Shamanism exists across the globe in all cutlures that have a connection to spirit. Often indigenous shamanism is assisted by plant-based entheogenic (‘invoking the divine within’) sacraments; other times entering trance and higher realms is accomplished through drumming, breathing, and other modalities.
In the Amazonian tradition, the men and women who safeguard the knowledge of the ayahuasca vine and of the spirits are the curanderos and curanderas (from the Spanish “to heal”), or as the West would call them, shamans.
Their role has been that of healer, priest and traveler between worlds, acting as intermediaries between the spiritual dimension and this world on behalf of their patients. Yet the demands of the profession and the rise of Western materialism throughout South America have seen a fall in prestige, and customers, for the curanderos.The profession, usually hereditary, was in danger of extinction before an unprecedented wave of Westerners started coming in search of ayahuasca and the healing it could provide.
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