The Amazon Rainforest is home to many thousands of plant species, and has the richest bio-diversity on the planet. Plants and herbs used for medicinal purposes flourish there. The traditional healers and shamans of the Amazon have been working with these remarkable plants for thousands of years. We explore in this article these ancient traditions and knowledge of the plant shamans by the author of Plant Spirit Shamanism (published by Destiny Books USA).
Howard G Charing, and Peter Cloudsley join Amazonian Shamans, Javier Arevalo and Artidoro in discussions about the medicinal & spirit healing plants and their use.
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.
Most commonly, it is used in floral baths for changing ‘luck’. You can find after a couple of weeks, things have changed, you find a job or whatever. It is also cooked in water and taken orally for interior fevers. In aguardiente it stops hair loss, if applied to the scalp directly. Taken macerated in alcohol, it can help one to find tranquillity when agitated and irritable. taken orally or used in floral baths to raise energy, or take you out of a saladera (a run of bad luck, inertia, sense of not living to the full). This plant gives mental strength and you can feel its effects as also with ajosacha, both are varieties of garlic and have a penetrating aroma. Mental strength means it could be good to counter shyness, find one’s personal value or authority. Medicinal properties include asthma, bronchitis, reduction of fat and cholesterol. Another of its properties is that it burns of excess fat.
It comes in two varieties, a high tree with a thick trunk and a small slim tree with little leaves. It is the same tree as tornillo which is good timber. The branch can be bent double without breaking, and is good for doing yoga and for flexibility in general.
It is good for prolepses, chronic diarrhoea, hepatitis, arthritis, broken bones, and cold in the body. As a teacher plant it is good for disorientation, and sense of being lost.
After drinking you need to take a shower as it makes you sweat out all the toxins.
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.
Has a female spirit and makes you dream of beautiful things and takes the laziness out of you.
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 person’s 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.