These are notes from an interview with a Kichwa Yachak – a traditional healer of Napo in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Fidel Andy is an “ayahuasquero“, who uses primarily the ayahuasca medicine to heal people.
León Fidel Andy Grefa
Fidel Andy was born in 1966 on the river island La Soga in the outskirts of Tena, Ecuador, where he still lives and practices. He began his training with both his grandfathers at the age of six, learning about healing energies and medicinal plants. Soon he was introduced to tobacco infusions, taken first through his nostrils and later orally. He has spent substantial time in the forest finding his element, water, observed a variety of diets and practised celibacy until his mid-thirties. At the age of sixteen Fidel began to cure his immediate family, by the age of nineteen he became sought after by other people as well. Fidel is acquainted with San Pedro and Angel’s Trumpet, but Ayahuasca, which he began to drink in his early twenties, is his main companion plant alongside tobacco. As a widely recognised curandero, Fidel is often called upon by communities around Ecuador to heal, and resolve conflicts, and he continues to learn from a variety of ethnicities and teachers: “We never stop learning”.
Fidel has been very active in the movement that successfully resisted the witch hunts of traditional healers in the 1980s and 1990s, resulting in the legalization of curanderos in Ecuador with the establishment of ASHIN (Associación de Shamanes Indígenas del Napo) in 1997. ASHIN, which now counts members from all around Ecuador, was co-founded by Fidel and he acted as Vice-President and Secretary for ASHIN for several years and has been its President since 2006. Fidel continues to be involved in the social and political organisation of Ecuador’s indigenous nationalities, and is currently part of the popular movement for a constitutional assembly to rewrite the Ecuadorian constitution.
One of the initiatives within the constituent assembly processes spearheaded by ASHIN concerns further entrenchment of traditional healers in the Ecuador. A proposal to employ healers in conventional hospitals and to explore the possibilities for awarding academic credentials to traditionally trained healers was recently adopted by the “III Congreso Nacional por la Salud y la Vida”, which issued a “Declaración de Cuenca” in support of ASHIN’s demands and many other health related reforms.
Alongside all of these activities, Fidel is conceptualising a set of academic workshops for medical doctors, psychologists, para-psychologists, hospital directors, pharmacologists, and constitutional lawyers about medicinal plants and their traditional usages; as well as working with independent researchers of a reforestation and autonomous development foundation to develop a “Casa de la Salud” offering traditional healing in Tena.
Finally, Fidel Andy’s door is always open for people from near and far who want to learn about Ayahuasca and reflect on personal and relationship development, creative unfolding and, of course, for healing of whatever illnesses -mental, physical, or social-, that anyone may approach him with. However, his main commitment continues to be his work with local communities and individuals.
Fidel can be contacted via: email@example.com (but be patient, he is a curandero, not a cybernerd!)