I will tell you what our beliefs are based on: Us, the Shuar, we look at life very differently than the other human groups existing in this world.
First, I will speak about our belief in connection with the world.
It is necessary to clarify that several places exist: one visible earth called Nunka, and other worlds or invisible places like: Nayaimp that perhaps corresponds to what you call heaven; tunkurua-waitiai nunka that perhaps is what you call hell and the interior of the earth: nunka init Nunkui pujutai, (the earth where is Nunkui).
In general, live people and material beings inhabit the visible place (earth) and the invisible places, that I just had previously named, are inhabited by spiritual beings. Also, in these mysterious places, there is life; but it is very different from the life of people on the earth; on the other hand we believe that these worlds have characteristic similar with ours: such as the festivities, the housing (jea), the dress and they differ because in these places doesn't exist any circumstance contrary to the good, except in the hell (tunkurua).
This I say because these are experiences lived by our elders and specifically my grandfather counted me his experience lived in the mysterious sense, he told me:
"Once I had fainted because of a serious illness; and in that circumstance I saw my body like an invalid object although it was my own body. I saw, I was my soul. Then I left me body and I left walking a wide and splendid path, walking I observed some beautiful inexplicable things that were around. In few instants I arrived at a big Shuar house, the door was open I came closer to it to be able to enter inside. People that were there saw me and said:
- Who is the one that comes?
And one of them said:
- Closes the door, because for him doesn't yet arrive the day to enter here!
They closed the door. In case I had died forever, the moment would arrive of entering there.
Not being able to enter in the house, I stopped an instant and through the crack (tanishnumani) in the wall, I saw one of deceased relatives dancing dressed with a colored face with achiote, being served the chicha from a big recipient, in an amámuk (clay bowl).
All people that remained inside the house were very happy. I returned the same road that I came.
At the moment of arriving to a normal state, this is to return into my fainted body, it felt an intense pain that took place in my liver.
A moment later I was able to revive, this is to wake up from the fainting, and I recovered the normal state.
All my family surroundings me cried out of sadness for me, because they believed I was dead."
This way me grandfather narrated me his experience.
For this reason and for many more cases, us the Shuar believes that a place exists where the spirits of dead people continue living. Therefore, we consider as a paradise (penker pujutai nunka) that place.
On the other hand, the hell (tunkuruanam) is not the same, it is a place of suffering and we believe that a demon that sends all iwianch uunt exists.
The spirit, or a deceased soul, arrives there and the boss receives it and it sends it to the fire so that he burns while other ghosts help the boss bringing firewood to burn that soul recently coming. Later, this becomes a true demon nekás iwianch.
Therefore, the life in tunkuruanam is the opposite of the life in the good place that I previously had described. Also, we believe that as much people as the animals and the plants have souls.
The reason, for which I believe this, is because the spirits of the animals are presented to people during the dreams and also under the influence of hallucinogenic drinks.
It is also necessary to know that in a particular way, the soul of a dog goes directly and always to the hell (tunkuruanam), for that reason his spirit aids the died person's soul, bringing water to him in his ear, giving him to drink.
This according to the treatment that he has been given, while he lived on this earth, if here on the earth he was treated well, he brings him the water to refresh in payment of a good treatment, and on the other hand, if on the earth he has been mistreated the spirit of the dog also comes out against the owner and he no longer aid him, but carry more firewood to make him burn.
All that I had just explained are experiences lived by our elders that during thousands and thousands of years come knowing these things and to be sure we can consult the myths that are the source where concentrate the realities of our life.
Another world is anku that probably you would call purgatory and the house spirit we call it jeakar that is invisible to the live beings.
Exists another world of tsunki, it is the world of waters, Entsa. There they have all that we have here, houses, hens, livestock, and pigs. They distinguish the insects (for example: the cockroaches that they throw away for hens are for us the fish), in their houses they have kutank, chimpi (turtle) etc. Us, they see us as the sparrow hawks. In that world, the tsunki do the same as ours activities. The deep parts of the river are the tsunki houses; the rapids are their orchards and when the rivers grow they loose their animals (pigs, hens) so that we will catch their foods.
Many Shuars have seen tsunki. They see him at about six in the afternoon and they tell us that he really exists. When we go to the river to take tobacco, he is found because he realizes that one is looking for him and he comes to the meeting.
The elder, I spoke before about, he has told about one of these experiences.
I will stop to describe these worlds because it is not the topic that I have intended; but it would be necessary to say a lot about them and many testimonies to present.
In the Nunka world we live the material beings for a certain time.
In the Nayaimp world inhabit the spiritual beings that have everything. They don't lack anything. They live in society and are immortal.
In the other world that we call Anku that probably you would call purgatory all those spirits that live in this world they complete the stage of life according to as much as time lived when it was with material body, after having completed all this, they leave to live in Nayaimp; therefore, you disappear of this world.
Under the earth Nunkui lives the power to enrich or to impoverish with foods the people that live in this world; according to the behavior of the same ones, from there it gives vigor to the plants.