“Along the upper Amazon at the base of the Andes, there are yachaqs, who learn shamanism directly from the doctores, the plant teachers. These yachaqs are also called vegetalistas. There are kinds of shamans seers, and healers in the watershed who are notvegetalistas - yachts who are spirit mediums, or who work with dowsing, or with spells - but the vegetalistas are the plant specialists. “
“Vegetalistas have their own master plant, that they have a particular intimacy with. Usually this one Master Plant, comes to them in a series of dreams or visions, teaching them about the world, nature, healing, and alchemy. Some of them only use one plant, that is their secret key into the mystical realms of nature. Some may maintain intimate relations with as many as a dozen, but as there are many more than a dozen possible power plants, even in localized regions, it is clear that different doctors are going to have different teachers and methods.”
“Every true vegetalista has to meet Sacha Runa, The Forest Person, face to face, in the jungle. The thick and deep jungle, is where these entities inhabit, and will appear. It is said, that through Sacha Runa, is where we are introduced to our own power and plants that heal. The majority of time, it is said that this Master Spirit appears when we are alone, and when we least expected. SometimesSacha Runa will come out from behind a crib tree and say hello to a person who wasn't even looking for him. But not usually. Usually one has to fast, purity oneself and maintain a strict diet of no salt or domestic meat, and go out into the forest and wait for him, sometimes a very long time. I said him, but more likely the forest person will be her, unless you are female yourself. “
Jaguar, Crocodile, Owl, Anaconda, Puma?
“Oftentimes the Forest Woman, Sacha Huarmi will appear in the form of a relative, and if you don’t know what you are doing, you will just say “Hello” or “What a surprise to see you here,” and go on your way. If you do that you may have lost your chance. Or maybe Sacha Humari will look like a friend or an old aquaintenace, or as I once heard from a young vegetalists, like a beautiful green-skinned, green eyed, green haired woman.”
Sometimes the first person will be sitting in a chair that is really an anaconda, and will ask you if you want to learn. If this happens, just say YES.
A brilliant macaw headdress, nine
necklaces of toucan feathers,
twelve bracelets she wears,
a skit woven of bark, a feather lance -
a new blowgun, perhaps, you, and perhaps
a little iron pot filled with medicines…
“The forest person will scrutinize you closely. Maybe she will sniff you. Maybe not. But she will size you up, for sure. Sacha Huarmi wants to see if you are complete, if you have the fiber to see the training through to the end.”
Maybe you have not kept the diet and you will be terrified. That OK, you can probably get another chance. If you pass, Sacha Runa will clean you with a bundle of tutu panga leaves. Then she will give you some handy stuff, that will be enough to learn from for a good time, until you are ready to face her again. Not to worry, she will also begin the subtle teachings through you by giving you a spirit plant and a song.
More to come... stay tuned on Shamanic stories of the upper Amazon.
Art by Palbo Amaringo
Botanical Inspiration from Pharmako by Dale Pendell