Historical and Cultural Backgrounds: Mapuche of Chile - Mythology

When you travel to attend language school in Chile, one of the best parts of the experience will be meeting new people who are quite different from yourself. The country is home to many diverse populations including the indigenous people called the Mapuche. This ancient civilization has some fascinating mythology that gives tremendous insight into their culture and religious beliefs. Even if your initial intent was just to learn Spanish in Chile, you will benefit even more from your experience if you depart from the country with an understanding of its native people.

A Belief in Shamanic Practices

The Mapuche people believe in a shaman or "machi." Typically the shaman is an older woman who can perform various ceremonies to benefit the people. For example, she can ward off evil, make rain occur and even cure diseases.

The machi is also considered to be an oracle that can make decisions for the whole community. For example, the Mapuche people often consult the machi to make political decisions. The machi also uses medicinal herbs to cure people during a "machitun" or healing ceremony. The machitun are powerful ceremonies in which the people commune with the spirit world.

It is interesting to note how a person becomes a machi. These shamans are often chosen when they are just babies, based on criteria including familial influence, inheritance, prophetic dreams and revelations.

Creation Myths Involving Snakes and Monsters

The Mapuche people have a variety of very vivid myths that impact their cultural beliefs. For example, there is the Legend of Trenren Vilu and Caical Vilu, which is a fierce battle between two snakes. Trenren Vilu is the god of Earth and Caical Vilu is the god of the water. This myth explains how a snake submerged a huge landmass in Chile below water. The Earth snake appeared to battle and protect the land. Ultimately, Trentren Vilu won, but the land had radically changed during the fight and was left how it is today.

Another myth deals with the Cherufe, a large evil creature made of rock and magma. This creature lives in the magma pools in the Chilean volcanoes and causes both earthquakes and eruptions. In order to pacify this monster and prevent destruction, the Mapuche needed to throw a person into a volcano as a sacrifice. Unfortunately, this monster preferred female virgins.

There are also various monster-like creatures in the Mapuche mythology. For example, the Colo Colo is a serpent with legs that is born out of an egg. It feeds on saliva from people that are sleeping.

Mapuche mythology also works to explain various forces in nature, which may take human, animal or plant-like form. The Ngen are nature spirits that arrange and govern what we see in nature. When a Mapuche seeks to obtain something from nature, he or she must give an offering to a Negen spirit. The Ngen-kürüf are owners of the winds, the Ngen-lawen are owners of the medicinal herbs and Ngen-wingkul are owners of the hills or volcanoes.

When you attend language school in Chile, you may consider visiting the Pucon Mapuche museum in Aruacania. Exhibits in this building will give you even more insight into the mythology and culture of the Mapuche. Even if your goal is just to learn Spanish in Chile, your overall experience will be heightened when you explore the cultures of the country's oldest civilizations.

ECELA Santiago is a Spanish school in Chile that provides cultural lessons and activities in addition to the language course. For more information on how to learn Spanish in Chile => http://www.ecela.com/loc_sgo.php

EasyPublish this article: http://submityourarticle.com/articles/easypublish.php?art_id=235806