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My Peruvian Travels: Personal Healing and Professional Growth

I recently spent nine days in the Peruvian rainforest to deepen my knowledge of shamanic healing, and I can truly say the trip was transformative.

I traveled with eight other students and healers from The Power Path School of Shamanism, based in Santa Fe, NM. We flew into Lima, and then took another plane to Pucallpa, followed by an hour-long boat ride deep into the rainforest to the village of San Francisco where the Shipibo tribe lives. I was literally transported into a completely different dimension of space and time.

We slept in a round thatched-roof hut, nestled inside mosquito tents. Every day from 7 am to 3 pm, we’d follow our inner guidance, whether it was to read, write, listen to inspiring music, mediate, sleep and dream, or take walks. Although the jungle is a very noisy place with the constant chirping of crickets and the occasional loud-speaker voices and music from the village, it was quite an experience to be in silence, no talking and no electronics, no food or water, completely focusing on contemplation and healing. In fact, there was a feeling of transcending time and space, and stepping into a realm beyond our 3-dimensional world where higher sense perception became more available to me.

One of the most important parts of the trip was working with mapacho, a pure Peruvian tobacco. We were encouraged to smoke three mapachos during our eight hours of silence, connecting with its energy and tuning in to its healing properties. This involved singing our prayers and intentions into the mapacho to “program” it, lighting it with fire so that the tobacco and prayers would be transformed, and then sending the transformed prayers out into the universe in the form of smoke. Tobacco is considered a sacred plant by many indigenous people because of its ability to clear old patterns, offer protection, and send prayers. But using tobacco is always done as an offering; hence, it is never inhaled. Many people think of tobacco as a poison because of its addictive and harmful effects; but, in fact, it is effective and powerful when used in the right way.

At 3 pm, a bell would ring and we would take a quarter-mile walk to the kitchen and dining area where we would eat a light meal. The indigenous people we met were incredibly gracious and loving, often funny, and tenacious when it came to negotiating a price for their wares at the mercado. Above all, they exuded deep wisdom. Their whole culture is based on being in the present and living in the now. In fact, there is no future tense in their native language. Our group leader quipped, “You never know exactly when they are going to show up!” It was a wonderful lesson for me to feel the freedom of living in the present moment.

Three times over the course of our nine days in the village, we received wonderful “shamanic massages” from the shamans. I would lie on the ground, and they would press deeply on parts of my body that held tension while making a puffing sound to release the stuck energy. The relief I felt was incredible. So often we aren’t even aware of all that we are holding until it is released. Also, I remembered that this is a technique I learned during my shamanic practitioners training and can incorporate with my clients. I was being healed and learning how to help others at the same time!

In the evenings, we enjoyed delicious food and great discussions on a wide range of topics including village politics, balancing the masculine and feminine, understanding personalities, and quantum physics. Three of these evenings also included healing ceremonies, where the shamans would sing icaros, healing songs similar to the ones I sing to my clients during our sessions. I could deeply feel the soothing and calming energy of these songs and was filled with awe at their power.

Then, one by one, the shamans would call us up and offer individualized healings, singing more icaros, blowing mapacho through us to open us up, bless us, and provide protection, and spraying us with agua florida, a special water-alcohol liquid filled with flower essences and prayers, to cleanse, raise our frequency, and fill us with light.

On a final note, one day during the trip, we were surprised to find out we would be receiving henna tattoos. I sat next to a beautiful woman who sang an icaro as she drew a design on my arm: a circle representing Pacha Mama, the Earth Mother, with points representing the stars, and leaves representing the medicinal plants of the jungle. She said to me,

“Este icaro es para la fuerza y la protección de tu cuerpo.”

“This icaro is for strength and protection in your body.”

Another opportunity to soak in the love and healing. And although the tattoo will certainly fade in the next few weeks, this life-changing trip will be forever engraved in my body, mind, and spirit.

Katie Oberlin

A Healing Touch Certified Practitioner, Katie received advanced training in shamanic healing at The Power Path School of Shamanism in 2014. Her travels have taken her to power spots in the southwestern United States, as well as Mexico and Peru, where she has worked with shamans from the Q’ero and Shipibo indigenous healing traditions.

12 thoughts on “My Peruvian Travels: Personal Healing and Professional Growth

  1. Katie, what a beautiful story and experience. I’m sure the messages from Pacha Mama and all of the other gods are heartening and insightful.

    The balancing of male and female energies with Pacha Mama, and the Apus (mountains) is one of the reasons I find Peru so fascinating. A country living in such vast extremes is a beautiful symbolic reminder of the beauty, strength, and wisdom of both energies.

    Thanks for sharing your story, Katie.

    1. Hi Beth! Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Every morning during my prayers I spend time connecting my heartbeat with the heartbeat of Pacha Mama, our Earth Mother. It is incredibly nurturing and grounding to feel her energy. The apus provide that same support for me, but you’re right, it’s a more masculine energy. I love that you get it! I am happy that you enjoy my articles!

    1. Thanks, Barbara. This work is really taking me wonderful places, literally and spiritually. I am so grateful for the personal healing and for the training and inspiration to help others heal. Many blessings to you and your family. Love, Katie

  2. Katie
    Read the rainforest story. Utterly amazing. Wow! I think you should post more pictures.
    Hugs and Happy Thanksgiving to you, Dana and family.

  3. Katie, this is an amazing story. Thanks so much for sharing it. It is really wonderful that you found your gift and field! Little did we know where we would all end up. Best to you.
    Mary Beth

    1. Thanks for your kind words, Mary Beth. It has been great re-connecting with you and all of our FHC classmates and finding out where life has taken us.

  4. dear Katie what transcendent experiences you had! I am so thankful for you, your journey and for sharing it. So looking forward to the photographs. Love and Light to you and yours, Pam

    1. Hi Pam! Thanks for your heartfelt response. It means a lot to me to know that sharing my experiences is inspiring and helpful to others. Maybe you’ll have an opportunity to experience shamanic healing one of these days! Many blessings to you and your loved ones.

  5. Dear Katie,
    Thank you for sharing your experience in this newsletter. What an awesome way to spend time in our “world.” This restorative journey is exactly what I need to do. WholeHealth Chicago is very lucky to have you as a practitioner. Maybe we can chat when I see you in the office to hear more about your Peruvian travels. Did you bring any tobacco back for your clients – lol?

    1. Thanks, Marc. I’m glad you found my reflections meaningful. And yes, I did bring back some mapacho! I use it daily during my morning prayers and I use it during my shamanic healing sessions with clients. Let me know next time you are planning to come to WholeHealth. I would love to meet you and talk more.

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