Healers of the Amazon.
Spirit Plant Doctors, Healers, Shamans. Study the ”Sciencia divina’ or ‘Divine science’ for decades before practicing as a Healer. During their apprenticeship the Healer goes through the ”shamanic dieta”. A time through which they ingest plants and live in isolation for months at a time. During their ‘diets’, the shaman contacts and absorbs the teachings and strength of these plants and embodies them to aid themselves and others in ceremony. During that period of purification where they purge and devote their bodies to the plants in order to become a vessel, and receive in return, knowledge from the plants in the form of medicine songs or ”Icaros”. Trained by their tribe or Maestro/teacher, the apprentice receives the blessing to practice their medicine only after they have received and integrated the knowledge of the ”Mesa” or lineage of all the healers and ancestors who have come prior to them.
For every tradition, tribe and culture there are different ways of training. What all of them have in common within the ayahuasca practices is that they are trained by their piers and have to endure a period of Shamanic Dieta.
The Perfumistas, vegetalistas, paleros, shipibos, all have their own ways, their own plants and their own systems that are very different from one and other. Which is also why the preparation dieta differs depending on whch healers you will work with on retreat. There is no better or worse tradition, every tradition just uses different ways and toold of operation.
The Shipibo Healers
The Shipibo are one of the oldest and most highly-respected lineages of ayahuasca healers in the Amazon. As one of the only matriarchal cultures of the jungle, they are also one of the few communities in which women train in these ancient lineages of ayahuasca medicine. They have served as doctors in their local communities for thousands of years.
Only after undergoing extensive training and apprenticeship spanning many years is a Shipibo medicine worker considered ONAYA or ”one who has knowledge” and is qualified to work directly on others. Their approach with medicine is gentle, straightforward, and humble and see their work as a process of cleaning. Cleaning of the body, the mind and the soul and restoring or encouraging the return to a natural balance that all things have.
A tiIn Shipibo a Curandero is called an ONAYA. Which means ”one who has knowledge”. In order to become a true healer, one must train for at least 10 years. During this apprenticeship they learn to face the heaviest situations with people and trauma. The Shaman is tested, trained and sometimes forced to drink Ayahuasca 30 days straight and not sleep for weeks at the time in order to learn to manage the space under stressful conditions.
Only a small percentage of apprentice healers succeed in becoming true shamans, most give up at some point along the way. The teacher and plant will push the student beyond their limits and comfort zone. Forcing them to face death, to face their deepest fears in order to heal truly. To be able to help others they must learn mastery of energy during the ceremony.
The Curandero Healers
The Curandero tradition is the result of Mestizo cultures interacting with the medicine traditions of the Amazon. In their cosmology the Christian view of good and evil is more prominent, often viewing their work from a lens of casting out bad or malicious forces from the body. They train over years by undergoing strict “dietas” in alignment with the practices of the indiginous healers like the Shipibo from which they learned. They work with Ayahuasca and other plants to build their knowledge and connection to the plants that aid them in treating others.
Curanderos primarily work with ayahuasca but there is a wide variety among these healing traditions based on what plants the curandero has dieted and built a specialized relationship with. ‘Vegetalistas’ (plant healers) that work primarily with tobacco are ‘tabaqueros’, ‘paleros’ work primarily with trees, ‘perfumistas’ work with herbs and perfumes.
The Ayahuascero Healers
The Ayahuascero is one who is capable and responsible for preparing and brewing ayahuasca. They can set up and hold a ceremony space for others drinking ayahuasca. But they are not, or are not yet what you would call healers. They do not work directly on guests, and don’t manage energies in the same way trained healers do in the Shipibo lineage. In some cases an Ayahuascero may still be under apprenticeship on the road to becoming a Curandero.
They may drink in order to receive insight from the medicine to help diagnose the issues of those who are drinking with them. But if they identify anything they would call a serious issue with guests, they will send them to a fully trained healer for further treatment.