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Ayahuasca Shaman, the Shipibo Benjamin Ochavano Interviewed in the Amazon Rainforest in Peru

Conversation with Benjamín Ochavano, Peru 2002

Howard G Charing & Peter Cloudsley interviewed Shipibo Ayahuasca Shaman Benjamin Ochavano in the Amazon Rainforest of Peru, who is in his mid seventies to discuss how Ayahuasca can help those Westerners who are seeking personal growth and who have embarked on the great journey of self discovery and exploration.

The uses of powerful hallucinogenic plants such as Ayahuasca have been developed by indigenous peoples and early civilizations over thousands of years, and their effects are highly dependent upon the context of the ceremony, the chants and the essential personality of the shaman, all of which can vary with surprising results.

Diverse urban uses have emerged recently and a few of these are spreading, while some traditional shamans travel the world, thus Ayahuasca is gaining recognition in Western civilization. But what really is the potential of these ancestral plants, and how can we get the most out of them?
I first started taking ayahuasca at the age of 10, with my father, who was also a shaman. When I was 15, he took me into the selva to do plant diets, nobody would see us for a whole year, we had no contact with women, nothing. We lived in a simple tambo sleeping on leaves with just a sheet over us. We dieted plants: ayauma, puchatekicaspi, pucarobona, huairacaspi, verenaquu.

I would take each plant for 2 months before moving on to the next, a whole year without women! The only fish allowed is boquichico – a vegetarian fish and mushed plantains made into a thick drink called pururuco in Shipibo, or chapo without sugar.

Then I had about a year’s rest before going again with my uncle,

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