It’s taken almost five years of working with medicine to find my voice.
In the beginning I tried to learn songs, icaros from other shamans and medicine songs from other cultures. The problem I have is I’m pretty lousy at linguistics and I just can’t seem to remember words, even English lyrics are a struggle. And coupled with that was the problem I had with my voice, it just didn’t sound like something that I should inflict upon another human being.
Yet Ayahuasca loves to sing through you. And I’ve felt her stirring in me and quietly hummed away in ceremonies, embarrassed that someone would hear.
Huachuma isn’t really a singing plant, but I’ve come to chirp and whistle and trill like a bird which I believe is Huachuma’s language. The four winds, the language of the air.
And now I’ve discovered that the Mushrooms love to sing. And sing through you too. And now I’ve found my voice.
My first experience of an Icaro, a plant spirit song, was in a ceremony and the medicine just took me. My entire body moved with every sound. The experience was of being a paintbrush for the universe, and every tone that was flowing from me was paint that was being applied to the night sky, adorning the stars and the velvet blue night. The song was me and I was it, and spirit flowed through me. It was one of the most beautiful and humbling experiences, and for anyone who believes that Icaros have no place in ceremony, all I can say is then you do not know what an Icaros is. It is a direct channeling from the spirit of the medicine.
My understanding of Icaros since is that they are tools to hold and protect space, they are energetic transmissions, they are used to heal and they are used to communicate.
I do not believe in playing recordings of Icaros specifically, as they are spontaneous transmissions from spirit for that moment in time, and something in me feels that only the shaman receiving them truly understands them, and perhaps not even then as we are simply vessels through which spirit can flow. So to hold on to a moment that has passed feels wrong. Yet I speak of spontaneous Icaros and there are other Icaros that are handed down through generations, but once again I feel these should be sung as Spirit guides and not replayed on a recording device.
Another experience of an Icaro flowing through me was of a song that showed me it was separating layers and layers of a body, pushing through flesh. Each tone went deeper and deeper through layers of tissue and muscle penetrating with the energetic vibration of the plant.
Shamanic dietas are a tool to assist one to connect deeper to medicine, and to assist in finding one’s voice when the plants are ready to open that within you.
I have depths to my voice I never imagined now but I still have so much to open to, and I know this journey is just beginning. I am left with a deep reverence for a time honoured sacred tradition and so much respect for the shamans who can hold space for many with their songs.
Image by Shipibo artist Reshin Bima