These living wooden statues attracted the attention of the men because their bodies had smooth curves and some slight femininity in their form and movement. The men were very much interested in their frolic.

The creatures realized that fact and teased them. They were possessed of malevolent spirits controlled by the maboias and so they sought to torment humans. They cavorted about all around the men taunting them, teasing them and making suggestive sexual motions that further aroused the men. The wooden statue people had within them the potential for humanity but they needed to be confronted with very powerful magic to bring about this transformation. The men begged these creatures to leave them alone but they would not relent. They had no souls and no conscience. They had no integrity. Day and night they tormented the human men taunting them, never going away.

The men brought the problem to Guahaiona, the chief. The cacique conceived of a plan to turn the creatures, whose flesh alternated between slippery rubber and hard wood, into human women. But first they had to catch the creatures. The men tried many times but the creatures transformed their skin and made it so slippery and smooth like eels that they always slipped away out of their grasp laughing and taunting them.

They would come down from the trees and run about near the men who were trying to catch them, gleefully allowing themselves to be caught and then slipping out of their grasp. Finally, Guahaiona suggested that they request the help of some men who were afflicted by a skin condition that made their skin rough and abrasive. These men were said to be karakarakol”.

cuban woodpckr
Cuban Woodpecker

The karakarakol men with their coarse, rough arms had no trouble in catching and securing the slippery creatures. Upon the orders of chief Guahaiona the creatures that had been caught were tied to trees and left there. Then the chief and the behikes fasted and did ceremony appealing to the spirit of the woodpecker bird, Inriri. Soon the magical woodpecker arrived. It landed upon the body of one of the creatures and instantly the creature transformed its flesh into solid wood. Immediately Inriri began to carve female physical features upon the wooden fleshed body of the creature. Then it hopped off that creature and on to another, and then another, and another still. Until it had dealt with all of them. As this happened the wooden creatures began to become transformed. Their flesh became soft and they assumed real humanity. They became real women and acquired human souls. The malevolent spirit that had possessed these creatures were chased away by the powerful magic of the woodpecker and the Great Spirit laia Gua Turei endowed them with a conscience, with integrity and with human compassion. When they became human the creatures were consecrated into the human species and became the mothers of the new human generations. Because they had once been made of wood and had once been creatures of the jungle they also possessed the spirit of the forest trees and thus brought with them into the tribe the inherited wisdom of forest herbal medicine. As soon as they were released from the trees where they had been tied these women became great shamans and healers. They especially understood the medicinal wisdom of jungle plants. They married the men of the community and passed on the talent and skill of forest medicine to their descendants. Later generations of the people saw themselves as descendants of the jungle tree women.

The woodpecker remains the sacred bird of transformational magic to this day in Caney Circle tradition


Soon chief Guahaiona led the multitudes of the cave out into the world. They emerged, left their ancestral haven and dispersed over the land. They spread all over the world populating every continent with all the Earth’s tribes and nations. The knowledge and wisdom passed down to these people from their ancestors; beginning with Iaia Lokuo, and from their wise elders, the old men and women of the tribe, and from their chief Guahaiona, was put to use in building their homes (bohios), planting their fields, hunting, and fishing.

Iaia Lokuo, the first father-mother built a homestead near one of the villages and set up housekeeping, tending fields and hunting in the forests nearby. Iaia Lokuo’s son Iaia-el lived with his parent. Iaia-el was an arrogant youth, who prided in bragging about the fact that he was the immediate son of the great father-mother Iaia Lokuo. He was spoiled and rude and everyone knew it. Eventually Iaia-el became jealous of his own father-mother’s prestige and the respect always shown to his father-mother by the rest of the community.


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