Brazilian Bullet Ant Glove
Gentlemen, imagine for a moment that each of your hands is just one giant testicle. Now clap.
That hurts, am I right? Well, that’s not even close to the level of pain it takes to become a warrior in the Satere-Mawe culture of Brazil.
I’ll get to the ritual in a minute, but some background info is necessary to truly appreciate the ball-searingly agonizing pain of this initiation. As you probably learned from the subheading, the process involves a “glove” of bullet ants (so named because their sting is comparable to being shot).
What exactly does this mean? Well, take the Schmidt Sting Pain Index, which basically measures insect stings on a scale of “eh” to “holy MOTHER, that hurts!” Here are a few reference points along the way:
- 1.0 Sweat Bee: a spark has singed a hair on your arm
- 2.0 Bald-faced Hornet: you mash your hand in a revolving door
- 3.0 Red Harvester Ant: bold and unrelenting, like someone’s excavating your in-grown toenail OR
- 3.0 Paper Wasp: caustic, like spilling a beaker of hydrochloric acid in your paper cut
- And finally…
- 4.0+ Bullet Ant: pure, intense pain… think of walking on flaming charcoal with a rusty 3-inch nail in your heel.
And keep in mind, that’s one sting. To become a warrior among the Satere-Mawe people, your hands are completely covered with over 30 bullet ants, each one stinging you repeatedly over the course of 10 minutes. That’s the equivalent of getting shot by 30 people for 10 minutes, and all I can say is, damn! And get this: if the prospective warrior shows any sign of pain — a wince, a sound, anything — he fails his test.
Even after the gloves are taken off, the process isn’t done; immediately afterward, the pain only worsens. Actually, the person’s hands and arms are paralyzed as a result of the potent neurotoxin, and he might even shake uncontrollably in the next few days. Here’s a clip of an average human attempting the bullet ant glove test (SPOILER: he fails.):
But here’s the best part of the whole thing: warriors have to go through this 20 times — it can take months, sometimes even years. Because apparently…