Perspectives: The Amazon Shaman Seeking a Successor

SHAMAN MAGNO ZAMBRANO PANDURO, RIGHT, AND HIS BROTHER TRAVELING ON THE AMAZON RIVER. CREDIT: LURE

SHAMAN MAGNO ZAMBRANO PANDURO, RIGHT, AND HIS BROTHER TRAVELING ON THE AMAZON RIVER. CREDIT: LURE

 
 

SHAMAN MAGNO ZAMBRANO PANDURO, 50, HAS NO HEIR YET. WHO WILL HE TEACH HOW TO HEAL?

I was chosen to become a shaman while I was still in my mother's womb. My grandfather had a lot to do with it. He told my mother, "We'll blow on your stomach so that this child will never be sick and will grow up strong and healthy."

Because he was a shaman, my mother believed him and she began singing me the incantations — the icaros of the earth, water, air, plants and animals — so that I would be able to heal others within my lifetime and serve and protect my people.

That was when I met my destiny. It was my grandfather who called on me to become a shaman while still in my mother's womb. But when he died, when I was four years old, he left me without a master by my side.

I hoped someday to find a successor, but I haven’t yet. I'm actually speaking out because I hope to find the right woman with whom to have a child. Normally when I tell women what I am, they're no longer interested.

That’s because it's difficult to make ends meet as a shaman. There are many circumstances in which we don't charge money. If someone gives you something for the medicine, it's mostly gifts, which I gladly accept because many people otherwise can’t afford it. I prepare the medicine because it's a gift to serve.

 

Normally when I tell women what I am, they're no longer interested.

 

But you can't live well off of that. That's why I also work as an electrician.

I already have seven children, but none of their three mothers want me to crown their children as a shaman. They always saw how I healed people without any payment.

But in the Amazon, there are only five other shamans including myself. It's a problem because there are no other shamans here who can instruct as well as myself. Although I'm the youngest of them all, I have the highest ranking because I can control the black bobinsana, an amazing plant that makes spiritual acts possible through its healing properties.

There are also many frauds. These men only see money. They don't use pure ayahuasca, and patients are treated poorly. They mix many things together, and whoever drinks that goes crazy. If the shaman loses control, that person dies.

 
 
MAGNO SPEAKING TO A PATIENT IN THE HUATARI COMMUNITY IN THE AMAZON. CREDIT: LURE

MAGNO SPEAKING TO A PATIENT IN THE HUATARI COMMUNITY IN THE AMAZON. CREDIT: LURE

 

That's why I'm worried and searching for the right woman to carry my son or daughter, someone who's prepared to have me crown the child a shaman.

Some time ago, our fathers were very macho. Among indigenous peoples — among my people — women were considered subordinate to men. They would say, "If you become a shaman, you have to carry the weight of the devil. Because you're a woman, you'll never know how to protect and defend yourself."

But I don't think that's true. There should also be female shamans who are crowned because they're more open. They're more willing to share the gift of love than men.

I'm 50 years old myself, but the origins of my shamanism are as old as the world itself, I believe. My grandfather lived to be 106 years old. That means I still have time to have a child — regardless whether it’s a boy or a girl — to whom I can pass along my wisdom.

 
 
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