Just over two years ago now, a few friends and I flew from Los Angeles to Iquitos, Peru, to work with a native shaman and his apprentices there. We spent a total of 10 days at the shaman’s compound, called Selva Madre, basking in the unique environment of the tropical rainforest, and engaging in four Ayahuasca ceremonies.
Obviously, I can’t somehow transmit the full Ayahuasca experience to you through a simple blog post, but I can offer up a bit of it for you to make use of on your own…
See, during the ceremonies, there are certain key components without which the ceremony might not be nearly as effective.
For example, we always joined the shaman in a large, circular hut that he and his people referred to as simply, “The Temple” (other people engaging in similar ceremonies use the term moloka to refer to their venue, but I never heard our shaman – Don Lucho – use that particular word). The setting is a critical part of the proceedings, and The Temple felt like a holy place.
Don Lucho also employed mapacho smoke as a ceremonial element, which is a common practice in rituals of this nature. This is a variety of tobacco indigenous to the rainforest environment. Bursts of this smoke punctuated the events, and added to the otherworldly air.
And then there were the icaros… These are sacred songs that shamans and their apprentices sing during the ceremonies to shape the experience for its participants. The icaros involve a combination of actual singing, whistling, and the rhythmic shaking of special leaf-rattles called chakapas. The results can be extremely hypnotic.
And through the wonders of modern technology, the icaros can also be shared outside of actual Peruvian ceremonies! Don Lucho has graciously allowed several of his ritual performances of these icaros to be recorded and posted at the Selva Madre website. I listen to them sometimes to enhance meditation, and they can be tremendously effective.
I can also say for the official record that while none of the posted recordings were made during ceremonies that I personally attended, some of them are renditions of icaros that I did specifically experience, and the others are very similar in overall feel. In other words: these are authentic examples of what real shamans offer in real Ayahuasca ceremonies.
Even without ever having experienced such a ceremony, you might still get a lot of benefit from playing some of these icaros while sitting in meditation. You can access them at the SELVA MADRE WEBSITE.