What is Chakruna?

Chakruna, the name given to the plant Psychotria viridis, is a beautiful name and with a profound meaning. In this piece of writing, I hope to shed light on the meaning of the name chakruna, this in order to better understand the purpose of this sacred Amazonian plant, in hopes to inspire further respect for the mighty rainforest, original ways,  and their people. Allow me to first elucidate the meaning of its latin name, Psychotria viridis. Psychotria is Greek for vivifying, meaning to give or endow with life and refers to the healing properties of several species in this genus, the word also refers to mind, breath and life, and viridis is latin for green, referring as well to concepts of young, fresh, vibrant and youthful. 

A coffee family shrub, Psychotria virdis, that acts as a bridge between spirit and matter.

The name chakruna  stems originally from the Inka people and their descendants, the Runashimi speaking Kichwa people of the upper Ecuadorian and Peruvian upper Amazon, where this bush is native to. Encapsulated within this name is an entire school of wisdom. The name chakruna (chagruna) essentially means to mix together.  A binomial name comprised of two words, chak “bridge” and runa.  “person.” Both these words refer to huge concepts, opening understanding into a vast array of meaning, directly related to ones life essence, to the cosmos and to one relationship with nature and the universe.  When both words are placed together, it gets so huge that it becomes so simple, its unifies the largest impossible concept with the smallest possible notion. The word can be interpreted as “bridge between realms.

Indigenous languages are symbolic language, fascinating are the vast array of meanings that can be derived from a single word, and the word chak or chag can have many connotations depending on the suffix added, here are some from a Kichwa dictionary. “spree, splurge, unrestrained, party, festival, protest, noise, crowd, a field, garden, sowing seeds and plants, to water, sprinkle, landlord, chief of a place, overseer, to mix, a mixture, to mingle, meddle, to stir, to praise, to sit, the color lilac, transparent, a bridge, crossing over, stairs, a staircase, a ladder, rising, Chakana, the Andean cross, the Catholic cross, the plus sign, union of opposites, to punch or slap, over there, part of another, to spread out, disperse, spread a message, gloat or speak well of oneself, the foot, walking, someone who walks, passerby, to dry out after having been wet, a towel, summers months, the sun, a basin, bowl, to wilt, languish, a fountain, parallel, impose, weigh down, burden, cargo, inherit, home, estate, dismantle, requisition, taking over, seize, hunt, hunter.”

Note: In the unified Kichwa language used today among Runashimi speakers, the letter c sound is spelled using the letter k, reason here for me choosing to write the plants name as chakruna, with a k rather than chacruna as its spelled across related literature. 

Let us look at the word Chak, this word in essence refers to the Chakana the Inka cross, associated with the constellation of the Southern cross. Chakana represents cosmic and cultural harmony. It is understood that the plant chakruna has to do with facilitating understanding of the meaning of chakana. And the chakana is a symbol that encompasses an entire cosmology of wisdom and has deep and far reaching implications into the affairs of the individual, the community and the state. The symbol shares insight into the realms of existence, the heavenly realm, the here and now realm and the inner realm, as well as the union of the past, present and future, in the here and now.

Chakana at the Temple of the Three Windows, Macchu Pichu, by Heather Jasper 

Encapsulated into the Chakana are the directions and the season, the symbol can also be viewed as a spiral, a wheel and a calendar. It teaches of human ethics, of the need for a life in morality, and of the various venues for service, helping all reach towards an altruistic vision for evolving heaven on earth. The Chakana grants clarity into the union of male and female, of light and darkness,  of life and death, of day and night, in essence it reveals the truth of the union of opposites, and acts as a road map sop to say to navigate this unified persepective. And it is just this, what the chakruna plant together with its inseparable partner the ayahuasca vine teach. Reason why they are called Plantas maestras ~ “Plant teachers”

The Chakana represents the motherland, the Inka homeland called the Tawantinsuyu, meaning “The Four Realms Together.” The wisdom transmitted via the Chakana is understood to be like an umbilical cord that unites people with the understanding of how to live. As such the symbol of the Chakana facilitates understanding, delineating a way of embracing a life of unity. An entire book can be written about the Chakana.  it is a beautiful and profound contribution to humanity from the Inka people.   

The first Inkas emerging from Lake Titicaca by maestro Pablo Amaringo

Let’s take a deeper look at the word chakruna. Chak refers to the rungs of a ladder or a bridge. A ladder is used to rise to a higher place, one rung at a time. A bridge is to cross over an impassable spot on the trail. Both the ladder and the bridge have profound symbolic meaning in indigenous worldview and are understood as symbols of ascension, awakening, and of attaining deep spiritual wisdom. Runa means a balanced or integral person. In Kichwa thought Runa symbolizes the harmonious union of male and female. This is to the extent that a young leader who is still unmarried, if they are to present at a community meeting, must appear with the presence of their mother or sister, father or brother. Thus in essence, we can say the name chakruna translates as, the steps towards achieving wholeness. 

Inka ceramic, Museo Inka Cusco Peru by Bryan Castro

There are two more essential aspects encapsulated in the word chakruna. These being the concept of the chakra, the garden, as the center of the indigenous cosmovision and the purina tambu, the remote jungle garden as the campus for embodying the cosmology through practice and training. Why is the garden the center of the indigenous cosmovision? This is because in the garden, through the work ethic it requires one can find the deeper meaning inside oneself of learning to live a life of alignment. A life in alignment with the universal laws that govern our life. 

Harvesting yagé

The garden is where one’s sustenance is obtained, on behalf of many hours a day of practicing the mindful meditations of weeding, harvesting, planting, usually done barefoot, of being close to the earth. And the far off wilderness garden, the training grounds, reached after a long healthy walk, where the customs of old are upheld, such as the drinking of entheogenic plant brews, hunting, fishing and making a wide array of arts and crafts, that are the utensils of everyday life such as baskets and nets. Walking allows for one to to rhythmically swing both sides of the body, this in turn helps one to achieve inner balance. Walking also helps one to process incidents that have occurred and to integrate their lessons. And walking is a vital practice for releasing negativity and helping to renew oneself. Hunting, fishing and making arts and crafts teach one patience and how to concentrate one’s energy. 

Spiritual Cosmology by Pablo Amaringo

The Song of the Rainbow Serpent – Casimiros grandfathers song.

The boa almost got me but I escaped, because a child I am, because I am a walking person. What is it that you can do? There is nothing that you can do. Because I am a walking person. On your boa’s tail I step, there is nothing that you can do. Through every town I have walked, and there is nothing that you can do. A Green green rainbow is appearing, and a clear river is appearing. On a rock I sit, standing I sing. On a rock I sit, standing I sing. 

This song has rich meaning, the interpretation of which this song can be found in Rainforest Medicine, on page 91. Essentially we can see here the importance of walking as a means of renewing oneself, gaining spiritual strength and merging with true nature. The rainbow serpent is a reoccurring theme among various ancient peoples. The Siekopai speak of the Toyá Uncucui, the designs boa, (Rainforest Medicine, on page 65) that is the teacher of the traditions of yagé, The Toyá Uncucui, can engulf one in its mystical translucent light in many ways, opening the path to the celestial realms. The Aboriginal Australians have wonderful myths related the Rainbow Serpent

Wisdom of the Sumiruna  ( master of high spiritual achievement) by Pablo Amaringo

Drinking of the entheogens is traditionally upheld in a remote place, a place where one can give oneself the time to integrate the experience in the quietude of nature. Then there is the topic of how to prepare a proper brew, one that is charged with spiritual energy and not just alkaloid soup, that produces little to no visions nor the desired reverie inebriation. On the contrary alkaloid soup, or mal-prepared entheogenic brews, just makes one drunk, leaving one in a state of stupor, or at best will make one puke and bring on some of the energetic and visionary effects, or at worst it can trigger incidents that bring on grave, difficult to cure illness, that can take many years to overcome. 

As you can see, all this is about a way of life, far beyond alkaloids, far beyond one night ayahuasca sessions and ‘bang’ back to one’s daily routine. And the debate of whether the modern reductionist approach, that attributes the effect of the plant merely to its alkaloids, may be fundamentally flawed. This is much more than a lure to discover novel ways to make money or invent anything that is not in true service to all life. The bridge these plants are taking from the Amazon towards modern Western settings must be paved with integrity. People are working whole-heartedly to see this integrity be upheld, setting standards that will allow these sacred plants to take their mission yet another step further, from healing, to renewing peoples clarity, to ushering in ways for communities to navigate these tumultuous times. One such group is the Chakruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines who have a plethora of information on their web and a vast array of resources available all towards appropriate use. And, the Sacred Plant Alliance, whose mission is, “to facilitate the collaboration of healers and spiritual communities across the United States in developing and upholding best standards of practice with these sacred medicines.” 

And while there is all kinds of mis usage from lack of experience and all kinds of other misguided motives, undeniably there are more and more groups earnestly seeking to use entheogenic rainforest plant medicines in the correct way. This being in ways that bring only positive effects among all participating in the endevour. 

The auspicious effects of these plants is about context, about set and setting and about following certain ancestral protocols in the preparation of ones body and the brew. It is about initiating oneself into a way of life that reaches to embody a virtuous and auspicious way of being in service, calmness and joy.  These guidelines are designed to allow the alkaloids to act as anchors for the celestial energies to settle, or ports where divine spirits can dock. This is about plants that bring forth profound life-enhancing wisdom and energy to live each day with calm goodness.  These plants teach how we can go about achieving balance in our everyday lives. The name chakruna refers to the process of embodying integrity, wholeness and balance. Otherwise it would not have been called chakruna, nor would it be so intimately associated with the vine ayahuasca.

Taita Casimiro at his home in Archidona, 1993

Both plants Ayahuasca and Chakruna were Brought Forth Together

Important to note that the origin stories of chakruna, relate that this plant did not come forth alone, rather always  together with the ayahuasca vine (Banisteriopsis caapi). Either from having grown out of the grave of Manko Kapak, the founding father of the Inka people, who is believed to have lived to 800 years of age, so that his people may have his wisdom. A legend shared to me by kindest hearted don Pablo Amaringo. Or from the heart of the Shiu Amarun, the glistening fertility boa of the earth, who could sliver through the holographic earth, tintinnabulatng  silver scales like water falling chimes,  bringing purity and abundance to all regions of the earth. A great storm churned the heavens and the earth and Shiu Amarun was slain by Atacapie, the seven headed boa of disintegration and chaos. Shiu Amaruns spirit under went transubstantiation bringing forth from its decaying heart a collection of sacred plants, including ayahuasca,  amiruka panga and five others. This so that people may always have the wisdom and energy to bring about a life of abundance needed to live in harmony with the earth and each other. Related to me by the kind herbal doctor Taita Casimiro Mamallacta Mamallacta, my friend and wilderness guide from the Kichwa people of the Ecuadorian upper Amazon. 

Cymatic patterns caused by sound on water, while may not have anything to do with chakruna, shows the union of opposites, illustrated here as the concave and the convex parts of a single wave. 

Chakruna as male, motivator, bringer of visions, heaven and ayahuasca as female, heart warmer, giver of strength, earth. These two plants are always seen as a unified pair.  Both plants ayahuasca and chakruna came forth together and together they represent a divine union. The complete myths are written in my book, Rainforest Medicine ~ Preserving Indigenous Science and Biological Diversity in the Upper Amazon, on pages 63 and 71.

Amiruka panga (with hanging inflorescence) from Ecuador, photo by Neil Logan
Chakruna (with upright inflorescence) from Perú, photo by Neil Logan

The Divine Union ~ A song from the Uñiao Do Vegetal 

Once years back I was fortunate to in, Ecuador meet representatives of the Uñiao Do Vegetal, a Brazilian church that uses Ayahuasca, which they call Hoasca as a sacrament. The mestre sang a beautiful song along these lines. I am not fluent in Portuguese, non the less what I was hearing was this. “Oh Mariri e chacrona, oh marírimo eu trae la fuerza, oh chacrona, eu trae la luz, la divina uñiao.” The song sang about the divine union of ayahuasca and chakruna plants. Ayahuasca brings the strength and chakruna the light, together they are divine union. 

A story of two friends from different cultures sharing their ways

Cesareo Piaguaje and author 2017

In the mid 90’s I was fortunate to have spent 5 amazing years living with don Cesareo Piaguaje, a Siekopai traditional elder, at his homestead along the Aguarico River. Cesareo past into the spiritual   dimensions in great exquisite peace and at great age, well over 100, on Easter Sunday 2023. He will always be remembered by those blessed to have met him.

Hakë as I endearingly called him, which means “father” in Paicocá the language of the Siekopai people, shared with me an interesting account about the plant chakruna, a plant he called “Orái’pai yagé-ocó,” this translates as the “Kichwa peoples yagé add-mixture plant.” Years back Cesareo lived with his family down river at a place along the Aguarico River called Caño negro. They were the only family living there within an immense expanse of rainforest wilderness. On the opposite side of the river and some ways down, there lived a Kichwa family, and they became good friends. When either had a good catch or harvest they would visit and share food and they helped each other out now and then. Cesareo would endearingly refer to his neighbor as Compadre Yata.

Compadre means godfather, and is often used to refer to someone in an endearing manner, and Yata was his last name. Compadre Yata drank ayahuasca and Cesareo drank yagé, and now and then they would share ceremonies together, and for years they had an amiable friendship. From compadre Yata, Cesareo learned of the chakruna plant. Upon these two friends teaching each others their ways, Cesareo trying compadres Yata’s brew that was comprised of the ayahuasca vine and the chakruna leaves, and compadre Yata trying Cesareo’s brew made of yagé vines and yagé-ocó leaves (Diplopterys sp.they agreed to try mixing the two, and enthusiastically cooked a brew of yagé ayahuasca with both yagé ocó and chakruna. To their contentment the brew was amazing! They exchanged each other’s sacred add mixture plants and from then on each began cooking their brews in this way. The three plants together, the vines of yagé / ayahuasca with both the leaves of yagé ocó and amiruka panga variety of chakruna.

Yagé wu’ë (Ceremonial lodge)

When I first arrived to Cesareo’s homestead in 1995, and began drinking yagé, Ceareo didn’t have the chakruna plant. Being that I had a close friendship with the Kichwa family of Casimiro Mamallacta in Archidona in the upper Napo, I asked Casimiro for this plant to gift to Cesareo, and brought from Casimiro’s house to Cesareo the chakruna plant. Some time later when it grew large enough, Cesareo contented asked me to add the leaves in, sharing with me his experiences with compadre Yata, and like this we began cooking the brew.

Cesareo did say that if there was no yagé ocó and only chakruna, it would be better to cook the yagé vine simply on its own. He felt the chakruna added pinta, colors to the brew, but only as an enhancer for the ancestral Siekopai add mix the yagé ocó leaves. And often he would have us drinking only the vines of yagé on their own, to understand its strength. And on many occasions he would instruct me to cook traditional, just with the two plants of preference, the yagé and yagé ocó. The classic ancestral preparation, that when well prepared, exceeds all standards. In that it can reveal, in ways words fall short, absolute reality, removing all that its in between you and the divine realms.  Stripping one clean of every last fleck of anything you ever thought you were, to imprint on ones soul forever the truth of absolute unity. This type of experience can assist a person on a very deep level, in all aspects of their life being, and in every day life. According to Siekopai adding in other plants is ultimately irrelevant. 

Diplopterys cabrerana ~ yagé ocó, this ancestral cultigen rarely if ever flowers.
Diplopterys longialata in flower “Chalipanga”

Yagé ocó is the add mixture of choice among Tukanoan speakers in the preparation of yagé of which only the young leaves are employed. Among Runashimi Kichwa speakers it is known as chalipanga and is also used. The classic traditional Kichwa brew will consist of ayahuasca vines, chakruna leaves and some leaves of chalipanga. There are two closely related species, these being Diplopterys cabrerana and or Diplopterys  longialata. These plants are similar, known also  as yají, chagro panga and huambiza chakruna in different regions of the Amazon. 

Lola Bello Arte by Pablo Amaringo

Allow me to share some insights, shared with me by my friend and colleague Benjamin Mamallacta, Taita Casimiros son, owner of the Ungui ethnobotanical plant nursery in the outskirts of the jungle town of Tena, in Napo Province Ecuador,  into the meaning of of its Kichwa name chalipanga. The word chali is very interesting with a wide array of meanings. Chali refers to chalina, that is a shawl, a cloak or cloth garment, this being a direct symbol of the culture and the ways of the people. Chali also refers to something that opens up into many many pieces, like roots that reach out in all directions or veins and capillaries that allow for blood and life giving oxygen to reach all parts of the body. Or like water spilling over the earth during a flood. Chali is something that enters into every part of everything to become all encompassing. The word refers to something that reaches out and permeates all aspects of whatever it is filling, whether it be the body, the earth, or the cosmos. Thus the name chalipanga can be understood as the leaf that allows for complete immersion or absolute penetration into all aspects of one’s being, what submerges deeply, what leaves no place unoccupied, what dominates innumerable channels.  

Sure enough a well prepared brew with young leaves of the chalipanga (yagé ocó), can indeed inspect the innermost vibration of mind and bring one to their knees in deep repentance. It can bring crooked people right back in rectification. These plants have almost peculiar and uncanny ability to give a person a profoundly personal experience with the divine, all the while releasing the murk and mire, the “old crust,” that holds one back.

People can puke and defecate at the very same time, reason why another name for the ayahuasca brew, among mestizo drinkers in Peru is, la purga, translating as “the purge.” Removing all that is in the way of ones awakening, empowering ones personal spiritual liberation from the many layers of accumulated contamination and bondage. This may not always be the case on ones first drink, as this may take some time. Non the less well prepared yagé will help one surrender in seeing where one is at, giving one the strength to move step by step towards higher goals. 

Interestingly the word chali also relates to the kindling used to start a fire, this is because kindling is wood that has been broken up into many pieces, thus rendering it useful to start a fire that continues to penetrate all things with its light and warmth. A fire warms a place, and cooks the food. What was once raw is now cooked, it is now completely filled with a new essence and thus its substance has changed. What was once raw is now cooked, what was once un-useful is now useful. The leaf is a whole leaf, but its power mixes into all parts of the body, leaving no space unfilled, charging life with a new enhanced life, allowing one to experience the realities of the celestial realms and fill the body with just these!

Siekopai elder Marcelo  initiating youth 2022

Later when sharing time with other Siekopai traditional elders, I learned that they would never dare mix chakruna leaves into their brews. Funny though that Cesareo was among the most traditional of the elders and most orthodox as well, and he was fine mixing in the Orái pai yajé ocó. This had me reflecting on the phenomena that when there is a genuine friendship, one that allows for trust, culture can evolve in many types of positive ways. Other elders didn’t have this type of intercultural exchange based on mutual reciprocity and authentic friendship. In light of the expansion of the colonial frontier that for the most part has not been friendly, they adhere vehemently to their traditional ways as a secure connection to spiritual strength and purpose. And with a deep aspiration that this connection may allow them to pass through today’s troubling times. 

One of the reasons some Siekopai elders will not add in chakruna to their brews is that they have a notion that this plant is associated with sorcery. As I wrote about in my article “The Delicate Nature of Ayahuasca and Yagé,” in the traditions of ayahuasca the ceremony is conducted from sunset to midnight, while the ceremony of yagé is conducted from midnight to sunrise. This has to do with the energetic clock and with the spirits that are present at those times. From sunset to midnight, prevalent are the primal energies and elementals, that are used to heal, but are also associated with sorcery. These spirits can be used to heal after one has attained communion with celestial spirits of the heavenly realms.

Thus the ayahuasca ceremony is primarily a medical tradition that uses elemental spirits to accomplish healing. Today in many regards the ceremony of ayahuasca has been taken out of context in the way it is passing to the western setting, for the rigid disciplining needed for learning to heal with elemental spirits is for the most part missing by the conductor. This leaves lots of room for ayahuasca ceremonies to go haywire, and many stories have come my way about just this.

Thus the chakruna plant, among the Siekopai, is associated with the Kichwa method of drinking ayahuasca. The Siekopai believe that for the most part the Kichwa practice sorcery, they drink small doses not heroic doses as was customary among the Siekopai, and have a weak devotion to upholding the celestial way of life. The Siekopai avoid any type of association with elemental energies and strive to commune daily in their everyday way of being with the divine energies of the celestial realms. The ceremony of yagé is intended to give them the strength to live their everyday life according to the celestial cosmic order, one that transcends the temporal realities of life on earth. 

Ashaninka perspective of Horua – P. viridis varieties

Recently I had a conversation with a friend Matthew Stoltz who has spent time among the Ashaninka along the Peruvian Brazilian Amazonian border region, In a personal communication he related that among the Ashaninka, they recognize several varieties of chakruna which they call horua, and are quite specific about the variety they use. This is due to their understanding that some varieties are associated with coldness and darkness and are meant to be avoided. Only one, variety is used as it is associated with warmth, benevolence and kindness.

Kofán perspective of Oprito – P. viridis

In Homer Pinkley’s “Etymology of Psychotria In View of a New Use Of This Genus, 1969” The plant among the Kofán is known as oprito, a name the Kofán also attribute the “The Heavenly People.” Celestial spirits that they strive to see in their visions when drinking yagé. 

Amiruka Panga a variety of P. viridis from the Ecuadorian Amazon

In Ecuador among the Kichwa of the upper Napo River, this same concept was shared to me. The variety of Psychotria virdis that is used is called amiruka panga, this variety is associated with life enhancing ancestral wisdom. Other varieties and species of Psychotria are found in the wild, one such variety, known as chullachaki panga, “One legged god leaf,” looks remarkably similar to amiruka panga. This plant though is for the most part avoided as there are strict and highly specific dietas related to its use that if not followed can make one fall. “Make one fall,” means that one is set one back from ones ability to continue as one has, until that is, the lesson is embodied and understood. When the dieta is followed, one gains wisdom and strength that is much needed to be an ally of the people, to be a healer and guide. There is more info on this in Rainforest Medicine on page 250, “Lessons of the Mountain: Powerful Spirits and Places.”

Chullachaqui panga at Napo-Galeras wilderness (Psychotria sp.) photo by author
Chullachaki panga at Napo-Galeras wilderness (Psychotria sp.) photo by author
Chullachaqui panga at Napo-Galeras wilderness (Psychotria sp.) photo by author
Chullachaki panga at Napo-Galeras wilderness (Psychotria sp.) photo by author

The word amiruka has far reaching significance. For starters it is a word similar to Amarun, the serpent mothers, and there are four. There is the glistening Shiu Amarun, the fertility wisdom mother serpent of the earth. There is the  Amarun kuillchi The rainbow boa, not the rainbow boas found in the forest rather to the mythic spiritual powers of the air. There is the Sacha Mama, the “Mother of the Rainforest,” the mythic spiritual serpent of the rainforest that can be seen in the visions as a giant snake with many plants growing on its back, its hunts with an electromagnetic force and lures it prey right into its mouth. And there is the Katari or Yaku Mama the mythic supernatural serpent that is the power of the water. These four powers are invoked in this one word, amiruka. 

In a personal communication with my friend Dr Julio Vilecencio of the Clinica Mayu in Ecuador, Julio commented that among the Inga of Colombia the name amiruka is understood to be associated with the word Amerekoa, the ancient name for South America, a word similar to Abya Yala, meaning “land in its full maturity”, “land of vital blood” or “saved land.” Amerekoa represents the “land of the new sun,” or “the land of the new winds,” the” sacred lands of America.” The Siekopai call South America, Insi Jamú Yejá, “Pineapple Armadillo land” that according to Siekeopai mythology was formed at the moment our creator Ñañe found his wife. The “lands of magical wonders,” where the wisdom for a new time will emerge. From where has been born and will circulate the globe heart centered wisdom that will guide all humanity back to a heart centered way of being, This wisdom can guide all humanity back to a path of harmony, to a new golden era.

Amriuka panga is the primary ayahuasca brew add mixture among Kichwa  Runashimi speakers in the Tropical Andes and Upper Amazonia. And it can be drunk alone as an energetic tea. 

Blessing the brew by Tomas Wang

Amiruka is also a compound word, ami, means “sleepy” and ruka, means “ancient” or “old.” Ami is derived from the words samay or samai (pronounced sahm-eye) and sami. Samai meaning “spirit,” or “soul,” and the plant is also referred to at times as samayruku.  Samai also indicates a rest, or a peaceful time, as well as ones spirit that resides in the heart. Sami, means breath, and the word is used to indicate courage. 

In indigenous thought, the most powerful part of a human body is believed to be one’s breath. This is because it is through the breath that a person unites with life.

This is why the maestros always blow on the ayahuasca before serving it. So that the participant who drinks the brew will receive the life enhancing energy of the maestro. The maestro is the maestro because he has accumulated many triumphs, and he or she has passed triumphantly through many life challenges and knows the way across the “turbulent waters,” so to say. The maestro has had far out visions during his or her dietas and has drunk heroic doses of the ayahuasca or yagé as well as other entheogens. The maestro has received amazing visions, and when he or she blows on the yagé, the participant can glimpse into the ecstatic and wondrous realities that the maestro experiences when he drinks yagé.

Ami also refers to the concept of being bored or tired, or sleepy, half awake half asleep. And shows the disposition one must enter into in order to receive visions. In a deeper metaphorical sense it refers to wisdom that is casual, not forced, that flows like a river, that is natural and organic. Much to the extent like the term “Wu wei,” a wisdom concept attributed to the ancient sage Lao Tzu, author of the book the Tao Teh Ching, written over 2,500 years back. Wu wei is a concept that refers to a natural way of being, to effortless action, to a way of being that allows things to occur without force, recognizing the natural harmony of the universe that we are an inseparable part of. 

Some Quotes that Illustrate Wu Wei

Wu Wei is the art of sailing, not the art of rowing – Alan Watts

“Past and Future are a duality of which the present is reality. The now-moment alone is eternal and real.” — Wei Wu Wei

We imagine that waking-life is real and that dream-life is unreal, but there does not seem to be any evidence for this belief.” — Wei Wu Wei

“Can you step back from your own mind and thus understand all things?” — Lao Tzu

“Allow your softer, intuitive and less dominating qualities to rise, so that you are surrendering rather than dominating, receiving rather than broadcasting, loving rather than fighting.” — Lao Tzu

Green Rio Pusuno at Casimiros Purina tambu

In essence the name “amiruka” translates as the sleepy old wisdom leaf. Ami also refers to the concept of ones personality, and when coupled with the word ruku or ruka which means old, ancient, wise, unfailing, a sage or spiritual master. Thus we can understand the name amiruka to signify an ancient original way of being, something that has existed over many centuries passing through all the times, from the past to the future, existing always in the present. It relates to natural wisdom accumulated over generations of experience. Amiruka also means the child of the oldest sage, or the student of a master, the follower of the ways of old. These ways are followed without forcing things, in a relaxed manner that unites flexibility with discipline, dexterity with rigidness, movement with stillness, and spirit with matter. 

Encapsulated in the names of these plants is profound meaning, just as ingrained within their tissues is the very essence of the spirit of God. As we deepen our energy into this topic, it doesn’t take long to realize that the more one knows, is actually the less one knows. These plants being gifts from divine spirits are not free to use as people may wish. While they may seem like gifts, these plants are actually owned by powerful sprits, and from them they are on loan, while they allow. If we are borrowing them, what then and to whom is the debt?

Atun Tukuiricok ~ Inka Viceroys by Pablo Amaringo, January 18, 2002, 57X76 cm, Gouache on Arches paper. Illustrating ayahuasca and chakruna and levels of spiritual mastery. 

All things sacred are like a double edge sword. They can help and they can harm. Held within the very names of these plants, as we have just learned about here, is profound meaning indicating their auspicious usage. The way proper usage can be detected is through the results on those who have drunk. Simply put, if their use is helping, then it is correct.

To conclude this essay, allow me to share the following, in learning about these plants one must not be in a rush, one must remain devoted, as a good amount of time is needed to learn even the basics. A high level of discipline is a prerequisite, alongside sustained practice of selfless service. And being sincere and embracing unity (a non dual perspective) is required to even enter the field. 

Pschotria viridis Amiruka panga variety from Napo Province, Ecuador
Wild amiruka panga (P. viridis) Ecuadorian Amazon
B. caapi in flower ~ tara yagé (yellow) variety (killu ayahuasca)
B. caapi vine – ~ tara yagé (yellow) variety