The Legend of Chullachaqui
By Mike Collis
The Chullachaqui, the mysterious guardian and shape shifter of the Amazon Rainforest. The name refers to the Amazonian folktale about a gnome which lives in the jungle. Your friend is out of sight for a moment and reappears but, unknown to you, he is in fact the mischievous Chullachaqui. He leads you deep into the forest until you are lost and there you stay! He can be recognised however by the fact that one foot is larger that the other or one foot is twisted back on itself.
He is the guardian of the Chullachaquicaspi tree, which can be used directly on the wound to heal deep cuts and haemorrhages - and internally too - because it contains a resin. Heals strains from lifting heavy weights can damage nerves. Good for joints.
It is also a powerful teacher plant which helps you get close to the spirit of the forest and guides you if you "diet" with it. It owns you and protects you at the same time. The tree has large buttress roots because it grows in sandy soils where roots cannot grow deep. There are white and red varieties - both grow in damp low lying areas. It can teach the apprentice to recognise what plants can heal, and it can cleanse the mind of psychosis. Chulla in Quechua, means twisted foot and Chaqui is the plant. It is better prepared in water than alcohol.
For bad skin, the bark is grated and boiled up with water and the body is given a steam bath while covered with a blanket. It is important to remove the bark without killing the tree which can have serious mystic consequences. It is a grounding plant which puts you in touch with the inaudible vibration of the earth.
The resin can be extracted from the tree trunk, as with the rubber tree and reduced and used in emplasts for painful wounds. Oil can also be extracted by boiling all day, this can be made into capsules. A personal Chullachaqui experience.
In September 2007, Juan Maldonado, an experienced jungle guide, was taking 10 tourists for a day in the rainforest. The plan was to go to the Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Farm at the village of Padre Cocha and from there walk the 3 miles or so through the jungle to visit the Bora natives in the village of San Andres.
After walking for about 40 minutes the group came to a small clearing out of which led 3 paths. Although experienced the guide was confused and was wondering which path to take. Out of nowhere appeared a boy of about 10 years of age. The guide asked the boy which path led to San Andres. The boy told the guide he came from that village and would take them there. The boy led the way and after about another hour they came to another clearing with several paths leading from it. The guide turned to the boy to ask him which was the correct path, but the boy had disappeared. The group continued on what they thought was the right path, after another 3 hours. With light fading they realized they were going in the wrong direction. Rather than turn back the guide led them on and eventually they came to a village. They were in fact some 3 miles upstream from San Andres and it was 9 p.m. They managed to hitch a ride on a passing rivertaxi and found their original speedboat still waiting for them at San Andres. On the rivertaxi the guide told the other passengers about their ordeal and about the little boy. The passengers laughed and said it was not a little boy but the mischevious jungle dwarf Chullachaqui!
The artist impression of Chullachaqui above is by David Hewson, more of his remarkable work can be found on his website; David Hewson Art