Sacred Songs – The Power of Ayahuasca Icaros

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Here is a article called “Magic Melodies” I recently came across about Ayahuasca Icaros.

Magic Melodies

author unknown

The basic notion exists that ayahuasca teaches “magic melodies” known as “icaros.” In fact, being a vegetalista is almost synonymous with mastering a vast repertiore of icaros – each of the different psychoactive plant spirits has its own icaro. Different types of icaros serve a variety of purposes ranging from love magic to divination to the cure of snakebite. “Shirohuehua” or fun songs, for example, animate the patient, inducing joy and hope. “Manchari” are sung to lead an abducted soul back to its owner. With the “icaro de aranita,” a little spider spins a web around a man and a woman uniting them for all eternity.

Icaros are taught by the tutleary spirits of plants and animals: the raya-balsa, for example, an aquatic plant, can teach one to travel under the water. There are even icaros of perfumes, stones and resins. The “sirenas” or mermaids are often invoked in ayahuasca sessions. They appear, singing beautiful icaros, accompanied by string instruments. Their icaros can give one power over the underwater world, particularly over the Bufeo or pink river dolphin. These creatures are feared and seen as mighty sorcerers, yet they are also invested with sexual allure. Men are said to feel an intense pleasure during coitus with dolphins, and are sometimes unable to separate themselves.

Icaros are used only during ayahuasca sessions. There is a hierarchy among shamans depending on the number and power of the icaros they know. The icaros sung in Spanish are not as powerful as those in jungle Quechua; mixtures of Queschua with Cocama and Omagua are particularly potent. Yet each shaman has a principal icaro which represents the essence of his power.

In the highly sensitized state of ayahuasca intoxication, the icaros help structure the vision. They can also modify the hallucinations themselves. Luna reports: “There are icaros for increasing or diminishing the intensity and color of the visions, for changing the color percieved, and for directing the emotional contents of the hallucinations.”

Vegetalistas are masters of synaesthesia. Through using the most interesting acoustic effects produced by whistling and singing, the geometric designs can be seen acoustically. The icaros refer to a medicine as “my painted song,” “my words with those designs,” or “my ringing pattern.”

The icaros are the quintessence of shamanic power. A good vegetalista is able to “orchestrate” beautiful or transformative visions through his magic melodies. Competitions sometimes arise between maestros to “monopolize” the visions of those present – a kind of competitive “jam session” where they unleash all their tricks.

Luna has included musical transcriptions of eight icaros culled from the repertoire of his informant, Maestro Don Emilio, in Appendix II of his book. Luna describes some of the icaros as having great unearthly beauty and urges ethnomusicologists to record them soon, as they are an evanescent feature of shamanic culture, that is fast disappearing. True ayahuasqueros, he claims, are dying out and their roles are being assumed by charlatans. The key to recognizing a true maestro is: does he know the magic melodies?

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2011 Ayahuasca Shamanism Conference in Iquitos

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We’re only a few months away from the 7th International Amazonian Shamanism Conference here in Iquitos which is being held between July 16th and July 22nd 2011. This annual event organised by Alan Shoemaker is definitely one of the highlights of the year for people who are passionate about learning more about Ayahuasca and shamanism. And at $700 a ticket it’s definitely only for people who are extremely dedicated to expanding their knowledge on the subject.

This years conference is called “We Shall Weave Our Dreams” and has a great line-up of experts, authors, shamans and other speakers who will be sharing their research, perspectives and experiences of working with the medicine.

Some of this years guest speakers include:

Graham Hancock – Best selling author Graham Hancock is definitely this year’s biggest draw. Graham made a big name for himself writing best-selling books about ancient monuments and their connections to previous advance civilisations such as Atlantis. Then a few years ago his research went down a rather different avenue and he published his book “Supernatural” which featured a lot of information about Ayahuasca and how he believes psychedelics have played an important role in the evolution of man. Read more

Klaus Donna – Another researcher into ancient mysteries and the secret history of the planet, Klaus has discovered many ancient artefacts that defy explanation and provide strong evidence that orthodox history is way off the mark and that alien contact throughout history is a reality.  I’m not quite sure what his connection to Ayahuasca is (if any) but I’m sure he will give a very interesting presentation. Read more

Steve Beyer – Steve is the author of the acclaimed book “Singing to the Plants“. He has a law degree, doctorates in psychology and religious studies, he’s studied in Tibetan monasteries and spent time living with indigenous Amazonian tribes learning about ayahuasca shamanism. I doubt life can possibly get much more interesting than that! I haven’t read Steve’s book yet, but it’s on my list and I would certainly love to hear him speak. Read more

Richard Grossman – I don’t think I’ve heard of Richard before but his bio sounds fascinating. His dedicated a lot of his life to learning about healing and it seems that his current area of expertise is in sound healing which I’m sure is very relevant to the subject of shamanism and icaros. Read more

Ananda Bosman – Another person I don’t think I’ve heard of but his bio sounds absolutely fascinating and no doubt he will be interesting to watch. He has “pioneered research work on inducing “Endohuasca”, or endogenous Ayahuasca, through very precise “dark room” research techniques, protocol’s, and research endeavors, with hundreds of pilots, with general highly successful and exciting results.” Read more

Peter Gorman – Peter is certainly one of the more colorful characters of the Iquitos Ayahuasca scene (when he’s in town). He’s also the man who created ‘ayahuasca tourism’ as he was the first person to bring organised groups of westerns to Peru to drink Ayahuasca. Last year he released a book called “Ayahuasca in my Blood” which charts many of his experiences of working with the medicine over many years and it’s a fantastic read. I’ve little doubt he will give one of the more interesting talks of the conference. Read more

There are many other people speaking at this event. For the full list go here

Not only do delegates get to listen to the speakers for several days, they also get to experience Ayahuasca for themselves because 3 of the nights during the conference week are reserved for ceremonies. Delegates have a number of different shaman they can choose to do ceremonies with, including Kucho, Carlos Chevez Ron Wheelock, Percy Garcia and Diego Palmer.

I don’t know yet whether I will be attending myself. I would definitely like to be there but $700 is a bit of stretch for me at the present moment and I have no idea how fast the tickets will sell out. It’s limited to 300 delegates and I think the last few years have been a sellout. If I do attend I will certainly provide coverage on this blog.

For more information about the conference and how to book a ticket visit:

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