The Editor Suggests :

To fully reap the benefit of this document, I recommend that you read the Intro before you begin the glossary. The contents will assist you in navigating the glossary and enhance your understanding.


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.



Google Custom Search



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


    Use the Firefox browser with the CoolPreviews add on. CoolPreviews 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.


    Whats New at the Glossary?


Another software malfunction -- this time my HTML editor. Finally fixed and operating. So, I have posted the PDF's. You can find a list of them at this link to download selectively, or you can use the link on that page to download a zip file of the entire glossary.


A. This third edition has been a long process and I hope you will agree it was worth the wait. I have been working on this edition for about a year. I am posting it while I still have work to do on it: there will soon be a .pdf of every page you can download; these .pdf's are done automatically and I don't know if the links work properly (probably not). In the new final format, the pictures will be removed (with a link if you want to see it) so that it will be more accessible for people who do not have a broadband connection. All pages will then download faster; you won't download images you aren't interested in. I posted the new edition before it was completely finished, so you will see changes little by little over the next few whatevers. Appendix M is unfinished because I haven't written it all yet.

B. There are three main traditions of shamanism within Peru: the curandero of the Pacific coast, the paq'o of the Andes, and the vegetalista of the Amazon. Many of the teachers in the United States, who also travel throughout the world, have trained in more than one tradition and their own practice reflects much crossover. The glossary reflects this crossover tendency of the American teachers, thus the terminology may actually mean something slightly different from one tradition to another. For example, the vegetalistas sometimes refer to themselves as curanderos and their craft as curanderismo; another example is the term hark'ana (paq'o tradition) is spelled arkana in the vegetalista tradition. This must be kept in mind by those using this glossary, as well as the truth for most of us that you must study with a teacher so that you can experience this path. Learning shamanism by reading books is like trying to understand sex from a book. Both must also be experienced fully to be fully appreciated. Working with the third edition and focusing somewhat on the curandero tradition of the north coast, this has become clear to me and I wish to pass this caveat along to the student. Language is a living, changing thing. (Try reading Shakespeare, The Canterbury Tales, or Beowulf in the original to see how much the English language has changed.)

C. I am conflicted between accurate, objective scholarship and my conscience. Witches and witchcraft have become entangled in the prejudice of Christianity against such practices. The practitioners of witchcraft (Wiccans) are peaceful and life affirming. I am loathe to pass this too-common calumny along where it contains a negative or black magic connotation. However, the integrity of the glossary demands an accurate reflection of the culture surrounding the practice of shamanism in contemporary and historical Incan South America. The curanderos of the North coast, particularly, have this Catholic prejudice ingrained in their culture. Please keep this in mind when you run across mentions of witches and witchcraft vis-a-vis dark magic. And we can all pray for an end to this unjustifiable hatred. (For more on this click here.)

D. This edition has been peppered with treats, items I ran across while researching. Each one is marked within the body of the glossary with a bow: . Click on it (no, not this one) and you will go to a recipe, a video or something else unexpected.

E. One of the books I came across is quite rare and contains much information. It was written by a Peruvian doctor and naturalist who helped found a botanical medicine facility in Peru. This book, Dioses y Enfermedades by Dr. Fernando Cabieses, contains so much information that it took quite a while to get through it. The source is DYE and I hope you find the information as educational as I did. Dr. Cabieses covered such subjects as climatology, homosexuality, rituals, factoids about different Sapas -- like how Wascar and Yahuar Huacac got his name, Lloqe Yupanqui's sexual difficulties, the complex politics around Huayna Capac's untimely death and that Atahualpa and Wascar were not first and second in line to succeed him, and the history of Western Civilization and cocaine (coca v. Coke).

F. Another source, designated as REPC was published in 1798. It is a fascinating document by a Spanish botanist detailing the different vegetation he came across and how the native peoples used these plants. I only included healing information, but the book is also replete with uses of various plants he came across for dyes. You can download a .pdf here. CAVEAT: the taxonomy of this source is questionable.

G. There is a new format to the glossary which now includes text boxes highlighting some of the interesting facts and excellent writing I have come across.

H. Sorry, but I got tired of cross-referencing the zillions of different names for plants. If you are looking for something in particular, use the search box.

I. I removed the Links and Correspondence pages.

J. Do not download the glossary or any part of it from any other site. I found a Second Edition word list on a website that was rated poor by Web of Trust. Such downloads could have malware, spyware or ads included. My site will not do that. I trust my hosting service, but if you find anything untoward on a download, let me know right away. Please!

K. You can download a complete word list for the 3d Edition here.

    A passiflora (passion flower) blooming
    in the Pumasacha Reserve.

    As a final note, I want to mention a project being undertaken by a friend of mine, Francesco Sammarco of El Mundo Magico, to create a preserve for rain forest conservation and to promote education in eco-shamanism near Iquitos. Click here to find out more about this exciting project which is named after the pumasacha (forest puma) plant which the bancos diet before shapeshifting into jaguars.

    [Earlier posts deleted.]

Intro & Usage Guidelines 
Text Sources
Image Sources
What's New? 
About the Editor 
First Edition (c) 2007 Patt O'Neill. All rights reserved. This site was originally published 6-13-07
Second Edition (c) 2008 Patt O'Neill. All rights reserved. Published Jan. 2008.
Third Edition (c) 2014 Patt O'Neill. All rights reserved. Published April 2014
Contact info: See Intro page.