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Song of the Amazon is a visionary feature-length animated film created to share the stories and cosmology of the Shipibo-Konibo indigenous people of the Peruvian Amazon.

 

This groundbreaking film brings Shipibo visual music and stories of the Amazon to life in a way that has never before been seen outside of the experiential visions of the plant medicine, Ayahuasca.

 

Weaving together breathtaking visuals, songs and indigenous story wisdom, this film will take audiences on a profound and captivating journey that will evoke, awaken, inspire, and expand consciousness.

| Icaros | Nature Connection | Shipibo Healing |

Ayahuasca Ceremony: What Is It?

Written on October 16, 2014

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Known commonly as ayahuasca, Oni is a sacred Shipibo medicine that is used in a traditional ceremonial context for the purpose of healing. As information about this sacred traditional medicine is disseminated to the modern world, misconceptions about ayahuasca and ayahuasca ceremony are becoming widespread. We would like to offer clarity about Oni and its usage, from a traditional Shipibo medicine perspective.

 
 

Oni: An Indigenous Shipibo Medicine

 

To the Shipibo, Oni is an herbal decoction made from two plants: the woody stems of the Banisteriopsis Caapi vine (known by the Quechua word, ayahuasca) and the leaves of the Psychotria Viridis plant (known by the Quechua word, chacruna). Oni is an entheogenic mixture that when ingested, induces an often visionary, altered state of consciousness.

 

For Shipibo ayahuasca healers known as Onanya, Oni is mainly taken for the purpose of curing and communication with nature and the spirit world. Conducted by an Onanya, the Oni ceremony provides a container for divinatory, diagnostic and healing work to take place. The Onanya orchestrates this work and the ceremony itself, through the singing of traditional chanting songs called icaros.

 

Grounding the Tradition

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The ayahuasca ceremony is considered by the Shipibo to be only one small part of their complex and extensive indigenous spiritual tradition and cosmology. The foundation of the Shipibo spiritual system is an intimate connection with nature and the universe. In this worldview, plants, animals, and other elements of nature such as wind, earth, and the waters, are thought of as specific and distinct conscious beings that can be interacted with and learned from.

 

The communication that takes place between a person and these nature beings comes from connecting to the level of consciousness of that particular nature spirit. This ability to connect to and communicate with nature is part of the birthright of every human being and does not necessarily require the taking of ayahuasca.

 
 

The Onanya: The Master Healer Teacher

 

For the Shipibo, the ayahuasca ceremony is facilitated by a trained practitioner of the medicine, called an Onanya in the Shipibo language. This healer has developed a mastery of the art of ayahuasca healing and is often referred to in the Spanish vernacular as maestro or maestra, meaning teacher. In order to learn to heal others through the use of ayahuasca medicine, the novice healer spends many years as an apprentice under the guidance of an Onanya master healer teacher.

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In their training, the apprentice healer learns through a series of aesthetic practices that create a space of consciousness, which allows him or her to communicate with and therefore be taught directly by the spirits of the Master Plants and of Ayahuasca itself. These learning practices, known as “dietas” or diets, are different than the preparation diet that people wanting to drink ayahuasca undergo to get ready to take part in the ceremony. The educational diet (sama in Shipibo) serves an essential purpose— to build alliances with Master Plant spirits who will aid the practitioner in their healing work. Depending on the master plant, the educational diet also serves to purify the body and mind, to offer protection, and to cultivate the nervous system to be able to navigate higher states of consciousness.

 
 

Do you have any questions about ayahuasca healing or ceremony? If so, send us an
email
, and we will try to answer it in a future post.

| Nature Connection | Shipibo Stories |

Interconnectedness

Written on October 10, 2014

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“Everything is an inseparable piece of a greater whole, including our own human community… If we were connected to our Earth, we would not have an environmental crisis.” -Jon Young
 

Shipibo artist and Song of the Amazon creative partner Reshin Bima shared a few stories with us recently about changes he has seen in the Amazonian environment near his home village of Santa Clara. He recalled a certain aquatic plant that grew in abundance in the waters near his village as a child. This green leafy plant floated on the surface of ponds and lakes and was known to be extremely effective in removing toxins and oils from the water.

 

This particular quality of the plants attracted the attention of Westerners “scientists”, that came into Shipibo territory and began to harvest these wild, naturally growing plants. The local story goes that the plants were apparently being used by a big company for crude oil clean up. I looked up the technique, which is called phytoremediation, and learned that over the past 20 years, this “technology” has become an increasingly popular way of cleaning up pollutants in contaminated soil, water or air.

 

On the surface, it sounds like a great solution, but I learned from Reshin, that the plant was over harvested and has since disappeared from the area. This plant’s disappearance had a detrimental impact to the local environment, effecting everything from the animals and insects in the area, to food sources and clean water. To put it simply, one area’s environment was destroyed to clean up the man-made destruction in another.

 

Reshin shared another story about a beautiful river tributary that was good for fishing and known to be home to a large anaconda. Some men came up the river and captured the anaconda to sell to a European zoo. With the anaconda gone, the surrounding environment shifted drastically, and all of the fish in the area were eaten by other predators or died out.

 

This brings light to one of the reasons why the Shipibo people consider large anacondas to be the guardians and protectors of the rivers. In ecology terms, the anaconda would be described as a keystone predator species that is vital to a certain ecosystem.

"Simpi Runa" by Elmer Inuma Pezo

“Simpi Runa” by Elmer Inuma Pezo

Stories like these from Reshin Bima, offer a grounded understanding of the Shipibo concept of interconnectedness. Rather than an obscure spiritual idea, the interconnectedness of all things can be seen clearly in the natural world. With this nature connected awareness, the impact of every plant, animal and even human can be seen as both clear and profound.

| Shipibo Healing |

Ayahuasca: Is it a Cure for all Disease?

Written on September 18, 2014

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An important and provocative topic when discussing Ayahuasca is the common misconception that it has the miraculous ability to cure all disease. Investigative journalist Peter Gorman addresses in this informative blog article, that asking if ayahuasca offers a permanent cure to AIDS, Cancer and other serious disease, is simply the wrong question:

 

“I think the question should be: Can a good curandero really access a spirit world that can aid him/her in finding imbalances in a patient that, if corrected, will help eliminate physical illnesses on this plane of reality? And if extra work is needed, can that curandero really come back from his/her ayahuasca dream armed with the information about plants and diets for the patient to use to eliminate those illnesses?”

 

The idea that ayahuasca can heal all that ails us, stems from a misunderstanding of how whole-system (mind-body-spirit) healing works; a clearer way of looking at it would be to say that ayahuasca has the capacity to remove obstacles and thought patterns that impede our growth process, therefore empowering us to heal ourselves.

 

In traditional Shipibo medicine, there is a strong focus on healing and addressing problems in the spiritual world in order to cure what is manifesting in the mind and in the body. The modern medicine perspective on one hand, and the psychedelic perspective on the other, often overlook or isolate the spiritual component that is integral to true healing and personal growth. From these perspectives, ayahuasca is looked at based on pharmacology and specific effect on the brain or body; as a substance, rather than a spirit and a spiritual tool that is a part of a complete system and way of relating to the world.

 

Looking for a “quick-fix”, be it to heal disease or to experience a psychedelic substance, is an incomplete way of thinking that speaks to the disconnection of the modern world. This illusion of disconnection causes a narrow perspective, which limits the area where solutions can be found. Ayahuasca potentiates connection, and can open us up a realm of possibilities that can be accessed to empower our personal healing and transformation. In the Shipibo framework of addressing the spiritual root causes of a disease, miracles can and do occur. That said, Ayahuasca is a part of the wider practice of Shipibo medicine which uses other medicinal plants and methods to promote physical as well as spiritual healing.

 

The power of holistic modalities such as Shipibo medicine is that they can help us reframe our approach to healing and personal growth to be focused on a return to wholeness, which enables health and fulfillment on all levels of being.

| Shipibo Healing |

Nature’s Pharmacy

Written on September 11, 2014

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“We have many medicinal plants for basically all diverse applications and uses… Illnesses that modern science can’t cure, the understanding of the cure exists in the healers and herbalists.”

- Shipibo Maestro Juan Agustin Fernandez

 

For people worldwide, there was a time when all the cures and medicines needed to heal and prevent illness were sourced directly from nature. The Shipibo-Konibo have maintained the legacy of practicing their native medicines and still carry the knowledge of how to use the plants in this way. This is in part due to the fact that there is often little access to contemporary medicine in the far reaches of the Amazonian jungle. Additionally, it is often more expensive to receive treatment from a doctor or clinic, therefore Shipibo villages rely on the master healers and the accessibility of the renewable medicinal plant resources growing around them.

 

Shipibo medicine is a highly sophisticated, holistic system, practiced by expert healers and herbalists. These master healers spend decades learning how to cure and utilize plants from their teachers, and directly from the plants themselves. The Shipibo effectively use plants not only to prevent infection, detoxify the body, and heal wounds, but to treat illnesses of the body such as HIV, cancer, diabetes, hepatitis, digestive problems, reproductive issues, and mental conditions such as schizophrenia, paranoia and depression.

| Nature Connection | Shipibo Healing |

Shipibo Healing Traditions

Written on September 5, 2014

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In recent decades, there has been a shift in the modern world to seek out more holistic forms of health and healing. This has lead to an increasing interest in age-old systems of medicine from cultures around the planet that address not only the physical symptoms of an illness, but the underlying physiological, psychological, and even spiritual contributing factors that lead to imbalance and disease. One such healing tradition exists within the shamanic practices of the Shipibo master healers of the Peruvian Amazon.

 

The Shipibo people have maintained a close connection to nature, not only due to their need to survive off the land in isolated areas, but as a part of their worldview, which believes that animals, plants, the skies, the waters and other nature elements have a spirit. Certain plants with powerful curative properties, are known by the Shipibo to possess intelligence and are considered to be teachers to humanity.

 

The most notable of these “master plants” is Ayahuasca, called Oni in the Shipibo language, who is considered to be “la madre”, the mother of the plants and plant medicines. The ayahuasca ceremony is a central practice of Shipibo traditional medicine, during which Shipibo master healers apply their curative expertise.

 

The entheogenic brew of the ayahuasca vine mixed with the leaves of the chacruna plant, shifts consciousness, providing Shipibo healers with visions they use to aid them in their healing work. It also allows access to the realm of the plant spirits known as Rao Nete where knowledge and insight can be gained.

 
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In the Shipibo worldview, all disease and emotional imbalance is thought to be rooted in the spirit world. Sicknesses are described as harmful spirits or energies that must be cleaned and removed from the body.

 

For those seeking healing from Shipibo medicine, it is important to understand that, although initiated and supported by the healer and the plant medicines, the healing process is very much driven by personal commitment. It requires one not only to take outward steps towards addressing imbalance (by choosing healthy lifestyle), but to look inwards, sometimes uncovering deeply hidden emotions and traumas.

 

One’s dedication to this inner work is integral to beneficial transformation, which in Shipibo medicine, is assisted by the master healer and reinforced by the plant spirits who offer humanity their healing power and wisdom.