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Shipibo Curandera at Temple of The Way of Light. Photo by Tracey Eller for Cosmic Sister

Las Maestras
DoubleBlind, Issue No. 3
by Shelby Hartman

SHIPIBO ELDERS THROUGHOUT THE AMAZON ARE HEALING FOREIGNERS—BUT WHAT’S THEIR STORY?

Exerpt:

Zoe Helene, founder of Cosmic Sister, an environmental feminist advocacy group that supports women’s voices in the sacred plant community, points out that the beauty of this cultural exchange is that it’s once again making curanderismo a viable life choice in Shipibo communities. Two decades ago, she says, most Shipibo youth considered curanderismo to be a thing ofthe past, instead aspiring to move to Lima or other metropolitan areas and have what they considered modern lives.

“The interest in ayahuasca among foreigners has not only been economically beneficial for a whole lot of people, it’s been remarkable for helping to preserve and protect the completely dying and vanishing art of shamanic practice,” says (Chris) Kilham.

The most important thing, Kilham, Helene, and Watherston all emphasize, is that the extraordinary healing the Shipibo are giving to foreigners comes back to them in a cycle of what’s called sacred reciprocity.

“What are you doing for the indigenous Amazonian people, other than just attending an ayahuasca retreat?” asks Helene. “What are you doing for the precious environment they steward?”

July 2020