Nettle (Ankhu’si)

Story by Morelia Mendúa, Tamara Alvarado, Magdalena Quenamá

We traveled to the Kofán Avie community to visit an elder named Taita Isidro Lucitante. Our goal was to learn about the nettle plant, called ankhu’si in A’ingae language. 

Ankhu’si is our guide,” Taita Isidro explained. He shared that among the Kofan people, nettles have always been used to alleviate body pain, headaches, and even stress. During yagé ceremonies, they employ it to help individuals experiencing bad visions or struggling to connect with the yagé’s vision.

“When we disobeyed as children, our grandparents disciplined us one by one with the nettle plant. They whipped us repeatedly until all the leaves fell off.” Isidro believes that this disciplinary use teaches respect, as young people refrain from disrespecting their elders thereafter. Furthermore, the whipping with nettles is said to invigorate the body, making it more agile and lively.

After our enlightening conversation, Taita blew tobacco smoke over the nettles and applied some of the medicine to his son, who was experiencing bodily pain. Following this healing ritual, the taita instructed his son to cleanse himself in the San Miguel River.

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