Category Archives: music

Shamans of Peru: Ceremonial Chants, Icaros, and Music CD – MP3 Download from the Web


Shamans of Peru, Ceremonial Chants, Icaros, & Music

The haunting, plaintive music of Peruvian shamans was recorded at ceremonies in the Peruvian Andes and the Amazon rainforest.

The chants and icaros have an organic relationship to the medicine plants, and are primarily intended as devotional music for a ceremony. It is equally possible to listen to the hypnotically beautiful sounds in their own right and simply enjoy them for their otherworldly beauty.

The CD contains chants and dramatic effects of six different ceremonies with shamans. . Two ceremonies with San Pedro maestros working in the atmospheric ruins of Puruchucu; two ayahuasca shamans, a man and a woman, in separate sessions working in a jungle temple on the River Momon, outside Iquitos; a Shipibo shaman working in Yarinacocha, outside Pucallpa; and lastly, a despacho in the ruins of Pisaq, Cusco. In addition there are three tracks of atmospheric music played on pre‐Colombian instruments.

PURCHASE THE SHAMANS OF PERU CD OR INDIVIDUAL TRACKS

Download from the Web US $9.99

http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/shamansofperu

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Shamans of Peru CD – Review in Sacred Hoop Magazine


Sacred Hoop Magazine - Review of the Shamans of Peru CD

 

Sacred Hoop Magazine – Review of the Shamans of Peru: Sacred Chants, Icaros, and Ceremonial Music CD. Reviewed in Issue 36, Spring 2002

 

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Shamans of Peru – Ceremonial Chants, Icaros, and Music CD


Shamans of Peru, Ceremonial Chants, Icaros, & Music

The haunting, plaintive music of Peruvian shamans was recorded at ceremonies in the Peruvian Andes and the Amazon rainforest.

The chants and icaros have an organic relationship to the medicine plants, and are primarily intended as devotional music for a ceremony. It is equally possible to listen to the hypnotically beautiful sounds in their own right and simply enjoy them for their otherworldly beauty.

The CD contains chants and dramatic effects of six different ceremonies with shamans. . Two ceremonies with San Pedro maestros working in the atmospheric ruins of Puruchucu; two ayahuasca shamans, a man and a woman, in separate sessions working in a jungle temple on the River Momon, outside Iquitos; a Shipibo shaman working in Yarinacocha, outside Pucullpa; and lastly, a despacho in the ruins of Pisaq, Cusco. In addition there are three tracks of atmospheric music played on pre‐Colombian instruments.

PURCHASE THE SHAMANS OF PERU CD

Download from the Web US $9.99

http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/shamansofperu

To order the physical CD:

£12 inclusive of postage for UK

US$ 21 inclusive of Postage USA

15 Euro inclusive of Postage Europe

Order from Howard G. Charing

Order via email: shamanism@yahoo.com

Payment via UK Cheque or Paypal (accepts all Credit Cards).

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Shamans of Peru – CD


Shamans of Peru CD, Ceremonial Chants, Icaros, and Music

Shamans of Peru CD, Ceremonial Chants, Icaros, and Music

THE SHAMANS OF PERU CD

Ceremonial Chants, Icaros, and Music

Shamans of Peru – Recorded on Eagle’s Wing Journeys to Peru

Contains chants and dramatic effects of six different ceremonies with shamans who have worked with Eagle’s Wing Groups. Two ceremonies with San Pedro maestros working in the atmospheric ruins of Puruchucu; two ayahuasca shamans, a man and a woman, in separate sessions working in a jungle temple on the River Momon, outside Iquitos; a Shipibo shaman working in Yarinacocha, outside Pucullpa; and lastly, a despacho in the ruins of Pisaq, Cusco. In addition there are three tracks of atmospheric music played on pre-Colombian instruments.


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The Art of the Shipibo People – video clip


The Art of the Shipibo PeopleThe Shipibo people of the Upper Amazon in Peru, have a unique and complex form of visionary art. Underlying the intricate geometric patterns of great complexity displayed in the art of the Shipibo people is a concept of an all pervading magical reality which can challenge the Western linguistic heritage and rational mind.


click to view original article ‘Communion with the Infinite’ – the Art of the Shipibo

Click for details on our Andean and Amazon Ayahuasca Retreats working with Shipibo shamans

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Ayahuasca and Yoga Retreats in the Amazon Rainforest


Note: Our new Retreat Ayahuasca & Visionary Art is taking place November 2012.

Click here to see the details

Ayahuasca & Yoga – Amazon Retreat: July 19th – August 2nd 2008

with optional extension week; August 3rd – 9th 2008

Ayahuasca Retreats and Journeys to the Amazon RainforestA dedicated programme in the Amazon rainforest, which is focussed on an inner and deep self-exploration and encounter with the power of the rainforest. This is an adventure into the magical world of the rainforest, and a transformative experience of the ancient mystical rituals of the plant spirit medicines. This programme will take place in the Mishana Private Retreat Centre. We have 57 Hectares (140 acres) of land with a lodge in the Allpahuayo Mishana Nature reserve.

Our lodge is located directly on the river which is part of a 58,070 hectare nature reserve. Due to a combination of geological factors and diverse soil types, the reserve supports a unique community of plant and animal species. It is the ‘jewel’ in the crown for bird-watchers and contains dozens of species which are unique to this area. The Reserve contains one of the highest biodiversities known in the Amazon basin. The Lodge is located directly on the Rio Nanay which is a tributary of the Amazon River. Our lodge is situated in-between two bends of the river giving an amazing panoramic view . We have our own boat so trips can be made to some interesting, and extraordinarily beautiful places along the river.

The lodge is a 2 hour river journey from Iquitos by power boat. We have the dedicated services of our maestro shaman. Included in the program are individual personal healing or consultative sessions based upon your personal needs by our shaman. The maestro will also provide experiential teachings about the fascinating medicinal and psycho-spiritual properties of the local plants. Participants can choose their plant medicine which will be made fresh for them. Our accommodation is in comfortable traditional cabins or tambos (dieting huts), a leaf roof supported by poles and with open sides (the most intimate way to sleep in the jungle). The beds benefit from a comfortable mattress and fly nets when necessary. The tambos are spread out to assure privacy and minimum disturbance from others.

Continue reading

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Shipibo Ayahuasca Shaman, Benjamin Ochavano Interviewed.


Conversation with Shipibo Ayahuasca Shaman, Benjamin Ochavano

Howard G Charing & Peter Cloudsley interviewed Shipibo Ayahuasca Shaman Benjamin Ochavano who is in his mid seventies to discuss how Ayahuasca can help those Westerners who are seeking personal growth and who have embarked on the great journey of self discovery and exploration.

Shipibo Ayahuasca Shaman, Benjamin Ochavano

The uses of powerful hallucinogenic plants such as Ayahuasca have been developed by indigenous peoples and early civilizations over thousands of years, and their effects are highly dependent upon the context of the ceremony, the chants and the essential personality of the shaman, all of which can vary with surprising results.

Diverse urban uses have emerged recently and a few of these are spreading, while some traditional shamans travel the world, thus Ayahuasca is gaining recognition in Western civilization. But what really is the potential of these ancestral plants, and how can we get the most out of them?

I first started taking ayahuasca at the age of 10, with my father, who was also a shaman. When I was 15, he took me into the selva to do plant diets, nobody would see us for a whole year, we had no contact with women, nothing. We lived in a simple tambo sleeping on leaves with just a sheet over us. We dieted plants: ayauma, puchatekicaspi, pucarobona, huairacaspi, verenaquu.

I would take each plant for 2 months before moving on to the next, a whole year without women! The only fish allowed is boquichico – a vegetarian fish and mushed plantains made into a thick drink called pururuco in Shipibo, or chapo without sugar.

Then I had about a year’s rest before going again with my uncle, Jose Sánchez, for another year and 7 months of dieting on the little Rio Pisqui. He taught me alot and gave me chonta, cascabel, hergon, nacanaca, cayucayu. He was a chontero, a kind of shaman who works with darts (in the spiritual world) – so called because real darts and arrows for hunting are made from the black splintery bamboo called chonta. A chontero can send darts with positive effects like knowledge and power too, and he knows how to suck and remove poisoned darts which have caused illness or evil spells.

To finish off he gave me chullachaqui caspi. Then I began living with my wife and working as a curandero in Juancito on the Ucayali. Later I went to Pucallpa where I still live some of the time when I’m not in my community of Paoyhan, where my Ani Sheati project is.

Shipibo Ayahuasca Shaman, Benjamin Ochavano

The most important planta maestra is Ayauma chullachaqui. Then Pucalo puno (Quechua) the bark of a tree which grows to 40 or 50 meters. This is one of a number of plants that is consumed together with tobacco and is so strong, you only need to take it two times. It requires a diet of 6 month. You drink it in the morning, then lie down, you are in an altered state for a whole day afterwards.

Another plant is Catahua whose resin is cooked with tabacco. You must be sure that no one sees you while you take it. It puts you into a sleep of powerful dreams.

Ajosquiro is from a tree which grows to 20m, with a penetrating aroma like garlic. It gives you mental strength, it is very healing and makes you strong. It takes away lazy feelings, gives you courage and self esteem, but can be used to explore the negative side as well as the positive. You can be alone in the wilderness yet feel in the company of many. It puts you into the psycho-magical world which we have inherited from our ancestors, the great morayos (morayo is the word for shamans in Shipibo) so you can gain knowledge of how to heal with plants.

The word ‘shaman’ is recent in the Amazon, (coming from Asia via the Western world in the last 10-20 years). My father was known as a moraya or banco, or in Spanish curandero. A curandero could specialize in being a good chontero or a shitanero who does harm to people.

Virjilio Salvan, who is dead now, dead now introduced me to a plant which he said was better than any other plant – Palo Borrador, maestro de todos los palos (master of all plants). You smoke it in a pipe for 8 days, blowing the smoke over your body. On the eighth day a man appears, as real as we are, a Shipibo. He was a chaycuni – an enchanted being in traditional dress… cushma, or woven tunic, chaquira necklace, and so on, and he said to me ‘Benjamin, why have you smoked my tree?’

Because I want to learn’ I said. ‘Ever since I was little I wanted to be a Moraya

You must diet and smoke my tree for 3 months, no more’ he said. ‘And you can eat whatever fish you like…it won’t matter’ … and he listed all the fish I could eat. ‘But you must not sleep with any woman other than your wife’ he said. And I’ve followed this advice until today.

Three nights later, sounds could be heard from under the ground and big holes opened up and the wind blew. Then everyone, all the family began to fly. And from that day I was a moraya.

Today I still fast on Sundays .

What do you think about Westerners coming to take plants in the Amazon?

It is a good thing for them to come and learn, for us to share and for there to be an interchange. This is what I would like to do in my community of Paoyhan. But the Ecuadorians stole our outboard motor.

How could the plants of the Amazon help people of the West?

It can open up the mind so we can find ways to help each other. It can help them find more self-realization in life. If a person is very shy for example it can help warm their hearts, give them strength and courage.

You have a different system in your countries, when we travel there we feel underrated just as when you come here you have to get accustomed to being here. When we get to know each other and become like brothers, solutions emerge. To get rid of vices and drug addictions, for example, there are plants which can easily heal people.

Pene de mono is a thick tree, which I have used to cure two foreign women of AIDS. The name means ‘monkey’s penis’. I saw in my ayahuasca vision that they were ill and diagnosed them as having AIDS. I boiled the bark of the tree and made 6 bottles which they took each day until it was finished. They had to go on a diet as well. No fish with teeth, salt, fruit or butter. The fish with teeth eat the plant so it cannot penetrate into the body. After this you get so hot that steam comes off the body. In the selva there is no AIDS, only some cases in the city of Pucullpa.

Howard G. Charing, is an accomplished international workshop leader on shamanism. He has worked some of the most respected and extraordinary shamans & healers in the Andes, the Amazon Rainforest, and the Philippines. He organises specialist retreats to the Amazon Rainforest He is the co-author of Plant Spirit Shamanism (Destiny Books USA), and ‘The Ayahuasca Visions of Pablo Amaringo’ (Inner Traditions) 

http://www.ayahuascavisions.com

Ayahuasca Shaman – Javier Arevalo Interviewed in the Amazon Rainforest Peru.


Shaman Javier Arevalo with Howard G CharingSpirituality is at the centre of the Ayahuasca experience. Purification and cleansing of body, mind, and spirit in a shamanic ceremony can be the beginning of a process of profound personal and spiritual discovery. This process can continue indefinitely even if one never drinks Ayahuasca again. We believe that by seriously looking at the way Ayahuasca is used we can improve our life experience and benefit more from this medicine. This article is extracted from the original interview by Howard G Charing and Peter Cloudsley which appeared in Sacred Hoop Magazine.

We have worked extensively with Javier Arevalo on our Ayahuasca Retreats since 1998, and we had many discussions on the role of the Amazonian shaman and the use of ayahuasca. Javier comes from Nuevo Progreso, a community of 50 families on the Rio Napo, Department of Loreto, Peru. Several generations of his family before him have been shamans and already at the age of 17, he knew this would be his future. However it was not until he was 20 when his father died from a ‘virote’ (a poisoned dart in the spiritual world) sent by a jealous brujo, (sorcerer) that he felt compelled to follow the arduous five-year apprenticeship to be a shaman.

Javier, what is the role of a shaman?
He learns everything about the rain forest and uses that knowledge to heal his people since they do not have money for Western style doctors. He uses Ayahuasca to discover in his visions, which plants will be effective for which illnesses.

How do you perceive this?
The sprits or plant doctors tell us. As they are pure, they are made happy when we are too, so we must diet in order to attract them. That means we should not eat salt, sugar or alcohol, and abstain from sex. The spirits come and say, for example they will cure in two months if the patient takes a particular plant. Then the shaman goes out to look for the plant.

It is said that every environments has the necessary plants to heal the people?
Yes, every plant has a spirit, the shaman goes into the forest as part of his apprenticeship and spends two years taking plants and roots. He takes Ayahuasca too and the spirit tells him what it cures. Then the shaman tries another plant, each time remembering which ailment is cured by what.

Does each shaman have to find it all out for himself or is there a body of knowledge handed down?
The maestro goes with the apprentice into the wilderness and gives him the different plants and it is like a test or trial to overcome. The maestro is usually a member of family. In my case both my grandfather and my uncle were maestros. You go off deep into the forest with your maestro and make a very simple shelter or ‘tambo’. A shaman must not live in a big house, its just for sleeping and dieting.

How long do you have to diet the plant?
Just one day to know its process, the next day you move onto another. This is if you do not return to the city, you can get through a lot of plants. This is different from dieting a plant for a month say.

So does every condition or illness have a particular plant to remedy it or is it a spirit energy which comes through the plant which can cure many things?
One plant may cure lots of ailments. A particular plant has a spirit which can either heal or kill. As for example with another shaman (who we worked with earlier) , who had not dieted Ayahuasca correctly and poom! it caused fever and people caught colds.

So why would a plant kill or cure?
Because an hechicero (sorcerer) also learns from the plants. He may for example learn from dieting a plant which has spines or phlegm which could be good for certain things. But if he is bad no one can stop him and in the night ‘ffoooo’ he uses it for harm or to kill. These are the brujos who come back from the forest with eyes red like the huayruro (red beans with black spots). He is a bad shaman and we have to cure the people they harm.

Who would want to do such things?
There are some people who have a squabble with someone, and then they go off to see a brujo and say “this Senora talks too much and has insulted me, kill her and I’ll pay you”. They pay them and they do harm.

But the shaman who made us ill did not do it intentionally.
No, of ignorance. It was a shaman from the city not from the forest. He went away and left us to mop up the ill effects. He may have had a good teacher but does not diet, he is very fat! (People in the jungle are rarely fat.)
In addition he probably eats the day of the session and that is why he threw up himself!

How does this affect Westerners?
It doesn’t matter, they will probably throw up and not have any vision because when he blows he has condiments on his breath. However, it matters much less if the clients have eaten or not stuck rigorously to the diet. The important thing is that the shaman diets.

Note: There is much discrepancy between shamans concerning the question of vomiting. Some say it is necessary for the body to rid itself of what ever is necessary and that if they are not sick they might get ill. (Ayahusaca is often referred to as La Purga.) Others say if you vomit you will not have such good vision and on no account should a shaman vomit.

Why and how did you become a shaman?
I never thought of being a shaman. I took Ayahuasca from 14 years old just to clean my stomach. Later my father said I heard you chanting, you are going to be a shaman. I don’t want to I said. Later when I was 20 my father died from sorcery so then I wanted to learn in order to take vengeance. During my apprenticeship I had a change of heart and understood that God knew best in such situations.

Why did the brujo want to kill your father?
Because he was a curandero who had cured someone who had been harmed by the brujo. It happens because we curanderos undo the work of the brujos and they get angry with us. This is the famous spiritual battle between the brujos. When you cure you send the bad magic back to where it comes from and the brujos get their own dirty medicine back. This is why there is a fight between the good and the bad.

Howard tells story of his battle with one of Javier’s assistants 3 weeks earlier.
(Javier laughs a lot and explains.) Well because he was not really a shaman, he works as a guide, he drinks liquor. Then when he takes Ayahuasca and chants icaros he is not pure and his doctors don’t take any notice of him. The spirits start bothering (molesting) the people participating in the session. That is what happened to Howard. When I take Ayahuasca I talk to the doctors who give visions, I ask them to cure, I have dominion over them because I diet. If I don’t, they make you crazy or annoy you.

So if the shaman cannot control himself, then the spirits get out of hand?
If you can’t dominate the spirits of the jungle you are nobody, instead of curing they run away or take no notice of you.

So the control of the spirits is fundamental?
Spirits are like angels. God withstood 40 days of hunger and temptation by the devil and was resurrected. That’s what we have to do too.

This is Christianity, but your (Javier’s) people were practicing long before the missionaries came. Is it possible to separate the Christian from the wisdom of the jungle?

No, no, they work together. But it has nothing to do with going to a church. You learn all this in the wilderness. The spirits there are the angels of each plant to which you add your will to heal the client. This is the will of Christ.

Where does the power of the shaman end and the spirits begin?

The shaman receives the power from the jungle, he doesn’t have any power of his own that he doesn’t get from the forest.

When I look at you by day I see just a normal young man, when you wear your clothes and move into the ayahuasca space you become different, a different presence, you become larger…

(Javier laughs!) The medicine is not in the body, the body can wear clothes for example, and you see that by day. But at night you don’t see my body, you see my spirit which receives the medicine which transforms me through the vision. I have to be pure so as to be a receptacle of the spirit of the medicine. It is essential too for a shaman to be happy, the shaman laughs at everything, because a happy heart is what cures. He can’t have a long face or fight with his wife and children.

You started off with a desire for revenge, what changed you into a shaman?
My grandfather saw that my heart was bitter and he told me that it would not get me anywhere. My heart was still hard and wanted to kill! Bit by bit through taking the very plants that I had intended to use for revenge, the spirits told me it was wrong to kill and my heart softened.

Howard G. Charing, is an accomplished international workshop leader on shamanism. He has worked some of the most respected and extraordinary shamans & healers in the Andes, the Amazon Rainforest, and the Philippines. He organises specialist retreats to the Amazon Rainforest He is the author of Plant Spirit Shamanism (Destiny Books USA).

Click For information about Eagle’s Wing Ayahuasca Retreats

Ayahuasca Shaman and Peruvian Mystic, Alonso del Rio Interviewed


Alonso del Rio interviewed by Howard G. Charing and Peter Cloudsley.

Alonso del Rio is a powerful maestro who interweaves Shipibo and other icaros with sacred music of his own to lead you on your journey; he is both a talented musician and an inspiring communicator of the Amazonian shamanic world. He first came into contact with ayahuasca in 1979 after spending three years working with huachuma (San Pedro). This was when he met Don Benito Arevalo, a grand Shipibo shaman with whom he developed a long relationship, and who gave him his first teachings in ayahuasca and other medicinal plants.

View from Mishana from Eagle’s Wing Plant Spirit Shamanism Retreat

Later, taking ayahuasca alone as part of his traditional teaching, he says: “I didn’t feel comfortable reproducing the chants that I’d learned with my maestro, so one night I picked up my guitar and began to play what came to me and the result was surprising. From then on I was never without my guitar at ceremonies and over the years many songs came to me, set to different rhythms for ceremonies and incorporating teachings and revelations from the medicine itself.” He has published three CDs to date. Alonso lives in the sacred valley of Cusco where he runs a healing centre and a primary school for local children.

The potential and purpose of Ayahuasca

For most traditional shamans, ayahuasca is a tool for diagnosing illness, and as curanderos, (healers) they will mediate with plant spirits to heal their clients both physically and spiritually. More ‘popular’ urban shamans can also use their magical powers to change your luck, for example attracting money or a lover.
On this retreat we would like to develop another aspect, perhaps even more serious, and use the plants as powerful tools for self knowledge. Amongst all the spiritual paths that the world offers, Alonso believes that, at this time, teacher plants are the best way for people to gain a deep knowledge of themselves and at the same time this can solve some problems that other paths cannot.

During his 30 years experience with ayahuasca and San Pedro, Alonso never wanted to be a shaman or attain magical powers but rather gain self development through self knowledge. He will share his discoveries to help us ‘undo’ the mental programming and the cultural conditioning (family and ancestral) which models our minds. Ayahuasca is a powerful tool for being happy and free, says Alonso.

The retreat we are holding with Alonso, could equally suit a person who has some background in Buddhism, yoga or mysticism.

It is a space for having contact with divinity without intermediaries or interpretations. Ayahuasca allows you to be gently introspective, to see your fears, worries and everything that makes you suffer! It can take you back through your life to show you at what moment the suffering took hold in your body and in your memory, how it has made you live on a superficial level because underneath there is too much pain, and as we don’t want to feel pain, how we condemn ourselves to living on the surface. With ayahuasca we can enter the pain at the time when we were children, when we experienced the first traumas and agonies of life, and cleanse it by forgiving the whole chain of events and the people who made us suffer. Traumatic experiences are inevitable in life, but what we cannot afford to do is live with resentment and blame people, as this ruins our relationships.

Some people may not be satisfied with the life they lead. Ayahuasca enables them to see their priorities. Is it following a spiritual path that you want most, or making money? Do you want to start a family or do you want to pursue your career? Constantly doing what is expected of us we cause suffering. The answers are all inside us. We must live by what we profoundly want. Ayahuasca clarifies your priorities and feelings, which are neither good nor bad in and of them selves.
Conversation with Alonso

There are many myths about the origin of Ayahuasca and there is even one which has been growing fast in the West, that Ayahuasca is what we need to get us out of the mess we’re in! But can it work for Westerners the same way if they are outside the cultural context and all the associated beliefs that go with it?

I think it works but its different. The mind of a person brought up in the selva without much contact with the Western world, probably born about 50 or 70 years ago, as are the majority of traditional maestros, have lived without watching TV and other Western influences. His mind is very different from your or my mind. So to have access to the same visions, the same codes is difficult. But what I have found is that the expansion of the consciousness and the power that the plant gives you to understand many things is perfectly valid.

The magical space to which we are taken – call it the ‘unconscious’ or any term you want to use depending on your psychological model – is one where all the kingdoms of nature can communicate. That is people can talk to plants, and plants with minerals, minerals to animals and animals with humans… all in the same language. It is a very real communication and one of the greatest mysteries which exists. This is something which an English person, or a Peruvian born in Lima can experience just as an Amazonian person. Because you can do it without speaking in a native dialect, it doesn’t go through the mind but between one spirit and another.

Some Westerners have done themselves harm by not respecting the diet properly, and some have tried to make special exceptions for foreigners.

Yes its true, and the main point they have missed is respect, respect for a tradition. Its not that there is one diet for a native and another for a Westerner. There is one diet not two! Its more than what you eat, its sex and other things too. Otherwise anyone could come along and pretend that it was a bridge to a wonderful sexual experience! There is no limit to the imagination of some New Age gurus. If you follow these traditions which have been tried and tested for thousands of years and then you want to make modifications, then probably you can do it. But first you need the nobility to undergo the full rigors of the tradition, then you can have the authority to alter things for your people. But if you can’t hack doing a proper diet, then you are not in a position to underrate it.

There was a group of Germans who after sessions with Guillermo, would go to the disco, assuming they had come down from the effects of the ayahuasca. They would dance to the very loud music. It gives you an idea of how mistaken you can get from not respecting the tradition. You need to prepare your mind and body to receive all the information which comes to you, otherwise it might destroy you like lightening burns up a tree.

As you continue to work with plant diets, you have more intense experiences, and at the same time you develop a greater capacity to resist them, until you can take the strongest plants and live more in the other reality and to be able to return to your self, to your body.

Alonso relates an Ashuar Myth

In the time of the ancestors there was a ladder, like a rope which connected the world of the Ashuar with the upper world. Here lived other beings just like the Ashuar but they were spirits. These beings were very powerful and could transform themselves into anything they wanted. One day Moon-man cut this ladder so that the people could no longer communicate with their spirits above, and thus they lost their power. Moon man refers to the way of relating to all things in everyday reality through the mind. This is what gives ‘everyday reality’ its often disempowering quality, ‘its out there and we cannot change it’. In other words the mind came between man and the spirit world. The Ayahuasca is the broken rope, but it is always there.

In all cultures there is a recollection of an era when people could talk with the spirits directly. Then civilization arrives, and holds reason as the highest human achievement. What is not rational, does not exist, and that is what has reigned until today. For 2000 years we have suffered this kind of tyranny of reason. If its not logical its not worthy of us. The next step in our evolution is the reconciliation of these two things, and will be the union of reason with intuition. It will generate a new development in humanity leading to other states of consciousness and knowledge.

So what are we to make of taboos, supposedly irrational, but they must have served some purpose because our ancestors were not stupid?

In some cases they may have become distorted in some way but generally they come from something real, so its best to respect them without rationalizing them. If we try to do that we are already on the wrong track.



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The Pusanga – the ‘Attraction Medicine’ from the Amazon Rainforest


Plant and Herb market in Pasje PaquitoThe Western rational mind can only struggle, to take as an example the famed ‘love potion’ of the Amazon known as the Pusanga. In rational terms it makes no sense whatsoever, how can a concoction of leaves, roots, and seeds attract a lover, or good luck to you?

Howard G Charing & Peter Cloudsley, interview Amazonian Ayahuasca Shaman Javier Arevalo. This is an extract from an article originally appeared in Sacred Hoop Magazine (2002).

My experience working with shamans in preparing Pusangas (which normally is prepared away from their clients so it was a privilege to be invited to participate in the preparation) showed me that far from interfering with the freedom of other individuals or putting a ‘number’ on them, we were altering something within ourselves, which was brought out by the ingredients, the magic of the plants. Whatever it was, it felt wholesome and good. It is what is in oneself… one’s own magic. Asking Javier Arevalo (the shaman) what does the Pusanga actually do, is it inside us or outside of us? His response was “When you pour it onto your skin it begins to penetrate your spirit, and the spirit is what gives you the force to pull the people. The spirit is what pulls”.

The anthropological term ‘sympathetic magic’ does not give this justice, to illustrate this, the water used in the preparation of an authentic pusanga (which has been specifically made for you) has been collected from a deep trek in the rainforest, sometimes 40 or 50 miles, where there are no people and where clay pools collect and thousands of the most beautiful coloured parrots and macaws gather to drink from them for the mineral content. Now the great leap of imagination required is to bring into yourself the knowledge, the feeling, the sense that the water in the Pusanga has drawn in or attracted thousands of the most brightly coloured creatures on the planet. If you do this, it can generate a shift in consciousness in you.

You can sample this for yourself, just find a quiet moment and space, close your eyes, and with the power of your imagination as the launch pad, draw in the verdant, abundant forest filled with life, colour, and sound. Sense the rich vibrancy of the rainforest as a single breathing rhythmic totality of life force. When you have this image, expand it to include, the humid warmth, the smell of earth, the scent of plants, hear the sound of insects and bird song, allow all your senses to experience this. Then with a conscious decision draw this sensory experience into your being. Whenever you are ready, open your eyes, and check how you are feeling.

Shaman Javier Arevalo with Howard G Charing

Maestros do not invent diets, they are given by the plant spirits themselves, but there is more to it than simply abstaining from certain foods and activities. It involves a state of purification, retreat, commitment, and respect for our connection with everything around us – above all the rain forest. When we listen to our dreams, they become more real, and equally important as everyday life.

Issues of Ethics. Morality and Power

This is a subject that is worth looking at as we in the West and particularly those who are engaged in following a perceived spiritual path in which there is an implicit or explicit ethical component, find the use of a pusanga (or equivalent) to attract a specific person an action which takes away and subverts that person’s free will. This is criticised as an unmoral and harmful action occurring within a tradition or system without perceived , never mind understood moral values.

This moral view is not shared in other societies and traditions, and there is a profound difficulty experienced by Westerners in assimilating this concept of values surrounding power.

The cause of this difficulty is by an absence of congruence between the moral code of the observer, usually a member of the religions emanating from the Levant, typically Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and including the varied ‘new age’ spiritual paths (which have absorbed much of the external hierarchical concepts from these religions). These religions all possess the central and dominant characteristic of projecting the concept of ultimate ‘goodness’ on an external supernatural being which operates both outside of his creation and outside the laws of the universe , who himself decides which laws are to be implemented; “let this and that come to pass!”, and at the same time this supernatural being possess the mantle of a ‘personal god’ who has delivered a revelation which is described in a book, that people are to read and reverently accept, not to criticise, but to unquestionably accept and obey.

Now in all of this , those who would reject, or do not know these holy and inviolate scriptures are judged as jeopardising their eternal soul, and in effect are outcasts from their maker, typically the native and indigenous peoples (who have not yet been saved by the missionaries). So from this cultural theme there is a tendency to judge as inferior or despicable other cultural imperatives.
For example the Amazonian (amongst others) tradition portrays a spectrum of existential states, with the highest or most desirable being that of the powerful person, and the lowest or least desirable being that of the powerless person. Power is defined as the ability to do what one wishes, obtain wealth, make others perform desired actions (even against their will), or harm others without being punished or harmed in return. The proof of power is the individual’s material wealth, or social and political status, and their ability to offer patronage. These are not received as immoral acts, and I recall with my colleague Peter Cloudsley attempting to relay the Western view to Javier Arevalo without any success. The conversation went as follows;
Howard & Peter: “Something we make a big problem out of in the West, is that a shaman might be a magician to one person and a sorcerer to another. Asking for the pusanga to attract a specific person takes away that person’s choice. We see it as bad. How do you see it?”

Javier: “Take the case of a woman who refuses when you offer her a Coca Cola because she thinks you are lower class and that she is better than you. She might want others to think that she is better than you. That makes you feel like rubbish so you go to a shaman and tell him the name of the girl. He prepares the pusanga. Three days go by without seeing her and she begins to think about you, dreaming about you and begins looking for you”

Howard & Peter: “Yes, we understand, but in our culture we think its wrong to counteract someone’s will.”

Javier: “But its only so that she will want you for the moment, so she’ll go to bed with you and then she can go”.

Howard & Peter: “(laughing) But if it happened to me, and let’s say I originally found her unpleasant and she did it to marry me I’d be outraged! It would be awful if I only discovered after having children and making a home with her! And would I ever know?”

Javier: “You would be hopelessly in love with her, you’d never know. That’s why it’s a secret.”

Howard & Peter: “Can a jealous third party separate a couple or break a happy marriage?”

Javier: “Yes, they can ruin a happy home. They come as if to greet the couple and soon after the couple are arguing and hating each other and the third party is secretly having sex with one of them”.

Howard & Peter: “Is this why people from Lima are afraid of the girls from Iquitos?”

Javier: “Yes it happens, they think they are dangerous and will break up their homes.”

Howard & Peter: “Does anyone have freedom if everyone is using pusanga?”

Javier: “its normal you get used to it.”

Howard & Peter. “We like to think we are free, this suggests that we are constantly subject to other peoples’ Pusanga.”

Javier: “laughing, but you all want women, and women all want men!”

Eventually we realised that there was no way that we could communicate this Western ‘moral’ viewpoint. Javier did not see that there was a problem. It was a massive cultural divide we could not cross. His people feel free the way they are and can have extramarital sex using magical means of attraction and without attaching our Western guilt to it.

Looking at this ‘down to earth’, guilt trip free viewpoint, on an earlier occasion when Javier asked the group that I was leading, what they really wanted deep down in their lives, many people gave cosmic, transpersonal, and spiritual sounding answers and were quite mute when he spoke about Pusanga. After a while the participants opened up to their feelings and many admitted they wanted love, apparently behind their desire to put the world to right, resolve planetary issues, and speak to the flowers. It was as though it were not acceptable to wish for love. Javier remarked “These thoughts tangle up their lives. Love solves problems”.

As an observation, if we (and that’s all of us) had more love in our lives, maybe we wouldn’t be worried so much about the state of the world, and be less judgemental, destructive, and just simply be willing to help others and alleviate suffering. It is because people do not have enough of this precious and enriching commodity that we live our lives increasingly bombarded by aggression, with new definitions , ‘road rage’ , ‘air rage’ , ‘safety rage’, ‘word rage’, ‘whatever-you-want rage’ We would also need less material goods, and titles all of which reinforce the boundaries of the ego-mind and separate us from each other and the natural world.

For More information about our Amazonian Ayahuasca Retreats, visit our website;
Ayahuasca Retreats in the Amazonian Rainforest

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