Icaros are shamanic songs and chants learned directly from the spirits of the plants through rigorous plant dietas, or from a human maestro.

The icaro may be offered for protection, called an ‘arkana’, to summon healing spirits, or to conduct healing energy to the patient through the curandero.
They are used to communicate with the spirits of the natural world, to heal the sick, and to provoke different kinds of visual displays or visions in patients medicated with Ayahuasca. The most potent of these songs are those learned from the spirits themselves through the vegetalista dieta, or those received in the dream visions which often follow an ayahuasca ceremony.

The Concept of Plants as Teachers among four Mestizo Shamans of Iquitos, Northeastern Perú
by Luis Eduardo Luna

Magic Melodies
author unknown

A fundamental belief in the Peruvian Amazon is that ayahuasca teaches magical mystical melodies known as “icaros.” A principal qualification of a vegetalista is mastery of a vast repertiore of icaros – each plant teaches it’s medicine, and eventually it’s icaro through a series of rigorous dietas with the focal plant. Every plant spirit has its own icaro. Different types of icaros serve a variety of purposes ranging from love magic (pusangeria) to divination to the cure of snakebite. There are many icaros for many purposes … “Shirohuehua” or fun songs, for example, animate the patient, inducing joy and hope.”Manchari” are sung to lead an abducted soul back to its owner.With the “icaro de aranita,” a little spider spins a web around a man and a woman uniting them for all eternity.Icaros are taught by the tutelary spirits of plants and animals: the raya-balsa, for example, an aquatic plant, can teach one to travel under the water. There are even icaros of perfumes, stones and resins.The “sirenas” or mermaids are often invoked in ayahuasca sessions. They appear, singing beautiful icaros, accompanied by string instruments. Their icaros can give one power over the underwater world, particularly over the Bufeo or pink river dolphin. These creatures are feared and seen as mighty sorcerers, yet they are also invested with sexual allure. Men are said to feel an intense pleasure during coitus with dolphins, and are sometimes unable to separate themselves.

Icaros are used only during ayahuasca sessions. There is a hierarchy among shamans depending on the number and power of the icaros they know. The icaros sung in Spanish are not as powerful as those in jungle Quechua; mixtures of Quechua with Cocama and Omagua are particularly potent. Yet each shaman has a principal icarowhich represents the essence of his power.

In the highly sensitized state of ayahuasca mareación, the icaros guide and structure the vision. They can also modify the visions themselves. Luna reports: “There are icaros for increasing or diminishing the intensity and color of the visions, for changing the color perceived, and for directing the emotional contents of the hallucinations.”

Vegetalistas are masters of synaesthesia. Through using the most interesting acoustic effects produced by whistling and singing, the geometric designs can be seen acoustically. The maestros refer to an icaro as “my painted song,” “my words with those designs,” or “my ringing pattern.”

The icaros are the quintessence of shamanic healing energy. A good vegetalista is able to orchestrate profoundly cathartic, deeply healing and transformative visions through his or her magic melodies.

Luna describes icaros as having great unearthly beauty and urges ethnomusicologists to record them soon, as they are an evanescent feature of shamanic culture, that is fast disappearing. True ayahuasqueros, he claims, are dying out and their roles are being assumed by charlatans. The key to recognizing a true maestro is … does he know the magic of the icaros?

Some Original Ayahuasca Icaros

…never heard outside the Peruvian Amazon
… from the maestro ayahuasqueros of SpiritQuest
(These recordings may require greater download time…please be patient, they’re worth the wait.)
The incomparable maestro banco ayahuasquero
Don Rober Acho Jarama

Icaro I
Icaro II
Icaro III
Icaro IV
Hermana Maria Luisa Tuesta Flores
~ maestra oracionista ~

one of the most dedicated pure curanderas of all time …
(now gracing Heaven with her presence but her spirit lingers with us … )
Icaro I – medicina espiritual
Icaro II
Icaro III
Icaro IV

don Juan Pahuela – Palero
Icaro I – spiritual protection
Icaro II
Icaro III
Icaro IV
Icaro V

don Panchito
maestro vegetalista
Icaro I – journey

don Daniel
maestro ayahuasquero
Icaro I – healing
Icaro II
Icaro III

curandero conversations
…in the Spirit World