The Fire Ritual
The fire ritual is one of the most ancient of the Shipibo-Conibo culture, and also one of the very many rituals which is almost extinct, as knowledge of the traditional procedures has all but died out. This ritual was practised particularly by the Merayas in order to receive the energy of fire, so that the spiritual body of the Meraya would be ‘lit up’ – or enlightened – both by burning the negative energies of the physical body, and by purifying the spiritual body.
The fire ritual would be carried out before attempting a major shamanic feat, such as a competition with other Merayas, shape shifting into animals (a jaguar, perhaps, or a bat) or some other object – such as a stone, or a piece of wood – or demonstrating to one’s fellow Merayas one’s capacity to become invisible. It was also appropriate, for example, to assist a patient on the verge of death, or to help a dieter who had broken his diet to get back on track.
In Ashi Meraya, the fire ritual is used to expunge everything negative from each participant, who is asked to write down all the negative aspects of his/her life and personality on a piece of paper which is thrown into the fire, with intention, to destroy the negative.