Gebhart-Sayer (1986) writes concerning the visual music perceived by Shipibo-Conibo shamans: "This spirit [of ayahuasca] projects luminous geometric figures in front of the shaman's eyes: visions of rhythmic undulation, of perfumed and luminous ornamentation, or the rapid skimming over the pages of a book with many motifs. The motifs appear everywhere one looks: in star formations, in a person's teeth, in the movements of his tuft of grass. As soon as the floating network touches his lips and crown, the shaman can emit melodies that correspond to the luminous vision. 'My song is the result of the motif's image,' says the shaman to describe the phenomenon, a direct transformation of the visual into the acoustic. 'I am not the one creating the song. It passes through me as if I were a radio.' The songs are heard, seen, felt and sung simultaneously by all those involved" (p.196). The notion that ayahuasqueros learn their songs directly from the spirits is generalized. According to Townsley (1993)., Yaminahua shamans "are adamant that the songs are not ultimately created or owned by them at all, but by the yoshi themselves, who 'show or 'give' their songs, with their attendant powers, to those shamans good enough to 'receive' them. Thus, for instance, in their portrayal of the process of initiation, it is the yoshi who teach and bestow powers on the inititate; other shamans only facilitate the process and prepare the initiate, 'clean him out' so as to receive these spirit powers" (p. 458). Likewise, according to Luna (1984): "The spirits, who are sometimes called 'doctorcitos' (little doctors) or 'abuelos' (grandfathers), present themselves during the visions and during the dreams. They show how to diagnose the illness, what plants to use and how, the proper use of tobacco smoke, how to suck out the illness or restore the spirit to a patient, how the shamans defend themselves, what to eat, and, most important, they teach them 'icaros,' magic songs or shamanic melodies which are the main tools of shamanic practices" (p. 42). Chaumeil (1993) talks of the extremely high-pitched sounds emitted by the spirits who communicate with Yagua shamans, more particularly of "strange melodies both whistled and 'talked,' with a strong feminie connotation" (p. 415).
- Jeremy Narby - _Cosmic Serpent: DNA And The Origins Of Knowledge_