I wrote this article in 2016 for the 18th number of the spanish magazine of Ulises, Revista de Viajes Interiores, while I was working as an Art-therapist at The Temple of the Way of Light center in Iquitos, Peru. In it you will find reflections on art as a path of learning and healing in close relation to Ayahuasca and the world of master plants. I hope you find it interesting.

Art helps us to transcend. The act of symbolizing was one of the elements that powered the evolution of the hominid to become human. Art helps to attract to the light of consciousness the hidden material of our unconscious. Art helps to integrate all those contents to be discovered, through an organic and natural process.

When working with Ayahuasca, one realizes that the language is often
that the language is often symbolic. The subtlety of the metaphor that this medicine provides is able to reach unsuspected corners of our being, and to
unsuspected corners of our being, influencing, sometimes almost secretly, the deepest beliefs and constructs about reality.

Like a seed it grows, filling the inner space. Although it must be said that, without the effort and commitment of oneself, which is like water and care for a garden, the seed becomes dormant.

photo by Irene Pérez
photo by Irene Pérez

It is very interesting and beneficial to use Art-therapy within the Ayahuasca process. Art as an accompaniment in the process of inner unfolding facilitates the understanding, at different levels and perceptions, of the immensity of the human soul.

If there is something good about Art Therapy that makes it so useful, it is that there is no good or bad. When exercises are proposed, what is sought is not the final result, the aesthetics of the piece. What art offers is the opportunity to pay attention to the process, to what happens to us while we create.

The possibility of practicing a non-focused attention to recognize thoughts, feelings, reactions and somatizations is something quite precious and scarce in these days, where it seems that haste rules.

When the person works within the process with Ayahuasca, his or her energetic field is expanded, more open, movement and changes, cleanliness, order and chaos are generated. The person can be more receptive to the symbolic language of art and artistic expression.

Here we understand artistic expression as any creative act free of judgment. When that act is materialized in some piece, through the exercise there is what I personally like to call symbolic activism.

This is a right of the soul.

When an exercise is proposed there are several layers that are acting, some of a more conscious level, which are those that facilitate the integration and understanding of the process and material that Ayahuasca is bringing to the surface of the psyche, and others of a more unconscious and subtle level, which we do not always realize or perceive, and that help in a very gentle way to strengthen the transmutation of the soul.

Actually, Art and Ayahuasca speak the same language. If we look at the traditions that work with this medicine, there are always, in relation to it, songs, music, patterns, designs, objects, drawings. Art, creativity, is something inherent to the natural existence that this and other medicines from all over the world represent.

There is a wonderful link between the natural and art, a link that sometimes we do not know how to perceive, so many layers that surround us and limit our understanding. When working with medicines that expand the consciousness these layers dissolve until we become more capable of perceiving what is beyond what seems to us to be a border. Because there are none.

In my time of experience with Ayahuasca and Art-therapy I have been able to observe how some people have discovered or expanded their creative facet through the intention, the symbolic charge, the creation and understanding of the inner symbolic world. Working with the power of intention in combination with the creative act can give fantastic results in relation to working with Ayahuasca.

photo by Irene Pérez
photo by Irene Pérez

And in relation to that, if there is something that for me really has a lot of value is empowerment. I understand Ayahuasca as a tool that can be very powerful when used with respect and commitment.

Personally, it helps me to sharpen my inner ear to hear my own voice, to listen to the wisdom that is in me, which, as in everyone, comes from very old. It helps me to remember that all the answers I seek are within me. It helps me to walk feeling responsible for my actions.

It reminds me that I am part of something immense and that this energy manifests itself through me, as it does through everyone. It teaches me to see that everything has medicine inside, everything. And above all, to laugh at myself and to love myself as I am.

The possibility of being able to create and transform the pieces of art we work with opens the door to personal power, to the symbolic and material manifestation of what we need to move forward. Thus, what emerges in the ceremonies is worked with the art and what emerges in the exercises is related to the ceremonies. Creating a reciprocal relationship between Ayahuasca and Art.

Art is another tool, like ayahuasca, that invites us to travel towards our inner landscapes, some so rich, others so desolate. Both medicines offer a safe container to face those deep fears that paralyze us, to relive the traumas that marked us, to experience ourselves and to heal.

For the Shipibo ethnic group, Ayahuasca is known as Uni. Uni is knowledge, understanding, wisdom, medicine. For me, Art is knowledge, understanding, wisdom, medicine.

I am beginning to change my conception about the concept of “medicine”. I am going to let go of the belief that it is only related to illness to link it to another concept: learning.

By learning we heal, by healing we learn, not only what concerns us in the present moment and in our history, but also what has preceded us in our lineage and in humanity, but this is a subject for another article.

To quote the master Kandinsky in closing, “the psychological force of color provokes a vibration of the soul. The elemental physical force is the way by which color reaches the soul”.

Jatibicho. Irake.[1]

[1] That’s all. Thank you.  Shipibo language.

photo by Irene Pérez