Hummingbird of Light

The hummingbird is seen as a symbol of resurrection, beauty and magic. Set against a mandala or wheel design of bursting colours, a bird-creature dressed in white has her feet immersed in a pool of water (a symbol for the subconscious), while geometric lines of energy seem to emanate from its depths.

A drawing with pencil crayon, inspired by the Shipibo of the Peruvian Amazon rainforest. The patterns in the background — nurturing by the waters of the unconscious — are adapted by Shipibo designs, which are inextricably linked to sound.

What if we could paint music?

From Ayahuasca: Communion with the Infinite:

One of the challenges for the Western mind is to acknowledge the relationship between the Shipibo designs and music. For the Shipibo can “listen” to a song or chant by looking at the designs, and inversely paint a pattern by listening to a song or music.

As an astonishing demonstration of this I witnessed two Shipiba paint a large ceremonial ceramic pot known as a Mahuete. The pot was nearly five feet high and had a diameter of about three feet, each of the Shipiba couldn’t see what the other was painting, yet both were whistling the same song, and when they had finished both sides of the complex geometric pattern were identical and matched each side perfectly.

A key element in this magical dialogue with the energy which permeates creation and is embedded in the Shipibo designs is the work with ayahuasca by the Shipibo shamans or muraya. In the deep ayahuasca trance, the ayahuasca reveals to the shaman the luminous geometric patterns of energy. These filaments drift towards the mouth of the shaman where it metamorphoses into a chant or icaro. The icaro is a conduit for the patterns of creation which then permeate the body of the shaman’s patient bringing harmony in the form of the geometric patterns which re-balances the patient’s body. The vocal range of the Shipibo shaman’s when they chant the icaros is astonishing, they can range from the highest falsetto one moment to a sound which resembles a thumping pile driver, and then to a gentle soothing melodic lullaby. Speaking personally of my experience with this, is a feeling that every cell in my body is floating and embraced in a nurturing all-encompassing vibration, even the air around me is vibrating in acoustic resonance with the icaro of the maestro. The shaman knows when the healing is complete as the design is clearly distinct in the patient’s body. It make take a few sessions to complete this, and when completed the geometric healing designs are embedded in the patient’s body, this is called an Arkana. This internal patterning is deemed to be permanent and to protect a person’s spirit.

From Data Is Nature:

The intricate linear geometric and symmetrical artworks of the Shipibo Indians, a large tribe of the Peruvian Amazon, act as visual music maps – scores notating the chants and songs (Icaros) associated with Ayahuasca healing ceremonies. [..]

According to Howard G. Charing, in his article on the visual music of the tribe, ‘the Shipibo can listen to a song or chant by looking at the designs – and inversely, paint a pattern by listening to a song or music’. He goes on to mention how the designs are mapped using specific songs during the creation of the artefacts – in this sense the periodicity and repetitions in the songs appear to act as a generative grammar system.

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