Sunday, August 28, 2011

Guabanseh: Taino Spirit of the Storm

Did You Know: The Taíno deity of the winds and storms is a female spirit named Guabanseh (Guabancex). Contrary to the reports of some Spanish chroniclers, in ancient times Taíno did not view this force of nature as something ‘evil’. Traditionally, Taíno viewed Guabanseh as a powerful natural manifestation to be respected and honored with song. Guabanseh has two assistants: Guatauba and Koatriske (Coatrisque). Combined, they were the wind, thunder and flood spirits manifested during the hurakan. Guatauba, as the thunder, was the herald who announced Guabanseh's pending arrival. Koatriske followed the wind and thunder and brought the devastating power of the flood. The early chroniclers also reported that Taíno mariners curtailed long sea voyages during the hurricane season from June to October. The Spanish colonizers were also quite amazed that the seemingly simple thatched homes of the Taíno could withstand the intense tropical storms. The english word "hurricane" and the spanish word "huracan" both derive from the Taíno term "hurakan", which was not a deity, but an action term describing the "wind or breath from the center" of Guabanseh. Modern meteorologists paid homage to Guabanseh via the early tradition of naming hurricanes after females. © UCTP Taíno News 2011

*Image of Guabanseh courtesy of Michael Auld.

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