Shamanism is an important aspect of the culture of many nations. Due to the lack of information, some people do not have the slightest idea of what shamans are doing. Moreover, many people really imagine a shaman as a man in feathers performing ritual dances with a tambourine around the fire. The modern man lacks information about shamanic traditions and the specifics of this phenomenon among different peoples.We interviewed a man who tried many shamanic practices. And he agreed to share with us some information about what shamanism is.
— The decision to go to Peru was not some spontaneous act for me. In winter 2011, 5 people went to the Karelian taiga. We were prepared to overcome harsh frosts and big snowdrifts in search of new knowledge and strength.
Mount Vottovara was the main focus of our trip. This is one of the most mysterious places in Russia. There, a person can get new knowledge, fresh ideas and stretch himself spiritually in new ways. Right there in this amazing place, we decided to visit the Amazonian selva. I knew that Peruvian shamans have been practicing Ayahuasca ceremonies by channeling the spirits of local plants for thousands of years.
– It’s worth mentioning that each person should visit Peruvian shamans and experience the ayahuasca ceremony on their own. Each of us had a personal reason. Someone was seeking new ways of spiritual development, and someone was hoping to be cured of a serious illness.
Our team members were united by one common desire to turn their life around and get new knowledge. This journey provided an opportunity to explore the ancient culture and mystical rituals alien to Western traditions.
— During the whole year, we thoroughly selected and studied all available information about the local shamans and the places where the ayahuasca ceremony was held. But we couldn’t find much information about the ritual on the Internet.
We carefully planned the route and paid much attention to organizational issues. And then the day came when our group set off on a snow-white liner towards the unknown.
- You need to consider that only several countries are available for a person who wants to experience ayahuasca. So you can choose one of them: Peru, Brazil, Ecuador. Short-term retreats are also available in some European countries. This is a great option for those who are not ready to leave home, family and change their routine for a while.
Shamans also perform rites in Europe. At the same time, the ritual itself takes place in a rented house, far away from their native land and culture. That means that you can’t fully immerse yourself in the powerful magical rituals of the Amazonian selva and really experience ancient medicine traditions.
When choosing to visit a country in South America, it is especially recommended for a beginner to choose Peru. Visiting Peru for your first ceremony allows you to experience the ancient tradition get into the spirit of the ancient land. Finding the local ayahuasca retreats is much easier, and getting the necessary information.
- I decided to experience this ritual during a mystical journey to Mount Vottovara. The shamans themselves called on us to share their experiences and strength.
It is rather tough for me to explain exactly how the decision to travel to Peru came about. It was not just the heat of the moment. It's been brewing for many years. From the age of 4, I’ve realized that I notice much more than just the people around me—so-called "open vision" in shamanism.
As a child, I learned to deal with the gift and the information flow alone. And over time, I realized that I needed a teacher and mentor - a person who could teach me how to manage this vision of the world. I had my first teacher precisely at a time. Together we joined a team that went on a trip to Peru.
I just had to go with my gut and choose my first ceremony center. When people ask me how to choose a good place for the first ayahuasca ceremony, I advise them to follow their hearts. In 2012, we trusted our mentor and went to the Amazonian selva.
- The ayahuasca ceremony takes place in a special room that looks like a tent. There are round rooms and a kind of pyramid called malokoy.
Ayahuasca ritual is performed during the night only. Even in the evening, before the ceremony starts, the participants gather in the maloka. Everyone is waiting for the shaman to begin pouring ayahuasca. Those people approach the shaman one by one, take their portion, and drink it. Then they lay down on their mattresses and wait for the effect. Lights are turned off in the room.
Usually, the effect comes in an hour. After that, the curandero (shaman) begins to sing his songs (Ikaros). Songs are most often sung in the Shipibo language. This is the most important part of the ceremony. The shaman communicates with the gathered people and works with them by singing Ikaros.
Ayahuasca ceases to have effect after a few hours. All participants go to their rooms. They need to reflect on a newly gained experience and just relax.
— You must stick to the point that a shaman is a normal person. Of course, he is skillful and experienced in energy, perfumes, and plants. A real shaman can see things no one else can, such as different problems. This is part of a complex ritual that allows you to choose the right treatment and find solutions for other issues.
Many tend to idealize shamans, to imagine them as gurus and holy people. This approach is wrong. The shaman will set you on the right path and tell you how to overcome your problems. But the rest of the work is aimed at self-improvement, which a person must do on his own.
Quite often, a person comes to realize the necessary changes during rituals. This may be bad habits breaking, diet-keeping, or lifestyle changing. The trip gives a person the strength required to take the decision and try a new, better life.
On such trips, it is rather important to treat with respect to all local national traditions, carefully observe the shaman’s work, and take his advice. Trying to impose your view will be inappropriate.
Shamans closely monitor each participant's health during the ceremony in Peru’s proven and secure ayahuasca retreats. You can talk to the curandero with the help of an interpreter.
Sharing your concerns, experiences, worries, and soul-searching with a shaman is crucial. He should definitely consider such issues for further work with a person.
— Each shaman has his own ayahuasca recipe. The collection may include from 5 to 20 spices of medicinal plants. Ayahuasca itself may cause vomiting, so it is mixed with chacruna leaves. Shamans consider this plant a living spirit, absolutely harmless for the body. But it requires a special monthly diet. Peruvians believe that ayahuasca is a healing brew.
The ayahuasca side effects are quite individual. Each of the participants will get his own unique experience of the ceremony. There is no point in searching the Internet to find out about the experience of others because it will differ from yours.
- Ayahuasca is equated with narcotic drugs in many countries. This explains the biased attitude towards the ritual.
The history and culture of this state differ markedly from the development path of Western Europe. At the same time, ayahuasca has been used for thousands of years in different countries. In Peru, the ceremony has been declared the country's cultural heritage.
So you can only conclude based on your personal experience whether ayahuasca is a drug or medicine.
- The first course of ayahuasca takes a period of 10 to 14 days. The first 3 days are the body’s cleansing. Then begins individual work with the shaman.
The list of procedures in each center is different. The shaman works out an individual diet based on special plants. And also, steam herbal baths, flower showers, ripote helping cleanse the throat and nose, and other procedures that bring health are practiced there.
The shaman connects each participant with the spirit of his plant. Diet plays a special key role in this process. Each visitor is living in a separate house called tapo. Solitude is extremely important in preparing for the ritual.
Now I work in the center, located in the mountains of Tingo Maria. This is a very picturesque place where mountains, waterfalls, and caves are almost beyond imagination. The number of visitors depends on the season and varies from 5 to 20 people. We conduct weekend excursions for everyone.
This spiritual experience was unique. Amazonian medicine took me into the bigger new world and really helped me get rid of fears and deal with my internal tensions. The Ayahuasca ceremony helped me find my own way and achieve inner peace. Now, I also gain new knowledge and get those incredible emotions as a guide. Now I am studying medicinal plants that can cure various diseases.
And I get the joy of seeing the retreat visitors are healed up. I often hear the words of gratitude over time after the ceremony, when a person finds personal fulfillment and his own way.
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