LOVE AAAGIC VINE <*the SOUL

Ayahuasca can be c o n s i d e r e d a gateway to another reality, a reality w h i c h co-exists w i t h o u r physical w o r l d . F r o m this other reality an experience o f the totality of interconnectedness can be personally experienced. Ayahuasca is also k n o w n as La Purga {the Purge) due to it's p o w e r f u l physical clearing effect, but its effects are more than just a physical clearing of the toxins i n the body, it also facilitates an energetic clearing of personal history as well. There is much discrepancy between shamans concerning the question of vomiting while under the effect o f Ayahuasca. Some say it is necessary for the body to r i d itself of whatever is necessary and that i f they are not sick they might get ill. Others say if y o u v o m i t y o u w i l l n o t have such good vision and o n no account should a shaman vomit. It is never to be taken lightly and o n l y u n d e r the s u p e r v i s i o n o f a shaman w h o is w e l l versed i n the ways of the plant. The m e d i c i n e is made f r o m a m i x t u r e o f t h e ayahuasca v i n e (Banisteriopsis Caapi) and the leaf of the Chacruna plant (Psychotria Viridis). The vine contains harmala and harmaline among other alkaloids, and the leaf contains vision inducing alkaloids. As with all natural medicines, it is a mixture of many alkaloids that makes their unique properties. For example, Peyote, the cactus used by the North Native Americans, is said to contain 32 active alkaloids, so when one o f those alkaloids, mescaline (LSD) is synthesised i n a laboratory, c o n t r a r y t o p o p u l a r o p i n i o n , the result is not at all the same. Ayahuasca is a name derived from t w o Q u e c h u a w o r d s : ay a means spirit, ancestor, deceased person, and huasca means v i n e o r r o p e , hence it is k n o w n as vine of the dead or vine of the soul. It plays a central role i n the spiritual, religious and cultural traditions of the Indigenous and Mestizo (mixed blood) peoples of the u p p e r Amazon, O r i n o c o p l a i n s a n d t h e Pacific coast o f Colombia and Ecuador. The plants are collected f r o m the rainforest i n a sacred way and it is said that a shaman can find plentiful sources of the vine by listening for
SACRED HOOP ISSUE 36 2002

rs with an Amazonian Shaman
Howard G. Charing S> Peter Cloudsley talk to Javier Arevalo about Peruvian Shamanism

After being virtually ignored by the West for centuries, there has, recently been a huge surge of interest in Ayahuasca. There is a belief that it is a kind of medicine for our times, giving hope to people with incurable diseases like cancer and HIV, as well as inspiring answers to the big ecological problems of modern civilisation.
PAGE 12

the drumbeat that emanates f r o m them. The m i x t u r e is prepared by cutting the vines to cookable lengths, scraping and cleaning them, p o u n d i n g them into a p u l p , and then adding the chacruna leaves. The mixture is t h e n b o i l e d f o r a b o u t t w e l v e h o u r s u n t i l i t is a thick b r o w n liquid. THE SPIRIT OF AYAHUASCA The spirit of Ayahuasca can be contacted when a person d r i n k s the b r e w u n d e r the guidance of a skilled shaman. There is a chance to learn and trust the p l a n t . There is also the question as to whether the plant trusts us, because it can be abused and used for g e t t i n g the w r o n g k i n d of personal power. Without intention, vision, preparation, and a shaman, i t is a d r u g n o t a healing medicine. In the Amazonian world Ayahuasca, like all plants, is seen as having a spirit which is angelic but also has h u m a n e m o t i o n s l i k e jealousy, vengefulness, w r o t h etc.

ten hours concoction and the shaman should fast or be o n a special diet during this time. It is said that the spirit of Ayahuasca is very jealous and that i f the rules o f its preparation are not respected it is resentful. A fundamental principle of healing w i t h Ayahuasca is the visions it facilitates. It is the visions of the doctoring spirit of Ayahuasca w h i c h tells the shaman what is w r o n g w i t h their patient, what medicine t h e y n e e d , o r w h o has caused the illness or malaise. TALKING W I T H JAVIER AREVALO We watched the shaman Javier Arevalo preparing the brew. His wife washed and shredded the Ayahuasca, and after it had boiled for a while, Javier lit a large mapacho (hand rolled jungle tobacco cigar) and blew smoke over the top of the concoction. The two of us were invited to do this as well. When we d i d this we felt a blast of hot steam and vapour f r o m the boiling Ayahuasca i n our faces.

W h e n i t is b e i n g p r e p a r e d , the shaman has to watch over it at all the time to prevent harmful spirits b e i n g i n t r o d u c e d . The fire needs t e n d i n g regularly t h r o u g h o u t the

During our visits w i t h h i m w e had many discussions on the r o l e o f the Amazonian shaman and the use o f Ayahuasca. Javier comes from Nuevo Progreso, a c o m m u n i t y o f 50 families o n the Rio Napo river i n Peru. Several generations of his family before him have been shamans and already at the age of 17, he k n e w this would be his future. However it was not until he was 20 w h e n his f a t h e r died f r o m a virote (a poisoned dart i n the spiritual world) sent by a jealous brujo, (sorcerer) that he felt compelled to f o l l o w the a r d u o u s five-year apprenticeship to be a shaman. We asked Javier what the role of a shaman was? He told us that a shaman learns everything about the rainforest and uses that knowledge to heal his people since they do not have money for Western style doctors. Shamans also use Ayahuasca t o d i s c o v e r i n visions, which plants w i l l be effective for which illnesses. "As the spirits, or plant doctors who tell us are pure, they are made happy when we are too, so a shaman must diet

in order to attract them. That means they should not eat salt, sugar or alcohol, and they should abstain from sex". He c o n t i n u e d : "Every p l a n t has a spirit, the shaman goes into the forest as part of his apprenticeship and spends two years taking plants and roots. He takes Ayahuasca too and the spirit tells him what it cures. Then the shaman tries another plant, each time remembering which ailment is cured by what. If you can't dominate the spirits of the jungle you are nobody, instead of curing they r u n away or take no notice of you. Spirits are like angels. God withstood 40 days of hunger and temptation by the devil and was resurrected. That's what we have to do too. You learn all this i n the wilderness. The spirits there are the angels of each plant to which you add your will to heal the client. This is the will of Christ". We had h e a r d stories about h o w Ayahuasca can sometimes cure HIV, and w e asked Javier about his o w n experiences of treating people. " I h a d a p a t i e n t w h o was H I V positive and had been i n h o s p i t a l a fortnight. His mother said to me that he was really bad, his stomach h u r t and he was shitting constantly. So I said w h y d o n ' t y o u take Ayahuasca. Tf i t ' l l cure me I ' l l try i t ' he said. That night we drank and after he felt a bit better, his fever had lowered. He n e e d e d t o go less o f t e n t o the toilet. He wanted to take it again and after three times he was better and when tested, proved HIV negative.

"A fundamental principle of healins with Ayahuasca is the visions it facilitates. It is the visions of the doctoring spirit of Ayahuasca which tells the shaman what is wrong with their patient, what medicine they need, or who has caused the illness or malaise,"
PAGE 14

IHi

SACRED HOOP ISSUE 36 2002

"During a session a Senorita came to me in my vision and said, 'you must also learn what love is/ What is love?' I asked her. You love me and both of us feel attraction/ she replied. Who was the Senorita? She was a mermaid, that's how I can tell you that mermaids exist. She told me how to prepare Pusanga, and she chanted to me and taught me the chant I know today."

We asked J a v i e r a b o u t h o w he started off his shamanic training w i t h a desire for revenge and asked h i m h o w he put that d o w n and became a healer? "My grandfather saw that my heart was bitter and he told me that it w o u l d not get me anywhere. My heart was still hard and wanted to k i l l . Bit by b i t t h r o u g h taking the very plants that I had intended to use for revenge, the spirits told me it was wrong to kill and my heart softened." MIXING A LITTLE LOVE MAGIC We asked h i m about h o w he sees the ethical questions concerning Pusanga, a magic used t o attract a l o v e r . The magic takes away the person's w i l l and we explained to h i m that i n the West this was seen as a bad thing. Javier l a u g h e d a n d s a i d : " I f i t h a p p e n e d t o m e , a n d l e t ' s say I originally found her unpleasant and she d i d it to marry me I ' d be outraged! It w o u l d be awful if I only discovered after having children and making a home w i t h her! But w o u l d I ever know? I w o u l d be hopelessly i n love w i t h her." "And," he added, "everyone wants women!" Javier d i d not seem to see a problem, i t was a massive c u l t u r a l d i v i d e w e could not cross. It seems his people feel free the way they are and can have sex using magical means of attraction. O n an earlier occasion w h e n Javier asked the group we were travelling w i t h what they really wanted i n their lives, many people gave cosmic and spiritual sounding answers and were quite mute w h e n he spoke about Pusanga. After a w h i l e many admitted they w a n t e d love, apparently b e h i n d t h e i r

desire to put the w o r l d to right, resolve planetary issues, and speak to the flowers. It was as t h o u g h it were not alright to wish for love. We m u s e d , maybe i f p e o p l e i n o u r culture had more love we wouldn't be so worried about the cosmos, maybe it was because people don't have enough of it that they saw problems everywhere around. We speculated i t w o u l d be better i f people got w h a t they w a n t e d because that way we w o u l d n ' t be so destructive: d r i v i n g fast cars, t r y i n g t o s o r t o u t psychological issues and having fancy p r o f e s s i o n s . We w o u l d n e e d less material goods. Javier agreed: "These t h o u g h t s t a n g l e u p t h e i r l i v e s . Love solves problems." Javier had some Pusanga to prepare for a client. Normally a shaman prepares it away f r o m o t h e r p e o p l e , so w e f e l t very privileged to be invited to participate i n the preparation. "First o f a l l , " he t o l d us. " y o u must purify y o u r hands w i t h lime, l e m o n or grapefruit juice, to get r i d o f the salt, condiments and sweat which interferes." T h e n each o f us p o u r e d t w o l i t t l e bottles of Tabu, into a larger bottle. One of these bottles w o u l d be for m e n the o t h e r f o r w o m e n . Tabu is a p e r f u m e used specifically for this p u r p o s e . Powdered plants l i n e d the bottoms o f each of the larger bottles. After this we b r o k e u p some p l a n t roots before adding them to the mixture. Javier t o l d us they were Motelillo, Macoquinha, axidMashoshillo which looks a bit like a string of sausages. He e x p l a i n e d t h a t Mashoshillo made money grow and transform itself into new resources, projects and contacts. Then we added Mocura leaves w h i c h have a nice fragrance for w h e n y o u apply the resulting Pusanga i t t o yourself. Polvo de la buseta, a p o w d e r o b t a i n e d by grinding up a plant whose leaves resemble a female g e n i t a l was added next, then Congonita, a plant w i t h l i t t l e r o u n d leaves and long stalks which becomes t a n g l e d w i t h itself. "This is h o w the
SACRED HOOP ISSUE 36 2002

PAGE 16

couples becomes i n v o l v e d w i t h each other," explained Javier. "Your partner w i l l never leave y o u . " We asked Javier if he could tell us what the Pusanga actually did? "When you pour it onto your skin it begins to penetrate y o u r spirit, and the spirit is what gives you the force to p u l l the people. The spirit is what pulls. W h e n I was apprenticed t o m y grandfather, he told me to practice with the Pusanga to gain experience. I began by p r e p a r i n g the medicine without any particular i n t e n t i o n , b u t d u r i n g a session a Senorita came to me i n my vision and said, ' y ° must also learn what love is.' 'What is love?' I asked her. 'You love me and b o t h o f us feel attraction,' she replied. Who was the Senorita? She was a mermaid, that's h o w I can tell you that mermaids exist. She t o l d me h o w to prepare Pusanga, and she c h a n t e d t o me a n d taught me the chant I k n o w today. She sang v e r y sadly, a n d said t h a t ' s h o w your partner w i l l come to you, very sad, JM she said.
u

Then I went back to dance w i t h her and she said 'what's the matter w i t h y o u d a m n it? Y o u k n o w y o u can't touch me!' She got nasty and wanted to hit me at that moment so I left the fiesta to avoid problems and went home. The n e x t day I w e n t i n t o t h e forest and h i d f o r three days. O n the forth day I came out and people told me 'Senorita Suzana is looking for you'. 'Why is she looking for me if she hates me and threw me out of the fiesta?' They r e p l i e d ' N o , she has b e e n r o u n d e v e r y h a l f an h o u r asking after you.' When she caught u p w i t h me she said 'Javier, forgive me for insulting you i n the fiesta.' I said 'No, you are very arrogant and I d o n ' t want to talk to y o u . ' I went home and w o u l d n ' t open the door. She waited o u t s i d e m y h o u s e c r y i n g a l l the w h i l e I s l e p t . I k n e w i t was t h e Pusanga that was working. The n e x t n i g h t I said to h e r , ' y o u want I t o be w i t h me?' 'Yes, f r o m the depth of m y heart.' I replied 'but you are pretty and I am ugly!' 'No, I w a n t t o be w i t h you.' That night we made love and she d i d n ' t w a n t to go back to her * home any-more. I went again i n t o the forest and she f o l l o w e d me. I w e n t t o bathe i n the river and she j u m p e d i n too to play w i t h me. I laughed because I knew it was the love spell. She became my girlfriend for six months. Later w h e n the love passed a n d the Pusanga w e a k e n e d , she w e n t b a c k as t h o u g h t h e w h o l e t h i n g had been a d r e a m . I asked myself 'how d i d I actually live w i t h this girl?"

"My grandfather saw that my heart was bitter and he told me that it would not get me anywhere. My heart was still hard and wanted to kill Bit by bit through taking the very plants that I had intended to use for revenge, the spirits told me it was wrong to kill and my heart softened /'
H o w a r d G. C h a r i n g is a p a r t n e r i n Eagle's W i n g Centre for Contemporary Shamanism. His i n i t i a t i o n i n t o the w o r l d o f Shamanism was sudden, w h i c h was caused by a serious accident (a lift crash) w h i c h resulted i n severe injuries and a near-death experience. After many months of physical pain and disability, he had a transformational experience w h i c h started h i m o n the path to healing. P e t e r C l o u d s l e y has b e e n r e s e a r c h i n g P e r u v i a n fiesta m u s i c since 1980. H e has b u i l t u p a documented archive o f traditional music and interviews, and has collected for the British Museum. Throughout this time he has travelled extensively i n L a t i n America, especially Peru, studying the wealth o f music and diversity of popular religions. Peter has taught courses at the City Lit and elsewhere (on music and p o p u l a r culture i n Latin A m e r i c a ) a n d speaks f l u e n t Spanish & Portuguese . Eagle's W i n g f o u n d e d by Leo Rutherford i n 1983 is to help people connect their i n n e r and outer w o r l d s , to b r i n g dreams f r o m the w o r l d o f Spirit i n t o Matter, and thus enjoy a creative a n d f r u i t f u l l i f e - t o dance t h e i r dreams awake. Details of Eagle's W i n g p r o g r a m m e s , workshops, journeys to meet indigenous s h a m a n s . For m o r e i n f o r m a t i o n see www.shamanism.co.uk or call or write BCM Box 7475, L o n d o n WC1 3XX Tel: (01435) 810233 PHOTOS: Page 13 - t o p : H o w a r d and Javier Arevalo. B o t t o m : prepearing and b e r e w i n g the ayahuasca. page 14 t o p : B l o w i n g tobacco smoke on the brew. Drawing of Banisteriopsis Caapi. B o t t o m : The brew Page 15 - t o p : .Some of the plants used to m a k e a Pusanga. D r a w i n g o f p s y c h o t r i a p s y c h o t r i a e f o l i a . B o t t o m J a v i e r a n d his assistant. Page 16 : H o w a r d , Javier and his eldest son. Page 17 : T r a d i t i o n a l p a i n t e d ayahuasca b r e w i n g p o t f r o m a tribe o n the upper. Orinoco River.

T h e r e was a fiesta one night in the pueblo because it was someone's birthday and I was invited and I put o n m y clothes and took a little bottle o f Pusanga i n m y pocket. I was dancing w i t h all the girls and I saw a g i r l w h o was very arrogant and w o u l d n o t let me get near. She had long finger nails. She said she wouldn't dance with me because I was unattractive. 'Go and f i n d a cholaV (lower class Indian) she said virtually insulting me, and it hurt my heart. 'If you don't dance w i t h me, t o m o r r o w y o u ' l l sleep w i t h me,' I said, and I went to the toilet to have a pee and rubbed myself with Pusanga, down my front, my arms and hands.
SACRED HOOP ISSUE 36 2002

PAGE 17