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Plant Spirit Shamanism: The Pusanga of Love
The quest for love unites us all. What if you could find it – and a simple perfume could help? That would be magic, wouldn’t it? Read on!
In the spiritual traditions of the Amazon in Peru, this magical perfume is called pusanga. It is a made from flowers and plants which have the power to attract to the people who wear it the things they really want. For that reason, pusanga has developed an impressive reputation as “the love medicine of the Amazon”’ because love, of course, is the thing most people do want!
HOW PERFUME ATTRACTS AND HEALS
Beautiful smells derived from flowers and herbs have always been used for healing and attracting love. Even the word ‘perfume’ comes from per fumer (Latin, ‘through smoke’), and is a reference to its ritual use in ceremonies for the gods who offer love’s blessings.
The ancient Greeks, for example, believed that sweet aromas were how the deities made their presence known. The oracle priestesses of Delphi would sit in the smoke of bay leaf incense to allow these gods to speak through them during divinations to help people in their search for love.
In India, too, seers called dainyals would surround themselves with smoke – this time of cedarwood - which would send them into trance and give them prophetic visions.
Fragrance has also long been associated with the arts of love. In Japan, Geisha girls priced their services according to the number of incense sticks consumed during love-making, while in Indian tantric rituals, men were anointed with sandalwood, and women with jasmine, patchouli, amber, and musk. Saffron was crushed and smeared beneath their feet.
The reason for these rituals is that smell is the most powerful of our senses and is able to stimulate desire, longing, and lust, stir our memories, and carry associations of love and happiness. Scientists have found that even a year after we meet a new person, their aroma stays in our minds, whereas visual memory drops to 50% after just three months, so we may not even remember their faces. The sense of smell is handled by the limbic system, which controls our emotions, so perfumes evoke feelings as well as memories, and we experience not just an odour but a mood.
This is the secret of pusanga. By mixing plants and flowers to create particular aromas which affect the moods of those who smell them, the shamans of the Amazon say that pusanga can cause anyone to fall hopelessly in love with the wearer. One of these shamans, Javier Aravelo, puts it this way: “When you pour pusanga onto your skin it penetrates your spirit and gives you the power to draw in love”.
How you find the right plants to do this is another secret, known as the Doctrine of Signatures. This is the idea that the Creator has left a mark or “signature” on every plant in the world to show what it is used for. The discoverer of this phenomenon was Paracelsus, a 6th century alchemist who noticed how the appearance of plants so often reflects their qualities – that the seeds of skullcap, for example, resemble small skulls and, it turns out, are effective at curing headache, or that willow, which grows in damp places, heals rheumatic conditions, which are caused by damp and the build-up of fluid on the joints.
In fact, as Thomas Bartram, a modern herbalist, remarks in his Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, “Examples are numerous. It is a curiosity that many liver remedies have yellow flowers, those for the nerves (blue), for the spleen (orange), for the bones (white). Serpentaria (Rauwolfia) resembles a snake and is an old traditional remedy for snake-bite. Herbalism confirms the Doctrine of Signatures”.
Following this Doctrine, the basis for pusanga in the Amazon is agua de colpa. This is water collected from clay pools deep in the rainforest, where there are no people, only thousands of brightly-coloured animals who gather to drink from the water. Some of these animals are natural enemies, but at the clay pools they stand peacefully together to drink from water which is rich in mineral content and needed for their well-being. This water, in other words, has the power to attract some of the most beautiful creatures on the planet to a place where they exist harmoniously together.
Added to this magical water are special herbs, plants, barks, roots or leaves, which also have the quality of attraction due to their colours, names, or where and how they grow. In the rainforest, for example, there are vines called sogas, which are recognised as pusanga plants because they wrap themselves around trees and draw close to them so they grow together.
Special scented liquids, such as agua florida (which means “water for flourishing”), are also added to the mixture, which is then blessed by the shaman to empower it. This is done by blowing or singing into the pusanga, sometimes with the breath, sometimes with sacred tobacco smoke. The traditional blessing whispered to the pusanga is “salud, dinero y amor” (“health, money and love”).
Once it is made, pusanga is used like a perfume, with a few drops rubbed on the pulse points of the wrists and neck, or a capful or two can be added to bath water.
MAKING YOUR OWN PUSANGA
If you want more love in your life (and who doesn’t!) and would like to make pusanga of your own, just follow these instructions and romance will come your way!
The Doctrine of Signatures is your guide to collecting the plants you need. Pusanga plants for love all have certain characteristics. Their names are often significant, such as passionflower or honeysuckle (“honey” for sweetness and “suckle” for nurturing). Their colours are bright and attractive. The way they grow may also be important (ivy, for example, winds itself around other plants so the two intertwine and are drawn closer together). Their archetypal qualities may also call you (rose, for example, is nowadays practically synonymous with love). Where the plants grow can also have meaning (two plants standing together in sunlight within an otherwise dark forest signify a bright future, for example) – and so on. Look for plants that mean something to you and the desires you have.
When you locate each plant spend a little time with it, explaining your need and asking it to offer itself to you before you pick it (you don’t need to take the whole plant; a single leaf, a flower, or a piece of bark will do as this contains the energy of the whole. Try to avoid taking roots if you can). Then, when you take a piece, offer your thanks and perhaps a gift of your own, such as corn or tobacco, as they do in the Amazon. All of this is important in helping you connect with nature and develop the right attitude of respect.
When you have the plants you want, take them home and put them in a clear bottle. If you intend to use the pusanga over a few days, you can fill the bottle with water taken from ‘power places’, such as Holy water from a church or a place of spiritual power like the Chalice Well at Glastonbury, or you can use spring or mineral water. If you want to keep the pusanga a while, though, it is better to use alcohol instead of water as this will preserve the plants.
You can also add aromatherapy oils to your blend, which, in traditional magic, also have helpful qualities. To attract a new lover, for example, add a few drops of rose, jasmine, and bergamot. For a ‘deepening love’ add rose, vanilla, and a sprinkling of gold glitter. For passion during love-making once you have found your mate, add ginger, patchouli, and sandalwood.
Finally, add your prayers to the mixture, too, as the shamans do, by blowing three times into the pusanga bottle while you tell the perfume what you want it to do for you. Then wear it as a scent and expect more love in your life!
About the author:
Ross Heaven is a therapist, workshop leader, and the author of several books on shamanism and healing, including Darkness Visible, the best-selling Plant Spirit Shamanism, and Love’s Simple Truths. His website is http://www.thefourgates.com where you can also read how to join his sacred journeys to the shamans and healers of the Amazon.