Chavin de Huantar Pilgrimage May 30th to June 13th 2017

chavin-san-pedroChavin de Huantar is the lodestone, the morning star, the birthplace of the great spiritual and indigenous consciousness of the Andes, and South America as a whole. A ceremonial complex at 10,425 feet above sea level, located at the confluence of the Mosna and Wacheksa rivers and at the geological and cultural crossroads between the mountains, jungle, and sea, Chavin flourished as a sacred site for 500 years (800-300 BCE), as a place of pilgrimage, healing, and oracular activity.

Chavin is no ruin, however. Beneath the superficial ravages of time, its ceremonial heart remains intact. Facilitated by the sacred plants that were integral to its cultural awakening, it is possible to conduct a sort of “shamanic archaeology,” encountering the realm of visions and healing within its great portals, labyrinths, plazas, and before the Huaca, nicknamed the Lanzon, that still abides in the center of the site.

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Assessing a Quest to Heal HIV with Ayahuasca Shamanism

During the years that Susana and I have spent studying and training in the Peruvian vegetalismo, a mixed-race healing tradition that combines indigenous shamanism with Western elements such as Catholicism, we have come to appreciate the paradoxes that indigenous medicine comes wrapped in for Westerners. Among them is the distinction between curing and healing of disease, concepts which, as in Venn diagrams, overlap yet remain experientially distinct. The thrust of modern Western medicine is to “cure,” from Latin cura “to care, concern, trouble,” by either managing disease within, or excising it from, the body, and disease is usually considered cured when symptoms abate. In indigenous styles of medicine, which give equal importance to curing as the West, healing, from Old English hælan “to make whole, sound and well,” may also involve searching out the hidden origin of the disease in the body/mind. In this healing quest, a cure may be found, and may not. The valence of the disease, however, will change. In such cases, it is the entire self that is engaged in unraveling a disease’s enigma, and the body is the laboratory wherein the cure can be found. As a consequence, such healing is often idiosyncratic, because each body’s laboratory is unique. Continue reading “Assessing a Quest to Heal HIV with Ayahuasca Shamanism”