Customs, Medicinals, Travel

The Sacred Songs of Amazonian Healing, Icaros

Icaros are sacred songs that the Amazonian shamans use in their preparation of an ayahuasca ceremony. These energetic songs are important when you take ayahuasca and experience the trance and other effects. The songs guide the spirits of all who participate, although the songs are also sung to objects to fill it with energy and, in this way, cleanse it and protect it.

Because of its importance for people and nature, the shamanic icaros were declared Immaterial Cultural heritage by Peru’s Ministry of Culture. The songs make a contribution to the living culture of our country.

They have been used from ancestral times. The shamans and healers make people hear and feel the icaros during sessions of spiritual healing.

Some agencies of mystical tourism in Cusco work with Amazonian and Andean healers. Many times they go up into the mountains to open places where you will neither see people nor houses. The temples built by our ancestors of stone and energy are points of concentration where they often carry out their ceremonies and rituals.

On three occasions I walked around the Temple of the Moon while contemplating nature and breathing the free and pure air that gathers in the fields and hills. I saw small groups of tourists, maybe 5 or 6 persons, sitting by the side of the stream there. They were concentrating energy and listening to the shaman’s icaros.

I stayed a respectful distance away but I could hear the word and the unavoidable vibrations that came from the mouth of the shaman. The words sounded simple but they were in a language I did not know. This holy melody made the shaman sit and share the security and strength of his spirit with the group and with nature.

Nowadays you can find the icaros written down in Spanish, Quechua, and other languages according to each master´s background. These repetitive songs allude to specific plants, animals, and elements in the local landscape which have power and symbolic value. On a practical and operational plane, they give much depth since the cause the participants in ceremonies to lose contact with any reality outside that of the ceremony.

Each shaman has their own icaros since they are the masters and owners of their own experience and wisdom and because they received them either directly from their masters or from nature.

These songs are used for cleansing, protection, and healing, or to influence the individual’s will. The shaman’s icaros orient the ceremony of healing, give form to individual and group energy, and create and maintain the group’s unity. They also guide people in their work of self-exploration.

Estos cantos son utilizados para la limpieza, protección, curación o para influir sobre la voluntad individual. Los icaros de los curanderos orientan la curación, dan forma a la energía individual y colectiva, y cuidan la unidad del grupo. También guían en el trabajo de autoexploración.

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