Interview with Ayahuasca Mestizo Shaman Javier Arevalo in the Amazon – Part 3

In the third and concluding part of the interview with Javier, we continue to explore the use of Healing plants and Ayahuasca. discusses his involvement with the shamanic Plant medicines of the Amazon, and Ayahuasca in particular. Javier was interviewed by Howard G Charing and Peter Cloudsley in the Peru, Amazon Rainforest 2000.

Howard tells story of his battle with one of Javier’s assistants 3 weeks earlier.
(Javier laughs a lot and explains.) Well because he was not really a shaman, he works as a guide, he drinks liquor. Then when he takes Ayahuasca and chants icaros he is not pure and his doctors don’t take any notice of him. The spirits start bothering (molesting) the people participating in the session. That is what happened to Howard. When I take Ayahuasca I talk to the doctors who give visions, I ask them to cure, I have dominion over them because I diet. If I don’t, they make you crazy or annoy you.

So if the shaman cannot control himself, then the spirits get out of hand?
If you can’t dominate the spirits of the jungle you are nobody, instead of curing they run away or take no notice of you.

So the control of the spirits is fundamental?
Spirits are like angels. God withstood 40 days of hunger and temptation by the devil and was resurrected. That’s what we have to do too.

This is Christianity, but your (Javier’s) people were practicing long before the missionaries came. Is it possible to separate the Christian from the wisdom of the jungle?

No, no, they work together. But it has nothing to do with going to a church. You learn all this in the wilderness. The spirits there are the angels of each plant to which you add your will to heal the client. This is the will of Christ.

Where does the power of the shaman end and the spirits begin?

The shaman receives the power from the jungle, he doesn’t have any power of his own that he doesn’t get from the forest.

When I look at you by day I see just a normal young man, when you wear your clothes and move into the ayahuasca space you become different, a different presence, you become larger…

(Javier laughs!) The medicine is not in the body, the body can wear clothes for example, and you see that by day. But at night you don’t see my body, you see my spirit which receives the medicine which transforms me through the vision. I have to be pure so as to be a receptacle of the spirit of the medicine. It is essential too for a shaman to be happy, the shaman laughs at everything, because a happy heart is what cures. He can’t have a long face or fight with his wife and children.

You started off with a desire for revenge, what changed you into a shaman?
My grandfather saw that my heart was bitter and he told me that it would not get me anywhere. My heart was still hard and wanted to kill! Bit by bit through taking the very plants that I had intended to use for revenge, the spirits told me it was wrong to kill and my heart softened.