Percy Garcia Lozano comes from a tradition of curanderos and was initiated into the science of ayahuasca at age ten. Now in his early 30s he is one of the new breed of indigenous shamans straddling two worlds – his indigenous heritage and the globalized 21st century. He lives in Iquitos and balances his work between treating locals and the growing rise of Western ayahuasca seekers.
translation by Chuck
RAK: Percy, how long have you been a curandero?
PERCY: I come from a tradition where you are born to become a curandero. You don’t choose to become a curandero. And the person who wants to enter the science of curandismo when he is older, it is because he will be called. He will have a calling.
The tradition I have learned has been handed down to me by my grandfather, who was himself a powerful maestro. So I have been preparing myself [to be a curandero] since I was ten. I am the only grandson that follows the tradition with healing plants. My grandfather – Enrique Garcia Mozombite – prepared me to have the strength to complement ayahuasca and to be strong enough to work with this most sacred of plants. It was a long and enduring initiation, in that the apprentice curandero must come to know not just the kind of plants available and the properties of each, but establish a relationship with the spirits in the plants. It’s a very demanding job being a curandero, and many youth aren’t carrying on the traditions.
RAK: What Is your understanding of ayahuasca and the world of the spirits?
PERCY: Ayahuasca is Quechua for ‘vine of the dead (souls)’, but at the same time, as a healer, we don’t call the dead spirits – we call them Allies. Ayahuasca is medicine. It is strength, intelligence, wisdom and healing. In this way everything is in accord with tradition. While nature represents what life is, ayahuasca is the mother of us all. I have used the vine since I was 14 years old and started on a long series of diets with the master plants. The diets were simple to begin with and as the years progressed my ability to do more intensive diets increased, as did my connection with the plants. It is a long and hard road to travel to become a vegetalista healer, one who heals with plants, especially when this knowledge starts when you are a child. But I learned about the spirit in the ‘vine of souls’, ayahuasca, and how to prepare it, as well as other medicinal plants like chacruna and others...
This is an excerpt from the forthcoming book: The Ayahuasca Sessions, conversations with indigenous curanderos and Western shamans by Rak Razam. For the full interview download the PDF below.