What is Shamanic Healing?

4th July 2019

By Sergey Baranov

Contributing writer for Wake Up World

Discovering a country with such a rich history as Peru can be a heart- and mind- opening experience. The Amazon rainforest offers its mysteries to those who want to feel like Indiana Jones; whilst the coast of Peru and the Andes are waiting for people interested in ancient cultures. Even if you travel without a specific reason or intention, it will still be an enriching journey into a colorful, enchanting world with a vast and fascinating history.

Traveling is comparable to having a mild psychedelic experience that is available at any time, no matter where you live. It enables us to see the world in a different way and, hence, the way that we see ourselves. You can always embark on a journey to see the world beyond your city limits. Andre Gide, French author and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1947, said, “Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” That is so true, both for earthly discoveries in a new land or those made mentally with your mind.

However, instead of just booking a trip to go and sit on a beach, which is nice and sometimes needed, what if you could add a deeper purpose to your travel and form a sincere desire to understand yourself and your place in the Universe?  What if you could find answers to your big questions and gain clarity as to where your life is heading?

This is one aspect of Shamanic Healing that we focus on at The Huachuma Wasi.

The Spectrum of Healing is Wide

We all understand that healing, in a physical sense, means the removal of physical pain in the body. When you have broken a bone, with time the bone mends and you can start using it again. You then know that it has healed.

However, the healing of an emotional wound is different. The pain of losing a loved one can take years to heal. Time is a great healer, that is true, but even time takes time to heal. Healing, in this case, is when you can look at your pain without feeling it. The scar in your heart will remain, but it is no longer bleeding.

We can be affected on a mental level and suffer from anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts. Healing has taken place when, instead of feeling hopeless, worthless, pessimistic, guilty and experiencing chronic fatigue, one is feeling hopeful, self-confident, optimistic and full of energy to live one’s life.

But what is spiritual healing? What or who is actually sick?

During the years running a retreat center I have seen all kinds of people coming to visit. Among them were very rich people who have achieved all their life’s material goals. Yet still, they came depressed and even suicidal. Why? Because they realized that after buying property all over the world, they still could not buy a bridge towards themselves. Thus, though their bodies were well-fed, their souls were hungry. What do all your possessions matter without meaning and purpose in your life? Your life is empty, causing spiritual pain.

Spiritual healing fixes this broken link with yourself, reclaims the sense of magic and wonder you had in your childhood, and reestablishes a sense of inner unity. To achieve this goal, plant teachers can be used. This is shamanic healing, which is all inclusive and brings awareness to the content of your life.

This inner content is like the files on a computer’s hard drive. These files become more accessible by increasing self-awareness and enhancing our human experience on a daily basis. The intensity of our existence is what makes our memory stronger, whilst self-awareness gives us the capacity to experience this intensity.

A body without self-awareness is like the scenery observed by people who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, a terrible condition affecting the memory. Imagine self-awareness as the operating system of a computer, which makes it possible to organize and access the files stored on its hard drive – its inner content. When someone suffers from Alzheimer’s, it seems as though there has been a disconnection or severe malfunction within the operating system. It is unable to read the files stored in the memory – or perhaps the files themselves have been corrupted and are no longer readable. This condition is not yet fully understood by modern science.

To a much lesser degree we can observe this situation in our culture, where people are hardly aware of themselves. They know where they parked their car, where they left their keys, but not where their heart or happiness are. Modern medicine does not have the cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but the majority of humanity can be helped. People in the modern world know their names and addresses but have forgotten themselves, living their lives as robots in a world that is becoming increasingly mechanical, functioning without self-awareness.

This disconnection from self creates stress, confusion, anxiety and depression, which western medicine doesn’t have a cure for beyond psychological cosmetic makeup. Pharmaceutical drugs are only capable of masking the symptoms whilst leaving the root cause unaddressed and presenting a number of negative side effects as our sensitive biology struggles to process these unnatural chemicals.

Redefining the meaning of “Soul”

Modern psychiatry does not believe in the soul. How can you cure something that you don’t believe exists?

The soul is a vague concept, and arguing about it leads either nowhere or towards violence. It is the same thing as asking if there is a God. Bypassing theological debate about the existence of the soul, let’s just call it “consciousness” – that is, having a human experience. The point being that we often spend a lot of time and energy asking questions that simply cannot be answered. Would it not be a better use of your time to focus on what actually matters in your life? For example, what prevents you from being happy?

There is a general misconception and confusion about plant medicines being dangerous and harmful, but this fear is rooted in a lack of understanding and expertise. Through many years of working with the Huachuma cactus, I have observed tremendous psychological healing as well as improved physical health for me and many who have come to The Huachuma Wasi. Somehow, it has the power to bring to the surface that which has long been forgotten or deemed insignificant and make it understandable. This understanding brings healing on a spiritual level, which western medicine denies the existence of. Half-jokingly, I call the cactus the “memory restoration agent.”

The clarity of thought that the Huachuma medicine cultivates is the healing.

In practical terms, this clarity allows you to examine your life very closely and see what is not helping. That is, what is blocking you from being happy? – whether this is internal or external, such as patterns of behavior and personal habits, or your job, relationships, etc. The medicine gives you a new perspective. This ultimately allows you to make better decisions that improve the quality of your life and wellbeing.

The Huachuma Wasi is the place where you can come to verify this for yourself.

The Healing Center

We have created a platform for people to come explore, understand and heal themselves. The Huachuma Wasi is based in Calca, a quiet town in the Sacred Valley between Pisac and Urubamba, and is surrounded on every side by stunning beauty and authentic Peruvian culture. Over nine years, my wife and I have transformed our land from a corn field into a beautiful space for guests to come and relax, enjoy and think creatively. The Huachuma Wasi is a treasure island for creative minds and an oasis for the seeker. Many of those who come to visit find themselves extending their stay longer than planned, sometimes considerably so.

A therapist from California who stayed with us for two weeks claimed that “one ceremony at The Huachuma Wasi was the equivalent to five years of therapy.”  Another therapist from Washington State, who holds a PhD in Psychology, came to stay for three months. His time at The Huachuma Wasi, besides being insightful and revealing, also saved his life.

You can come and stay with us at any time. The only commitment you have to make is to yourself and your own healing, whilst we provide support and assistance in whatever way we can. Our ceremonies take place every two days and run all year around.

Choice is Healing and Healing is Choice

Many people want to see change in the world, but how many people want to make change within themselves? When you do change yourself, you affect others in a positive way. This is the only chain reaction that we want to see taking place on the planet. Whether you are a seeker of truth and are tired of hearing about “awakening” and “enlightenment,” or you are a curious traveler who just learned about Plant Based Shamanism, The Huachuma Wasi can help you on your Path.

We do not throw you straight into the deep end of the pool with the strongest medicine that we make. Rather, we guide you through the process step by step as we teach you how to “swim” and develop a connection with the medicine in your own unique way. We only give you what you need and can handle. We work with the medicine by spending lots of time out in nature sitting in silence, which becomes the medium for healing. Time spent here is productive.

There are many different ways of working with plant medicines and no written rule as to how to do so. The ancient ways of working with Huachuma have nearly been lost. We don’t know exactly what was happening three thousand years ago at the Temple of Chavin, the cradle of Andean Huachuma Shamanism, but from the little knowledge that we do have, strong new roots can be grown.

We can speculate and debate as to how this medicine should be administered, but more important is to do it in a way that works. Rather than sacrificing animals and humans to appease the gods, we sacrifice our fears to appease ourselves. Our objective is to restore balance within and outside of us, taking a gentle but firm approach that delivers life-changing results. We call it “gliding through ignorance on the back of a Huachuma cactus.”

If you are already working with plant medicines but aren’t seeing results manifesting in your life, then something isn’t quite right. The medicine, however, is not to blame. It is a tool the Earth offers us, and, like any tool, it can be used in more and less effective ways. On our part at The Huachuma Wasi, it takes experience and knowledge of the medicine to guide the process, and on your part as a guest it takes commitment to receive it. It takes two to tango. Just as there are many layers to the clouds, you, too, have many layers that the medicine can help you to understand. Just as the sunlight illuminates the clouds so that we can see them, Huachuma illuminates your consciousness so that you become aware of it.

Whilst genetic science is busy editing genes, sacred medicine can help you to edit your reality and become the author of your own life. This is the true essence of ancient alchemy, which isn’t about turning lead into gold but rather transforming your fear into love and transcending the mechanical, mindless aspects of human existence.

Just like the ancient alchemists, we want to escape determinism and become the masters of our own lives.

The Bigger Picture and the Way Forward as Humanity

Attaining higher states of consciousness is very real and achievable under certain conditions. This is exactly why so many people are falling into ideologies that are supposed to help them to reach this state of being. Unfortunately, many who are forced to cross a spiritual desert to find the oasis of life never see this utopian landscape. With the help of sacred plants and certain guidance, this oasis is not only revealed on the map of consciousness but is given a physical address.

A sincere wish to understand yourself and your place in the universe is where the spiritual search begins. But other components are required in order to complete the puzzle. For me, this is working with sacred plants, the Huachuma cactus in particular, which contains the alkaloid known as mescaline. To you, it may be something else. It’s up to you to judge whether or not it works for you. Speaking for myself, I found mescaline to be one of the most amazing naturally occurring chemicals on our planet. Its compatibility with our physiology and psychology is simply stunning.

Next to it, I would invest in DMT, the active alkaloid found in the Chakruna leaves that are added to the Ayahuasca vine in a traditional preparation of the brew. It is for those who are in a hurry. But taking a fast track route to cosmic awakening might not be the best way for you to get there, because landing back in reality can be pretty rough. Mescaline is interesting in the way that it both connects you to a higher consciousness and mystical realms of existence, but at the same time it provides you with a safe return to your waking consciousness. This is a very profound and grounding experience. This is why we recommend partaking in Huachuma after Ayahuasca. Huachuma is a highly effective way of bridging the gap between realities. It can ensure that your sanity remains intact upon arriving back in the city, where you might find yourself sitting in Starbucks talking to aliens while having your cappuccino.

It is hard to know whether this union between our body and the chemistry of this plant is here for us, or whether we are here for it. After a decade of ongoing shamanic work with the cactus, I have come to the conclusion that we are here for one another. Together, we form a symbol of unity between man and nature.

Mescaline can easily lift you above your system of beliefs and allow you to perceive reality clearly. It opens your inner vision and helps you to see beyond religious dogma, scientific narrative, political objectives and social constructs. This inner transformation is what we are after, the same kind that the ancient alchemists were striving for. They weren’t looking for gold – that was a cover story for religious inquiry. They weren’t fools.

We are living in a critical time in which an awakening has become a necessity for the many, not a privilege for the few. If we do not wake up now, we might soon not have a world to wake up to. Although no one owes us salvation from our own ignorance, the generosity of nature is immense and it welcomes those who are willing to learn from it.

Only we are responsible for our happiness and well-being. The future of the world is in our hands.

The Cure, a film by Sergey Baranov

For three months, we invested many hours of hard work into crafting the following documentary for you, which will give you an exclusive insight into the world of Huachuma Shamanism in Peru, how we work with the medicine here at the Huachuma Wasi, and how we think plant medicines are an effective solution to a personal and collective crises.

We hope you will find it interesting and worth your time. Please enjoy it and feel free to share your thoughts and experiences with us on our specifically created Facebook page here.

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About the author:


Sergey Baranov is the founder of Huachuma Wasi, a healing center in The Sacred Valley of the Incas, Peru. He is the author of Path: Seeking Truth In a World of Lies, The Mescaline Confession: Breaking Through the Walls of Delusion and Write Your Zen in 30 Days. Sergey’s passion for life on Earth and its preservation is the driving force behind his work.

You can contact Sergey at www.shamansworld.org.

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