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:: October 2007 Volume 6/Number 8


Goddess on the Dub

Brazilian Shamaness brings the healing through music  

by Sam Slovick

  IF ALTO PARASIO (ALTO PARAÍSO DE GOIÁS) were a Monarchy, Yatra would be Queen. But it’s not. It’s a small town in northeastern Goiás state in Brazil that’s home to about 7,000. It’s one of those places you wish you’d never left and can’t wait to go back to. It’s magic. The people are beautiful, the music is everywhere. Wandering through Alto Parasio (high paradise) to meet the Brazilian shamaness, Yatra, is an endeavor in time suspension. The high priestess is taking me to visit her jungle temple, but exactly when doesn’t seem to matter as I linger in this heaven in the highlands.

Walking the sleepy main street in the morning sun along latitude 14, which crosses Machu Picchu, in Peru, and aligns the two with a supernatural legacy, I can’t seem to put my fi nger on anything that was  cause for concern back in Los Angeles. Small shops and stray dogs open their eyes as school children make their way through to school on foot. There’s no police force here. They don’t need one. The only customer in an empty café, the girl behind the counter, gives me a to go espresso then refuses my money...smiles and says something in Portuguese that I recognize to mean have a nice day. This place happens in an alternate universe. Dreams its own dream in a super-energized geology positioned on luminous crystal beds in the earth that makes it one of the most visible places on the planet from outer space. Alto Parasio is in the gateway to Chapada doe Veadeiros National Park located on an ancient plateau that’s 1.8 billion years old. The 300-foot waterfalls spill into natural hydro-massage pools on the hot rocks where you can languish your earthly body in the Great Mother’s fl uids. Alto Pariso is enchanted and so is Yatra.

Yatra W.M. da Silveira Barbosa was given the name Atmo Yatra by Osho. It means innermost journey. A singer, songwriter, producer, shamaness, activist, homeopath, colon hydrotherapist, philanthropist and organic farmer (who eats raw organic food) has been a sanyasin (Osho devotee) since 1976. Sometime later, maybe around sunset, Yatra rolls into town and my friends and I pile into a pick-up truck and forge through rugged jungle terrain til we arrive at her house. On the way, Yatra is the consummate host, punctuating the trip with a guided tour of the area. Her place is a big beautiful sprawl adjacent to her temple where she sings her songs surrounded by a band of numinous bravura musicians, and salient young sanyasins. She’s a classic Brazilian beauty praying an enchanting melodic prayer to God (and Her associates). In her temple as in her life the music never seems to stop.

Her CDs imbibe a folksy organic transcendental vibe (most often sung in Portuguese). Some of my current favorites of her extensive discography are Mantric Mambo: Music from the world of Ayahuasca (1, 2 & 3). Mantric Mambo #3 is departure from her usual fare. It’s a dub record written by another member of her temple, singer-songwriter Raghini with Yatra’s vocals; hauntingly numinous traditional Brasilian melodies infused with ayahuasca mysticism in a hot bed of dub grooves. Beautiful, sacred, traditional, magical, sexy (she is an Osho devotee)...Brazilian. The instrumentation includes fl ute, piano, bass, guitar, didgeridoo and bongos and, of course, Yatra’s transcendental pipes. It was recorded at Yage studios in Alto Parasio and Poli’s studio in Amsterdam.

So how exactly did shamaness Yatra get up on the dub anyway? An unlikely sojourn for the usual Earth mother type who in actuality is a very grounded, nurturing woman. As the story comes into focus, you realize that the matriarch of Alto Pariaso is also the mother of fi ve children, two of whom are enterprising trance music producers with a global profi le. Based in Ibiza, Yatra’s boys Riktam and Shanti are responsible for a lot of wax. Riktam (her oldest) owns SPUN, a US/Spanish Trance label and is the mastermind behind a project called GMS (Growling Mad Scientist).

“They are number one on the trance hit parade in Japan,” Yatra brags up her boys. “They play live every weekend, somewhere in the world.”

Her youngest son, Kayam, is poised to follow the families’ musical tradition: Yatra and Kayam, just finished studying digital music production in Amsterdam.

“Now I can work on my ayahuasca hymns and make them electronic, with effects and so on. It made my work on recording simpler and improves its quality,” she says.

Yatra is bringing the healing through. Sitting in the circle in her brazilian shamaness brings the healing through music by sam slovick temple, listening to and singing songs that I somehow instantly knew but had never heard before induced a heart opening. A soul cleansing. It has part to do with the geography, part to do with Yatra, part the ayahusca. The music is the conduit. 

“The songs I channeled through my ayahuasca path are divine beings, bringing a message of light, of healing, of love. The songs are essential for the ayahuasca journeys, as they bring people in touch with this dimension of the divine through the music,” she says and I know it to be true. I’ve sat in her ceremony in her temple in the jungle. Surrounded by beautiful young people and magical musicians, it’s just down the path from her house bordered on her sprawling organic farm.

I have a sense of abandon here that I don’t have a word for. There is a freedom in Yatra’s world that transcends anything I have context for. It is partly Brazil, partly Alto Parasio, mostly Yatra.

“Through the music we also invoke the helper spirits, the entities to come for help and healing. Our center is eclectic, and we invoke all the beings of light, like Jesus, Krishna, Iemanjá, Saint Michael, Cabocla Jurema, and others,” she says.

That’s what Yatra’s up to in her temple called Mãe D’Água in Alto Paraiso (Mother of Water). They don’t teach any doctrine in her temple. “The goal is to fi nd the divine in each of us, the God within, unveiling our innermost, furnishing us with understanding about ourselves, our own nature and our own path on Earth,” she says and it sounds divine. Between the opus of jungle birds and the music in the temple it’s a rare ethereal bliss.

“In this whole process, the music is the guiding tool to open up the hidden landscape of our hearts, minds and souls. Ayahuasca brings us in touch with unconditional love, with compassion and with acceptance, changing the quality of our lives and the quality of the spiritual path we embrace. It’s the awareness that sleeps in us as well as it brings clarity to our choices in life,” she says. In the tradition of the wounded healer, Yatra’s choices weren’t always in the light. Yatra began drinking ayahuasca many years ago; “Healing, getting off heroine and cocaine,” she confesses, “I got off heroine and cocaine with ayahuasca. I ran a kick off program in Holland on the experimental basis with the use of ayahuasca together with fi ve universities.” Ultimately the police closed them down because of the DMT (a psychedelic tryptamine) content of ayahuasca. It’s all chronicled in the documentary Shamans of the Amazons. Her journey into the world of sacred plant medecine is where she found the music. “I channel along the music. There’s a whole choral of singing in the heavens and I bring this from that dimension into this dimension. Every song is sacred. The music is the thread that keeps us connected with this spectacular inner world...the outer world (above and below), the entities, the astral, the cosmic and the divine,” she says. 

“The music gives us the strength to surrender, it teaches us our lessons, it calls for our healing and it sings everything that ayahuasca has to show to us and that we need to see to be able to grow in our understanding and to free ourselves from the ignorance and illusion that only brings us suffering.” 

If you happen to be looking for a plot of paradise near Alto Paraiso, you can acquire a piece of Yatra’s ecological sanctuary...pristine water, fauna and fl ora. You can join the party for a song. Hit her up at www.yatra.yage.net/Sanctuary. Check out her upcoming retreats: Raw food Organic retreat: May 5th — 15th 2008 and her ayahuasca healing retreat: April 21st — 30th 2008, info at: www.awakeandcelebrating.org

In any event you don’t want to miss the music and you don’t want to miss Alto Parasio. You definitely don’t want to miss Yatra. Free Yatra MP3 downloads at yatra.yage.net. Find her entire catalog and the upcoming Mantric Mambo at ayahuasca-music.net.

Sam Slovick is a regular contributor to LA YOGA Ayurveda and Health as well as LA Weekly. He is also published in Details, Vibe, Giant, Nylon, Neon, Angelino, The Advocate, The Face, Curve and others.

 

 

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