Yerba Mate part III: Legends

In our final installment of the yerba mate series, we highlight a few of the legends surrounding yerba mate. While consuming yerba mate, stories are shared amongst friends and are a very important aspect of enjoying the drink.

Legend of YariYerba Mate

In this legend, Yari, the moon, and Tupa, the powerful god of the Guaranies, travel to Earth together. On Earth, they turn into two beautiful women and walk through the forest. After a while they became tired and decided to head towards a nearby cottage. Before arriving, a jaguar jumped out to attack them. A nearby Guarani man shot an arrow through the jaguar, saving them and then offered hospitality in his hut to the two women. After spending the night Tupa and Yari left, and went up to heaven to decide how to reward the family. One night they guided the family into a deep sleep and while they slept they sowed light blue seeds in front of their house. In the morning Yari told the family that through their hospitality the gods rewarded them with the yerba mate plant to share with the region, the symbol of friendship. They also granted immortality to their daughter, so that she would never lose her goodness and innocence in her heart. She then taught them how to toast and drink the mate. After many years, the old couple passed and the daughter had fulfilled her ritual obligations and disappeared from earth. It is said that from time to time it is possible to see her amongst the Paraguayan fields, a beautiful blonde girl reflecting innocence.

The Tupi Brothers Legend

This well-known legend takes place in Paraguay and discusses the origins of the Guarani people. Ancient ancestors of the Guarani crossed a vast ocean from a distant land to settle into the Americas. Two brothers, Tupi and Guarani led their people throughout this journey and feuded. Their feud divided the tribe into two groups named after the brothers. The Tupi people were more nomadic and fierce compared to the God fearing, agricultural Guarani. The Guarani people looked forward to the arrival of the tall, fair-skinned, blue-eyed and bearded God, Pa’i Shume. When he did arrive, he unlocked the secrets and health benefits of the yerba mate plant to the Guarani people. While this ancient tradition is today recognized only as a legend, the truth behind the health benefits of the plant have survived.

The Guarani Legend

Like the legend of the Tupi Brothers, the legend of the Guarani revolves around the god Pa’i Shume. The legend begins with an old farmer and his daughter. The old farmer falls ill and decides that he will not move again with the tribe, that he would rather live alone. His daughter refuses to leave his side and stays with him even after the rest of the tribe moves on. As a reward to the daughter, the god Pa’i Shume disguises himself as a shaman and gives the old farmer the yerba mate plant and teaches him how to roast and prepare it. After drinking the mate, the man gains the strength to accompany his daughter to reunite with their tribe. The old farmer and his daughter then shared the secrets of mate to them. From then on the Guarani people have consumed mate and used its health benefits.

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