JP Title

The Togutil

SHAMANS OF ALMAHERA
Moluku Islands

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"My name is Kasian and I am the shaman of the Ohonganamanyawa tribe, which means the people of the forest. Outsiders call us the Togutil. We live in the sacred forest of Almahera in Indonesia. I have never ventured beyond my native land.

The forest is the very source of our lives, it is our be-all and end-all. It offers us everything we need.

It is a familiar place, inhabited by spirits who educate, forewarn and feed us. It is also dangerous: many different snakes live here and I do not have all the remedies against their mortal bites. We have to be highly vigilant during the hours spent hunting and fishing.

The forest, the land and the water belong to our ancestors and are under their control. In our society, the roles are clearly defined. The role of women is to give life. They also plant, gather, cook and they educate the children. The role of men is to take lives. We hunt, we fish and we collect bark from certain trees to make our loincloths.

As a mediator between the world of the dead and the world of the living, I am in touch with spirits and I try to foster harmony in the universe. I know the spiritual powers of medicinal plants as well as their physical properties. I call up spirits to heal the sick and to help them get well.

Our world is changing fast, and it will soon be too late to pass what we know onto you. Strangers from the other islands are invading the forest. They have no respect for it, they destroy it and are full of scorn for those who depend on it. They steal the rich resources of our Mother Land. Tell me: in a few years what will be left for our children, what will be left?"