Pablo Amaringo is one of the world’s greatest visionary artists, and is renowned for his highly complex, colourful and intricate paintings of his visions from drinking the Ayahuasca brew. Pablo wrote the foreword, a spiritual and ecological message as the foreword for my book ‘Plant Spirit Shamanism’, published by Destiny Books (USA).
Pablo Amaringo trained as a curandero 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 his Usko-Ayar school. 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 audience in the West.
Pablo Amaringo was born Puerto Libertad, in the Peruvian Amazon. He was ten years old when he first took Ayahuasca—a visionary brew used in shamanism, to help him overcome a severe heart disease. The magical cure of this ailment via the healing plants led Pablo toward the life of a vegetalismo in which he worked for many years.
My visions helped me understand the value of human beings, animals, the plants themselves, and many other things. The plants taught me the function they play in life, and the holistic meaning of all life. We all should give special attention and deference to Mother Nature. She deserves our love. And we should also show a healthy respect for her power!
Plants are essential in many ways: they give life to all beings on Earth by producing oxygen, which we need to be active; they create the enormous greenhouse that gives board and lodging to diverse but interrelated guests; they are teachers who show us the holistic importance of conserving life in its due form and necessary conditions.
For me personally, though, they mean even more than this. Plants—in the great living book of nature—have shown me how to study life as an artist and shaman. They can help all of us to know the art of healing and to discover our own creativity, because the beauty of nature moves people to show reverence, fascination, and respect for the extent to which the forests give shelter to our souls.
The consciousness of plants is a constant source of information for medicine, alimentation, and art, and an example of the intelligence and creative imagination of nature. Much of my education I owe to the intelligence of these great teachers. Thus I consider myself to be the “representative” of plants, and for this reason I assert that if they cut down the trees and burn what’s left of the rainforests, it is the same as burning a whole library of books without ever having read them.
People who are not so dedicated to the study and experience of plants may not think this knowledge is so important to their lives—but even they should be conscious of the nutritional, medicinal, and scientific value of the plants they rely on for life.
My most sublime desire, though, is that every human being should begin to put as much attention as he or she can into the knowledge of plants, because they are the greatest healers of all. And all human beings should also put effort into the preservation and conservation of the rainforest, and care for it and the ecosystem, because damage to these not only prejudices the flora and fauna but humanity itself.
Even in the Amazon these days, many see plants as only a resource for building houses and to finance large families. People who have farms and raise animals also clear the forest to produce foodstuffs. Mestizos and native Indians log the largest trees to sell to industrial sawmills for subsistence. They have never heard of the word ecology!
I, Pablo, say to everybody who lives in the Amazon and the other forests of the world, that they must love the plants of their land, and everything that is there!
This expression of love must be a sincere and altruistic interest in the lasting well-being of others. We are not here simply to exist, but to enjoy life together with plants, animals, and loved ones, and to delight in contemplation of the beauty of nature. A shaman has in his mind and heart the attitude of conserving nature because he knows that life is for enjoying the company of this world’s countless delights.
Any painting, or book, or piece of art that spreads this message is to be respected, and every reader who picks up a book on this subject is to be honoured.
I invite you to read on, and to learn from the greatest teachers of all—the plants, our sacred brothers and sisters.
Howard G Charing and Peter Cloudsley met with Pablo at the school which he founded (Usko-Ayar school of painting) in Pucullpa where he lives and paints, and interviewed Pablo about his life as a shaman and artist. The original interview with Pablo Amaringo, first published in Sacred Hoop Magazine (including some of his paintings) is on the Eagle’s Wing website www.shamanism.co.uk