Learning the Plants

At the start of every ayahuasca ceremony, my maestro ayahuasquero don Roberto Acho goes around the room putting agua de florida cologne in cross patterns on the forehead, chest, and back of each participant. As he does this, he blows smoke from the powerful tobacco called mapacho into the crown of the head and over the entire body of each participant, and he whistles a special song of protection called an arcana. The song has no particular name — it is just la arcana — and no words; it is intention abstracted from human language; the wordless whistling approximates instead to puro sonido, pure sound, which is the language of the plants.

The goal is to cleanse and protect. The song calls in the protective genios — the thorny palm trees, the fierce animals, the predatory hawks and owls that are used in sorcery and thus best protect against it. The sweet smells of cologne and tobacco attract the protective and the healing spirits, seal the body against attack, and avert the pathogenic projectiles — the darts, scorpions, monkey teeth, razor blades — of the envious and resentful. The goal, as don Roberto puts it, is to erect a wall “a thousand feet high and a thousand feet below the earth” to protect himself, his students, and all who are in attendance.

But why such precautions at a ceremony that is, after all, intended for healing? Part of the answer is rooted in what I have called the tragic cosmovision of Upper Amazonian shamanism, where there are no bright lines between healing and sorcery, life and death, good and evil, predation and renewal. In this tragic cosmovision, the dark and the light, killing and curing, predator and prey are at once antagonistic and complementary; the price we pay for life is death, and out of death comes healing and life. The same plant and animal spirits, the same tools, are used both to protect and to destroy; the shaman who knows how to heal is at the same time a sorcerer who knows how to kill.

Once you drink ayahuasca, I was told, once you start to learn the plant teachers with your body, the world becomes a more dangerous place. Sorcerers resentful of your presumption will shoot magical pathogenic darts into your body, or send fierce animals to attack you, or fill your body with scorpions and razor blades — especially while you are still a beginner, before you gain your full powers. Peruvian poet César Calvo Soriano says that drinking ayahuasca makes one into “a crystal exposed to all the spirits, to the evil ones and the true ones that inhabit the air.” Such transparency is perilous.

But again, in the Upper Amazon, there is no bright line between the evil and the true spirits. Some of the most powerful of the plants, such as catahua and pucalupuna, want to deal only with the strongest and most self-controlled of humans, those willing to undertake long periods of solitude and fasting in the wilderness. Other humans they kill.

We do not need to be ourselves embedded in the ambiguous and perilous shamanic culture of the Upper Amazon to recognize the power of these beliefs as metaphor. What the protective ceremony is saying is this: You cannot be a tourist among the spirits.

Shamans in the Upper Amazon have established a relationship of trust and love with the healing and protective spirits of the plants. To win their love, to learn to sing to them in their own language, shamans must first show that they are strong and faithful, worthy of trust. To do this, they must go into the wilderness, away from other people, and follow la dieta, the restricted diet — no salt, no sugar, no sex — and ingest the sacred plant that is the body of the spirit.

Thus, the shaman learns the plant — its uses, its preparation, its songs — by taking the plant inside the body, letting the plant teach its mysteries, giving the self over to the power of the plant. There is a complex reciprocal interpersonal relationship between shaman and other-than-human person — fear, awe, passion, surrender, friendship, and love.

Opening the door to the magical world is not a day trip. Every approach we make to the spirits entails reciprocal obligations, the risks and dangers of the vision fast. What those obligations are is a matter between each of us and the spirits, but at the very least they require gratitude and humility — a willingness to be courageous and vulnerable, to speak honestly from our hearts and listen devoutly with our hearts, to tell the spirits our truest stories.

The Vision Fast

Any encounter with the spirits is like a vision fast. During a vision quest we leave our ordinary life and comforts behind; we stay in solitude in the wilderness for four days and four nights without a tent or food or fire. In this way we express not only our willingness to undergo hardship for the sake of the spirits but also our separation from our normal social relationships. The voluntary privations are part of our newly liminal condition, in which we encounter the dangerous unknown in order to bring back a gift — song, a ceremony, our own unguessed talent — not for ourselves but for our people. You cannot be a tourist on a vision fast.

When I have undertaken vision fasts in the desert, and when I have helped others to do their own vision fasts, we often did a small ritual. On our way to the place each of us had chosen for our fast, we would pause and draw a line ahead of us on the path. When we stepped over that line, we knew that we had crossed over into the land of myth and fairy tale, where we would meet ogres and helpers, where every experience — ravens circling in the sky, a cloud drifting across the silver desert moon — became meaningful, magical, and full of mystery.

The same is true in any encounter with the spirits. The encounter is risky and meaningful. We must be willing to undertake the dangerous opening of our hearts, to tell our stories to the spirits with openhearted honesty, and to listen devoutly with our hearts to what the spirits tell us in return, often through the merest signs, the inchoate movements of our hearts, the silent singing of the plants.

The Talking Circle

Any encounter with the spirits is like a talking circle. In a talking circle, people sit in a circle, and pass around a talking stick. Whoever holds the talking stick gets to speak, and everybody else listens. There are no interruptions, no questions, no challenges. People speak one at a time, in turn, honestly from their hearts, and they listen devoutly with their hearts to each person who speaks. The effect can be miraculous.

In many ways, the talking circle is the paradigmatic healing ceremony. The talking circle makes demands on us — that we have a listening heart, what St. Francis called a transformed and undefended heart. The talking circle demands that we put aside ego, speak our truth with humility, and open ourselves to the unspoken motions of the human heart. You cannot be a tourist in a talking circle.

When people speak honestly and listen devoutly, when they tell their stories — when they sing their songs — to each other, healing occurs, miraculously and spontaneously. Speaking our truths with humility in circle touches upon something that is deeply and fundamentally human. Communities become strong and relationships grow deeper on the basis of the songs and stories we sing and tell each other, and by our willingness to be transparent, and vulnerable and accountable to each other.

In a talking circle, we do not ask or demand that the others in the circle help us or heal us or change us. We speak honestly from our hearts; we express our fears and hopes and regrets; and we listen to the songs and stories of the others, opening up our hearts, becoming, in a mysterious and sacred process, better people. Sitting in circle with others is itself the healing.

Dreams

Any encounter with the spirits is like a dream. We are always strangers in the underworld of dreams. We are talked to in a language we do not speak. We are surprised at every turn by the exotic goods unloaded in the marketplace, the jokes we do not understand, the sudden kindness or treachery of our dream companions, our own capacity for compassion, terror, and rage.

And, perhaps like our own journeys, like our encounters with the spirits, like our vision fasts, dreams have a purpose — to make us richer and more human.To that end, dreams are willing, perhaps like our own journeys, to teach us things we do not always want to learn. You can not be a tourist in your dreams.

Our encounters with the spirits, our vision fasts, our talking circles, our dreams all make demands on us, and the demands are all the same. We can evade these demands, pretend they do not exist, but the obligations are real. We must be transparent, and vulnerable, and accountable. When we encounter the spirits, we must pass them our talking stick, we must speak honestly and listen devoutly for what they are saying to us, in signs and whispers and silent motions of the heart, as if they were the mysterious songs of dreams and visions.

A World Full of Spirits

There is more to be learned from the shamanism of the Upper Amazon. When the soul of a patient has been stolen away, hidden perhaps by an evil sorcerer in a mountain cave, a shaman in the Upper Amazon does not travel to find it. Rather, the shaman sings the song that summons the evil sorcerer before him to demand the return of the stolen soul, or summons the soul itself to travel back home to the body of the patient that lies on the ground before him.

Sometimes, too, the mermaids who live in the lakes and rivers will steal away the body of a fisherman, or a dolphin will seduce a young woman to join him beneath the waters. Here again, the shaman does not travel, but commands, through the power of his songs, that the underwater people give up the still living body of the one they have enchanted and stolen away.

Similarly, when they heal their patients, shamans in the Upper Amazon sing the songs that invite the healing spirits to the place where the ceremony is held, so that the spirits can direct the shaman’s magical healing songs and show him the location of the pathogenic projectiles that have lodged in the body of the suffering patient.

Again, we do not need to be ourselves embedded in the culture of the Upper Amazon to recognize what this teaches us. The spirits are all here, with us, right now. This world is as magical — as filled with ogres and allies, signs and mysteries — as the miraculous world of the vision fast. What ayahuasca does, I was taught, is to render before us the unmistakable presence of the omnipresent spirits. We need not travel to find the healing and protective spirits of plants and animals or to hear and sing their songs. We need only open our hearts to the miraculous present.

If, as the shamans say, the spirits are always present, and are brought into focus and visibility by the power of ayahuasca, then so are their voices and their songs. Don Carlos Perez Shuma says that the songs of the plant spirits are like radio waves: “Once you turn on the radio, you can pick them up.” Or the songs are like prerecorded tapes. “It’s like a tape recorder,” don Carlos says. “You put it there, you turn it on, and already it starts singing…. You start singing along with it.”

My maestro ayahuasquero don Roberto told me that he hears the spirits clearly, speaking in his ear, instructing him. Heal like this, they say, sing this song, make such and such a medicine — just as if they were standing next to him, just as, he said, you and I are talking right now, just like this. And he leaned over and whispered in my ear, “This is the sickness this patient has. Use this medicine,” with startling clarity.

Right now, if I could see it, my room is tessellated with delicate blue tiles, filled with receding pathways to crystal palaces, opening out onto sparkling waters, crowded with spirits and visitors from other galaxies, and resonant with the singing of the plants.

So: Our vision fast is taking place right now, at every moment of our lives. Why must we draw a line in our path? We are right now in the land of myth and dream and fairy tale, in a world full of magic and miracles, if we could only open our eyes and hearts and minds to the wonder that surrounds us. What ayahuasca teaches is that right now, at every moment, we already live in the magic forest.

Suppose you dream that you are walking on a path, trip over a rock, and look up to see a child holding a flower and smiling at you. The dream is salient and powerful; it seems to you to be what some call a Big Dream, mythic and meaningful.

There are many ways you might reflect upon what this dream means and what its significance might be for you. You might go back into the dream to meet the child — or sit quietly and invite the child to come to you in a vision — and ask, Who are you? Why are you smiling? Will you be my teacher? Or you can ask the rock, Who are you? Why did you trip me? What lesson are you teaching me? Then hand the child, the rock, the flower your talking stick, and listen devoutly with your heart to what is said.

Now suppose that exactly the same events occur while you are awake. One day you walk along, trip over a rock, and see the smiling child. Why is that experience any less meaningful — any less salient and mythic — than the same events in a dream? Why do we show our waking experiences the disrespect of dismissing them, when we should respect them as much as we do our dreams? Rather, we should give our waking experiences the same respect we give our dream experiences — hand them our talking stick and take them as our teachers, rich, deep, and full of meaning.

Now: Think of what happened to you today, or yesterday. Put it in the form of a story. If this were the story of a dream, then what is it saying to you? What is the meaning of what happened to you today, or yesterday? Is all the world speaking to you — the rock you tripped over, the child who smiled at you, the rain and moon? Are you listening? This is how we make the world meaningful, and full of mystery.

What the shamans of the Upper Amazon teach us is that we are always surrounded by the spirits and their music. We see them sometimes, at the edges of our vision. Their music is pura sonida, pure sound, the language of the plants, reflected in the whistling and whispering of the shaman, and in the susurration of the shaman’s leaf-bundle rattle. We can learn to listen for their music in the humming of our blood, in the singing of the stars, in the stories we tell each other.

In an encounter with the spirits, in a vision fast, in a dream, sitting in circle with others, we seek meaning and depth in our encounters. But what we have learned is that there is no difference between the vision fast, the dream, and our everyday waking reality. We always encounter the spirits; the world has the depth and meaning of our dreams, and we are on a vision quest always, even in our most routine activities.

In an encounter with the spirits, on a vision fast, in a dream, a rock can be a teacher and an ally on our path. Why not in everyday waking reality? A rock can be our teacher because a rock can engage us in a reciprocal relationship: we can give tobacco to a rock, and a rock can give us a gift in return—a song, a ceremony, a teaching.

What the Spirits Want

The spirits make demands on us, and we cannot ignore those demands. It is no excuse to say that we were just tourists, just visitors with no intention of staying overnight. We cannot visit the spirits and then come back home, because the spirits are already here with us. And when we open our eyes to them, when we listen for even the faintest echoes of the songs they sing for us, we have undertaken an obligation to them.

The spirits love us. There was a mythic time when all beings spoke the same language.The plants want us to be back in that time with them. They love our stories, and they must love our music. Why else would their gift to us so often be a song for us to sing for them? Above all else, they want us to be grateful and humble, humans who walk in right relationship with each other, with the plants and animals, stars and thunder.

Here is the way to recognize a demand the spirits have placed on us: It does not gratify our ego. It is not the purpose of the spirits to make us feel important or superior, to be able to say, I am a shaman, or I am a healer, or I walk with the spirits. The demand may be something we do not want to do, or something we must give up, or a task we think is beyond our powers. What the spirits want, I think, is that we all become better human beings.

Sometimes the spirits hide our keys, put things in our way to trip over, make us emit embarrassing noises at a formal dinner. Why? So we can learn to laugh at ourselves, and stop taking ourselves so damn seriously.

And that, I think, is the meaning of humility — not to take ourselves so damn seriously. To be humble means being content with both our gifts and limitations, not regarding others as competitors but as fellow travelers on the path. It means wasting no time in envy of others who have different gifts. It means never to be ashamed, never to need to inflate our importance in the eyes of others, never to need to buttress our self-esteem.

Humility means taking joy in the exercise of the gifts we have, rather than despairing over those we lack. Indeed, these are the very gifts we discover on the vision fast that is our life. Humility means being fundamentally happy with ourselves.That is the kind of human person the spirits want us to be.

Many people drink ayahuasca, go on vision fasts, seek to encounter the spirits for essentially self-centered reasons — for their own healing, their own transformation, their own empowerment. The spirits meet with people where they are. But I think that encountering the spirits, or going on a vision fast, or dreaming a deep and salient dream is pointless if it does not make us — somehow, and perhaps over a long time — willing to walk through the world carrying a talking stick.

How to Pray

The spirits are persons — other-than-human persons, but still persons — and, like all persons, they are ends in themselves and not means to other ends.They are not there for us to use, but rather for us to meet. They sit with us in a great talking circle. We pass the talking stick back and forth as we tell each other our stories, as we sing each other our songs, as we give our gifts to each other. In a true meeting with another person — a human, a spirit, a rock — we do not seek any end other than genuineness in our meeting.

The spirits are willing to help us in many ways. They give us songs and ceremonies and guidance, and what they want in return is gratitude and humility. Once we have started on this path, they will teach us these things, whether we want them to or not. Why? Because you cannot be a tourist in your own life.

We cannot just go to the spirits and expect them to give us what we want. They may well have other plans for us. In fact, rather than asking — or, as some people do, demanding — that they heal us, or transform us, or make us into someone else, we should just pour out our hearts to them in prayer. We should not go to them with requests or demands or even expectations.

We should tell them what we need; tell them what we fear; tell them what we regret. We should speak to them honestly from our hearts, and then listen devoutly with our hearts to what they tell us.

We must pass the talking stick to the spirits, to our companions, to the trees and plants, and be deeply alert to what they are saying to us. We must do this with everyone, all the time, because the spirits want us to be human beings, in right relationship with all persons, both human and other-than-human. We must allow them to show us how, and not block them by telling them to transform us, or empower us, or heal us, or turn us into a healer. Perhaps we will be a healer in a way completely different from what we expect. Perhaps they will heal us in unexpected ways, or perhaps we will be healers who are ourselves wounded or broken. We must put aside expectations, pray with an open heart, and weep for our visions.

If we must ask for something, let us ask them to be our teachers, ask them to give us a gift, not for ourselves but for our people. And let us recognize that the gifts of the plant spirits grow in plant time, not in human time.

We all live, shamans included, not on the mountain peak of spirit, but in the valley of the soul, amid anger, love, envy, resentment, grief, sorrow, loss, and mess. This is where the spirits want to meet us, because this is where we live. And the obligations we owe the spirits are right here and now, in the genuineness of our meeting with all persons, both other- than-human and human.

The spirits miss us. They want us to return to the time of myth, when all creatures spoke the same language. It is up to us to figure out how to walk upright with the spirits through the miraculous valley of the soul. It is the quality of our meeting that matters, what we are willing to learn, whether we are willing to be taught by what we encounter, whether we will take our chances in the epistemic murk of a transformed world.

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16 Responses to “What Do the Spirits Want from Us?”

  1. Michael says:

    Beautiful essay, Steve, thank you. I can feel the inspiration of the medicine in it.

    What would you say to someone who asks: What do the spirits who have harmed us want? I have been the unfortunate victim of a magical attack from a jealous and unscrupulous shaman. It was clear to me in dreams after the event that the shaman was running a demonic energy (or vice versa) with the intent to cause harm. All of my subsequent ceremonies have been disasters–I’ve been tormented and harassed, unable to get back to the higher vibrational states that I could once achieve. It has pursued me into my “everyday” life in the form of sickness, depression, bad luck, compulsive thought and behavior. I console myself with the thought that perhaps this is all part of the plan, the divine choreography of my journey, but I don’ t know if that bitter medicine argument is just a rationalization. In the end, what do the spirits who would help people harm us want from us?

    • KnowAndThink says:

      Nice, you speak out the forbidden question!

      They want to have part in your life, have a right on you. :-\
      Once you open the door, there is no easy way back.
      Yes, they are very deceiving and come in the name of love,
      peace and all that stuff, they promise and encourage.

      I wonder, if there is room on this open-minded site
      for the supreme Lord and master over every living thing
      and spirit. Before whom every demon trembles.
      He, who can free anybody from any bond.
      He, who really loves your soul.

      Try it! Call his name with persistence: Jesus, the Christ.
      Without ayahuasca, but in your clear spirit and in truth.

      YOU are not the first to experience this.
      Many already have found this,
      and they chose to give all their mortal life
      to get an eternal, new life from him.

      When you hear the truth, you will know it,
      because it will make you free.

    • emaran says:

      Dear Michael, reading your story I totally recognised myslef. I experienced the same trauma this summer while searching for healing in the amazon. I was wondering if it would be possible to share some thoughts with you on this outside of the blog. May you find your peace and light again!

  2. Yvonne says:

    this is a wonderful article shedding a lot of light in a confusing theme. it touched me deeply as it shed some light on questions I have on the order of the shamanic cosmology and what my personal intentions and objectives are with seeking this experience. and it confirms my life experience: the spirits are with us and they will help us often in other ways than our ego had planned ;) thanks a lot

  3. Nicolas says:

    While reading this article, I wondered what you meant by the songs of the plants spirits. After I finished reading, I just remembered having a few experience where I listened to the world vibrations and everything was vibrating as if an infinity of living spirits where making noise or singing… it’s good to finally find some sort of meaning to this… I really love the song of I heard years ago from the brook behind my house in the woods… it was a clear crystal breathing-and-alive sound. The Universe is Living Spirit!

    • Michael says:

      Nicolas,

      I believe he meant the icaros, the songs that the shamans sing during ayahuasca ceremonies. In the plant spirit medicine tradition, the belief is that the plants themselves have taught humans to sing these songs. Many of them are in Quechua, the native language of the upper Amazon, but some have no words, only vocables. The songs have specific functions depending upon what’s needed–clearing, protecting, calling in specific spirits, etc.

  4. Nicolas says:

    I understand that, but doesn’t plants, or spirits in general produce vibrations as a way of communicating? That’s my experience.

  5. Nicolas says:

    I have only recently gotten an interest in shamanism, so I may be talking about something totally different. To me, the idea of singing songs for the plants is reminiscent of chanting or humming buddhist / indians mantras. Using a visual support of a deva, meditation and psalmody of the said deva, in the instance Gayatri mantra, it eventually bring me about intense ethereal colours and morphing of the image, especially when doing throat singing like this : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bj74MCHdyGo (I only edited the audio to add the echo). This leads to the vision of the deva smiling, blinking her eyes, and talking as if chanting in resonance with me. I do not need an hallucinogen to achieve this state, but smoke cannabis, which combined with meditation truly prove it to be psychedelic and visionary. The fartherst I got was to a point where the various ornements placed on the chakras positions shined like precious fast-rotating gems. I have noted on subsequent visions a-like deities without using a visual support, and being more than a living sight. Who are they really ? What are they saying, doing ?

    I have had my share of strange experiences, but I really haven’t deeply studied shamanism. I have just fallen in love with the subject, even though I have had an interest for years. I know it may be a bit off subject of the plants songs / icaros but I am really curious to know what I saw, heard, felt ; if someone who is knowledgeable could care enough to read and refer or explain to me, if it does have resonance for you, I would appreciate your sharing. All of those experiences somehow seem to be linked ; I could go on and on with completly different things I am concerned about such as the vision of a seemingly evil spirit taking the form of red volatile flames, enchored over my crown, and raging as I undego waves of sufferings. I will note a few other phenomenas I experienced about which I am interested in getting more insight about. Most people think these things are plain insanity, I have found it hard to find people who took these things really seriously and actually dealt with them.

    In my first comment, what I meant by hearing everything as vibrating or singing spirits, sounds a lot like the vibrations starting at 1:20 here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7hCcOk7HDw Sometimes it has been accompanied by totems / stones mandalas. It is as if it came out of their beings. It has took the shape of bijas or more complex mantras on some other occassions. The most profound time it happened to me, I heard a giant earthshaking “Ohm” that seemed to come from everywhere and that lasted around thirty minutes. That was quite scary… what is that? Anything to do with plants spirits?

    At another time, when using a non-figurative support of a black and white ball, the vision took me to a different landscape. I often can see a maze of purple in my vision, with a candle / light meditation (it’s not needed but it catalyses my experience very well) which turns to a perfect little fast-rotating ball of purple. It either turns clockwise or counter-side, So while on a mild hallucinogen, it turned to a purple rotating flower and the vision deepened and the flower became embodied into multiple other emerald green wheels forming a mechanism altogether. Is it chakras, why does it take the form of a flower?

    Closely related to the subject, while intoxicated, around streetlights, candles flames, I have saw auras made of the colours of a rainbow, Its very pretty. The moon also revealed an aura made of colours but with a different display, starting with a clair blue sky colour instead of the ordinary light specter as displayed around artificial / small source of light. The vision of the moon aura was followed by the one of the light taking life in the sky, covered in coats of clouds and darkness, all and always ever-moving and self-transforming and glowing. I have not yet to read about this particular phenomena. Is it something shamans of the Upper Amazon experience ?

    I have read about mandalas or wheels of energies that are so complexes that they actually form much more than geometric patterns, they are still patterns / vibrations but taking the form of mutiple interconnected devas. Before even reading about this, I experienced such a vision as my field turned to a patterning of self-transforming devas.

    On another occasion, I experienced something similar yet different. This time I was using a white background and a strong light to see my aura. I decided to draw my hand in a sketchbook with what I saw : a blue thin 1 mm layer formed around the exposed region. As time passed, a blue stream of energy appeared waving against a red flux of energy. I have received a chemistry education claming Aristote’s elements theory is false, but doesn’t it prove the contrary ? The blue energy would be ‘Water’ and the red one ‘Fire’. From my personal insight, those names seem to be given to subtle energies because they share corresponding qualities with physical matters. Upong approaching my hand close to the light, the red heat-filled pierced through the liquid protective blue layer on my thumb, and as little rays of black thunder appeared I felt the burning sensation. Other colourful energies are present, such as purple or green… I am curious to know their elemental symbolism. On an extraordinary event, I saw a giant ball of beating and rotating made of pink. Am I right to say that apart from the basic fire, water, wind, earth, mixed together, those form sub-elements often found in oriental culture, like Metal, or Wood. Does those sub-elements exist, do they have particular colours following the idea what I experienced is not the product of my own imagination ? Finally, as I was drawing the energies over my hand, came a time I could not draw what I saw, the blue energy came out strong on my hand and started competing with the red one, both morphing into deva-like spirits. They battled and the water energy spirit devoured the fire one which lost his ‘fire’ attributes, joining into the ‘water’ flow of energy. Can someone shed some light over those subjects ?

    There is really a whole lot of things I would like to discuss here, but if I want some answers, I shouldn’t ask too many questions ! I have a last one ; I was wondering if it is possible for a plant spirit to communicate and to be understood in the form of human language ? I have made an outdoor record where on a few seconds sequences, I have noted down different, yet related messages (the sequence was played over and over). An entity which call himself « Parama », a sanskrit word I had never heard before, meaning « ultimate, transcendant reality » seems to be quite pissed at me for killing his sons, peeing on them as he says, he also make riddles… I took the record almost from under a spot under the patio where I have seen not so long after hearing this, while following a cloud of purple multi-headed spirits running outside by a big hole no one knows how it appeared in the house. These spirits self-claimed to be “genius” (Djinns). What do they want from me? I had dreamt a year before about a door being build in the exact same spot by up-to-no-good spirits. Pursuing them outside, under the patio, while staring in a hole which look like a crying evil eye carved into the wood, I saw a spider coming out, and then many spirits taking strange appearances, one wearing a red skull ornement for example. Here is a funny part of Parama’s speech taking the form of a tricky riddle. Avalo phonetically sounds like « Avale eau », which can be translated to « which drink water ». Is it related to plants spirits or it is something else or just pure psychosis ?

    “y va pisser sur Avalo (He is going to pee on Avalo)
    va pas pisser chez Avalo (Don’t go pee on Avalo)
    ta comprit c’est quoi Avalo? (You understand what is Avalo ?)
    ca sert à toi (it’s of use for you)
    à pot à pot à pot (for pot, pot, pot)
    pwet pwet pwet ”

    I have found myself extremely ill over the last few years, I was warned or threatened many time by seemingly evil or mocking spirits. I was also told beautiful, incredible and nice things which give me hope for the future. I planted some seeds lately and I was questioning myself about how I could communicate with plants and I found this blog, I have yet to read the book, but I am really grateful to have found this place, it sort of took me out of a torpor. I really wish I could learn to understand and make a good use of shamanism for mutual healing, because it is my belief that my apparently personnal happiness is a result of our collective happiness. If you are sad and angry, if I am full of ego, vanity and envy – we will only cause grief to each others. I am really glad for people like you Steeve for sharing a knowledge that has no price. Sorry for being so long, I rarely post on forums and blogs or get to talk about these things, it causes me anxiety, so much I keep too quiet usually.

    • KnowAndThink says:

      It’s like in “The wolf and the seven little goats”.
      The wolf only had to say the magic words,
      the goats needed, in a way, they would BELIEVE.
      And the door swung open.
      But it wasn’t really the mother …

      True story.

      For some, it sounds believable that
      plants have a spirit, for others it is their
      ancestor’s spirits. It’s always something,
      you can strongly connect to.
      BUT IS IT true?

      It’s a trap.

  6. Michael says:

    My experience, too, though what I call “vibrations” aren’t always physical or auditory in the narrow sense of the word. In my aya journeys, I’ve often heard whining, whirring, whistling, etc. But I also “feel” what I loosely call vibrations, though they’re more qualities and feeling tones than direct sensory experiences. Still, I think what Steve was referring to as the songs of the plants were specifically icaros.

  7. merrell says:

    thank you Steve. I am also touched by what and the way you write. you are a gentle teacher .

  8. Nicolas says:

    Michael, I received Steeve’s book and now I understand better what are icaros. Even though I have had extensive experiences with psychedelics, I now know that I knew very little because of the lack of rituals in my use of entheogens / psychoactives.

    I am also sorry for posting this long rant and asking all sort of questions on the comments section of this blog post. That was not appropriate and I understand Steeve as much more things to do than answers to my questions, Anyway, I am starting to get the answers I had been seeking by reading “Singing to the plants”. This is definitely one of the best book about esoterism I have read! This is truly a revelation. As a major drugs addict, I am concerned about my stupidity in my approach of the spiritual realms. I am planning to go Takiwasi in Péru, so I feel it’s important to understand how shamans work there to help out addicts. Thank you Steeve for bringing this knowledge to Westerners. If things turn right, I would like to heal from my wounds, get iniated to become a “wounded healer”. I feel truly inspired! :)

  9. ayahuma says:

    It has been my experience that one of the things Spirits want from us is to wake us up. Often they will inform us when we are somewhere we should not be, or if we are interacting with the world with less respect than is needed. Spirits that are under the control of sorcerors are not hurting us because THEY want something, but rather because they are under the control of someone who is avidly protecting their “territory”.
    When someone with more shamanic experience “throws” something at us, our first tendency is to feel wounded and hurt. Actually we are being challenged to learn more, protect ourselves better, and to not be naive about the motivations of others. Many seek power OVER others. Be Aware. Step carefully with your spirit eyes open.When you sense something being thrown, SOMEONE is threatened- and often they are threatened because they see that the spirits like you, BUT if they also see that you are unaware , they may attack, expecting no reprisal.
    If you experience a shamanic attack, seek a good energetic healer. Look for someonewith knowledge as well as kindness.
    Learn how to listen to the spirits who are magnetized to you, and they will help you to be protected from pettiness.
    It has taken me many years to learn this lesson. May you be more fortunate.

  10. Mike Bayer says:

    What would you say about someone who has done five ayahuasca ceremonies but hasn’t felt anything? No visions, no spiritual awakening. A little puking, but not much else. It seems that people are being manipulated by this plant into doing its bidding. Just like the apple or the carrot. It has its own agenda.

    • Victims says:

      Because you did not see the gold in the mine when others did, the gold must not exist.
      Take lsd if you want to see anything.

  11. Victims says:

    Anyone victim of whitchcraft must have done unwholesome deeds and the whitchcraft is a wakeup call that you become righteous. If one does good being truthful and honest he is protected. Many cheat with tax , cheat with working hours etc etc. So even if we believe we are being honest we have dark corners within us if we really look. I was a victim from a tantrik prayog. Now after doing wholesome deeds only that prayog is not a problem and that man lost family and everything now. So become righteous and do good deeds and no magic can touch you. I even asked christians praying for me, lesson is noone can help you but your self.


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