December 2, 2008
Interview with Ayahuasca Mestizo Shaman Javier Arevalo in the Amazon Rainforest - Part 1
By Howard G Charing
In this interview Javier discusses his involvement with the shamanic Plant medicines of the Amazon, and Ayahuasca in particular.
Healing is at the centre of the Ayahuasca experience. Ayahuasca not
only has a powerful and profound effect on the mind and spirit, but
also on the physical body. This kind of purification of the body, mind,
and spirit in a Ayahuasca ceremony can be the beginning of a process of
profound personal and spiritual discovery. This process can continue
indefinitely even if one never drinks Ayahuasca again.
Ayahuasca is the jungle medicine of the upper Amazon. It is made
from the ayahuasca vine ( Banisteriopsis Caapi) and the leaf of the
Chacruna plant (Psychotria Viridis). The two make a potent medicine
which opens the doors to experiencing the energetic world which
underlies the world of everyday. The vine is an inhibitor which
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
Ayahuasca is a name derived from two Quechua words: Aya means
spirit, ancestor, deceased person, and Huasca means vine or rope, hence
it is known as vine of the dead or vine of the soul. It is also known
by many other local names including yaje, caapi, natema, pinde, daime,
mihi, & dapa. It plays a central role in the spiritual, religious
and cultural traditions of the Indigenous and Mestizo (mixed blood)
poeples of the upper Amazon, Orinoco plains and the Pacific coast of
Colombia and Equador.
Our view is that by seriously looking at the way Ayahuasca is used
we can improve our life experience and benefit more from this medicine.
Since the late 1990’s we have worked extensively with Javier Arevalo
and we had many discussions on the role of the Amazonian shaman and the
use of ayahuasca. Javier comes from Nuevo Progreso, a community of 50
families on the Rio Napo, Department of Loreto, Peru. Several
generations of his family before him have been shamans and already at
the age of 17, he knew this would be his future. However it was not
until he was 20 when his father died from a ‘virote’ (a poisoned dart
in the spiritual world) sent by a jealous brujo, (sorcerer) that he
felt compelled to follow the arduous five-year apprenticeship to be a
Javier, what is the role of a shaman?
He learns everything about the rain forest and uses that knowledge
to heal his people since they do not have money for Western style
doctors. He uses Ayahuasca to discover in his visions, which plants
will be effective for which illnesses.
How do you perceive this?
The sprits or plant doctors tell us. As they are pure, they are made
happy when we are too, so we must diet in order to attract them. That
means we should not eat salt, sugar or alcohol, and abstain from sex.
The spirits come and say, for example they will cure in two months if
the patient takes a particular plant. Then the shaman goes out to look
for the plant.
It is said that every environments has the necessary plants to heal the people?
Yes, every plant 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.
Javier was interviewed by Howard G Charing and Peter Cloudsley in the Peru, Amazon Rainforest 2000.
Howard G. Charing, is an accomplished international workshop leader
on shamanism. He has worked some of the most respected and
extraordinary shamans & healers in the Andes, the Amazon
Rainforest, and the Philippines. He organises specialist retreats to
the Amazon Rainforest at the dedicated centre located in the Mishana
nature reserve. He is the author of the best selling book, Plant Spirit
Shamanism (Destiny Books USA), and has published numerous articles
about plant medicines. He was baptised into the Shipibo tribe of the
Upper Amazon, and initiated into the lineage of the shamans of the Rio
Napo. Howard is also an artist who’s paintings have featured in major
exhibitions in London and elsewhere. His artwork has also been featured
on book covers.
His website: http://www.shamanism.co.uk
email contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
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