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Native American Capi (Caapi) Mythology

Capi (also spelled Caapi, Kaapi, or Kápi) is the common name of an Amazonian vine that is sacred to many indigenous South American tribes. Chewing the vines (which are psychedelic in nature) is considered to bring spiritual epiphany.

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Capi is the main ingredient in ayahuasca, a psychoactive drink used by South American Indians for healing, purifying, and visionary rituals. The name caapi may have originated in the Guahibo language. Arawakan names for the same plant include suipa, thuipa, and xuipa. The Panoan tribes call it nixi (also spelled nishi) or nixi pae, the Ashaninka call it kamarampi, and the Tucanoan tribes call it yagé (also spelled yajé.)

Caapi vines play an important role in indigenous religions and are also seen in this aspect in South American legends, being chewed by shamans or medicine men before they enter a trance or bestowing supernatural powers on people who partake of them. In some Amazonian tribes, jaguars are said to have received their powers by chewing on caapi vines.

Native American Legends About Capi

*Kamaisani:
    South American legend about a family that uses capi vines to ascend into the stars.

Recommended Books of Related Stories from Native American Myth and Legend

Hallucinogens and Shamanism:
    Interesting book about the role of hallucinogenic plants in indigenous religious traditions.
Plants of the Gods:
    Anthropology book about the importance of psychoactive plants to South American and other world cultures.
Duke's Handbook of Medicinal Plants of Latin America:
    Thorough compendium of Central and South American herbs and their traditional uses.
Native Plant Stories:
    Excellent collection of Native American stories about plants, by Abenaki storyteller Joseph Bruchac.

Additional Resources

 Native American herbs
 Inca myths
 Guahibo language
 Arawak languages
 Amazonian languages
 Indigenous people of South America
 Andean Indian cultures



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