What are Icaros?
Icaros are medicine songs sung by shamans in the Amazon when peforming thier healing work. I will try my best to interpret what they are. It’s sometimes hard to find the words to explain something that is abstract in essence and find a way to explain it in a logical and linear way. Icaros are understood through following their sounds and allowing ourselves to be guided by them. They are understood experientially by following the sounds and energetic vibrations that they create. These sounds and vibrations are a direct interaction with the energy of the trees. The sounds that you hear are a movement, a flow of energy. A direct channel is opened to the spirit world by using the voice as a gateway and allowing this energy to flow through. The trees speak to us through the Icaros, sharing their healing medicine and knowledge. The Icaros are so much more than a sound! If you participate in an Ayahuasca ceremony (where you ingest visionary plants) the Icaros become 3D and you are able to visually see the forms, shapes and patterns that they create.
Where do Icaros come from?
Principally I was taught the Icaros by my maestros in the Amazon, (maestro (a) is used to address a trained shaman in Peru) the shamans held the space for me to be able to learn through energetic transference. They would sing or whistle the Icaros when performing healing ceremonies or doing their shamanic work. I would follow their Icaros with my voice and psychic intuition. This would allow me to be in the energetic field of my maestro, the energy of the Icaro and the patient. This is how I learnt. As part of my training I ingested the barks of the trees to enable the energy of the trees to be assimilated into my body, this energy would then surface in the form of an Icaro. So I have a mix of Icaros both learnt from my maestros and learnt directly from the trees.
How are Icaros used?
The Icaros are used to perform all aspects of a shamans work, bearing in mind that there are many different shamans in Peru and I am referring to the Ayahuasca (ayahuasqueros) and tree shamans (paleros) of the jungle.
The Icaros are used to manage a ceremonial space. They are used to call the energy of the trees and to create a sacred healing space. The Icaros are used in many different ways, principally they are used to call and bring forth the energy of the spirits they want to work with. The shaman uses the Icaros to ask the spirits for assistance in his healing work. Amongst many other things the Icaros are used to cleanse and realign the energetic centres of the heart, body and mind. They are also used in a ceremonial context to maintain energetic balance.
One of the ways a shaman uses an Icaro is to perform a healing, known as a ‘venteada’. The shaman creates an energetic field of medicine using the Icaro and a leaf rattle known as a ‘shacapa’. This energetic field envelops the patient and enables him to receive healing . The shaman uses his knowledge, intuition and guidance from the spirits to know which icaro to sing when. The Icaro is then blown into the patient’s body where it will carry on its work of teaching and straightening the energies. The medicine is blown into the crown chakra, the energetic centre found at the top of the head, the chest, back hands and feet. The medicine (la medicina) is what we refer to as the healing energies of the trees. The shaman ingests the plants to fill his body with the tree medicine and then passes this on to his patients, through the Icaro and by blowing it into their body.
Special brews are prepared using the sacred plants of the Amazon. These brews are prepared by the shaman singing an Icaro into each person’s brew. Undertaking a ‘dieta’ allows the person to have a profound learning/healing experience with the spirits of the trees. The Icaro acts as a system of communication between the shaman and spirits, the healing intention is set through the Icaro.
Infusing matter with the Icaros
Icaros can also be used to transfer the energy of the trees into them. An example of this is singing Icaros into perfume that the shaman uses to protect their bodies before undertaking healing work. The Icaros can also be used to bless objects such as crystals and amulets. The sacred Tree essences have been prepared in this way.