NYC – Understanding Ayahuasca: From Indigenous Origins To Neo-Shamanism

NYC – Understanding Ayahuasca: From Indigenous Origins To Neo-Shamanism

ayaeventimageUnderstanding Ayahuasca: From Indigenous Origins To Neo-Shamanism

Synergetic Press Symposium and Salon in New York

 

Ayahuasca Visitation by Alex Grey, in Ayahuasca Reader

Ayahuasca Visitation by Alex Grey, in Ayahuasca Reader: Encounters with the Amazon’s Sacred Vine

 

Join the editors of the new Ayahuasca Reader with leading experts on ethnobotany and ayahuasca for an enlightening afternoon Symposium and stimulating evening Salon exploring plant medicine from multiple perspectives.

We’ll trace the cultural history of ayahuasca use, including traditional and neo-shamanic practices. We’ll also examine artistic and literary inspirations brought about by ayahuasca as a muse of the mystical mind.

The presentations over the course of the day will examine the therapeutic potential for profound healing, deepen our understanding of the scientific principles that lead to these outcomes, and frame the ecological context that supports the sacred vine of the Amazon.

The afternoon symposium will feed your mind and heart with compelling presentations and lively discussions, and the evening Salon will continue the journey with inspired spoken word, art, music and dance.

November 19, 2016

2:00 – 6:30 Symposium

8:00 – 11:00 Salon

(Registration opens at 2:00 PM)

The Alchemist’s Kitchen, 21 East 1st Street, New York City

Hosted by The Alchemist’s Kitchen with Synergetic Press

Symposium

2:00      Doors Open for Registration

ORIGINS

2:30      Steven F. White

2:50      Luis Eduardo Luna

3:15      Q & A

INSPIRATION

3:30      Alex and Allyson Grey

4:00      Q & A

4:15       Break

NEO-SHAMANISM

4:30       Allan Badiner

5:00       Ralph Metzner (via Skype)

5:30       Daniel Pinchbeck

5:50       Break

PRESERVATION

6:00       Discussion: Preserving Indigenous Cultures and Ecosystems

Allan Badiner as moderator, with Steven, Luis, Alex, Allyson, Daniel

6:30 Dinner (Food available from Alchemist’s Kitchen)

Salon

Rainforest Rhythms, Poetry and Mystery

8:00       Allan Badiner, Alex Grey, Estela Calderón, Luis Eduardo Luna, Steven F. White, Ralph Metzner (via Skype), The Bardo Blues

9:00        Michael Garfield

9:30        Skytree


Speakers

LUIS EDUARDO LUNA, co-editor of the Ayahuasca Reader, was born in the Colombian Amazon. He received his PhD from the Institute of Comparative Religion at Stockholm University. A Guggenheim Fellow and Fellow of the Linnean Society of London, he is also the author of Vegetalismo: Shamanism among the Mestizo Population of the Peruvian Amazon and, with Pablo Amaringo, Ayahuasca Visions: The Religious Iconography of a Peruvian Shaman, a project that grew from their work to establish the internationally-recognized USKO-AYAR Amazonian School of Painting in Pucallpa, Peru. From 1994–1998 he was a Professor in Anthropology at the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina in Florianópolis, Brazil. He retired from the Swedish School of Economics in Helsinki in 2011. He is the Director of Wasiwaska, Research Center for the Study of Psychointegrator Plants, Visionary Art and Consciousness, based in Florianópolis, southern Brazil.

STEVEN F. WHITE, co-editor of the Ayahuasca Reader, received a BA in English from Williams College as well as MA and PhD degrees in Spanish from the University of Oregon. He received support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Lannan Foundation and was the recipient of two Fulbright fellowships. He has lived and worked in many Latin American countries, an opportunity that enabled him to edit bilingual anthologies of poetry from Nicaragua, Chile and Brazil. He has been teaching at St. Lawrence University since 1987, and is one of the co-founders of its Caribbean and Latin American Studies program.

ALEX GREY, artist, poet, author, minister, is best loved for his paintings portraying multiple dimensions of reality, interweaving biological anatomy with psychic and spiritual energies. His books, Sacred Mirrors, The Mission of Art, Transfigurations, Art Psalms and Net of Being, trace thevisions and mystical experiences that shaped his spiritual creative life and address how art can evolve the cultural body through icons of interconnectedness. Co-founded with his wife, the artist Allyson Grey, Chapel of Sacred Mirrors, CoSM is an interfaith church celebrating creativity as a spiritual path. Alex has long been a practitioner of Buddhism and has taken a stand for cognitive liberty. More at www.alexgrey.com.

ALLYSON GREY was born in Baltimore and studied at the Museum School of Boston. Her watercolor and oil paintings are filled with a mystical unpronounceable alphabet and vivid spectral geometries of order and chaos. Grey’s abstract works employ densely measured grids coalescing into crystalline mandalaic imagery or shattering into fields of lush impasto color. The labor-intensive and spiritual quality of her paintings relates them to tantric art, Jain cosmological diagrams, and the science of chaos dynamics. Her work has been exhibited at Stux Gallery in New York City and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. www.allysongrey.com.

RALPH METZNER, PhD, is author of many books, practicing psychotherapist and Professor Emeritus at the California Institute of Integral Studies including a book coauthored with Ram Dass, Birth of a Psychedelic Culture (Synergetic Press). Dr. Metzner has been involved in consciousness research for over fifty years, including psychedelics, yoga, meditation, and shamanism. He is co-founder and president of the Green Earth Foundation, a non-profit educational organization devoted to healing and harmonizing the relationship between humans and the Earth.

ALLAN BADINER is the editor of Zig Zag Zen: Buddhism and Psychedelics (Synergetic Press), as well as two other books of collected essays, Dharma Gaia: A Harvest in Buddhism and Ecology (Parallax Press, 1991) and Mindfulness in the Marketplace: Compassionate Responses to Consumerism (Parallax, 2002). Allan is a contributing editor of Tricycle, and serves on the board of directors of Rainforest Action Network, Threshold Foundation and Project CBD. He has been a student of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh for more than 25 years.

DANIEL PINCHBECK is author of Breaking Open the Head and 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl. In May 2007, Pinchbeck launched Reality Sandwich. He is the executive producer of Postmodern Times, a series of web videos presented on the iClips Network, and co-founder of Evolver.net, an online social network. His life and work are featured in the documentary 2012: Time for Change, featuring interviews with Sting, David Lynch, Barbara Marx Hubbard, and others.

ESTHELA CALDERÓN was born in Telica, Nicaragua in 1970. She is the author of Soledad, which won the 2001 Juegos Florales Centroamericanos Belice y Panamá competition, Amor y conciencia (2004) and Soplo de corriente vital (2010), a pioneering collection of ethnobotanical poems. Her historical novel 8 caras de una moneda (2008) is about a family in Nicaragua during the years that led to the Sandinista revolution in 1979. She is the co-author of Culture and Customs of Nicaragua (2008) published by Greenwood Press. She is currently an Adjunct Instructor of Creative Writing at St. Lawrence University in the Department of Modern Languages.

MICHAEL GARFIELD writes music for the head and heart – intelligent, emotional performances that captivate attentive audiences and reward repeated listening.  Alternately tender and apocalyptic, simultaneously chill and energetic, his intensely technical yet vulnerable music reimagines folk and psychedelic rock alike, updating “solo artist with guitar” to suit an age of existential wonder, cybernetic systems, and emerging planetary consciousness. Michael’s music has been featured in the award-winning PBS documentary series Arts in Context, as well as on numerous podcasts (including Expanding Mind and The Psychedelic Salon).  Passionate about interdisciplinary collaboration, he frequently co-improvises with fire dancers, aerialists, live painters, and visual projectionists.

And Music with Skytree http://skytree.bandcamp.com

the Alchemist's Kitchen


 

The Alchemist’s Kitchen is a unique destination in the Bowery. Open daily as a botanical dispensary and a whole plant tonic bar that serves elixirs and gluten-free vegan food, we also offer a gateway into a conscious lifestyle and community through our wellness events and transformational workshops.

 


 And if you aren’t able to attend this event, you can still access one of the most in-depth resources for understanding ayahuasca with the new edition of the Ayahuasca Reader: Encounters with the Amazon’s Sacred Vine, edited by Luis Eduardo Luna and Steve F. White, available here:

Ayahuasca Reader: Encounters with the Amazon's Sacred Vine
Wisdom from the Elders: Stories from Indigenous Ayahuasca Traditions

Wisdom from the Elders: Stories from Indigenous Ayahuasca Traditions

Artist unknown. Shipibo Textile. Courtesy of St. Lawrence University.


Artist unknown. Shipibo Textile. Courtesy of St. Lawrence University, in Ayahuasca Reader

Ayahuasca is More than a Headline

As it becomes more widespread, more people are sharing their experiences with ayahuasca. This traditional indigenous plant medicine has been making its way beyond the its home in the rainforests of the Amazon to major urban centers around the world. An increasing number of people, including spiritual seekers, travelers and even celebrities have been coming out and sharing their experiences. As more people are trying it, more people have been sharing their stories. More major news outlets including BBC, The Guardian, New York Times, and so many more mainstream news sources are sharing stories describing the effects of ayahuasca.

Respecting Indigenous Ayahuasca Traditions

But beyond any news articles are the stories of the people who have known ayahuasca for generations. The wisdom shared by people trained in shamanic lineages is more difficult to access; most of them don’t have blogs. To hear these stories requires multiple translations and perilous journeys to remote villages deep in the rainforest.
Ayahuasca Reader includes mythic narratives and testimonies from members of the indigenous groups who use the drink, themselves: the Siona, Cashinahua, Huaorani, Desana, Witoto, Yagua, Inga and Secoya. Some of these materials have been published previously, often in difficult to find journals and books in a variety of languages. In other cases, the authors have produced their contributions expressly for this anthology.
Ayahuasca Reader has a collection of these stories with notes and insights from the editors to provide deeper understanding of the original contexts of ayahuasca use and an examination of how changing cultural circumstances are shifting its ritual practice.

The Story of a Young Shaman

The following narrative from Ayahuasca Reader is by Yagua shaman Alberto Prohaño as told to French anthropologist Jean-Pierre Chaumeil places an emphasis on ritual itself and the actual songs used to invoke the different plant-spirits. The individual performance of the shaman facilitates a social function in connection with themythic presences invoked through the act of singing. This text also exemplifies theole of ayahuasca as a milestone in the path of knowledge, following other sacred plants such as piripiri (Cyperaceous sp.) and tobacco…

Paye Candido by Jeison Castillo, in Ayahuasca Reader

Excerpt from “Initiation Experience”

On the third moon, múwa wánditu, I again drank ayahuasca mixed with tobacco juice and piripiri. At each stage, a new plant is added, with the goal of knowing them all, little by little. My deceased father and I sang the song to call the mother of ayahuasca:
ramanujúhamwo ranatutéhi
yeee yeee yeee yeeeeeeee
yeee yeee yeee yeeeeeeee
ramanujúhamwo rándia tuwatiaténdehi
ramanujúhamwo rándia tuwatié ndaria
yándatiénda npënanujú
hastëro rimínda
yátí yátí yátí yátí yátí
yátí yátí yátí yátí yátí
mother of ayahuasca, I’m going to call you
(call) yeeee yeee yeeeeeeeee
mother of ayahuasca, I don’t know you (I want to know you)
I still don’t know you
teach me how to heal
I want to extract virotes
come, come, come, come, . . .
The ayahuasca takes me, drags me along. Images appear. My father questions me. I answer that I don’t see anything. He gives me another dose that I swallow. The colors dance, the lit candle appears . . . on a second plane, animals torn to pieces parade past . . . my bones come out of their joints; the creatures devour my flesh . . . But a sweet voice echoes in my head: “Look! Study! Learn about this plant. Smoke, but do not spit. Swallow all the smoke. Don’t let even a mouthful escape.”
I suck on the cigar pë pë pë pë . . . a strange smell invades me, sweet and perfumed, followed by the image of a thick ayahuasca trunk. Whispering comes from below the vine, as if someone were speaking or, perhaps, singing:
eeeee eeeee eeeee
I’m the mother of ayahuasca
come closer and light this cigar
I take several puffs on the enormous cigar that they give me and I swallow all
the smoke:
uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu.
A perfume penetrates my cold body. The images go up in smoke, little by little. I’m normal again. My bones are welded together. Then they appear again . . . I’m  scared . . . they calm once more only to return again. Terrifying images parade before my eyes. My bones explode . . . there are toothless monsters that fly, jump, fall, hang in the air, bite and devour each other . . . I want to leave, but a voice intervenes:
“Drink a little bit more. You’ll see everything.”
This account, based on field work done in 1976 by French anthropologist Jean-Pierre Chaumeil, is by Yagua shaman Alberto Prohaño, current leader of the community Edén de la Frontera on the Marichín River. In this text, which is fragmentary out of necessity, Alberto goes over some of the most intense moments of his own initiation. At that time, he still had not reached the age of twenty (in 1976, he was thirty-five). He was initiated by his father, Xenon, who received his shamanic knowledge from his father. In the following years, Alberto practiced with his maternal uncle José Murayari, who worked to perfect the knowledge of his future son-in-law by means of the periodic ingestion of new plant decoctions.

Carrying the Wisdom of Ancient Practices

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In Ayahuasca Reader: Encounters with the Amazon’s Sacred Vine you’ll find myths and stories passed down over generations of Amazonian healers, personal testimonies of experiences with Amazonian cultures, a selection of hymns and texts from the religions using ayahuasca as a sacrament, writings from well-known figures in the literary world on the lasting influence of their experience, and a section of transcendental visionary color art to illuminate our understanding of ayahuasca.

Read more about these practices and dive into the deep traditions of Amazonian plant medicine wisdom. Support our Indiegogo campaign and you’ll receive your copy of Ayahuasca Reader, and you can check out the other incentives we have to take your further in your exploration of consciousness and planetary culture.

Honoring Diversity at the World Ayahuasca Conference

World Ayahuasca ConferenceYou can join the largest gathering of the world ayahuasca community, meeting. Come together with more than 100 speakers who will share knowledge and expertise through presentations and cross-cultural roundtables, and take this opportunity to learn more about the diverse indigenous communities participating in the conference, and to take in film, music, art… and much more.

On October 17-22, the International Center for Ethnobotanical Education, Research & Service (ICEERS) is bringing together the global ayahuasca community for the second World Ayahuasca Conference in Rio Branco Brazil.
The Conference has a panel dedicated specifically to the indigenous world, with tracks focusing on Amazonian Shamanism, Ayahuasca Traditions and Indigenous Knowledge, and other panels exploring the transformation of ayahuasca use within indigenous communities and how the outside world reinterprets native practices.
 
Be Part of the Global Ayahuasca Reader Movement

Be Part of the Global Ayahuasca Reader Movement

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Join the Launch of Ayahuasca Reader!

Join us in supporting the launch of our newest book, Ayahuasca Reader, and a educational outreach initiative designed to spread awareness and understanding on this important plant medicine and visionary vine. Ayahuasca Reader is the most comprehensive and authoritative source of information about ayahuasca, a healing plant used for millenia by shamans in the Amazon basin that has in recent years been gaining popularity for its positive benefits to physical health and spiritual growth.

Untitled by Pablo Amaringo, in Ayahuasca Reader

Untitled by Pablo Amaringo, in Ayahuasca Reader

Inside the pages of this magical text you’ll travel with dozens of adventurers, anthropologists, artists, shamans, scientists and poets on a journey to remote regions of the Amazon and to the far reaches of the human psyche.

“A wonderful book of vivid reports, illuminating every aspect of Ayahuasca‘s own world, covering all that matters about these plant spirits and their worldwide impact. This book’s poetry and scope led me to honor, as never before, the gifts we are offered from the proper use of these plants.”
–James Fadiman, PhD, psychologist, researcher and author, The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide

New Edition: Ancient Stories, Breakthrough Research

The new edition of the Ayahuasca Reader features many distinct voices of the global ayahuasca movement: the researchers conducting clinical studies on its healing effects, the painters depicting the ineffable experience with visionary images, the indigenous people carrying the wisdom of ancestral traditions, and the stories of how ayahuasca has opened these individuals to their connection with the natural world and their true selves.

“Ayahuasca has a very insistent message. It’s one of those universals that almost everyone who drinks the brew sooner or later reports. It’s about the sacred, magical, enchanted, interconnected, infinitely precious nature of life on earth, and the interdependence of material and spiritual realms.” Graham Hancock from the Reader

The Ayahuasca Reader is a five-part anthology which shares myths passed down over generations of Amazonian healers, personal testimonies of encounters with Amazonian cultures, a selection of hymns and texts from the religions using ayahuasca as a sacrament, writings from well-known figures in the literary world on the lasting influence of their experience, and a section of transcendental visionary color art to further illuminate our understanding of ayahuasca. This comprehensive collection of writings has been expanded with a new section of ayahuasca inspired art and other resources to draw readers even deeper into the mythic mysteries of the Amazonian brew that has been gaining attention around the world.

Leading Voices from Traditional and Contemporary Culture

Paye Candido by Jeison Castillo, in Ayahuasca Reader

Paye Candido by Jeison Castillo, in Ayahuasca Reader

The texts chosen for this book include translations from nearly a dozen languages, representing the voices of many different Amazonian peoples and the diversity of their cultural approaches to working with ayahuasca. Contributors include legendary scholars of Amazonian plant medicine such as Wade Davis, Dennis McKenna, and Richard Spruce; cultural icons like Allen Ginsberg and recognized shamans and spiritual leaders such as Raimundo Irineu Serra, Fernando Payaguaje, and Alberto Prohaño. This new edition also includes essays from prominent visionary figures including Graham Hancock, Alex Grey, Jeremy Narby, Susana Bustos, Michael Winkelman, and others.

The Ayahuasca Reader provides a well-rounded introduction to plant medicines, Amazonian indigenous cultures, and psychedelic/entheogenic journeys, while also offering extensive information on the effects and experience of ayahuasca, the cultural context from which its preparation and use has emerged, and its blossoming impact worldwide.

Given the plethora of publications on ayahuasca, it is sometimes difficult to know which are the worthiest. That being said, the Ayahuasca Reader is a classic.”
   –Mark Plotkin, PhD, ethnobotanist, Founder & Director Amazon Conservation Team

Sharing the Wisdom of this Rainforest Medicine

Synergetic Press is mounting a global publishing an educational outreach campaign about ayahuasca, because at this critical juncture in time as we are seeing a remarkable increase of interest in this mysterious and undeniably powerful rainforest medicine. More people are beginning to discover the many benefits of this traditional brew, including the treatment of conditions ranging from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s to PTSD and depression.

But at the same time that Western doctors and researchers are taking note of its potential for humanity, the very cultures and rainforest environment where it came from continue to be threatened and we are at risk of losing irreplaceable knowledge as well as the healing plants themselves.

Thanks in Advance for Your Support!

We can’t do it alone. We’re counting on you to share this vision with us and support the movement for greater consciousness and connection with the Earth.

Get your own copy of the Ayahuasca Reader, explore our other incentives, and find the level of support that works for you! And please share this with any friends or colleagues who you feel will also appreciate this initiative. https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/ayahuasca-reader-encounters-with-the-healing-vine

 

Tracing the Amazonian Travels of Richard Evans Schultes

Tracing the Amazonian Travels of Richard Evans Schultes

This article is reposted with permission from the American Botanical Council. You can see the original post here.

By Mark Plotkin, PhD

Richard Evans Schultes

Richard Evans Schultes

Richard Evans Schultes, PhD, was the greatest Amazonian explorer of the 20th century. Boston-born and Harvard-educated, he set off for the Amazon in 1941 for a six-month expedition. He was so entranced by the plants and the peoples of this great rainforest that he essentially extended this expedition for more than a decade. Now, interested readers can follow his journeys in an interactive, informational story map.

Schultes (1915-2001) first learned of the concept of “ethnobotany” in an undergraduate course at Harvard University taught by the prominent orchidologist Oakes Ames. After Schultes wrote his term paper on the traditionally revered peyote cactus (Lophophora williamsii, Cactaceae), Ames sent Schultes to Oklahoma to experience the sacred cactus firsthand in a traditional Kiowa tribal ceremony. Later, Schultes returned to Harvard, and decided to pursue a PhD under Ames, focusing on the “magic mushrooms” of Oaxaca, Mexico. As a newly-minted PhD, he headed south to the northwest Amazon to study arrow poisons from the curare vines (e.g., Chondrodendron tomentosum, Menispermaceae), which, at the time, were being used as pre-surgical muscle relaxants in abdominal surgeries.

Richard Evans Schultes

Young Richard Schultes taking tobacco snuff, May 1952 (photo: R.E. Schultes) via Harvard Square Library

Cartographer Brian Hettler of the Amazon Conservation Team decided to recount Schultes’s travels and research in a compelling new story map.1 With commentary and explanations supplied by this author, Hettler traces Schultes’s phenomenal journeys through the rainforest in search of healing plants. Using the capabilities of the story map format, Hettler has organized this information in a way that allows readers to click on a location and see photos of the location and/or the people that lived there. Perhaps even more impressive, readers can click on a list of plants collected by Schultes and see the actual herbarium specimen he collected in high resolution.

Hettler’s story map allows readers to follow the late ethnobotanist into some of the world’s most remote locales in search of exceedingly rare plants. It is hoped that this intriguing initiative will not only teach about the history and importance of the science of ethnobotany, but also will inspire others to use the story-map format to teach about botany in general, and medicinal herbs in particular, in new and compelling ways.

Mark J. Plotkin, PhD, is an ethnobotanist whose field research focuses on the plants and peoples of northern Amazonia. He currently serves as president of the Amazon Conservation Team, a nonprofit organization that conducts environmental and cultural sustainability activities in the Amazon basin (www.amazonteam.org). He is the author of several books and is a member of the American Botanical Council Advisory Board.

References

  1. Amazon Conservation Team. The Amazonian Travels of Richard Evans Schultes. Amazon Conservation Team website. Available at: http://amazonteam.org/maps/schultes/. Accessed May 4, 2016.
  2. Cox PA. Medicinal Plants and the Legacy of Richard E. Schultes. HerbalGram. 2013;98:73-75. Available at: http://cms.herbalgram.org/herbalgram/issue98/hg98bkrvw-schultes.html. Accessed May 4, 2016.
  3. Davis W. The Lost Amazon: The Photographic Journey of Richard Evans Schultes. HerbalGram. 2005;66:50-59. Available at: http://cms.herbalgram.org/herbalgram/issue66/article2831.html. Accessed May 4, 2016.
  4. Blumenthal M. The Lost Amazon: The Photographic Journey of Richard Evans Schultes. HerbalGram. 2005;65:73-74. Available at: http://cms.herbalgram.org/herbalgram/issue65/article2788.html. Accessed May 4, 2016.
  5. Davis W. One River: Excerpts from the new book about the life of ethnobotanist Richard Evans Schultes. HerbalGram. 1996;38:32. Available at:http://cms.herbalgram.org/herbalgram/issue38/article1219.html. Accessed May 4, 2016.

To travel further into the explorations of Amazonian peoples and sacred plant medicines with Richard Evans Schultes, explore Vine of the Soul: Medicine Men, Their Plants and Rituals in the Colombian Amazonia and Where the Gods Reign: Plants and Peoples of the Colombian Amazon written by Richard Evans Schultes himself.

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Why is Ayahuasca so Popular Now?

As so many shifts are occurring on the planet and people look for ways to adapt their lives, more and more have been finding ayahuasca to be an invaluable tool in their transformation. We answered some questions about this mysterious brew and why it’s been getting so much attention.

ayahuasca reader

Drawing by Kathleen Harrison. In the Ayahuasca Reader.

What is Ayahuasca?

Ayahuasca is a sacred drink used for millennia by numerous indigenous groups primarily in the Upper Amazon and Orinoco basins for divination, healing, and other cosmogonic/shamanic purposes.

-from the Ayahuasca Reader

It’s known by many names throughout South America and is also known as yagé or yajé. The name ayahuasca translates to “vine of the soul” in Quechuan.

What is it made of?

Ayahuasca is a psychoactive brew or tea most commonly derived from Banisteriopsis caapi, a vine containing monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), and the leaves of Psychotria viridis or other plant containing N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT), and often several other admixture plants.

-from the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS)

Why do people use it?

There are many reasons why more people are choosing to drink ayahuasca including:

  • spiritual and religious reasons
  • shamanic journeying
  • personal growth
  • medicinal and therapeutic purposes

What kinds of medicinal and therapeutic properties does ayahuasca have?

It’s been gaining attention around the world for its ability to heal a wide range of diseases and conditions. Thousands of people report emotional, mental and physical healing from a wide range of conditions. To contribute to the abundance of anecdotal evidence, there have been more clinical studies scientifically investigating ayahuasca’s healing properties, including recent studies showing the effectiveness of a single use in treating recurrent depression, significant improvement among participants in therapy for treatment of addiction, and possible antitumor effects.

Untitled, gouache on paper, © Marlene Lopes Mateus, (Cashinahua, Brazil). Collection of Elsje Maria Lagrou. In the Ayahuasca Reader.

What are the religious or spiritual reasons for drinking ayahuasca?

People report an expanded sense of connection with all of life through visions that reveal the nature of reality. Oftentimes during ceremonies, healing songs or icaros are sung to guide participants through their journey.

In indigenous groups in Amazonia, shamans drink ayahuasca for many reasons that have spiritual significance, including to travel to other realms, gather information, finding and treating illnesses, and to communicate with other beings. For more detailed information on these rituals, see Ayahuasca Reader and Vine of The Soul: Medicine Men, Their Plants and Rituals in the Colombian Amazonia.

There are also several recognized churches that use ayahuasca as an entheogenic sacrament, including Santo Daime, Barquinha and União do Vegetal (UDV).


“Ayahuasca has a very insistent message. It’s one of those universals that almost everyone who drinks the brew sooner or later reports. It’s about the sacred, magical, enchanted, interconnected, infinitely precious nature of life on earth, and the interdependence of material and spiritual realms.” -Graham Hancock


Allen Ginsberg, speaking at the University of Pennsylvania in 1967. Photograph © by Roberth Hahn. In the Ayahuasca Reader

Don Ignacio, Shipibo shaman, Ucayali River. Photograph © Angelika Gebhart-Sayer. In the Ayahuasca Reader.

Who’s using it?

Indigenous groups in the Amazon have been using ayahuasca for thousands of years, with written records of ayahuasca ceremonies emerging in the early diaries of Spanish colonial priests.

In addition to the populations who have traditionally used ayahuasca, there has been a surge of interest among people all over the world. Many people including scientists, doctors, artists, musicians, writers, journalists, those who wish to be healed from disease and those who want to seek to go deeper within themselves.

Is it legal?

Ayahuasca is legal in many countries in South America. The United States Supreme Court has unanimously ruled in favor of the legal religious use of ayahuasca by the União do Vegetal, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has affirmed the Santo Daime Church’s freedom to use ayahuasca for religious purposes. However, ayahuasca’s principally active ingredient—DMT—remains a Schedule I controlled substance.

-from the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS)

Why is ayahuasca so popular now?

At this critical moment in human history, we are seeing a remarkable increase in the use of Ayahuasca. This voice of this profound Amazonian plant teacher has been getting louder. It calls us to find balance with the rhythms of the planet. As we see the effects of consumeristic excess waging war on the planet, the message of ayahuasca calls us to raise our Earth consciousness by examining our lives and coming into a state of harmony.

“. . . the ubiquitous simultaneous therapeutic, religious, spiritual and medicinal roles of these plants have implications for understanding the nature of human consciousness and the spiritual.” -Michael Winkleman

How can I learn more?

Join us for a SYNERGETIC SYMPOSIUM & SALON on Earth Consciousness & Lore of the Amazon

Conversations on Ayahuasca, Ethnomedicine, and the Biospheric Imperative with

RALPH METZNER • DENNIS MCKENNA • RICK DOBLIN • ALLAN BADINERJOHN ALLEN • VALERIE PLAME WILSON • GAY DILLINGHAM • MICHAEL GARFIELD

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 6 4:00 – 11:00 PM

Talks • Dinner • Visionary Art • Poetry • Music • Dancing

Synergia Ranch Santa Fe, New Mexico

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You can also find a wealth of comprehensive writings and images in Ayahuasca Reader, more ethnobotanical information in Vine of The Soul: Medicine Men, Their Plants and Rituals in the Colombian Amazonia, and a discussion of ayahuasca and Buddhist practice in Zig Zag Zen: Buddhism and Psychedelics.

Vine of the Soul and Embrace of the Serpent

Vine of the Soul and Embrace of the Serpent

Embrace of the Serpent (El Abrazo de la Serpiente) is a newly released film based in part on the experiences of ethnobotanist Richard Evans Schultes (author of Synergetic Press’ Vine of the Soul) in Colombian Amazonia. The film, directed by 34-year-old Ciro Guerra, was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film in the 88th Academy Awards and is the first film from Colombia to ever be nominated. Guerra poured through the early diaries of the first foreign scientists to live and work with the native people of the Amazon, was drawn in by the writings of Richard Evans Schultes and Theodor Koch-Grünberg, and based the film on their accounts.

[su_vimeo url=”https://vimeo.com/147888913″]

 

Richard Evans Schultes

Dr. Richard Evans Schultes

Embrace of the Serpent tells the story of an Amazonian shaman named Karamakate who is the last surviving member of his tribe. Karamakate travels with ethnologist Theodor Koch-Grünberg in search of a sacred plant at the beginning of the twentieth century and then again goes on the same search decades later with ethnobotanist Richard Evans Schultes. Schultes, who is known as the father of modern ethnobotany, came to the Amazon to research the plants used by the indigenous population. The comprehensive writings, notes, and photographs left by Schultes provide an intimate look into the Amazonian world.

vineofthesoulcoverThe way Schultes documented his experiences with plant medicines was encyclopedic. Early interest in the rainforest and plant medicines influenced his academic career from the beginning. While studying at Harvard, Schultes wrote his senior undergraduate thesis on ritual use of the peyote cactus among the Kiowa. His research led him to uncover the identity of mystical mushroom species in Mexico for his doctoral thesis. He was the first person to study ayahuasca academically, and his work in the rainforest brought global attention to the destruction taking place in the Amazon.

In Schultes’ classic book Vine of the Soul: Medicine Men, Their Plants and Rituals in the Colombian Amazonia, he details the world of Amazonian sacred, healing plants. This mystical photographic essay is accompanied by detailed descriptions of the Amazon Indians’ use of medicinal and other sacred plant substances, and their active chemical ingredients.

One of the Amazonian images captured in Vine of the Soul

An image of Schultes in the Amazon captured in Vine of the Soul

 

“Although exploitation of medicinal plants has become a political issue in much of the world during the last decade at a time when there are many serious questions regarding the exploitation of native peoples, it is refreshing to find the essays written with such an obvious respect for the payés, their belief systems, and their extensive knowledge of plants. Schultes conducted his field research in an open and straightforward fashion, taking a direct approach to the communities he worked with, and demonstrating his respect for their customs and beliefs.”

–Indigenous Nations Journal, Vol 6, No. 1, Spring 2008

“Quite simply a masterpiece… Vine of the Soul deserves to be read by everyone interested in rainforests, indigenous peoples, shamanism, hallucinogens, ethnomedicine and conservation.”

Mark Plotkin, President, Amazon Conservation Team 

As the Academy Award nomination of Embrace of the Serpent shows, interest in the healing plants of the Amazon is at an all-time high throughout the world. The information originally obtained and organized by Schultes himself remains one of the most valuable resources we can access. Through books such as Vine of the Soul we’re able to explore and uncover the rainforest world where healing with plants is the norm, and ritual and magic play essential roles in everyday life.

An image from Embrace of the Serpent with Schultes in the background

An image from Embrace of the Serpent with Schultes’ character in the background

To dive deeper into the world of Amazonian sacred plant medicines, explore a copy of Vine of the Soul: Medicine Men, Their Plants and Rituals in the Colombian Amazonia by Richard Evans Schultes.