Shipibo Shamans

The profound power of the Shipibo.

The Shipibos are one of oldest and most highly-respected lineages of ayahuasca healers in the Amazon. For thousands of years, Shipibo shamans have served as doctors in their local communities. Their work with the medicine is gentle, straightforward, and humble. They see their work with ayahuasca as a process of cleaning the body, soul, and mind. The Shipibos treat working with Ayahuasca with a deep sense of respect and discipline. 

Many begin training from childhood, learning from family lineages and traditions that trace back countless generations. Their near-monastic training is incredibly strict, and they spend many years undergoing rigorous “dietas” that build an extensive, ‘intuitive knowledge of different medicinal plants. Their devotion to their healing work is stunning, and the power of their deep connection to their medicine is felt in their “icaros”, or plant medicine songs.

Set & Setting

When experienced in a traditional shamanic setting, Ayahuasca gives us access to our subconscious self. It reflects every aspect of our being into reality, wether that is through vision or emotional experience. Ayahuasca helps us to access the hidden parts of ourselves.

The goal is to become more aware, or `conscious`. When we become more conscious of our ways, we can transform them. Ayahuasca shines the light, it illuminates us within, so we can see, feel, deeply experience and heal. This does not happen on a mental level, it happens on a level of awareness, heart, body and for those who believe in it, soul. So you can release the past and create the future in a new way.

Even though it would be extremely pretentious to claim that we know how this ancient medicine works, we do our best to give you an idea of how our guests and Shamanic lineage words the vast and endless possibilities of what one’s spiritual Ayahuasca experience may look like.    

Unique Inner Journey. 

Ayahuasca is an extremely powerful medicine that demands respect. Although every person’s inner journey will be unique, an Ayahuasca ceremony is best approached with as little expectation as possible. Often the journey that Ayahuasca takes us on is hard to decipher at the time, but with the benefit of hindsight the profound wisdom of the plants begins to reveal itself.

Ayahuasca Ceremonies will give you what you need however this may not always be what we want in the moment and the path to healing can be a very challenging one for some. Ayahuasca is an extremely powerful medicine that demands respect. 

This medicine shows us what we are ready for, and willing to see. It shows us the relationship we have towards ourselves, which reflects to how we create and experience everything that is. It is known to help us achieve the parts of us that reside in the shadow, those we forgot, maybe neglected and sometimes rejected.

Icaro

 

Derived most likely from the jungle Quichua verb ikaray, “to blow smoke” for healing the Spanish word ‘icaros‘ designates the magical lyrics, incantations, either whistled or spoken, learnt by the shaman. 

Icaro, your healing ally.

Icaros are the seeds of healing that the Shaman plants into your body for it to realign, open up and transform. Icaros have been used as a conduit for healing for thousands of years. In the Shipibo tradition, a Shaman spends many years in isolation.  During this period of isolation they diet Master Plants, healing plants. When they complete the diet they receive the knowledge, the wisdom and healing properties of the plant in the form of an Icaro. The energetic imprint of every plant is different, so is every Icaro. 

When the Shamans invoke the plants, and sing the Icaros into your body, your body becomes aligned and impregnated with the plant healer. Every Icaro has a different purpose. Some are used to clear your body, others to align energies or release trauma. Once the deep cleaning work is done, the Shaman will use specific Icaros in order to impregnate your body in light, uplift it, plant a seed of love, and reconnect yourself with your heart and soul. 

 

The Sound of Healing

Traditionally, prayer in the form of song has been used for healing. In the Indigenous tribes of Peru, Icaros (or plant medicine songs) are an integral part of the healing process. In the Shipibo belief system, every single plant has a spirit, and its own song. When the Maestro or healer is in apprenticeship, those songs are passed on to them directly by the plants, during what is called a “dieta”. 

A dieta is a long period of isolation in which the apprentice shaman will diet with one plant at a time, and will learn the teachings of that specific plant. After long periods of isolation, the apprentice receives the protection and healing abilities of the plant through that plant’s particular “icaro”. Each plant spirit teaches a different song. The song is the pure healing sound of the plant itself. The more diets the apprentice carries with them, the more knowledge, healing abilities and icaros they have access to in their healing work.

Different Shamanic traditions

Ayahuasca is a Sacred plant medicine that has been used in ceremonial context for thousands of years. There are many different stories on when and how it all started. There is no real record of when it was first used, the first ceremonial cup was found in ecuador about 2500 years ago. Different tribes tell different stories of how people initually started working with this medicine. Traditionally within the indiginous communities, Ayahuasca was used for healing and divination. Predicting the future, protecting the tribes.  The tradition and rituals were passed on from generation to generations of healers. Traditionally, the healer drank the brew and the patient didn’t. The healers would sit in ceremony and be healed by the Maestro or Maestra, without having to drink the plant. Through those ceremonies, the healer would diagnose the patient and receive information about how to cure the roots of the illness in the patient, what plants to use and how to help them. Indiginous tribes and Mestizo shamans throughout the Peru, Braziml, Ecuador and Colombia work in different ways. Every country and tradition has a different name fo Ayahuasca, some call it Caapi, Yage, Ayahuasca. About 75 diffferent tribes use Ayahuasca still today.

 

Ayahuascero.

Ayahuascero is not a healer, but someone who prepares and cooks Ayahuasca. When you have a ceremony with an Ayahuascero, the insight emerges from the medicine. They don’t work on guests and don’t manage energies. If the Ayahuascero sees any serious issues, HEAVY ENERGIES with their guest, they will send them to a healer. CURANDERO. Some healers are Ayahuasceros and Curanderos.

Curandero.

Curanderos use Ayahuasca as a tool but also Tobacco, Icaros medicine songs, they use ‘Chupar’ which is sucking out pain or energies from the body , soplar, blowing tobacco and other plans and tools. Curandero is a healer, Medico is the word for doctor. Curanderos work mostly with Ayahuasca, although not all of them. Some curandero Vegetalistas work mostly with herbs. Tobacco is such an integral part of Ayahuasca shamanism, it cleans and protects. Medicoi is used by the indiginous Mestiwo people of the amazon as an other word for curandero. They study this ”Sciencia divina’ or ‘Divine science’ for decades. Doing shamanic diets, in which they dtake in plants and live in isolation for months at a time. During those diets, the shaman ”absorbs’ the teachings and strength of this doctor plant and embodies it in order to use it in ceremony.. After many dietas the shaman has doctors helping him or her in ceremony. Like an energetic pharmacy…

In Shipibo an curandero is called an ONAYA. Which means ” one who has knowledge”. In order to become a true healer, you have to train for at least 10 years. During their apprenticeship they have to learn to face the heaviest situations with people, heavy ”energies” or ”emotions”. The shaman is tested, sometimes forced to drink Ayahuasca 30 days straight and not sleep for weeks at the time in order to learn to manage the space under stressfull conditions. Only a small percentage of apprentice shamans succeed in becoming true shamans, a lot of them give up on the way. The teacher and plant will push the student beyond their limits and comfort zone. Forcing them to face death, to face their deepest fears in order to heal truly.

out 75 diffferent tribes use Ayahuasca still today.

Ayahuasca Tourism

Spirit plant journeys is one of the first traditional, sacred plant medicine healing centers established in the Sacred Valley, Peru. We are not providing a place to come ‘trip’ or ‘try out hallucinogenic drugs’ , we consider this to be a traditional plant medicine that is Sacred to the indiginous people and should be treated with respect and devotion. This is about genuine healing, deep and long asting transformation. Some might argue that Healing can not be sold, and this is 100% true. Healing can not be sold. What can be sold is a team of people working for you in a small group setting in one of the most luxe ldoges of the sacred valley, with farm to table food made from scratch by our chefs; Access to our yoga space yoga classes, swimming pool, sauna and workshop led by your facillitator.

We provide a service in some of the most luxurious plant medicine centers of Peru, and have a team of people who are trained and devoted to helping you integrate this work. Our groups are small and we only hold 1 retreat every month. We feel and believe it is important to only hold 1 group a month of 8 to 12 people in order to follow up with every guest and keep it very intimate.

We don’t do ”factory retreats” back to back programs to make money. We hold one program every 30 days and our team and staff is available and prepares just for this group. Besides monthly small groups, we provide services that help you embody your transformational journey. Activites that help you reconnect with the present moment, to the body are very important.

Healing does not need to mean suffering in a hot hut with insects and disase. It can also be comfortable. You can honor yourself throughout the process.

The shamans we work with are so happy to be working in such a nice environment and because of holding only one retreat a month and covering all their expenses, we pay them a very high rate that is beyond Peruvian standards but rather Wetern standards. We believe that every single person. should feel honored and respected for their work. The venue staff, the retreat staff, the massus, the facillitators the coordinators and the behind the scenes team. Our guests are from all walks of life, they are not tourists. People who come here seek healing, and understanding to unresolved issues that often afftects the way they live their lives and wellbeing. Our guests come to find healing with tools they can not find in their home countries in a safe way. Tools that were given from nature itself. The word tourism insults the work we provide at Spirit Plant Journeys, we can say that if you want a recreational vacation, Ayahuasca is not recommended for relaxation. The cost to attend a retreat at SPJ often changes one’s life forever and is priceless.

 We hire as many Local staff as we can.

 

Providing Ayahuasca.

One of our main concerns and challenges regarding the fast growing popularity of ayahuasca in Western cultures, is the abuse and appropriation of a tradition, medicine, ritual and culture that holds fundamentally different values, belief-systems and cultural differences than the ones that are embedded in Western culture. This leads to abuse of power, charlatanism and accidents. The values, ways of being that are rooted in jungle culture and shamanic communities and often romanticized and misunderstood. Not to say there is no abuse within the tribal communities, but if we can be aducated and aware, we make a difference.

The psychological differences and norms in the jungle are far from romantic. Between poverty, abuse and machismo, the environment for women isn’t always the best. In many tribes, women are not allowed to become Shamans. In many shipibo communities it was still the case up until recently.Since westerners have come for healing and asked for Female healers in the past 40 years, a lot of female Shipibo women have started training. This is the positive influence we bring.

iT IS difficult to find true authentic shamans even within the community, people who have theri heart in the right place. Who are not there for abuse of power or ego trip. Who are not shamans to get laid or touch guests. Because all of this is the reality of the work with Ayahuasca. Romanticizing a culture because it is tribal is a classic stupid ignorant western mistake. A lot of people hold ceremonies and have no true understanding of how to manage and work with Ayahuasca. Even if they trained with Shamans There are many people holding ceremonies who have no real understanding of how to work with ayahuasca. It is important to find someone you trust, to be well informed because ultimately you are working with human beings, not gurus, not gods.

We are not here to lead an antropological study and save the world, but we are confronted with enormous cultural differences that we simply need to be aware of. This is about healing, for humanity. And no, Healing can not be sold, Shamanism can not be faked and most importantly; you can’t buy happiness. The Shamans we work with take their work as a healer seriously and also realize it is a great way to make a living and help people. We provide a service and pay our people western wages so they can help their community and families. We hold space for you and serve as the obviously necessary cultural bridge between you and the healers. You can not learn how to understand the culture in 2 months, it takes years and close connection.

This is where facillitators come in place, kleeping everyone grounded and centeres is important. We have a neutral approach towards the retreat participants, but we do follow and respect the Shipibo tradition. This is a very delicate balance to behold. The reason why we do that is in order not to influence anyone who is in a devoted and influential lstate of openness.

Ayahuasca puts you in a vulnerable and susceptible state. Sometimes things get convoluted and guests are pulled into believing that the facilitator or shaman is performing the healing or put them on a pedestal. They loose track of their initial intention for healing and focus on the healers instead, this needs to be handled with care. This can translate itself in a positive way or a negative way. By idealizing the retreat coordinators or hating them, either way can be dysproportional because of the effects of the medicine. When this is not handled appropriately this can cause harm. When a guest or patient projects unconsciously towards the therapist or healer there can be countertransference. This is when facillitators end up imposing their own agenda on the guest, unconsciously or consciously.

 

When you see the brew as a means of connecting with your true being or with the divine; it can easily lead to idealizing the leaders or shamans. This is a great formula for an Ayahuasca Cult. This is not the intention here. It is why we believe transparency, no weird power dynamics and honestly integrity is crucial in this work.

You can not do this with a big group, people get lost and the dynamics just change, this is why we keep our groups small.

Holding space with Ayahuasca means that you are able to acknowledge and hold paradoxal beliefs, respect other beliefs and understand them as true for the other person. Always bring it back to center and to the present moment. This isn’t about flying out of our bodies and visioning elephants, but about reconnecting within with what we feel and what we are experiences in a micro cosmic self, that reflects onto our whole reality.

By default we will always have our own beliefs and those will somehow leak over to the participants, because of how chaotic and delicate it is to work with Ayahuasca we bneed a belief structure. Otherwise everything goes to shit. We chose traditional shamanism, because it is the safest and because it brings results.

We are concerned about the amount of illigitimate shamans and facillitators holding ceremonies but also about the ignorance of mny westerners seeking immediate cures and being willing to jump into ceremonbies without any research done. Ufortunately there have been a number of extremely unfortunate and unnecessary deaths of people who had ‘taken’ ayahuasca with ill-intentioned and untrained ceremony leaders. They were not curanderos. We do not wish to see this become a growing issue either inside or outside South America.

Our work is centered around Ayahuasca but we must not forget the rest of the community here in Peru that is as important and that runs the show behind the scenes. Our community is our team, their children who go to school, their famillirs and as a family run organization we do our best to help them the best we can with everything. We only hold 1 retreat a month and we don’t go bigger than groups from 8 to 12 people Max. With this we can use your help and donations to help our community grow and feel supported.

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