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Ayahuasca and Plant Spirit Shamanism
Retreats in the Andes and Amazon

THE AYAHUASCA VISIONS OF PABLO AMARINGO

July 25th - August 5th  2009

A Visionary Art workshop and Ayahuasca Retreat in the Amazon Rainforest

Pablo AmaringoPABLO AMARINGO

Pablo Amaringo is one of the world's great visionary artists. He is renowned for his highly complex, colourful and intricate paintings inspired by his visions from when he was an Ayahuasca shaman. He trained as a curandero or healer in the Amazon, healing himself and others from the age of ten, but gave this up in 1977 to become a full-time painter and art teacher at the Usko-Ayar school of Amazonian art which he founded. His book, Ayahuasca Visions: The Religious Iconography of a Peruvian Shaman, co-authored with Luis Eduardo Luna, brought his work and the rich mythology of the Amazon to a wide public in the West.  

We are delighted to offer a rare opportunity to join Pablo Amaringo in a visionary art workshop with night time Ayahuasca Ceremonies 

This special event consists of a 12 day workshop and Ayahuasca retreat with Pablo Amaringo in the beautiful heart of the Amazon Rainforest at a dedicated Retreat Center in the Allpahuayo Mishana Nature reserve. 

Each day, Pablo will hold a hands-on Art workshop; participants will enjoy the unique experience of learning the art of visionary and nature painting with Pablo. This workshop is suitable for beginners as well as experienced and proficient artists. 


 

Each night we offer traditional Ayahuasca ceremonies with Shipibo Shamans, Enrique Lopez, and an elder maestro - Benjamín Ochavano or Leoncio Garcia (depending on the number of participants). Also we will have available shamanic plants, plantas maestras, which enhance dream intensity and visionary and sensory perception, such as Guayusa and Ajo Sacha. 

This workshop-retreat is also a journey of self-exploration through the medium of Art and Ayahuasca, with guidance from Pablo Amaringo and our Maestro Shamans. 


VIEW PABLO’S - INVITATION VIDEO ON YOUTUBE  

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=beOOZqPDcgA



PABLO ‘S WORDS ON THIS WORKSHOP - (transcribed from Video)
 

Its a good idea because people would see something of Mishana as well as what lies ahead in their lives. In fact through drawing they can learn so much more from drinking the ayahuasca. It will help them to understand their environment and value it more,  wherever they live”. 

To learn to care for and respect plants, to look after the rivers, the water ..... as well as their homes and family. ... we should value animals too. For me as an artist, my concentration in the Amazon is of great value because the truth is, without plants and animals, we couldn't live”. 

Question: "so its an invitation to anyone?" 

So the invitation is for everyone who wants to appreciate more and know... in this case to learn how to learn. 

Question: "how could the workshop help people in their creative process"? 

Ayahuasca teaches when people start to see colours and forms...... the motifs and composition of a plant, an animal or a person ..... or elements like the clouds...... they can learn to see the molecules of ayahuasca which themselves are based on colours”. 

When I do this work myself, I realise that every plant has leaves but they're all different.... each one a style of its own, they can never be the same,  nature is full of wisdom! Its divine,  the roots too are all different, branches, flowers. That's how I learned to paint - from nature - I never learned from books or teachers.... nature gives the structure”. 

Pablo’s paintings represent a reliable testimony to how the indigenous people of the Amazon live in constant awareness of spiritual realms.

The Shipibo for example, have a strong presence in the region where Pablo lives and are one of the largest indigenous groups in the Peruvian Amazon having their own language, traditions and culture. Today they number about 20,000 and live in communities along the Ucayali River and around Yarinacocha, an oxbow lake near Pucullpa.

The Shipibo world is under laid by intricate geometric patterns of great complexity and is displayed in their art. This concept of an all pervading magical reality challenges the Western linguistic heritage and rational mind. The patterns are an expression of the oneness of creation, the inter-changeability of light and sound, the union or fusion of perceived opposites. It is an ongoing dialogue or communion with the spiritual world and powers of the Rainforest. The visionary art of the Shipibo brings this paradigm into a physical form.  

Pablo's painting classes are a creative form of entertainment. Like story telling, they bring Amazonian legends and fairy tales to life. These consider cosmic questions such as the origins of human consciousness and the power of the imagination. Many legends speak of a 'time of the ancestors' when humans regularly communicated with the spirits, and sensed and moved like animals and birds with whom they could converse. This era occurred before the rational mind separated us from the mysteries of the cosmos, a loss sorely lamented to this day but which - thanks to Ayahuasca - can be reversed. These are some of the themes of Pablo's Amazonian School of Painting.  


Mishana Private Retreat Centre

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 National Reserve in the department of Loreto, Peru. Our lodge is located directly on the river, which is part of the 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. Our Lodge is located directly on the Rio Nanay, a tributary of the Amazon River.  The mild acidity of its black waters are not popular with mosquito larvae and this means there are virtually no mosquitoes.

The journey to our lodge from Iquitos takes two hours in our power boat. We are situated in-between two bends of the river giving an amazing panoramic view. The boat is always available so trips can be made to some interesting, and extraordinarily beautiful places along the river.  

We work with maestro Shipibo shamans Benjamin Ochavano, Enrique Lopez, and Leoncio Garcia. We will work with two of the shamans listed above on this programme.  

 Included in the program are individual personal healing or consultative sessions with our shamans, based upon your personal needs. The maestros will also provide teachings about the fascinating medicinal and psycho-spiritual properties of the local plants.  

For more info plus a downloadable PDF programme, visit our website;

http://www.shamanism.co.uk

The Visionary Art Workshop with Pablo Amaringo is a post event workshop of the 5th International Amazonian Shamanism Conference: July 11th - 18th 2009.

 

The Conference website:

www.soga-del-alma.org



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



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Ayahuasca and Yoga RetreatAyahuasca Retreat March 2008. Clip taken at Eagle's Wing Ayahuasca Retreat at Mishana in Peru, March 2008.

For information about our Retreat Programme;
http://www.shamanism.co.uk/ayahuasca-experience/ayahuasca.html

And visit our BLOG for interviews, photos, articles and more;

http://www.shamanism.wordpress.com














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Current Location: Amazon Rainforest, Peru

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Andean Shamanism RetreatAndean Shamanism Retreat - March 2008.

This week expanded on our work with the shamanic tradition of the Andes. Working with San Pedro Maestro Shaman Juan Navarro, and Coca Leaf Diviner & traditional Healer Doris Rivera Lenz. This is an opportunity to experience the rich and powerful spiritual legacy of the Andean civilization which is only now being properly recognised after 500 years of obscurity.


 


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Ayahuasca, Moses and Plant Spirit Shamanism of the BibleMoses was high on drugs: Israeli researcher

The world wide media interest in Benny Shanon's paper about Moses and entheogens, is encouraging us to take a good and hard look at the roots of religions and the notion that they were based on fertility cults, and shamanic practices such as Entheogens (or hallucinogenic) plants as a source of spiritual communion with the universal consciousness, or the mind of God.

John Allegro, in his book “The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross: A Study of the Nature and Origins of Christianity within the Fertility Cults of the Ancient Near East”, postulated through the etymology of words and relates how the development of language indicated that the roots of the religions emanating from the Middle East were based on fertility cults, and shamanic practices such as Entheogens (or hallucinogenic) plants as a source of spiritual communion with the universal consciousness, or the mind of God..

Back in the 1970's the reaction against these ideas was so strong that it destroyed Allegro's career, the book was not published in the UK as it was regarded as blasphemous, and blasphemy was still a crime. It's good to think that we have made some progress in recent years.

Allegro’s theory was visionary and ground-breaking. He was the first to propose in some detail that two major religions Christianity and by extension Judaism were entheogen-oriented and that the entheogen was Amanita Muscaria. His book was published at a time when there was little or no awareness about the use of entheogens, and was indeed a courageous act to publish this book.

Another great explorer and pathfinder in human consciousness was Terence Mckenna, in his book “Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge A Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution”, proposed that hallucinogenic plants, in this case Psilocybin mushrooms, were the cause of the astounding and unexplained rapid evolution and development of the human brain within the evolutionary time scale (just 500,000 years from the hominids). In other words how we developed from our ape relatives . His theory also encompasses the development of linguistics , and human civilisation itself.

JERUSALEM (AFP) - High on Mount Sinai, Moses was on psychedelic drugs when he heard God deIsraeli researcherliver the Ten Commandments, an Israeli researcher claimed in a study published this week.

Such mind-altering substances formed an integral part of the religious rites of Israelites in biblical times, Benny Shanon, a professor of cognitive psychology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem wrote in the Time and Mind journal of philosophy.

"As far Moses on Mount Sinai is concerned, it was either a supernatural cosmic event, which I don't believe, or a legend, which I don't believe either, or finally, and this is very probable, an event that joined Moses and the people of Israel under the effect of narcotics," Shanon told Israeli public radio on Tuesday.

Moses was probably also on drugs when he saw the "burning bush," suggested Shanon, who said he himself has dabbled with such substances.

"The Bible says people see sounds, and that is a clasic phenomenon," he said citing the example of religious ceremonies in the Amazon in which drugs are used that induce people to "see music."

 He mentioned his own experience when he used ayahuasca, a powerful psychotropic plant, during a religious ceremony in Brazil's Amazon forest in 1991. "I experienced visions that had spiritual-religious connotations," Shanon said.

He said the psychedelic effects of ayahuasca were comparable to those produced by concoctions based on bark of the acacia tree, that is frequently mentioned in the Bible.

source: Yahoo News.

Paper originally published in:

Time and Mind:
The Journal of Archaeology Consciousness and Culture
Volume I—Issue I, March 2008

Biblical Entheogens: Speculative Hypothesis

pp. 51–74

Benny Shanon is Professor of psychology at the Hebrew university of Jerusalem (Israel). His main foci of research are the phenomenology of human consciousness and the philosophy of psychology. His publications include The representational and the Presentational (1993) and The Antipodes of the Mind (2002). At present, he is working on book devoted to a general psychological theory of human consciousness.

Original Paper by Benny Shanon

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The 4th International Amazonian Shamanism Conference:Magic, Myths, and Miracles

Iquitos, Peru; July 19th - 27th

This 4th Amazonian Shamanism Conference will be opened by the illustrious visionary scientist, Dr.Dennis Mckenna. Other Presenters (with more confirming soon are - That master of sound healing- Dr. Richard Grossman, the brilliant entheo-scientist and lecturer, Ananda, the Indiana Jones of Amazon Shamanism and noted journalist - Peter Gorman, the most excellent scientfic researcher on brain states while taking ayahuasca- Dr. Frank Echenhofer, the Amazon's most famous visionary painter- Pablo Amaringo, the filmmaker and director Jan Kounen who brought us the documentary Other Worlds about ayahuasca and the Shipibo tribes and Renegade (Blueberry), specialist in Entheo-Religion and compiler of the book: Entheogens and the Future of Religion – Robert Forte, the intrepid Victoria Alexander speaking on her research of Medieval Mysticism and Its Empirical Kinship to Ayahuasca, the very profound Melvin Morse (invited but not yet confirmed) and his research into childrens near death experiences as well as his research on Myths, the renowned Dr. John Alexander (invited but not yet confirmed) and his years of training and research on Remote Viewing, one of the Director's of Eagle's Wing and author Howard G Charing, Conference Organizer Alan Shoemaker speaking on 15 years in shamanism, the visionary artists Robert Venosa and Martina Hoffman two curanderas specializing in Huachuma (San Pedro) Wendy Luckey and Mary Ann Endowes Presenting as well as holding ceremonies, Elisa Vargas Fernandez, the Shipibo curandera who works magic with her incredible icaros, and many more to be confirmed.The list of shamans (curanderos) is coming next and they are the most powerful we can find. There will be approximately 15 different curanderos/shamans giving presentations (all are translated into English).During the Conference Presentations you will have ample opportunities to hear the many shamans speaking alone as well as in panel discussions. It is during this time that you will get a sense of which healer you would like to be in Ceremony with, especially during the question and answer times.

There are three evenings set aside for you to be in Ceremony with the shaman - curandero or your choice. All Ceremonies are held outside of Iquitos, either up or downriver or way out on the Iquitos to Nauta highway and then a short 15 minute walk into the various Compounds. Transport is provided both to the location and returning to Iquitos the following morning.

For those that have never been in Ceremony before, a workshop will be held by Dr. Richard Grossman and Alan Shoemaker so that all of your questions can be adequately answered. The Ceremonies offered are completely voluntary and not in any way a prerequisite of attending the Conference.

Pre-Conference Tune-Up. Those wishing a program for a week before the Conference can come to the Pre-Conference Tune-Up. This is for more experienced Ceremonial persons. It begins one week before the Conference and will be held at the Soga Del Alma compound just outside of Iquitos. You will be able to make your own medicina and hold your own Ceremony without a curandero being present. Total price: $200 USDs This includes everything from the time you arrive at the maloca/compound.

Please contact us for more details.Visit the Conference website:

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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.

Ayahusca Retreat Centre - MishanaLater, 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.

visit our website for info on our Andean San Pedro and Ayahuasca Yoga Retreats in the Amazon

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Ayahuasca Retreat - February 2003, Amazon Rainforest PeruImages from Eagle's Wing Ayahuasca Retreat February 2003. On the soundtrack are maestros Artidoro and Shipibo Guillermo Arevalo chanting Icaros. Both Artidoro and Guillermo were at the Retreat.




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Shamans of Peru CD - Sacred Chants, Icaros, and MusicShamans of Peru CD -  Sacred Chants, Icaros, and Music

The haunting, plaintive music of Peruvian shamans was recorded by the Eagle's Wing Centre for Contemporary Shamanism at ceremonies in the Peruvian Andes and the Amazon rainforest.

Although the chants and icaros have an organic relationship to the medicine plants and shamanic journeying of each particular ritual, and are primarily intended as devotional music for inner-journeying. It is equally possible to listen to the hypnotically beautiful sounds in their own right and simply enjoy them for their otherworldly loveliness.

WAVE MAGAZINE REVIEW

The Shamans of Peru - Ceremonial Chants, Icaros, and Music

This unique set of recordings documents a collection of ceremonial chants and Ayahuasca icaros on CD.

Tracks 1-3 San Pedro ceremony held in Puruchucu, at the head of the Rimac valley. The ruins of this sacred site or huaca date back to pre-Inca times and have been accurately reconstructed. Setting the scene for the ceremony, three musicians play replicas of pre-Hispanic instruments. Alonso del Rio says: ‘while keeping to their original tuning, we have explored the instruments musical possibilities to give an idea of what the music could have been like in pre-Colombian times. The melodies came to us through the ancestral memory evoked through medicinal plants like San Pedro and Ayahuasca’. Instruments: the ceramic notch flutes of the Chincha civilization, Nazca panpipes or ‘antaras’ with their special tuning similar to Oriental scales, and Nazca drums.

The Mesa Nortena is a particular ceremonial tradition best conserved in the region of ‘Las Huaringas’, high and remote sacred lakes in the northern Department of Piura.
There are probably only a few good maestros who continue this ancient tradition in Peru today. The rest simply work with the externalities of the mesa, while giving their clients minimal doses of the visionary San Pedro cactus. Originally more importance was given to the medicine, which must be in the organism of the participants as well as the maestro for the power to flow. The mesa then served to intensify the power of the plant.

An altered state is needed to enter the symbolic world of the objects on the mesa (the word refers to the altar as well as the ceremony itself). The abundance of macerated plants, perfumes and smells employed in the mesa function to move the feelings associated with one’s memories. At a deep level, sensations are translated into vibrations which the medicine brings to consciousness so that associated hurt and pain can be ‘re-membered’ again and a new attitude can emerge.

The singado, or absorption of macerated tobacco juice through the nostrils involves another power medicine which is used to intensify the San Pedro at regular intervals. The instruction from the maestro to pour up the left or right nostril reflects the notion of duality found in shamanic disciplines all over the world: masculine and feminine, hot and cold, upper world and earth, expansion and contraction, flowing and stagnant. Illness arises from one of these polarities loosing equilibrium. The word singado comes from the Quechua word singa meaning nose and is perhaps an Andean notion of Pranayama!

Also audible in the following two mesas 4- 5 are the clicking of chontas, or black bamboo sticks used for cleansing people’s auras and the spraying from the maestro and assistants’ mouths, of perfumes and plant macerations over the participants.

The tendency to commercialise a tradition is inherent in urbanization and seeing things for their utility and business. For example mesas are sometimes held so that lawyers win legal battles. Piles of documents are laid on the mesa so that the power works on them and they win their case. In this way a shamanic ceremony is degraded to folklore. We can try to reconstruct the original tradition to how it was in pre-Colombian times and remove the images of Sarita Colonia and the other saints, crucifixes, photos etc., which have accumulated throughout the centuries and evolved the mesa into the mestizo tradition which survives today. Left behind are the ancient stones, magic plant brews and the enchanted waters of the lakes of Las Huaringas, being the original elements, which have survived underneath.

Track 4 Mesa with Alejandro Sanchez. Maestro Sanchez lives in Comas, a distant suburb of Lima which began in the 1960s as a shanty town. It is surrounded by impressive parched stony desert hills. The maestro’s house is at the end of a road near the cemetery and overlooks this immense settlement from where he draws his clients. Sanchez was born in Sondorillo near the legendary sacred lakes of Las Huaringas. At age 11, while still at school, he seemed to have perceptions and to be able foresee things accurately. His astonished teachers thought he was having hallucinations and called for maestro Florentin Garcia. Later Alejandro became his apprentice and learned from him the secrets of plants.

The strangeness of these ceremonies can be seen as part of the ‘trappings’ of rituals in general. Strangeness serves to trick the rational mind so that it will not interfere with the subtle processes taking place in the subconscious. When we are fully awake, things can indeed seem strange… ‘people are strange, when you’re a stranger…’ as the song by The Doors goes. A part of healing is recovering the lost gift of perception, the feeling of being alive again.

Track 5 Mesa with Leopoldo Vilela who was also born near the celebrated Las Huaringas in Radiopampa, an extremely cold place at 3,500 meters altitude. He was 90 years old and in very good health at the time of this mesa which was also held in the ruins of Puruchucu. At three years old he was sent outside to look for herbs for his mother who was suffering from a stomach ache; there he knew he would become a curandero. He used to watch his father who was clairvoyant and assisted people in his community to find their animals when they were lost. He used tarot cards and looked into bottles of aguardiente (firewater) with grains of corn of different colours at the bottom

Don Leopoldo improvises sessions for groups and individuals, which may continue for hours. These are full of idiosyncrasy, and characterized by warmth, dedication and playfulness, which is quite touching at times. The seemingly endless sequence of bottles of tastes and smells and other procedures are often extremely weird while his inadvertent remarks and caresses on his guitar (of his own manufacture) often provoke smiles and laughter in all present.

Human beings have an instinctive awareness of other people’s conscious states of mind. When another person, a shaman, is authentic and spontaneously creative in the moment, this has the power to focus the mind, stopping it from verbalizing and rationalizing. A sense of pure wonder is evoked.

Track 6 Closing calls. The conch shells or pututus, still used in Andean communities today, are handed down from the Incas who obtained them from the Caribbean. They are used for convening meetings and ceremonies.

Tracks 7-9 Shipibo icaros of Mateus Castro, a shaman living outside Pucullpa in Yarinacocha. The arts of the Shipibo, especially textile designs, are closely related to ayahuasca icaros. The words of the chants are symbolic stories telling of the ability of nature to heal itself. For example the crystalline waters from a stream wash the unwell person, while coloured flowers attract the hummingbirds whose delicate wings fan healing energies etc. You might see such things in your visions but the essence which cures you is perhaps more likely to be the understanding of what is happening in your life, allowing inner feelings to unblock so that bitterness and anger con change to ecstasy and love. To awaken from the ‘illusion of being alive’ is to experience life itself.

Tracks 10-16 Dona Cotrina Valles was born in Agua Blanca, Department of San Martin. She apprenticed herself to a maestro in 1979 and later came to live in Iquitos with her husband. Today she lives alone with her children. It is very unusual for a woman to be a shaman in urban situations although they do exist amongst indigenous peoples. Amongst other limiting beliefs, it is thought that women break taboos as they are unable to take dieting seriously because of demands from their husbands and that when they go shopping in the market they will have contact with menstruating women or people who are mal dormida, (ie. a person who has been making love all night).

The diet is a vexed question in the city as the temptations of rich spicy food as well as sex are greater than in the rainforest. As all shamans will tell you, Dona too, says that sex is bad. The ‘mother plant’ loves you and if you make love to another person, you are being unfaithful to her. For this reason it is often said that Ayahuasca is jealous, and if you do not respect her, she makes you ill instead of healing you. You will also not be able to see any visions. The ill effects from not respecting the diet are called cutipa and range from a sense of trauma and stress to skin problems.

Dona’s chants are sung in Spanish and Quechua, as also are the chants of Javier Arevalo which follow. Both Dona and Javier are mestizo shamans, that is to say their ancestors moved to the Amazon from the Andes, rather than being indigenous to the Amazon as the Shipibo are. The melodies of mestizo icaros have an Andean structure and are sung partly in Quechua, a language of the Andes.

Track 17 Despacho to Pachamama in the ruins of Pisaq. A despacho is an offering to the Earth Goddess, Pachamama, which nurtures all life on earth. The ceremony symbolizes the reciprocity of nature and speaks back to her saying ‘we understand the message and we have the same attitude’. The word despacho was mistakenly translated into Spanish after the Conquest as pago, meaning payment, to imply a satanic pact with dark forces.

As each participant made their contribution to the despacho convened by the Shamaness Doris Rivera Lenz ‘La Gringa’, Kike Pinto, played pre-Colombian instruments. The first piece is a Harawi from the Department of Cusco played on a quena, or notch flute, made from the wing bone of a condor. This little melody has been handed down from Inca times, thanks to its incorporation into Catholic mass in Colonial times. The second piece is a Haylli from San Pedro de Castas, Department of Lima, played on a ch’iriqway, or antara (panpipes), made from condor feathers. The melody also has pre-Hispanic roots and has survived in a form played on the chirisuya, kind of oboe, of probable Moorish origin. This track is ended with some calls on the putu, or conch shell.

Kike Pinto is a lifetime musician and researcher of traditional Andean music. He has recorded several CDs and is curator of his own Museum of Andean Music in Hatunrumiyoq, Cusco.

Tracks 18-26 Javier Arevalo comes from Nuevo Progreso, a community of 50 families on the Rio Napo. Many generations of his family before him were shamans and already at 17 years old he knew this was his future. However when he was 20 his father died from a virote (poisoned dart in the spiritual world), sent by a jealous and malicious brujo (sorcerer) in his community. Soon after he began his two-year retreat in the rainforest with his maestro grandfather, dieting many plants, later to become his ‘doctors’. During his time in the wilderness he realised that it was better to leave God to punish the brujo who killed his father, and he decided to be a healer not a sorcerer.

There are several different kinds of icaros, at the beginning of the session. Their purpose is to provoke the mareacion or effects, and, in the words of Javier, ‘to render the mind susceptible for visions to penetrate, then the curtains can open for the start of the theatre’. Other Icaros call the spirit of Ayahuasca to open visions ‘as though exposing the optic nerve to light’. Alternatively, if the visions are too strong, the same spirit can be made to fly away in order to bring the person back to normality.
There are icaros for calling the ‘doctors’, or plant spirits, for healing, while other icaros call animal spirits, which protect and rid patients of spells. Healing icaros may be for specific conditions like manchare which a child may suffer when it gets a fright. The spirit of a child is not so fixed in its body as that of an adult, therefore a small fall can easily cause it to fly. Manchare is a common reason for taking children to ayahuasca sessions.

Tracks 18 Llamada de mareacion in which the spirits of various healing plants are called, here the huacapurana, a tall tree with hard wood, whose bark is used for arthritis. Huacapurana is also used as an arcana, or spirit to protect the body. Also the remocaspi whose bark is used to reduce fever and cure malaria.


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Ayahuasca and SAn Pedro Retreats - Shamans of PeruSHAMANS OF PERU

A video clip gallery of shamans from Peru , who have worked with us on the Eagle's Wing Retreats since the late 90's. Soundtrack of Shipibo Shaman (Enrique Lopez) chanting an Icaro.


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