Icaros is music that accompanies indigenous ayahuasca rituals. Icaros may be sung, whistled, or played with an instrument, accompanied by percussion, or acapella. Icaros are often referred to as magic songs or musical prayers. Icaros are typically performed by a plant healer.

In order to become a plant healer and guide others during ayahuasca ceremonies, there is a rigorous, sometimes decades-long apprenticeship. During this process, plant healers, known as curanderos, shamans, or vegetalistas, pass down icaros from generation to generation.

Other times, shamans may channel icaros on the spot during an ayahuasca ceremony.

Curanderos use icaros and ayahuasca as one part of their healing toolbox. They may also use massage, diet, blowing of tobacco smoke, or suck the sickness out of someone — among other healing modalities.

How Does Icaros Work?

Icaros is sacred music, called upon as part of the spiritual ritual of partaking in psychedelic plant medicine. Icaros are often considered the ultimate expression of a healers’ powers and are a crucial part of an ayahuasca ritual.

Icaros promote, influence, and structure the psychedelic experience of an ayahuasca ceremony. Icaros are thought to encourage flow while in a trance state, and enhance the overall quality of the experience.

Those who experience an ayahuasca ritual often describe icaros as an integral part of the healing process.