The Incan Nagual "Runauturuncu"

The zigzag pendant with a hexagram and inner sun (third eye) was a gift from our shaman Kuichi Light as a symbol of his tribe.

The concept of shamanic transformation into a jaguar is well documented in Mesoamerica and South America and is called "runauturuncu," meaning man-jaguar. In this sculpture, the shaman is shown in the middle of this transformation process and still has human hands, partially transformed feet and a blunt tail.

The runauturuncu is a zoöanthropomorphic entity similar to the werewolf (loup-garou) of European folklore. There is a South American myth that the ancient dwellers of the forest are runauturuncu and former sorcerers. Its power is believed to have been obtained through a pact with Supay, an evil spirit.

This legendary ability for shamans to transform is then bestowed by indigenous healers known as the vegetalista or ayahuasceros. These people possess the knowledge of the plants, particularly the entheogenic varieties available in the Incan rain forest. They concoct a brew called ayahuasca made with the Banisteriopsis caapi vine and leaves from the DMT-containing Psychotria species of shrubs.

Much like the description given by Carlos Castaneda in his books on Mexican shamanism, the idea that a sorcerer can transform himself into a jaguar or other body double is thus connected with the entheogenic experience. According to Carl Ruck in Gods and Plants in the Classical World, the same belief in naguals may account for werewolves and vampires in European folklore. The entheogen used there was known as aconitum or "wolfsbane."

"Wolfsbane or lykoktonos originated in the prophet-deity's cults, among the northern Hyperboreans and in what was known as his other homeland among the so-called wolf-people, the matrilineal Lycians of Asia Minor. This wolf persona became characteristic not only of Apollo's darker nature, but also in general of the recidivous other self of all the heroes who were sons of Zeus. This lupine metaphor is a classical version of the werewolf mythologem and coincides with Indo-European versions of the same phenomenon."