Bonnie Glass Coffin The Gift Of Life Female Spirituality And Healing In Northern

Posted by Ina Woolcott

Based on over 5 years worth of field work Gift of Life is a gift to anyone who is fascinated by different cultural ways of knowing, and the forms of cultural resistance and adaptation that enable a society to endure. In this uniquely personal account of the lives and healing arts of female shamans in northern Peru, Glass-Coffin alternates journal style writings about her personal experiences with ethnographic description. Her analytical essays explore the concepts of sorcery, shamanism, witchcraft, case studies of Peruvian women and their ritual healing techniques, the healers’ religious and symbolic space, and the healing attributes unique to women. They alternate with chapters in which Glass-Coffin describes her introduction to Peru as a high school student, the traditional roles she adopted in her host family, the crisis that rocked her identity, her first ritual contact with a female healer, and her own tumultuous but in the end rewarding healing journey under two female shamans. Male shamans, she concludes, sally forth into the spirit world to do individual combat with the sources of spiritual illness, and female shamans try to involve their patients more directly in their own healing.

This is a very readable and enjoyable book that introduces the reader to the pre-contact world of the Peruvian Indians, and links that reality to the post-contact trauma of the people today. The Gift of Life brings a wonderful combination of beautiful storytelling and academic, anthropological research.

Hermana Mari Interview Spiritquest Iquitos Peru

Held at Spirit Quest, Iquitos, Peru

January 2, 2001

Conducted and redacted by Victoria Alexander Translator: Howard Lawler

Victoria can be reached at

VA: Hermana Mari, how do you prepare for an ayahuasca ceremony?

HM: I call the spirits to bring the medicine and to help the brothers and sisters here on earth.

VA: Do you know what each participant is experiencing during an ayahuasca ceremony?

HM: Yes. I can communicate with all the elements: The water, the earth, and the air in the heavens and all the aspects of the body that the healing can be applied to. In the case of each person present in the ceremony we sing an icaro [a power song] that is special for their needs. So in some cases don Romulo and I sing an icaro for more than one person because it may appropriate for more than one person. But in many cases, we sing different icaros for each person.

VA: During the second ayahuasca ceremony, one participant, Tom, appeared to be having grave difficulty. What happened to him?

HM: Tom was very out of his body. He had transcended his body. He left his body. Don Romulo and I called for power so that Tom would not hurt himself – or his body would not hurt itself – while he was in that state. He was re-uniting with a lot of his friends back home through soul flight. What he was experiencing is called soul flight. He hadn’t lost his consciousness. To the contrary, he was quite conscious. He just wasn’t conscious within the confines of his body. You can fly into the stars, into the moon.

VA: So Tom’s situation wasn’t a crisis. You did not perceive Tom as being in any kind of trouble.

HM: No. It was just a state one can arrive at with this, and everyone should. It’s more frightening to the inexperienced observer than it is to the person experiencing it, or to a person who doesn’t know where they are.

VA: Is there a qualitative difference whether you know or don’t know you are having an out-of-body experience?

H. LAWLER: Yes. There is a qualitative difference and these are aspects of the universal shamanic experience. The soul flight is a fundamental component of the shamanic experience, however attained. This is one way that facilitates this profoundly. There are other ways. One can attain this same state through trance rhythm, such as drumming. But it takes more concentration and it usually takes longer. Sometimes it’s an easier path than this. Ayahuasca is initially not an easy path for many. But it can help one achieve access to shamanic realms sooner than later if you are well prepared and properly guided.

VA: Last night’s ceremony was quite different than the previous two. It seemed to be directed towards healing the participants.

HM: It was pure healing. It was pure medicine. It was intended to be calmer last night. To bring everyone together into a calmer mode so that you could see the power of ayahuasca and the power of the plants of the forest. The purpose was to see that they are pure medicine. If you had the same kind of visions like the previous night it would have distracted you from this purpose. Heavy visions would have distracted everyone from the true focus of the ceremony. Ayahuasca is not all about visions. There are powerful dimensions to it.

VA: What about the dosage given to each participant. I asked for a small amount more.

HM: And what happened to you? What was the effect of taking more ayahuasca?

VA: It was difficult for the visions to come on. It was more physically painful.

HM: The direction of the ceremony last night was for pure healing and understanding.

VA: Is the experience dosage independent?

HM: Yes, yes. However, we vary the dosage from person to person. Some more, some less, to bring a person into the right level of the experience. Because what is the right level is not the same for everybody. It varies.

VA: Does the intensity of five-hour ceremonies exhaust you?

HM: All kinds of doctors come into my body. Many times during the ceremony spirits come into my body until its over. But we don’t surrender (to weariness).

H. LAWLER: Hermana Mari and don Romulo are mediums while in the ceremony. When they take flight they still have knowledge of what’s happening in their body. But they are not there. And when they are not there the invited spirits – the spirit doctors – which could be the spirit of a plant or is often the spirit of a deceased shaman – come into their bodies. With some shamans it’s an animal. It could be animal, plant, human, or ethereal spirit that has never had a corporeal body. They have allied with these spirits in the spirit world and call them with the icaros. Each icaro has a purpose in terms of what spirit ally is summoned and what is the intent of the curandero. The curanderos, by their very name and nature, are pure healers. They evoke these spiritual powers principally for the purpose of healing and divination. Whereas, brujos may use malevolent powers summoned in the same way but for different purposes harmful to others. There are different spirits for different purposes. Some are not beneficial or benevolent.

VA: How do you distinguish the difference in spirits?

HM: The spirits I want to work with – the good spirits – come to me just in the forefront. I do not consent to the arrival of bad spirits. I can tell the difference. For me, I invoke the protection of Christ. During the ceremony when I’m working I see The Shining Cross. This is for everyone’s protection: La Cruz Luminosa.

VA: How did you begin your work? Who did you study with?

HM: Jesus is my teacher. Jesus is all powerful. I was born with this mentality. At the time I was eight years old I began my work. I began to hear prayers and I began looking for people who were ill in order to heal them by prayer. You can feel when enemies or friends come. You feel palpitations in your muscles. If you get that, it means an enemy is coming. An enemy is coming to you and you mentally begin to pray. And this prayer weakens the enemy. I use prayer and the sign of the cross.

VA: Do you ever advise someone not to take ayahuasca?

HM: We embrace everyone who comes and we give them the medicine and send them out on the path of their choice. We don’t have any separatism or judgment regarding whatever path one comes to.

VA: Do you ever take ayahuasca outside of the ceremony environment? Do you ever use it for your own purpose?

HM: No. I always take ayahuasca in the context of my work.

H. LAWLER: Hermana Mari works with another shaman when she’s not working with us in SpiritQuest. Don Romulo lives a rather long distance away – nearly four hours away by boat and he’s not in Iquitos often – so when we are not working here Hermana Mari maintains her neighborhood healing practice. She works with another shaman who is also a good curandero and a man of high integrity. However we usually work with don Romulo and Hermana Mari in SpiritQuest.

VA: Hermana Mari, tell me about your neighborhood practice.

HM: It is my main practice. Working with SpiritQuest is the exception to my practice. SpiritQuest is the only work I do with people outside my culture. Tuesday and Friday nights are ceremonial nights for me. If there are people who are gravely ill, I will work any day. Whatever day is needed for the healing I’ll work, but my scheduled healing ceremonies for the local people are Tuesday and Friday nights.

VA: And each ceremony, as I have experienced, is 4 to 5 hours long.

HM: Sometimes the ceremony lasts even longer if there is a lot of people. Sometimes there might be 15 or 20 people.

H. LAWLER: This characteristic is the key, defining characteristic of a true shaman – to do community service. If there is not a service component then it’s deviating from the bedrock tradition of the role of the shaman in society and in the community. The role of the shaman is to do what they do. This is why they are here with us at SpiritQuest because they are truly traditional and uncorrupted shamans.

VA: Do you have any apprentices? Are you training others?

HM: Yes. I’m training Howard, a young woman named Mera, and another man who lives in the village I grew up in.

H. LAWLER: Hermana Mari was born in Lamas in the department of San Martin. She spent her youth in a very remote, rural village in the higher jungle. The jungle begins to break at a little higher elevation as you enter the Peruvian Sierra.

HM: My ancestors were curanderos. My grandfather and my grandmother worked with stones. Their medium was enchanted stones. My father was a camalongero. He didn’t use ayahuasca.

H. LAWLER: Camalonga is a very interesting element in shamanic practice. It is one of the very few things not grown or native here. It’s used widely by Amazonian shamans and its one of the elements in the ointment that smells like salad dressing. It consists of white onion, garlic and the seed of the camalonga – soaked in aguardiente. The aguardiente extracts the essence of these plants. The camalonga has a visionary quality as well. Shamans who are specialists in the use of camalonga are called camalongeros.

VA: Are Hermana Mari’s shamanic gifts hereditary?

H. LAWLER: There are really two categories of shaman. There are natural shamans and there are made shamans. Made shamans are people who decide to pursue the path who may not have a particular gift for it but want to learn it like any other skill or knowledge. The natural shamans are the ones who are gifted people and they usually come through a lineage. Both Hermana Mari and don Romulo are in a lineage of shamanic healers. Some of their ancestors used different techniques and mediums in their healing work though.

VA: What is your neighborhood practice like? Do people come to you primarily for healing or divination?

HM: Primarily, people come to me for healing. Often people come to me seeking healing from a witching spell that has been cast.

H. LAWLER: This is very, very common.

VA: How do you know you’ve had a witching spell?

H. LAWLER: Well, your life starts falling apart. Disruptive, sometimes catastrophic events occur. Things start happening to you that are not explainable rationally. Then the suspicion arises that its brujeria. Of course, a medical doctor can do nothing for that. There are numerous conditions in the Amazonian culture which are unique compared to the western world. It is convenient and sometimes reassuring to simply assign it to ‘superstitious nonsense’ but there is more at work here.

VA: What have you learned from ayahuasca?

HM: My spirit continues to grow stronger but as I get older my knowledge wanes. But my knowledge is being carried on by those I teach. It makes me very happy that you have come with love and affection to experience Doctor Ayahuasca. Welcome to the center of the medicine in Iquitos.

VA: Is it necessary to drink a full cup of ayahuasca each time?

HM: Once you have experienced ayahuasca you have it in your body. Those who drink it often need to drink less to experience the same effect.

H. LAWLER: For example, I drank less than a half cup last night and relative to most of the accounts of last night’s experiences, I had a little stronger experience than those who drank more than a cup. I went into things I needed to go into. It was a lesson night for me. Through shamanic discipline and practice, one learns the pathways to access these visionary realms of truth and transformation.

VA: Not everyone attending the ceremonies drinks ayahuasca.

HM: Everyone present enters the dimension of Alpha and Omega. All those present are opening portals whether they drink ayahuasca or not. You are opening these fields.

VA: Have you ever seen extraterrestrial beings?

HM: These we call ovnis. The ones we call Martians are very, very small and very powerful. They generate much energy. When we work we see them coming to the earth. They have many colors and they radiate much energy. They know a lot.

VA: Do you see these beings in normal reality?

HM: This is outside ayahuasca. We travel to all kinds of places. We go to the deep forest and under the ground. I visit all the shamanic worlds: the upper world, middle world, and lower world. In dreams I fly. There I experience the Virgin Mary.

VA: There are many tales in Peru of UFOs.

HM: The name of this being is Iman de la Tierra. It doesn’t speak. It communicates through it’s mind and it’s eyes by telepathy. This being comes through the air when I am seeking a spell of witchcraft. Sometimes I have to call them and they are far away. In the waters live the sirens and the Yacurunas. The sirens are beautiful women with golden hair and white skin. They have very long hair. From the waist up they are human, from the waist down they are fish. They have breasts and have guitars that they play. Their icaros are very sad.

VA: Why, in your culture, are these people represented as being white, with blond hair?

HM: Yes, but also work with spirit healers that are Indian. There is a beautiful city at the bottom of the ocean.

H. LAWLER: Remember, you are getting very culture-bound feedback here. Hermana Mari’s response is not biased by knowledge of those things.

VA: Have you ever heard of Atlantis?

HM: No.

VA: It is believed to be a mythical city underwater.

HM: In the sea it’s the same as here. The tabaqueros [shamans who specialize in tobacco] can go into the water here and come out in the United States and other places.

VA: Tell me about the Sachamama.

HM: The Sachamama is real. It’s the size of a lupuna tree. It lives in the ground and on her back grows trees. She lies still and quiet for long periods of time. Even trees will grow on her back. The Sachamana feeds by charming animals that come near her. She draws them near by the power of her enchantment. It catches them and eats them. And where the Sachamama is you will find the bones of animals she has eaten and regurgitated. It’s the size of a giant lupuna tree. There are times, over a great period of time, when the Sachamama will become active, animate, and move. The spirit of the Sachamama is a king doctor. It comes and manifests in human form as a king in elaborate clothing. Also it manifests as a woman, as a queen. She is dressed like a bride. There are human manifestations of the Sachamama.

VA: Where do we find Sachamama?

H. LAWLER: It could be anywhere in the forest. The word “jungle” is rarely used here. The two words that are used are “la selva,” which is the more general word for all kinds of rainforest; “el monte” is the word generally reserved for wild unflooded ‘terra firme’ rainforest.

HM: Also, “chullachaki” is the king of the mountain and a very good doctor to take out witchcraft. He’s a very small elf that has one big foot and one small foot. This is how they are recognized. There is a chullachaki tree that is used as an aphrodisiac for men, as well as treatment for arthritis, rheumatism and intestinal infections. It’s also effective for treating AIDS. Men who have potency problems can elevate this by drinking a brew made from the chullachaki tree. Here in the forest we have all kinds of medicines for men and for women. The thing I see the most is daño [witchcraft].

VA: Do you have to be part of this culture to be attacked by witchcraft?

H. LAWLER: Contrary to wishful thinking, it’s not something that doesn’t exist if you don’t believe in it. There are people who are willfully conjuring negative things to direct towards people in the U.S. as well. It’s also possible for a person – through sheer animosity and intensity toward another person – to produce the same harmful effect as one who practices black witchcraft or ‘brujeria’.

VA: How come O.J. Simpson still walks the earth.

H. LAWLER: We don’t know what is still in store for O.J.

VA : Can you tell if someone has been a victim of witchcraft?

HM: Oh yes. In some cases it’s a point of pain or a physical thing like that is embedded in the victim. Whether psychic or physical, in the Amazon these are called ‘virotes’ or magical darts. It sets up a slow deterioration causing pain and can be life-threatening. The person is usually not able to relieve it by themselves.

H. LAWLER: Hermana Mari is a curandero who only works pure ‘curanderiso’ (healing). However, probably the majority of people practicing shamanism will work both sides. It’s very hard to find pure curanderos who are not tempted to work on the dark side for a price. You have to understand, within the culture, the practice of shamanism is more often than not a mercenary profession. For a majority of people (who practice it), they make their living this way. The true purely benevolent shaman dedicated to selflessly serving the people is very hard to find.

VA: I certainly understand the practical application of shamanism. Of all the shamans in this area, what percentage of shamans practice some form of witchcraft?

HM: Many, many. But shamans also have defenses against the brujos.

H. LAWLER: Hermana Mari does not consider what she does magic. It’s not witchcraft. Its pure forest medicine…”medicina de la selva.” Here, only ‘brujeria is considered witchcraft. There’s curanderismo and brujeria. White and Black. Light and Dark. In most cases there seems to be a firm clear line between good and evil defined mainly by whether it brings harm or ill to others or heals and brings good to others. Though all this seems like superstition to the western mind, there are psychic and spiritual aspects which, with enough experience here, are difficult to deny.

VA: Hermana Mari, do you believe in karma?

HM: Everything that brujos do comes back to them in the end. But they are not looking that far ahead. They are looking for the quick, short, immediate gain and that’s why they do what they do. They gain great power very quickly. One can come under study with a brujo and learn to do amazing things very quickly. But, at a great price. To become a curandero is very slow and very demanding. There’s no price to pay down the road. Down the road is glory and blessing.

VA: What happens when you die?

HM: The flesh is nothing. It doesn’t matter. What matters is our spirit. Our spirit never dies. When we die, we will come back in spirit and continue the work we are doing now. We call this “forgotten spirits” – the spirits of shamans who lived before and come back through us.

VA: What will happen when you die?

HM: I will incorporate into another body. I may come back into Howard’s body and work after I’m gone. I am preparing Howard for this.

VA: Who works in your body now?

HM: I knew a shaman who died but now comes and works through me. He was a Rosicrucian.

VA: Hermana Mari, thank you for setting aside time to talk with me and answer my questions. It has been an honor and privilege attending your ceremonies.

Spiritual Traditions Of The Andes Interview With Doris Rivera Lenz Part 1

Submitted by Howard G. Charing

Part 2: A look at the rich and powerful spiritual legacy of the Andean civilization which is only now being properly recognised after 500 years of obscurity. This interview of Doris Rivera Lenz, was conducted by Howard G. Charing & Peter Cloudsley. This interview appeared in Sacred Hoop Magazine Issue 57, and the book Plant Spirit Shamanism (Destiny Books USA).

Are people who come to you for coca divination often unwell?

If you ask me if people are unwell, the majority are unwell, in their spirit or mind, there are lots of problems today. They are particularly afflicted in the stomach, the solar plexus, and the belly button. It’s the place of emotional pain, and also where we are joined to life. This is what ayahuasca is, the rope that connects us to life.

What about people who sense that their bad luck is caused by someone putting a hex on them. What do you do? Can you send the hex back to its place of origin?

The first thing is to discover what is going on in the present. The wife had an accident, the husband was unfaithful, they haven’t got a job, the house is falling down… Then I look to see their capacity to accept a criticism, to listen to the mother leaf ticking them off saying: you have done this, you are insecure, weak, a drunk, or a prostitute. What is the story? Is it karmic or something that they are doing?

When there is jealousy in the jungle the black brujo might send out virotes (poisoned darts in the spirit world) while a good shaman blows mapacho tobacco smoke, and cleanses you with his shacapa leaves, but this sounds like a more psychological approach, you are seeing what people are doing themselves. How do you make sense of the belief that the problem is caused by sorcery?

You have to show the person he is not the victim of sorcery and that he is creating the problem in his mind. They need to go back over it; talking about it brings it out and is the first part of becoming well again.

It is true that some people will take vengeance through black magic when they feel prejudiced or offended in some way, because they are sick. When people think they have power and feel superior, the ego can become very negative. The first thing I do is to wake up the consciousness of the person who has been harmed and tell them that evil does not exist! ‘You are inventing it’, I tell them. Black brujos do exist of course, but you need to use a bit of psychology.

The power of black magic does not exist?

Neither good nor bad exists, it is a universe, and we create the good and the bad. But I recognise that the person may feel attacked. When someone falls ill it means they are weak and the curandero must speak positively and encourage them to shine light on it. Then they can create positive thoughts for themselves. If I agree and say they are bewitched its makes them worse.

I see you are trying to shift that person’s reality around but do you recognise that it can exist?

Of course, but the act itself is not so powerful as white magic, it is the negative spirit of the black brujo which creates the power of the spell. If you get hold of a chicken and take off its feathers, put a toad inside, and hang it in the doorway of a hated neighbour, you can give them a nasty fright, but without a powerful negative spirit nothing will happen. But if the intentions are very negative and the person is weak they will pick it up quickly.

The most powerful brujos are found in the jungle where there are powerful plants for healing just as there are dangerous plants that can paralyse your body and so on. But plants have much more wisdom than people. Do you think that if I go to a floripondio and say I want help to do harm to so and so, that it will be at my disposal? You have to make a pact with the spirit.

Do people need to believe that your ceremony has done something?

When people trust that you are a white curandero they open up, you have special permission to go into their soul, and work with suggestion. Lets say you give them a bath in a herb with spines, and you ask permission from the spirit of that plant to heal the person with fright or a bad spell – you bathe them, you put them on a diet, you cleanse them and purify them. You call their soul and give them strength and they get well.

You are a psychologist?

Its OK to say that.

A lot depends on the mind and education of the person. Some curanderos hardly speak to their clients, do they?

Yes, I talk a lot, but there are times when I can’t say anything.

Is there something similar going on when you pass eggs over people?

There are several ways of working with an egg. We know that an egg is the union of the masculine and the feminine. We should recognise that this union is supremely sacred. We are the product of an egg too. So the egg is the total energy of the mother’s and the father’s cells. You take the first egg of a hen, which is virgin, and ask the ‘angelic’, elemental spirit to take away the illness of a person, you ask the spirit for permission to do it. Then you pass it over their body, its like an X-Ray. You can also do it with guinea-pigs or rabbits, but I don’t like doing it with animals.

Is it a mechanical process or is there a link between you and the client?

There is a link, a connection with the spirit of the egg, because I don’t have X-Ray eyes. When I break the egg into a glass of water, there is no set interpretation that says that a bubble here always means this or that. The moment the human mind comes into the passing of the egg or a coca leaf reading, the process goes out of balance. If I want to comfort you, and I say: you’re not going to die, you’ll be OK, its spoiled.

The fact that there is a long tradition behind these methods of divination helps you?

Of course, its an ancestral thing.

What is different about people from the West? What do they need?

Their heads cutting off! No, its only a joke!

To be serious though, their religion has failed them, the church authorities have kept vested interests and institutions going. Eventually people have thrown the baby out with the bath water. In Peru, the campesinos have never really believed in the European religion, the Pope, sin, guilt etc. which has only confused them.

When the Inca Atahualpa was told by the Spanish he should be baptized, he replied: ‘No, I won’t change my God, for a God which has died already. I believe in one with never dies.’ Mother Earth is the feminine aspect of God, and father Sun is the masculine aspect, and we are a product of that. We are Gods and we should believe in ourselves first. Its fine to have Gods; the Oriental ones, an Inca, an extra-terrestrial, Buddha or Crishna, but there will never be anything like Mother Earth and the Sun, or the moon. Think what would happen if we lost them? That is God!

All Gods come through Nature. You can have as many Gods as you want, it doesn’t close any doors, no one is being judged, but what has become of Western religion? Materialism, loss of identity, loss of customs. How can we help people in the face of the avalanche of problems being created today? Cut off their heads? Give them a heavy dose of positive cosmic radiation?

There is so much struggle today. Take the climatic changes, for example, it shouldn’t be raining at this time in Cusco, yet it is pouring down, so people are no longer thinking about nature but money and the help they need. People have become completely insecure. Imagine if we went to live in nature again, surrounded by mountains, or in the rainforest, in nature.

Yet the tendency today is for everybody to want to move into the cities everywhere, to live like America, build motorways.

Its sad. I’ve spent time with people in the Andes. I have seen people leaving their traditional clothes and customs for the Maranata religion. They are a group that says why do you believe in the Earth, the Sun, the puma and the condor? Again religion controlling the Andean campesino. These people go to the city and see a TV and think, ‘what a beautiful TV!’ They sell their llamas and buy one. I am sad to see their children who are so pure, being contaminated.

They learn negative habits and are hypnotized, and no longer want to work their land. It really hurts in my soul to see a Q’ero curandero obsessing about dollars meanwhile forgetting his power. This loss of values for material things is happening so fast, its incredible! It’s the Western influence which has been working over 500 years.

They see on TV the huge kinds of potatoes which can be produced using fertilizers, and they think ‘how beautiful, I want that’, but they don’t know how the earth is ruined by fertilizers.

What do you see happening in the future on a planetary level?

People will get a nasty shock from seeing the increasing changes and natural disasters on the earth and we will be shocked into changing.

The only way we can change?

Unfortunately yes. To avoid the fear we need to work daily to balance ourselves, so that the collective fear will not infect us. Even if those around you are overcome you must be a maestro and maintain your centre. We have forgotten the power that an offering has, look how we are eating this chocolate and we have forgotten to give a little to the Earth.

Every body worries about their future, no? But there will come a time when no one will want to consult about it any more, they will have finally woken up to the realisation that there is no future in the way we are going. They will be shocked into living in the present and this will create a new human being. We will realise that individualism doesn’t work and this will unite us in a shared future.

The desperation will show the necessity of love. Who will want to do harm or be aggressive when money and material things have become useless? We will come back to a new kind of community consciousness. We are beginning to anticipate all this and becoming more conscious, but we are swerving about. However, people who see only the material world, are blind to it and live isolated from humanity. What happens to them when there is an earthquake or tidal wave? This is what Pachacuti is about, an awakening of a new consciousness, a return.

There is so much wisdom in nature, she rears us like her children, teaches us to ask permission, to care for her like ourselves.

Related link:
Spiritual Traditions of the Andes | Interview with Doris Rivera Lenz

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.

Bringers Of The Dawn Teachings From The Pleiadians Barbara Marciniak

Posted By Ina Woolcott

The Pleiadians are multidimensional beings whom Barbara Marciniak claims to have channelled. The teachings challenge and inspire the reader to remember that we are a “Family of Light” in the midst of economic, social and environmental catastrophe. The teachings reveal sexuality as the body’s link to a higher frequency, love, show Earth as an ancient battleground between good and evil (positive and negative forces), and bring us information about extra-terrestrials. I have read the book several times since 2003 after attending a shamanic workshop in the Brazil. It is good material and definitely worth reading.

What one other reader said: When we realize the powers of thought and word we will no longer use them mindlessly. The doubting of this is another thought creation itself. Open your eyes and stop destroying you power by doubting that you have any. You have ability to manifest anything in life and when this is aligned with Divine will you are in for the most glorious of experiences. Total surrender in bliss and ecstasy. This will reverberate around the planet and awaken all who are ready. Think it. Know it. Live it. What do you want in this world, fear or love ?

Marciniak is also the author of 3 further books, which can be seen and purchased on the carousel below.

To hear Marciniak speak go to my blog. Click HERE This is video 1 of 18 of Barbara Marciniak talking. I find the material so useful. I often listen to the videos whilst writing.

Horizons Perspectives On Psychedelics Conference

Submitted by Xi Wang

The waves of mass psychedelic utopianism have come and gone, the hippie movement of the late ’60s and its electronic terpsichorean echo in the rave scene of the ’90s. But there’s a small but devoted community of scientists, spiritual seekers, artists and grown-up hedonists exploring the value of these drugs.

The “Horizons: Perspectives on Psychedelics” conference, held in New York Sept. 19-21, sought to present an older and wiser psychedelic movement, focusing on medicine, art, spirituality, and culture. It drew around 300 people, a mix of academic and hippie types, with the white button-down shirts slightly outnumbering the dreadlocks and the NASA T-shirts.

Psychedelics are “the most powerful psychiatric medicine ever devised,” says psychotherapist Neal Goldsmith, who curated the speakers. But because the way they work as medicine — when used in the proper setting — is by generating mystical experiences, “science has to expand.” Solid research, he adds, could change government policy, which classifies psychedelics as dangerous drugs with no accepted medical use.

The most promising current medical research, said Rick Doblin of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, is in coupling MDMA (Ecstasy) with intensive psychotherapy to treat post-traumatic stress disorder. Preliminary studies, he said, have had “very encouraging results” with patients who did not respond to talk therapy and conventional medications.

The group hopes to win FDA approval within 10 years. But pharmaceutical companies aren’t interested — the MDMA molecule is in the public domain, the number of pills used in the therapy is unprofitably low, and the drug is controversial. So the model for developing it, Doblin said, will probably be along the lines of Planned Parenthood’s support for RU486.

Why are the FDA so quick in giving the green light to anti depressants for expectant mothers and ‘drugs’ to keep kids, er, ‘drugged up’ in classrooms with apparent ADHD etc, and yet chemical and non-chemical compounds are categorised as illegal because they actually genuinely help people. Who’s in it for profit huh?

For the full article What Happens When You Put 300 Experts on Psychedelics in the Same Room? HERE

The Attributes Of Plants And The Spirit Of Life A Shaman S Perspective

Submitted by Howard G. Charing

The shamans work with the power of the plants in many ways, the colours of the flowers, the perfume, their shape, form, and associations. This although does not play a role in modern medicine, this understanding has a long history most notably introduced by the 16th century alchemist and philosopher Paracelsus, who in his famous “Doctrine of Signatures” treatise proposes his premises which are based upon the view that Nature itself is a living organism which must be considered as an expression of the One Life, and that man and the Universe are one in their essential nature, and that there is a ‘magnetic’ attraction between every part of nature and its corresponding part in man. He held that the inner nature of plants may be discovered by their outer forms or signatures. Paracelsus also applied this principle to food, “it is not in the quantity of food but in it’s quality that resides the Spirit of Life”.

Nowadays these are principles which are very familiar, in particular it one of the fundamental reasons for eating organic food. The huge concerns regarding the consumption of genetically modified (GM) food is a powerful demonstration of the notion and ‘gut-feeling’ that it is basically wrong.

Even with this in mind, Paracelsus’s premise is a far more subtle, spiritual, and in essence shamanic then it’s rational minded critics deride, in as much the outer form is the just the gateway (i.e. an outer sensorial portal) to the inner spirit or consciousness of the plant.

Of Paracelsus, Manly Hall the Canadian philosopher, and author has said, gained his knowledge “not from long-coated pedagogues but from dervishes in Constantinople, witches, gypsies, and sorcerers, who invoked spirits and captured the rays of the celestial bodies in dew”. As an observation it sounds just like the kind of people who do communicate with the plant spirits!

To illustrate the connection between the alchemical knowledge and the knowledge of indigenous peoples is this understanding of the form, and characteristics of the plant is not confined to the physical but also other attributes too, as an interview with the Amazonian maestro Artiduro Aro Cardenas who remarks; ‘A smell has the power to attract. I can also make smells to attract business, people who buy. You just rub it on your face and it brings in the people to your business, if you are selling, people come to buy. I also make perfumes for love, and others for flourishing. These are the forces of nature, what I do is give it direction with my breath so it has effect. I use my experience of the plants, which I have dieted. I have a relation with the plants and with the patient; I can’t make these things on a commercial scale.

When I diet I take in the strength of the plant and it stays with me. Later I find the illness or suffering of the person or what it is they want, and the plant guides me and tells me if it is the right one for that person, and I cure them’

He also (as do many maestros) works with the plants not only to heal illnesses but to resolve domestic and family problems;

‘I get people coming for help to give up drug addiction, people with family problems, supposing the man has gone off and left his family, the Mama is here with me and the Papa is far away. I pull him back so he returns to his home so that the family can consolidate again. In a short time he will be thinking of his children and his wife, and he comes back. I don’t need to have the actual plants in front of me, I call the plant spirits which work for that, Renaco, Huayanche, Lamarosa, Sangapilla, perfumes and I call his spirit back to the family home. I blow smoke to reunite them.’

Another (in a very enjoyable way) the qualities, consciousness or spirit of the plant is used to attract benign forces is “los baños florales” or flower baths. In this the individual is bathed in flowers, which have been soaking in water for many hours. The maestro prepares the water by blowing mapacho (jungle tobacco) smoke and at the same time placing his intention into the flower soaked water. Again these flowers and plants have been gathered from sometimes deep and not easily accessible locations in the rainforest and have been selected for their specific qualities, which the maestro feels, are needed to help that person.

On the edge of the Amazonian town Iquitos is the market river port of Belen, which has the famous street ‘Pasaje Paquito’ where many of the rainforest, herbs, plants, mixtures, tinctures are sold. Chatting to Delia the owner of the stall where I buy plants from, I remember her describing some of the potions, lotions, plants, tonics, barks, perfumes, roots, oils, aphrodisiacs and leaves, and remarking “when you talk to the plants you will get to know them like friends, they have their own spirits, their own personalities”.

Related link: Alchemy, Shamanism, Organic Food, and the Doctrine of Signatures

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.

Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee Dee Brown

First published in 1970, this extraordinary book changed the way people thought about the original inhabitants of America. Beginning with the Long Walk of the Navajos in 1860, and ending 30 years later with the massacre of Sioux men, women, and children at Wounded Knee in South Dakota, it tells how the American Indians lost their land and lives to a dynamically expanding white society. During these 3 decades, America’s population doubled from 31 million to 62 million. Again and again, promises made to the Indians fell victim to the ruthlessness and greed of settlers pushing westward to make new lives, at the expense of others lives. The Indians were herded off their ancestral lands into ever-shrinking reservations, and were starved and killed if they resisted. It is a true that “history is written by the victors”. For the first time, this book described the opening of the West from the Indians’ viewpoint. Accustomed to stereotypes of Indians as red savages and heathens, many white people were shocked to read the reasoned eloquence of Indian leaders and learn of the bravery with which they and their peoples endured suffering. With meticulous research and in measured language overlaying brutal narrative, Dee Brown focused attention on what is still, and forever will be, a national disgrace.

Inner Paths To Outer Space Journeys To Alien Worlds Through Psychedelics And Other Spiritual Technologies

Posted By Ina Woolcott

Inner Paths to Outer Space is a book written by the following authors:

* Rick Strassman, M.D., clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine and the author of DMT: The Spirit Molecule.
* Slawek Wojtowicz, M.D., medical oncologist working for Daiichi-Sankyo in Edison, New Jersey, a science-fiction illustrator, and the author of Daydreaming.
* Luis Eduardo Luna, Ph.D., co-author (with Pablo Amaringo) of Ayahuasca Visions and director of Wasiwaska: Research Center for the Study of Psychointegrator Plants, Visionary Art and Consciousness in Florianópolis, Brazil.
* Ede Frecska, M.D., is chief of psychiatry at the National Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology in Budapest, Hungary. Also a contributing author to Psychedelic Medicine.
* Artwork is done by: Robert Venosa, Martina Hoffmann, Slawek Wojtowicz, Pablo Amaringo and Karl Kofoed.

For thousands of years, voyagers of inner space, spiritual seekers, shamans, and psychoactive drug users, have come back from their inner imaginal travels reporting encounters with alien intelligences. Inner Paths to Outer Space presents an innovative examination of how we can reach these dimensions of existence and contact otherworldly beings. Based on their 60plus years of combined research into the function of the brain, the authors reveal how psychoactive substances such as DMT allow the brain to bypass our 5 basic senses to unlock a multidimensional realm of existence where otherworldly communication occurs. They contend that the century old search for alien life forms has been misdirected and that the alien worlds reflected in visionary science fiction actually mirror the inner space world of our minds. The authors show that these “alien” worlds encountered through altered states of human awareness, either through the use of psychedelics or other methods, possess a sense of reality as great or greater than, those of the ordinary awareness perceived by our 5 senses.

RELATED LINK: MindExpandingLibrary

The Ayahuasca Visions Of Pablo Amaringo Exclusive Interview With The Great Visionary Artist

Submitted by Howard G. Charing

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 is interviewed at his gallery in Pucallpa, Peru, by Howard G Charing and Peter Cloudsley.

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.

Howard and Peter 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.

What drew you to being a shaman?

It was a spiritual matter for me. I had thought that shamans deceived and lied to people, so I didn’t believe in them. I thought that Ayahuasca healed people because it was medicine, I didn’t believe in magic and spirits. No! Then in 1967 I saw a curandera miraculously heal my sister who had been in mortal agony with hepatitis, and could not either eat or speak, but with this single healing from the plants, she was cured in just two hours. That motivated me to start learning the science of vegetalismo.

She was given Ayahuasca?

No, the Senora used the knowledge of Ayahuasca and chanted. That was during the day. That same night I drank and received the powers, but I didn’t know what I was being given. I saw many things. I sat like a king and watched! After that I dieted for five days, staying at home, without seeing many people.

After one month I began to feel what everybody else was feeling, it was a very strange thing! And I discovered I could sing the chants without even learning them. They came out beautifully and I wondered how it was possible that I knew them. I realised I had powers in me and I began to be a curandero when I cured a young man with a terrible headache, firstly I felt it and then he was better.

Is it an important part of the cure, to feel what the patient feels?

That was how the powers were given to me, but others say that when they take the Ayahuasca, they can see what the problem is with their patient. I didn’t even have to drink, I felt exactly where their pains were, and their emotions, everything.

What plant did you take on your diet?

Just Ayahuasca, but afterwards I took other plants at the same time as Ayahuasca, to learn more things.

Then you practiced as a curandero in Pucullpa?

Yes, and for many years I travelled to Madre de Dios, Cusco, Lima, Huanuco, Tingo Maria and Alto Ucayali. Wherever I went I cured people.

At that time Pucullpa was much smaller.

Yes, the houses were mostly wooden, with cultivation behind them, there were no high buildings. None of the streets had tarmac, they were of red mud, except for the one central Plaza. The road to Lima was terrible and it took a month or more to get there.

How do you communicate with plant spirits after you take them into you?

When you take any plant other than Ayahuasca, you connect through your dreams. Ajo sacha, Chric Sanango, Bobinsana etc. you learn while you are asleep. But with Ayahuasca no, you are conscious and awake. That is why it is the planta maestra – the eye through which you see the world, the universe. It is miraculous and sacred and you can learn from your studies far more with Ayahuasca than with other plants, but you must obey the ‘statutes’ of this plant, i.e. the rules. If you obey, no knowledge will be withheld from you.

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!

How did you discover your gift of painting?

I used to make portraits and landscapes when I was 20 years old, but mostly using charcoal. But this didn’t earn me any money so I dedicated myself to other things, agriculture, raising animals and hairdressing, all kinds of things. I was working as secretary to the chief of customs here in the port of Pucullpa. One day my boss told me to paint two armchairs, and as I had never painted, I just slapped on the paint any old how, and it looked awful with lumps everywhere. But the boss didn’t reprimand me; he said how come you are good at everything except painting? I was a little hurt because he was always so impressed by everything I did. This made me think that if I was going to learn to paint, I would learn to do it well.

After three years working there I had a heart problem and returned to doing portraits in pencil beginning with my own portrait.

How did you begin painting visions?

Years passed and I used to say to my mother, when I am older I will paint several pictures of myself so that after I am dead people will know there has been a painter in the family! One day I was asked to accompany a foreign gentleman because I spoke a little English but I did not know that he was the biologist Denis McKenna. After some years he recommended me for a job in Sepagua but I was not able to take it up because my mother fell ill. So when he came back in 1985 I asked him if he would show my pictures in an exhibition he was organizing in Switzerland. They were small pictures, but later he returned with Luis Eduardo Luna who said how beautifully you paint Pablo. I can promote your work; do you want to be a world class painter? I said no, I don’t want any of those things. I don’t know what a ‘world class’ painter is. I just want you to help me sell my pictures to make a little money. I was portraying the daily realities of people in the Amazon, how they sow and harvest, how they fish and celebrate their fiestas and so on. Luna said how is it I haven’t met you before now? Every year I have been coming for the last eight years, travelling up the Amazon through Brazil and Peru to Panama!

I asked him why he came. What was he looking for? We are interested in the magical plants of Peru from the coast, Sierra and Selva . I know what you are after, I said. I used to be a shaman ten years ago, what a shame you didn’t know me before, but now I have put all that behind me. I could have told you so much about what I had seen, I said. Then I started to think that I could paint for him all the things I had seen in my visions and all the things that were explained to me. But I had to do it in secret because even when people saw photos of what I painted, they said I had gone mad, that I was bedevilled and painting things of the demon!

They worried me with these remarks. I could never have had an exhibition here in Pucullpa. So Luna said paint for me then! And I made two pictures of visions for his next visit, and when he saw those pictures – one of which is in the Museum of Washington DC and the other in the University of Stockholm – they took hundreds of pictures of them. But I said he could take them away. And that’s what they did, wrapped up in a huge box. They sold them and sent me the money. After that they said we don’t want any more landscapes, only visions!

They studied them and said they found language and biology in the pictures so later I began to make explanations of them. But I could never show them to people here. That’s how it all started.

Are people still prejudiced here?

Yes, many are still. Once some religious people came and said that if the name of Jesus was spoken the paintings would explode. And they asked me to say Jesus. I said I can’t say that word, what for? They said to each other, he has got the devil in him, if he says Jesus, he will explode!

You have many amazing paintings here in your studio; can you tell us something about them?

The pictures are a means by which people can cross spiritual boundaries. Some people say they can only believe what they see, but there are thing which exist which cannot be seen. The pictures are for reminding people what we are and where we come from and where we are going. They are for people of any culture in the world although there is much that is taken from indigenous Amazonian culture.

Would you like to add anything more about the importance of plants?

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!

For the full interview with some of Pablo’s paintings and his descriptions, visit the website listed below.

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.

Carlos Castaneda A Short Biography

By Ina Woolcott

‘Carlos Castaneda is one the most profound and influential thinkers of his century. His insights are paving the way for the future evolution of human consciousness. We should all be deeply indebted to him’. ~ DEEPAK CHOPRA

Carlos Castaneda became the student of a Yaqui Shaman, Don Juan, from 1961 till the Autumn of 1965 in Mexico, inspiring him to write 12 books and several academic articles, plus three videos, that portrayed his active participation and experiences, knowledge and skills gained whilst under the tuition of the Yaqui Shamans, primarily Don Juan. Yaqui shamans are indigenous to central parts of Mexico. He was trained in traditional Mesoamerican Shamanism. Castaneda sometimes called this sorcery. Sorcery can be described as having the power to influence events, objects, people, and physical reality. Castaneda to start with used various amounts and types of hallucinogenic herbs and medicinal plants including Jimson Weed, Peyote and Datura to enlarge his vision of reality. Once he understood how to access parallel realities he no longer required hallucinogens. They were to kick start him in the right direction and to open his mind. In his early books he describes how he received the position of nagual from Don Juan. Nagual meaning leader, shape shifter or witch/sorcerer. He went on to lead a party of 3 female seers. Castaneda states that some of his daily perception was focused in a realm accessible, but not easily reachable, by ‘ordinary’ men/women and hinted that he was a connection to this realm, which he named nonordinary reality, for his party of seers. This suggests this reality was real, but completely different to the reality experienced by the masses.

CC claimed to have been born on the 25th December 1931 and supposedly died on April 27th 1998 of liver cancer. Immigration records show that he was born in 1925. Having read his first 5 books so far (I have all 12) I personally think that if he DID say he was born in 1925, this was to erase his personal history. Erasing personal history is described in his 3rd book: Journey to Ixtlan, The Lessons of Don Juan. This is a method that Don Juan taught him. I highly recommend that you read his books, they are awe inspiring and captivating. Ones begun it is hard to put them down!

Receiving his education at the University of California Los Angeles he went on to gain B.A. 1962, and a Ph.D. in 1970. His first 3 books were written whilst an anthropology student and were written as a research log of the time he was an apprentice of Don Juan. He was awarded his bachelor’s and doctoral degrees for these books.

Like with most great people there are those that doubt his work, there are critics who try to debunk his work, saying that his books are fictitious, that he wrote in the traditional way of storytellers, known as ethnopoetics, found among many Native Indian Cultures. Some have tried to assure the certainty and validity of his work with his personal history and that of his apprentices, his party of seers Florinda Donner-Grau, Taisha Abelar and Carol Tiggs. I believe wholeheartedly that he was not just storyteller and what he countered was true, others may not. It was his truth that he uncovered and decided to share with us, a profound one at that. We all have our own truths to uncover. Even IF not true, does it matter? If his writings have helped to enrich and transform peoples lives for the better, like mine, this is all that matters. These books are a definite must read for anyone interested in shamanism, the old ways and the Native Indian Cultures. They offer insights, knowledge and lessons that will hopefully ring true to you, like they did me.