Espirito de Shapaja

Daddy won’t you take me to the Primary Forest by the Amazon River where Paradise lies.

Honoring his end of life wishes, ethnobotanist Jim Duke’s ashes were scattered not only in his Green Farmacy Garden but also into the lush diverse forest of the Amazon River basin. Jim’s dear friend and rainforest companion, Andrea Ottesen, PhD, along with Explorama’s garden curator and shaman, Guillermo, mixed his ashes with Peruvian earth as they planted sacred Jergon Sasha (Draconitum  loretense) in Jim’s ReNuPeru Garden. Above the treetops on a perfect sunset evening, Jim was blessed during a traditional ceremony performed by Guillermo. Guillermo was adorned with a shapaja palm (Attalea sp.) headdress as he chanted from the highest platform of the ACTS canopy walkway. In and around an enormous Ceiba or Kapok (Ceiba pentandra), Jim’s ashes mixed with jungle spirits.

Several of us escorted Jim’s ashes to the rainforest. His daughter, Celia Larsen, who had accompanied her father to the jungle approximately 25 years ago, made the journey from Michigan. Andrea Ottesen helped organize the trip with Explorama staff and came with her FDA colleagues and University of Maryland students. My family, including my husband, son and daughter, met up with the rest of the group and all of us were facilitated by Basilio, an expert guide and veteran of Explorama as well as musician par excellence. Basilio had worked with Jim for decades to help assist with his “Pharmacy from the Rainforest” tours. Jim was at peace knowing his ashes were to be spread in the garden and the rainforest.

The song, Te Quiero, in this video is to be credited to Basilio and accompanying Caobas musicians from their CD entitled Misterio Verde. Caobas musicians serenade many who travel to Explorama lodges and the Peruvian guitarists highlighted the evenings for Jim.


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2 Responses to Espirito de Shapaja

  1. Margaret Belland says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I had the great fortune to take a trip there with Tai Sophia herbalists. It was life changing. I will always carry the memory of Jim in my soul. I was so graced to make his acquaintance.

  2. Terry Lee says:

    Rest in Peace among that which you loved. You are missed. Your legacy lives on 🙂

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