Rainforest Voices: The Rainforest Shaman

Meet Noemi, the shaman in our Asháninka Project

Noemi Lopez Camashiri

Each month, we’ll be introducing you to the incredible people behind our projects. The people who, without your support, would have lost their homes to the loggers. This February, meet Noemi Lopez Camashiri.

Noemi is from the village of Tinkareni in Cool Earth’s Asháninka Project in Peru. She is the oldest woman in the project, as well as the most respected elder in the community. She is the community’s sheripiari – the Asháninka word for shaman.

“I live here, this is my house in Tinkareni, this is my forest, my community. I was born here and I’ve lived here ever since – I belong to the community of Tinkareni. I love living here, the forest provides me with all I have. It feeds me and provides clean air that comes towards me and gives me life. For me, the forest is everything.” Noemi Lopez.

Sheripiari actually means ‘tobacco eater’, which is the most important medicine for the Asháninka. Noemi chews the leaves to help control visions and also blows the leaves on sick patients to cure them of many ailments.

For the Asháninka, shamans act as mediators between the visible and the invisible worlds. The community believe that only the shamans can save someone inflicted with the trauma caused by a vision of peyari – the body of a dead person wandering on earth that is separated from its spirit.

Noemi has even performed a spiritual healing on the Fashion Designer Vivienne Westwood on her trip to the rainforest with Cool Earth.

Quote from Noemi Lopez Camashiri: "The forest feeds me and provides clean air that gives me life."