A Spiritual Reflection – AKA Two Cities, Three Shaman and Lessons About Ayahuasca

Heather Markel, Writer, Speaker, Photographer, Traveler, Business Strategist

A visit to Peru just doesn’t seem complete without seeing a Shaman!

It seemed to me that if I were going to be in Peru, I should meet with a Shaman. Now that I’m a year and a half into this amazing journey, I wanted to know what they would say to me. I had also heard about Ayahuasca and was curious about it and uncertain whether or not to do it. So, I hoped to get some clarity about this as well.

A mural in Lima representing Ayahuasca.

Photograph by Heather Markel. Copyright 2019

Ayahuasca was of interest to me because I understand it’s a big self-development enhancer. I didn’t know that it’s also a way to connect with ancestors and spirits, which is what many people use it for. After sseeking out and speaking with many people that have done it, I learned that the proper way is to cleanse your body for two weeks prior. This means not eating meat, no sex, no alcohol, no drugs. Then for the two days prior to your retreat, you fast. Once you drink the ayuahuasca, you essentially don’t have control of your bodily functions, so you’re in a room with people who are, um, relieving their bodies in every way imaginable. None of these things sounded alluring to me, but I met a woman who guided me to a Shaman in Aguas Caliente who could help me make a decision about it. (If you’re considering doing ayahuasca, please, do your research beforehand. A whole market has sprung up catering to Westerners who want a “quick ayahuasca fix” and will pay for it. I understand some people have died from taking incorrect dosages, so make sure you’re working with someone reliable and trustworthy.)

“Three very different, and very rewarding, experiences.”

My first shaman experiences were in Cusco. I took that free walking tour I mentioned in my last post and asked the tour guide if he knew a good Shaman. He recommended one at the Sacred Plant museum/Museo de Plantas Sagradas. I eagerly went, only to discover Maps.me had the wrong address. It was getting late in the day, so I found myself rushing to get to the correct address, found on Google Maps. I say rushing, but, with the altitude and unexpected steep uphill climb, it was like walking through sand and wondering why I wasn’t getting anywhere, all while the clock still ticked. I almost gave up because with every turn, I found another uphill street to climb. When I finally found the place, I had to stop to catch my breath for several minutes. Once inside, I learned the Shaman wasn’t there and was told to return the following day around 2pm, which I did.

..his was a magical experience. From the moment I returned, still out of breath, but at least more prepared for the journey, I felt like I chose the right place. The Shaman brought me outdoors and we sat at a table. She opened a cloth, in which was a pile of coca leaves. She pulled out 5 of them, explained they each represented a part of me and began to tell me about my life, and then told me I could ask her 5 questions. Here’s what I learned:

  • My gifts are speaking and selling. I will make money crossing cultures, from one culture to another
  • The world is my home. I must keep traveling. (My heart literally leaped with joy at this!)
  • I will meet “my man” soon, apparently when I return to New York(!) He will simply appear and be the right one
  • My head and heart must work together – this intrigued me since, as you may know, I’ve been trying to follow my heart for this entire journey. This was a gentle reminder that my head and heart must work together for me to be in harmony. I realized they did when I decided to quit my job and that partnership made me feel very balanced.
  • A past relationship with a very strong connection and a painful ending was a connection from a past life. My spirit is young, his old, and I taught him to experience joy which he didn’t know before. Knowing the intensity was due to a past life connection eased the pain.

Water park in Lima, Peru.

Photograph by Heather Markel. Copyright 2019

Shaman number 2 at The Shaman Shop was, of the three, a bit disappointing. First, it was too expensive, almost US prices. When I complained, they gave me a discount, at least. I almost canceled the session, but decided to give it a whirl. My disappointment was that the Shaman seemed a bit tired and I didn’t feel like she was strongly connected to me.  That being said, it was still rewarding to hear that I’m on the right path and I did get some great insights. Here’s what I learned:
  • I need to tap into my imagination and dreams and create what I want – it’s not in reality yet. (Cool, because I have felt that for a long time.)
  • I must listen to nature and focus on what it’s saying to me
  • I’m on the right path, my soul is happy and I’m doing what I should be doing. (This validation was exceptionally rewarding.) A while ago, she sensed I was standing at the edge of an abyss unable to decide what to do, but that now, I’m like a lion and I know what I want.
  • Writing is part of the way I will earn money
  • I need to try not to overthink things because it keeps me in my head too much and distracts me from being present
  • This was funny – she picked up on a male spirit with me. I’m constantly saying out loud either “thank you for that!” or something like, “why did this happen to me?” – the male spirit told her I say these things, lol!

The third Shaman was in Aguas Caliente. I was most excited about him, but almost gave up because I couldn’t find his shop. I was told he was right near the thermal baths. I got out of breath, again, (in my experience, the best shaman require a long walk, a loss of breath, and a return the next day) walking all the way to the top of the town, and just couldn’t find the shop. I gave up. The next day, with extra time on my hands, I decided to try again. Coming from a different direction, for some reason, I found the shop. I inquired about the Shaman, Ignacio, and the shop owner called him. Ignacio came about 10 minutes later. While the other Shaman were mostly about doing a reading, Ignacio did an energy clearing with me. I felt the energy with him, it was palpable. When he put a stone in my hand, it pulsed. When he waved his hands, I felt the air shift. He spoke no English. Even though my other two Shaman readings were also in Spanish, Ignacio seemed more routed to Peru. I’m not sure how else to describe him. It’s like he’s part of an ancient Peru and his accent is a little harder to understand.

Ignacio not only cleared my energy, he did something to my back that eased the pain in my neck. I didn’t tell him anything about my neck issues, he just seemed to know. Here’s what I learned from Ignacio:

  • I need to listen to nature more. Instead of Ayahuasca (which we agreed is not for me) I can fast and sit in nature, and listen, especially at the equinox and new moon
  • I’m meant to help many people. To do this I must forget everything and start again
  • I have to help myself first so I don’t over give and hurt myself, otherwise I can’t help others
  • Love is coming into my life very soon
  • Some people take advantage of my trust and kindness and deceive me, and that strong romance with the past life connection was apparently of an astrology sign that’s no good for me. More relief.

About three or four years ago I was in Sedona, Arizona, and met with a tarot card reader. Among other things, she told me that I was traveling so much she couldn’t keep up with me, and that there was healing work for me to do in Peru. I almost didn’t go to Peru because I was scared of what this might mean. Healing what? Healing how? Now that I’ve been, I feel like my heart was not only healed, but filled with new friends. This is the first time I have met with spiritual guides and been told my soul is happy and everything is fine and I’m doing the right thing. So, I do feel like my heart and my soul were not just healed, but acknowledged.

I’m still amazed that three entirely different Shamans, whose methods were very different, gave me such similar information. I’m glad I didn’t do the ayahuasca because it didn’t feel like the right choie for me. That being said, I was craving a connection to the spiritual, and I feel like I got exactly what I needed. I referred a new friend to the Shaman at the Sacred Plant museum and she also had a wonderful experience. If you’re ever there, I highly recommend giving it a try – just be prepared for a steep uphill walk, and possibly returning the next day.

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