Within the Shipibo-Conibo culture, the aura-cleansing and regeneration baths subject is a wide-ranging one, as there are so many different types of baths.
The aura is luminous radiation, generally considered paranormal, which certain people can see around both living and non-living bodies. Whilst the ‘light’ emitted is generally outside the visual spectrum, it has long been known that such radiation can be captured in a visible and impressively beautiful manner using Kirlian photography, although such techniques have long been debunked as relatively banal. However, more recently, scientific research has suggested that gifted healers can indeed diagnose ailments by the precise quality (frequency) of such radiation.
The baths administered in Yosi Ocha are tailored to the physical and spiritual condition of each visitor – which is, of course, part of the same whole. Whether a patient is receiving a healing treatment or an apprentice is undertaking a program of shamanic training, he or she must necessarily bathe with the leaves of different teacher plants.
Principal amongst these are: ‘piñon colorado‘, ‘piñon blanco‘, ‘Ayahuasca‘ (we refer to the plant and not the brew used in the ceremonies), ‘remocaspi‘, ‘shimi pampana‘, ‘ajo sacha‘, ‘ruda‘, ‘planta del viento‘, ‘niwe rao‘, ‘bobinsana‘, ‘locura de amor‘, ‘sharomasho‘, ‘lengua de perro‘, ‘insulina‘, etc. Also used are the flowers of ‘sacha chacruna‘ (or ‘flor de labio de novia‘), ‘mucura‘ and ‘rosa sisa‘, among others.
As part of our retreats, we teach our guests how to identify and collect different medicinal plants and flowers from the rainforest; how to prepare their baths by combining the leaves and petals with special colones (Agua de Florida, Cananga, Agua de Rosa, Ruda, etc.); how to ‘activate’ their baths with their intentions; how to ‘activate’ their spiritual body with the smoke of Mapacho; and finally how to perform their own baths.
Bathing with these plants assists in the spiritual cleansing of the patient and further reinforces the primary treatments affected by the ceremonies of Ayahuasca and San Pedro. The energy of the leaves and flowers helps the resolution of internal psychological conflicts and charges the participants with positive vibrations, freeing them from the negative energy they have absorbed throughout their lives.
There are two main types of baths – aura-cleansing baths with only plants, or a mixture of plants and flowers, and flourishing baths made with flowers only. Before starting the bath ritual, it is necessary to prepare the body, therefore the shaman initiates the ritual with ícaros (sacred songs) and sweeps the body of each participant with the smoke of the Mapacho. The patient, meanwhile, should open his mind and concentrate on beautiful things to help his spirit expel negative energies from his body, and conceive new positive ideas.
AURA-CLEANSING (OR PURIFICATION) BATHS
Purification baths are performed every day, as they act as a medicine that cleanses the aura and strengthens the spiritual body, while they help to integrate the different processes through which the patient is going. Along with special purification rituals, they have relaxing effects on the nervous system and stimulate spirituality.
The electromagnetic energy of the aura is detoxified and rebalanced by the energy of the plants, which produces an immediate reduction of stress levels and is translated into the different wavelengths of light, so often the patient can be perceived as more enlightened or more radiant. The medicinal plants used for these baths considerably increase energy levels, relaxing the physical and spiritual body, while their healing qualities stimulate the nervous system favorably. The ritual helps to embark on a new stage in life with a brand new “super energy”.
Aura-cleansing or purification baths are an essential part of the preparation of the body of any patient or shaman apprentice. Once the energies of each plant have been absorbed, the spirits of these plants present themselves both during dreams and in the visions shown to the patient during ceremonies. It is believed that the appropriate teacher plants can heal or alleviate virtually any physical ailment or psychological problem.
FLOURISHING (OR FLOWER) BATHS
Flourishing baths are prepared with flower petals and leaves of freshly picked jungle plants which are mixed in a bowl with fresh stream water and a few drops of special colognes. This mixture is then appropriately icarado (blessed) by the shaman, or by the person performing the bath. The purpose of this bath is to promote the well-being of the patient’s spiritual body so that he or she may regenerate, flourish and bloom.
The flower-only bath is usually performed toward the end of the retreat when the spiritual body has been healed and purified. This helps the soul of the patient to flourish and to maintain and stabilize the energies of the plants that he has received during the treatment.
After the retreat, it is recommended to perform flourishing baths periodically (weekly, biweekly or monthly) in order to better preserve the “cano” (vital force) received from the plant medicines and the “arcana” during your treatment. For these baths, you can use flowers of any colour, or combine different colours, if you wish so – just follow your intuition and it will indicate to you the right flowers/colours for each bath.
PURIFYING MUD BATHS
In the Shipibo-Conibo culture, mud is used medicinally to reduce inflammation, and lower fevers and can be very effective in the treatment of tumors. Many Shipibo shamans treat their patients with mud baths to cleanse the skin’s pores (a process familiar to westerners), but first and foremost the mud can absorb bad, or negative, energy from the body.
It is important to recognize that all plants possess energies, or spirits, both good and bad – just as any powerful force can be used for good or evil purposes. It’s a universal law: there can be no light without darkness. Thus a person may ‘diet’ any medicinal plant and learn from prolonged use of it how to be a shaman of its medicine – that is to say, how to make good use of it. But it is just as possible to ‘diet’ the plant with a view to learning its dark, or negative side in order to become a sorcerer, an evil-doer, or a caster of spells. Whenever a person drinks the potion of teacher plants or takes cleansing baths imbued with them, he (or she) will also receive part of the bad energy of each plant. For this reason, the shaman icaro’s the mud – that is to say, blesses it with a special intention, and bathes the patient in a special way (for instance, singing specific, sacred songs) so that the mud draws out all of the negative energy that has been absorbed.
The mud bath – ignored by so many commercial shamanic centers – is therefore of vital importance in any shamanic plant treatment. It is one of the many ancient practices that have fallen into oblivion and Yosi Ocha aims to preserve it.
HOW TO PREPARE YOUR OWN BATHS AT HOME
After a retreat, one should continue performing cleansing baths, especially during the first few days, in order to allow the body to better integrate new energies and remain protected throughout that process.
Within the first two weeks after a retreat, it is important to take flower baths for three consecutive days. The baths can be done at any time of the day. Those who participated in their first Ayahuasca retreat should prepare the baths with red flowers, while the rest should use white flowers. You can use any type of flower, what matters is the colour. To prepare a flower bath, you need the following ingredients:
- a bucket with 9 to 12 litres of water
- 3 handfuls of fresh flowers (of the corresponding colour)
- 1 tablespoon of perfume or cologne
Pull off the petals, break and squeeze them with your hands; add 1 tablespoon of cologne and 3-4 liters of water; then let it rest for at least one hour. You can also prepare the mix in the morning and take your bath in the evening, or the other way around, in which case, make sure to leave enough space to add some hot water just before taking the bath. Start by taking a normal shower and then proceed with the flower bath using a bowl to pour the magic potion with petals from the head down. Do not rinse after the bath – ideally, the liquid should dry naturally on your skin allowing the petals to remain attached to the body as long as possible.
After a retreat, the body continues with a self-cleansing process assisted by the “cano” received from the plant medicines and the “arcana”. These two forces help eliminate all the negativity from the body, but over time, negative particles start accumulating again. For this reason, we recommend performing a cleansing bath every three months. There are many ways to prepare it, below is a simple formula commonly used by the Shipibos.
Mix 9 to 12 liters of water with 1 liter of alcohol – it can be medicinal alcohol or a spirit, like vodka, or tequila, etc. Let it rest for at least one hour and perform the bath in the evening, about two hours before going to bed. You should not rinse after pouring the bath on your body, just let it dry on your skin; you can take a shower the next morning.