Shamanism in Modern Peru
Shamanism Is Alive and Well in Today's Peru ~ While it is difficult to make generalizations about exactly what any modern shaman believes because there are so many religious and cultural influences at play in today’s Peru, these ancient medicine men and women are as powerful a force in modern life as they were millennia ago. Even more significantly, they are accessible to you when you visit the country. When we take guests to Peru, we go out of our way to make sure those who want an authentic shamanic experience find what they desire.
Shamanism actually refers to a range practices and beliefs relating to people’s interactions with the spiritual world. At the simplest level, shamans are intermediaries or messengers between this world and another. While some modern humans turn to rabbis or priests or perhaps pray to saints of ages past, in Peru the tradition of the shaman is still very much alive.
Shamans do more than just help people communicate with the gods, however. In many Peruvian traditions, shamans treat illness of the body by rebalancing failings in the soul. Cleansing a damaged or weighed-down soul is believed to restore an ailing body to wholeness. Shamans are also believed to actually enter the spirit world and bring back treatments, solutions and guidance on how to overcome obstacles.
Throughout the ages in Peru, shamans have been among the most respected and revered of the nation’s citizens. In a society of generalists who pitch in together to get through the challenges of daily life, shamans are uniquely qualified specialists who often perform no other tasks than their duties as healers and advisors.
Shamanism is seen as a calling from beyond this realm in many circles. The role of the shaman may be handed down through families, but it is often passed to people who first seek the guidance or healing of an existing shaman. When nothing else works for them, those who find that a shaman’s treatment improves their lives sometimes feel compelled to carry on the tradition themselves.
It’s difficult to say just what any particular shaman believes or what he or she does during an encounter because Peruvian culture has been influenced by many tribes, many events and a wide assortment of outsiders who have left a profound impact on this civilization. For some, the concept of the shaman even interacts seamlessly with the Roman Catholic or other seemingly unrelated religious traditions.
Today, a shaman is as easy to find as a walk to the San Pedro Market in Cuzco. Around Peru, shamans are available in markets and waiting at sacred sites to present their heritage and offer their healing powers to locals and tourists alike. In Spanish, a common word for a shaman is a curandero or curandera, so look for these on your visit to Peru. Literally translated, the label simply means healer.
On a wider scale, Peruvian shamans gather every year in Lima to make predictions about world events and to take part in a ceremony aimed at protecting the spirits of world leaders. These holy ones gather at a hill in the Rimac district called San Cristobal, just behind the Presidential Palace in Lima, because these particular shamanic leaders consider that site one of the most sacred. Your experience with one of Peru’s modern shamans could include anything from prayers involving special objects or stones, Despachos, or the use of mild hallucinogenic herbal preparations, if you’re willing.
Each encounter is unique, and each is a unique chance to involve yourself deeply in the amazingly rich and varied culture and spirituality of Peru, one of the most interesting places on the planet.
by: Mike and Tajinder Hammer, Eagle-Condor Peru Adventures
Mike and Tajinder Hammer are passionate about the teachings of Peru’s medicine people and lead regular tours to Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley. Join them for an extraordinary trip to Machu Picchu and beyond.