In the Amazons, it is maintained that whoever works with the Holy Plants maintain restrictive diet and sexual abstinence, as the Holy Plants spirits could be ‘jealous’. The Holy Plant Spirits demand full attention and commitment from those who would like to learn with the Holy Plants.
It is also believed that, those who become unfaithful, or break the bond, trust, mutuality, intimacy can brings magical retaliation from the Holy Plant spirits, and may be subject to fearful punishment from the Holy Plant Spirits. The shamans maintain ‘they have to pure, to be receptacle of the Spirits.’
Challenges shamans face while maintaining sexual abstinence
While shamans maintain sexual abstinence, they are said to become sexually very attractive, and may be pursued by sexually active women. Shamans believe such approaches by women for sex is only but a test from the Holy Plants. Shamans are recommended to work with only premenstrual or postmenopausal women, especially during their training period.
“It is important to avoid women who are menstruating, or who have made love the previous night; that is bad with the Holy Plants. It can make one ill or goes against the person” says Don Lopez.
Practices of sexual abstinence
- During training Shuar shamans often remain separate from their wives for months.
- Shamans believe sex could be very dangerous, and the power of the tsentsak, darts, which the teachers of the shaman may provide to the student, may lose power.
- A Cocama shaman explained that “ejaculation bothers the functioning of the brain, weakens the mind, and interferes with the effect of the Holy Medicine.”
- A Shipibo shaman explained “sex can be debilitating, and the Holy Plants when ingested can become toxic instead of being Medicine. The Holy Plants could become jealous of the human lover and may make the shaman, or those working with the Holy Plants, ill or kill them. This is a reason shamans or practitioners go into the Forest for their practices, where there is no such temptation.”
- Don Lopez said “if you are not sexually abstinent, if you give in just once, you will fall ill, go mad, fall into water, or die.”
- Shamans say that the spirits love the sweet smells of tobacco, cologne, but hate smells of menstrual blood, semen, and human sexual activity.
In the path of spirituality or learning from the Holy Plants, where interaction is with the spirit dimensions, it is understandable that demands are placed by the Spirits on the shamans or practitioners to remain detached or dissociated from earthly activities, at least during the training. Sexual abstinence is essential for shamans, especially those in training, and the risk of breaking such abstinence pose tremendous threats for the shamans, who may fall ill or lose their magic given by their teacher or more. Therefore, it is important to remain sexually abstinent and maintain self-control to become a shaman.
The ‘sadhana’ with the Holy Medicine of the Holy and Divine Mother Ayahuasca requires exceptional respect and dedication by shamans and participants seeking healing, to the ‘process’.
- Beyer S. V., 2009, Singing to the Plants: A Guide to Mestizo Shamanism in the Upper Amazon, University of New Mexico Press, USA.