Life with the Shaman

Various and sundry observations about being a shaman, traveling to study and work with shamans, learning and sharing new healing techniques, all there is to know about shamanism!

Friday, August 25, 2006

The Amazon and all its glorious heat!

After the Shaman Dialogues, several of us did a post-conference trip to the Amazon jungle. I had been years before, but to an area farther north of Iquitos. This was to be the jungle southeast of Cusco, closer to Argentina.

When I talk about heat, I mean heat like you will never experience unless you go there yourself. 98 degrees outside, with probably 98 - 100% humidity. To say it was a sauna is an understatement! Needless to say, the ecolodge where we stayed had no need of "hot" water. The water for showers was very cold, but in that heat it felt wonderful!

Despite all this grumbling, the Amazon is truly an amazing place. To be in the jungle is to be surrounded, enveloped, nurtured, caressed by Mother Nature in ways we don't normally get to experience. The plants are huge! For example, we took a hike one day and passed a 600-year old tree, which the guide said would live to 1000 years. One of the root areas of the tree was taller, broader, bigger than all of us together.

The macaws were beautiful, and to see them flying free, rather than caged in a zoo, was a sight! Not just one, several of them made their home at the ecolodge. Understandably, since they got food every day!

Thankfully on our walks we no saw no slithery snakes, no weird animals, no jaguars, nothing scary. The only strange thing was to have the guide open what looked like a nut from a tree, and inside there was a larva, worm type thing. Apparently they are quite "yummy". When I say this was strange it's because one of our gals decided to try it. EWWWWWW! I could barely watch her eat it, yet she did with no side effects. No way I would do that!

I do love the jungle, but I truly believe I am done with trips there. Way too hot for my body now, and I've "been there, done that."

Working with a Medicine Woman

One aspect that turned out in my favor this summer in Peru was my ability to speak Spanish. In the picture you see Doña Bernardina, a powerful healer from the Lake Titicaca area. As it happened, at the Shaman Dialogues, there was a day when it was possible for the participants to receive healings from the shamans. I had offered to help translate for them, and got to work with Doña Bernardina.

WOW! In one day, I probably learned more about shamanic healing than in years of study!! She was so patient with me, helping me to understand the Quechua names of things, how to do coca leaf readings, ways to create despachos (healing and offering bundles that are given to Mother Earth), how to do egg clearings on a person and then how to "read" the egg!

It was amazing! I was so humbled by her knowledge and her abilities. Here is a woman from a very poor area in Puno, near Lake Titicaca, who received her knowledge directly from the Apus. Her coca leaf readings were spot on - not the usual vague "you've had an accident recently...". She nailed the details, the dates, the type of accident, the effects, the soul loss, the trauma... you name it, she knew it, just from tossing the coca leaves! I was absolutely overwhelmed watching her. Imagine her clients too, being told specifics that they hadn't divulged at all!

And best of all was the healings she would do after finding out what was wrong with the person. Invariably, everyone on whom she worked felt instant relief in all areas (physical, emotional, mental, spiritual) and this relief continued after the session.

A privilege for me to know her, and to work with her. Again, what can I say except WOW!

Shaman Dialogues July 2006

I just had a wonderful month in Peru! My colleague Katina and I attended the Shaman Dialogues, a "conference" of sorts that included shamans from many parts of Peru. It was amazing to learn directly from them, and even more powerful to go to various spiritual sites and do ceremony with the shamans.

What I found exhilarating was that of the many shamans that were there, 4 of them were women, and at an incredibly high level of knowledge. Let's say they were the PhDs of the shaman world. Actually, in most cases, they were either hit by lightning, or rendered unconscious somehow, and "called" by the Apus (mountain spirits) to become shamans.

The women in the picture are Doña Maria and Doña Laura, both altomesayoqs, which means they are about as high as one can go in the shaman world, without being fully and totally enlightened, sort of like the Buddha.

We learned about the different mesas (medicine bundles) each carry, how they use them, how they add or take away items from their mesas. We also learned some healing techniques, which was fascinating for me.

This conference lasted six intense and wonderful days! Hopefully they'll do another one next summer.