Fate, Fortune, and Mysticism in the Peruvian Amazon: The Septrionic Order and the Naipes Cards

Fate, Fortune, and Mysticism in the Peruvian Amazon: The Septrionic Order and the Naipes Cards

by Marlene Dobkin de Rios
     
 

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A medical anthropologist’s account of fortune-telling and management of one’s own destiny in Peru

• Explains the fortune-telling naipes cards and how Amazonian shamans use them to diagnose clients’ ills

• Looks at the Sacred Mystical Order of Septrionism and its techniques for managing destiny

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Overview

A medical anthropologist’s account of fortune-telling and management of one’s own destiny in Peru

• Explains the fortune-telling naipes cards and how Amazonian shamans use them to diagnose clients’ ills

• Looks at the Sacred Mystical Order of Septrionism and its techniques for managing destiny

While studying Amazonian shamans who use ayahuasca and Peruvian coastal healers who use mescaline cactus to treat psychological illness, Marlene Dobkin de Rios learned about the naipes cards--fortune-telling cards similar to the tarot used as part of the healers’ method of diagnosis. Immersing herself in their culture, she began telling fortunes with the naipes cards and was surprised by the intimacy it induced in the native people she was trying to study as well as the profoundly accurate results she encountered. Finding herself pulled further and further into Peruvian culture, in 1977 Dobkin de Rios was initiated into the sacred mystical order of Septrionismo, which emphasizes specific techniques--such as meditation, ritual, and reflection--to manage one’s future rather than depending solely on fate and fortune.

Explaining how to use the naipes cards as well as examining the practices of the Septrionic Order, Dobkin de Rios explores her experiences with both traditions through the lens of her anthropological and psychological training, describing how these diverse encounters opened her mind to the powers of divination as well as taught her the means of directing her own destiny.

Marlene Dobkin de Rios, Ph.D. (1939-2012), was a medical anthropologist, associate clinical professor of psychiatry and human behavior at the University of California, Irvine, and professor emerita of anthropology at California State University, Fullerton, where she taught from 1969-2000. She was a former Fulbright scholar and the author of several hundred professional articles and eight books, including The Psychedelic Journey of Marlene Dobkin de Rios.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Fate, Fortune, and Mysticism in the Peruvian Amazon is a fantastic book. In this 122 page text you'll learn about naipes cards, divination and fortune telling, the social and economic make up of Peru, the Septrionic Order, and more! I can't recommend this book enough.”

“An insightful account of one anthropologist’s journey from objective fieldworker to mystical practitioner. By using fortune-telling cards to illuminate the challenges facing her Peruvian clients, Marlene Dobkin de Rios came to understand their desire to face their destiny. Along the way, she found her own destiny as well.”

“Honestly, I wasn't sure what to expect . . . this lean, mean text explains it all in amazing detail as well as offering loads of other information!”

“Part memoir, part introduction to the techniques of managing the future, Fate, Fortune, and Mysticism in the Peruvian Amazon is written with the scientific mind of an anthropologist and the spiritual heart of a shaman. A must read!”

The Magical Buffet
Fate, Fortune, and Mysticism in the Peruvian Amazon is a fantastic book. In this 122 page text you'll learn about naipes cards, divination and fortune telling, the social and economic make up of Peru, the Septrionic Order, and more! I can't recommend this book enough.”
John R. Baker
“An insightful account of one anthropologist’s journey from objective fieldworker to mystical practitioner. By using fortune-telling cards to illuminate the challenges facing her Peruvian clients, Marlene Dobkin de Rios came to understand their desire to face their destiny. Along the way, she found her own destiny as well.”
February 2011 The Magical Buffet
Fate, Fortune, and Mysticism in the Peruvian Amazon is a fantastic book. In this 122 page text you'll learn about naipes cards, divination and fortune telling, the social and economic make up of Peru, the Septrionic Order, and more! I can't recommend this book enough.”
December 2013 Witches’ Almanac
“Part memoir, part introduction to the techniques of managing the future, Fate, Fortune, and Mysticism in the Peruvian Amazon is written with the scientific mind of an anthropologist and the spiritual heart of a shaman. A must read!”

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781594779473
Publisher:
Inner Traditions/Bear & Company
Publication date:
01/27/2011
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
144
File size:
3 MB

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1
The History and the Structure of the Naipes

The naipes are used often by folk healers who cure with herbs or psychedelic plants in a society in which witchcraft beliefs exist and people often expect that illness is caused by the evil will of others. The cards become a psychological adjunct to a healer’s therapy, a sort of intake procedure to learn more about their clients so that the healer can appear to be omnipotent and replete with knowledge and power. We cannot talk about the naipes as a divination technique without understanding the context in which these cards are used, particularly among the urban poor of Belen, who live in abject poverty in their shantytown. Healers are able to manipulate situations of misfortune that dog the steps of the urban poor as the healers diagnose illness and misfortune, appearing all-powerful and worthy of their fees.

I first ran into the naipes in Peru when, as a graduate student, I was sent by the Institute of Social Psychiatry at San Marcos University on the north coast of Peru to a special village, Salas, an hour and a half outside of Chiclayo. It was said that there more than a hundred folk healers used, in healing rituals, the San Pedro cactus laden with mescaline. Attending a healing ceremony one night in Salas, I heard a folk healer tell his wife to bring the naipes down to the area where the patients were seated. Having a long-term interest in fortune-telling, I asked the healer to tell me more about the naipes. He brushed me off, but this sparked my interest, which had been dormant for a number of years. When I arrived in Peru, I was game for divination techniques. In the marketplace in the nearby city of Chiclayo I purchased a pamphlet said to be written by Napoleon’s spiritual adviser, Madame LeNormand.

Madame LeNormand was born in a small village in France in 1773 and arrived in Paris when she was twenty-one years old. She opened a salon and read the fortunes of a number of highly placed individuals who were politically active in the French Revolution, including Robespierre. Apparently, Josephine de Beauharnais, later married to Napoleon Bonaparte, was one of her clients, and Madame Marie was reputed to have regularly read the naipes for Napoleon.

Most of the booklets based on her system agree on basic principles. Certain days of the week are most propitious for a reading--Friday, Saturday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, for example. The client must cut the cards only with the left hand, which is nearest to the heart, or else the fortune obtained is thought not to be accurate. The person who takes it upon himself to read the cards must be sincere and strong and not frivolous. This card reader should also be observant and wash his hands and face before using the cards. Dropping a card while reading a fortune is said to bring bad luck. If we can get to the heart of the divining cards by using a rational mathematical probability statistic and examine the technique in light of what I have called an “ethno-projective device,” we can learn a good deal about traditional folk psychotherapy.

The naipes help healers to tap in to the causality of illness while, at the same time, allowing them to present themselves as all-powerful. This cannot help but dispel fear, anxiety, and self-doubts in their patients and provide a high expectation of cure. This personal influence of healers increases their manipulation of the patient’s anxieties and provides a path toward eventual cure.

The naipes are not simple amusement for the clients, but rather are used by them and healers as a diagnostic technique, especially when most clients believe that illness is caused by evil willing or witchcraft machinations on the part of “others.” The healers manipulate a category that I call misfortune cards to plumb the depths of interpersonal conflicts, material loss, and sickness or death of loved ones to make their diagnosis.

Reading the Naipes

To read the naipes, the cards are laid out on a flat surface in the form of a cross, called St. Andres. A picture card representing the client--called the interested party--is placed in the center of the cross, and a frame is made of cards, which encloses the picture card representing the interested party. The frame consists of three additional cards, which are placed on the left side of the client’s picture card, three below this picture card, three on the right side, and three above the client’s central picture card. Beneath the card representing the interested party is an extra card, which the client doesn’t see until the very end of the reading. This card is deemed to shed light on some aspect of the reading.

The total number of cards read is eighteen. Effectively, this type of reading permits a large number of possibilities for each reading and four major story lines for each part of the reading.

A probability statistical analysis of the naipes indicates that in an average reading of eighteen cards, the probability that at least one misfortune card occurs is 99.76 chances out of l00. Two misfortune cards will occur at a probability of 97.40 chances in l00. For three misfortune cards to appear, the statistic drops to 87.3 chances in 100. By the time we reach four misfortune cards, we are close to a 50 percent probability. Because each misfortune card is modified by preceding and sequential cards, an interpreter is in a position to construct a story line quite possibly focusing on interpersonal conflict, material loss, or illness. Thus, the deck is loaded not in the direction of good fortune, but rather to highlight stress and conflict that may be present in the sociocultural milieu. I have called this fortune’s malice, from a line in the poem “De Gustibus” by Robert Browning.

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What People are saying about this

“An insightful account of one anthropologist’s journey from objective fieldworker to mystical practitioner. By using fortune-telling cards to illuminate the challenges facing her Peruvian clients, Marlene Dobkin de Rios came to understand their desire to face their destiny. Along the way, she found her own destiny as well.”

Fate, Fortune, and Mysticism in the Peruvian Amazon is a fantastic book. In this 122 page text you'll learn about naipes cards, divination and fortune telling, the social and economic make up of Peru, the Septrionic Order, and more! I can't recommend this book enough.”

Meet the Author

Marlene Dobkin de Rios, Ph.D. (1939-2012), was a medical anthropologist, associate clinical professor of psychiatry and human behavior at the University of California, Irvine, and professor emerita of anthropology at California State University, Fullerton, where she taught cultural anthropology from 1969-2000. A former Fulbright scholar, she was the author of several hundred professional articles and eight books, including The Psychedelic Journey of Marlene Dobkin de Rios.

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