Tuesday, October 30, 2012

To Sopla or Spritz

On a forum I occasionally join, someone has recently been discussing the use of utilizing atomizers rather than sopla when cleaning people. Okay, that's insider talk. I'll try to make it mean something. In South American curing, what people call shamanism or curanderismo, it is believed that people often pick up negative energy which can become illnesses or debilities. When they go to see a curandero or shaman to have those negative feelings looked into, a curandero or shaman (man or woman) will generally utilize smoke and perfume to help them "see" the negative points or junk on the person. The way that's done, with smoke, is to take a hit from a mapacho (black tobacco) cigarette, then blow it out over the person feeling the negativity. It might be repeated several times. The smoke, considered sacred, will help a curandero/curandera or shaman to focus on the areas around the person, or on the person, where there is a disturbance: The negativity. Once located there are many ways to eliminate it, "cleansing" the person/their aura, which leads to the end of the debility it caused.
    Now perfume is also used for the same purpose: the standard perfume utilized in the Amazon is Agua Florida, a cologne that smells like orange water. In the mountains, Agua Florida is also sometimes used, but more generally Agua de Kananga is utilized. Both are made by the same company, Murray and Lanman, a company based in New York and Peru.
    To utilize the liquid, the curandero/shaman pours a small amount of it into his/her mouth, then sprays it out like an atomizer in a rainbow over the recipient's head. It is often done several times, creating a sort of veil through which the curandero/shaman can see the negativity that has attached itself to his/her patient. The spraying of that perfume is called "sopla" from the Spanish verb, soplar, which means "to blow." So Sopla'ing is "blowing"--as in spitting out the rainbow of perfume.
    Now a friend of mine has been suggesting that the idea of a sopla is old fashioned and that people should get with the program and start using spritzers or atomizers to spread the perfume. The rationale is that a sopla gets mixed with spit and if you have a virus you might pass that on. Also that the material burns your mouth--which it does--and isn't necessary as a tool in South American shamanic practice.
    I'm old fashioned and I disagree. I think it's very important. And I've written a few answers in the thread, but just wrote one that I think makes it very clear why I stand where I do. Here's what I wrote:
     You guys are still missing the point, I think. The spray doesn't matter, the smoke doesn't matter-in and of themselves. What matters is that the person doing the sopla is passing their spirit through the smoke or the agua florida to the recipient. There really is no spit, as anyone who sopla's knows. And no disease in the world is going to last in Agua Florida with its 96% alcohol base--with water, yellow die and natural essence of flowers. But to pour it on someone does not impart your soul to them. To spritz it on someone does not impart your spirit, just the material. I think what you sopla with doesn't matter at all: things like Agua Florida got used because someone brought it up and down the rivers and mountains and sold it to lots of people. Just like Taboo, ayahuasca's favorite cologne: Someone brought that up and down the rivers 90 years ago and it became the standard cologne to use in ayahuasca ceremonies in the lowlands. To me, those are pretty incidental. What's vital is that whether you use water, beer, whiskey, whatever, you have taken the liquid to be sopla's into your mouth, taken a moment to put your soul into that, and then with full spiritual intention, used that spirit power to clean/protect/pray for the recipient in the moment you sopla them. That protection lasts a long time, longer than any perfume or cologne: You have given the gift of your soul. And I don't see how you do that from a spritz bottle.

1 comment:

Kuchinta said...

Peter, I agree with you.
Although I would use the words "spiritual energy" rather than soul to describe what is imparted by the sharing of one's bodily fluids.
That is the belief in my religion of Lucumi.