It is believed in the Amazons that Holy Plants love ‘sharp, strong, sweet smells’. Therefore, to protect against malevolent persons ad their pathogenic projectiles, one acquires such a sweet smell oneself rather than having regular human smell, which the spirits seem to dislike, including the smell of human sex.

Shamans use sharp sweet smells on the bodies of their patients, either on or inside the body. One of such substance is tobacco, primarily by smoking or drinking cold infusions of tobacco leaves in water.

Blowing tobacco smoke into the top of the head forms a foundational part of a mestizo shamanic healing.

  • For this same reason mestizo shamans ingest commercial cologne, mouthwash, disinfectant, and camphor. Two such commercial products are 1) Timolina similar to Listerine, is a commercial alkaline mouthwash containing thyme oil, eucalyptol, menthol, and one oil, dissolved in alcohol; and 2) Creolina, similar to Lysol, a disinfectant made of cresylic acid.
  • They ingest Camphor, a commercially prepared resin of the Camphor Laurel Tree, which is grown outside of the Amazons. Shamans purchase camphor from the market which is sold as ‘Vicks VapoRub, which comes as small cellophane-wrapped blocks of pure camphor and bibaporu.

Shamans also drink camphor dissolved in alcohol and a drink called Camalonga – which is a mixture of camphor, alcohol, white onion, and the seeds of the camalonga plant, yellow oleander.

Aguardiente, a drink distilled from fermented squeezing of sugarcane, is used as the solvent for camalonga, camphor, and other ingredients in the Camalonga drink including scrapings of ajo sacha roots, chuchuhuasi bark and huito fruit.. Aguardiente is an almost universal solved for medicinal tinctures.

Some shamans use trago de cana as Psychoactive and some blow it over patient’s body – to cleanse and cure them.

Utilising sweet smell during a Sacred Ceremony

  • Shamans also drink perfume, especially the agua de florida. Often they drink it a mixture of chopped tobacco, perfume, camphor, agardiente, hot pepper, lemon, and salt, even with some arsenic. With their perfumed breathe, they blow everywhere forcefully.
  • Shamans use the Agua de florida to mark on the patient’s body, to seal, close, and protect their bodies during Sacred Ceremonies.
  • Some shamans use Creolina, Agardiente, Timolina or Agua de florida to blow into the body of the patients – the participants in the Sacred Ceremony. In Amazons there are certain type of shamans who specialise in use of scents to attack, heal and attract, called a ‘perfumero’. Victorian ladies, for whom Agua de florida was made, never realised it would be used by shamans in the Amazons.
  • Agua de florida is used by African-diaspora descent in the U.S. and the Caribbean for magical purpose, and on alters of Vodou priestesses in Brooklyn.

Other perfumes used by the shamans are:

  • Agua de Kananga
    • Colonia de rosas
    • Tabu

Many other ways to acquire sweet smell by the shamans is by taking a limpia or bano de flores – a Cleansing flower bath with strongly scented herbs, flowers and commercial perfumes. They used various kinds of Plants for the smell, like ajo sacha – wild garlic, albaca – wild basil, ruda – rue, mishquipanga – dwarf ginger, mucura – garlic weed, and other Plants which are purple or dark like pinon Colorado, red pinon which protect from sorcery. The perfumes and floral essences include – Agua de florida, Agua de rosas, Agua de Kananga, Rosa de castilla, and mouthwash Timolina.


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