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Shamanic Retreat - Yopo

Colombia Retreat


Living in the eastern Orinoquía plains of Colombia, the Sikuani indigenous community makes use of a visionary snuff called Yopo. In their tradition, they inhale this shamanic medicine in order to have the ‘vision’ to see what healing is needed for themselves, their community or for the patient they are healing. Archeological evidence suggests that this tradition is over 4000 years old.

The Yopo tree, Anadenanthera peregrine, thrives only in the tropics, where it prefers drier locations such as the savanna-like regions of the Orinoquía plains. The leathery, dark brown seedpods grow as long as 35cm and contain a very flat reddish brown seed 1-2cm across. The dried seeds are lightly roasted and then ground into fine powder that is mixed with an alkalizing powdered river shell and ground plantain. The alkalinity from the ground shell helps to activate the psychoactive alkaloids found in the Yopo tree.

The snuff is then inhaled through a hollow bird bone tube during a ritual ceremony. During the ceremony we also chew a piece of ayahuasca Caapi vine to strengthen the Yopo’s effect. The Yopo snuff contains a combination of DMT, Bufotenin, and 5-MeO-DMT psychoactive compounds and produces a visionary experience.

Yopo shamans describe this experience as an opening of the 3rd eye to be able to perceive into the light of the non-physical spiritual dimensions.

Central to the Sikuani Yopo tradition is the use of prayers to invoke healing energies. They believe that their word and the tonal vibration of their prayer is the very force of creation. For every imbalance and sickness that is created, there is a corresponding prayer to heal that sickness. Sikuani elder shamans know 2000 or more prayers and study intensively from about 8 years old.

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