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Some thoughts on working with shaman's.

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olympus mon

Rising Star
OG Pioneer
Some thoughts on working with shaman's

I would like to take a moment to discuss some thoughts I have on these topics from my experiences here in Peru working with ayahuasca. Until now all my experience with ayahuasca has been like many of us, alone in the comforts of my home. One thing that i haven't ever cared much for in the past is the attitude and stance that ayahuasca is something that should only be done in South America with shaman's or with an organized group such as Santo Daime or the U.V.E. Before i came to Peru ive rejected these notions and I still do. To me, ayahuasca is a gift to all inhabitants of the earth and should be taken as the individual see's fit. If that's in Peru great, if that's at home with a trusted freind that's great too. Even now after multiple ceremonys my thought's on this matter remains. There is no reason ayahuasca cant or shouldn't be done at home in any country or city.

However i do have some reasons that i feel working with shamans in traditional setting and ceremony is extremly important as well. It can be a life changing experience. In short the two are different ways of taking ayahusca and should be treated as such. Not everynone can afford to go to far away lands and work with shamans but please dont let that stop you from working with this incredible medicine.

On a recent trip into the near by modern town to use the internet i met an anthropologist on the boat. He asked to interview me for a research project he was working on for a book on ayahuasca and its allure to westerner's and I happily accepted. His first question was why i came here to take ayahuasca and my answer is what i want to share with this community.
I came here to work with ayahuasca with shamans because under their care and protection people are able to go much, much, deeper into the other worlds. This is for two reasons. One, you have the saftey net of the shamans power, experience and knowledge to quite simply take much larger ammounts and not have the journey turn into a hellish nightmare. If it does they most certainly can help as i saw with my own eye's. The next paragraph's are a good example of this.

My girlfriend and I met in Guatemala 4 months ago and have traveled together ever since that day. However she came here with me with no intentions of partaking in ceremony. Although since she met me she has taken lsd and 2-cb as well as smoked some changa but other than that she has had no interest in psychedelics and ayauhuasca scared her. After a few days here listening to the group's and my own accounts she decided of free will she wanted to try it. In total Claire did 3 ceremonies and the first 2 were very enjoyable but on her third she got into deep waters which was partially my fault inadvertainly.

I asked the shamans if they could brew me a stronger brew with much more chacruna and they happily agreed. Although I didnt know when this new brew would be ready and the night im speaking of i was the first person to drink . Claire was next and after she drank her portion i saw the shaman go to his mat and get a different bottle for the rest of the group. I whispered to her she was given this stronger brew and asked her if she was ok with it. She replied she was so we sat back and waited. It was clearly far to strong for her and i fear my poor spanish was the reason they may have chosen to give it to her as well. i may have used the plural forms when asking for stronger brews and they must have thought we both wanted this.

Claire did great, she came up fast and strong and it quickly became too much for her so she reached out for me as i was standing by ready in all honesty for the shit to hit the fan. She culred into a ball as i rubbed her back and gently whispered that she was going to be ok. She reached out to touch my face and was terrified when she told me i was dissapearing as well as the room. i kept her hand on my face while i rubbed her back re assuring here that i am here, im not going anywhere and this is reality. I told her to just hang on as i knew one of the shamans would be coming any min to help, and he did. Efrian came over and we made eye contact and he knew exactly what was happening. I knew I didnt even have to say a word. I Whispered in my lovers ear that he was going to sing icaros to take the visions down and lower the intensity and again reassured her she was doing great.

By the second icaro Claire told me she was feeling better but was still scared. She was now able to sit up which was a huge step and I could tell she was still in deep but coming back. The next thing the shaman did was the most amazing thing i've ever seen and even Claire said later that if it didnt happen to her she wouldnt believe it. Efrian put his hands on either side of her head and while pressing firmly he aggresively sucked in air through his mouth and then let out a thunderous belch! He did this a second time but this time on her chest and back, again with a huge purging belch. He removed his hands from her and sat down and in spanish said, you will be fine now and she was. He completly took it out of her!

Claire asked for some air so I helped her out of the moloko. Once outside she smiled at me and exclaimed "im gonna kick your ass for this"! we laughed a good laugh and held eachother but both were amazed at what we just witnessed. She was now fine when just a few min before was in hell! This is what a good shaman can do! This is why I am able to drink the amounts I am drinking and go as deep as I've been going. From my first ceremony i felt a saftey and comfort I've never felt before taking any psychedelic and knew I could really go for it here with these powerful men and women.

The other reason i feel working with shamans is so amazing is the icaros. When they sing for you the most amazing experiences happen as well as huge amounts of information come through their songs to you. Each icaro evokes different visions and a good shaman isn't just pulling icaros out of a hat, he/she is reading the group and each individual and selecting what icaro is needed. Their power and work keeps me in awe each and every night we drink. Its truly something to be experienced and if you ever have the opportunity you will not regret it. Do you research, find a good place, and plan on spending more than a week. The longer, the deeper.

If anyone wants information about the place im staying just let me know.
much, much, love and light.
If I remember correctly it seems I was reading an earlier thread were you expressed some concern for the trouble you were having finding what you were looking for there in Peru, I am certainly happy for you that you were able to find a place to fit in. The universe certainly does have a way with looking after us. It has been a fascination of mine for a loong time to be able to travel Peru for the country side, mountains, jungles as well as the traditions of the people who drink Ayahuasca. I haven't drunk the brew yet, to be honest I have been having some difficulty finding it in myself. I have been waiting for the time to feel right, also the fact that I know no one personally with any experience to guide me. However it helps my spirits a great deal to hear your opinions on the brew and that one should not decide not to drink just because of lack of an experienced teacher. Maybe some time I will get to travel to Peru, if that is the case I hope that my travels may go as well as yours have. Much love friend.
..olympus mon wrote:
The other reason i feel working with shamans is so amazing is the icaros. When they sing for you the most amazing experiences happen as well as huge amounts of information come through their songs to you. Each icaro evokes different visions and a good shaman isn't just pulling icaros out of a hat, he/she is reading the group and each individual and selecting what icaro is needed.
..great description olympus mon,
i have been blessed with a few similar experiences, and this 'shamanic' level of awareness and healing is what has inspired me to keep studying with medicine for many years (as well as the grace of the plant teachers)
..this kind of work is the highest level of 'university' to me, thank you for the sharing...
Thanks for keeping us posted on your travel experiences, Jeff.
It's good to have someone out there experiencing traditional Ayahuasca. I think what makes having a Shaman special, is the fact that you're with someone who has knows the territory inside out. I guess it's also nice to have the human contact, and to feel a part of the great Ayahuasca tradition, of which you are when imbibing in a traditional way accompanied by a Shaman.
Awesome thread Oly, I totally agree with your outlook. I also feel that anybody has the right to use ayahuasca in their homes without a shaman (though of course personally I wonder how sustainable it is to ship these kgs and kgs of caapi across the world).

For those taking without a shaman, if possible having a sitter or someone experienced joining in for the first time is a good idea. And/or taking it in light doses at first, until one gets to know the specific batch and one's own reactions.

I think a lot of people idealize shamans, and think they know everything and are perfect human beings. I think you have seen clearly yurself, oly, how many scammers there are, how commercial it has gotten, etc. I think ayahuasca tourism has a lot of negative effects too, so people going there should really consider what exactly they are doing, how they are doing, what are they giving back to the community, etc.

The first times I took ayahuasca have been in Santo Daime and with indigenous people. The couple of Santo Daime experiences served to open me up to the ayahuasca world but its not something i'll be doing again I think, because they have too many rules and dogmas, too bright lights and not enough introspection (even in 'concentration' rituals) IMO.

With the indigenous people it was much better, I was able to go far, they are much more easy going about "rules" and it's a much more relaxed atmosphere in general. I also very much agree, the icaros is something undescribable, it is really out of this world the visions and effects that the icaros can lead to. The ethnic group I was working with was the Huni Kuin (or Kaxinawa), and they also had these breath/blow works to control the trip, and I've also witnessed them "breathing out" someone's bad trip. I got no idea how exactly it works, if there are subtle energies at work, if it's just the fact that someone is doing something for you and taking care which helps, but whatever it is, it was very effective.

Thanks for sharing the story of your girlfriend too, by the way :)
great [points endless, as always lol.
your right about people idolizing shamans, they too are still just people and ive met many with shitty intentions as well as some that are actually brujo's disguised as shamans that work with black majic and the dark side of the spirt world. although ive always been sceptical on these matters ive hard from so many people that they really can and do cause harm and even death!

one fella staying with us was attacked by a brujo during an aya session after a disagreement about price before the ceremony. he didnt know the man was a brujo till after and said he was under attack the entire ceremony and the only thing that kept him safe was his experience with ceremony and that ayahuasca had taught him protective blowing in his 80 plus ceremony's he as attended. brujo's are out there folks so do your research!!!!
OM, amazing post.

That is quite mindblowing to hear that the shaman "sucked" an overwhelming experience out of your lady friend. Indeed it is hard to wrap your mind around such things being possible...but i am a firm believer in the transcendent and mystical powers of ayahuasca.

Your posts have inspired me to look into doing an aya retreat this summer!

One question i have on the icaros: I have never expereicned the power of an icaro, the very idea of using the powers of the voice to manipulate unseen energies is so intriuging to me, as i believe sound and vibration to be the fundamental core of "reality".
I have throat sang on ayahuasca before with extremely profound and unexpected effects, i didnt know what i was doing, but the singing definetly ramped the trips intensity up by a great magnitude and launched me into a brief OBE. but i was not in control of these effects and it was slightly unnerving. regardless it is my path to channel these entheogenic archetypes into music and figure out the role sound has in shaping our world.

My question is, have you ever listended to recorded icaros (i have not)? Is it possible to experience an icaros effects throught the recorded medium? for example if one wanted the power of an icaro of protection, could one play the track that is known to be the "icaro of protection" and its power will be carried through. Or does it require the shaman's physical voice and the energy and settings around him to be effective?

"(though of course personally I wonder how sustainable it is to ship these kgs and kgs of caapi across the world). "

I have thought about that alot endless..and the conclusion I came to finally is that it is really a great thing that this goes on, as long as the way the caapi is grown and harvested etc is sustainable. This is a wonderful and productive use of our technology I think becasue it is being used to open up peoples minds and hearts. This does not even come close in comparison to something like factory farming..

Yes it is true that to ship caapi around like this it requires fuel being burned etc..for now anyway..but really there are MUCH larger concerns to be adressed, and the ironic thing is that by having ayahausca available like this and ceremonies happening all around the globe it is most likely opening up peoples eyes to these larger concerns..so it is a *very* small trade off in comparison.

This is, IMO one example of how out current level of technology and interconnectedness can be useful for the times we are now in.

Although I do hope that what this all inspires in the end is for more people to learn about ayahuasca and the analogue plants and start to at least attempt to grow them at home in their communities so one day this sort of thing can be a part of everyones local community from the ground up.

Psychedelics(and ayahuasca especially IMO) are our birthright I think and are a very invaluable tool for personal growth and development and something that is needed at this time and possibly in times to come.
What a great idea! Recording(s) of icaros....
Maybe this could become an official Nexus project...it's certainly in keeping with the general philosophy of our being here.

Sign me up....happy to pay for songs of some of the shamans's mentioned here...and in other reports over the last year or so (Antrocles comes to mind).
pau, yeah there are places where you can buy a recording of a shaman or shamans singing icaros, i have seen them several times.

I would be extremely interested in investigating wheather or not these recorded icaros can carry the power, and i intend to do just that!

I know everytime i journey, music (not only recorded music but also the hallucinatory music of the plants) is the fundamental aspect of the journey for me and i have been taken to some seriously wild places as a result of music and journeying.

One thing i think im saying is this modern psychedelic music, at leat the most genuine and cream of the crop stuff, is the same technology as these icaros, channeling otherworldy energies into this world delivering an vision or concept that is otherwise beyond our capacity to percieve. Music can touch your soul in profound ways, and can tap into and communicate very powerful energies.

Im just wondering if the power is lost on the recorded medium. In my mind the power should not be lost, because those vibrations are still vibrating the air around them, it should cause similair effects as the vibrations would if they were coming from a human mouth. But perhaps it must come directly from the voice, i dont know, thats what im trying to find out.

Thanks again guys

OM man you need to get a voice recorder and record these ceremonies!!! better yet a video camera!!
I have recorded some of the icaros from some of the rituals ive participated in, I can try to find those files.. In ayahuasca forums I remember they had some icaros recordings to download too.

I tried listening to some of the recorded icaros in one ayahuasca session I had at home and it was not good .. It didnt seem to carry the power, and felt "out of place", was even disturbing at some point so I had to turn it off. It might be because the recorder wasnt the best quality and thus didnt record some of the important frequencies in the shaman's voice, or because compared to listening live which I had, it was of course a less complete experience (and maybe if I hadnt ever listened to that same icaros live it would have carried some more power), or maybe its because when the shaman sings, he's not just singing a song that soudns nice, each icaros has specific functions in a given ritual, so maybe I just played it in the wrong moment. Whatever the reason is, I never tried listening to those recorded icaros on a trip again.

Jamie, good points about ayahuasca. I guess the keys are, trying to plant and spread these plants, when ordering trying to make as big purchase at once as possible, not wasting any and correctly brewing, but also trying to find local plant allies to use when possible.

That is one of my favorite things to listen to with ayahuasca. Some recorded icaros I cant really listen to but there are a bunch of really nice ones on youtube from the temple of the way of light.
Thanks for all your posts and reflections Olympus Mon. Powerful stuff. This Kickstarter for the film The Jungle Prescription offered a CD of Icaros as a gift for people who pledged. My CD has not arrived yet, maybe it will come some day. But just as seeing live music is different from listening to recordings, I don't expect a CD of Icaros to have much power, at least compared to a shaman singing the Icaro you need at that moment.
Lovely post!
I really hope I get to travel to Peru soon and experience this. I have been invited to an aya ceremony here in Cape Town with an Ayahuasquero and a Curandero both from an area near Pucallpa and am really considering going as a good friend of mine has been several times and has similar sentiments to you about their powers.
As I've only had pharma journeys I think it might be a good idea to do aya in this setting. I already noticed things happening to/around me during my pharma journeys that could lead to some trouble with an overly strong brew (something I worry about due to the nature of MHRB)
Also the ceremony would use Chacruna which I hear is a bit better than MHRB. But I really don't know as this was just something a friend told me so it could be very subjective.

Happy travels!
..i have some recordings of indigenous icaros which were recommended by the maestro to utilize in home sessions..in my experience this can teach a lot about what kinds of icaros work in what kinds of situations..certainly there are specific functions of many of these icaros, e.g. increase purging, decrease nausea, modulate visuals in certain ways etc..

certainly it's never going to be exactly the same as the 'live' experience, and all the other things that experience involves, but i think recordings is a completely valid way to explore icaros, and understand their potential healing powers..

when i described this kind of shamanism as the highest level of the university, i mean that it uses multiple areas of detailed knowledge in plants, systems of philosophy and healing, synaesthesia etc. in other words, a lot of study, even if it is within a fairly subjective area from a western POV..individual shamans should not be idolized, but advanced systems developed over thousands of years can be admired..without having to completely subscribe to a particular method of cultural perspective..
to me, an understandingof this kind of 'subjective' ancient cultural knowledge, combined with the 'objective' scientific perspective, is the PHD level of the 'entheoversity'..

ps. re shaman in south america and tourism as brought up by endlessness and olympus mon, yes i've heard some terrible stories of bogus shaman including robbery and rape during sessions..with the tourist dollar all sorts of people claim to be ayahuasqeros..never mind partially knowledgeable practitioners of dubious psyche (brujos)
..even in almost bygone intact traditional cultures (now being negatively impacted by tourism) it was known that some shaman suited some people and not others..
researching and choosing carefully is important..
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