June 14, 2014

The Eye of the Needle: Ethno-fictional tale about jaguar transformation published in Anthropology and Humanism

The pale light of a half moon filtered through the forest canopy and dappled the path where she tracked a maddening stench. Hunger tore at her belly like a blunt spear of boar tusk, like the tusk that had ripped into her eye during a stampede long ago and left her watching the world half in shadow. From her blind side hidden obstacles now loomed blurry, out of perspective: far, then near. 

She had roamed in vain through the clawing blackness that night, exhausted and famished and betrayed by her waning strength and failing senses. But she caught wind of the familiar odor and crawled along its trace until she found the moonlit path cutting through the forest. She was in haste to sate her hunger but she had to go softly because the enemy was about.

From her blind side there came a fearful snap, an ominous grunt. She turned her head and froze at the sweep of a smoldering yellow eye that glared in her direction and then blinked shut in the close darkness.

Read another excerpt: On Jaguars and Transformation

 Published by Anthropology and Humanism

Download the full story at Academia.edu and ResearchGate

Read more about jaguar transformation in the Amazon and beyond in:
"Old and in the Way: Jaguar Transformation in Matsigenka"

Video Still: The Spirit Hunters

"The Eye of the Needle" was published in the latest issue of Anthropology and Humanism. The tale, awarded Honorable Mention in the Society for Humanistic Anthropology's 2013 Ethnographic Fiction Contest, dramatizes indigenous Amazonian beliefs about human-jaguar transformation.

To receive a reprint, please leave a comment or send an email to ethnoground@gmail.com.


  1. Comparto el sentimiento! Pienso que en la naturaleza, los estragos por sobrevivir son poderosos, tanto así que en esta búsqueda aquellos que viven de ella perecen en el intento! Glen, me gusta como has reflejado el sentimiento de un animal solitario. Y me parece interesante que siendo las comunidades humanas gregarias, se vean reflejadas en animales solitarios como los jaguares.

    1. Gracias Natalia, que bien que alguien como tu ha apreciado el cuento y su cambio entre perspectivas.