Ynaguinid, Bisayan Goddess of War & Poisons + Full Moon in Aries
Ynaguinid is the Bisayan goddess of war and poisons, who along with Barangaw, the rainbow and symbol of hope, and Makanduk, the god of war and plunder, is one of a trinity of war gods invoked before or during battle. Babaylans and datus pray to these deities to bless warriors with their might, bravery, and strength. In some tales Ynaguinid appears as a warrior covered in many tattoos, symbols of a victor and slayer of men, her face streaked with blood, her teeth sharpened like shark teeth and blackened with coal and herbs. Like many other Bisayan deities, Ynaguinid is sometimes said to be genderless. In some tales she appears as a male warrior; in others, she appears as a beautiful woman of the forest who taught warriors how to make poisonous concoctions out of oil and snake venom.
Historical Role in Bisayan Warfare
There are a few gods in the Bisayan pantheon that play a significant role in important moments for a Bisayan community, and Ynaguinid and Makanduk are examples of such deities. They are the personification of war and they also serve as inspiration and standard for ancient Bisayans on the art of warfare, sieges and pillages. The Timawa were the privileged intermediate class of ancient Bisayan society, in between the uripon (commoners, serfs, and slaves) and the tumao (royal nobility). They were originally descendants or illegitimate children of the datu by commoner wives or concubines, or the illegitimate children of the binukot (kept men/women - I will go into this more in-depth in another article). Like the Tagalog Maharlika class, the Timawa were primarily a feudal warrior class, required to provide military service to the datu in hunts, land wars (Mangubat or Managayau), and sea raids (Mangahat or Magahat). They also paid tribute or taxes to the datu known as buhis or handug and were required to provide agricultural labor as needed. They enjoyed certain freedoms, like the right to own their own land and uripon, the right to lend and borrow money, and the right to enter into business partnerships.
This warrior class called upon Ynaguinid, Makanduk, and Barangaw through babaylans who would commune with the deities on their behalf. These formidable gods were prayed for to bless the warriors with the bravery and strength to overcome their enemies, such as the Moros from Mindanao, whose raiding tactics have caused problems to Bisayan barangays all over the Southern part of the archipelago. Ynaguinid and Makanduk were the epitome of bravery and victor in battles for many Bisayan warriors, and they tried to emulate them by also covering their bodies with coal, mud and red tints from herbs, sharpening and blackening their teeth, and when victorious in a skirmish, have their bodies tattooed to symbolize the men they killed in battle.
Ynaguinid is also known to be a deity of weapon and poison-making, and in some tales she appears as a beautiful woman of the forest who taught warriors how to mix poisonous oils from viper venom (bulit) and toxic floras such as the mayos/kolot, makasla and kamandag plants, and how to coat their arrows, bagakay (darts) and sibats (spears) with these potent potions. She also taught them how to extract viper venom and mix it in herbal oil to create the special war poison called the odto which means "high noon" in English, for anyone who was wounded by any weapon coated with this poison was not known to survive by noontime (most battles of yore were done in early morning till afternoon) from and how to coat their arrows and with these potent potions. North of the archipelago until the Bikol region, she is known as Naguinid, and is associated with Makbarubak and Arapayan as the trinity of poison gods.
Rituals and Prayers
William Henry Scott, who documented the lives of ancient Bisayans in his book Barangay: Sixteenth-Century Philippine Culture and Society noticed some rites and rituals were made before war to appease the war gods. He noted that the ancient Bisayans celebrated the art of sea warfare and excelled it, partly due to the fact that Moros tend to attack tribes from the sea and that the Bisayas were made up of islands rather than a large mass of land. He noticed that one of the rituals Bisayans do before going to sea warfare is called "pagdaga", a ritual of smearing the blood of the enemy on the prow and keel of the boats of the warriors. Ynaguinid and Makanduk are also venerated by weapon smiths, and prayers before making a weapon are customary as well as after its successful completion. Ancient Bisayans also kept idols of these war deities in the homes of the chiefs and head babaylans, and brought them out on festivities such as the start and end of a war, to celebrate the warriors and the victors of these battles.
When the Spaniards came to the archipelago, Bisayan warriors fought valiantly against these invaders, believing that they are blessed by the powerful Ynaguinid and Makanduk in their endeavors of protecting their lands and villages. While most of these tribes were successful in driving out the Spanish fleets, they soon found out that their pursuers were only gone temporarily, as the Spaniards came with more force and struck the Bisayans hard, claiming mostly victory in the end. They did not waste time colonizing the islands, converting natives into Christians, and ordering any idols and remnants of the old religions burned and destroyed. Nowadays, the powerful war deities Ynaguinid and Makanduk, and also the stories of bravery of the ancient Bisayan warriors whom they inspired in life and in the battlefield, remains in the memory of the few surviving Bisayan tribes all over the country, passed from generation to generation through the oral traditions these tribes still practice to this day.
Tonight’s Super Full Moon in Aries carries a strong, fiery energy that brings out our inner warrior and helps us really take that leap forward in our lives. 2016 has been about clearing out the old so the new can emerge, digging up the past and healing old wounds in order to welcome in the new. The month ahead is about taking action and actually putting your foot down on what you are willing to stand for and what has to end. Every person and event that comes into our lives is here to teach us something, and if we remember this we may learn something about ourselves and the bigger picture journey. Super Moons occur when the Moon is close to the Earth, which helps amplify the energy of the Full Moon and allows us to feel it on a much stronger and deeper level. Aries energy is fiery and independent. Being the first sign of the zodiac and ruled by the god of war, Aries is a leader and warrior. Use this energy to step into your warrior gear and really stand up for your life and the direction you want it to head in.
Resources: Visayan Mythologies of the Philippines, The Aswang Project, Filipino Martial Culture by Mark V. Wiley, Barangay: Sixteeth-Century Philippine Culture and Society by William Henry Scott