“The pictures themselves have messages and teachings that train the mind to see what could have happened in the past and what can happen in the future. They open up other ways of seeing, which you could call sacred or divine. I would like my pictures to inspire a different idea of religion, one that is not given in exchange for something but is free.” (Amaringo 1).
Pablo Amaringo was born in 1938 in Loreto, Peru. His artworks are known world-wide and he is considered one of the most influential Peruvian painters in history. His paintings show the world he is familiar with painting the rainforest in the Amazon region with the many plants and creatures living there. His paintings also depict the spirit world known to the peoples of his region. This spirit world is entered through prayer and through the use of visionary plants most commonly ayahuasca. The spirit world includes spirit beings of all kinds, ufos, giant serpents, angels, luminous cities existing in another plane of consciousness; this is what Pablo Amaringo called the divine or sacred reality. Each object, intelligent being and motif has specific meanings which are revealed in the book, “The Ayahuasca Visions of Pablo Amaringo”. These paintings give a glimpse into the unseen world of the Peruvian healers, shamans and common peoples.
Pablo Amaringo tried ayahuasca for the first time with his grandfather when he was ten years old because he had heard of others who drank it and was curious. He entered the spirit world and lost feeling of his body. He was a bit frighten but saw spirit beings traditionally spoken of in the region. Ayahuasca was and still is a sacred sacrament which connects the person to the spirit world. Ayahuasca is a combination of plants cooked down in a specific way and contains psychedelic compounds. There are many ayahuasca churches both indigenous and Christian throughout South America and is commonly used for healing and spiritual purposes.
Pablo Amaringo faced a deep sickness after his family was killed in a car accident. He went to his fathers house and was healed with ayahuasca in the 1970s. Pablo said, “I thought ayahuasca must be a good medicine because it worked for me – I saw visions, and even today remember everything that I saw.” After his recovery he realized, “life had no meaning unless one looked for the spiritual whether through taking plants or by following a religion.” (Amaringo 21).
Pablo Amaringo was an artist, spiritualist and healer. He made art works which depicted the spiritual world of his people which he accessed with ayahuasca. He infused his paintings with icaros or magical incantations. He says, “If you concentrate and meditate on the paintings, you will receive this spiritual energy.” Howard Charing writes, “Although he had stopped drinking ayahuasca many years prior, he had the ability to perfectly recall each of his visions. On one occasion he said to me, ‘I do not need to drink again; ayahuasca has connected me to the spirit world.’” (Charing xi).
He did conduct healing ceremonies with ayahuasca as a medicine man or shaman. He stopped because of threats from sorcerers. The sorcerers are those who use ayahuasca and the spirit world to do harm to others. He later stopped doing healing for people saying that even healing is a form of sorcery. He came to teach art and opened a school to teach Peruvians painting and drawing. He felt that art was the highest pursuit. He painted ayahuasca visions but also painted many landscapes filled with the diverse plants and animals of the amazon. Collector world-wide have gone to Peru seeking Pablo’s artworks as well as artists imitating and developing his style.
Pablo states, “The best thing you can leave is a seed for others to work with. I am not just a person; I am a spiritual person. I always communicate with the great universal force, which is the rock of perfection – Dios – that I have seen in my ayahuasca visions, and which has always spoken to me. “ (Amaringo 1)
Nukno maschashka has people chanting in a ceremony at the bottom and shows how prayers and songs are sent into the higher spheres of the cosmos. The chant is a song gained from the spirits in a quite place in the woods. Each of the plants, peoples, animals and spirits represented are specific beings and objects with a deeper meaning for the whole of the image. One can see angels, healing medicine women, ceremony, serpents of wisdom, healing plants and the high realms of the spirit world resounding with music. The healing ceremony and healing chants are carried by the spirits into the spirit world.
By Transpersonal Spirit
Charing, Howard; Peter Cloudsley, Pablo Amaringo. The Ayahuasca Visions of Pablo Amaringo. Inner Traditions. Vermont. 2011.