• James Keskimaki

Shake, rattle and heal

Updated: Mar 18, 2019


The chakapa is used across the amazon. It is a simple tool, a kind of rattle made from a bundle of leaves. Even in the markets of Ecuador you will see women doing healings on people with a bundle of different healing plants. Most healers, or "shamans", use this tool throughout ceremony.

It is an amazing instrument to move the energy around in the room and sweep away things that do not belong, all while keeping a rhythmic vibration to the songs being sung. As a person is receiving a healing, one shakes the leaf rattle around the person to clean stagnant energy, brushing away unwanted spirits and revitalizing the person’s energetic field. All the while singing to help the patient move past what is blocking them.

You can use many different plants for the leaf shaker, but the Secoya prefer to use a plant called Mamecoco. There are two different varieties. The one pictured to the right grows bigger and has hairs in the center. The preferred one is smaller and has no hairs. They make a new one or two for each ceremony so it is fresh and clean. They make such a sweet sound, as if it captures the sound and energy of the jungle itself. You can use other plants as well, like bamboo, but the women in the market use all kinds, usually a mix of different medicinal plants.

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2019 created by James for Apoya Palm Center