With the rise in demand for the Holy Medicine of the Holy and Divine Mother Ayahuasca, in the world where information travels in less than a seconds, there has been tremendous cultural exchange in recent decades between the West and the Amazons.
The new generation of Shamans have cell phones, internet, and know a great deal about western culture. Naturally, while the Western world has imported cultures and traditions from the Amazons, they influenced modern shamans in the Amazons, especially those that cater to tourists visiting the Amazons with expectations of attending Sacred Ceremonies.
Western Influence in local Amazonian shamans
There are many importations of items, concepts, ideas, information from the West, which has been shaping shaman’s thoughts and even their ‘visions’. Below are few examples:-
- Amazonian shamans frequently report visions of great cities, often said to be located on other planets.
- Sharanahua shamans sing of Peruvian spirits traveling up the Purus, in large boat filled with metal pots, shotgun shells, whiskey, suitcases, guns, as trade goods.
- A Shaman report having jet fighter plane he uses as defence against sorcerer attacks.
- One shapra shaman reported having spiritual x-ray machine, he uses to diagnose patients.
- Don Rodrigo Andi, a Canelos Quichua shaman, in his song informs about having spiritual x-ray machine, blood pressure apparatus, stethoscope, surgical light, and carries a shield of medicine he buys in spirit drugstore, while he remains protected by noisy airplanes flying around him – military plane, helicopters, cargo planes etc.
- In earlier generations, shamans had used such vocabulary as electricity, magnetism, and radio. For example, Don Agustin Rivas said water people live beneath water to stay undisturbed from electrical technology. He also believes spirit is an energy like a radio wave.
- A Campa shaman, Cesar Zevallos Chinchuya, said Holy Plant Spirit places powerful magnets in his mouth, which attracts flemosidad of the patient’s disease, and that his sucking works through the magnet. He also informs that Plants and mermaids bring him magnets which can be used for healing or harming. He also believes blowing tobacco on the body magnetises the body.
- Don Emilio Andraded describe a magical phlegm as a magnet which attracts darts when he sucks at the places lodged.
- Don Cesar Zevallos says that the Holy Icaros are “magnetic cures” and that protective Holy Icaros are “magnetic shielding”. He also claims he communicated with the spirits through radio waves, who informed him where to find proper cures in an invisible book.
- In more recent times, Alberto Prohano, a Yagua shaman in remote village where satellite telephone dish was recently installed, reports he talks with the spirits using telephone, with the pot in which he prepares the Holy Medicine. He also blows tobacco smoke on the pot to clear the line.
Western influence on art and culture
- Artists in the Amazons in recent times heavily include contemporary technology – like lasers, spaceships, biomedicine – in their arts.
- Pablo Amaringo fills his paintings with battleships protected by pyramid-shaped lasers; spaceships from edge of the universe; spaceships from Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Ganymede, beings from distant galaxies with skin as white as paper, electromagnetic boa constrictors, singing spaceships from constellation Kima, magnetizing mirrors, poisonous space snakes from Mars, spaceship of elves from Mars, doctors and nurses performing spiritual medical procedures.
- Pablo Amaringo informed that a person’s eyes were harmed by sorcerer shinning magic flashlight on them.
- There has been remarkable absorption of wester philosophies in the Amazonian shamanism, similar to how Catholicism has been incorporated in the Amazons.
- Ayahuasquero don Hildebrando, who operates a clinic in Pucallpa, and combines shamanic practice both with folk Catholicism, noting that he had a visit from virgin Mary before he became a healer, and with new religious movement called Septrionism.
- Pablo Amaringo depicts spirits in his ‘visionary’ paintings including Krishna, Vishnu and Shiva and the “great gurus of India”.
Mestizo shamans has been absorbing New Age terms and concepts. They devour all kinds of books and information they can find on spiritual practices outside Peru. Often many of the shamans read such information from isolation, on topics haphazard, and with knowledge having idiosyncratic mix including yoga, martial arts, etc.
Although many shamans may follow traditional practices, they still use knowledge from West to explain information to their participants of the Sacred Ceremonies.
It is no surprise that modern generation of shamans have blended Western knowledge, philosophies and technology into their traditional processes, rituals and culture in the fast paced modern world where information travels in less than a second globally. It was only a matter of time for such exchange and influence.
As long as such cultural exchange helps humanity heal, or understand about life easily and in depth, and as long as such brings humanity close to the Holy and Divine Mother Ayahuasca, such exchange should be embraced wholeheartedly by everyone in the best interest of humanity, from such essential knowledge exchange between the Amazons and the West.
- Beyer S. V., 2009, Singing to the Plants: A Guide to Mestizo Shamanism in the Upper Amazon, University of New Mexico Press, USA.