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Vegetalismo - Shamanism Among the Mestizo Population of the Peruvian Amazon

Vegetalismo - Shamanism Among the Mestizo Population of the Peruvian Amazon

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Published by Projekt E 012
Doctoral dissertation for the doctor's degree in humanities at the University of Stockholm, to be publicly examined in English in room 7, house D, Frescati on Thursday, June 5, 1986 at 10 A.M

by
Luis Eduardo Luna

Department of Comparative Religion, Stockholm 1986
ISBN 91-22-00819-5
Doctoral dissertation for the doctor's degree in humanities at the University of Stockholm, to be publicly examined in English in room 7, house D, Frescati on Thursday, June 5, 1986 at 10 A.M

by
Luis Eduardo Luna

Department of Comparative Religion, Stockholm 1986
ISBN 91-22-00819-5

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Published by: Projekt E 012 on Feb 08, 2010
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11/13/2014

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Some examples have already been described above. According to
Don Alejandro icaros are especially effective for curing ill-
nesses caused by witchcraft or due to the action of evil spi-
rits. But there are also icaros to cure other illnesses, for
example snake bites. I want to stress the following point: It
is believed that it is the melody itself that has curative
powers. One example may illustrate this idea. During my field
work in August 1984 I met Don Manuel Ahuanari, an eighty-year-
old man who lives with his second wife near the city of Iqui-
tos. He was a vegetalista, but did not practise any more, since
he had become seriously ill. I met him in an ayahuasca session
at the home of Don José Coral. He told me that when he was 12
years old he was bitten by a jergón (Bothrops atrox), a dange-
rous snake. When he was close to death, a young man happened to
visit the plantation on which he lived with his family. The
young man heard about his case, and said that he was going to
try an icaro he had learned against snake bites. By singing and
blowing smoke over Don Manuel he managed to cure him. Don Ma-
nuel learned this icaro during the healing process, and said he
had cured many cases of snake bites during his long life with
the help of this magic chant.

56

In Cesar Calvo's novel on Manuel Cordoba Rios and other "bru-
jos" of the Amazon, there is the following paragraph:

"When one takes ayawashka, one becomes like a crys-
tal, said Ino Moxo. One becomes like a crystal ex-
posed to all spirits that live in the air, both evil
and good ones. It is for this reason we have icaros,
icaros to protect ourselves, icaros to heal, songs
that call forth a certain spirit to counteract
others..."(Calvo 1981:208)(My translation).

107

Don Emilio once told me a significant thing. He said: "If you
have learned from ayahúman (one of the plant-teachers, also
used in the extraction of the virote or magic dart shot by evil
shamans), you do not need to go out to the forest to bring back
its bark, because you already know its icaro." This shows that
at least in certain cases the very essence of the tree is
thought of being part of the magic melody, and therefore it can
be used instead of the tree itself. In other cases the icaros
are used to reinforce the effect of medicinal plants. All the
shamans I have been working with always sing or whistle an ica-
ro
during the preparation or application of medicinal plants57

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