The Ritual of Spiritual Purification
This ritual purifies the spirits of the participants, as its name suggests. In the old days Shipibo shamans practised these rituals frequently to clean and purify the spiritual body and to help it to flourish. There are two types of Spiritual Purification: normal, and special. A wide variety of colognes of different medicinal plants and palo maestros are used for the ritual of normal spiritual purification.
The special ritual requires the use of agua florida (a cologne made with a combination of flowers), mapacho cigarettes, essence of the ayahuasca vine, the toé plant and chacruna leaves and also candles and sacred stones known as ‘encantos’ (or charms). In the special ritual both shamans and participants drink small quantities of agua florida and smoke mapacho cigarettes, thereby promoting a trance-like state. Both smoking and indeed the ingestion of plant medicines are, of course, optional at all times, but greatly facilitate the therapeutic value of the ceremonies: specifically, mapacho, the natural tar-free jungle tobacco, has been used medicinally for millennia in the western Amazon and presents no known health hazards.
The shaman then invokes the spirit of different palo maestros and other aromatic medicinal, or teacher plants to heal, cleanse and purify the spirits of those taking part. Participants in a ritual of special spiritual purification sometimes experience visions and may hear spirit voices. Powerful emotions are often felt, ranging from joy to rage; great peace to anguish. These rituals may be undertaken for many different reasons: calming the emotional state of the recently bereaved, or of those deceived in love – among others. The rituals of spiritual purification that are performed in Ashi Meraya, both normal and special, complement and reinforce the healing, cleansing and purifying treatment delivered by the principal ceremonies of ayahuasca, tobacco and San Pedro.