Is Gayuma Real? Exploring Historical Beliefs and Current Practices

In the Philippines, a country rich in traditions and beliefs, the idea of gayuma, or love potions, continues to captivate the interest of many. Passed down through generations, these magical potions believed to influence emotions have woven their way into the fabric of everyday Filipino life, continuing to spark fascination and wonder.

Long ago, in the precolonial era, Filipinos embraced the concept of animatism—the belief that objects could possess spiritual powers. It was a time when love potions like Jumaya were common, crafted to secure the affection of a beloved or to keep a lover loyal. These potions were not just mere recipes; they were rituals, imbued with mysticism and the whispered secrets of the natural world.

One intriguing aspect recorded in the early 20th-century involves the use of lumay, a substance sold by the Negritos. Lumay has the power to attract love, especially when its smoke clings to someone's garments. This practice underscores the diverse and inventive ways Filipinos have sought to harness the power of attraction.

In Pangasinan, one of the most captivating stories of gayuma involves a midnight venture beneath a banana tree. The lore tells of a rare and powerful charm, the agimat, resting within the budding heart of the banana. At the stroke of midnight, this charm is believed to fall, and only a man with considerable bravery and resolve can catch it. But the task is daunting, for he must also contend with malevolent spirits lurking in the shadows, eager to claim the agimat for themselves. Those who succeed in this supernatural contest are said to become irresistibly enchanting, capable of winning over even the most indifferent of hearts.

As the years rolled by, the traditional view of gayuma evolved but never faded. Today, in the bustling streets of Quiapo, vendors still display a variety of objects that promise to draw love closer. From amulets inscribed with Latin phrases to more esoteric items, these modern relics connect the past with the present, showcasing a blend of religious symbolism and folk magic.

While some may dismiss the magical claims about love potions, the existence of antidotes, as documented by researchers exploring traditional Filipino medicinal practices in Surigao del Norte, suggests that the belief in gayuma extends beyond mere folklore. Could there be something to these ancient practices after all, maybe even enough to give them a try?

References:

Scott, W. H. (1992). Looking for the Prehispanic Filipino. New Day Publishers. Retrieved from https://archive.org/details/lookingforprehis0000scot/page/124/mode/2up

Millington, W. H., & Maxfield, B. L. (1906). Philippine (Visayan) Superstitions. The Journal of American Folklore, 19(74), 205-211. https://doi.org/10.2307/534567

Dichoso, F. (1967). Some Superstitious Beliefs and Practices in Laguna, Philippines. Anthropos, 62(1/2), 65. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/40456848

Tan, M. L. (2008). Revisiting Usog, Pasma, Kulam. UP Press. Retrieved from https://books.google.com.ph/books?id=EktzHrfup1UC

Demetillo, M. T., Betco, G. L., & Goloran, A. B. (2019). Assessment of Native Medicinal Plants in Selected Mining Area of Claver Surigao Del Norte, Philippines. Journal of Medicinal Plants Studies, 7(2), 171-174. Retrieved from https://www.plantsjournal.com/archives/?year=2019&vol=7&issue=2&part=C&ArticleId=970

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