An Annotated & Illustrated Collection of Worldwide Links
to Mythologies, Fairy Tales & Folklore,
Sacred Arts & Traditions

Kathleen Jenks, Ph.D.






"Tropical Jungle"
 Casilda Pinche Sanchez (1974 - ),
a young artist and teacher at the Amazon Project

Author's note:

As a very young child growing up in western Michigan, my knowledge of South America began with a terror of the huge snakes in her vast jungles -- I often had nightmares of being crushed by an enormous boa constrictor.  I would awake, barely able to breathe.  South America terrified me.  Yet in the 8th grade I read Hudson's Green Mansions and fell in love with Rima, the bird-girl, who moved with such grace and beauty through the trees.  After that, South America was equally nightmare and ecstatic wonder, snake and magical bird, death and life, breath-stopping constriction and utter freedom.

As a young adult, I slowly made my peace with the great snakes in my psyche, as well as in the rain forests.  But the nightmare didn't end.  From the 1960's onward, I became painfully aware that the habitat of those snakes and birds was being destroyed, mile by mile, inch by inch, as the rain forests vanished along with rare flowers, herbs, trees, and countless species.

Today, as a crone, when I think of South America, I think first of the Rain Forests -- and my heart constricts exactly as if an anaconda were crushing me, but there's no anaconda now, there's something far worse -- an awareness of the fragile beauty being destroyed.  If we, as a species, destroy the jungle's medicinal plants that might cure our worst diseases, a cynic might argue that that's our problem, our folly.  But we are also, with cold, thoughtless greed, destroying all the other living beings of that realm.   We have no right to do this.  We share the planet with these life-forms of flora and fauna -- they deserve to be protected from our chemicals and cattle.  They should be our partners, not our victims.  They've been here so much longer than we have.  Why do the world's powerful and wealthy think they have the right to ravage this ancient, wise realm that pre-existed us?

"The Trompeteros"
by Wellington C. Marin (1972 - )
From the Amazon Project

One would think that people following the monotheistic religions born of the Old World's deserts would prize the watery Green World of the rain forests, and would honor the teeming life there as a sign of blessing and grace, respecting that realm as the very lungs of our planet, providing earth's precious oxygen and gentling vast weather systems.  Instead, these monotheists have self-righteously exploited and abused the very otherness of the rich, lush, sensual, wondrous rain forests.  Missionaries brought the "Word," and killed the life.  Capitalists have now largely replaced the missionaries and the slaughter of life has only increased.

And so, South America remains a place of nightmare for me, not because of the fearsome snakes of my childhood, but because those great, beautiful  snakes are now dying along with the indigenous peoples who respect them; also shriveling in the blazing sun are thousands of healing plants and birds and great trees.  The rain forests are the heart and lungs of this planet -- and once they're gone, they're gone.


Amazonian peoples

andean peoples
[Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, northern Chile]

patagonian peoples



General Links for South America as a Whole:

Golden Snake and Jaguar
(on a 3.25" high knob of a ceremonial staff)
ca. 600-1600 A.D.
From the mountainous Tairona region of Columbia
Courtesy of The Barakat Gallery (from their catalogue: Volume XXIII)

In addition to the Amazon's rainforests, South America has two other major regions: the Andes and the Patagonian grasslands.  This site from the Smithsonian touches on all three regions and includes several nice images.  (Note: The text's tantalizingly brief overview is best suited to children.  Perhaps if enough people write them, they'll expand what has the potential to be a very worthwhile site!)

This is an excellent paper from Athena Review on the many languages and language families of South America.  I found it fascinating.

This handsome site created by Dr. Horacio Ejilevich Grimaldi, a Jungian therapist in Argentina, seeks to make Jungian thought better known throughout South America.  The site is in Spanish as well as English.  Among other features, it offers translations of lectures, papers, and has a wide range of multi-lingual Jungian related links (including archetypal psychology, mysticism, mythology, and astrology).

To Latin America entry page

(From here you can get to the special "Latin America: Lore & History of Chocolate" and "Latin America: Lore & History of Maize" pages
and eventually, when it is online, to Meso-America & the Caribbean)

To Indigenous Peoples meta-page


If you have comments or suggestions, please email me at

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Technical assistance: William Weeks

Text and Design:
Copyright 1999 by Kathleen Jenks, Ph.D.

Page begun 25 June 1999, 2am; went on-line 1 July 1999.
Latest Update: 12 July 1999