Icaros The Magical Chants Of The Ayahuasca Shamans

Submitted by Howard Charing

The Shamans of the Amazon exhibit a close union with the Natural World. This powerful emotional and spiritual bond enables them to commune with the powers of the Rainforest. Singing the chants or Icaros, is a way that this bond is expressed, and the Rainforest responds.

I recall one night time Ayahuasca ceremony, held in a small clearing in the Amazon rainforest. It was a beautiful clear night, there was no moon, and the sky was filled with hundreds of thousands of glistening stars; just looking up at the sky made my head swim. We were surrounded by trees and bushes, but could only discern their shapes and silhouettes. It felt as if I was in nature’s primordial theatre. When I had drank the Ayahuasca, the shaman started to chant his Icaros, and within a few minutes, there was the song of birds, fireflies flitting everywhere, the jungle around us was responding to the chants of the shaman. It was an exquisite experience, and the following day, when I discussed the opening experience, with the birds and insects appearing when he sang the first Icaro, he replied, “the first chant was to summon and ask the birds, and the insects for their protection”.

There are several different kinds of icaros, at the beginning of the session. Their purpose is to provoke the mareacion or effects, and, in the words of Javier, ‘to render the mind susceptible for visions to penetrate, then the curtains can open for the start of the theatre’. Other Icaros call the spirit of Ayahuasca to open visions ‘as though exposing the optic nerve to light’. Alternatively, if the visions are too strong, the same spirit can be made to fly away in order to bring the person back to normality.

There are icaros for calling the ‘doctors’, or plant spirits, for healing, while other icaros call animal spirits, which protect and rid patients of spells. Healing icaros may be for specific conditions like ‘manchare’, which a child may suffer when it gets a fright. The spirit of a child is not so fixed in its body as that of an adult, therefore a small fall can easily cause it to fly. Manchare is a common reason for taking children to Ayahuasca sessions.

The arts of the Shipibo, especially textile designs, are closely related to Ayahuasca icaros. The words of the chants are symbolic stories telling of the ability of nature to heal itself. For example the crystalline waters from a stream wash, cleanse, and purify a person who is unwell, while coloured flowers attract the hummingbirds whose delicate wings fan healing energies etc. You might see such things in your visions but the essence or core which cures you is perhaps more likely to be the understanding of what is happening in your life. These deep insights allow your inner feelings to unblock so that bitterness and anger can change to ecstasy and love. To awaken from the ‘illusion of being alive’ is to experience life itself.

The Icaros demonstrate the emotional bond between the shamans to the world of nature, and the spiritual powers of the rainforest. The Following Icaro ‘ Icaro Madre Naturaleza’ shows this relationship between man and nature.

English Translation by Peter Cloudsley

Don’t leave me, don’t leave me
My mother nature
Don’t leave me, don’t leave me
My mother nature
For if you will leave me
I would die or of the pain
My tears of desperation
My mother nature
Yes you have the gift of life
Sacred purification in you hands
Blessed mother nature

Don’t leave me don’t leave me
My mother nature
Don’t leave me, don’t leave me
My mother nature
For if you will leave me
I would die or of the pain
Tears of desperation
The white veil that your you have
As it covers this child
Clean my body and spirit
With the breath or of your lips
Dearest miraculous Mother.

Don’t leave me, don’t leave me
My mother nature Don’t leave me, don’t leave me
My mother nature
For if you will leave me
I will die of the sorrow
My tears of desperation
In the mountains or upper jungle
Where you give me peace and prosperity
Without regrets neither bitterness
Dearest pure Mother

Don’t leave me, don’t leave me
My mother nature
Don’t leave me, don’t leave me
My mother nature
For if you will leave me
I would die or of the pain
My tears of desperation
Where you Take a bath with the plants
Blessed Child put onto me
Your crown of health
Eternally in my heart


No me dejes no me dejes
Madre mia Naturaleza
No me dejes no me dejes
Madre mia Naturaleza
Por que vas i ti me dejares
Moriria o de las penas
Llantos y desesperaciones
Madre mia Naturaleza
Si tu tienes el don de la
Santa purificacion en ti manos
Benditas madre Naturaleza

No me dejes no me dejes
Madre mia Naturaleza
No me dejes no me dejes
Madre mia Naturaleza
Por que vas i ti me dejares
Moriria o de las penas
Llantos y desesperaciones
El velo blanco que tu tienes
Como cubre a esta criatura
Limpia mi cuerpo y espirutu
Con el soplo o de tus labios
Madre cita milagrosa

No me dejes no me dejes
Madre mia Naturaleza
No me dejes no me dejes
Madre mia Naturaleza
Por que vas i ti me dejares
Moriria o de las penas
Llantos y desesperaciones
En las altas o montanas
Donde pone paz y prosperaciones
Sin remordimentos ni rencores
Madre cita la pura

No me dejes no me dejes
Madre mia Naturaleza
No me dejes no me dejes
Madre mia Naturaleza
Por que vas i ti me dejares
Moriria o de las penas
Llantos y desesperaciones
Donde Banas con las plantas
Obendita criatura ponme ya
La corona de la sanidad
Muy eternal en mi Corazon

Howard G. Sharing 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 Sacred Teacher Plant Used By Indigenous Tribes

Who uses Ayahuasca and for what Purpose?

By Ina Woolcott

This powerful brew has been used ritually by the indigenous people of the Amazonian basin from time immemorial for prophecy, guidance, divination, worship, telepathy, cleansing and healing the body, mind and spirit, to diagnosis illness, to rid the body of worms and other tropical parasites, to defend themselves in supernatural battles against other shamans, to explore other realms of existence and to connect to one’s higher self. Ayahuasca enters into nearly every aspects of the life of those who use it, to an extent unequalled by any other entheogen. Those that drink ayahuasca, shamans or not, may see in their ayahuasca induced visions gods, the primordial human beings and animals, and even become privy to an understanding of the arrangement of their social order. Something primal and timeless is felt and known, it can feel familiar, as if you knew this all along but only forgot. Ayahuasca has been used in a number of countries in South and Central America, including Brazil, Ecuador, Panama, Venezuela, Colombia, Peru and Bolivia, by around seventy different indigenous peoples of the Americas. Amongst most Amazonian tribes, entheogenic/hallucinogenic intoxication is considered to be a collective journey into the subconscious and therefore a social event.

The ingestion of Ayahuasca is oftentimes accompanied by nausea and vomiting. The tea is extremely bitter tasting. Usually not the very first time, but after, the taste turns ever fouler. Once swallowed, one can feel it “snake” its way down their body. It actually feels like something alive has entered you. Typically, but not always, medicine songs called icaros, accompanied with the use of a chakapa (a healing instrument), are chanted by the shamans/medicine men or women, ayahuasqueros, and curanderos (folk healer or shaman in Hispanic-America) in Ayahuasca ceremonies. This is done to contact different spirit entities using specific icaros for each one, for healing, or to remove a bad spirit from an afflicted person. When undergoing the bra experience, you may even receive your own icaro, which is part of your medicine and for your use only, although an icaro can also be given away as simply a gift.

The repetitiveness with which snakes and jaguars occur in Ayahuasca visions is a matter of intrigue for psychologists. These animals may appear frequently in visions, as they are respected and feared by the Indians of the tropical forest for their power and stealth. Often shamans and participants in general become a feline creature during their Ayahuasca experience, exercising their powers as a cat metaphorically speaking. Some of those who’ve taken Ayahuasca may have the experience of jaguars swallowing them or huge snakes approaching and coiling around their bodies. A different sense of self may be experienced which can seem overpowering, frightening and alien as what is witnessed is overwhelming to the rational mind. Structures in the brain are triggered that have been ‘asleep’ so to speak for years – parts of the brain that are generally unconscious and can process at a level far beyond the limits of ‘normal’ consciousness. You are able to feel how truly connected we are with All That Is/the Universe/God.

In South America neo-Christian churches have arisen that use Ayahuasca. These religions appear to have begun at the beginning of the twentieth century. The most famous of them being Santo Daime and the União do Vegetal (or UDV). Some of these religious groups have thousands of members. Both Santo Daime and União do Vegetal have members and churches throughout the world. This is likely to assure the continued use of Ayahuasca as an entheogen. No matter which culture it is associated with, Ayahuasca is used largely as a religious sacrament. Sadly, early missionary reports generally claimed the plant brew was “demonic” and great efforts were made by the Roman Catholic Church to stamp out its usage by wrongly trying to impose their beliefs on the Native People of the Americas. Sometimes through murdering whole tribes and through torture. People, although not all people, fear the unknown. Some also believe they have the right to try and change others into ‘their’ image of what they believe they should be and do.

Amongst Westerners, interest in Ayahuasca is increasing. There are now Ayahuasca healing retreats available in South America, which some label ‘Ayahuasca Tourism’. By no means are all organizations bad, but some caution is required if you wish to attend a retreat. Observational reporting and scientific studies maintain that ritualized use of Ayahuasca can lead to the betterment of mental and physical health. Some celebrities have publicly discussed their use of Ayahuasca, including Sting, Tori Amos, and Paul Simon, as well as a recent British TV show called Extreme Celebrity Detox where celebrities took the brew live on TV.

Ayahuasca is NOT a recreational ‘drug’. It is a serious affair that offers profound insights into ones life. You lose the ability to hide from yourself and the things you normally try and block from your mind. Your life is laid out before you. Ayahuasca is drunk with an intention This can oftentimes direct the experience among specific avenues. A strict diet is followed before taking Ayahuasca which confirms one’s commitment to the teacher plant. The intelligence in the plant apparently recognizes this. One Ayahuasca session which lasts 3-8 hours or more, can have the benefit of years of therapy. You see your whole life before you, your mind and body are oftentimes healed, your brain re-wired after some regular use. Clarity is gained and a feeling of truly being alive is felt. As well as feelings of being at one with the universe and of being refreshed mentally and physically. One thing is for sure, once having had an Ayahuasca experience your life is hardly viewed the same as before.

Is it Legal?

DMT is a Schedule I/Class A drug internationally, under the Convention on Psychotropic Substances. However, the commentary on the Convention on Psychotropic Substances notes that the Banisteriopsis caapi vine (the MAO inhibitor, which is also oftentimes referred to as Ayahuasca) is excluded from this control. The cultivation of plants from which psychotropic substances are obtained is not controlled by the Vienna Convention. Neither the crown (fruit, mescal button) of the peyote cactus nor the roots of the plant Mimosa hostilis nor psilocybinmushrooms themselves are included in Schedule 1, but only their respective principles, mescaline, DMT and psilocin. Which can be a tricky loophole.

In the USA, the legal status of these plants is rather questionable. The plants used for the Ayahuasca brew and preparations are legal if used as part of a religious ceremony. But, Ayahuasca brews produced with DMT containing plants are illegal since DMT is a Schedule I drug. Currently, this is being challenged. A court case to allow União do Vegetal (UDV) to use the brew for religious purposes in the United States was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court on November 1, 2005; the decision, released February 21, 2006, allows the UDV to use the tea in its ceremonies in accordance with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

In Brazil, religious usage was legalized after two official inquiries in the mid-1980s, which concluded Ayahuasca is not a recreational drug and has valid spiritual/religious uses.

In 2005 the Santo Daime church won a court case in France allowing them to use the tea, not on the exception for religious purposes, but rather because they did not execute chemical extractions to end up with pure DMT and harmala and the plants used were not scheduled. Four months after this, the common ingredients of Ayahuasca as well as harmala were declared narcotic Schedule 1 substances, making it illegal to use or possess the tea and its ingredients.

Regardless of the drug of choice, all addicts are welcome to get treatment and join a drug program.

Related Link: Ayahuasca, Yajé, Yagé, Caapi, Vine of the Soul, Visionary Effects

The Psychotherapeutic Employment Of Sacred Plants

By Silvia Polivoy, www.ayahuasca-healing.net

The human being shows a remarkable disposition to seek spiritual transcendence.

Since the irrational cannot be erased from the human mind, the harder we try to deny it, the greater the power it will exert upon us. The spiritual experiences are associated to the occurrence of altered states of consciousness (ASC).

The society we live in considers (as opposed to shamanic knowledge) modified states of consciousness to be onanistic and vicious. Shamans argue that to satisfy our religious drive we have to experience the divine, and in order to achieve that, they use sacred plants. That is why the sacred plants are called entheogens, because they help experience the divine.

Abraham Maslow called these experiences “peak experiences”, but they are not limited to the altered states achieved through drugs or sacred plants. They can take place during meditation, hyperventilation, the practice of yoga, hypnosis, fast, physical suffering (such as the self-inflicted pain some saints underwent or the postures certain yogis kept for months, etc). In short, it is a state that can be reached in many ways and, once there, we can explore aspects of reality which are different from those perceived in an ordinary state of consciousness. These different aspects of reality are well studied.

The orthodox branch of science considers these altered states subjective, therefore worthless. Then, these feelings of ecstasy, these other “dimensions” of reality, these occurrences of mystical reunion, of beauty, this crossing of the space-time barrier, can be catalogued as pathological. Traditional Psychiatry does not separate mysticism from psychosis. That is why Transpersonal Psychology blends science with the study of the spiritual capabilities of man using methods to alter the state of consciousness, because the spiritual phenomena seem to be incomprehensible in an ordinary state of consciousness.

Modified states of consciousness may have a dangerous side because, since they affect the defence mechanisms of the individual, they may pave the way for unacceptable, repressed material from the individual’s past to the conscious mind and cause restlessness, which could rise to terrifying levels if the individual is unable to cope with his anxiety (this is what is usually known as a “bad trip”). That is why previous psychological counselling is advised, for the individual to be able to tell what comes from the outside from what comes from the inside. It is recommended, also, to experience such modified states of consciousness in the context of psychotherapy, under the supervision of qualified, well trained professionals.

But, in spite of the risks, the spiritual experiences, the unconscious material, and the altered amplified of consciousness related to them, are too valuable to be ignored. Thus psychotherapy takes advantage of the information, available when the repression mechanism is weak, to modify unwanted patterns of behaviour.

Most psychoactive substances resemble (and sometimes are identical to) substances normally produced by the human body. Therefore, the individual has a built-in capacity to experiment psychedelic states, which are inherent to certain aspects of the human mind inaccessible during wakefulness. So, under the appropriate circumstances, these substances allow the individual (for a limited period of time) to gain access to deeper parts of his psyche.

Through dreams we get in touch with those aspects of our personality which are hidden from the conscious mind. The entheogenic or psycho integrative plants help reach those states that we experience while dreaming or while in the middle of those rare, ecstatic epiphanies that can happen while we are awake. Unlike most drugs, entheogenic plants do not produce physical dependence. A quick, time-limited tolerance (that does not increase with the dose administered) is also characteristic.

Their main use is to spot the individual’s conditionings and destroy them, to be unselfish by dissolving momentarily the limits of the ego, to expand the inner vision, to be more lucid, obtaining in that fashion very important insights. In short, to be able to recognize the forces, the impulses behind the individual’s actions and emotions, to track thoughts back to their source and to be in control of one´s life. That´s why they help the individual to become one.

Due to all this the sacred plants are called psycho integrative, or entheogenic. The list includes Ayahuasca, Peyote, Psilocybin mushrooms, Salvia divinorum, San Pedro (a cactus), Epena, Cebil, Brugmansia, among others.

Abraham Maslow in his book called “The Psychology of Science” has shown how science might be the best neurotic defence mechanism invented by man, because the selective rejection wielded by human knowledge acts as a defence and therefore constitutes a neurotic manoeuvre which, out of fear, disqualifies transpersonal experiences as objects of study.

We’d all benefit if science became an open system oriented to personal growth.

Modern physics teaches us about the Universe’s unity, in which consciousness plays a role much closer to the one described by the great mystics.

When we transcend the ego for however brief, it is the beginning of an awakening to our true Self.

© Copyright Silvia Polivoy, 2003. All rights reserved.

The Power Of Attraction Secrets From The Amazon The Pusanga

Submitted by Howard G. Charing

The Western rational mind can only struggle, to take as an example the famed ‘love potion’ of the Amazon known as the Pusanga. In rational terms it makes no sense whatsoever, how can a concoction of leaves, roots, and seeds attract a lover, or good luck to you?

My experience working with shamans in preparing Pusangas (which normally is prepared away from their clients so it was a privilege to be invited to participate in the preparation) showed me that far from interfering with the freedom of other individuals or putting a ‘number’ on them, we were altering something within ourselves, which was brought out by the ingredients, the magic of the plants. Whatever it was, it felt wholesome and good. It is what is in oneself… one’s own magic. Asking Javier Arevalo (the shaman) what does the Pusanga actually do, is it inside us or outside of us? His response was “When you pour it onto your skin it begins to penetrate your spirit, and the spirit is what gives you the force to pull the people. The spirit is what pulls”.

The anthropological term ‘sympathetic magic’ does not give this justice, to illustrate this, the water used in the preparation of an authentic pusanga (which has been specifically made for you) has been collected from a deep trek in the rainforest, sometimes 40 or 50 miles, where there are no people and where clay pools collect and thousands of the most beautiful coloured parrots and macaws gather to drink from them for the mineral content. Now the great leap of imagination required is to bring into yourself the knowledge, the feeling, the sense that the water in the Pusanga has drawn in or attracted thousands of the most brightly coloured creatures on the planet. If you do this, it can generate a shift in consciousness in you.

You can sample this for yourself, just find a quiet moment and space, close your eyes, and with the power of your imagination as the launch pad, draw in the verdant, abundant forest filled with life, colour, and sound. Sense the rich vibrancy of the rainforest as a single breathing rhythmic totality of life force. When you have this image, expand it to include, the humid warmth, the smell of earth, the scent of plants, hear the sound of insects and bird song, allow all your senses to experience this. Then with a conscious decision draw this sensory experience into your being. Whenever you are ready, open your eyes, and check how you are feeling.

Maestros do not invent diets, they are given by the plant spirits themselves, but there is more to it than simply abstaining from certain foods and activities. It involves a state of purification, retreat, commitment, and respect for our connection with everything around us – above all the rain forest. When we listen to our dreams, they become more real, and equally important as everyday life.

Morality and Power

This is a subject that is worth looking at as we in the West and particularly those who are engaged in following a perceived spiritual path in which there is an implicit or explicit ethical component, find the use of a pusanga (or equivalent) to attract a specific person an action which takes away and subverts that person’s free will. This is criticised as an unmoral and harmful action occurring within a tradition or system without perceived, never mind understood moral values.

This moral view is not shared in other societies and traditions, and there is a profound difficulty experienced by Westerners in assimilating this concept of values surrounding power.

The cause of this difficulty is by an absence of congruence between the moral code of the observer, usually a member of the religions emanating from the Levant, typically Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and including the varied ‘new age’ spiritual paths (which have absorbed much of the external hierarchical concepts from these religions). These religions all possess the central and dominant characteristic of projecting the concept of ultimate ‘goodness’ on an external supernatural being which operates both outside of his creation and outside the laws of the universe, who himself decides which laws are to be implemented; “let this and that come to pass!” and at the same time this supernatural being possess the mantle of a ‘personal god’ who has delivered a revelation which is described in a book, that people are to read and reverently accept, not to criticise, but to unquestionably accept and obey.

Now in all of this, those who would reject, or do not know these holy and inviolate scriptures are judged as jeopardising their eternal soul, and in effect are outcasts from their maker, typically the native and indigenous peoples (who have not yet been saved by the missionaries). So from this cultural theme there is a tendency to judge as inferior or despicable other cultural imperatives.

For example the Amazonian (amongst others) tradition portrays a spectrum of existential states, with the highest or most desirable being that of the powerful person, and the lowest or least desirable being that of the powerless person. Power is defined as the ability to do what one wishes, obtain wealth, make others perform desired actions (even against their will), or harm others without being punished or harmed in return. The proof of power is the individual’s material wealth, or social and political status, and their ability to offer patronage. These are not received as immoral acts, and I recall with my colleague Peter Cloudsley attempting to relay the Western view to Javier Arevalo without any success. The conversation went as follows:

Howard & Peter: “Something we make a big problem out of in the West, is that a shaman might be a magician to one person and a sorcerer to another. Asking for the pusanga to attract a specific person takes away that person’s choice. We see it as bad. How do you see it?”

Javier: “Take the case of a woman who refuses when you offer her a Coca Cola because she thinks you are lower class and that she is better than you. She might want others to think that she is better than you. That makes you feel like rubbish so you go to a shaman and tell him the name of the girl. He prepares the pusanga. Three days go by without seeing her and she begins to think about you, dreaming about you and begins looking for you”.

Howard & Peter: “Yes, we understand, but in our culture we think its wrong to counteract someone’s will.”

Javier: “But its only so that she will want you for the moment, so she’ll go to bed with you and then she can go”.

Howard & Peter: “(laughing) But if it happened to me, and let’s say I originally found her unpleasant and she did it to marry me I’d be outraged! It would be awful if I only discovered after having children and making a home with her! And would I ever know?”

Javier: “You would be hopelessly in love with her, you’d never know. That’s why it’s a secret.”

Howard & Peter: “Can a jealous third party separate a couple or break a happy marriage?”

Javier: “Yes, they can ruin a happy home. They come as if to greet the couple and soon after the couple are arguing and hating each other and the third party is secretly having sex with one of them”.

Howard & Peter: “Is this why people from Lima are afraid of the girls from Iquitos?”

Javier: “Yes it happens, they think they are dangerous and will break up their homes.”

Howard & Peter: “Does anyone have freedom if everyone is using pusanga?”

Javier: “its normal you get used to it.”

Howard & Peter: “We like to think we are free, this suggests that we are constantly subject to other peoples’ Pusanga.”

Javier: “laughing, but you all want women, and women all want men!”

Eventually we realised that there was no way that we could communicate this Western ‘moral’ viewpoint. Javier did not see that there was a problem. It was a massive cultural divide we could not cross. His people feel free the way they are and can have extramarital sex using magical means of attraction and without attaching our Western guilt to it.

Looking at this ‘down to earth’, guilt trip free viewpoint, on an earlier occasion when Javier asked the group that I was leading, what they really wanted deep down in their lives, many people gave cosmic, transpersonal, and spiritual sounding answers and were quite mute when he spoke about Pusanga. After a while the participants opened up to their feelings and many admitted they wanted love, apparently behind their desire to put the world to right, resolve planetary issues, and speak to the flowers. It was as though it were not acceptable to wish for love. Javier remarked “These thoughts tangle up their lives. Love solves problems”.

As an observation, if we (and that’s all of us) had more love in our lives, maybe we wouldn’t be worried so much about the state of the world, and be less judgemental, destructive, and just simply be willing to help others and alleviate suffering. It is because people do not have enough of this precious and enriching commodity that we live our lives increasingly bombarded by aggression, with new definitions, ‘road rage’, ‘air rage’, ‘safety rage’, ‘word rage’, ‘whatever-you-want rage’ We would also need less material goods, and titles all of which reinforce the boundaries of the ego-mind and separate us from each other and the natural world.

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.

Silene Capensis Ubulawu African Xhosa Dream Root Induces Lucid Dreams

By Ina Woolcott

Silene capensis is a tender perennial, native to the Eastern Cape of South Africa. The local Xhosa tribe consider it a sacred plant. The root of the plant is traditionally used to induce remarkably vivid – and according to the Xhosa, prophetic – lucid dreams. It is classified as a naturally occurring oneirogen – that which produces a dream-like state of consciousness – and is similar, though apparently more effective, than the well-known dream herb Calea zacatechichi.

Silene Capensis is regarded by shamans of the South African region as a type of ‘Ubulawu’, or medicinal root that they call ‘Undela Ziimhlophe’, which directly translates to ‘white paths’ or white ways.’ It has been utilised for many, many years by a culture who believe ancestors are contacted through dreams, so they seek out and cultivate plants that assist in enhancing dreaming.

It is thought that this sacred plant’s dream-inducing ability is most probably due to triterpenoid saponins contained within its roots. Relatively small amounts of root are reported to be active. In waking consciousness, the plant exerts only minimal change, but the effects upon the dream state are extremely profound.

Generally the herb is mixed with water, then drunk early when one rises in the morning on an empty stomach. When hungry one eats. The alkaloids will then have time to travel through the body, and at night the effects will be felt. The alkaloids travel quite slowly through the blood system, so won’t get passed out during the day. While sleeping, dreams will be exceptionally vivid and colourful, and will be remembered down to the smallest detail when one awakens. The herb is traditionally used to access dreamtime and to communicate with one’s ancestors. Before going to sleep, a question is sometimes focused upon to which the ancestors in the dream state will give an answer. Silene Capensis is not just used for vivid dreams, but as a divination tool.

The recommended amount only should be used as the actives are active in these doses. If ingesting larger amounts, this will have a purgative action. However there are no reported fatalities or harmful side effects reported – just a hefty case of vomiting and cleansing of the stomach! Taking in small doses over several days will have an affect on even the most insensitive person, so there is no need to take a large amount.

San Pedro Trichocereus Pachanoi Cactus Hallucinogenic Mescaline

By Ina Woolcott

What is San Pedro?

San Pedro is a fast-growing columnar cactus who’s botanical name is Trichocereus Pachanoi, not to be confused with its close relative the Peruvian Torch Cactus. It is native to the Andes of Peru and Ecuador, but it is cultivated all over Peru and other places in South America. In its natural environment San Pedro grows up to 20 feet high and is multi branched. The cactus is light to dark green, sometimes glaucous (covered with a bluish, greyish, or whitish waxy coating or bloom that rubs off easily). Generally it has between 4-8 ribs. Groups of 1-4 small, yellow to light brown, spines are located at the nodes which are evenly spaced apart (circa 2 cm apart) along the ribs.

San Pedro contains a number of psychoactive alkaloids, including mescaline (3,4,5-trimethoxyphenethylamine, 0.11 – 2.3%), and also 3,4-dimethoxyphenethylamine, 4-hydroxy-3-methoxyphenethylamine, 3-hydroxy-4,5-dimethoxyphenethylamine, 4-hydroxy-3,5-dimethoxyphenethylamine, anhalonidine, anhalinine, tyramine, hordenine and 3-methoxytyramine. Mescaline is an entheogen and also found in Peyote (Lophophora Williamsii), as well as other species of the Echinopsis genus such as Echinopsis peruviana, and Echinopsis scopulicola.

Who uses San Pedro and for What Purpose

San Pedro has a long history of traditional use. It has become the most popular cactus in neo-shamanic rituals due to its excellent fertility and ease of cultivation. The San Pedro cactus is used by shamanic tribes in the Andes as a psychedelic and for complex healing rituals and more recently, the western world. The mescaline is most commonly extracted by cutting the cactus into slices, boiling them for 5-7 hours and then juicing it into a green liquid. The tea is drunk during the shamanic ceremonies which usually take place at night. Dosages vary according to the purpose of the ceremony, although it is generally used in low doses. Sometimes the San Pedro is used in conjunction with other psychoactive plants, such as coca, tobacco, Brugmansia andAnadenanthera.

San Pedro is used by the Huachuma, Shamans of the Andes for guidance, decision making, healing, spirituality enhancing experiences, shamanic trances, to access other realms and the spirit world, and to remain in balance with the natural world. In the mountains above the Peruvian village Makahuasi there are ancient stone meditation huts which are still in use today. San Pedro shamans come here from all over the Andes to recharge their powers, sometimes in solo rituals. San Pedro has also been used throughout history by a number of different pre-Columbine cultures and civilisations that settled in northern Peru. San Pedro is a religious sacrament, healing medicine, and spiritual guide who’s psychedelic nature has been documented for a minimum of around 3000 years. Its use has been a continuous tradition in Peru all this time. In an old temple in Chavín de Huantar in the northern highlands of Peru, a carving was found with the earliest depiction of the cactus showing a mythological being holding the San Pedro. It belongs to the Chavín culture (c. 1400-400 BC), and dates about 1300 BC.

Today’s master shamans use San Pedro on ‘mesas’, (altars) erected for healing rites to treat enchantment and bad luck. The mesa follows a sophisticated ritual – sniff tobacco with alcohol, ingest San Pedro, pinpoint the diseases, cleanse the evil and the ill person will get better. This rite is performed in the early hours of Tuesdays and Fridays, these being sacred days in the Andean religions.

Shamans who use the psychoactive plants claim that much of the knowledge and insights gained comes directly from the plants themselves. That the plants have plant spirits. One example is that psychedelic plants are claimed to have taught songs (Icaro’s) to those who ingest them. This has been found with San Pedro using shamans, Ayahuasca drinkers in the Amazon, the Mazatec who use hallucinogenic mushrooms, and the Huichol who use Peyote.

The effects of San Pedro are more pleasant than those of peyote. It tastes only slightly bitter and the initial feeling of sickness is not as likely, although vomiting can occur. Its effects are felt within 1-2 hours of ingestion and can last up to 15 hours. When the experience fully takes hold it is less overwhelming, more tranquil and not nearly as physical as that from peyote. At first drowsiness or a dreaming state is felt accompanied by lethargy. Then a slight dizziness is experienced, followed by a great ‘vision’, a clearing of all the faculties. A light numbness is felt in the body and afterward a tranquillity. And then comes detachment, a type of visual force, including all the senses as well as the sixth sense, the telepathic sense of transmitting oneself across time and matter, a kind of removal of one’s thought to a distant dimension. Other potential effects include intense sensitivity to light, for instance being able to see and feel every ray of light. People and things may also be seen to ‘radiate’. Long lost memories may come back, being able to hear and see far off sounds and voices. Emotions may also be experienced and gone through such as laughing, crying, screaming, feeling pleasure, fear, love, love for everything that is and everything that is not.

Unsurprisingly, taking their general contempt for native life and particularly the use of psychoactive plants into account, European missionaries were very negative when reporting the use of the San Pedro.

San Pedro has been used medicinally to treat nervous conditions, cardiac disease, and high blood pressure.

Is it legal?

It is legal to cultivate the San Pedro cactus in most countries, but in countries where possession of mescaline and related compounds is illegal, cultivation for the purposes of consumption may be illegal. This is how it is in the USA, Australia, Canada, and the UK, where it is currently legal to cultivate San Pedro unless it is for the purposes of consumption.

Related reading: San Pedro the Cactus of Vision – Plant Spirit Shamanism of Northern Peru

San Pedro The Cactus Of Vision Plant Spirit Shamanism Of Northern Peru

Submitted by Howard G. Charing

Shamans from different cultures and traditions have been using psychoactive plants since the dawn of human emergence.

These plants have been used traditionally for guidance, divination, healing, maintaining a balance with the spirit or consciousness of the living world.

Howard G. Charing and Peter Cloudsley talk with Maestro Juan Navarro.

The hallucinogenic San Pedro cactus has been used since ancient times, and in Peru the tradition has been unbroken for over 3,000 years. The earliest depiction of the cactus is a carving showing a mythological being holding a San Pedro, and dates from about 1300 bc. It comes from the Chavín culture (c.1400-400 bce) and was found in a temple at Chavín de Huantar, in the northern highlands of Peru. Later, the Mochica culture, (c.500 ce) used the cactus in their iconography. Even in present day mythology, it is told that God hid the keys to heaven in a secret place and San Pedro used the magical powers of a cactus to discover this place; later the cactus was named after him.

La Mesa Norteña – Juan Navarro was born in the highland village of Somate, department of Piura. He is a descendant of a long lineage of healers and shamans working with the magical powers of the sacred lakes known as Las Huaringas, which stand at 4,000 metres and have been revered since earliest Peruvian civilization. At the age of eight, Juan made his first pilgrimage to Las Huaringas, and took San Pedro for the first time. Every month or two it is necessary to return here to accumulate energy and protection to heal his people. As well as locals and Limeños (people from Lima), pilgrims also come from many parts of South America.

During the sessions Juan works untiringly, assisted by his two sons – as is common in this tradition – in an intricate sequence of processes, including invocation, diagnosis, divination, and healing with natural objects, or artes. The artes are initially placed on the maestro’s altar or mesa, and picked up when required during the ceremony. These artes are an astonishing and beautiful array of shells, swords, magnets, quartzes, objects resembling sexual organs, rocks which spark when struck together, and stones from animals’ stomachs, which they have swallowed to aid digestion! The artes are collected from pre-Colombian tombs, and sacred energetic places, particularly Las Huaringas.They bring magical qualities to the ceremony where, under the visionary influence of San Pedro, their invisible powers may be experienced. The maestro’s mesa – a weaving placed on the ground on which all the artes are placed, (mesa also means ‘table’ in Spanish) – is a representation of the forces of nature and the cosmos.Through the mesa the shaman is able to work with and influence these forces to diagnose and heal disease.

The traditional mesa norteña has three areas: on the left is the campo ganadero or ‘field of the dark’; on the right is the campo justiciero or the ‘field of the light’ (justiciero means justice); and in the centre is the campo medio or ‘neutral field’, which is the place of balance between the forces of light and dark. It is important for us not to look at these forces as positive or negative – it is what we human beings do with these forces, which is important. Although the contents and form of the artes varies from tradition to tradition, the mesa rituals serve to remind us that the use and power of symbols extends throughout all cultures.


San Pedro (trichocereus pachanoi) grows on the dry eastern slopes of the Andes, between 2,000 – 3,000 metres above sea level, and commonly reaches six metres or more in height. It is also grown by local shamans in their herb gardens. As can be imagined, early European missionaries held the native practices in considerable contempt, and indeed were very negative when reporting the use of the San Pedro. Yet a Spanish missionary, cited by Christian Rätsch, grudgingly admitted the cactus’ medicinal value in the midst of a tirade reviling it: “It is a plant with whose aid the devil is able to strengthen the Indians in their idolatry; those who drink its juice lose their senses and are as if dead; they are almost carried away by the drink and dream a thousand unusual things and believe that they are true. The juice is good against burning of the kidneys and, in small amounts, is also good against high fever, hepatitis, and burning in the bladder.” A shaman’s account of the cactus is in radical contrast:

“It first … produces … drowsiness or a dreamy state and a feeling of lethargy … a slight dizziness … then a great ‘vision’, a clearing of all the faculties … it produces a light numbness in the body and afterward a tranquillity. And then comes detachment, a type of visual force … inclusive of all the senses … including the sixth sense, the telepathic sense of transmitting oneself across time and matter … like a kind of removal of one’s thought to a distant dimension.”

San Pedro, considered the ‘maestro of the maestros’, enables the shaman to make a bridge between the visible and the invisible world for his people. The Quechua name for it is punku, which means ‘doorway’. The doorway connects the patient’s body to his spirit; to heal the body we must heal the spirit. San Pedro can show us the psychic causes of illness intuitively or in mythical dream language. The effects of San Pedro work through various stages, beginning with an expanded physical awareness in the body. Soon this is followed by euphoric feelings and then, after several hours, psychic and visionary effects become more noticeable.

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talking with Juan Navarro

What is the relationship of the maestro with San Pedro?

In the north of Peru the power of San Pedro works in combination with tobacco. Also the sacred lakes Las Huaringas are very important. This is where we go to find the most powerful healing herbs, which we use to energize our people. For example we use dominio [linking one’s intent with the spirit power of the plants] to give strength and protection from supernatural forces such as sorcery and negative thoughts. It is also put into the seguros – amulet bottles filled with perfume, plants and seeds gathered from Las Huaringas. You keep them in your home for protection and to make your life go well. These plants do not have any secondary effects on the nervous system, nor do they provoke hallucinations. San Pedro has strength and is mildly hallucinatory, but you cannot become addicted. It doesn’t do any harm to your body; rather it helps the maestro to see what the problem is with his patient. Of course some people have this gift born in them – as our ancestors used to say, it is in the blood of a shaman.

Is San Pedro a ‘teacher plant’?

Of course, but it has a certain mystery. You have to be compatible with it because it doesn’t work for everybody. The shaman has a special relationship with it. It circulates in the body of the patient and where it finds abnormality it enables the shaman to detect it. It lets him know the pain they feel and whereabouts it is. So it is the link between patient and maestro. It also purifies the blood of the person who drinks it. It balances the nervous system so people lose their fears, frights and traumas, and it charges people with positive energy. Everyone must drink so that the maestro can connect with them. Only the dose may vary from person to person because not everyone is as strong.

What about the singado?

(inhalation of tobacco juice through the nostrils) The tobacco leaf is left for two to three months in contact with honey, and when required for the singado it is macerated with aguardiente, or alcohol. How it functions depends on which nostril is used; when taken in by the left side it is for liberating us of negative energy, including psychosomatic ills, pains in the body, bad influences of other people – or ‘envy’ as we call it here. As you take it in you must concentrate on the situation, which is going badly, or the person, which is giving out a negative energy.

When taken through the right nostril it is for rehabilitating and energizing, so that your projects go well. It’s not for getting high on. Afterwards you can spit the tobacco out or swallow it, it doesn’t matter. It has an interrelation with the san pedro in the body, and intensifies the visionary effects.

Tobacco is an important plant in the ceremonies – can you smoke in the session?

No, no, no. It may be the same plant but here another element comes into play, which is fire. As the session is carried out in darkness, the fire in the darkness can perturb, create a negative reflection or vision. It can cause trauma.

You use a chungana (rattle) during the san pedro sessions and I ‘see’ the sound as a beam of a light penetrating the darkness. Yes, sound and light are interrelated. Chunganas are used to invoke the spirits of the dead, whether of family or of great healers, so that they may feel comfortable with us. The chunganas are to give us ‘enchantment’ (protection and positive energy) and it has a relaxing effect when taking san pedro.

What is the power of the artes – the objects on the mesa?

They come from Las Huaringas, where a special energy is bestowed on everything, including the healing herbs, which grow there, and nowhere else. If you bathe in the lakes it takes away all your ills. You bathe with the intention of leaving everything negative behind. People go there to leave their enemies behind, so they can’t do them any harm. After bathing, the maestro cleanses you with these artes, swords, bars, chontas (bamboo staffs), saints, and even huacos (the powers from ancient sacred sites). They ‘flourish’ you – spraying you with agua florida (perfume) and herb macerations, and giving you sweet things like limes and honey, so your life flourishes. We maestros also need to go to Las Huaringas regularly because we make enemies from healing people, so we need to protect ourselves. The reason for this is that two forces exist: the good and the bad. The bad forces are from the pacts which the brujos (sorcerors with negative intentions) make with the devil. The brujo is the rival of the curandero or healer. So when the curandero heals, he makes an enemy of the brujo. It’s not so much because he sends the bad magic back, as because he does the opposite thing to him, and they want supremacy in the battle. Not far from Las Huaringas is a place called Sondor, which has its own lakes. This is where evil magic is practiced and where they do harm in a variety of ways. I know because as a curandero I must know how sorcery is practiced, in order to defend myself and my patients.

Do people go there secretly?

Of course no one admits to going there, but they pass through Huancabamba just like the others who are going to Las Huaringas. I know various people who practice bad magic at a distance. They do it using physical means, concentrating, summoning up a person’s soul, knowing their characteristics etc. and can make them suffer an accident, or make an organ ill or whatever, or make their work go badly wrong. They have the power to get to their spirit. And people can even do harm to themselves. For example, if a person has bad intentions towards another and that person is well protected with an encanto, (amulet) then he will do himself harm.

How does the ‘rastreo’ (diagnosis through psychic means) work? Are you in an altered state?

No, I’m completely normal and lucid. What allows the reading of a person’s past, present or future, is the strength of the san pedro and tobacco. It is an innate capability – not everybody has the gift, you can’t learn it from someone, it is inherited. The perceptions come through any one of the senses – sound, vision, smell, or a feeling inside of what the person is feeling, a weakness, a pain or whatever. Sometimes, for instance, a bad taste in the mouth may indicate a bad liver. All the things on the mesa are perfectly normal, natural things: chontas, swords, stones etc. They have just received a treatment – like a radio tuned to a certain frequency – so they can heal particular things, weaknesses or whatever. But always it is necessary to concentrate on the sacred lakes, Las Huaringas.

Is it necessary for the maestro to take San Pedro to have vision?

Of course, he must take San Pedro and tobacco. But it is to protect himself from the person’s negativity and illness, not because he needs it to have the vision.

In conclusion, we must acknowledge that we, as humans, have realised from earliest times that knowledge goes beyond sensory awareness or the rational way of understanding the world. San pedro can take us directly to a telepathic communion and show us that there is no such thing as an inanimate object. Everything in the universe is alive and has a spirit. This is the gift of the plants, which offer us a doorway into the infinite.

Juan Navarro was born in the highland village of Somate, department of Piura. He is a descendant of a long lineage of healers and shamans working with the magical powers of Las Huaringas.

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.

Salvia Divinorum Faces Growing Legal Opposition In Usa


Taken from the International Herald Tribune:

Until a decade ago, the use of salvia was largely limited to those seeking revelation under the tutelage of Mazatec shamans in its native Oaxaca, Mexico. Today, this mind-altering member of the mint family is broadly available for lawful sale online and in head shops across the United States.

Though older Americans typically have never heard of salvia, the psychoactive sage has become something of a phenomenon among the country’s thrill-seeking youth. More than 5,000 YouTube videos – equal parts “Jackass” and “Up in Smoke” – document their journeys into rubber-legged incoherence. Some of the videos have been viewed half a million times. Yet these very images that have helped popularize salvia may also hasten its demise and undermine the promising research into its possible medical uses.

In state after state, the YouTube videos have become Exhibit A in legislative efforts to regulate salvia. This year, Florida made possession or sale a felony punishable by 15 years in prison. California took a gentler approach by making it a misdemeanor to sell or distribute to minors.

Though research is young and little is known about long-term effects, there are no studies suggesting salvia is addictive or susceptible to overdose or abuse. Indeed, a salvia experience can be so intense, and at times so unsettling, that many try it just once, and even devotees use it sparingly. Reports of salvia-related emergency room admissions are virtually nonexistent, probably because its effects typically vanish in just a few minutes.

With little data at its disposal, the Drug Enforcement Administration has spent more than a decade studying whether to add salvia to its list of controlled substances, as is the case in several European and Asian countries. In the meantime, 13 states and several local governments have banned or otherwise regulated the plant and its chemically enhanced extracts.

One night in August, Nathan K., a 29-year-old father of three from Waco, stretched back in his blue recliner and took a long, purposeful drag from his pipe. As he closed his eyes, he found himself transported into a dream state, he said, as if drifting down a rain forest river. A beatific smile spread lightly across his face.

The effects dissipated after five minutes, leaving him with a sense of well-being. It was, he said, as if a masseuse had rubbed out the knots in his psyche. “Just a very gentle letting go, a very gentle relaxing,” Nathan said on the condition that he not be fully identified.

For the full article HERE

How stupid of dumb kids to post videos on you tube of them getting wasted with salvia. They obviously have no idea what damage they are causing, (wonder if any of them are being paid to give salvia a bad name??) or respect for the true value of salvia and the gift it brings to those who respect it and themselves.

Psychoactives Psychotropics

By Ina Woolcott

A psychoactive drug, or psychotropic substance is a substance that primarily acts upon the central nervous system, altering the brain function, leading to short term alterations in perception, consciousness, mood, and behaviour be it a chemical or natural substance.

Some drugs are used for recreational reasons to alter one’s consciousness – such as coffee, alcohol, nicotine and cannabis. Entheogens are used for spiritual reasons e.g. hallucinogenic mushrooms or the peyote cactus. There is also prescribed medication, e.g. narcotics to control pain, anti-depressants, and anti-psychotics to treat neurological and psychiatric illnesses.

Stimulants and anti-depressants can frequently become highly addictive, causing chemical dependency which may lead to substance abuse. On the flip side, psychedelics can help treat and even cure such addictions.

Drug use is not a new thing at all – archaeological evidence indicates that psychoactive substances have been used as far back as at least 10,000 years – if not more, we will never know for sure. Historical evidence of cultural use dates back 5,000 years.

While psychoactives are widely used for medicinal purposes, it has been suggested that the urge to expand ones mind, to alter one’s consciousness is as primary as the drive to eat, drink and sexual desire. Some may accuse marketing, easy access or the pressures of modern life as to why humans use so many psychoactive’s daily, however, looking back in time (or even to children with their desire for spinning and swinging etc) it is not hard to see that the drive to alter one’s state of mind is universal and timeless.

This isn’t only the case with humans – in fact, numerous animals consume different psychoactive plants, berries, animals, and even fermented fruit, clearly becoming intoxicated. E.g. reindeer love fly agaric mushrooms. Hence the association of ‘flying reindeer’. Traditional legends of sacred plants frequently refer to animals that introduced humans to their use. Biology proposes an evolutionary link between psychoactive plants and animals, as to why these chemicals and their receptors are found within the nervous system

For 1000’s of years, people have studied psychoactive drugs, both by observation and ingestion. Sadly however, humanity is bitterly divided when it comes to psychoactive drugs. Their value and use has for a long time been a subject of major philosophical and moral dispute – even to the point of war. Many lives and rites have been lost, especially those of native and indigenous peoples.

Psilocybe Hallucinogenic Magic Mushrooms Psilocybin And Psilocin

By Ina Woolcott

Psilocybe is a genus of small mushrooms that grow globally. This genus is well known for its species with hallucinogenic properties, commonly referred to as magic mushrooms, though the majority of species don’t contain hallucinogenic compounds. The hallucinogenic compounds responsible for the hallucinogenic effects are Psilocin and psilocybin.

The word psilocybe comes from Greek, which translated literally mean ‘bare headed’, referring to the mushroom’s plain cap.

Psilocybe are typically small, non-descript mushrooms, hard to tell apart from others when one doesn’t know how to tell them apart! Macroscopically, they are characterized by their small or sometimes medium size, their brown to yellow-brown coloration,

Hallucinogenic species generally have a blue staining reaction when the fruiting body is bruised. The blue-staining species of Psilocybe contain psilocin and psilocybin. The blue-staining reaction, is not entirely understand, but is thought to be a degradation reaction of psilocin. Thus, the extent to which Psilocybe fruiting body goes blue, is a direct link to the concentration of psilocin in the mushroom. Psilocybin is chemically far more stable than psilocin. Psilocin is largely lost when the mushroom is heated or dried. Some psychoactive species contain baeocystin and norbaeocystin, as well as psilocin and psilocybin.


The species in this genus are distributed world wide in most climates and habitats, high deserts being the exception. There are 60 species of Psilocybe in the USA, 25 of these are hallucinogenic. For the bluing Psilocybe, the largest species diversity is in the neotropics, from Mesoamerica to Brazil and Chile.

Many of the bluing species found in temperate areas, e.g. P. cyanescens, seem to have a natural attraction to landscaped areas mulched with woodchips. They are actually pretty rare in remote, natural settings away from where humans reside.

A popular myth is that Psilocybe mushrooms grow on dung – this is only true however for a minority of the species, P. coprophila and P. cubensis being examples. Many other species are found in forest humus soils or mossy, grassy environments.

Notable Species

* Psilocybe cubensis, Stropharia cubensis – this is the most commonly grown and consumed Psilocybe, as it is easy to cultivate.

* Psilocybe semilanceata – this is found in northern temperate climates and is also known as the liberty cap.

* Psilocybe cyanescens – found in the Pacific Northwest of North America, and also found in western Europe. Has the nicnames wavy-cap or wavies.

* Psilocybe azurescens – a highly potent species found in Oregon, but popular in outdoor cultivation, nicknamed azies.

Related article: History and Legal Status of Psilocybe Mushrooms