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Glossary of Terminology
of the Shamanic & Ceremonial Traditions
of the Inca Medicine Lineage

as Practiced in the United States

CAUTION: The inclusion of herbs, symptomatology and treatments for disease within this glossary
is not meant for diagnosis of, nor prescription for treatment of, any medical condition.
This information is included for anthropological and historical study only.



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Ch, Ch' & Chh
F & G
K' & Kh
N & Ñ
P', Ph
Q', Qh
T' & Th


    Use the Firefox browser with the CoolPreview add on. CoolPreview will give a magnifying glass icon at every link when you put your cursor on the link. Click on the icon and it will open a separate, smaller window with the definition of the term in it. You can either lock the window by clicking the padlock icon in the top bar of the little window, or move your cursor off the window and it will automatically close. This is almost as good as mouseovers.

    paint57.tiff                         GLOSSARY NEVER TO BE SOLD

    daño: (n) Witchcraft. AYV Damage, loss, hurt, harm. CEES Magical harm. WOFW  Daño is a kind of soul loss. But, unlike susto, it requires the intervention of sentient beings who orchestrate soul capture and thus falls under the heading of sorcery. GOL See, mal daño, daño por boca (see, below), and daño por aire (see, below).

    daño por aire (Span): (n) Harm that is carried through the air and comes into contact with the victim in this way. It will often be diagnosed as any number of illnesses, none of which reflect the real, magical cause. If a doctor follows up on the false diagnosis and treats the symptoms of daño with ingested, or especially injected medicines, these medicines will have an adverse effect on the victim, poisoning instead of curing. GOL

    daño por boca (Span): (n) Harm that is ingested by mouth (a potion or powder) and is usually fatal. Daño por boca manifests itself without any perceivable cause. GOL

    dark cloud constellations: (Eng) See, Pachatira, Yana Phuyu and Mayu.

    dark matter: Dark matter is a mysterious hypothetical substance that is thought not to interact with light photons and is thus invisible to current detection instruments. Scientists first invoked the concept in the 1930s to explain why fast-spinning galaxies with relatively little mass don't break apart. The unusual solution: They contain a large amount of invisible matter whose heft and gravity hold the galaxies together. Scientists have since estimated that only about one-sixth of the matter in the universe is visible, and that the rest is dark matter. The cosmic web filaments are held together by dark matter, unseen stuff that makes up 85 percent of all mass in the universe. WSC5

    Astronomers have mapped the positions of vast, invisible isles of dark matter
    in the sky, within which normal "bright" matter galaxies are embedded like
    glittering gems. The three-dimensional map spans not only space, but also time,
    and stretches back to when the universe was only about half its present age.

    datura, floripondio, misha, huanto: (n) A plant in the Nightshade Family. It contains tropane alkaloids that are sometimes used as a hallucinogen. The active ingredients are atropine, hyoscyamine and scopolamine which are classified as deliriants, or anticholinergics. Due to extremely high risk of overdose, many deaths and hospitalizations are reported from recreational use. WIKI It can be added to a San Pedro infusion to produce greater visual force. WOFW  (See, toé.)

    Daytime Sun: (n) (Eng) The sun as it passed across the sky from sunrise to sunset was worshiped by the Llacuaz lineage ayllu of Cajatambo. MAN (See, Huarochirí Manuscript, Nighttime Sun.)

    deer (Eng): (n) The deer plays a vital role in the lore of modern shamans, and is an important part of their therapy. Symbolizing swiftness and elusiveness, the deer is used by the shaman to detect attacking spirits and to exorcise spirits in cases of possession. WOFW This fleet-footed animal has the power to drive away all that is unwanted forever. GOL    

    delousing (Eng): (n) There is a custom which still can be seen in some primitive human groups of the Andes. It consists of delousing another person and, while doing it, killing with nail and teeth the captured lice, and swallowing them thereupon. Recently, while examining the digestive contents of Peruvian mummies, evidence was found that this custom is at least one thousand years old in Peru. DYE

    dental work (Eng): (n) Dental surgery must have also been a common occupation of the healers of that epoch, to judge from the ample evidence found in the ancient graves. We can see the final, well healed effects of dental extractions and even in some cases the replacement of teeth with metallic prostheses. Cieza states that, in some tribes, “the chieftains stud or fill their teeth with gold.” DYE

    depilitation (Eng): (n) Father Cobo says that all the Indians “pluck the hairs of the beard off with copper tweezers” and Santa Cruz Pachacutic states that this custom became generalized after an edict of Inca Lloque Yupanqui ordered that all noblemen would have their beards plucked out so that they were hairless, as he was. The tweezers used in this manner were called canipacho or tirana, and were used by both men and women. There is not one single mention [in the chronicles] of their use as surgical instruments [as forceps]. DYE

    descuenta, desmarco, cierre de la cuenta (Span): (v) To To send the power back out of the mesa objects and close the ceremony, the curandero “unaccounts” (through chanting or singing [see, tarjo]) that power by verbalizing the action of its return from the mesa to the enchanted place of origin (place in nature) where that power resides. GOL This [procedure] is the same as the opening [the account] ceremony. WPH See, account, encanto  

    desgracia (Span): (n) Disgrace, misfortune. PSL

    despachar (Span): (v) (1) To send; to clear (at customs house). SEES (2) Orally spraying mesa objects with alcohol or holy water to cleanse and to send noxious substances on their way that have been extracted from patients during limpias. GOL  (See, kamay)

    despacho (Span): (n) A ceremonial offering composed of a wide variety of elements, each with its own symbolic meaning. The elements are intricately arranged on white paper, infused with sami, bundled up and burned. Despachos are commonly used to attain ayni and set things right (kuti). Shamans use them also to feed their connections to the sacred. KOAK The traditional Andean offering of thanks or supplication sent to the Nature Spirits. Despachos can contain up to 200 different ingredients and are made in a ceremony performed by Andean Priests. This offering is traditionally burned, buried, or sunk in a lake or other body of water depending on the meaning and purpose of the offering. Haywarisqa is the Quechua term for the despacho. NND Unlike the Q'ero, who do not watch the despacho burn [Pachamama is consuming the offering and it is considered to be rude], the Kollahuaya watch the burning until it is complete. IGMP (See, Appendix J.)

    An unwrapped despacho to Pachamama. IGMP

    Devil's Doorway(Eng): See, Gateway of Amaru Muru.

    diet (Eng): (n) The literal translation of the Spanish term dieta. It refers to shamanic apprenticeship training as it is done in the Amazon. It is much more than just a "diet." Along with the implicit food restrictions (no salt, sugar, spices, oils, fats, alcohol, stimulants, pork meat -- and in some cases no chicken or red meat too ), there are other specific conditions to respect, among which two are very important: sexual abstinence and physical seclusion. The alterated state of consciousness needed to access the plant spirit world is achieved by these restrictions while being alone in the forest with the shaman/teacher. That is the traditional way. During the period of the diet, the apprentice must also refrain from entering in contact with menstruating women, at any level (including having his/her clothes touched/washed by, or having his/her food prepared by a lady in this condition). Traditionally, it is only the shaman who should attend the apprentice during the time of his/her diet, and should bring/prepare food. EMM Of paramount importance is the necessity of keeping a very strict diet and total sexual abstinence during the period of apprenticeship. It is through the diet that the plants reveal themselves to the initiate, either in visions or in dreams. The length of the diet will determine his knowledge and his strength. In some cases the spirits themselves will appear and prescribe the duration and character of the diet. Even after the shaman has withdrawn from the isolation required during apprenticeship, and starts his shamanic practices, periods of diet are recommended, especially when treating difficult cases and/or when preparing certain medicines. It is quite common to keep the diet for one or several days after the ingestion of ayahuasca or other plant teachers, if used only for the purpose of curing. When learning from the plants the diet's duration may be of several months and even up to several years. The "ideal" diet consists of cooked plantains, smoked fish and sometimes carne de monte, the meat of certain jungle animals. Rice and manioc seem to be accepted by some ayahuasqueros. No salt, sugar or any other condiments, fats, alcohol, pork, chicken, fruit, vegetables or cold beverages can be ingested. The food must be prepared either by the shaman himself, or by a premenstruate girl or a postmenopausal woman. The maintenance of some sort of altered state of consciousness seems to be part of the learning process. MSIN  

    In some cases it is clear that by ingesting and following the diet for a plant, the shaman is trying to participate in some of its qualities. Many of the plant teachers are very tall trees, that resist heavy rains, winds and inundations. The shaman will then be able to withstand the elements in the same way. MSIN  

    Diosa huayuthuayunocathaa (AYM): (v) To call to God for help (sp). ASD

    Diosana camachita aropa (AYM): (n) Law of God (sp). ASD

    Diosman kutiriy: (v) Literally, return to God. To repent (sp). PSL

    Diosmanta mañakuy: Literally, to ask of God. (n) Prayer. (v) To pray (sp). PSL

    Diospa atiynin: (n) Literally, God's power (sp). Priesthood. PSL

    Diospagarasunki: (phrase) Literally, God will repay you. Thank you (sp). PSL

    Diospagaray: (v) To thank (sp). PSL

    dismemberment (Eng.): (n) The candidate will gain shamanic powers during a visionary experience in which he or she undergoes some form of death or personal destruction and disintegration at the hands of divine beings, followed by a corresponding resurrection or reintegration that purges and gives a qualitatively different life to the initiate. WMYS A common motif in shamanic initiation in several parts of the world: the neophyte undergoes a symbolic death and resurrection by being dismembered and then restored to a higher physical and psychical condition. AYV Dismemberment allows the shaman to become more transparent. This death dismantles the old (false) self, allowing a new (authentic) self to emerge. This dismantlement of the self is a necessary part of the shamanic awakening process. PSPM  


    A vegetalista experiencing dismemberment. AYV

    divination (Eng): The act of divining; a foreseeing or foretelling of future events; the pretended art discovering secret or future by preternatural means. An indication of what is future or secret; augury omen; conjectural presage; prediction. DRC The calparicu used a bewildering variety of techniques to predict the future. Charcoal fire ashes, cobwebs, dreams, scrying the inflated lungs of sacrificial animals, casting lots with ears of maize, beans or pebbles, the movement of giant spiders kept in tightly lidded jars, or even the flow of saliva spat into the palm of the hand. IAWE Divination is really seeing predispositions. It comes out of stillness and love. AVO In divining with coca leaves, different shapes indicate health, money, love and relationship, the weather, good and bad fortune, animals, and natural events. ACAI  


    Diyus: (n) God (sp). QP

    Diyus kaynin: (n) Deity (sp). QP

    Diyuspa wasin: (n) Church (sp). QP

    doctora (Span): (n) Another term for shaman. EMM

    doctorcitos (Span): (n) Literally, little doctors. Spirits that work with vegetalistas. They present themselves during visions and dreams. They show how to diagnose the illness, what plants to use and how, the proper use of tobacco smoke, how to suck out the illness or restore the spirit to a patient, how the shamans defend themselves, what to eat, and, most important, they teach them icaros, magic songs or shamanic melodies which are the main tools of shamanic practices. MSIN  

    doctores (Span): (n) Plant teachers (see).  MSIN

    dog (Eng): (n) The guardian of and the only creature allowed to accompany the vegetalista while he is gathering and preparing his psychotropic brew. The dog keeps away other animals, humans and malevolent spirits. The dog can see spiritually better than its master and can warn him. Some Amazon tribes give ayahuasca or datura to the dog to enhance its powers. AYV

    don / doña (Span): (n) (1) Gift, talent. GOL (2) One with the gift for healing. PSPM

    don de la vida, el (Span): (n) Literally, the gift of life. The spark of divinity within each one of us. GOL    

    double (Eng): (n) An aspect of your psyche that exists outside of space/time in symbolic form. The double becomes real for you when you live your unconscious process, get around doubts and hesitations, take responsibility and live what you perceive and experience, regardless of what others might think. TSB (See, jaguar, shapeshift.) Once it has learned to dream the double, the self arrives at this weird crossroad and a moment comes when [the self] realizes that it is the double who dreams the self. TOP The dreaming body, sometimes called the double or the other, because it is a perfect replica of the dreamer 's body, is inherently the energy of a luminous being, a whitish, phantomlike emanation, which is projected by the fixation of the second attention into a three-dimensional image of the body. TEG (See, nagual.)

    dream interpretation (Eng): See, musquq, def. (2) for a short list of symbols and their meanings.

    Dreamtime (Eng.): (n) [Originally a construct of the Australian first people, the Aborigine.] During the world-creating epoch called the Dreaming, the Ancestors moved across a barren, undifferentiated field. [See, Appendix I.] The Ancestors, traveled, hunted, made camp, fought and loved, and in so doing they shaped a featureless field into a topographical landscape. Before their travels, they would sleep and dream the adventures and episodes of the following day. In this manner, moving from dreams to action, the Ancestors created the world and its creatures. These things were created simultaneously and each could transform into any of the others. Transformations occurred as the adventures of the Dreamtime stories required. Everything was created from the same source -- the dreaming and doings of the Ancestors. There is a universal and psychic consciousness to every living thing and to the earth and primary elements, forces, and principles. Each component of creation acts out of dreams, desires, attractions, and repulsions. Therefore, the entrance into the larger world of space, time, and universal energies and fields is the same as the entrance into the inner world of consciousness and dreaming. The exploration of the vast universe and a knowledge of the meaning of creation is experienced through an internal and external knowledge of self. VTFD

    duktur: (n) Doctor (sp). QP

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