Ayahuasca The Visionary Paintings And Wisdom Of Pablo Amaringo

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

Dom Romulo Spiritquest Interview Iquitos Peru

Conducted by: John Alexander. Translator: Howard Lawler. Redacted by: Victoria Alexander
Victoria can be reached at kwanitaka@aol.com

JA = John Alexander
DR=Don Romulo

JA: Victoria said she saw your spirit guides.

DR: Yes, yes. They come to me when I drink Ayahuasca. In the Ayahuasca State I call for the doctors to come. Doctor Ayahuasca is the doctor that makes all the medicines. I call each doctor, whether it’s a plant or a spirit doctor, to come to help me heal. All the maestros, all the curanderos who work with Ayahuasca come back to work with other curanderos after they die. The word for these spirit doctors is genio. Some of these spirits I knew before they died.

JA: Are they different now from when they were alive?

DR: They come in union with Ayahuasca. They have become one with Ayahuasca. And with the bringing of these medicines that comes when Dr. Ayahuasca is summoned. They are part of that. They are joined with that. These spirit doctors, the genios, live on other planets and come here when we call them. By their powers, they can tell when we are drinking Ayahuasca.

JA: How do they get here?

DR: They can come like air. They are able to come here virtually instantly just by thinking about coming here. When they think of coming here, they are here.

JA: What is the difference between spirits from other planets and from earth?

DR: Those from planets don’t have earthly bodies, they are in spirit form. They have other forms. Those that are from the earth manifest in an earthly form that can be recognized as of the earth. Sometimes when they come they look like dragons. Sometimes they look like eagles or birds. Some of these birds live in the very top of mountains but they can fly into space.

JA: From your area, which is quite a distance down river from Iquitos, have you heard of any instances of people being taken by these spirits?

DR: Yes, people do see things like this. They often come from the water. They transform. They first come in what looks like a boat. It comes from underneath the water. It has lights on it that are flashing. Inside this boat that comes from beneath the water, there are people who look like spirits. They look like the genios.

JA: Have you seen this yourself?

DR: Yes. They have the form of people. I have only seen them from a distance of about 50 meters. They have the form of people but I can’t describe their appearance in detail. They are humanoid.

JA: Are there cases of people being harmed by these spirits?

DR: Oh, yes. There are cases where they have harmed people. If people are in a canoe or motor boat what happens is a whirlpool forms and this pulls the boat into the whirlpool. They are sucked down into the whirlpool and they disappear. This also happens in cases of witchcraft in order to get rid of people. Witches cause them to get caught in a whirlpool.

JA: How often has this happened?

DR: Not just once. Several times.

JA: Are these disappearances ever reported to the police?

DR: Okay, for example, I’m a shaman. What I would do in the case of a person missing is go into an Ayahuasca ceremony and speak with the spirits to try and find out what happened to the person.

JA: Can you go into the Ayahuasca state without taking Ayahuasca?

DR: No, no. To go into that state I have to drink Ayahuasca.

JA: How many times have you taken Ayahuasca?

DR: I’ve taken Ayahuasca thousands of times.

JA: Have you ever taken Ayahuasca during the day?

DR: Yes, I have experienced Ayahuasca in the daytime, but I do not see as well in the daytime. I can see much better at night.

JA: What happens when you die?

DR: You go to the underworld – Inferno, that is, Hell, if you have led a bad life. After you serve your penance you can be released from Hell. It’s not forever. If you leave clean of sin you then go straight to glory. If you die in sin, your spirit is going to suffer.

JA: Tell me about the spirits you encounter during an Ayahuasca ceremony.

DR: The spirits come back through the trunk – the stem – of the Ayahuasca. This form of Ayahuasca is called “Cielo Ayahuasca,” which means “Ayahuasca of Heaven” because it is the pathway through which healing spirits travel back to earth. They come through the vine into the curandero to bring their healing from Heaven. “Cielo” in Spanish has two meanings. It means “Heaven” and “sky.” It’s the same word and many people loosely interpret it to mean “Sky Ayahuasca.” What it really means is “Ayahuasca of Heaven and its pathway from Heaven to earth.”

JA: What is the most important thing I can ask you?

DR: What you need to know about Ayahuasca is that there are many things to learn, and many things to see. There are many medicines to be found along the path. This has the power to heal everything that’s bad in a person, especially disease. Because Doctor Ayahuasca tells us what the disease or what the problem is with the person and what causes the problem. In many cases its witchcraft or some bad intention or something generated by the bad intention or the will of others. When I can find out what it is and who did it, I can take it out.

JA: On earth we have seen new diseases like AIDS and Ebola. Where do they come from? Can curanderos stop these diseases?

DR: These come at the same time from the same world – from this world. They emerge at the same time.

JA: Can they be prevented?

DR: For every disease like this that comes along there are treatments. There are medicines. Even for AIDS there are vegetable medicines that work very well to control it and people don’t always die from it. One of these remedies for people infected with AIDS is to eat tortoise. When the tortoise – from the time it hatches and throughout it’s life – eats a variety of forest fruits and plants which keep it from getting sick. The tortoise never gets sick. It has a strong immune system. So eating the meat of the tortoise passes on the strength of its immune system to the person who eats it. Here, we very much believe in the strong adage “You are what you eat.” That’s why we don’t eat pork because pigs eat a lot of stuff that we wouldn’t think of eating. So basically what people eat makes them conscious that they are part of the food chain. They are in that flow of nutrient or flow of medicine depending on what characteristics that plant has.

JA: What have I not asked you that I should?

DR: I have dedicated myself to shamanism to help people. There are people who come who want to learn how to be a curandero, how to be a shaman. They have to be dedicated to learning the good side of it and not the lies. They have to learn how to do good and not to carry forth the lies.

JA: Are you training anyone?

DR: Right now the only one is my son. My son is studying under me. My son is 28 years old.

Victoria Alexander: When you were working on Tom, I saw that your icaro [power song] called forth a spirit. He was dancing rhythmically to your icaro. He was powerfully built, very tall, and wore a headdress of feathers. When I asked who he was, and how to make contact with him, I was unable to get his attention. Who was he? DR: (nods and smiles) This is Lashingo. It is a spirit guide of the ——– tribe. He has worked with me for years. You would not have been able to contact him.

HOWARD LAWLER: You probably would not have been able to contact him. These spirit helpers are very specific to the people they work with. They don’t work with just anybody. Just anybody can’t call them. They’re not going to respond. This kind of work – when he comes back through the door to be in this world for a brief period of time – he is specifically an ally of Don Romulo. But with time, you certainly would find your own sprit doctors who would work with you. There are many out there that who are unaffiliated and waiting for the right person to come along. But there is a destiny to this and when the spirit meets you on the other side and makes that commitment to you then that spirit is with you forever. I have my spirit doctors also. They are mine, they come to me in my work and they are with me. Its not any one person who is gifted to have this connection but anyone can attain it if they want to.

Shamans Wise Men Healers And Worriors

Posted by SJ

It is hard to define a person that stands out from “normality” and classify them into these very few names commonly given to them. While two different people may call themselves “Shaman”, the difference between them can be great.

Accepted etymology of the word ‘Shaman’ is that of a Russian background and describes a person that has the capacity to contact spirits and heal people thanks to a special connection. But did anyone know that in the Maya language there is the word “xamen” that means “man of the north”?

Cultural groups from around the world -“natives”- seem all to have Shamans in their tribes or a tag for a person of similar description. While their culture’s beliefs and cosmology are different, they all share common traits. We might easily think that a Shaman is related only to tribal lifestyle and that it would be a farce to find a shaman that for example is fluent in English or has knowledge on computers or modern things. When we find a person like this, we can be stepping into the other side of the line that divides the description of “Shaman” from “wise man”.

If we think of a wise man, a sage, we might imagine a person that has great knowledge, but of a philosophical type and might still seem strange if we see that person in an internet cafe or at a disco. Luckily, those are all stereotypes, and stereotypes exist to blur us from reality. There are hundreds of shamans and wise men all around us, in large cities, on the bus, on the plane, dressed like us, of any race, speaking any language, doing anything and everything. Wisdom does not discriminate, and what apparently might seem not very wise, like being drinking a beer on the street , can have a transcendent purpose in an ignored context.

Wisdom and special perceptive and shamanistic abilities can be profoundly obscured by a complex human trait called ego. The battle against this apparent enemy of the wise and enlightened is carried out by people who for that purpose call themselves warriors. In this context, the relation that the word warrior might have to physical aggression, violence or war is completely nonexistent. The battle here is carried out solely within the self and for purposes of enlightenment. Hence great wisdom is achieved and perceptive abilities that might give this person the traits of a shaman and a wise man.

Then we have wizards. People with special abilities to transform people and objects, time and reality. Not to be confused with magicians, who only create the illusion of doing these feats. Only until the last years has modern occidental science achieved to understand that physics can be “bent” and thus these feats are theoretically possible. Modern anthropology has also proven that people with these abilities exist. For wizards there are infinite traditions and types of wizardry. These types of wizardry are normally labeled by colors: “white magic, black magic, red magic” etc. When the consciousness reaches a certain degree of wisdom and enlightenment, lineal, two dimensional -good and bad-, -before and after-, -better or worse- perspective is lost, and the consciousness enters a multi-dimensional understanding where different things are simply different and don’t have to be defined by a line or by a two dimensional way of thinking. Here the self understands that reality is beyond -good and bad-.

For thousands even millions of years humanity lived in harmony with nature in a state similar to what the bible describes as “paradise”, or the garden of eden. This chapter in genesis actually happened in a less metaphoric way. Ancient shamans, by taking plants that took them into alternate states of perception, where able to contact inorganic beings. These inorganic beings tought them incredible powers of what can be called wizardry. Wizards and shamans then, lost themselves to an enemy of the light warrior called power. They dedicated themselves to have more and more power, and with it they tricked themselves and cursed humanity into a prolongued dark era from which we are barely coming out of today. Later, the same wizards discovered that there was something beyond power, called freedom, and began to search for this freedom, liberating themselves from the curse of power. Today we might still find many wizards who are caught in the ilussion of power and practice great wizardry feats. But these feats are completely unecessary to accomplish the ultimate purspose of a warrior of light, or a shaman wise man: Freedom.

Be part of a freedom healing and shaman quest in magical bolivia, where you will experience both Andean shamanism and Amazon shamanism shamanjourneybolivia.blogspot.com

Yesterdays News

Submitted Annonymous

My book ‘Yesterday’s News’ is a jigsaw collective story of poetry, prose and ballads, connecting me to God in love and gratitude.

The format is apocalyptic, prophetical, fragmented and cryptic in it’s fashioned style of writing. For me the poetry is an accounted journal of my emotions, thoughts and ideas concerning my life personally and analytically in a philosophical point of view.

My poetry writing has been prophesized linking my past to the present and future. It is focused and centered around the fight between good and evil and love as the supreme ruler.

I am on a mission which is to dictate a new language in the biblical sense which states we are all one in a universal mind and consciousness. Metaphysically it needs no transcribing, it has already been performed by God when he communicated the messages to me through automatic telepathy.

‘Yesterday’s News’ is a prophecy of blessings, miracles and good fortune that Jesus lives and breathes and that God exists in that still small voice in all of us.

Morally I believe I was chosen for this task to generate hope and faith in visioning a better world here on Earth if we just believe, the endless world, the promised land of the milk and honey, does emphatically exist. What ye thinketh ye shall receive. Read ‘Yesterday’s News’ and join me in becoming a co-creator with God to bring in the New World, the Unreal one residing in the parallel universe where our Lord and Savior lives.

Ayahuasca The Jaguar That Roams The Mind Robert Tindall

A journey into the deeper workings of indigenous healing in the Amazon…. a book ‘dedicated to bringing the joys of ayahuasca shamanism to the mainstream West…’ – and why not? In these ‘exciting times’, people need their eyes opened to things available out-side of themselves that will help them go in-side of themselves to help heal themselves, and consequently have a POSITIVE knock on effect on those – and the world – around them….

To read one persons book review click HERE

Just some related links on Ayahuasca:

Aya Healing Peru

Aya Sacred Medicine for the Soul

Elder Shaman Maggie Come Walk With A Shaman

Through the use of her lifelong practices in Traditional Shamanic techniques, dreaming and trance work, Elder Shaman Maggie reaches within to an individual’s eternal soul, unblocking the paths and tunnels to one’s own innate healing abilities allowing one’s life force to burn brightly once again, enlivening peace, abundance, joy, and creativity. Shamanic healing works on all facets of the person – past, present and future – restoring and opening the natural lines for personal success in mind, body and spirit.

Shaman Elder Maggie comes from a traditional shamanic lineage, has a Doctorate of Divinity, is an Ordained Minister and has been counseling online for free for 35 years. She is also a Reiki Master Teacher and a Certified Facilitator of Adult Learning. She is finishing her third book and looking for a publisher.

Shaman Elder Maggie’s’ Website: www.shamanelder.com

Free E-book by Elder Shaman Maggie Wahls The Shamans Journey

Shipibo Ayahuasca Shaman Benjam N Ochavano Amazon Rainforest Of Peru

Submitted by Howard G. Charing

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 a lot 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.

Howard G. Charing is a partner in Eagle’s Wing Centre for Contemporary Shamanism. His initiation into the world of Shamanism was sudden, which was caused by a serious accident, which resulted in severe injuries and a near-death experience. After many months of physical pain and disability, he had a transformational experience, which started him on a path to healing. If you like to know more about his work, Howard conducts “Plant Spirit Medicine” journeys to the Amazon Rainforest.

Ayahuasca San Pedro Shaman Musician And Peruvian Mystic Alonso Del Rio

Submitted by Howard G. Charing

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.

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.

For more information

Alonso del Rio is holding a workshop, Ayahuasca and San Pedro Ceremonies at the Eagle’s WingPlant Spirit Shamanism Retreat at Mishana, October 2007

Howard G. Charing is a partner in Eagle’s Wing Centre for Contemporary Shamanism. His initiation into the world of Shamanism was sudden, which was caused by a serious accident, which resulted in severe injuries and a near-death experience. After many months of physical pain and disability, he had a transformational experience, which started him on a path to healing. If you like to know more about his work, Howard conducts “Plant Spirit Medicine” journeys to the Amazon Rainforest.

Healers Shamans And Psychic Surgeons Of The Philippines Part 1

Submitted by Howard G. Charing

The ‘bare hand’ or ‘psychic’ surgeons of the Philippines have been one of the most enduring enigmas of modern times. There has been much controversy about the so-called miracle healers of the Philippines. Their ability to open peoples bodies and defies not only conventional scientific and medical knowledge but also challenges what we consensually call reality. How can a human body open and close by touch? How can solid objects become permeable to allow a hand to move through it?

To the Western person, brought up in a paradigm structured and shaped by rational thought, it really does require a huge leap of the imagination to be fully open-minded to the possibility that this phenomenon exists. It is not only a challenge to our individual sensibilities, but also to our thinking which has been shaped by the Descartes and Newton scientific heritage.

This is an immense challenge to the consensual reality in which only the material, solid, touchable, and ultimately measurable is real. The ineffable or that which can not be measured is dismissed, labelled as ‘weird’, dismissed and excluded from mainstream Western culture. Our society has always been dismissive of indigenous healing practices. This is maybe because we do not have an understanding or an explanation of the underlying principles of how this type of healing works. It is a more convenient solution to regard the activities of shamans, folk healers, and of course the ‘bare hand’ surgeons as ‘primitive superstition’.

The current scientific paradigm is quantum theory, a model that opens up a very curious universe indeed, in which nothing can actually be measured since the very action of measuring it changes its material nature and the observer is not separate to the observed.

However we look at it, this ‘thing’ does not exist in its own right. It is the choices we make and our behaviour as observers that gives it reality at all and, even then, how we look at it changes it. We need to recognise that objective reality becomes in essence a flawed concept, and that consciousness as such is an instrument in the creation of reality. So in the words Albert Einstein; “Reality is an illusion, albeit a persistent one.”

Keeping this notion in mind, if we look at the basic purpose of a ritual, ceremony, or prayer it is really to effect a change, or influence the unfolding of reality. This change is usually to improve the circumstances for a person or group of people, typically healing, drawing in benign influences and so on. To extend this, the ‘procedures’ and ‘rules’ for a ritual, in many respects are identical to the ‘rules’ of Quantum Mechanics, and that the ineffable spiritual dimension is actually a rational undertaking of our consciousness to effect the transient probability waves that generate reality in time and space.

From this perspective, what healers and shamans are doing becomes totally rational, and a ceremony or act of healing is an ‘act of intention operating at a quantum level’ , whereby this intention is an expression of our conscious desire to alter reality using the principles of Quantum Mechanics.

However the implications of this mean that shamanism and psychic surgery can be explained in terms of modern physics. Psychic Surgeons and Shamans can effect change in local reality (i.e. their clients) through what is called ‘spiritual’ power operating at the quantum level.

The process of psychic surgery is rationalized by the Former Professor of Physics and Chemistry at the University of Dortmund, Dr. Alfred Stelter He defines the process of painless, barehanded operation as thus:

“The healers form strong etheric force or energy in their hands through intense concentration. This energy penetrates matter at the cellular or even sub-atomic levels where matter and energy are interchangeable. After the accumulation of etheric forces, the magnetic cohesive energy (force that holds he cells of the bodies together) is separated through unpolarization. And then after the operation, the cells go back to their former appearance.”

Now from a personal view, I always feel, that everything which is manifested in the physical world, has a cause or source. The fact that we maybe are unable to rationally understand, define, or explain is not relevant, as the sages and wise ones say “the proof is in the eating of the pudding”, and in the ten years that I have been working and researching in the Philippines I have come to do just that. So although the Quantum Mechanics principles may satisfy our rational and logical minds, it is not that relevant. The psychic surgeons and shamans certainly do not see their work in those terms. It is always an expression of the great mystery. If we can embrace this as a mystery, it can mean that we may enter this magical world, where reality is not as solid as we think it is. Striving for rational explanations in some way keeps us outside, and prevents us from entering this mysterious world.

The ancestral traditions and the strong folk culture of the Philippines have long provided the background that has fostered a climate of general tolerance and acceptance towards traditional healers, shamans, and psychic surgeons. This tolerance also extends to Government Ministers, Presidents, and interestingly; also to the powerful Catholic Church in the Philippines. There was a very sympathetic feature article titled ‘Priest heals through power of touch’ in a recent national newspaper (the Philippine Daily Inquirer July 30th 2007 Vol 22/ No.232) about Father Fernando Saurez. One of he reasons why he has come to national prominence is that the husband of President Arroyo, was one of those healed by the priest in his celebrated “miraculous recovery” last year. Father Saurez’s healing work is all approved and praised by the church hierarchy.

Filipinos have acquired this tolerance from their old traditions that maintained an awareness and faith in the existence of nature spirits called anitos. These magical beings reside within an extended definition of the boundaries of the natural world. Although the Filipino people broadly regard themselves as rationalists (just as we do), they also as a culture are more readily to embrace the more intangible, enigmatic, and what we know as the metaphysical and shamanic dimension of reality.

This view is endorsed by research from the Asian Studies Center Organisation; “While Christianity has been the major religion in the Philippines since the beginning of the Spanish colonial period in 1565, it has always been mixed with traditional animistic beliefs and practices, giving Philippine Catholicism a particular national character. Another characteristic of religion in the Philippines, whether it is Roman Catholic, Protestant, or Islam, is that its practices openly incorporate animistic experiences and practices”.

Although there is a powerful urban desire propelled by the commercial financial interests to move into a modern ‘shopping mall’ consumer society, marketed as the ‘Philippines Dream’ (part of the global consumer dream). This ‘Dream’ is really focussed on the major urban areas. The vast majority of people live in a more rural environment. There is also a vast gap in wealth between the urban middle class and those in the provincial rural areas. The people who live in the remote rural settlements and outer provinces have a closer and more intimate relationship with the natural world. In addition there is often a considerable distance from modern medical facilities, and finally there is not the money to pay for modern medical treatment and medication. This means that there is still a lot of work for the traditional healers such as the Albularyos (shamans), Herbolarios (herb doctors), and Manghihilot (traditional bonesetters).

Related link:
The Enigma of Jun Labo
Placido Palitayan

Howard G. Charing is a partner in Eagle’s Wing Centre for Contemporary Shamanism. His initiation into the world of Shamanism was sudden, which was caused by a serious accident, which resulted in severe injuries and a near-death experience. After many months of physical pain and disability, he had a transformational experience, which started him on a path to healing. If you like to know more about his work, Howard conducts “Plant Spirit Medicine” journeys to the Amazon Rainforest.