The Ayahuasca ceremony is a ritual that consists of different steps. First, the shaman (healer or wizard) goes alone into the forest to prepare the Ayahuasca concoction. This concoction is a special drink made from four basic plants stirred together; "Chacruna," "Toé," "Tabacco" and "Chiric Sanango.” After that, the shaman keeps the concoction to macerate for twelve hours in a bowl. The drink is taken between 9pm and 10pm at night. Then the Shaman turns off the lights, and everyone whom is participating in the ceremony lies down on the jungle floor to wait for the initial effect.
After taking the Ayahuasca concoction, the shaman sings some strange songs in “Quechua" or "Aymara" dialects. These medicinal songs called ¨Icaros¨ allow him to communicate with the plant soul. These songs come directly from the plant spirits, according to the needs and personal problems of the people who are participating in the ceremony. The duration of the trance takes approximately two hours depending on the spiritual state, concentration and physical situation of the participant. The effect of the Ayahuasca concoction consists essentially of transporting the person on a trip outside this physical world. The only thing that maintains the person tied to his body is a small invisible power rope. This power is one that is not seen but felt, like hot air.
The effects of Ayahuasca vary between one ceremony to the next, but often cause emotional acts; vomiting, seeing weird visions of the plant spirits, or figuring out some understanding about your own life. After approximately 4-5 hours the effect decreases, and then it is possible to sleep deeply until the next morning.
The trance allows you to see your past, present, and future life. Although only the shaman can detect what is happening with his patient. The ritual is useful for self-knowledge and when you begin the trip outside your own body, you feel strange and surprised since you notice new things that you had never realized before about your life.
The ability that the shamans have to visualize the evil, illness or spell troubling the patient during the trance is called ¨Arcaneada.¨ Applying their ¨Arcaneada,¨ the shaman locates and identifies the damage and inhales it to cure the patient.
The shamans always try to take precautions to prevent problems with foreign people because they don’t have the same ability to communicate their emotions and feelings before, during and after the ceremonies.
The ceremony of Ayahuasca is an ancestral traditional ceremony that was practiced in different parts of the country for many years mainly by the teachers or priests. For many years, Shamans have used the ¨Ayahuasca ritual¨ as a doorway into the soul. The rite that they preach can heal any spell or any illness from the patient.
Actually the Ayahuasca ceremonies are being developing in many places around Peru. Mostly of them frequently are given in the jungle of Peru; in cities like Pucalpa, Madre de Dios and Puerto Maldonado. The favorite place for Ayahuasca tourists is Iquitos. Another famous location (but one that does not have lodgings) is the jungle Shipibo town of San Francisco. It is famous because it has a huge banner at its entrance that says, "Ceremonial Center of Ayahuasca." In this peculiar town it is common to see at least a couple of ayahuasqueros in each Shipibo family (settlers of the jungle). Many of these people are able to give housing services in their own houses for local people and for foreign visitors since Ayahuasca is very popular among the indigenous jungle people.
This kind of natural medicine is very different than conventional western medicine. Therefore the shamans ignore warnings about some adverse interactions between the ¨Ayahuasca¨ concoction with some prescription medicines, mainly those which are used to treat AIDS, psychiatric disorders and depression. The Ayahuasca tourists have to be careful about this and always try to prevent negative consequences.
Another important subject that has to be considered are the Shamans, there are some shamans that are fair and some who are not. There are some groups of Shamans to be wary of that like to swindle tourists.
For the Ayahuasca tourist, it is a grand adventure to travel to an unknown country, find a place to pass the experience, pay for it and ask a total stranger for a spiritual experience. While from the other side many shamans obviously apply their knowledge to help other people, recognizing that Ayahuasca tourism is a successful and developed business in Peru.
In conclusion, The Ayahuasca festival is an important part of Peruvian history, Peruvian culture, and Peruvian spiritual and economic life. The Ayahuasca tour is sponsored by government tourist agencies through ¨Promperu¨ promoting Peruvian jungle tours. Even the last Peruvian president Alejandro Toledo participated in an Ayahuasca ritual during his government in Iquitos to promote the Ayahuasca tour worldwide. However, there are many religions that disagree with this kind of ceremonies around the country.
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