How Shamans acquire smell of the Forest to connect with Plants

As Pablo Amaringo says “human beings just smells bad to the spirits. Only a long diet will purify one from this bad smell.”

Shamans spend long time in the Forest, and acquire the smell of the Forest, and as the body acquires smell of the Forest, man becomes the Forest and animals don’t flee.

The clothes of the shamans, cushmas, are never washed, which blend into the stink and colours of the deep Forest, and animals and souls aren’t made restless by the smell of man. It is said that “ to become the Forest, makes on acceptable to the spirits of the Plants.”

Apprentice shamans diet with a maestro shaman, who maintains the diets and protects them and their ‘Visions’ with the Holy Icaros. Much of the time is spent in solitude, in small tambo which is an open thatched shelter in which they live throughout the diet, with nothing much to do- with days of consuming the Holy Medicine and alternate days going into the Forest learning to identify, gather and prepare the Plants. The shamans are generally skilled hunters and fishers. They spend days in the Forest, quietly observing the Forest during La Dieta. It is said that the blandness of the diet sharpens the senses of the shamans doing La Dieta.

As the shamans sit quietly in the Forest, with no place to go, listen for the Holy Songs of the Holy Plants to ‘Learn’.


  1. Beyer S. V., 2009, Singing to the Plants: A Guide to Mestizo Shamanism in the Upper Amazon, University of New Mexico Press, USA.