Category Archives: shaman’s diet

Shipibo Ayahuasca Shamans – Interviews


SHIPIBO AYAHUASCA SHAMANS – Part 1

The Shipibo are one of the largest ethnic groups in the Peruvian Amazon. These ethnic groups each have their own languages, traditions and culture. The Shipibo which currently number about 20,000 are spread out in communities through the Pucallpa / Ucayali river region. They are highly regarded in the Amazon as being masters of Ayahuasca .

This booklet contains original source interviews with three Shipibo ayahuasca shamans. By Howard G Charing and Peter Cloudsley.

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Ayahuasca Shipibo Shaman – Medicinal Plants of the Amazon Part 4


Used by Shipibo shamans for ceremonial workAyahuasca Shipibo Shaman, Enrique Lopez talks with our group about Amazonian shamanism, medicinal, and the spiritual properties of plants. Video taken at Eagle’s Wing Ayahuasca Retreatat Mishana in Peru, March 2008.

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Ayahuasca Shipibo Shaman – Medicinal Plants of the Amazon Part 3


Shipibo Shaman with Ajo Sacha plant Ayahuasca Shipibo Shaman, Enrique Lopez talks with our group about Amazonian shamanism, medicinal, and the spiritual properties of plants. Video taken at Eagle’s Wing Ayahuasca Retreat at Mishana in Peru, March 2008.

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Ayahuasca Shipibo Shaman – Medicinal Plants of the Amazon Part 2


Ayahuasca Shipibo Shaman, Enrique Lopez talks with our group about Amazonian shamanism, medicinal, and the spiritual properties of plants. Video taken at Eagle’s Wing Ayahuasca Retreat at Mishana in Peru, March 2008. (part 2).

Click for Info on our Ayahuasca and Yoga Retreats in the Amazon Rain forest in Peru.

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Ayahuasca Shipibo Shaman – Medicinal Plants of the Amazon Part 1


Ayahuasca Shipibo Shaman, Enrique Lopez talks with our group about Amazonian shamanism, medicinal, and the spiritual properties of plants. Video taken at Eagle’s Wing Ayahuasca Retreat at Mishana in Peru, March 2008

Click for details about our Ayahuasca and Yoga Retreats in Peru

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Ayahuasca Retreat – Shipibo Shaman Video


Shipibo Shaman Enrique Lopez blesses and invokes Ayahuasca after brewing. Video taken at Eagle’s Wing Ayahuasca Retreat March 2008.

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Shipibo Ayahuasca Shaman Leoncio Garcia


Shipibo Ayahuasca Shaman Leoncio GarciaThe Shipibo are one of the largest ethnic groups in the Peruvian Amazon. These ethnic groups each have their own languages, traditions and culture. The Shipibo which currently number about 20,000 are spread out in communities through the Pucallpa / Ucayali river region. They are highly regarded in the Amazon as being masters of Ayahuasca, and many aspiring shamans and Ayahuasqueros from the region study with the Shipibo to learn their language, chants, and plant medicine knowledge.

Interviewed at Mishana Private Retreat Centre, Amazon Rainforest with Peter Cloudsley and Howard G Charing August 2005.

We interviewed Shipibo maestro Leoncio Garcia, a man in his mid seventies but with the appearance of a man twenty years younger. Again a testimonial to the youth giving qualities of Ayahuasca and the plant medicines of the Amazon Rainforest.

Shipibo Ayahuasca Shaman Leoncio GarciaLeoncio Garcia
I didn’t become a shaman until I was 50, I am now 74. I was always so busy working in the chacra, or cutting wood, it was only when I began to get a bit older. Until then I had taken Ayahuasca for all the usual reasons of health, but that was all. After deciding to do the diet I drank Ayahuasca seriously but I didn’t see anything and didn’t think I would learn anything but still I kept on drinking every night and didn’t sleep. With just one day to go before completing three months’ diet, I had a tremendous vision and I began to chant and continued all night until dawn. I saw under the earth, under the water, and into the skies, everything. Probably I was learning from the sprits during the diet but I didn’t understand. After that I could see what the matter was with people. I dieted pinon Colorado and tobacco first and then tried all the other plants.

This was in San Francisco, a Shipibo community on Yarinacocha, Pucullpa where I was born. After this I went to Huancayo for six months to try my medicine. Then I went to Ayacucho and then a Senor took me to Lima to heal his wife. After two months I was taken to Trujillo and then Arequipa, Cusco, Juliaca, Puno. Everything worked out well and I worked with a doctor once who was not very successful and soon there were people queuing outside her consultancy. Eventually I came to Iquitos in 2000 and I haven’t had time to return to my family since then, I just send them money.

When I go round to people blowing tobacco smoke it is to give them arcanas, to protect them so that when things happen around them it doesn’t hurt them or make them ill.

Leoncio tells a Shipibo (cautionary) myth.
There was once a wise man called Oni who knew what each and every healing plant could be used for. He knew all their names and one day he saw a liana and recognized it as Ayahuasca and he learned to mix it with Chacruna. One night he tried it and learned so many things that he carried on drinking it. But because he went on drinking so long and often he stopped eating and drinking, and just chanted day and night. Now he had two sons and they said ‘come and have breakfast Papa’, but he carried on drinking Ayahuasca and when they tried to pick him up, he was stuck to the ground and couldn’t be moved. So they left him chanting to all the plants everyday and night and they noticed that Ayahuasca was growing out from his fingers. So the sons went back to their chacras and after a month came back again, to see their father. Everywhere Ayahuasca ropes had tangled around him and still he continued chanting day after day and the forest carried on growing around him. After a few more months, he had merged with the forest itself and that is why its called Ayahuasca, rope of the dead and in Shipibo Oni.

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Shipibo Ayahuasca Shaman – Benjamin Ochavano


Shipibo Ayahuasca Shaman -  Benjamin OchavanoConversation with Benjamín Ochavano, Peru 2002

Howard G Charing & Peter Cloudsley interviewed Shipibo Ayahuasca Shaman Benjamin Ochavano in the Amazon Rainforest of Peru, 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.

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.

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 (=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.

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Ayahuasca – Medicine for the Soul Part 5


Ayahuasca - Medicine for the SoulAyahuasca, is regarded as the ‘gateway’ to the Soul. The fifth and concluding part of this article explores this fascinating plant brew from the Amazon Rainforest. Ayahuasca is the jungle medicine of the upper Amazon.  It is made from the ayahuasca vine ( Banisteriopsis Caapi) and the leaf of the Chacruna plant (Psychotria Viridis). The two make a potent medicine, which takes one into the visionary world.  The vine is an inhibitor, which contains harmala and harmaline among other alkaloids, and the leaf contains vision-inducing alkaloids. As with all natural medicines, it is a mixture of many alkaloids that makes their unique properties.

In this context, the teacher plants can provide a doorway to great and meaningful insights in the adventure of personal growth and healing. The growth and healing has therefore to be also in the physical world, thereby offering the opportunity to reveal  our emotions, traumatic and turbulent experiences hidden or otherwise and so these can be released and ourselves restored. This access to our soul companion (our greater selves) , this flowing omni-present force guiding our life which presents with what are often called euphemistically “growth opportunities” for us to overcome. The plant teachers can show us these, where we can transcend linear time itself, and we journey within this eternal now at the very place in time where we experienced such a difficult event or suffered a troubled pervasive period in our life. We can re-experience this albeit from a different perspective, learn what happened, the reasons why it occurred and the subsequent impact and consequences on our life, and then to release any pain and trauma locked within our being. This release within the Ayahuasca experience is called ‘la purga’ our purge, when we literally purge this pain from our being, it is not only the contents of our stomach which are being released but also the deeply stored bile and sourness in our bodies generated from these difficult events. The plants offer us the potential for deep soul healing so we can become stronger and more able to engage fully in the precious gift of life.

Developing a personal relationship with Ayahuasca is within a background of an ancient body of practices. The oldest know object related to the use of ayahuasca is a ceremonial cup, hewn out of stone, with engraved ornamentation, which was found in the Pastaza culture of the Ecuadorian Amazon from 500 B.C. to 50 A.D. It is deposited in the collection of the Ethnological Museum of the Central University (Quito, Ecuador). This indicates that ayahuasca potions were known and used at least 2,500 years ago.

For example, there is a dietary regimen, and prohibitions regarding libidinous thoughts and activity. These considerations need to be respected and can not be ignored if one embarks on a path of communion with the plant. On observation and study (also called trial and error), this regime helps us to become more ‘plant like’, therefore increasing our receptivity to the plant-spirit-mind.

Many of my visionary experiences with Ayahuasca have led to a deeper understanding of my life and the role that various people had played in it. Sometimes I became those people, lived their lives, and came to understand why they did what they did, what decisions they had to make in their lives. These revelatory experiences invariably led to some form of closure with that person, like completing an open chapter, or a profound healing of my relationship with that person.

Medicines like ayahuasca can help us along our path but we still have to do the work ourselves.  My experience is that these kind of allies can help us open the doors of perception, but what we do when we get there is entirely our own challenge.

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