“He (the Shaman) is a self-reliant explorer of the endless mansions of a magnificent hidden universe.” ~ Michael Harner
Shamans or medicine men are navigators, explorers, healers and guides operating in the realm of the collective unconscious. They know how to navigate through the subtle spirit worlds and human consciousness.
During our transformational journey we had the opportunity to speak with Chakaruna (name changed on request), an indigenous Shaman and a gifted musician from the Amazon rainforests of Peru, South America.
Born in the jungle city of Tarapoto, Chakaruna started his path and vocation as an Ayahuasquero and a healer nearly 20 years ago.
His family ancestors have worked with the knowledge of the Amazonian medicines for generations and passed the wisdom of shamanism on to him. He shares with us his experience of being a shaman, the intense training one undergoes, the sacred plants used in rituals including Ayahuasca and much more.
Tell us little bit about growing up in your family of Shamans, in that kind of an environment, what kind of effect it had on you?
We grew up in the high jungles of Peru. Situated in the northwest of the jungle, there is a waterfall, lakes and rivers. Growing up in nature, my family comes from south a special small village. There is a dense forest surrounding the lake and my uncles, grandfathers were using lot of medicinal plants from there. There wasn’t a pharmacy at that time many many years ago, my roots come from the medicine men who were working with lot of different kind of medicines and my uncle Antonio was a shaman doctor.
We call ‘hitalista’ doctor, people who are with nature, work with plants, it can be with roots, leaves or the covers of trees. My uncle was working with Ayahuasca its the most holy medicine, that help us to connect again with nature. He passed away and nobody was conducting any Ayahuasca ceremony.
When I was 17, I drank Ayahuasca with all the shamans and the visions that I had was that I have to continue to pray, and continue the knowledge which my ancestors were using for holding this sacred space, holy space, by drinking this brew. This is my culture; Ayahuasca is my sacrament, my religion, my belief. It’s the belief of many indigenous cultures; we come from the Quechua tribe.
But we are still using the holy Ayahuasca, throughout my training. I am 36 now but I started to drink Aya when I was 17 and after training for 8 years, I started holding ceremonies. Because I had to learn more about myself, now I am in India making ceremonies, holding space, sharing what my roots, spiritual masters taught me.
What does it take to be a shaman, do you have to study for a while and when you get to know yourself you start or is there anything particular you have to do or learn?
It is a very strict way to live, it is a way to live, because when you are training, you don’t eat salt, you don’t eat sugar, you don’t have sex for a while because you have to keep your energy to understand the power of each plant you are going to drink, not just Ayahuasca.
How many plants?
For all plants you have to go to a small hut, you stay alone you drink the plant what the shaman or the medicine man is going to give you.
You work with the roots of Huisache. It helps to connect with your family, heals situations with your family and there is a plant ‘Chiricsanango’ used to confront the fears and there is another plant ‘Ushpahuasha Sanango’ used to open the heart. We drink it for 10-15 days to one month, depending on how deep you want to go with the master plants.
We call them the teacher plants, because they teach us to sing, teach us to heal. The spirit of the plants come to sing to you in your dreams. This is how you learn Icaros, the music we sing during our ceremonies. This is how we learn through our master plants. This is how we train to be a shaman, its a very deep, very deep process.
What would you say life is according to your teachings? What is existence?
I think existence is to create new ways to share love. We come here into existence to share love. But if there is no war, if there is no darkness we are not going to understand love. We are right here, somewhere on this earth…Mother Earth to understand the essence of our vibration, to understand our human nature.
If someone dies, someone is born or there is darkness, the sun will shine the next day. There are plants growing, it’s raining, its sunny there’s war, fear, happiness, security and insecurity. All this has to be like this, it’s part of our training, to understand ourselves, this why we are here, to understand the process of life.
Your ceremonies are intricately connected to the spirit world, what is the spirit world?
There are important things to connect. One is nature, spirits live in nature and the other thing is humans. There is no separation between them, ceremonies are to connect deeper with the spirits, because the spirits are the healers/grandmasters who come to heal you through Ayahuasca, or other plants.
This is why we make the sacred circle during the ceremony, its like a hospital. We make a hospital, to work there – to call the spirits, call the power animals to heal, to connect with yourself, to open your heart, to connect with your spirit, to connect with your soul, your body again with your gods and your own beliefs.
The spirits are around us all the time?
Yes, all the time, its invisible, its the other world. There are two worlds – this is the world you can see, you can feel, but there is another world, the spirit world. Where there is no time, there is no age, there is no future or past, this is the life of the spirit. You can flow in this vibration and go into the process of your childhood there is a hole where spirits are living.
How many ceremonies have you done till date?
I really don’t know….more than one to two thousand I think…
In these ceremonies have you cured people of certain diseases and what kind of diseases did they have?
Most diseases people had were psychosomatic problems, because if your soul is sick, your body is going to be sick. If your soul is sick it takes a lot of energy, if you are ill psychosomatically. If you are sick you start freaking out this is where your soul is going to be sick.
After Ayahuasca when we connect with the vibration of the soul and spirit, this is where we are stuck in problems. How we take it out is through purging, through the crying or going to the bathroom. Psychologists call it shamanic cutters, this helps to take out lot of pain, this is how we create the atmosphere for healing.
What about curing terminal diseases like cancer, I’ve read online that people have got cured of these kind of diseases as well.
There are a lot of plants, all the medicine comes from the plants.
So basically its not just Ayahuasca, you mix up other plants as well?
Yes, exactly, Ayahuasca shows us or tells us what plant we are going to use for healing. If there is some deep problem we use Ayahuasca to see what plant I am going to use for that ailment. Maybe I can say, I can’t do anything, because its in the last process of healing. This is the point, sometimes we can’t do anything because its too late but we can use lot of different plants for healing. We can use a lot of plants to heal the cysts.
What does Ayahuasca mean to you?
We can learn many things from our surroundings. For example I can learn from the ants, but what can you learn from the ants they are very small? They are hard workers, who communicate efficiently and we can learn this by observing them.
Even a leaf, we can see the leaf, green and happy, always refreshing we can learn from the leaves. You can learn from small things. If you open your eyes, you can learn from huge trees and the universe. We have a lot to learn but we aren’t going to learn all of it in this life there is so much to learn.
During your Aya session you start by marking a territory, is that to put away bad spirits?
Yes, its called Arkana. I have to protect this circle of healing because when we enter the other world the spirit world and dark spirits can enter.
Have you ever experienced the dark spirits?
Ya ya, like exorcism. Some spirit enters through the other body. When you have a hole in your aura, your chakra, spirits can jump in your aura. This is where they can move your energy, they are like a vampire they want to take away your energy, and because they live on your energy, they can suck out your energy.
How do you get rid of it?
We use sacred tobacco, Icaros, singing to the person until its gone. It’s a lot of work, very strong work.
Last question, what does music have to do with this
The music shows you the way, like a cross, its like a car, lets go, we have a pothole. I am the driver, even if there’s a lot of raining or darkness we have to go ahead.