The      AYAHUASCA VISIONS                                                              of              PABLO AMARINGO    ...
meditating. When it is uncovered        book about the artist’s work began        notes andthey will receive the power and...
Pablo’s paintings depict the    visions that he received during    his years of practice as an    ayahuasquero, they captu...
He was brought into the houselooking half dead followed byseveral yacuruna4.’   ‘I was not allowed to look, but Iwas curio...
TERMS USED IN THE TEXT                                                                               1: Ayahuasquero is a ...
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'The Ayahuasca Visions of Pablo Amaringo' - Article from Sacred Hoop Magazine Issue 71


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Article from Sacred Hoop Magazine Issue 71 (2011) about the book 'The Ayahuasca Visions of Pablo Amaringo', by Howard G Charing, Peter Cloudsley.

<a>The Ayahuasca Visions of Pablo Amaringo</a>

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'The Ayahuasca Visions of Pablo Amaringo' - Article from Sacred Hoop Magazine Issue 71

  1. 1. The AYAHUASCA VISIONS of PABLO AMARINGO Howard G. Charing and Peter Cloudsley The outside world was first practice as an ayahuasquero1, they introduced to the work of the capture the spirits, sub-aquatic Peruvian artist Pablo Amaringo cities, celestial realms, extra- with the 1991 publication of the terrestrial beings of great wisdom, book; ‘Ayahuasca Visions: The sorcerers in battle with shamans, Religious Iconography of a all revealed to him by ayahuasca. Peruvian Shaman,’ and since then he has been recognised as one of Pablo’s paintings are imbued the world’s great visionary artists. with a supernatural quality, as he Pablo Amaringo was renowned regarded them as physically for his intricate, colourful paintings manifested ícaros3. Pablo chanted inspired by his shamanic visions. ícaros whilst he painted into them He was a master communicator of as though they were medicine. the ayahuasca experience. He was He explained: “I chant ícaros entirely self-taught, and able to when I paint, so if ever a person paint with meticulous botanical wishes to receive teaching or precision the Amazonian healing, they should cover the landscapes and the essential painting with a cloth for two or mythic content of his visions. His three months. On the day they paintings depict the visions that he remove the cover, they should received during his years of prepare themselves by bathing and36 SH ISSUE 71 2011
  2. 2. meditating. When it is uncovered book about the artist’s work began notes andthey will receive the power and in a moment of serendipity during journals, and weknowledge of the ícaros that were an ayahuasca ceremony in January held manysung into it.” 2007 in the Peruvian Amazon. meetings with In 1988 Pablo founded the Howard G Charing Pablo inUsko Ayar Amazonian School of remembered the experience: “My Pucallpa toArt in Pucallpa, dedicated to visions that night were filled with explore thedepicting and preserving the ways the vivid colours and motifs of multi faceted,of life and indigenous knowledge Pablo’s work, and then in what I allegorical, andof the Amazon. The work of the can only describe as a neon- mythic qualitiesschool has been tremendously coloured flash of electricity, the of the paintings.influential and created what we message appeared to do a book In thesenow call ‘New Amazonian Art’. on Pablo’s work.” meetings withThe author and plant spirit “The following day I was still Pablo we wereshamanic practitioner Steve Beyer filled with this ‘electricity’ from the amazed at hiswrote of Pablo’s work, ‘I think it is ayahuasca session, and then I vast eclecticfair to say that the surge of knew with certainty that this book knowledge andforeigners seeking out would happen. I discussed the idea we also enjoyed his personal Above: Pablo,ayahuasqueros in the Amazon, with Peter [Cloudsley], as he and I anecdotes, his spiritual wisdom and Peter andbeginning in the mid-1990s, was had been working since the gentle humility. Howarddriven in large part by Pablo’s 1990’s organising ayahuasca and This was also a joyful discuss aextraordinary paintings. Indeed, as plant medicine retreats in the experience for Pablo, as he notes paintingdepictions of ayahuasca Amazon. We decided to visit Pablo in his own introduction to the newexperiences have grown normative, in Pucallpa - as we had known book: ‘This book is very differentit may be that in addition to the Pablo and collected his work for from my first book, because I haveexperience prescribing the art, the many years - and discuss this with felt much freer to express myselfart is prescribing the experience.’ him. When we spoke of it, Pablo’s in it. For the former book The well-known visionary artist face immediately lit up, and then everything was written down fromRobert Venosa says of Pablo’s with great enthusiasm we the beginning and we gave it anwork, ‘The high mission of art, embarked on the book.” academic appearance so that itthrough its illusions, is to The book was a complex would be taken more seriously, orforeshadow higher states of reality, project, which required cataloguing at least recognized as a piece ofand no one did this better in the and having the paintings anthropology.’depiction of the ayahuascan worlds professionally photographed. At a ‘Eighteen years ago, one didthan Pablo.’ later stage we migrated to using not expect to get much credence digital scanning technology. for subjective experiences, and myCREATING THE NEW BOOK Pablo provided us with fears of being misinterpreted orThe inspiration for creating a new hundreds of pages of his personal criticised for not being Catholic ONDAS DE LA AYAHUASCA At the top of the picture the sun radiates brilliant universe which we call God. We see that everything waves. As the source of all life on earth, the sun is energy and all matter is formed of pulsating represents the blessings of the divine celestial waves and vibrating particles of electromagnetic pattern, the ultimate source of all life in the energy. For us on earth the sun is the source of this energy and we perceive it as light. Our eyes can only see a limited spectrum of chromatic light as in the rainbow. Other frequencies are invisible such as infra- red and ultraviolet. The ayahuasquero and his assistants in the ayahuasca ceremony here can perceive the iridescent rainbows emanating from the alternate dimension normally invisible to the eye. Ayahuasca is one of the most remarkable gifts from the plant realm, as it contains chemicals identical to the neurotransmitters found in the human brain. When you drink ayahuasca the sensory neurons that transmit messages inside the brain are enhanced so that a person can discover extrasensory perception and receive wisdom and knowledge. SH ISSUE 71 2011 37
  3. 3. Pablo’s paintings depict the visions that he received during his years of practice as an ayahuasquero, they capture the spirits, sub-aquatic cities , celestial realms, extra- terrestrial beings of great wisdom, sorcerers in battle with shamans, all revealed to him by ayahuascaAbove: Pablo were greater.’ much on what might be In the book there is muchand Peter look ‘I have told my personal stories meaningful or otherwise. material about plants; theirat a painting behind the visions and my In his painting ‘Unicornio medicinal and shamanic properties,together experiences with Amazonian Dorado,’ for example, he contrasts and the traditional ways of the people and folklore. All of this the Western rational path to the indigenous peoples of the Amazon. should provide guidance to people wisdom of the indigenous way, Some of the stories that Pablo following the way of plant which, he said, is faster. He had told about his grandfather and great knowledge and ayahuasca - to live tried both routes and believed that uncle, who were both formidable life more creatively and take more ultimately both were needed if our paleros2, were fascinating. These care of the earth.’ spirituality was to evolve sufficiently stories challenge our notion of to lift humanity out of the crisis in reality as they traverse the WORKING WITH PABLO which we find ourselves. boundary of the everyday and the Sometimes Pablo’s explanations of supernatural worlds. the meanings behind his paintings One of the most gratifying and For example in the painting played intriguingly with ambiguities, important aspects of working with ‘Yacuruna Huasi’ Pablo related a and hinted at the ineffable. At Pablo on the book project was that personal experience, ‘When I was a times we struggled with our we were documenting oral boy I saw my grandfather, Ambrosio interviews with him, and they knowledge that otherwise would Amaringo Vazquez, rescue a person challenged us not to arbitrate too have been lost. who had been missing for months.UNAI SHIPASHThe muses of time can be seen in the upper sphere (virtues); they represent elevated qualities of love,and the accompanying muses of space in the lower compassion and kindness.sphere. The two divinities in yellow are virtudes The muses in the lower sphere watch over the entire biosphere from the ozone layer down to the depths of the ocean. Time and space appears united to us, and we are a part of them, but an alternate time and space also exists beyond our everyday experience which we can perceive through the eye of ayahuasca. The eyes are the windows through which the world attracts us, through which we choose colours, shapes, and sizes. It is possible for us to lose all this at any moment; if we go blind, there will be no use for our eyes. Space will continue to exist in our hearts and minds but no longer in our vision. They say time is worth silver or gold but in fact it has no material equivalent. In spiritual terms, time is life and not to be wasted, so we should take what is offered and learn what we can. Everything has a purpose.38 SH ISSUE 71 2011
  4. 4. He was brought into the houselooking half dead followed byseveral yacuruna4.’ ‘I was not allowed to look, but Iwas curious, so I climbed up to theroof of the house and lifted thepalm leaves to look into the room.There I saw the yacurunas with theirfaces hidden under their sunhatssurrounding the rescued man.’ ‘The padre on the verandaafterwards said it was too late;the man was already transformedinto a different shape. He saidnothing could be done, the manwould have to go back to live withthe yacuruna.’ On two occasions in 2008Pablo suffered acute dengue fever,which severely debilitated him.After this, he never fully regainedhis strength and vigour. In 2009he became visibly frail and weknew deep down that he might notmake it through to the book’spublication. We felt that he knew this too,because in March of that year hesaid, “I fear that I will go before Ipaint all that I have seen. But thisis no problem... I will finishpainting them the next time when Icome back.” On November 16, 2009, after abrief illness, Pablo César Amaringodied at his home in Peru,surrounded by his friends and family. Pablo said of his work that itrequires the viewer to be curious,because its meaning will not beunderstood from a superficiallooking. Of the book we producedtogether he told us; “It requiresreaders to ask why and what thebook is trying to teach them, and it AYARI HUARMIis my hope that this book will be The picture reveals the eternal should develop wisdom to be ofpublished in order that people might mystery of the feminine. When a service to beauty in their lives.benefit from what I have learned, woman works with the spirit of When a woman learns to sing icaros,and I have faith in its success.” ayahuasca and other plants, her they resemble tuneful bird song,For more information about the book, radiant spiritual purity appears in flowing water or the sound of windphoto galleries, and opportunities topurchase fine art reproductions of the the vision embellished and blowing through the trees.paintings featured therein, visit garlanded with beautiful flowers. Her ícaros evoke the joy you Just as lakes and rivers have when you visit a park brimming withHoward G Charing has organisedspecialist retreats since the 1990s to the luxuriant foliage and blossom brilliant flowers and majestic trees.Amazon rain forest. He co-authored Plant adorning their banks, so a woman Therefore, when a woman developsSpirit Shamanism: Traditional Techniquesfor Healing the Soul, published by Destiny expresses the splendour of the her innate esoteric knowledge she isBooks (2006). entire natural world. much wiser and more capable than aPeter Cloudsley is a musicologist and Women embody heavenly beauty, man is.writer who, since 1980, has created anarchive of traditional music and interviews tenderness and grace, while menin Peru and collected for the BritishMuseum. He published A Survey of Musicin Peru in 1993, and two CDs: FiestaMusic from Peru (2000) and Shamans ofPeru (2002). He established the AmazonRetreat Centre in Mishana in 2004. SH ISSUE 71 2011 39
  5. 5. TERMS USED IN THE TEXT 1: Ayahuasquero is a specialist in ayahuasca. The term ‘shaman’ is a recent Western import into the Amazon in the past thirty years. In the Amazonian tradition there are many specializations and categories. The traditional generic term would be Vegetalista, which denotes they have received their power from the plant kingdom. 2: Palero is a specialist in the bark, roots, and resins of trees. 3: Ícaros are magical chants that are sung or whistled by shamans during Ayahuasca ceremonies. There are several kinds of ícaros. At the beginning of a ceremony their purpose is to provoke the mareación or visionary trance state, and to render the mind more susceptible for visions to penetrate. The shaman on his plant diet learns the ícaros directly from the plant spirits. Ícaros have great power and influence on the visionary experience of people drinking ayahuasca in a ceremony. Pablo also regarded the ícaro as the sound of the universe - the planets, stars, comets, and supernovas. Everything is created by music, by vibration, by sound. Ícaros are the music of creation. 4: Yacuruna: in the mythological world of the Amazon, the yacuruna (literally ‘water people’) are the primordial hairy ancestors of humans. They inhabit the subaquatic realm of rivers and lakes. They kidnap people to be theirBARCO FANTASMA consorts.Manuel Huaya was a great the indigenous peoples’ first sightingayahuasquero who travelled about in of the rubber barons in thehis boat healing people everywhere nineteenth century.using ayahuasca and medicinal Peering through theplants. He inhabited a world of undergrowth at the edge ofgreat masters from Atlantis and a river they see a hugeChina, and lived with the fairies, steamer hissing at themsylphs and muses who guarded the and seemingly returning theforests, rivers and plants. incredulous looks of the Manuel Huaya transformed a huge Indians through the eyes onanaconda into the phantom boat you its prow. The clatteringsee here with two huge eyes and a engines shatter thesteel horn on its forehead - like a primordial tranquillity ofrhino - for defending itself from the river at night, and thedanger. It has several floors, each steamer’s electric lightsrepresenting a level of life’s cause the natives toevolution, at the same time a level perceive the steamer as anof social hierarchy. Amazonian spirit Peter Cloudsley remarked about accompanied by welcomingthis painting; “Here we can imagine mermaids and sylphs.”40 SH ISSUE 71 2011