The Shipibo have an ancient and time-honored history of shamanism. They work directly with energy to heal all manner of illness and ailments – both physical and psycho-spiritual. Through years of training, apprenticeship, and master plant diets, they are able to recruit a team of plant-spirit healers to work with their patients’ energetic body and heal any imbalances which manifest physically as illnesses, dis-ease, negative thought patterns, and emotional blockages. Through access to the spiritual world in the form of Ayahuasca ceremonies, they use energy work and the icaros (healing songs) received from these plants to rebalance the energetic field and “untie” the spiritual knots that contain trapped energies needing to be released. As a result, the patient is able to release these blockages, gaining an awareness and bringing them closer to self-actualization – the facing, transforming, and integrating of their shadow self.
Icaros – healing songs of the plants
The main avenue through which healing takes place during ceremony is via sound frequency, or vibration. Sound is a common form of healing across many ancient and traditional cultures. During training, shamans undergo strict dietas with various plant teachers from the jungle – that is, they consume some of the plant they are working with (typically in tea form), enter into isolation, and adhere to a strict diet which excludes most foods, salt, oil, fat, sugar, and energetic transfers including sex – in order to receive the healing capabilities and teachings from that plant. Each plant has their own energetic healing pattern, which is channeled by the shaman through song.
In this way, during ceremony, the shaman is accessing these healing patterns of energy, which transform through the vessel of their body to a chant or icaro. The icaro is therefore a conduit for the patterns of creation, which then permeate the body of the shaman’s patient, bringing harmony in the form of the geometric patterns to re-balance the patient’s energetic body. The Shipibo believe that our health is a direct result of the balanced union between mind, body, and spirit. If an imbalance in this occurs, such as through emotions of fear, hate, or anger, or external factors that the patient has picked up, this will generate a negative effect on the health of that person. The shaman will re-establish the balance by chanting the icaros into the body of the person. The shaman knows when the healing is complete, as the design is clearly distinct in the patient’s body. Oftentimes it takes multiple ceremonies to complete this, and when the completed healing designs are embedded in the patient’s body, this is called an Arkana. This internal patterning is deemed to be permanent and to protect a person’s spirit going forward.
As a result, the patient is able to act from a place of energetic harmony, rebuilding their relationships with themselves, others, and the world, and working from their heart, rather than their head.