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Interview With Ayahuasca Shaman Artidoro
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Interview With Ayahuasca Shaman Artidoro


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Ayahuasca Shaman - Artidoro Aro Cardenas Interviewed …

Ayahuasca Shaman - Artidoro Aro Cardenas Interviewed
By Howard G Charing and Peter Cloudsley (2003)

This interview has been revised to include plant
classification names.

An extract from this interview appeared in the book Plant Spirit Shamanism (Destiny Books USA).

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  • 1. Ayahuasca Shaman Artidoro Aro Cardenas InterviewedBy Howard G Charing and Peter Cloudsley (2003)This interview has been revised to include plant classification names. Anextract from this interview appeared in the book Plant Spirit Shamanism(Destiny Books USA).
  • 2. The story of my path of medicine began when I saw a brother in law who healed and chanted and I saw that he earned a little bit of money, and I didn’t have any profession because my parents were poor. I only had studies up to fifth year primary and I wanted to get out of the place we lived, Parimarques on the River Ucayali, a day downstream from Pucullpa. I felt trapped in that pueblo, being poor, my brothersdrinking too much, and when we did find work we earned next tonothing. So I fled from there to the Montana (upper jungle), and also toTamaya in the Alto Ucayali. I was just 17 years old.I used to watch how the curanderos worked, how they cooked theirayahuasca. I loved listening to what they talked about, how theyprepared their remedies, their icaros (chants), and I began drinkingayahuasca.So I learned to brew ayahuasca and then went off on my own deep intothe jungle, to know the plants little by little, to smell the leaves androots of all the medicinal plants. I had no maestro to learn from. I dietedplants for a year and a half alone, and then returned to the city torecuperate as I was very thin by then. The first plants I dieted wereajosquiro (Cordia alliodora), huairacaspi (Cedrelinga Cataneiformis),chontaquiero, huayruro (Ormosia spp.), palo sangre (BrosimumRubescens), ana caspi (Vatairea guianensis), shihuahuaco (Dipteryxmicrantha), ayahuma (Couroupita Guianensi). Later I dieted chiricsanango (Brunfelsia Grandiflora), chullachaquicaspi(RemijiaPeruviana), bobinsana (Calliandra Angustifoli), remocaspi (AspidospermaExcelsum), abuta (Abuta grandifolia), clavo huasca (TynanthusPanurensi), as well as all kinds of renacos (Ficus Americana), and insira(Insira Limulana), capirona (Calycophyllum spp.), mishquipanga2
  • 3. (Renealmia alpine), timareo (Vochysia), sauco (Sambucus nigra), pijuayo(Bactris macana), ipururo (Alchornea castaneifolia).In the city I dieted lettuce, cauliflower, and beetroot, all those things aremedicine and give strength. For example lettuce is good for the lungs.Cucumber cools the body, and is good for skin, and apple juice helpswith indigestion and wind. When I was 21 I finally returned to my parents. My father was a lawyer but he neglected it for working on his clearing in the jungle. I went back into the Montana again. At that time all my chants were in Spanish so I went to learn from the indigenous Indians and I learned and dieted their plants. I lived with the Ashaninka. For example chiricsanango in their language is mocapari, and so on for all the plants, and I wrote their names down. So when I dieted these plants on my own; I knew how to call their spirits using the indigenous languages, and Iwould learn the icaros of these plants.It is also advantageous to be able to work in a different language so thatpeople don’t understand the words. So they don’t know what yoursaying or doing. For one thing, much envy can be avoided this way. Thenthere are misunderstandings, for example, if I am making an amarre (atie between a couple) and if the parents get to hear of it, they might getan exaggerated idea and go to the authorities to denounce it.Alternatively I might discover who is responsible for a robbery, and theperson who comes to me tells another who tells that person. Then thatperson might turn against me. Or they might go to justice to deny it, ormake a counter claim to make problems or to create a kind of smokescreen.3
  • 4. But when a person comes for knowledge or healing, I explain everythingthey need to know. It is not that I think they might steal my knowledge. A lot of the words in Shipibo don’t really mean much, like banana or canoe. They are like prayers. I use all the names of the plants, the plant spirits. When you diet a plant you discover what are its symptoms, it energies, what are its medicinal properties and what things it can cure, from personal experience. There are lots of books even in English, and this one from the Caribbean. I also started to learn from prayer books, such as the Cruz de Carabaca, the Rosa Cruzisto,and the San Cipriano. Green magic which is medicine, White magicwhich is water and air; I used Agua Florida, Camalonga (Thevetiaperuviana), perfumes and dedicated myself to studying all aboutaromas.I get people coming for help to give up drug addiction, people withfamily problems, where the woman has gone away from the man or theman has gone away from his children. These are amarres (ties), orPusanga situations.Supposing the woman has gone off, I bring her back so that the familycan consolidate again. I call the plant spirits which work for that. Renaco,Huayanche (Orchids), sangapilla (Chamaedorea fragrans), perfumes andI call her spirit back to her home. I blow smoke to reunite them. Let’s saythe Mama is here with me and the father is far away. I pull him back sohe returns to his home. In a short time he will be thinking of his childrenand his wife, and he comes back. I don’t need to have the actual plantsin front of me, I call their spirits.4
  • 5. I make my own perfumes from plants, no chemicals. They have wonderful smells, and I chant at the same time as I rub them on the children and the woman. The man starts thinking or dreaming of them. I have several different preparations; I am studying now how tomake them have nice colours, otherwise they tend to all look dark. I sent20 litres of these to France and they liked it a lot, many flowers, plantsand roots from the jungle.A smell has the power to attract. I can also make smells to attractbusiness, people who buy. You just rub it on your face and it brings inthe people to your business, if you are selling, people come to buy. I alsomake perfumes for love, and others for flourishing. These are the forcesof nature, what I do is give it direction with my breath so it has effect. Iuse my experience of the plants which I have dieted. I have a relationwith the plants and with the patient; I can’t make these things on acommercial scale.When I diet I take in the strength of the plant and it stays with me. LaterI find the illness or suffering of the person or what it is they want, andthe plant guides me and tells me if it is the right one for that person, andI cure them.The most important plants for me have been ajosquiro, ajo sacha(Mansoa alliance), chiric sanango, chullachaquicaspi, Pinon Colorado(Jatropha Gossypifolia), las albachas (Ocimum spp.), paico(Chenopodium Ambrosioides), verbena (Verbena littoralis), bobinsana(Calliandra Angustifolia), abuta (Abuta grandifolia), these are thestrongest.5
  • 6. The diets are strict; you need to be alone, and away from women. You bathe a lot after drinking them. I teach my apprentices all the ways and customs of each plant… My pipe of Cumaceba (Swartzia polyphylla) was carved by me. I smoke tobacco in it as protection against an attack by brujeria. My father didn’t want to live in the city so could never practice the law he hadstudied. My mother came from Tarapoto to live with him on the Ucayali,they liked growing bananas and yucca, and fishing, and they stayedthere. I am one of 18 children. They brought us up nicely and neverseparated until death. Both died years ago.Only two offspring still live there on the Ucayali where my parents areburied. Two are here in Iquitos but I can’t trace them. I couldn’t bare thehopelessness at my home then, of my drunken brothers. I suffered a lotto learn medicine, always on the good side. Now I can treat cancer,epilepsy, diabetes, etc.I learned from the Cashibo and Capanaua,but mostly Ashaninka… their world, theirmedicine and customs. They keep theirhouses and clearings very clean and tidy.They are hardworking and good hunters withbows and arrows.If people are very weak I don’t use the mostpowerful chants in Ashaninka, which inducevisions. The Huaynos are better in this case,they don’t stir people up so much, and theydon’t throw up. I need to concentrate to feelthe sound and movement of the earth, and6
  • 7. of space and the spirits of the plants. I have to be on the watch out forattack to, not just on me but the people I am looking after.I am forming my centre for people to learn about medicine but some ofthe money will go into a school for local people to benefit.7