- How did you decide to become a Shaman?
I was not planning to pursuit the way of Plant Medicines and I chose the formal education instead and became a school teacher. Being the son of Mama Rosa and seeing her perform healing, I still approached it with a bit of scepticism until one day. I had a heavy accident and the bones in my leg were shredded in pieces. The surgery was too expensive, recovery impossible and I was tied to bed for six months. Mama Rosa always wanted me to see the power of Plant Teachers so she used this time to put me on a Dieta (that I was not even aware of) for six months and treated my leg only with plants. After half a year, my leg was healed and I realized the power and potential of healing through the Spirit of the Plants. After this event, I felt enchanted by the way of a Shaman, I continued to diet other plants and my journey began up to this day.
- How does one become a Shaman?
In order to become a Healer/Shaman/Maestro (energetical doctor), one must undergo at least 6 years of plant Dietas. During this time, we ingest different plants for different time periods (1 month, 3 months, 6 months etc). One does not have to do 6 years at once, and we do a Dieta for a period of time, than have a break until we reach at least 6 years of dieting days. During the diet, a Shaman in training gains powers of the plants and goes through many challenges and tests. Dietas exclude any alcohol, coffee, sex, meat, salt, sugar, any spices etc. Most of the time the only thing we are allowed to eat is cooked plantains, plain rice and certain fish from the river without any spices. A Maestro that is receiving powers from Plant Teachers also needs to monitor his thoughts and solitude is the best way to hear what plants are saying to us. This is very challenging, and many people give up along the way. Same as a student of medicine that wants to become a doctor needs to learn many books and sacrifice many things, so do we sacrifice a lot in order to become a Healer.
- Is it necessary for the patient to drink Ayahausca and can a Shaman perform healing without us drinking the brew?
The Shaman sees patient’s energy the same, regardless of him/her ingesting the brew. In that sense, the healing can be performed without the patient drinking, however, we encourage the patient to drink Ayahausca in order to see in the visions what must be worked on and to have a better understanding of how Ayahausca actually works. For a Shaman, Ayahausca is like a diagnostic tool that helps us see into the patient’s energetical field but in order to avoid scepticism, we prefer the patient to drink since very often seeing is believing and experiencing an Ayahausca ceremony sometimes becomes one of the most important events of our lives.
- Can a Shaman see people as energetic fields and patterns outside the ceremony space i.e. in everyday life?
As a Shaman who has undergone years of plant Dietas, I can say that we perceive people’s energies definitely stronger than other people and that is what helps us give a diagnosis on first day of consultations, however we don’t see it as we do in Ayahausca ceremony space.
- What is the best advice that a Shaman can give to help us have a successful ceremony and receive healing?
Help us to help you. The best you can do when a Shaman approaches you to sing you an Icaro is to try and focus on nothing else but the Shaman’s voice. We find it very difficult to perform healing if the patient’s mind is somewhere else and the thoughts scattered. Please help us to help you and focus on the Icaros. Have faith in the Medicine, trust your Shaman, focus on the Icaros and surrender.
- How do you choose which Icaro to sing to each individual?
Icaro chooses the Shaman, not the other way around. Icaro can be anything from whistling, singing or imitating sounds from nature. When we approach the patient, we first take a moment to get in tune with his energy and that is when the Icaro comes to us naturally. We improvise with our Icaros and shape them according to the needs of the one in pursuit of healing.
- Why is it so important to be careful when choosing a Shaman?
Every Shaman that decides to receive power through plant Dietas goes through four stages. The first two stages are full of challenges and is called the “trial period”. In this period, we acquire powers to work energetically with people and we become aware that we might use them for our own benefit. This is where many Shamans turn to the “dark side” and use their powers for their own benefit while harming others. You have to understand that you are giving your health into somebody’s hands and that He/She has the power to heal you or harm you. Having faith in the person that is doing energetical work on you is of utmost importance. In Pachamama temple, we sometimes receive patients that come seeking for help after being mistreated by another Shaman and these are the most challenging cases for us as we are dealing with sorcery of often powerful Shamans. Once a Shaman successfully goes through the trial period, he/she decides to use the knowledge of Plant Teachers only for the benefit of others. There is nothing more beautiful and no such prize as to see a person come in dis-ease and leave healed.
- What does your everyday life look like?
Outside the Ayahausca ceremony space, I live just like any other man. I am a school teacher and have a family and love to spend time with my family. All of us Shamans at Pachamama temple belong to the same family and we live and work together. We always have some small tasks to do on the property during the day, always building something, cooking Ayahausca or just spending time together. During the day, Shaman lives just like other ordinary man. It is only when night falls and we put our outfits on, that we step into the world of Spirits of the Plants and with the help of Mother Ayahuasca, help those who came here in pursuit of their wellbeing.
Thank you maestro Genaro for your beautiful healing.
Thank you dear Angela for your warm words.