The Ritual of Remocaspi
Remocaspi is the palo maestro which, in the Shipibo culture, is known as the medicine tree. Its bark is used to cure various illnesses such as all types of hepatitis and skin cancer, amongst others. Apprentice shamans learn from this tree, drinking the pure juice of its bark as part of a strict diet to receive its healing powers. The spirit of this tree is quite demanding; ‘dieteros’ receive its medicinal, or healing, energy through a special ritual before which it is necessary to leave a mapacho cigarette or some tobacco at the foot of the tree as a payment.
As an interesting aside, ‘remo’ means oar, the Remocaspi tree being so named because it’s timber lends itself particularly well to the manufacture of oars, or paddles, essential propulsion for the traditional canoes which – until recently – were the only form of vital river transport. However, in a typical reflection of the Amazonian insight into plant properties, the wood of the Remocaspi contains a rare chemical compound which is released in the water from the oars, and actually repels the aquatic version of woodworm which would otherwise make quick work of the wooden canoes.