Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Curanderos falling off the path

Someone asked why a curandero with a good reputation might suddenly be acting very selfishly. This is how I responded:
There are several things at work here that I think are very important to remember. The first is to remember that the curandero is human. Knowing plants, having plant and other spirit allies does not change that. They get tempted by the same things that tempt the rest of us, and sometimes fall off the path because of that. Secondly: there is such a call for curanderos at the 100 plus centers around Iquitos alone — never mind the hundreds of other centers in Peru, Colombia, the USA, Europe, Central America, etc, who are serving ayahuasca, that some people serving have never even done ayahuasca. I know several camps around Iquitos where people I knew years ago are now serving and have never had the medicine, never seen a ceremony before stepping in as a curandero. Third, and this one is perhaps the most important, is that many curanderos work with the four magics (and there may be many more, but I will keep to the four that Julio LLerena, my teacher, and later my friend, used). Red magic is the magic of blood. It is the healing magic of the human and animal body. Green Magic, is the magic of nature. It is the magic that binds all of us together: The piss you take today will evaporate and be carried as rain to feed my children as spring water tomorrow. The piss I take, the spit I spit, will be the water that feeds your garden. White magic is the spark of life, the illuminating force of the universe, from the tiniest sub-atomic particle to the brightness of the stars. Black Magic is the molten, magnetic core of everything, the force that keeps things from spinning off helter-skelter, from the smallest sub-atomic particles to the earth, the sun, the entire universe. Now many real curanderos will wind up working with those magics and those magics will become allies. They will learn to heal with red magic, often utilizing the green magic of the plants and roots. They will bring light to darkness to illuminate problems, to expose fears, and so forth. They will utilize black magic to bring things together, to transform fear into fearlessness, cowardice into courage. BUTT there is an issue with black magic: It's magnetic force is so strong that in working with it, some of that magnetism will get on your fingers. You will be able to call things to you that you want. You will have that magnetic power to some extent. But the rule with black magic is that you may never call anything to yourself for selfish purposes. You can't choose to win a lottery ticket, you can't choose to get a girl or boy with that power. If you do, you lose all your allies and genios. But it is difficult to resist that temptation, and many good curanderos eventually fall under it's spell, and in so doing, fall off the path. So someone might be fantastic and loving and giving one day, and the next week they are out for themselves. It is a very difficult temptation to resist. And once you've fallen off the path, it is a very long and trying time to get back on it. I think that is why a lot of curanderos who work hard for years and decades, go through periods where they are not curanderos at all, but essentially leeches.


Luke said...

Is there information 'out there' about the four magics - other sources? This (and your book) is the first I've seen it articulated. It seems quite interesting, but few reports I've read include any kind of structure like this.
My google searched turned up your blog - and that's it.

Peter Gorman said...

Luke: I don't know anyone else who articulates it the way I do, which is essentially the way that Julio explained it to me. I'm sorry I can't help you with other sources.
Peter G

Luke said...

In my reading and listening, most discussions of the Ayahuasca experience seem strangely simplistic and incomplete, at least regarding the "map" of that world (as opposed to the personal experience). I think mostly it's a bunch of amateurs drinking some brew then thinking they know everything about "Mother Aya". Very little in-depth knowledge about the structure of the experience or the cultural cosmology.

Granted I'm not ANY kind of expert, but I found your description of the "magics" really interesting and compelling and unique. Very few westerners had the kind of intimate connection you did! I hope - some day - you might organize your knowledge and thoughts into a more in-depth article, blog post or even new book.