A Shamanic Journey Through Indigenous Knowledge in the Peruvian Amazon
Indigenous Peruvians have a unique belief and thought system. They instinctively know that all living things in the world are intimately connected with each other because there is a spirit, symbolized by energy, within each. This energy is alive and continually renews and transforms itself, creating harmony with our earth and all natural resources. There are many spirits in the water, the trees, the mountains, and the plants. The rainforest holds a powerful spirituality. As a healer, Eda shares,
“Our knowledge comes directly from nature, from the plants, from the universe, from earth’s energy, from an inner connection to all of them. It is this natural and instinctive connection that allows us to see the inside and not just the surface. I can see you inside. I can see through you. This is the power of our ancestral knowledge, the power of our plant medicine . . . It is the Creator, Mother Earth, the spirits, the pure energy of the universe that comes and teaches us the knowledge that we later share.”(Zavala 179)
Throughout time, the Creator has recognized indigenous Elders as natural genuine healers or “medicos vegitalistas” and allows them to feel soul connectivity through deep spiritual experiences within nature. Eda continues to explain:
“A shaman or healer is one who knows the medicinal properties and who communicates with the spirits of the plants, understands the messages of the birds when they sing, deciphers dreams and the weather, connects with the universe, sees inside a man’s soul, and cures organic and emotional illnesses of men, women, children, the young, and the old. It is another kind of knowledge, of communication; it is another kind of bonding. It is a much more subtle language, more delicate, more invisible, and intuitive.” (Zavala 179)
As a Peruvian indigenous curandera, Eda knows that her life has been transformed solely through the spirits of medicinal plants. Thanks to the Creator, healers get the knowledge of the plants one one purpose: to serve others, to cure people. This energy and knowledge doesn’t belong to Eda or anyone else; it cannot be possessed or owned.
Indigenous People have an incredible heritage that needs to be kept alive. Nothing will make sense without Nature. Eda knows that all living things on the planet are intimately connected with each other and everybody possesses a spirit that represents the breath of life. The spirit can be symbolized as an energy that vibrates within each of us. The river breathes, plant medicine has its own too, and at some level, all of them get in connection to pass incredible messages to human beings. We can take in these messages if we are aware about nature and recognize all the natural sounds as a symphony.
The spirit is an invisible energy that lives and continually renews and transforms itself, creating harmony into the planet and out with the cosmos. But how can humanity be connected again and be able to understand this profound meaning of life where we found our base, roots and serenity? How can we accept that plants, trees, rivers, mountains and animals so profoundly intertwined are capable of communicating with one another? Indigenous People all over the world still practice this particular language of nature, and the Amazon Rainforest holds this powerful knowledge and develops through medicinal plants. The “plantas de conocimiento” (knowledge plants), “plantas que curan” (healing plants) and “genios” (male and female spirits) play with us, heal us, laugh with us and teach us through our dreams and symbolic visions.
Indigenous People also believe that knowledge comes from the universe-from our Creator-and materializes on the Earth. The pure energy from the universe touches us and is subtly transmitted through the medicinal properties of the plants. It connects with our souls and brings understanding to our minds that is finally verbalized through the language, sacred songs or sacred words that, in many cases, brings us into the mystery.
A long time ago, human beings were capable of connecting with the universe, they honored the sacredness of nature and lived in harmony. Indigenous curanderos learned to see inside human beings-men or women, old or young-and cure organic and emotional illnesses. They applied a profound knowledge “el conocimiento de los sentidos” and this knowledge used a subtle language, almost invisible and very intuitive.
As a female shaman, Eda recognizes her ancestral knowledge of which she is only a keeper. Her life has been transformed thanks to medicinal plants of the rain forest. The transformation is very unique. Eda is sure that each one of us has a microcosm inside, that is reproduced by the cosmos out there, and the microcosm interacts with the spirits of medicinal plants. And humans are capable of bringing information into their communities to heal others.
There is a great vehicle that supports this: Our Creator, the great Spirit that guides humans to carry this ancient knowledge to serve humanity. It is a gift. Curanderos believe that an illness that walks inside of us and weakens our spirit, can be encouraged toward a positive direction that is free from blockages in emotion, body and spirit.
Unique Spiritual Journeys
Eda leads ceremonies and spiritual journeys deep into the Peruvian Amazon or in Tarapoto, in northeastern Peru. Her healing sessions are very personal, one-on-one, and her treatment is unique. She works in each individual to release old traumas and blockages and move him or her forward into a positive direction. First she reads the energy of the patient , diagnoses the emotional or physical illness and then gives the treatment. The synergy created between her and the participant remove clear blockages in emotion, body and spirit allowing for a very effective treatment.
Eda offers a more intense and enlightened level of emotional and spiritual healing using her Master Plant in ceremonies where she connects psychically with her participants and stays in intimacy with her medicine to receive the core information that each participant is looking for. Eda also offers a variety of medicinal plants within a cycle of spiritual retreat or “Dieta” used for healing purposes and teachings. In both practical and experiential ways, Eda decides which medicine would be better to take. She has personally experienced the pharmacological and psychoactive properties of the plants and she holds this profound knowledge to share with others.
Eda acts as a guide into and through a sacred encounter with the essence of the earth and the universe as Indigenous Elders have practiced thousands of years ago. She continues practicing this ancient knowledge today. This occurs after ingesting visionary medicinal plants such ayahuasca or sanango. There are many plants from which to make an appropriate choice. Plant medicines are specially and individually prepared for visiting participants.
When the sacred medicine is drunk by both Eda as a shamanic healer and the participant, cosmic energy is awakened within each individual in a special way. The mind is opened and this smaller microcosm expands to connect with the greater cosmos directly. The whole process is natural and uncomplicated, and it is very important to go into the initial purging to remove anxiety, stress and detox the physical and emotional body. The preparation enables participants to “ride” into the introspection and spiritual wisdom.
Most importantly it is no exaggeration to state that each person’s experience is uniquely remarkable and that plant medicine healing may be truly life changing.
Source Citation Zavala, Eda. (2010). The Macrocosm and the Microcosm: An Interview with Eda Zavala. In S. Martin (Ed.). Cosmic Conversations: Dialogues on the Nature of the Universe and the Search for Reality (Ch. 12, pp. 175-184). Franklin Lakes, NJ: Career Press.