There has been very little research on sexual relations between shamans and plant spirits. Certainly the spirits can be muy celosa, very jealous, about sexual relations between shamans and human persons. Relations with the spirits may imply both sexual abstinence with humans and sexual alliance with the spirits. There are reports of erotic ayahuasca visions; regular ayahuasca use apparently does nothing to abate — and, by report, may significantly enhance — sexual desire and performance. Psychologist Benny Shanon notes that ayahuasca drinkers “often detect a sensuous, even sexual flavor in whatever surrounds them,” including the eroticization of plants and trees; he reports his own visions of semi-clad women dancing erotically and lasciviously. Ethnobotanists Richard Schultes and Robert Raffauf remark, rather dryly, that “erotic aspects often reported may be due to the individual differences of the participants.” Don Agustin Rivas reports that, while following la dieta, a beautiful strange female spirit, named Yara, would appear to him at dawn, lift his mosquito net, and lie down with him. He would awake just before having sex with her.
Here is an example. I was drinking ayahuasca with two ayahuasqueros, a father and son, with whom I was living in the jungle, in an isolated tambo. They were both singing icaros at the same time, but different ones, producing a decidedly eerie effect. Suddenly in front of me I see a beautiful green woman, lying back on a couch or bed; her arms and fingers are long; her body is covered in some kind of gauzy material. The moment is intense, erotically charged; I lean forward and kiss her. Whoa! says my rational mind. Is this all right? Are you allowed to have sex with plant spirits? The embrace is really arousing; I wonder what my wife would say. The woman fades away, leaving me with a feeling of both relief and disappointment.
Among indigenous Amazonian peoples, there are widespread reports of sexual relations between human persons and other-than-human persons. Anthropologist Elsje Lagrou tells the story of a Cashinahua woman shaman who married the snake spirit, who came to make love to her at night, and, because of her new spirit husband, no longer had sex with her human husband. One of the signs of her alliance with the spirit world was her deformed mouth, eaten away by the spirits, people said; another was her successful healing of fever in small children.
Among the Napo Runa, the supai, the forest spirits with whom the shaman interacts, enter into sexual relationships with humans, often long-term; one shaman was taught by a supai huarmi, female spirit, and his wife made pregnant by a supai runa, male spirit. The daughter of a famous Napo Runa shaman told an interviewer, “My mother gets angry when she wants to sleep with my father. The supai huarmi gets between them and doesn’t let him.” Napo Runa women who give birth to deformed children are said to have been impregnated by supai and, when the child dies, often become shamans. The Shuar tell stories of men who have sex with tsunki women, the shamanically potent underwater people, a manifestation of Tsunki, the primordial shaman, and get power from them; a female shaman has reported a vision of having sex with a male tsunki.
Who was my Green Lady? What should I have done? What would you have done?
PERMALINK to: Sex and the Plant Spirits
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