Updated: May 17, 2021
This is the third 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 process of becoming an ayahuasquero and the work with the Master Plants.
Would you say there is a secret knowledge about the Ayahuasca among the ayahuasqueros?
Yes, there are certain teachings that are not revealed to the public, specially the ones regarding the Master Plants. When you are fasting in the mountain, the Ayahuasca teaches you special ways to cook it and find out the right dosage for each person, according to their needs. It is fasting in the mountain when you learn how to recycle, clean your own energy, and keep learning as a shaman. This is not like college, where you only need 5 years to graduate. As an ayahuasquero, you need to clean your physical and astral body every year. You never stop learning as a shaman.
As an apprentice, how do you know that you are ready to be an ayahuasquero on your own?
Your ayahuasqueros masters are pretty much involved in that decision. It is a lineage. The masters are the ones who guide you and give you the strength to take that important step. They are the ones to let you know when you are ready to work on your own. At the beginning, you will need their presence during the first ceremonies as a leading shaman. Furthermore, the Ayahuasca will let you know once you are ready.
Do you think there are a lot of people claiming to be ayahuasqueros when they are not?
Unfortunately, yes. Nowadays there are a lot of charlatans that just learn how to sign the Icaros and cook a very plain, although dangerous form of Ayahuasca. Dangerous because they mix some other plants to induce some kind of visions. They do not have the profound knowledge about Master Plants. Fake ayahuasqueros can do more harm than good.
What can you tell us about Master Plants?
It is important for people to know that Master Plants are ancestral beings of the Earth with teachings to give, specially when you are on a diet. All Master Plants work at two levels, the physical and the emotional or energetic. There is a hierarchy and the Ayahuasca is at the top, nevertheless you have to be respectful to all of them. Some are very potent and you have to know how much and the moment to take them.
What would be the difference between Master Plants such as San Pedro and Peyote compare to Ayahuasca?
In my opinion, San Pedro and Peyote are not at the same level as Ayahuasca. Although, they are very powerful and healing plants. To me, Ayahuasca is the Mother of all Master Plants. San Pedro and Peyote are like cousins, because they link together with mescaline, and both of them work more on the masculine side of each person. They enforce the energetic cleansing, the strength and the need to be more grounded to the earth, while the Ayahuasca not only works on those levels too, but also leads you to realms and layers of consciousness beyond this space/time reality, and works on the feminine energetic side, the creative force of everything in the universe.
In that sense, the experience with the Ayahuasca will be then more intense?
Yes. I had experiences with San Pedro and I had the opportunity to work with Peyote with some Navajo masters in New Mexico, where they work a lot with fire. It was not as intense as an Ayahuasca ritual, because I felt that you can manage the situation somehow, which doesn’t occur with Ayahuasca. During the Ayahuasca session you cannot finish the ritual when you want and take it out of your body. It is more about surrendering yourself to it and embracing what the plant wants to show you and work through it. That’s the only way to receive the teachings of this wise Mother.