An Indigenous Approach to Healing with Water
By Jonathan Davis on Tuesday March 1st, 2016
For the Desana people, singing to the Water is a key to healingThe science of cymatics literally shows us that sound influences the structure of water, but there are many who believe in the scientifically controversial idea that water can hold a ‘memory’ from the influence of light, sound and even human intention. In recent years many people have been captivated by the work of Masaru Emoto, with his images showing the world precise details of how intention may be affecting water on a structural level. For the first time we were able to clearly visualise what a particular intention, such as gratitude, may look like in the form a single snowflake-like structure, photographed under a microscope.
The list of different photographs that could be taken using Masaru Emoto’s technique is as long as as the list of different emotions and all the different sources of water on planet earth combined. In fact people have believed in our ability to influence water since the days of antiquity, with the Christian tradition being the obvious example, with the ongoing performing of rituals they claim turns regular water into holy water. Vibrational essences and the water from flower baths are just a few other examples of people believing in the capacity for water to be affected intentionally for healing purposes.
Dr. Emoto’s water blessed by gratitude (left) and Holy Water (right)Indigenous Healing With WaterWe shouldn’t be surprised to learn that there have been cultures who have held this understanding since long before microscopes and cameras existed to show them that their prayers or intentions were having some kind of tangible effect. Verification instead came to them in the form of efficacy in healing. Water was charged with healing intention, and then given to someone who was sick, and when their health was restored, the practice was deemed useful and it’s use was continued. In this way, this practice has been carried through to the present day from ancient times. One such culture which has found this practice effective is the Desana tribe who continue to reside in the Amazon on both sides of the Colombian/Brazilian border.
The practice of charging liquids, particularly herbal medicines with intention is widely practiced throughout the Amazon basin among many different language groups, most often done with whistling or song, and/or the blowing of tobacco smoke over the liquid.
Members of the Desana TribeImbuing Water With Healing IntentionOne term used in spanish is curar, to cure – used in much the same way we use this word when referring to clay tiles curing in the sun, or salted meat being cured, inferring that the intention is perhaps preserved in the structure of the water molecules. It has a double meaning in that one cures the liquid etc. in the preserving intention sense, in order to cure the patient in the healing sense. This is likely part of why a healer in the amazon is most commonly known as a curendera or curandero: one who cures. Another term for this practice in the Amazon is icarar.
The verb icarar means to sing or whistle an icaro [medicine song] over a person, object or preparation to give it power; water over which an icaro has been sung or whistled and tobacco has been blown, for example is called agua icarada…
Anthropologist Luis Eduardo Luna tells of how [mestizo shaman] Don Williams Vasquez deals with difficult childbirth, singing icaros [medicine songs] of slimy fish, demulcent and mucilaginous trees, the slippery boa, and the ray, which can give birth in any position. He sings these songs over a glass of water, which is given for the woman to drink. – Steve Beyer, Singing To The Plants
Blessing water with sacred tobacco
The Desana Tribe Of The Vuapes River RegionThe Desana stand as a particularly good example of this practice because in their culture exists a field of specialisation in this exact art. The Desana are unique in that they have three distinct types of shamans and the ones that work with incantations, usually over liquids, are known to be capable of healing with water and intention alone. This person is referred to as a kubu or kumu.
The kumu cures by the inaudible recitation of highly formalised therapeutic spells over a liquid the patient then drinks.’ – Steve Beyer, Singing To The Plants
A term that isn’t loaded with quite the same negative connotations as ‘spells’ is the Desana word bayi, which speaks of curing in both the healing sense as well as the encoding of intention into a liquid. Bayi also brings with it the same kind of reverence and sacredness as the word ‘pray’.
For the Desana, this object [often water], which gives the incantation a material support, functions as a “medium”; it transfers the incantation to the patient. – Domonique Buchillet, Portals Of Power
The Desana Tribe of the Amazon
Why Not Simply Sing Or Speak The Incantation Over The Sick Person?According to the kubu shamans of the Desana, their incantations when used without some kind of physical carrier like water have more precision and are able to target the exact cause of the illness with more accuracy, but work more slowly. Perhaps the effect is slower to arrive, or slower to manifest into some kind of physical change, or both.
When reciting their incantation over a physical agent like a liquid for drinking or a plant for rubbing on the person, the Desana claim that the cure is faster acting, more penetrating, has more materiality and permanence, though it not as precise.
Cultivating The Ability To Encode Water With Healing IntentionIf Dr. Masaru Emoto is right then we are very likely accidentally affecting the environment around us with our thoughts and feelings every where we go, every single day – and water seems to be particularly conductive and sensitive to the emanations of our consciousness. If we wish to more actively affect the quality of the water around us the following lessons can be learned from the kubu of the Desana tribe.
The apprentice kubu, kudu pegi, is literally ‘the one who listens’. – Domonique Buchillet, Portals Of Power
Learning the practice of deep listening
For the Desana, much of the listening required is the listening to the incantations being passed down in a lineage, so I’m sorry to say that those reading this article are unlikely to gain the powers claimed by a kubu. What we can do however is examine the qualities that they are trying to cultivate while they are learning the incantations of their ancestral line. There is a depth to the type of listening that they are trying to cultivate. The Desana speak of learning to be able to sit still on a bench that in their tradition is ‘intimately tied to thought and reflection’. Their term for intelligence is partly derived from a word that means: to listen, to hear, to comprehend, to understand, to know.
Indigenous Australians, Kalahari Bushmen in Africa, Apache Indians, Indigenous Hawaiians and many more traditional cultures place a profound level of focus on deep listening to nature. For example the Lipan Apache philosophy as taught by Stalking Wolf / Tom Brown / Jon Young, is that as we listen deeply we develop threads of connection to the living world. This could explain why deep listening allows for more powerful incantations as the person is able to call on the aspects of nature he has formed strong threads or even ropes of connection with. For more information on the cultivation of deep listening practices check out our article about the Indigenous Australian concept of ‘Dadirri’.
Indigenous Australians have a deep connection to nature through listeningPurification and FastingAnother aspect of gaining knowledge and the ability to focus and transfer intention powerfully and accurately is the practice of purification and fasting. Purification through emetic plant purges apparently removes blockages preventing knowledge from coming in.
For you with your tape recorder and notebooks, it is easy to learn this incantation. For me it was very difficult. I had to fast and remain awake all night to learn it. – A Desana Kubu, Portals Of Power
One of the fundamental methods of shamanic training in the Amazon is the practice of self imposing strict limitations on diet and spending time in isolation in the forest, listening for the songs of the plants that one is trying to establish relationships with. Perhaps it is the mental and physical discipline gained from fasting that hones the ability to focus intention in a powerful way, however the deepest lessons come from actually doing the practice yourself and receiving knowledge and experience directly. If you choose to explore fasting, please do extensive research and proceed with care. Getting a checkup and speaking to your physician is advised before exploring this path.
A modern day Tambo for isolation diets and fasting
How Is This Helpful In My Daily Life?Whether you believe fully in the possibilities outlined in this article or whether you are a more sceptical, it can be helpful to remember that in recent studies science has found that even when a person knows they are receiving a placebo it is still effective in a statistically significant way.
So the next time you sit down to eat a meal, think of all the cultures that give gratitude for their meals and consider that almost every piece of food you are likely to eat contains water. What would the image look like if Dr Emoto took a picture of the water in that food now charged with gratitude? What would the image look like of the water in our body that had come into contact with this water from our gratitude charged food?
The next time you’re cooking soup for a loved one who isn’t feeling well, you could consider singing it a song that warms your heart. When you run a bath for yourself at the end of a long stressful day, consider the affect the epsom salt crystals, the essential oils and music may be having on not only the water in the bath, but the water in your body that makes up approximately 70% of who you are.
Can we positively affect our water before we drink it?Healing With Water On A Global ScaleIf water is extremely conductive of electricity then this conductivity could also extend to more subtle levels of energy that science is now only at the edge of being able to measure. Remember also that water has also been observed by eastern traditions as perhaps the best example of being able to adapt and change to any situation. Conductivity and adaptability.
We may not be masters of encoding water with intention like the Desana, or masters of focus like buddhist monk, but what we lack in depth of focus we may be able to make up for with sheer volume of people. What excites me is the idea that millions of people may be able to collectively use their intention to take advantage of the conductivity and adaptability of water, by coming into a space of deep listening and receptivity and then focusing our intention on sending their blessing to the waters of this planet. This may be to bring healing to the waters themselves, but like this practice of using the water as a carrier for healing individuals, a large enough and focused enough collective may be able to bring about healing or re-alignment in not just the water but all those who come into contact with it – and there is nothing this planet needs more than that.