Salutations, I am Aleksei. For over four years now, I have immersed myself in studying the authentic shamanism practiced by the indigenous tribes of Peru and Mexico. During this period, I have participated in around 120 shamanic ceremonies. The majority of these rituals were Ayahuasca ceremonies1 held in Peru, in the tradition of the Shipibo tribe. These sacred ceremonies were complemented by shamanic diets2 incorporating various potent Amazonian plants. I also made several journeys to Mexico, where I attended Peyote ceremonies3 in the tradition of the Huirarika Indigenous people. Additionally, I participated in several mushroom ceremonies4 with the Mazatec tribe and experienced the Temascal5 Indian bath. Moreover, I joined in some Siberian shamanism rituals with people striving to restore these customs.
At a certain point, I was inspired to share my experiences and wrote this article. I will convey what Ayahuasca is and how it operates, what shamanism is, who the shamans are, and why it is crucial to partake in Ayahuasca ceremonies with authentic shamans. I will also relate what I have encountered during my shamanic odysseys and how they have impacted my life. One of my motives is to caution those interested in shamanic ceremonies with Ayahuasca, Peyote, San Pedro, Iboga, and other plants and mushrooms about the inherent dangers. Perhaps my knowledge will assist someone in comprehending this topic, navigating it, and discovering their way.
Furthermore, I am frequently asked why I engage in this pursuit and participate in many ceremonies. This manuscript aims to address that inquiry as well 🙂.
Please be advised that this text has been translated from Russian (my native language) to English. Thus there may be certain inaccuracies, and certain terms and concepts may not have been conveyed precisely. I will try to provide a more accurate and flawless translation. In this article, I present my personal viewpoint.
- Brief definitions. What is Ayahuasca, shamanic diets, Peyote, sacred mushrooms, and Temaskal?
- How I came to shamanism and what shamanic practices gave me.
- What is Shamanism?
- The Work of Shamans and Guides. The Sad Situation of Ayahuasca Shamanic Ceremonies, Charlatans, and Imitators.
- Who is the shaman (curandero), and what is their role in the shamanic Ayahuasca ceremony?
- Regarding supporting my project and providing a complete manuscript translation.
- A List of Untranslated Sections of My Article.
Brief definitions. What is Ayahuasca, shamanic diets, Peyote, sacred mushrooms, and Temaskal?
Ayahuasca1 (ayawaska, aya, liana of death, spirit liana, wine of the dead, medicine, hoasca, purga, remedio, and many other names) is a drink derived from the liana Banisteriopsis caapi and combined with Chakruna (Latin Psychotria viridis) or Chaliponga (Latin Diplopterys cabrerana). This potent concoction is utilized in shamanic rituals by Amazonian tribes such as the Shipibo-Conibo and Ashaninka.
The shamanic diet2 refers to the practice of working with plants to learn shamanic medicine, teach shamanism, treat severe illnesses, and improve both the body and psyche. It entails the ingestion of plant infusions/decoctions and an ascetic lifestyle of dietary limitations, isolation, and sexual abstinence.
Peyote3 (Latin Lophophora williamsii) is a cactus used in shamanic ceremonies by indigenous tribes of North America, considered a sacred plant by these communities.
Sacred mushrooms4 encompass several species of mushrooms that can induce deep trance states. In Mexico, authentic shamanic traditions that use these mushrooms have been preserved by certain indigenous tribes.
Temaskal5, also known as a ‘house of steam’, is a shamanic ritual and bath that was practiced by North American indigenous communities. This practice is used for body and spirit purification and revitalization. The authentic Temaskal ceremony, conducted by a shaman, can lead to a profound state of shamanic trance.
How I came to shamanism and what shamanic practices gave me.
Let me relate how I came to shamanism and shamanic practices. The main motives I had were several.
- Firstly, since childhood, I have harbored a keen interest in self-development. I yearned to understand myself, my purpose, and the world around me. I had many inquiries, turned to various scientific, psychological, and even esoteric literature, and experimented with spiritual and mystical practices gleaned from books and the internet. Regrettably, these ventures failed to yield the answers I was seeking. Although I immersed myself in a few ideas and practices, it did not propel me toward the desired outcome. Thus, I continued to search for the answers I sought.
- Secondly, I was wrestling with psychological issues and life difficulties that cast a long shadow over my life, and I was in pursuit of a path toward their resolution. I aspired to better my life.
I chanced upon an account in a book detailing the sacred ceremonies of Ayahuasca conducted by South American shamans. Though I cannot recall the title of the book or its subject, the passing mention of the Indian tribe’s shamanism made an impression on me. In the subsequent years of my life, I delved further into these traditions and even participated in some Siberian shamanism rituals. So, naturally, I yearned to attend a bona fide Ayahuasca ceremony. Still, I remained ill-prepared for such a journey (the physical pilgrimage from my nation to Peru and the shamanic expedition into my inner world).
After some time, a serious crisis emerged in my life, as many problems accumulated, which I could not manage with the methods available to me. As a result, my psychological state became depressive and gloomy, and I felt hopeless, unsure of which direction to take. This difficult period served as the decisive impetus to search for shamans and voyage across the ocean to the far-off land of Peru. I yearned to transform my life and believed Ayahuasca could help me.
Following my first Ayahuasca ceremony, I sensed that I had finally found what I had been seeking. In my travels to the authentic shamans of Peru and Mexico, I received profound, concrete, and lucid answers to all my inquiries. In my personal experience, I learned what I was so interested in. I did not read it in a book or hear it from someone else; I witnessed it for myself. I comprehended the genuine reasons behind my life crisis, problems, and heartaches, why everything had unfolded as it had, and how to fix it.
In ceremonies with the shamans, I undertook a great deal of self-work. Consequently, I discovered a more conscious, clear, and emotionally stable state later in life. Several severe psychological problems were resolved, which I had been unable to resolve using other, more conventional techniques (such as psychoanalysis, psychotherapy, hypnosis, and others). My physical health improved, my relationships with people increased, and my social circle changed and expanded considerably. I defined my life goals and priorities clearly. I became aware of my true desires, not those imposed by others and society. I realized what was genuinely important and valuable to me in life and what was not. I selected new benchmarks and a new path in life for myself.
I have become a happier and freer person through shamanic ceremonies. They have taught me to enjoy life more fully, appreciate its moments and beauty, and value my time. As a result, I now look at the world and people differently, think more clearly, and see life with fresh eyes. I have even started to travel more and have lived in a different country, recognizing that the country where I was born and raised (Russia) is not good for a peaceful and free existence at this time.
I also want to note how essential and valuable it has become to interact with people who visit shamans. I met many interesting people there, and each demonstrated and taught me something for which I am grateful. I relish the conversations following the collective ceremonies, as they are often deeply soulful, sincere, and profound. I especially want to mention and express gratitude to my close friend Sasha, with whom we endured and taught each other so much, and the individuals who aided me with my move to another country (whom I met there as well).
Overall, my worldview has undergone a fundamental shift during this time. Journeys to shamans were a priceless experience, fantastic, beautiful, life-changing events in my life. However, the more I participated in the ceremonies, the more I realized I wished to study it further.
What is Shamanism?
Shamanism is the ancient practice of entering specialized trance states of consciousness that allow one to perceive and comprehend much more than what is accessible in one’s daily life. It enables one to perceive the world in its true form and to harness the power of one’s consciousness to influence one’s own life, the lives of others, and the world around us. It can be regarded as a system of practical knowledge concerning the essence of our consciousness, the nature of human beings and society, the structure of our world, other worlds, and the universe in its entirety. Additionally, it is the capacity to establish a unique bond with living nature, pure natural spirits, and one’s Kin.
Authentic shamanism has always had a practical orientation, solving intricate and challenging problems, encouraging practicality and awareness, and improving human lives. Its origin and evolution were sparked by human needs to comprehend oneself and the world and the aspiration to tackle various practical difficulties, including:
- Survival and reproduction,
- Maintenance of a healthy body and longevity,
- Healing ailments and alleviating pain,
- Achieving a bountiful harvest and a successful hunt,
- Safeguarding oneself, loved ones, and property,
- Recovering lost items,
- Improving interpersonal relationships and resolving conflicts.
Genuine shamanic customs have been preserved through direct transmission and continue to exist in their original form. They have been forged over centuries by multiple generations of individuals, accumulating vast knowledge and wisdom. This information has been passed down from teacher to student for thousands of years.
Many civilizations have practiced shamanism, but unfortunately, most have forgotten their shamanistic traditions and lost this priceless knowledge. Presently, “shamanism” is frequently used to refer to something that no longer resembles authentic shamanism. It is often a mere imitation. Nevertheless, genuine shamanism still exists in some remote regions of our planet.
The main focus of this article is Amazonian shamanism and Ayahuasca shamanic ceremonies, with which I have grown intimately acquainted. The situation is similar in Mexican shamanism, albeit with marked disparities. I have not studied the shamanistic traditions of other regions, such as Siberian shamanism.
The Work of Shamans and Guides. The Sad Situation of Ayahuasca Shamanic Ceremonies, Charlatans, and Imitators.
I bear a certain responsibility when disseminating information about shamanism. Therefore, before delving into the details of my experience with shamanic ceremonies, I shall discuss the crucial role of Shamans and Guides. I shall strive to elucidate the fundamental distinction between the utilization of power plants in authentic shamanism versus all other forms, such as the sham of shamanism, its imitations, psychedelia, and independent use. Employing such plants without an authentic shaman is perilous, yet people often trivialize the danger. They are oblivious to its gravity and the ramifications of their actions.
Of late, Ayahuasca has gained significant popularity. Many are captivated by ceremonies, making it a fashionable type of psychedelic tourism. “Shamanic ceremonies” are conducted by thousands of people in various countries, and the internet is inundated with an abundance of offers and shamanic centers. However, the tragedy of this situation is that only an authentic shaman can perform a secure and complete shamanic ceremony. Out of the numerous people who conduct “ceremonies” with plants and mushrooms, very few have undergone the necessary extensive training and can do this work properly. Unfortunately, most individuals who claim the title of a shaman are often not trained at all, not genuine and lack the extensive knowledge and extensive experience that is mandatory to do this complex work.
Moreover, authentic shamanism is inherently tied to particular places. Ayahuasca is intimately connected to the land where it naturally thrives and the spiritual entities of its surrounding rainforest. Ayahuasca’s power is genuine only within its natural habitat. It cannot be uprooted and transported from the Amazon to another region. Nevertheless, one can find offers to partake in ceremonies and retreats in nearly every country – Ayahuasca in the United States, Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Spain, Italy, Turkey, and even Ayahuasca in Bali. This is an unmistakable indication that these ceremonies are inauthentic, and so are the “shamans” who perform them. Genuine shamans do not roam the globe, offering their services to anyone interested in trying it.
Personally, I was fortunate to encounter authentic shamans and guides to the realm of shamanism. However, I took it very earnestly from the outset, seeking out individuals with pure and virtuous intentions. My quest was prolonged, but I eventually discovered what I was seeking.
Who is the shaman (curandero), and what is their role in the shamanic Ayahuasca ceremony?
A shaman is a skilled practitioner of healing (known as curanderos in Peru) who has mastered the ancient art of shamanism, possesses extensive knowledge of shamanic medicine, and is proficient in conducting shamanic ceremonies. Shamans can effectively work with medicinal plants, connect deeply with nature, and interact with its spirits, which I will elaborate on later. Most importantly, their work is not merely based on a belief in supernatural forces but on actual and tangible interactions with the conscious energy of the world around us and the ability to receive knowledge, help, and support from it. A genuine shaman is one whose results are palpable and discernible.
Conducting a ceremony is a strenuous and demanding undertaking. It requires a heightened sensitivity, concentration, and devotion, as well as the special skills honed over years and decades through rigorous practices, shamanic diets, and various trials. Shamans have the expertise to open the ceremony’s space safely and correctly for the participants, invite the spirits, protect each participant, induce a shamanic trance state, guide them along a path, engage in deep healing work, and ultimately return the participants to their familiar world. The curandero can see and deeply feel each participant at every moment, providing guidance and assistance. All people are in the common field and under the shaman’s protection.
An authentic shamanic ceremony is a complex and ancient technology, not merely the use of psychoactive plants for drug trips, as is often mistakenly believed.
Shamans know how to help people in various situations, and they understand each person’s life history and their Clan. They profoundly comprehend the cause-and-effect relations of what is happening in people’s lives. They recognize what and how to heal and correct, enabling the person to better understand and feel themselves and their life path. Through singing beautiful shamanic songs (icaros), shamans work with people, opening their consciousness and accompanying them in a shamanic trance state. Curanderos broadcast the pure intention to help people, allowing them to rid themselves of all negative aspects, pain, and sorrow and achieve deep physical and mental healing.
In my opinion, the shaman’s work, not the use of sacred plants, is paramount. In Amazonian shamanism, for instance, the Ayahuasca drink is utilized to induce a trance state, but the shaman performs the healing work with the participants. If one delves deeper into the process, the plants play a vital role, but the shaman unlocks their power. Like humans and other living beings, plants have both bodies and spirits. The Ayahuasca drink itself is regarded as the physical embodiment, or body, of the plants, prepared from vines and leaves. However, the spirits of Ayahuasca and Chakruna (both plants are used in the drink) must be properly and respectfully called and invited to the ceremony to help people. Simply drinking the concoction without the spiritual component and the work of a shaman will not have the same effect. In addition to Ayahuasca and Chakruna, the curandero uses other plants and invites various spirits to participate in the ritual.
This is an excerpt from one of my Ayahuasca ceremonies, where I experienced a profound and enlightening moment:
As the shaman sat next to me and began to sing, I could feel the vibrancy of life within him. He sang with profound wisdom and an ancient power that was indescribable. Although I could not comprehend the words he sang, I felt the shaman’s love and sincerity. His song spoke of life, healing, well-being, and the interconnectedness of all beings on Earth. I felt his pure desire and intention to heal and help me. I witnessed him pulling out the heavy energy that weighed me down, and with its release, I was filled with light, joy, and tranquility. All that troubled me and made me unwell vanished. The world’s madness, which I was accustomed to, dissipated, and I remembered my true nature. This experience taught me to live differently.
Regarding supporting my project and providing a complete manuscript translation.
My article was originally published in Russian. Eventually, I intend to unveil a complete translation of it from Russian into English. Your financial assistance will be highly appreciated if you aspire to support me and my work. I have provided detailed information on how you can extend your support on the Support the Project page.
Organizing expeditions to Peru and Mexico, organizing ceremonies, conducting shamanic diets, and assisting the few remaining authentic shamans to require considerable time and finances.
Furthermore, you can join my Telegram and Instagram channels, and sharing a link to my project on your social media platforms and personal websites could also contribute to the cause.
A List of Untranslated Sections of My Article.
- 4.2. Warning of Danger: About Charlatans and Imitators. And a few Words About Psychedelic Therapy.
- 4.3. Organizers and Guides in the World of Shamanism.
- 5. What Happens in Authentic Ceremonies with Ayahuasca, Peyote, and Mushrooms? The Practical Value of the Experience.
- 5.1. Healing the Physical Body and Working with Addictions. About on Medicinal Plants.
- 5.2. Shamanic Psychotherapy and Mental Healing. The Influence of Past Experiences on a Person’s Life and Revision of Those Experiences.
- 5.3. Encountering and Overcoming Fears. Fear of Death.
- 5.4. Immersion into the Genealogical Memory, Memory of Ancestors. The Impact of History on Human Lives. And the Role of War.
- 5.5. Looking into the Future. The Path and Choice of Mankind, the Birth and Death of a Civilization, and Life on Other Planets.
- 5.6. Communication with Spirits and Deep Contact with Nature. The Spiritual Reality of Our World. Tatevari, Grandfather Fire.
- 5.7. Immortality and Higher States of Consciousness. Life After Death and the Massive Game We All Play.
- 6. Afterword: The Importance of Preserving This Priceless Knowledge.
- 7. An Opportunity to Support My Project. Recommendations for the Choice of Shamans and Guides.
Thank you for your attention!
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