The Mapuche are one of two tribes known in the world to use this type of ritual ladder in their prayer circles.
“Machi” is the name given to the Medicine Woman of these tribes who inhabit the rainforest of South America. For over 13,000 years they have crossed over The Andes and lived on both sides of the Mountain range in Patagonia and thereabouts. This matriarchal culture only allowed females to take the role of Shamans, with the exception of some homosexual men. There was no hierarchical order to their society until the Spanish conquest, therefore the only presiding power lay on these wise female forces.
These rituals take place in decision-making that affects the community at large or upon request from a tribe member who is ill. Machi self-induces a trance state by chanting and beating the “Kultrun” - a drum that depicts a map of the universe in motion.
Trance inducing herbs are brewed and smoked in offering to assist her ascension. She enters a prophetic state in which the healing of her people is revealed to her and as her visionary state peaks she climbs this ladder. Each step elevates her into a higher level of consciousness where divine guidance enters her body. These rituals can last for several nights and days. They are followed by preparations of healing concoctions of plant medicine, and chanting led by La Machi.