Thursday, June 16, 2016

On Fear & Entities

In doing medicine work, its not unusual to become aware of entities within the ceremonial space. Shamans describe entities as ‘empty clothes’ looking for an owner that will put them on. These subconscious phenomena are made visible by the medicine; and participants have the choice to engage with these entities, or not.

Entities feed off the fear created by trapped emotions. FEAR is a handy acronym i.e. false evidence appearing real. This false evidence is nothing but our ‘shadow’; or trapped emotions that we don’t acknowledge. In shadow work resisting an emotion prevents you from exploring it. The first step is to experience the emotion fully. 

Actually, entities feed off emotions of all sorts. What are your emotional triggers? Do you experience any of these emotions or states? Blame; anger; victimization; paranoia; guilt; shame; worry; self-pity; self-importance; loneliness; narcissism; sarcasm; hate; jealousy; co-dependency; distorted or repressed sexual energy; depression; fear etc.

If you recognise any of these emotions or states as a recurring theme in your life, its likely that you have an entity feeding into them and milking your emotions for food. The next step is to know that entities are normal; most people have them in their field without realizing it. The world, and its societies, is a large cauldron of emotion after all.

The most important thing that you can do is work on your stuff. It really is that simple. Once you remove the food source - charged emotional distortions - entities have nothing to grasp onto and fall away. It’s also important that we don’t deny the emotion though; because denial and suppression of self also creates the ‘grey’ areas where they hide. 

Shamans can remove entities, which sounds like an ideal solution. It can work temporarily. However, unless you deal with the energy that invited the entity in the first place, you will simply draw another entity to you again and again; until you release the attachment to that emotion from within yourself that draws it in. There really isn’t a quick fix solution. 

Most people have to release the trapped emotion; and to do this multiple times for different issues, over a period of time and through various levels of consciousness, leaving no place for an entity to attach. The following questions can help anyone to become more familiar with their shadow side, in order to pinpoint potential attachments:

Which people keep triggering or irritating me?
What do I least want others to know about me?
Which emotions do I judge to be bad or wrong?

Sunday, May 22, 2016


The Kaxinawa describe mariri as the life-giving force of the forest, which is very sacred to their people. Throughout the Amazon, the word mariri means different things for different peoples. Mariri can be the healing spirit of certain medicinal plants that are considered to be powerful, intelligent teachers. Mariri also refers to the magical songs sung by shamans during healing ceremonies; and the curative force carried by those songs. 

In the Amazon basin, for the many tribes who regard nature as sacred and omnipotent, mariri is a manifestation of the rainforest's infinite capacity to heal and sustain life. Dieta - self-denial of indulgence, food and sex - is a necessary precondition for creating a relationship with the plants; and, thus, with mariri. 

Mariri, within the shaman, is a cured and rarified phlegm which is raised from the chest into the throat; often with the accompaniment of loud burps and belches, becoming like air. It is this mariri that extracts the sickness and other evils in the patient’s body; while at the same time protecting the shamans from the sickness they extract.

This mariri is received from the master shaman and nourished, like planting a seed in the chest. Nurturing the mariri is like raising a plant until it is the proper size, and then maintaining it. Fearlessness is a constant theme in relation to mariri. When you have this protection, you need not have fear of anyone; the medicine of mariri grants a heart of steel. 

What the plants give in return, for this dedication, is their willingness to help; their icaro, their song. The rarefication, or curing, of mariri relates it to these shamanic songs. Abstraction from vocal meaning is a key feature of such music. The most powerful icaros, such as the protective arcanas, are refined into breathy and almost inaudible whistles. 

When learning icaros, its best to first hum the melody and only then to learn the words. Shamans teach apprentices not to be overly concerned with trying to memorize the words; singing the icaros from the heart with the correct resonance and vibration is more important. The more abstract the icaro; the more powerful it is. Both mariri and icaro ultimately converge in pure sound, which is the the immaterial and wordless language of the plants. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Kene Kuin

Kene Kuin, the true design, is an important motif of Kaxinawa identity. The shunu kene (tree of life) below, has eight paths defined by both positive and negative space; and like all kene represents ancestral knowledge. For the Kaxinawa, these designs are a crucial element to the beauty of people and things. 

Kaxinawa motifs are applied in the form of body art, jewellery, clothing and crafts of all kinds. These designs are inspired by the forces of nature and a particular cosmology, which are received by the shamans in ceremonies through the plant medicines. Each sign has associated rituals, songs, myths, cosmologies etc.

As such, these designs are inspired by the forces of nature. The motif is transmitted by the 'spirit entity' and its representation embodies the spiritual strength of that being. In the case of an animal, the motif can be considered a 'pattern' arising from the 'genetic code' of the animal and emitting a 'frequency of force' or spiritual function to which it is attached.

Kene are painted on Kaxinawa bodies and faces with genipap (vegetable paint) during festivals, when visitors arrive or for the simple pleasure of dressing up. Small children are not painted with designs, but are blackened from head to foot with genipap. Boys and girls have just part of their face covered with designs, while adults paint their entire face. 

Painting with genipap is an exclusively female activity. On days without any festival, women walk around unpainted; but when one of the men brings genipap from the forest, there is always someone eager to mix the paint and invite the others to paint themselves. Young women are the most likely to be seen painted with designs; men less frequently, unless they are acting as hosts.

The kene kuin style contains a variety of named motifs. When a motif has two or more names, this is generally because of the ambiguity between the figure and grounded reality typical to the Kaxinaw√° aesthetic. The same motifs (or basic designs) used in face painting are found in body painting, pottery and weaving, basketry and stool decorations.

Just as not all bodies are painted, or not some bodies all of the time, not all keneya (kene objects) have designs. Cooking vessels are not painted, though the plates for serving food may be. Painting is associated with a new phase in the life of the object or person, a phase in which it is desirable to emphasize the smooth and perfect surface of the body in question. 

The design calls attention to new visual experiences, which announce crucial life events. The design vanishes with use and is only reapplied during festivals. Hence, things with design occupy a special place in Kaxinawa culture.