An Icaro (also written Ikaro) is a South American, Amazonian indigenous word for a magic medicine song, chant, or prayer. The term Icaro is typically used to designate the medicine songs that accompany Ayahuasca or other vegetal and plant healing ceremonies.
Icaros are commonly used by Shamans or Curanderos in the actual healing ceremony. They can be whistled, recited, sung, or played by an instrument. The healer may spontaneously sing one or more Icaros during an Ayahuasca ceremony, use them specifically for certain well-defined aims (such as for the opening or closing of a ceremony), for divination or soul healing purposes, or as a help to resolve the patient’s direct needs and health conditions.
It’s thought that an Icaro represents the healing powers, energy, and guidance of plant and animal spirits, deities, ancestors, and/or the forces of Nature. Shamans or Curanderos may “receive” Icaros during a ceremony, learn them from other Shamans or from their lineage, or they may have been revealed during the Shaman’s Dieta in which plant spirits teach the Shaman directly. Additionally, the participants or patients in an Ayahuasca ceremony may also receive Icaros spontaneously, which is considered a sacred gift.
Apart from their healing power, Icaros can also serve as a protection or battle against malevolent energies and spirits, as a means to accompany ritual cleansing ceremonies, to create supernatural realms, visions, and portals, or to direct and consolidate energies, among other applications.