Ayahuasca, and the Magical Chants of the Amazon Shamans – the Icaros

The Ayahuasca Shamans of the Amazon, exhibit a close union with the Natural World. This powerful emotional and spiritual bond, enables them to commune with the spiritual powers of the Rainforest. Singing the chants or Icaros, is a way that this bond is expressed.

I recall one night time Ayahuasca ceremony, held in a small clearing in the Amazon rainforest. It was a beautiful clear night, there was no moon, and the sky was filled with hundreds of thousands of glistening stars; just looking up at the sky made my head swim. We were surrounded by trees and bushes, but could only discern their shapes and silhouettes. It felt as if I was in nature’s primordial theatre. When I had drank the Ayahuasca, the shaman started to chant his Icaros, and within a few minutes, there was the song of birds, fireflies flitting everywhere, the jungle around us was responding to the chants of the shaman. It was an exquisite experience, and the following day, when I discussed the opening experience, with the birds and insects appearing when he sang the first Icaro, he replied, “the first chant was to summon and ask the birds, and the insects for their protection”.

There are several different kinds of icaros, at the beginning of the session. Their purpose is to provoke the mareacion or effects, and, in the words of Javier, ‘to render the mind susceptible for visions to penetrate, then the curtains can open for the start of the theatre’. Other Icaros call the spirit of Ayahuasca to open visions ‘as though exposing the optic nerve to light’. Alternatively, if the visions are too strong, the same spirit can be made to fly away in order to bring the person back to normality.

There are icaros for calling the ‘doctors’, or plant spirits, for healing, while other icaros call animal spirits, which protect and rid patients of spells. Healing icaros may be for specific conditions like ‘manchare’ which a child may suffer when it gets a fright. The spirit of a child is not so fixed in its body as that of an adult, therefore a small fall can easily cause it to fly. Manchare is a common reason for taking children to Ayahuasca sessions.

The arts of the Shipibo, especially textile designs, are closely related to Ayahuasca icaros. The words of the chants are symbolic stories telling of the ability of nature to heal itself. For example the crystalline waters from a stream wash, cleanse, and purify a person who is unwell, while coloured flowers attract the hummingbirds whose delicate wings fan healing energies etc. You might see such things in your visions but the essence or core which cures you is perhaps more likely to be the understanding of what is happening in your life. These deep insights allow your inner feelings to unblock so that bitterness and anger can change to ecstasy and love. To awaken from the ‘illusion of being alive’ is to experience life itself.

The Icaros demonstrate the emotional bond between the shamans to the world of nature, and the spiritual powers of the rainforest. The Following Icaro ‘ Icaro Madre Naturaleza’, shows this relationship between man and nature.

English Translation by Peter Cloudsley.

Don’t leave me, don’t leave me
My mother nature
Don’t leave me, don’t leave me
My mother nature
For if you will leave me
I would die or of the pain
My tears of desperation
My mother nature
Yes you have the gift of life
Sacred purification in you hands
Blessed mother nature

Don’t leave me don’t leave me
My mother nature
Don’t leave me, don’t leave me
My mother nature
For if you will leave me
I would die or of the pain
Tears of desperation
The white veil that your you have
As it covers this child
Clean my body and spirit
With the breath or of your lips
Dearest miraculous Mother.

Don’t leave me, don’t leave me
My mother nature
Don’t leave me, don’t leave me
My mother nature
For if you will leave me
I will die of the sorrow
My tears of desperation
In the mountains or upper jungle
Where you give me peace and prosperity
Without regrets neither bitterness
Dearest pure Mother

Don’t leave me , don’t leave me
My mother nature
Don’t leave me , don’t leave me
My mother nature
For if you will leave me
I would die or of the pain
My tears of desperation
Where you Take a bath with the plants
Blessed Child put onto me
Your crown of health
Eternally in my heart

In Spanish.

No me dejes no me dejes
Madre mia naturaleza
No me dejes no me dejes
Madre mia naturaleza
Por que vas i ti me dejares
Moriria o de las penas
Llantos y desesperaciones
Madre mia naturaleza
Si tu tienes el don de la
Santa purificacion en ti manos
Benditas madre naturaleza

No me dejes no me dejes
Madre mia naturaleza
No me dejes no me dejes
Madre mia naturaleza
Por que vas i ti me dejares
Moriria o de las penas
Llantos y desesperaciones
El velo blanco que tu tienes
Como cubre a esta criatura
Limpia mi cuerpo y espirutu
Con el soplo o de tus labios
Madre cita milagrosa

No me dejes no me dejes
Madre mia naturaleza
No me dejes no me dejes
Madre mia naturaleza
Por que vas i ti me dejares
Moriria o de las penas
Llantos y desesperaciones
En las altas o montanas
Donde pone paz y prosperaciones
Sin remordimentos ni rencores
Madre cita la pura

No me dejes no me dejes
Madre mia naturaleza
No me dejes no me dejes
Madre mia naturaleza
Por que vas i ti me dejares
Moriria o de las penas
Llantos y desesperaciones
Donde Banas con las plantas
Obendita criatura ponme ya
La corona de la sanidad
Muy eternal en mi Corazon

Howard G. Charing, is an accomplished international workshop leader on shamanism. He has worked some of the most respected and extraordinary shamans & healers in the Andes, the Amazon Rainforest, and the Philippines. He organises specialist retreats to the Amazon Rainforest He is the author of Plant Spirit Shamanism (Destiny Books USA).
Click For information about Eagle’s Wing Ayahuasca Retreats

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About Howard G Charing

Since the late 90's I have organised journeys with Peter Cloudsley to the Amazon Rainforest and the Andes to work with the shamans and the sacred 'jungle doctors' (healing and visionary plants) of this area. I have written numerous articles about the Amazonian plant medicines, and have worked with some of the most respected shamans in the region. I was baptised into their tribe by the Shipibo Indians in the Amazon, and was initiated into the lineage of the maestros of the Rio Napo in the Upper Amazon. Co-authored the book Plant Spirit Shamanism, published by Destiny Books (USA) with a foreword by the great visionary artist Pablo Amaringo. Co-authored the book 'The Ayahuasca Visions of Pablo Amaringo', published by Inner Traditions (USA) April, 2011, presents a collection of never-before-published paintings by Amaringo. The book illustrated the evolution of Amaringo’s intricate art with 48 full-color reproductions, including detailed explorations of the rich Amazonian mythology underlying each painting. Now available - Fine art giclee prints and reproductions of Pablo Amaringo's beautiful work featured in the new book 'The Ayahuasca Visions of Pablo Amaringo'. http//ayahuasca_visions.imagekind.com

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