First of all, to become a shaman you need to feel “the call”. Normally this call comes through dreams, through a revelation in a plant ceremony, through a blood linage (heritage), or such. If becoming a shaman is your destiny there is no way to avoid it. Life will always push you towards that path. Some people are afraid and others have a hard time accepting it, but in the end it is your own decision to walk that path. Shamans often live the hardest of lives. Why? I believe that a shaman must have lived and experienced suffering in order to understand pain itself. Without such experience one cannot help others in similar situations.
Who is a shaman?
A shaman is an intermediary between the spirit world and the humans. When I talk about the spirit world, I mean the plants, animals, rocks, crystals, mountains, etc. Everything is alive because everything that exists contains a spirit. Everything that exists is having an experience, and therefore also has a consciousness.
That a rock does not speak the human language does not mean that it is not having an experience. Its experience is very different from ours and exists for a purpose. I believe that we have been everything or that we have experienced every part of the consciousness on this planet, like being a crystal, a plant, an animal, a river. It’s just that our egos have made us believe that being a human is the highest way of being or consciousness, but in fact on this planet we experience different levels of learning and teachings. That’s why we feel more connected to certain animals, to certain plants, or to certain crystals, because we have been them at some point during our earth experience.
A shaman is doctor, a social worker, a storyteller, a sharer, a scientist – because when you are connected with the spirit world you can basically log in to all kinds of knowledge. There are no limits in the spirit world on how much we can evolve, grow and learn.
In Peru we connect to the spirit world through the use of sacred visionary plants and sacred master plants.
- A visionary plant is also considered a master plant, because it teaches us something. As the name says, they help us to have visions. Plants like Ayahuasca, San Pedro, Peyote, Iboga and Salvia Divinorum are considered sacred visionary plants. There is a huge difference between visions and hallucinations. The visionary state is a state of clearness and total awareness. A vision is a revelation of information. Information that has been keep inside us (visions of your childhood or previous lifetimes for example) or information that the plants spirits reveal to us and which help us in our lives (for an example a vision of a tree that can heal a kind of cancer, or a vision of an animal that represents something important. A lion can for example say something about being strong). Hallucinations are unreal things filled with nonsense, normally produced in a state of delirium or when you have lost consciousness. In other words a hallucination is cheating the senses.
- A master plant can be a visionary plant, but many master plants from the Amazon do not have any visionary properties, but the spirit contained within is very strong and therefore considered a teacher. The spirits of master plants show themselves in the ceremonies. There visionary plants are used as tools, to communicate with the shaman, share information, or to teach something. A master plants can be a pine tree or chaga mushroom. The most important way of connecting with master plants is through DIETS. In the Peruvian Amazon knowledge about plants and shamanism has been transmitted and received through DIETS for a long time.
What is a diet?
Diets are the triangular base of shamanism and are the most important part for those who use master plants as tools for healing. It is among other things through the diets that the shamans get their knowledge and healing powers. If we compare it to university studies, we could say that the diets are the different courses that one takes at the university.
When you do a diet you create a contract with the spirit of what you will diet with for a certain time and under certain conditions. This can be from three days, until many years.
Some shamans specialize in using one or more specific plants, which they have dieted for long periods of time. We do not always connect or feel a connection with the spirit of what we are dieting. This is the same as in ordinary life. Sometimes we are more compatible with some people than with others. It is the same with the plant spirits. We are compatible with certain plant spirits, but not with all. With time you will recognize the spirits of the plants that connect best with you.
When one does a diet one makes a friend, an ally for life, and these allies help the shaman work in ceremonies and such.
The shaman works with the energy of plants that s/he was dieting, and not with her/his own power. In that way you can always keep your energy strong and in balance. Otherwise each ceremony would make the shamans weak or dry of energy. But what happens after being in a ceremony is quite the opposite – the more diets, more energy and better work. The purpose of the diet is to clean, learn, reconnect and transform.
More about diets in the second part of how to become a shaman in the Amazon.
Photo: The Shaman amid the Forest by Nick Jewell on Flickrby