Xapiri - the Meaning
Xapiri is the sacred word the Yanomami people of Brazil & Venezuela use for ‘spirit’, the Yanomami shamans contact the Xapiri for guidance and to listen to the ancient wisdom of their ancestors. Davi Kopenawa, a Yanomami shaman and leader explains;
"We Yanomami learn with the great spirits, the xapiri, We learn how to know the xapiri, how to see them and listen to them. Only those who know the xapiri can see them, because the xapiri are very small and bright like lights. There are many, many xapiri - not just a few, but lots, thousands like stars. They are beautiful and decorated with parrot feathers and painted with urucum (red berry paste). Others have earnings and use black dye and they dance very beautifully and sing differently. The whites think that when we indians do shamanism we are singing. But we are not singing, we are accompanying the music and the songs. There are different songs: the songs of the macaw, of the parrot, of the tapir, of the tortoise, of the eagle, of all birds which sing differently. So that’s what the xapiri are like. They are difficult to see. Whoever is a shaman has to accept them, to know them. You have to leave everything: you can’t eat food or drink water, you can’t be near women or the smell of burning, or children playing or making a noise - because the xapiri want to live in silence.
They are other people and they live differently. Some live in the sky, some underground, and others live in the mountains which are covered with forests and flowers. Some live in the rivers, in the sea and others in the stars, or in the moon and the sun. Omame (the creator) chose them because they were good for working - not in the garden, but for working with shamanism, for curing people. They are beautiful and difficult to see. The xapiri look after everything. The xapiri are looking after the world. Our shamans know that our planet is changing. We know the health of the Amazon. We know that it is dangerous to abuse nature, and that when you destroy the rainforest, you cut the arteries of the future and the world’s force just ebbs away. The sky is full of smoke because our rainforest is being logged and burnt. The rains come late, the sun behaves in a strange way. The lungs of the sky are polluted. The world is ill. The forest will die if it is destroyed by the whites. Where will we go when we have destroyed our world? When the planet is silent, how will we learn? We have kept the words of our ancestors inside us for a long time, and we continue to pass them to our children. So the words of the spirits will never disappear.