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The second part of a meeting between Howard G Charing and Peter Cloudsley who interview two Ayahuasca shamans from the Amazon, Artidoro Aro Cardenas, and Javier Arevalo to discover more about the medicinal, mythological, and healing properties of some of the plants to be found in the Amazon Rainforest.
A note about aguardiente, often used for preparing plants.
Good aguardiente is clear and pure. Adulterated, it looks cloudy and is not good for making medicine, it will upset the stomach because water and chemical alcohol - which is sold in the pharmacy for cleaning wounds and is not intended for drinking - have been mixed in to make economies.
You should buy it straight from the alambique, the container where it is kept in the distillery. It is good to drink a little glass first thing in the morning for good breath and dental hygiene.
The name refers to the Amazonian folktale about a gnome which lives in the jungle. Your friend is out of sight for a moment and reappears but, unknown to you, he is in fact the mischievous Chullachaqui. He leads you deep into the forest until you are lost and there you stay! He can be recognised however by the fact that one foot is larger that the other or one foot is twisted back on itself.
He is the guardian of the Chullachaquicaspi tree, which can be used directly on the wound to heal deep cuts and haemorrhages and internally too because it contains a resin. Heals strains from lifting heavy weights can damage nerves. Good for joints.
It is also a powerful teacher plant which helps you get close to the spirit of the forest and guides you if you diet with it. It owns you and protects you at the same time. The tree has large buttress roots because it grows in sandy soils where roots cannot grow deep. There are white and red varieties - both grow in damp low lying areas. It can teach the apprentice to recognise what plants can heal, and it can cleanse the mind of psychosis. Chulla in Quechua, means twisted foot and Chaqui is the plant. It is better prepared in water than alcohol.
For bad skin, the bark is grated and boiled up with water and the body is given a steam bath while covered with a blanket. It is important to remove the bark without killing the tree which can have serious mystic consequences. It is a grounding plant which puts you in touch with the inaudible vibration of the earth.
The resin can be extracted from the tree trunk, as with the rubber tree and reduced and used in emplasts for painful wounds. Oil can also be extracted by boiling all day, this can be made into capsules.
These are a kind of Marigold, and they are used in baths particularly for children with mal aire. This malady occurs when a family member dies and leaves the child unhappy and sleepless. The spirit of the dead grandfather - or whoever it was - lingers and makes the child sick. The spirit is sad to go and stays in the house after the person is buried and it tries to caress and comfort people in the family. This makes them ill.
Rosa Sisa also controls vomiting in general, as well as being used in floral baths for good luck.
Typically an envious neighbour will grab a handful of earth from the cemetery and throw it into your house to spread boredom and heavy feelings.
Again, when something is wrong in the house - people are bored or agitated - you get a bucket of water and add crushed Rosa Sisa flowers and Camalonga and wash the floors of the house with a brush to cleanse it.
Alternatively you could have the flowers in a vase in the house for the same purpose. Many people grow them either side of the front door of their house to absorb the negativity of people who look in enviously to see what possessions they have. The flowers go black but later they recuperate themselves.
Marigolds can also be used for making wishes, blowing with the wish in mind - like we do with a dandelion - because it is yellow, the colour of the sun.
Manchare or susto (fright) are maladies commonly suffered by children, and treated with Camalonga a tree which grows wild in the forest, but many people grow it in flower pots in the city. It smells like onions and garlic and can be macerated in alcohol to be rubbed onto the person. In cases requiring soul retrieval a prayer or chant would be used at the same time.
Typically a child gets Manchare when playing in the trees and jump down to the ground and receive a much bigger bump than they expected. In this case the Rosa Sisa is tied into a bunch with a white ribbon and brushed all over the body from the head down. This is because the spirit returns through the crown of the head. A little prayer is said to invoke the spirit back, using the name of the child.
It can be used in emplasts for fevers too.
This plant is very little known and used. Like chuchahuasi, it is good after operations, mothers caring for their babies, vaginal discharge, cancer, cold. It is prepared in water or alcohol. Painkiller. Ushcaquiro, Huairacaspi and Chiricsanango together make a good treatment for arthritis.
This is good to have in the house, it works better than an aerosol spray for fresh air because the flowers burst into flower with a perfume. Also good for floral baths to make you smell good so you attract lots of friends. Also if you have a row with a friend, they will come back to you. In cases of gastritis, appendix or gale-bladder problems you can take it as a tea.
Even when dry is still smells.
Is a root like a potato and a constituent of Pusanga. It comes in male (white) and female (red) forms and tastes like yucca. It is very good for people with excessive anger. You grate it to get the juice, and put it in soup, coffee or whatever and sometimes it is put secretly into a persons drink to calm them down, especially when there is a lot of arguing in the family. You can bathe in it too. The dry powder obtained from drying the root, is good for sun burn, common in summer when the river is low and people go to the beautiful beaches to swim. It takes out the impurities of the skin without desiccating it.
The Ayahuasca Shamans
Artidoro Aro Cardenas
We have worked with Maestro Artidoro on our previous Amazon Retreats, and again we were greatly impressed with his knowledge of medicinal and power plants, and his compassion and support for the participants. Although Artidoro is Mestizo he has lived amongst the Ashaninka Indians for many years, and has learned their languages which result in that many of his chants come from a variety of indigenous groups including the Ashaninka, Cashibo, and Capanaua .He has started his own centre near Iquitos.
We have worked with Javier since the late '90s on our Retreats, we also brought him to the UK for a special Amazonian Medicine camp in 2002. We are greatly impressed and moved by his dedication, and his commitment to the demanding rigours of an Amazonian shaman.It is fair to say that everybody who has worked with Javier has been touched by his kindness, compassion , humour, and spirit.