The aura is a luminous radiation, generally considered paranormal, which certain people can see around both living and non-living bodies. Whilst the ‘light’ emitted is generally outside the visual spectrum, it has long been known that such radiation can be captured in a visible and impressively beautiful manner using Kirlian photography, although such techniques have long been debunked as relatively banal. However, more recently, scientific research has suggested that gifted healers can indeed diagnose ailments by the precise quality (frequency) of such radiation.
Within the Shipibo-Conibo culture, the subject aura-cleansing baths is a wide-ranging one as there are so many different types of baths. The cleansing baths administered in Ashi Meraya are tailored to the physical condition and spiritual situation of each visitor – which are, of course, parts of the same whole. Whether the patient is receiving a healing treatment or is undertaking a programme of shamanic apprenticeship, he or she must necessarily bathe with the leaves of different teacher plants. Principal amongst these are ‘pion colorado’, ‘pion blanco’, ‘ayahuasca’ (not to be confused with the better known potion, or brew, of the same name, derived from its leaves and other plants), ‘remocaspi’, ‘shimi pampana’ and ‘ajo sacha’. Also used are the flowers of ‘sacha chacruna’, ‘mucura’, ‘rosa sisa’ and ‘ruda’. Bathing with these plants assists the spiritual cleansing of the patient and further reinforces the primary treatments effected by the ceremonies of ayahuasca, tobacco and San Pedro.
Once the energies of each plant have been absorbed the spirits of these plants present themselves both during dreams and during the visions shown to the patient by those plants considered ‘hallucinogenic’ – primarily ayahuasca, tobacco and San Pedro. It is believed that the appropriate teacher plants can heal or alleviate virtually any physical ailment or psychological problem.