GLOSSARY of most common terms used in Vegetalismo (Mestizo Shamanism of the Peruvian Amazon)

Yakumama

Literally “spirit mother of the water”, in Quechua, it is a huge anaconda thought to live at the bottom of lakes and rivers. It’s the counterpart – in water – of what the Sachamama is on earth.

Thus Luna: ”This is a vision of the supay-chacra or garden of the Chullachaki” (in Luna, L.E. – Amaringo, P.: Ayahuasca Visions – The Religious Iconography of a Peruvian Shaman, Berkeley 1999, p. 78).

Virote

A sharp object that can be made from either thorns (like the ones of the Huiririma – Astrocaryum jauari, the Huicungo – Astrocarium vulgare, and the Supay-casha caspi – unidentified), animal bones or teeth (for instance, a piranha tooth), usually employed by brujos to cause harm or to kill.

Vegetalista

⇐ Back to Glossary

Vegetalista is the shaman or shamanic healer of mestizo culture (which may also include indigenous/ethnic shamans) of the Peruvian Amazon. It refers more specifically to the Maestro (the master shaman) who – thanks to his training and achievements – has been crowned by the science of the vegetal (“el maestro coronado por la ciencia del vegetal”).

Supay Chacra

The Quechua word ‘supay chacra’ (translated literally as ‘Devil’s Garden’) is also referred to by anthropologist L.E.Luna as ‘Chullachaki Garden’. Unique to the Western Amazon, it refers to a jungle area resembling a chacra – e.g. an agricultural plot – without human intervention. This is believed by local people to be a power-spot, and Ayahuasca rituals held in this place are believed to deliver powerful and vivid visions to the participants. Richard Evans Schultes, the father of modern ethnobotany, describes the “Supay Chacra” as “an interesting and unsolved ecological enigma” (R. E. Schultes, Where the Gods Reign – Plants and People of the Colombian Amazon, Synergetic Press, London 1988, p. 90).

Suniruna

One of the three topmost shamanic hierarchies in the Peruvian Amazon, alongside that of the Meraya and the Banco.

Sachamama

From the Quechua “spirit mother of the jungle”, the Sachamama is a huge eared boa believed to dwell in the same place for a very long time. Vegetation grows on its body and makes the snake easily be mistaken by a fallen tree. It may devour the unaware hunter who has accidentally stepped on its body.

Pusanga

Love magic ritual, diffused in the Loreto region of the Peruvian Amazon, that causes one (either male or female) to fall madly in love with the other person (for sex, love or marriage purposes). In Peru this practice is very common, and is widely and well accepted by all parts of society, without the negative associations of the western culture.

Perfumero

A vegetalista who has learnt the way of the plants by ‘dieting’ with a perfume extracted by several varieties of ‘teacher plants’.

Muraya / Meraya

Mestizo term (probably of Quechua origins) defying one of the three topmost shamanic hierarchies in the Peruvian Amazon, alongside that of the Banco and the Suniruna. Among the Shipibo-Conibo indigenous people of the Middle Ucayali the Muraya is known as Meraya. The terms Banco and Meraya are often used by the Shipibos as synonymous of each other.

Click here to read about the ancient Meraya rituals.

Monte

Virgin jungle area, unaffected by human dwellings.