My Peruvian Travels: Personal Healing and Professional Growth

IMG_4151I 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.