plant medicine

shipibo curandero blows mapacho smoke on patient during an ayahuasca retreatThe Ayahuasca Foundation works only with Shipibo curanderos. The Shipibo tradition is widely regarded as the most intact and profound of the indigenous traditions that use ayahuasca. While there are certainly numerous complexities within the philosophy and methodology of the tradition, there is one underlying principle that pervades the entire practice: cleanliness. The basic understanding is that within every living being, every cell, is an innate movement towards wholeness and harmony. This motivating principle is a conscious force that acts on its own, and forms the root of all life as we know it. It is an intelligent directive towards health and it works from micro to macro levels of existence. From cells repairing themselves to planetary and galactic movement, this mysterious energy constantly strives to maintain balance, to achieve optimum health. This intelligent motivating principle that pervades all things, this divine directive at the root of all life, can be called God.

We are all familiar with what happens when we get a simple cut on our finger. As long as it is kept clean, it heals on its own. So, to aid that natural healing process, we wash it, perhaps put a band-aid on it to help prevent it from getting dirty, but the cut heals itself. The directive principle, or God, makes it so. All we do is assist the process by providing the optimal environment for the healing to take place. We do this by keeping it clean. What is meant by cleaning or cleansing is the removal of obstacles that might hinder the healing process.

“Cleanliness is indeed next to Godliness.”John Wesley

The Shipibo tradition is centered around the idea that if the obstacles to healing are removed, then God will take care of the rest. So their healing tradition is based heavily on cleansing and purification. While the example of healing a cut is merely a physical process, the healing of most afflictions goes beyond just the physical dimension, for we are not just physical bodies. We are spirits, we are minds, we are emotional beings. Therefore, we must cleanse all of our bodies, we must purify ourselves on every level in order to achieve the most complete health possible. The Shipibo work to achieve this through the use of a wide variety of plant medicines, including ayahuasca, to assist the natural healing that strives to regain balance and harmony. Therefore, the tradition works closely with God.