The double face represents the dual nature of the shaman, who has the ability to look, on the one hand, at "ordinary reality," and, on the other, at "non-ordinary reality".
The sacred ceibo; a ceibo (Chorisia insignis), believed to be the source of shamanic darts. It is said that this tree, called the uchu putu or samona by the Kitchwa, has a very sensitive spirit, and for that reason the Kitchwa who live in the area give it wide berth.
"Forest spirit revealed in the vision from the spirit lianas,
give us knowledge of this kingdom,
the imperceptible movement of the boa,
the penetrating gaze of the falcon and the owl
the sharp ear of the deer
the brute force of the tapir,
the grace and the strength of the jaguar
Family spirit of fragrant leaves,
here we are yet again eager to know your secrets."
Chanted during the preparation of ayahuasca, Peruvian Amazon region.
ON HOW A FAMOUS SHAMAN OBTAINED HIS POWER: In the Cañelo Kitchwa community of Jatun Molino, Elias Santi lives. He is a powerful shaman who is now eighty years old. The people fear him, and women even cover their children when they pass by because "he can do harm with a simple look," they say Elias is thought to be banco, that is, someone on whose shoulders the spirits of the forest alight to help him with his shamanic activities. He is also tsumi, that is, he can enter a hole or water and travel far away as far as Peru, for example, and return.
His uncle was also a great shaman in Peru with much power and for that reason the Achuar killed him with a rifle, since they were unable to do it through other shamans. From the time he was a child, Elias learned about the properties of tropical plants and natural medicine. But that wasn't enough. He wanted to be as powerful as his ancestors.
One day he went far away very far to hunt; He took with him, as was his custom, his ayahuasca and his tobacco. On a very clear night he suddenly awoke because he heard a sound that was like thunder and that came from a ravine. So he got up, asking himself, "What might that be?" He wasn't afraid and he went to find out what had happened. He walked to the head of the ravine and heard two trees "sounding;" and he saw two enormous boas, each one coiled in a tree, and fighting "with their teeth and with their heads." Thus, he discovered that the noise had come from the fight. He knew that to become a true shaman, he had to come face to face with something terrible, like a jaguar, or a boa, or an eagle. The moment had arrived; he had to approach the boa without fear and touch it. This is a fearful shamanic "test". By touching it, he would demonstrate that he had the courage and the will necessary to be a shaman. Calmly Elias approached and touched one of the boas, and suddenly it looked at him and raised its head as though it were about to vomit. Elias realized that something was about to happen, that his dream was about to come true... And, in effect the boa spit out a stone of blue crystal covered in saliva. Elias took the stone and swallowed it. Then everything became all at once peaceful. The acquisition of that stone was a key event in Elias' life. He knew that he had to keep it forever in his stomach, because with that blue crystal the boas were giving him many "spirit helpers," beings he could call on by means of shamanic chants, who would obey and help him in his shamanic sessions.
Elias returned to the little hut he had made to spend the night in, and he took a bit of the tobacco, and he slept. In his dreams he saw again the boas, which were in fact two powerful shamans, who said to him, "You will have our power and no one will be able to kill you; you will die when you are old and use a cane, and while you live the people will fear you as much as they fear the great anacondas of the rivers of the forest."