The spirit of plants
Strange as it may seem to some Westerners, the Indians consider that each plant has a ‘spirit’ (see tobacco juice). According to them, it is a principle that contributes to care and communicates with humans in a subtle way.
Mediators of the spiritual world
This principle does not belong to a religious institution. In the Amazonian civilization, plants are not considered divinities but as living matrices, mediators of the spiritual world. Their healing power is activated by precise rituals such as blown tobacco smoke (‘soplada’ in Spanish means ‘blown’) and some very precise sacred songs resonating with the plants.
A practical experience
Traditional Amazonian retreats elevate the level of consciousness. They make the missing links in our lives accessible to perception in visual, auditory and sensory form and help us to realise the meaning of our life.
For some, these retreats can mark a concrete and powerful change in life.
Some even observe that the released energies manifest themselves before the official date: dreams, emotions, memory, synchronicities, encounters…
A bigger picture
Like natives when they retire to the Amazon rainforest, participants experience the bigger picture of the reason they exist within the living world.
It surprises us deeply.
It is a very profound change (representation of the world) that takes place during a retreat. Words can hardly describe it.
It can only be lived from within.
‘Traditional medicine’ and Conventional Medicine
‘Traditional medicine’ differs from Western conventional medicine but does not oppose it.
Traditional Amazonian medicine comes from ancestral knowledge and is practised by ‘curanderos’. These are healers initiated by a master healer, a member of the family. These curanderos are not doctors in conventional medicine. (However, some doctors of conventional medicine have been initiated to become curanderos.)
Body & soul
Traditional medicine is connected with nature, does not separate the body and the soul, and is rooted in ancestral culture of indigenous people. It does not promise a cure but carries out ‘healing’ (see below), it does not imply a recognized and official diagnosis, drug treatment, operations, hospitalization or reimbursement by health insurances.
The principle of healing
The principle of healing is traditional care using energy, which contributes to overall wellness. It focuses on the unseen causes of ill-being. The “healing” is different from the official notions of “treatment” reserved for the medical world. The tradition of South American healing is the product of cross-breeding and blending of traditions. Judeo-Christian references are also present in rituals and songs. They should be seen as part of the South American healing culture and not as an attempt to convert.
A part of shamanism
The word ‘shamanism’ is widely used in the world today… It actually covers many different traditions and practices.
Amazonian Shamanism includes protection rituals for the community, diagnoses by plants as well as other knowledge.
Traditional Amazonian medicine is devoted to wellbeing and is also called ‘curanderism’. It therefore constitutes a part of Amazonian shamanism but is not a religion in itself.
Amazonian shamanism uses plants. In other traditions, shamans use elements (such as fire). Plants are organized in a hierarchy. At the bottom of the pyramid are the plants treating the basic ailments (example: back pain). At the top, there are the most complex plants working on several levels: corporeal, psychological and spiritual. These few specific plants are called ‘madre’ and can only be handled by an initiated curandero (healer).
Role of purging
In the whole tradition of healing, the emphasis is on purging. In contrast to animals and plants, humans must constantly regulate their inner dimension (emotions, thoughts) and their external dimension (the environment). To regulate these two dimensions, we use free will, the ability to adapt, and the ability to adjust our inner reality to the external reality. In order to make the right decisions, to be guided, the human being needs to be well inspired.
This is precisely the role that purgation / purge will play. It cleans the body, emotions and thoughts so that they are more aligned, consistent, fair and clear. Indeed, conflicts and ill-being often come from the disjunction between bodily perceptions, emotions and ideation.
Thus, during a retreat, it will be a matter of aligning and adjusting these levels by ‘spiritualizing the body and embodying the mind’.
Why ‘curanderos’ use perfume to cure?
The shamans ‘perfumeros’ treat by blowing perfume on the body of the patients, by ‘blowing’ (‘soplar’ in Spanish) as it is done with the smoke of tobacco.
Reaching our consciousness
During the night sessions, the barrier of unconscious repression is relaxed by the plants: it is more difficult to repress what one feels. Thanks to the perfume, abstract or repressed feelings will be able to reach our consciousness. Perfume plays a role as a screen where the film of our bodily sensations is projected.
Just like animals at night, it allows us to locate ourselves in space and time during the night session. It also gives us the possibility to better integrate and digest the auditory and visual perceptions received.
A shield against discomfort
Participants often come to pierce emotional abscesses, so they may experience intense emotions. The perfume creates a shield against discomforts and primary anxiety. The floral water is then blown on them by the curandero. Some curanderos have no doubt that this perfume helps to lift the spirits and chase anguish and reminiscences. At times, the curandero may even drink the perfume as if washing their inside to purify themselves. It is a very effective weapon to protect against energy pollution.
In the other world of visions of the Amazonian corianders, olfaction becomes a tool of learning, as much as the vision. The olfactory feelings of the curandero are accompanied by symbols and give valuable information.
Finally, for the curandero, as for the participants, the evanescence of the light scent will make it possible to find land, to return to port, to dock on the banks, with a finally pacified spirit. This is also the essence… of these flower essences.
This word is used a lot…
What ‘spirituality’ can mean in the context of a retreat:
- Freely questioning the meaning of life.
- Let be surprised by a new representation of the world.
- To root his approach in a corporeal experience and a verbal accompaniment,
(Spirituality is not opposed to psychotherapy or conventional medicine).
- To welcome silence, trees, nature, simplicity as auxiliaries of awareness.
- Freeing engrammed memories, conditioning to go towards an emancipation.
- Going more autonomy, fewer dependencies, less avoidance.
- Discover what animates us (work, quality of life, relationships, place of life), how our vitality is embodied the best.
- Discovering that what we believe to be separate goes in concert: the body and the mind, the feminine and the masculine, man and nature, the self and its environment, the visible and the invisible.