MP3 sample from a CD of field recordings called Shamanic Healing Sounds of the Shuar: From the Ecuadorian Amazon

Ayahuasca Session One

TRACK 1 Casting Spells on the Ayahuasca: The murmurs heard may be compared to prayers. As the Shuar shaman or "uwishín" breathes out over a small bowl of thick Ayahuasca brew he invokes an array of spirits, with which he has had intimate contact throughout his life as healer and magician. These spirits are transferred by the shaman's breath to "natém" the hallucinogenic Ayahuasca brew, which is then ingested by the shaman, patient, and friends or family. This magical process known as "soplando" (literally "blowing") or "casting a spell" on the natém before consumption makes it much more powerful.

TRACK 2 Healing Sounds from an Ayahuasca Session: After the Ayahuasca has been taken the mind opens and thoughts return to their roots. It is possible to visit loved ones and relatives far away, and it is easier to see the good and evil that is in the world. Spirits are quite alive and communication with them is facilitated. The body feels as if it is soaring and all the worlds a vortex. The shaman is occasionally sending off his tsentsak: any number of powers, allies, and spirits embodied in magical arrows.

TRACK 3 Sucking Out and Returning of Poison Arrows: Poison Arrows known as "Tsentsak" are shamans' powers embodied in the form of arrows, darts, and splinters. Tsentsak are sent between batteling shamans and are often received by non-shamans with ill effects. When healing a patient the shaman takes ayahuasca, sings, and calls forth the spirits from within and without until the point at which he can see the patient clearly. Tsentsak are repeatedly sent out against any enemies that may might exist and the patient is made ready with alcohol sprayed from the mouth, fanning, perfume, crystals, tobacco and song. When the location of the bad tsentsak lodged within is isolated the shaman sucks it out with great force. To rally strength against the forces of the bad tsentsak the shaman smokes, drinks and snorts tobacco juice, and calls upon "Tsungi" the mother of all spirits who lives in the bottom of rivers and deep pools. When the Tsentsak is removed it is transferred to the shamans saliva and flem. At this point the shaman chooses to return the tsentsak to the original owner, but in doing so returns it with the intention of imposing the same harm if at all possible.

TRACK 4 Healing Sounds From an Ayahuasca Session: A pleasent song follows the removal of tsentsak. Songs are sung in part for their comforting effect. Much of a shamans work deals with comforting patients who may be suffering badly and in shock from tsentsak. When one is a target of tsentsak, all sorts bad things can happen and immunity to disease is easily lost.

TRACK 5 Shaman Monologue: Here the Shaman reasons in shuar about problems in society, those who are for him and those who are against him. Ayahuasca opens the mind and provides insight. An Ayahuasca session often has a component of "Reasoning" during which a shaman speaks his truth. Ayahuasca Session Two

TRACK 6 Ayahuasca Session with Two Shamans: In this Ayahuasca Session two shamans (uncle and nefiew) a generation apart take ayahuasca together and sing over the course of hours. These shamans called together the session because they believed that malevolent forces have been scheming against them, spreading bad rumors in neighboring villages and sending their tsentsak which had been making friends and families sick. Shamans undergo a life of training, and study under many shamans often hundreds of miles apart and from different tribes and regions. The older shaman (65 years) is heard singing a cyclical style of song unique to his lineage of shamanic tradition. Later the younger shaman (45 years) can be heard as he talks and does his turn of song. Finally a wonderful combination of song styles from the two shamans is heard blending in a polyrhythmic cacophony.

TRACK 7 Shaman Song: At the end of a long night in the hold of various forces: anaconda/Tsungi, Wankanim, Amaru Pasuk, Juri-juri, and a rain of tsentsak a thorough feeling of exhaustion persists. Somehow, the shaman is resilient though, and ready as ever for the return to the world of the every-day. He improvises an original melancholy song for his audience.