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.

Shipibo Ayahuasca Shaman Leoncio Garcia Interviewed

Submitted by Howard G. Charing

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

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

Interviewed at Mishana Private Retreat Centre, Amazon Rainforest with Peter Cloudsley August 2005.

Leoncio Garcia

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

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

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

Leoncio tells a Shipibo (cautionary) myth?

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

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.

Alex Grey Artwork Sacred Mirrors

Alex Grey was born in Columbus, Ohio on November 29, 1953, the middle child of a gentle middle-class couple. His father, a graphic designer, encouraged his son’s drawing ability. Young Alex would collect insects and dead animals from the suburban neighbourhood and bury them in the back garden. The themes of death and transcendence weave throughout his artworks, from the earliest drawings to later performances, paintings and sculpture.

At the Boston Museum School – which he attended for a year – he met his future wife, the artist, Allyson Rymland Grey. During this period he had a series of entheogenically induced mystical experiences that transformed his agnostic existentialism to a radical transcendentalism.

Alex also spent 5 years at Harvard Medical School working in the Anatomy department studying the body and preparing cadavers for dissection. He also worked at Harvard’s department of Mind/Body Medicine with Dr. Herbert Benson and Dr. Joan Borysenko conducting scientific experiments to investigate subtle healing energies. Alex’s anatomical training prepared him for painting the Sacred Mirrors – a unique series of 21 life-size paintings – and for doing medical illustration. When doctors saw his Sacred Mirrors, they asked him to do illustration work.

Grey was an instructor in Artistic Anatomy and Figure Sculpture for 10 years at New York University, and now teaches courses in Visionary Art with his wife Allyson at The Open Center in New York City, Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado, the California Institute of Integral Studies and Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York.

In 1972 Grey began a series of art actions that bear resemblance to rites of passage, in that they present stages of a developing psyche. The approx. 50 performance rites, conducted over the last 30 years move through transformations from an egocentric to more sociocentric and increasingly worldcentric and theocentric identity. The most recent performance was WorldSpirit, a spoken word and musical collaboration with Kenji Williams which was released in 2004 as a DVD.

The Sacred Mirrors series, take the viewer on a journey toward their own divine nature by examining, in detail, the body, mind and spirit. The Sacred Mirrors present the physical and subtle anatomy of an individual in the context of cosmic, biological and technological evolution. Begun in 1979, the series took 10 years to complete. It was during this period that he developed his depictions of the human body that “x-ray” the multiple layers of reality and reveal the interplay of anatomical and spiritual forces. After painting the Sacred Mirrors, he applied this multidimensional perspective to such archetypal human experiences as praying, meditation, kissing, copulating, pregnancy, birth, nursing and dying. Alex’s recent work has explored the subject of consciousness from the perspective of “universal beings” whose bodies are grids of fire, eyes and infinite galactic swirls.

To find out more and to purchase Alex Grey’s products click HERE or browse below…

Black Elk Speaks John G Neihardt

Black Elk Speaks is the story of the Lakota visionary and healer Nicholas Black Elk, (1863-1950) and his people during the momentous twilight years of the 19th century. Black Elk met the distinguished poet, writer, and critic John G. Neihardt (1881-1973), in 1930 on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, and chose to tell Neihardt his story. Neihardt understood and conveyed Black Elk’s experiences in this powerful and inspirational message meant for all humankind. When Black Elk received his great vision, white settlers were invading the Lakotas’ homeland, decimating buffalo herds, and threatening to extinguish the Lakotas’ way of life. The Lakotas’ fought fiercely to retain their freedom and way of life, a dogged resistance that resulted in a remarkable victory at the Little Bighorn, and an unspeakable tragedy at Wounded Knee. Black Elk Speaks offers much more than a precious glimpse of a vanished time however. As related by Neihardt, Black Elk’s searing visions of the unity of humanity and the earth have made this book a venerated spiritual classic. Whether appreciated as the poignant tale of a Lakota life, a history of a Native nation, or an enduring spiritual testament, “Black Elk Speaks” is truly unforgettable. The new edition below, features 2 additional essays by John G. Neihardt that further illuminate his experience with Black Elk; an essay by Alexis Petri, great-granddaughter of John G. Neihardt, that celebrates Neihardt’s remarkable accomplishments; and a look at the legacy of the special relationship between Neihardt and Black Elk, written by Lori Utecht, editor of “Knowledge and Opinion: Essays and Literary Criticism of John G. Neihardt”.

Healers Shamans And Psychic Surgeons Of The Philippines Part 2 Jun Labo

Submitted by Howard G. Charing

Together with my colleague Patrick Hamouy (of Alternative Therapies) , we met with Jun and were his guest recently at his residence in the mountain regions of northern Luzon, its location and altitude in the Cordiella mountain range keep it cool and pleasant during the hot and extremely humid summer months. His house is somewhat of an Oriental palace, with pagodas, roof gardens, terraces within terraces, large statues of lions, eagles, frogs, gnomes, and with an eclectic mixture of painted murals and bas-reliefs of ancient Chinese symbols, and warriors in combat. The gardens are filled with beautiful blossoms, and exotic tropical trees, and of course the local mountain pines. Jun has also dedicated a ‘shrine’ to his first car (a VW Beetle) in the grounds.

Jun is an enigma within the enigma, on the one hand he was (and still is) a political figure of significant influence. He was Mayor of Baguio City, and twice Governor of the province. He is world famous in the area of healing, and featured in the film ‘Exploring the Unknown’ (1977) narrated by Burt Lancaster. Jun is also proud that he has been ‘officially’ tested by doctors in the USA. He was wired up to all kinds of monitors, at Wisconsin University, and observed by a team of medical doctors and surgeons, and his healing was proclaimed genuine.

So on the one hand there is the man Jun Labo, an extrovert personality, extremely confident, very flamboyant, a former playboy, politician and celebrity, and on the other hand there is the extraordinary powerful healer Jun Labo. Prior to a healing sessions, in which any number to 40 people receive individual healing, Jun starts with his prayers which includes facing what in shamanism would be calling in the powers of the ‘four directions’ and burns incense to raise the energy and vibration of the healing room. It is at his prayers and meditation which preclude the healing session, that you feel a perceptible shift, Jun changes in some way, and you can feel that you are in the presence of ‘something’ or ‘other-worldly’. Jun at that moment becomes (and not just figuratively speaking) a true ‘walker between the worlds’, a shaman in all but name.

Jun always insists that it is the ‘holy spirit’ that is working directly through his hands, and that he is only an instrument. Again we come to this situation where we attempt to describe in words the mystery of the spiritual forces which carry out the actual healing. What is the ‘holy spirit’, without question it has the characteristics of an external force or power. However to simply say that it is an invisible or incorporeal being is not fully satisfactory, even though my experiences have indicated that is what it is!

I recall a particular incident back in 2000 when I was working with the psychic surgeon Roger Delin in Baguio. I would go everyday to Roger’s house and sit with him just chatting and drinking tea, and then he would abruptly stand up and say let’s start. Anyway on this particular day, we seemed to be sitting around waiting for longer than usual. So I asked Roger why we were waiting for so long, he said “the spirit has not arrived yet, I get a nudge from the spirit when he is here” It was at that moment, it felt as if someone had given me a massive shove in the back, I looked around but there was no one there, behind me was empty. I looked at Roger; he smiled and said “time to start!”

Jun was born on 23 December 1934 in Dagupan City in Pangasinan, Philippines. His parents belonged to the “Union Espiritista Christiana de Filipinas” (a spiritualist church that has taught numerous healers in the Philippines). Jun’s mother was a psychic dentist and she forced Jun to go to church on Sundays. Jun was not keen on spending part of his Sunday in church and used to sneak out to play with his friends. As an interesting note, all the Philippines psychic surgeons I have met, even though they may practice in Baguio or Manila, all come from Pangasinan province, yet another enigma.

One Sunday, he became paralysed during a church ceremony. In a state of shock and with fear, he witnessed his first apparition of Jesus. This was Jun’s first encounter with Jesus who was to become one of his spirit guides for all healing.

His first healing experience came when he was accompanying his mother on a religious walk. One woman collapsed and Jun instinctively began rubbing her chest. Blood spurted out and Jun ran away in fear. The crowd brought him back and asked him to finish the healing. Jun carried on rubbing the woman’s chest and she fully recovered.

Jun’s diagnosis techniques

In order to find out the condition of a patient, Jun holds a sheet in front of the patient and uses it as a form of psychic x-ray. Through it, he is able to see spots inside the patient’s body. If the spots are dark, then the disease is serious (location and number of tumours are shown to him). If the spots are bright, it is not so serious.

In the film I mentioned earlier, Jun was operating on a Filipino patient suffering from eye problems. To diagnose the patient, Jun used his sheet as an X-ray and doing so, spotted something in the throat of Alan Newman (the producer of the documentary) who was standing behind the patient. After a successful operation on the Filipino, he asked Alan to lie down and operated on his throat, removing a large quantity of pus from it. Newman later confirmed that he had had problem with his throat for the past 8 years but had not told. After the surgery, Newman was able to breathe freely for the first time in 8 years.

My personal experiences with Jun Labo

I first met Jun three years ago, I was experiencing an ongoing lethargy, and lack of energy. He put a white sheet a few inches above me, and then quickly without any words, opened my body with his hands. There was no pain or discomfort, just a sensation of being touched. He took out a tangled mass of tissue from my chest. I looked back again and my skin had resealed. I then mentioned to him that my sinus area was blocked, he immediately and without any words, inserted his finger in my nostril and pushed it up. He then withdrew his finger with a piece of solid rubberised snot about 3 inches in length, and the thickness of my thumb attached to it. And that was it, a procedure which took about 10 minutes if that. I asked him what the problem was with my chest, and he said that one of my heart valves was blocked. I left his house breathing clearly, and filled with energy, a moment of true elation.

On my recent visit with Jun, I mentioned that my throat was feeling blocked. He removed a non cancerous growth the size of a tangerine from there, and then made another opening, and significant amount of thick pus and phlegm poured out. Patrick who was videoing all of this, was making some comments with regards to the ‘yeech’ factor as this was going on!

I witnessed and videoed a number of operations on Patrick. And as the platitude goes ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ we will be releasing some of our video footage so people can see (and hear) for themselves.

When I talked with Jun about shamanism, and how the shamans heal, he very much resonated with that and felt very much at home with that, even though he doesn’t define himself as a shaman.

Jun has a desire to teach healers, and has co-founded with Patrick (as Vice President), the International School of Metaphysical Healing and Development. This school will be based in Baguio. I have been invited to be an Associate Vice President and both Patrick and I will be bringing people interested in receiving healing from Jun, as well as learning and being trained in this form of metaphysical healing. Jun conducts a test on the apprentice or aspiring healer (I’m glad I passed!). He takes the index finger of the person, blows on it, makes a prayer and then runs the persons finger of a patient’s body. The finger running along the body makes an opening and draws blood. The opening is instantly closed as soon as the finger moves (I also have this on video).

Related link:
Healers, Shamans, and Psychic Surgeons of the Philippines
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.

Spiritual Traditions Of The Andes Doris Rivera Lenz Howard G Charing Peter Cloudsley Part 2

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.

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.