so soooooooooiiiiii
[The end of "so" is drawn out into a long tone. She calls,
"Cayetano García." "Work, work," he relies. She goes
on humming, clapping faster and faster. "Cayetano
García," she calls again, in between her humming, almost
as if she were animating him, bringing him to himself with
her clapping. "Work, work," he says, "don’t worry." And
the passage ends on an expiring "siiiiii."
]
You my Father
You Christ
You Christ
Along the path of your soles, along the path of your feet
Where you triumphed, Christ
Where your saliva is, where your sweat is, Christ
That is why I am searching for the path of your soles, that is why I
am searching for the path of your feet
Where you stopped, Christ
Where you stopped, Father
Where you stopped, Old One
You are a respectable Father, an admirable Father
You are a respectable Mother, an admirable Mother
You are a green Father, a Father of clarity
You are a green Mother, a Mother of clarity
You are a budding Mother, a Mother of offshoots
You are a green Mother, a Mother of clarity

Father Jesus Christ
We go to you speaking poorly and humbly, holding out our hands to
you in supplication
With all of the santos
With all of the santas
Because there are santos, because there are santas
Because there are santos, because there are santas
All the clean spirits
All the good souls
It is a clean soul
It is a well-prepared soul
It is a respectable soul
It is a radiant soul
Greenness and sap
Flower of the dew
Flower in bud
Translucent flower
Flowering flower
Respected flower
Ah, Jesus Christ
It is a flower of fresh water
A flower of clear water
Fresh flower
Translucent flower
Because there are clean flowers where I am going
Because there is clean water where I am going
Clean flower, clean water
Fresh flower
Growing flower
Mine that is increasing
Green mine
Budding mine
There is no wind, there is no spit, there is no garbage, there is no
    dust
There is no whirlwind, there is no weakness in the air
That is the work of my santos, that is the work of my santas
Ah, Jesus Christ
Ah, Jesusi
Ah, Jesusi
Ah, Jesus Christ
He is the santo
Ah, she is the santa
Ah, he is the santo
Ah, she is the santa
Ah, he is spirit
Ah, he is spirit
Ah, it is light
Ah, it is dew
Ah, it is sap
Ah, it is sap
Ah, it is greenness
Jesus Christ
Jesus
Jesus Christ
There is no resentment, there is no rancor, there is no insult, there is no
    anger
It is not a matter of insults, it is not a matter of lies
It is a matter of life and well-being, of lifting up, of restoring
["Thank you," says the man.]

Source: Álvaro Estrada, María Sabina: Her Life and Chants, Ross-Erikson Publishers, 1981. Recorded July 21-22, 1956, by R. Gordon Wasson in Huautla de Jiménez, Oaxaca (Mushroom Ceremony of the Mazatec Indians of Mexico, Folkways Records, FR 8975).



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