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The Icaros and the ayahuasquero fasting

Updated: May 17, 2021

Javier at the maloka, the sacred place where the Ayahuasca rituals take place.

This is the second part of our extensive interview with the ayahuasquero Javier Zavala, who is in charge of the Ayahuasca sessions in our Deep Journey retreat in the Peruvian rainforest. In this section, he talks about the importance of the Icaros and the dieting in the process to become an ayahuasquero master.


What can you tell us about the Icaros?

The Icaros are the chants that the ayahuasqueros use during the Ayahuasca ceremony. They are the helm of the ship and help us to control the flow and level of intensity of the session. During the higher state of the Ayahuasca trip, the Icaros serve as guidance for the person, like a lighthouse in the dark. It opens up perception and the shaman can connect and feel the energy of the people present in the ceremony more clearly. With the singing I am calling the spirit of the plant to heal and clean all the persons involved.

Do you sign any kind of Icaros or do you have personal ones?

One of the most important things during all the process of dieting alone in the mountain is to receive your own Icaros from the Ayahuasca. During the fasting, together with another master plants, the spirit of the plant comes to you, either with a melody or whispered words in a daydream state or in your dreams, and teach you your own chants. Nevertheless, there are Icaros inherited from other ayahuasqueros masters that you can use with their permission.

Are the personal Icaros always learned during the fasting?

Absolutely. That’s because you are a lot more susceptible and cleaner to channel the energies. During the diet, the master plants connect your heart and brain, and purify your physical and astral body. It feels like they tear your body apart to put it all back together again. It is a reset of who you have been until that moment and you feel very different afterwards. I am 53 years old and feel much younger now.

And what are the effects after the fasting?

You have to take care of your body, specially what you eat and drink. When I was just starting with this process to become a shaman, Ignacio, an ayahuasquero master, told me: “When the plant takes your body during the retreat, it will reject any substance that is not healthy”. And it’s true. When you do a proper diet, the plants stay in your organism for a long period of time. If you respect them, you will not have any disease nor negatives thoughts about life. For example, at that time, Ignacio was 83 years old and he was still leading Ayahuasca ceremonies, where he became like an otorongo (rainforest leopard) with a very powerful energy.

Would you say the post-diet time is equally important as the dieting itself?

Yes, it is very important. If you don’t do the post-diet in a proper way, you may lose everything that the plant taught you during the diet. In that sense, your mindset must match your intentions and learnings. You have to take care of your sexual energy, the places you visit, the food you eat, the people you surround with, because after the diet it is when the work really starts. Everything that you had dreamed, learned and fasted is put in to practice once you come back from the mountains. The connection with the Ayahuasca and other plants has been made on the fasting and you have to nurture it and respect it. If you choose to go through a wrong path, you became weak and you may fall ill. The plant gives you a lot, but it also takes things from you if you are disrespectful with her. It is not a game.


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