Peruvian Plant Medicine in the Sacred Valley

Few places have left a more indelible impression on me than Machu Picchu. But the site itself is only one part of a much larger and more meaningful whole. The mountaintop sanctuary is surrounded by a wealth of mystical places and experiences that make this part of the world a true pilgrimage for those who are spiritually-inclined. One of my personal favorites is the Sacred Valley of the Incas.

A treasure trove of world-renowned archaeological sites, the Sacred Valley is a testament to the original military and religious significance of this region. More importantly, it’s a literal melting pot for early Incan religious customs, including energy healing, sweat lodges and plant medicine, as well as a range of modern practices like yoga and other forms of physical movement.

As someone with a strong interest in holistic healing and naturopathy, this focus on organic diagnosis and healing has provided me with a continuous source of learning and insight over the years – one that’s based on wisdom dating back more than five centuries.

Plant Medicine

Shamanic practices are still very much alive in the Sacred Valley. Acting as intermediaries between human and spirit realms, these individuals routinely use plant medicine to deepen their connection to the spirit world. In doing so, they’re able to divine specific remedies to ailments and other disorders – a sacred context commonly known as Spiritual Medicine. 

Often using a bitter-tasting brew distilled from the Ayahuasca plant, this practice has remained one of the most common foundations of a magical-spiritual connection for more than 75 ethnic groups within the Sacred Valley and surrounding region. Derived from the Quechua words “aya ” (translated as “soul” or “spirit”) and “huasca” (meaning “rope” or “vine”), the Ayahuasca is quite literally believed to be the cord of the dead or the vine of the soul.

Those who’ve partaken in the life-enriching properties of traditional plant medicines have been able to facilitate a lengthy internal meditation and spiritual journey. The process reportedly revealed a wealth of personal insights through access to heightened levels of self-awareness and higher consciousness.

Shamanic practitioners who use Ayahuasca in their spiritual practice are cautious in how the plant medicine is prepared, given the often strong physiological reactions commonly associated with this practice. These include vomiting and diarrhea, during which it’s believed you expel your parasites or negative energies. Using plant medicine is a serious approach to gaining an intense, rapid spiritual connection, and is treated with great respect by those who understand its power.

I advocate achieving a similar state of mind and spiritual connection through trance work. When you’re on location and within the energy field of shamans who are well-versed in these traditions, you can access a similar connection in a trance state without the risks associated with plant medicine. Instead, you rely solely on the power and perfect insight of your own mind!