A visual journey into the mysterious depths of healing

“This project is a testimony of my personal experiences in the world of the spirituality and the ancient healing practices along the continents.

I want to speack about the invisible energies that surround human beings trought photographing those rituals and practices that for generations and centuries had belonged to the indigenous people, which now are the most affected by the economic and cultural transformations of our age.

Shamanism, as the ancestral medicine of all the humanity, forms an integral part of the spiritual road to healing in many countries all over the world.

My hope is that by recording these ancient traditions i will contribute to preserving what is sacred and the natural environments of native people.

My interest brought me first in Latin America, where rituals and practices of healing have been guarded and preserved with the aid of medicinal plants found in the Amazon forest.”

Nicolò Filippo Rosso

COLOMBIA -THE PEOPLE OF YAGÈ-

The Ayahuasca (Banisteriopsis caapi), more commonly known in Colombia as yajé, is a medicinal plant found in the Amazon forest. The indigenous medicine men, the taitas, use it as a potion that facilitates the healing rituals they perform.

Yajé is as mysterious as the traditional rituals in which they form a part. It is a vine, that when brewed with leaves from the chagru-panga plant found in the forest, serve to facilitate a spiritual awakening in those who consume the brew.
Thetaitas, and the communities they serve, report many miraculous physical, emotional and spiritual healing effects of yajé. The power of yajé contributes to its mystery. The journey is not an hallucinogenic state of trance, but rather a moment where the patient analyzes his own life. Although he suffers due to the state of nausea that the plant induces and ends up with vomiting and purging; this process reflects the removal of bad energies and thoughts. The reality around and inside the patient becomes more pristine, and with consciousness comes healing.

The indigenous colombian people of Kamëntsá, Inga, Siona and Kofanes have been practicing for generations healing and spiritual ceremonies. They believe that it is a duty, inherited from their ancestors, to guard the forest for the future generations. However, the survival of the healing rituals of the taitas, can only be granted through access to the plants, the natural pharmacy that the forest provides. This access is nowadays under constant threat from political struggles, natural exploitation and the growing commercial industries. Therefore, the challenge of the taitas is to maintain and protect what they believe is sacred and true, while adapting their lives to the changing times.

Every year in the Sibundoy Valley people from the ethnicities Inga and Kamëntsà celebrate the Bëknaste, also known as the Carnival of Forgiveness.

The festivity has a long tradition and, just like the millenary culture of the Yagè, the carnival has also been influenced by the colonization and Catholicism. It is celebrated on the Monday prior to Ash Wednesday.

With the "Big Day", as people also call the Bëknaste, a cycle ends and another one begins. People celebrate, exalting forgiveness, peace and the ancestral values ​​of the community. During the climax of the celebration they invoke the spirit of Saint John, considered able to avoid future clashes between the people of the Valley.

A rooster with tied legs is hanged, upside down, on the top of a large building made with woods and palm leaves, and it is sacrificed in honor of the Saint. The sacrifice is performed by people chosen by the community, but only one of them will succeed to grab the rooster and break its neck, by jumping to the top of the building.

People thank Nature for its fruits, especially for corn, with which they prepare the “chicha”, a fermented and inebriating beverage that is served in buckets, cans and cups to availability.

The carnival becomes a great collective ceremony where the indigenous cosmovision blends with Catholicism. The memory of the blood shed in the resistance against the conquerors merges with a feeling of collective forgiveness.

As the Yagè rituals, the carnival is a moment of reconciliation with the Earth, an opportunity for any individual to ask forgiveness for not having respected the Nature and its sacredness. The healing power of nature that, for all the people of the Amazon, contains the mystery of yage', is invoked, allowing men to overcome difficulties, fights and misunderstandings.