Chances are you have taken part in or observed through television a shamanic practice at some point in your life. Depending if it was a documentary or cartoon your original viewpoints on shamanism will be varied. As it resurfaces in our modern times, we must reiterate what it is shamans do. This practice known all over the world is said to have begun in Asia over 40,000 years ago, however there is evidence of shamanism in paleolithic sites throughout Europe, Africa and Australia. This means even though there is not a specfic point of origin in shamanic practices, the common themes we see are not cultural, but practical. Shamanic practice has some to do with traits and more so is founded throughout cultures on the healing practices of psychobiology and the immunological system.
Make it to the end and see the list of common ailments treated by shamanism!
Illness in shamanic belief is linked to your psycology. This means you have the power along with a shaman to restore your health through finding equlibrium in your body, mind and spirit. At all of our ayahuasca retreats and the san pedro retreats, this is the most important factor, your extraordinary effort to let the shamans be your guides and help restore your health. In Peru, shamans are always relating the importance of intention, your intention along with the intention of the shaman in any ceremony is key. Whether the shamanic ceremony be in Peru, Bali, Mongolia or India.
When you participate in a ceremony you are bringing energy to the shaman and asking them to help heal through this holistic medicine. It takes a certain level of faith or spiritual interest. By using life force energy and a few key tools, the shaman helps resurface repressed memories, feelings of depression, anxiety, compulsive disorders and more. In ceremonies shamans have instruments to heighten your senses and activate chemicals in your brain, through taste, smell and touch. Shamans in Peru use plants, feathers, tobacco smoke, song, music and perfumes as their tools. It can be summed up as a performance art, but anyone who has experienced a true shamanic healing session knows it goes much further than this. In other posts, we will talk about spirit realms, animal guides, cosmological beliefs and the 8th chakra, the shamans chakra.
Do not forget, there is science behind the chants of shamans! The rattles and drumming used to bring about a state of trance and elict these repressed memories create endorphins. Endorphins are released in the human brain during these sessions. These chemicals activated naturally in your brain decrease pain and anxiety, and increase joy, with long lasting effects. They are noted by pharmacologists to be as effective as valium in their tranquilizing effects. It has been said, and you can quote me on this, that a shamans client who reinacts their repressed memory through a healing session, 80% will be healed. In a psychiatrists office, through art, talk, draw, or paint therapy, success rates are only 30%. – Raymond Price The Endorphins
The following are types of significant issues often healed by shamanic journeying. Ayahuasca retreats are relevant to all of these and San Pedro (Huachuma) will be marked for the ailments it best treats.
- Depression (San Pedro)
- Loss and grief (San Pedro)
- Trauma and shock
- Abuse (sexual, physical and emotional)
- Anxieties (San Pedro is especially helpful here.)
- Compulsive disorders
- Important life transitions and decisions (San Pedro)
- Connecting with loved ones and ancestors
- Clarification of your life purpose (San Pedro)
These two plants grow in close proximity in the amazonian region. Where there is an ayahuasca vine, you will find a chacruna plant near by. But, there are a massive amount of plants which also grow in this same region near ayahuasca vines that do not combine to bring about a hallucinatory experience. Every plant in the region has a use and the tribes people grow up learning the medicinal properties of plants before they ever learn to read and write. This is an essential part of their survival and often implemented into the language they speak. Because of this we can deduct that the knowledge was passed down verbally in songs, like icaros. Anthropologists have estimated they began taking ayahuasca some 5,000 years ago. It is possible, but not likely, an accident of the brewer. So then how did these, so called, primitive people know?
Let us imagine they were not primitive people, they held a knowledge vastly different from our own. They could feel plant energy. For those of us who have closer relationships with plants and entheogens, this is easier to understand. If you lived in not just a jungle, but the amazon jungle, reading plant energy is part of your survival toolkit. There are plants in the amazon that can easily kill a human, there are plants that can save your life. If other animals can sense what plants are beneficial to them, why not humans? The tribes believe the plants have spirits and that you can hear the plants, they are living things just like anything else. By listening to the plants on a profound level, it is believed they were able to speak with the spirits. The spirits came to them and told them how to use the plants to heal.
Then there is the theory where humans are not insightful to their surroundings and the idea to mix chacruna leaf and ayahuasca together came from an outside source. Depending on who you speak to this could mean gods or aliens told the people to mix the plants. Who it was depends on the perspective of the storyteller. It is fun to speculate how such an important life saver in amazonian medicine came to be.
It is an important teaching in letting things be as they are. We may never know how exactly ayahuasca tea came to fruition, but we do know we are grateful for it, that is most important. This medicine saves lives and brings forth great positive personal change. It is fair to say there is no other entheogen like it.