Matses | Nu-Nu / NuNu / NeNe
This is a very special and rare type. It’s gentle, potent and deep, which is made from toasted, crushed and finely powdered Mapacho leaves, combined with the toasted, crushed and powdered inner bark of the Macambo tree, a member of the Cacao family.
Nu-Nu is a vision drug. A “giver” puts a little of the powder into one end of a hollow bamboo tube; the “user” puts the other end of the tube to his nose. The powder is then blown into the user’s nose, where it explodes into his face, burning his nose and eyes and blurring his vision. He chokes up green phlegm and his blood pulses as though his body were short-circuiting. Over and over, the process is repeated until his eyes glaze over and he can no longer stand. Numbness replaces the sharp pain. He falls to the ground and his visions begin.
It is not, like Yopo, filled with tryptamines, and isn’t psychedelic at all. Nonetheless, at large doses, there frequently comes a point–after the pain subsides–where you see something like a television screen and across it you’ll see all of the animals of the jungle running. Tapir and peccary, monkeys and jaguars. The user sees himself walking in the jungle, and the animals there come to him. He communicates with the jungle animals, telling them that he is hungry and they are needed for food. He announces his intentions for hunting them and notes the location and time of day he sees them. Within a few minutes, the visions fade and a pleasant drunkenness washes over the user. If the Nu-Nu was especially potent, the visions may return unexpectedly for hours.
In the morning the hunter will go to where he “saw” the animals and wait for those he spoke with. When they arrive, he hunts them. The Matses believe that the animals are offering themselves freely to the slaughter.
The Matses say the jungle taught them the secret of Nu-Nu. In return, they never cultivate the plants whose leaves and bark are used in its preparation. They fear angering the animal spirits by having too much of an advantage over them.
The old Matses, the antiguas, say the animal sees the vision of their death as well, and still comes to the spot to die as that is its fate.
Nu-Nu and Sapo allow the Matse to experience the future, and communicate with the spirits of plants and animals. Specific predictions that constitute scenarios for hunting in a future time are captured while walking the future time track under the influence of Nu-Nu or Sapo. These predictions then manifest as experiences that occur in this “world” when the hunter soon thereafter follows the trail and signs that were revealed to him when in the future, and he then concludes his journery with the successful hunt that was foretold.
One of the keys to making the Nu-Nu effective, say the Matses, is that the person blowing the Nu-Nu is also blowing his spirit and strength into you–not as in giving it away, but as in empowering you with his force as part of the force of the experience. So it’s not just how hard you can blow, it’s whether you can share yourself while doing it. And the Nu-Nu is generally, or frequently, made by two great hunters–one working the leaves, the other the bark–before they’re combined to give some of their force to it as well.
It is not only used in hunting, but also for curing diseases, both physical and spiritual (a distinctly shamanic practice); sometimes it is used for celebration or just to get a good night sleep after a bad day.
The Matsés or Mayoruna are an indigenous tribe of the Peruvian and Brazilian Amazon. The tribe’s ancestral lands are currently threatened by illegal logging practices and poaching. These homelands are located between the Javari and Galvez rivers. The Matsés have guarded their lands from both other indigenous tribes and outsider colonials. The approximately 3,200 Matsés people speak the Matsés language which belongs to the Panoan language family. In the last thirty years, they have become a largely settled people living mostly in permanent forest settlements. However, they still rely on hunting and gathering for most of their subsistence. Their main source of income comes from selling peccary hides and meat. The word Matsés comes from the word for “people” in the Matsés language. They are also known as the Mayoruna. The name Mayoruna comes from the Quechua (Runa Simi) language and means “river people.”
In Brazil, the Matsés people are generally referred to as Mayorunas, while in Peru they are usually called Matsés.
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