Communion with the Infinite: The visual music of the Shipibo people of the Amazon
Charing HG; SH, Winter 2005
Singing the patterns of healing
The Shipibo believe that our state of health, both physical and psychological, is dependent on the balanced union between mind, spirit and body. If an imbalance in this occurs - such as through emotions of envy, hate, anger - this will generate a negative effect on the health of that person.
The shaman will re-establish the balance by chanting the icaros, which are the geometric patterns of harmony made manifest in sound, into the body of the person. The shaman in effect transforms the visual code into an acoustic code. A key element in this magical dialogue with the energy which permeates Creation and is embedded in the Shipibo designs, is the work with ayahuasca by the Shipibo shamans or muraya.
In the deep ayahuasca trance, the ayahuasca reveals to the shaman the luminous geometric patterns of energy. These filaments drift towards the mouth of the shaman where they metamorphose into a chant or icaro. The icaro is a conduit for the patterns of Creation, which then permeate the body of the shaman’s patient, bringing harmony in the form of the geometric patterns which re-balance the patient’s body.
The vocal range of the Shipibo shamans when they chant the icaros is astonishing; they can range from the highest falsetto one moment to a sound which resembles a thumping pile driver, and then to a gentle soothing melodic lullaby. Speaking personally of my experience of this, it produced a feeling as if every cell in my body was floating and embraced in a nurturing all encompassing vibration, even the air around me was vibrating in acoustic resonance with the icaro of the maestro.
The shaman knows when the healing is complete, as the design is clearly distinct in the patient’s body. It make take a few sessions to complete this, and when completed the geometric healing designs are embedded in the patient’s body, this is called an arkana. This internal patterning is deemed to be permanent and to protect a person’s spirit.
Angelika Gebhart-Sayer, Professor of Ethnology, University of Marburg writes that ‘Essentially, Shipibo-Conibo therapy is a matter of visionary design application in connection with aura restoration; the shaman heals his patient through the application of a visionary design, every person feels spiritually permeated and saturated with designs. The shaman heals his patient through the application of the song-design, which saturates the patients’ body and is believed to untangle distorted physical and psychospiritual energies, restoring harmony to the somatic, psychic and spiritual systems of the patient. The designs are permanent and remain with a person’s spirit even after death.’
Web Resource: www.shamanism.co.uk