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  • Writer's pictureEl Mono Blanco 🐒

Who is an Ayahuasca shaman?

The Ayahuasca ceremony is an opportunity to have the Heroic Journey without exiting the room.


Although it might sound not as challenging and adventurous as climbing Everest or jumping with a parachute, be sure that the transformation delivered by Ayahuasca, will surpass most of your expectations.


This journey begins when you start seriously considering it. After that, as time goes on, it unfolds with your research, preparation, fighting your fears, and finally actually doing an Ayahuasca Retreat.


Ayahuasca shaman in peru

The ceremony is held in a special ceremonial space that is like a protective bubble that allows you to confidently dive into whatever need to dive in.


The crucial person creating and maintaining that bubble is the Shaman.


He has a whole arsenal of magical songs called Icaros that he uses to protect, calm down, and help you.


The journey itself is up to you to handle, the shaman is the one creating a frictionless environment where your rocket can fly as fast as possible.


So let’s see what is an actual Ayahuasca Shaman.



Table of Contents:



The Role of the Shaman


The Ayahuasca ceremony is like a travel to faraway realms. In those realms, you can encounter heavenly creatures, hellish monsters, and everything in between.


Within this wild safari, you want to be led by someone who knows the landscape and has a skillset specifically designed for this environment. In short, you need a good Shaman.


The role of the shaman in the Ayahuasca ceremony cannot be overappreciated.


From the start to the finish of the ceremony, the Shaman creates a bubble where things can be controlled. Within it, you are safe, and knowing this will deliver you from anxiety and fear.


The shaman feels what every participant needs and can address each person’s situation.


If you are stuck in some unpleasant memories, the shaman can push you through them. He can calm you down and redirect the current flow of your experience.


Ayahuasca brew can be compared with some high-octane fuel. You are the car, and the shaman is the one who builds the road.


A skilled shaman will create a flawless road that will allow you to travel at a very high speed. The Shaman also can reduce the time needed for traumas to be healed.


After the ceremony is over, the knowledge of the shaman can help you understand better the meaning of your overall experience. Some of the parts of your trip can make no sense until the Shaman is connecting the dots and decoding the depth of the insight you received.


That is why the day after the ceremony, having a conversation with the Shaman is very important. Ideally, you will have it one-on-one to feel comfortable opening up completely.

The Shaman has a crucial role in an Ayahuasca ceremony. He can protect you from your mind and the difficulties that might appear.

The Songs of the Shamans


The main tool that the shaman uses in the ceremony is his voice.


Every sound within a ceremony influences the participants. The rain outside, the chirping of the crickets, the wind, all of it is fusing into a flow that is carrying you deep into yourself. So if not controlled, these sounds can lead your mind into unpredicted (and sometimes dark) places.


That is why the Shaman is taking control over the ceremony with his songs.


It is considered that the plants are teaching the shamans their songs and afterward, the Shamans can invoke the spirit of a specific plant by singing its song. These songs are called Icaros.


The more Icaros a shaman knows the more proficient he is considered. Each Icaro is like a key that opens access to the healing properties of a specific plant that Icaro belongs to.


So knowing many Icaros is like having a bunch of friends that can help you in different situations. As a result, with the help of your friends, you can handle anything.


The writer is using his pen, the fisherman the fining rod and the Shaman uses his voice to create his Magic. The Icaros are influencing the ceremony beneficially. As a result, the participants are being protected and helped to get deeper insights and healing.

He is not your Guru


Ayahuasca has many points that connect her with the notion of “Spirituality” as we understand it in the West.


It can shatter the majority of materialist beliefs and open you up to higher meanings. Oftentimes Ayahuasca can trigger a search for answers on The Big Questions. And since all the answers are inside of us, Ayahuasca is a powerful method of introspection and discovering yourself and everything beyond you.


As mentioned before, the key figure of the Ayahuasca ceremony is the Shaman. The person who is orchestrating it and has the skills and knowledge to help the participants.


Oftentimes due to the authority of the shaman, Westerners are tempted to see him as some kind of Spiritual Teacher or Guru. He can be perceived as someone flawless that should be followed as an impeccable example. Or someone who due to his experience in interacting with the spiritual side of Ayahuasca has perfect morals and spiritual accomplishments.


From these misconceptions are born many unfulfilled expectations and disappointments.


The job of the shaman is to clean and heal your mind so that you can continue your life journey. Although he is definitely on your team, unfortunately, he won't help you win the Game of Life.


He is still playing his part in this Game and although he can give you hints from his experience, he has no cheat codes that will instantly make you a Winner.


You don't expect your dentist to help you find the meaning of your Existence, so in the same way, don't think that the Shaman knows how to connect you with the Universe.


He surely has his take on this and possesses a lot of wisdom provided by his lifelong interaction with Ayahuasca. But he still is an earthly human with his flaws, struggles, and problems that he is working on.


Your doctor is taking care and healing your matrial body. The shaman is doing the same with your mind. They are both health professionals. Although the shaman’s tools are closer to Spirituality than the scalpel used by the doctors, dont give into beleiving that he can lead you to the Spiritual Fulfillment. For that you need a different professional.

What does it take to become a shaman?


Becoming a shaman and staying on this path is not an easy task.


The majority of the shamans begin their training as apprentices at the age of 12-13 years. From that time on, they start drinking Ayahuasca and have “dietas” - solitary retreats in the Jungle.


During the "dieta" they have strict food limitations and they also have no connection with other people except the Shaman who is their mentor. For the majority of people, even one day in the Jungle is too much. These young people spend months there.


It is considered that the shaman can invoke the spirits of the plants during the ceremony. Each spirit has unique properties. Some can heal, some can give power or wisdom, etc.


The way of calling upon the plant spirits is to sing their songs - the Icaros.


So the apprentice needs to learn as many Icaros as possible to have a diverse toolkit that solves a wide range of problems.


The only way to learn an Icaro is by receiving it directly from the plant. And this is why the wanna-be-shaman needs his retreats in the jungle.


While being alone for up to 8 months at a time, the Shaman is isolated from everyone except his mentor and is drinking the tea made of the plant he wishes to learn from.


After a while in the wilderness, his senses become much more acute and sharp and this allows him, during the sleep, to receive his reward - the plant’s song that he can use.


Besides these retreats meant to download more and more Icaros, the shaman should have solitary retreats to clean his mental space and recharge.


For weeks and even months in a row, the Shaman is drinking Aahuasca with the participants of the ceremonies. Inevitably he is interacting with the emotional and mental issues the participants are having. Being exposed to such detrimental energies over a long time can be very harmful to the Shaman.


Trauma, anger, fear, and everything else he is cleaning out of the participants, can stick to his mind and body. So he needs special measures to clean himself and recharge his powers.


For that, once in several months, he spends from 15 days to several months resting and doing special cleansing procedures. This maintenance is necessary for his health.


Combine the pressure of his Shamanic life with the day-to-day issues that he experiences as a human being and you will see that being a shaman is a hard profession.


Being a Shaman is not for fragile people. It takes a lot of dedication, discipline and courage to expose yourself to the mental damage that other people are building up for years. The shaman is like someone cleaning radioactive waste - he is aways in danger and careful actions from his side are needed for his safety and the good of other people.


The Dark Shamans


The shaman that makes a living from healing and helping people is also called “Curandero”. He is like the Jedy of the Ayahuasca world. He has good intentions and his job is to bring people to Light.

But there can be no light without darkness and there are the Siths of the Ayahuasca world - the Brujos.


There is always a choice as to how to use power.

A doctor can use his scalpel to heal or murder. A Brujo is someone who commits himself to harming others with the use of plants.


It is said that to become a Brujo you also should receive the Icaros from the plants during your prolonged solitary retreats in Jungle. But the plants needed are different. There are species of trees considered to be “dark” in their origin. And if one would learn their Icaros, they could do dark deeds with the help of the spirit of that tree.


Among the local people who seek revenge, are envious ( or have any other reasons), or want to harm someone without repercussions, the services of Brujos are in demand.

Sending curses, illnesses, and enchantments, are just only a part of what a Brujo claims to be capable of.


Among locals, there are many stories of the abilities a Brujo possesses. It is said that they can kill people at a distance, make them sick, or interfere with other Shaman’s ceremonies. These attacks allegedly can influence all the participants of the ceremony and the Curandero Shaman should protect himself and his ceremony from this external intervention.


But as foreigners, it is pretty hard to make sure whether all these stories are true because the Brujos and everything around them are usually not disclosed to tourists.


The main danger for a Western traveller is when instead of dealing with a Curandero Shaman, you end up with a Brujo leading a ceremony.

In those cases, according to the anecdotal reports, the experience can get “dark” and after the ceremony, the participants can feel bad. Some people even say that they feel “drained of energy”, and feel physical pain or other sensations.


The conclusion is that before signing up for a retreat, it is very advisable to do good research and to ensure that the Shaman leading your ceremony, is on the “bright side”.

For that, ask questions and don't stop till you are satisfied with the answers.


Ayahuasca is a powerful force and it it’s possilbilites can be harnessed in malevolent ways. In order not become a subject of someone’s bad intentions, make a careful research about the shamans that you will be working with.

The Lineages of the Shamans


The secrets and the subtleties of the shamanic skill are transmitted from generation to generation. Historically several tribes are famous for the shamanic lineages they keep.


One of the most well-known tribes preserving the Ayahuasca secrets is the Shipibo-Conibo.


With a population of about 20,000 people, this tribe mainly resides in the Amazon Rainforest. One could say that this tribe and Ayahuasca are neighbors. Probably that is the reason why the shamans of this tribe are so experienced and knowledgeable about the use of Sacred Medicine.

For thousands of years, these people were developing and polishing the shamanic craft that is still flourishing today.


Usually, the shamanic secrets are transmitted through the male line of the family. However, the female shamans can also be encountered and are very powerful.


The Shipibo-Conibo tribe has a language called “ Shipibo” and the phonetic part of this language is very powerful in an Ayahuasca ceremony. It is almost like it was created for this purpose. The words of the shaman uttered in Shipibo, are linked to each other creating something like a tapestry where the whole experience in unfolding for the participants.


The reputation of the Shipibo-Conibo tribe is so big, that sometimes the shamans with a lack of integrity can lie to tourists about their belonging to this community in the hope of getting a job.


Although the Shipibo tribe is widely considered to spring many highly qualified and powerful shamans, there are gems in other tribes as well.


To draw a parallel, the majority of the best NBA players and black but once in a while you can stumble upon a Larry Bird. In the shamanic world, it is the same. The talent and dedication doesn't belong to a tribe or a race.


There are even Ayahuasca retreats that act like training camps for Westerners who are willing to become shamans.


The lineage of the Shaman is important because it can help understand how powerful the shaman is. But don’t think that a shaman from a less-known tribe is less powerful.

The Money and the Shamans


In the parts of the world where Ayahuasca is legal and the traditions around it are still flourishing (for example Peru), being an Ayahuasca shaman is like having a good IT job in the West.


It is not a secret for any local person that shamans are making a lot of money.

This fact attracts many people to this path and since this motivation is superficial, and the training is very hard, they give up halfway or succeed and become mediocre Shamans.

The Shamans that actually become known and reputable, have a genuine desire to help and heal people alongside making a living out of this.

We want to believe that since Ayahuasca is in many ways about Spirituality, the money should be out of the equation. But again, this is because we think about the shaman as a Spiritual leader who is renounced and ready to give everything away for the good of others.


The Shaman is usually having a pretty big family to feed. And the profession is so intense that it requires weeks and months of rest to be able to keep going. So even though during a specific month the Shaman can receive a fat paycheck, the next month he must spend in a solitary retreat and he would get no payment for that.


All in all, Money is a big part of our life and it has a considerable role in the Ayahuasca culture. It makes it prosper by creating a competition between the shamans that leads to more and more Masters of this Medicine.

Surely it has a downside. Some shamans in the pursuit of more money, do a poor job. And this is why good research is needed before your commitment to doing Ayahuasca.


The profession of being a shaman is tough one. It drains emotionally, physically and mentally. And the main person to carry it is the Shaman. Therefore it is no wonder that this job is well paid. Make sure to find a shaman that is not spoiled by the money he is receiving for his craft.


The Shaman Looks Like a Modern Man


Westerners consist of the majority of the customers of a good Ayahuasca shaman.

And since we are raised in our culture, there are certain expectations we have by default when trying to define what a shaman is and what he should look like.

The common image of a Shaman is a half-naked man in a loincloth with a headdress made of brightly colored feathers and a necklace made of jaguar fangs. Oh yeah, his face should be also brightly painted.


In our mind, all these cliche attributes are proof that the shaman is legit. But nowadays it is the opposite.

Although a modern shaman is much more in touch with Nature than the majority of Westerners put together, he is nevertheless embedded in our global Western “civilization”.


Shamans have TV and like watching football. They wear sunglasses, baseball caps, and sneakers.


For the ceremonies they for sure dress differently, but even the ceremonial clothes are not as dramatic as we imagine. Usually, they put on simple clothes richly decorated with beautifully embroidered traditional ornaments. And those clothes are wonderful.


The image of the shaman in feathers is oftentimes used as a touristic bait. But Ayahuasca is not really about tourism, it is more about healing and exploring your mind. So don't get caught on by the idea that the greater the shaman is, the more excentric necklaces and paint there is on his face.


Dont be misguided or disappointed if your shaman dont look as you imagined. He could heal and change your life even while wearing an electronic watch.

The Plants Used by the Shamans


Traditionally, the Ayahuasca brew is made only of two plants. But the more experienced the shamans are, the more additional plants they learn to use.

It doesn't always mean that more plants should be added to the brew to harvest their effects. The shaman can simply know the Icaros of a certain plant to be able to benefit from its power.


The number of plants the shaman is familiar with can tell a lot about the dedication and efforts he invested into becoming a great shaman.


To get a new plant in your shamanic portfolio, you would need to spend months alone in the Jungle.


The plants the Shaman is learning from can have different effects. Some give the ability to have more visions, some enhance the power of the shaman, some have a healing effect for specific cases, and others are about calming you down, Love, and peace.

The shaman is almost like a cook who collects during his life a great amount of ingredients to be able to cook the best dishes for every taste.


During his life, the shaman is gathering more and more knowledge from the plants. He is literally collecting the properties for the plants to raise his skill. This is necessary to address any specific needs and help people get the most out of Ayahuasca.

A good shaman is your best friend and savior in the Ayahuasca ceremony.


His skill and knowledge can help you tremendously in your journey.


Knowing what makes a good shaman and what it takes to become one, will allow you to know what to search for and appreciate it when you will find him.


If you would like to know more about our shamans, please contact us. We would be glad to help you.



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