From the lodge to the Shamanic temple
Wilson picked us up as we had previously planned on the banks of the Napo River, Ecuadorian Amazon, at 07:30 a.m. Dressed as the current Quichuas look like, in jeans and a white t-shirt. At the same time, his face showed joy with a big smile and open arms. He was a former president of the Community and administrator of Sani Lodge; thus, I was sure that the experience would meet our expectations. We traveled up the river for 20 minutes to his house in front of the Yasuni National Park and 3 minutes more through a beautiful black water creek full of life in which squirrel monkeys welcomed us along with a group of Cuckoos that were after them in search of insects that jumped from the branches while the monkeys were looking for their food.
We arrived at their enterprise, a beautiful property built in the Kichwa tradition with shapaja palm leaves and bamboo, while stilts made of chonta palm give support to the buildings to prevent flooding and avoid jaguars, pumas, ocelots entering his home. The first visual impact is the multicolored gardens where hummingbirds take the vital néctar besides aromatic and healing violet, red and yellow plants used in spiritual shamanic cleansing that grow under the daily care of its cultivator. This is the fundamental reason why the whole atmosphere smells of life and healing and Amazonian nature l Wilson explained that he comes from a family of shamans who started this tradition was his great-grandfather. At the same time, his mother was responsible for passing the knowledge from generation to generation thus their culture is still alive.
Along with my Australian companions, the ritual begins. Wilson asks Emily to sit in a wooden chair like most of the furniture around; others are reused seats from speed boats that are no longer used and give a different touch to the place. He shares with her a cigar made locally with tobacco leaves planted in the chakra while requesting to pass it around the body, for which she starts from head to toe, over and over again, impregnating her body energy that will allow once lit to read her vibes.
Wilson lights up the energetically charged cigar and proceeds to smoke continuously until it looks like an ember; suddenly inhales a big puff and blows around Emily’s body from the head, trunk, legs, and feet to once consumed three-quarters, turn it around and introduce the burning part inside his mouth which allows blowing an impressive amount of smoke, like mist in the middle of the forest, that invades the whole body until nonsingle cell has escaped the cleansing action of the shaman.
The final part
The shaman asks her to stare into his eyes while blowing a large amount of smoke into Emily’s eyes; at this moment, tears of cleansing, tears that reconnect with the energy balance, begin to flow as Wilson finishes the ceremony putting out the cigar and placing it on a tree branch next to the spot.
Jordan, the other companion, had the same experience; thus, the couple impatiently awaits Wilson’s words: he finds an energetic imbalance in Emily because the cigar did not burn evenly while Jordan maintains a better balance of her energies, as the sample indicates.
The experience continues with the medicinal and aromatic plant bath in a handmade cedar tub the way the ancestors used to make it using just an axe. Fresh medicinal plants have been picked, and flowers of various colors are placed in the tub. At the same time, Wilson gathers medicinal herbs to winnow around their bodies, providing all the energy needed to be balanced. After five minutes in the water, Wilson’s family supplies towels and a bathroom to change clothes, and the ceremony is over.
Sharing the day-to-day
I asked my Aussie friends, «How was the experience?» They replied: extraordinary. Wilson’s family shows their skills in producing chambira, a fiber extracted from a palm of the same name that has allowed the Amazonian Quichuas to make shigras (bags), hammocks, and fishing lines for thousands of years. On the one hand, the godmother shares her knowledge with Emily on how to weave it, while the godfather makes a basket whose fiber comes from a liana to collect the yuca that will be used to prepare chicha, the jungle brew. The family shares their Amazonian food with fruits and local fish while we do the same with the snack sent from the lodge.
What a cultural and ancestral experience Jordan and Emily mention as we walk to take the canoe back to Sani Lodge, first saying goodbye to the family and secondly pagarachu or thank you in Quichua language for sharing their knowledge of the forest.
The last day
The next day as we were returning from our Amazon adventure at Sani Lodge, Jordan mentioned that it had been many years since Emily had remembered her dreams. I asked her what she dreamed, and she replied that she had spent the night in a beautiful garden.