*Below: Research for this page.
The image in the above illustration depicts the Taíno version of the huraca’n superimposed over hurricane Katrina
as she left the Caribbean and approached New Orleans, Louisiana. The ancient indigenous people of the Caribbean,
the Taíno, had a perfect understanding of the weather phenomenon that annually plagued their Paradise-like
territory. The huraca’n was definitely an angry woman goddess, "Rider of the Winds". Female ceramists depicted her
on pottery as a head whose “S” shaped arms protruded from her shoulders or temples, much like the view of a flailing
person seen from overhead. Uncannily, the Taíno’s version of the huraca’n had the same configuration as satellite
photographs of hurricanes taken 500 years later in the 20th century. The main difference in interpretation between
the original Taíno image and that of contemporary meteorologists was that the Taíno saw the “eye” of the hurricane
as the face of a woman.
Her name was not Wilma, Katrina, Ivan, Camille, Diane, Rupert, or Ann. Before the birth of Christ, she had been
Guabancex (gwa-ban-seh) the angry woman spirit of the huraca’n. She was a violently angry goddess accompanied
by twin male accomplices. Together they wreaked havoc on the Caribbean, Central America and the North American
An early Spanish chronicler in the Caribbean wrote: “They say that when Guabancex becomes angry, she makes the
winds and waters move and casts houses to the ground and uproots the trees."
The huraca’n is the composition of the angry wind goddess Guabancex, and her two enablers the gods Guatauba
(gwa-ta-ooh-BA), and Coatrisque (ko-ah-tris-keh). Combined, they were the Wind, Thunder and Flood spirits of the
huraca'n. Guatauba, as the god of thunder, was the herald who announced Guabancex's pending arrival. Coatrisque
followed the wind and thunder and brought the devastating power of the flood from the mountains. The Taíno
understood that three entities of the hurricane (wind, flood and tide surge) caused the most damage. The Spanish
continue to use the word “huracan” and it is from this source that the English coined the word “hurricane”. The early
chroniclers also reported that the Taíno curtailed long sea voyages during the hurricane season of June to October.
Boriken (Puerto Rico) Taíno spoke about the mountain battles between the Supreme Being, Yucahú and the negative
spirit of the huraca’n. Today, many descendants of Boriken, Kiskeya (Dominican Republic) and Cubanacan (Cuba)
Taíno live in New York City. Before hurricane Katrina, some meteorologists predicted that “The Big One” will be a
huge hurricane that may do incalculable damage to New York City in the future. The subway tunnels may act as
gushing conduits for the storm surge.
* Some sources:
- Dictionary of the Taíno Language
- Webster's New Encyclopedic Dictionary
- Cave of the Jagua: The Mythology and World of the Taínos, Antonio Stevens-Arroyo
- Image created from Taíno pottery sherds identified by archaeologists as Guabancex, the goddess of the hurricane.
Copyrighted 2007 by Auld/Powhatan
of Indigenous Arts and Culture
Huraca’n (uh-ra-kah-an), Taíno.
Huracan (uh-ra-kahn), Spanish.
Hurricane (hurry-cane) English.
1.Hura = wind + Ca'n = center, i.e., the Center of the
2. Sometimes confused with the Maya god Kulucan, the
Spirit of the Storms. The Spanish were headquartered
in the Taíno and Island Carib Caribbean for over 20
years before acquiring words from the Mayan language
of Central America.
3. A tropical cyclone with winds of 72-74 miles per
hour or 33.1 meters per second but rarely exceeding
145 mph or 65 meters per second, usually accompanied
by thunder, lightning and rain.
Illustration by Michael Auld
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