Peyote Road Reflections

Peyote Road Reflections

Above: Peyote Meeting at Mirando City, Texas, from Reflections on the Peyote Road, by Jerry Patchen, ESPD50 (photo courtesy of Robert Black)

What is Peyote?

Peyote, scientifically known as Lophophora williamsii, is a small, spineless cactus native to North America, populating the vast desert thorn scrub that runs from the southwestern United States into north-central Mexico. It is commonly known for its psychoactive properties. Among its many alkaloids, peyote contains the naturally occurring chemical compound mescaline which has the ability to induce brilliantly colored geometrical visions. Classed as a controlled, Schedule I substance in the United States, Native Americans have had to fight hard for the sustained use of their sacred plant.

The sacramental use of peyote is the oldest known religious practice on the North American continent. By way of example, there are three archeological specimens of peyote that were discovered in the Shumla Cave in Pecos, Texas which have been radiocarbon dated between 3660 and 3780 BCE. Petroglyphs in the area adorned with peyote motifs have also been dated to the same period. Thus, the cactus has been used by indigenous groups in Northern Americas for millennia, being an integral part of the cosmology of Huichol peoples of Northern Mexico as well as the Native American Church. 

Western Culture’s Misunderstanding of the Plant Medicine

Despite being given such reverence by indigenous peoples and the NAC, peyote has been extremely misunderstood by outsiders for centuries. Since their arrival in the New World in the early 1600s, Spanish colonists set about replacing native religions with Catholicism. Bernardino de Sahagún, a Franciscan friar, and missionary priest wrote about peyote: 

“Those who eat or drink it see visions either frightful or laughable… it stimulates them and gives them sufficient spirit to fight and have neither fear, thirst, nor hunger… It causes those devouring it to foresee and predict; such, for instance, as whether the weather will continue; or to discern who has stolen from them…”

Upon coming into contact with peyote in Mexico, the Spanish colonialists considered it to be an anti-christian, “diabolical root” in direct opposition to the integrity of the Catholic faith. The Inquisitor General ordered Christianization at the point of the sword, and plants used in native rituals were condemned. In 1620, an official order was issued by the Inquisitors declaring that “no person of whatever rank of social condition can or may make use of the said herb, Peyote” as it was considered to be an “intervention of the Devil.”           

Spanish Imperialists brought death and disease to Northern Mexico and with this its inhabitants fled, scattering south and west. One group, the Tarahumara Indians, made their home in the remote hills of the Sierra Madre Occidental. It is believed that their successors gave rise to the Huichol or Wixarika, who are the only remaining indigenous group in Mexico that continues to use peyote as a ritual sacrament.

The Native American Use of Peyote

Peyote Drummer

‘Peyote Drummer’ Via Museum of Photographic Arts Collections

Meanwhile, north of the border the European colonization of America had begun. Over the span of a couple of centuries, the Native Americans saw their buffalo food supply deliberately wiped out, with each tribe experiencing its own genocide, land seizure, displacement, and removal to reservations.

Acclaimed ethnobotanist, Richard Evans Schultes, was among the first few Westerners to study peyote. In 1936, Schultes made his way to Oklahoma to study the ritual use of peyote among the Kiowa Indians. 

It is thought that the Kiowa first came into contact with peyote in the mid-1800s through the Comanches. According to the seminal text Peyote Religion by Omer Stewart, the Carrizo Mexican Indians passed peyote use and rituals to the Lipan Apache, with the Apache going on to pass it to the Comanches, and finally it was passed from the Comanches to the Kiowa.

Anthropologist Wade Davis writes of the Native American’s connection to peyote in his book One River explaining that “peyote offered the Kiowa and the Comanche an astonishing affirmation of their fundamental religious ideas” in a time when their ways of life were disintegrating.

Legal Battles and the Native American Chruch

Jerry Patchen, a Texas attorney, and contributing author to our publication Ethnopharmacologic Search for Psychoactive Drugs has represented the Native American Church and US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) licensed peyote dealers (peyoteros) harvesting and selling peyote to the NAC for over forty years. 

During his career as a lawyer, he fought on the frontlines of the peyote wars, providing pro bono representation to Indians that were being charged with the serious offense of possessing a controlled substance. In his paper, “Reflections of the Peyote Road with the Native American Church – Visions & Cosmology” he expands upon his journey, helping to protect and secure the legal status of Peyote for use by Native Americans in NAC prayer services. 

To learn more about the legal trials and tribulations faced by the Native American Church watch the video below, in which Jerry Patchen reflects on his career and shares his personal experiences.

In 1912, the Bureau of Indian Affairs tried to lobby for a federal law prohibiting peyote. This law was passed by the House of Representatives but rejected by the Senate. An Oklahoman senator was swayed by his Indian constituency, persuading his colleagues to vote against the bill. Following this, the Native American Church rallied the support of several anthropologists, ethnologists, and ethnobotanists in their fight to save their sacred medicine. Among them, Richard Evans Schultes had presented a vast bibliography as well as the insights from field research with the Kiowa. Finally, the U.S. Senate Committee accepted their conclusion that peyote was not a “habit-forming drug” and is used as a “religious sacrament”. 

The efforts to prohibit the use of peyote ceased for three decades until the beginning of the 1960s countercultural movement in the 1960s where baby boomers discovered psychedelic substances and wanted to “turn on, tune in, drop out” en masse. Alarmed by the potential dangers of psychoactive substances, the U.S. government enacted The Controlled Substances Act of 1970, in which peyote was included in the drugs classified as Schedule I substances. Read more about psychedelics and the 1960s counterculture.

Patchen helped create and draft a plan of petitioning the U.S. Congress to pass the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and to amend the American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978 (AIRFA) to expressly include peyote. This strategy was presented to Senator Daniel Inouye, Chairman of the Senate Committee of Indian Affairs at a public hearing in Oklahoma. The strategy succeeded with both Acts eventually being passed. Thus, the listing of peyote as a controlled substance does no longer applies to the sacramental use of peyote in bona fide religious ceremonies of the Native American Church. Later, this legislation played a key role in the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to permit the religious use of ayahuasca. Patchen reflects that:

“Without the tenacious commitment of the NAC, there would be no legal use of Peyote or ayahuasca in the U.S. today”

What does the Future Hold for Peyote?

Donna Torres Lophophora Williamsii

Lophophora williamsii by the botanical illustrator Donna Torres

In recent years, the greatest threat to peyote is its paucity and decreasing numbers. A convergence of factors such as illegal poaching, overharvesting, and conversion of its natural environment into agricultural land has led to a severe decrease in wild populations, making it a vulnerable species. 

As early as 1995, American botanist Edward Anderson noted the change in peyote populations in his paper entitled “The “Peyote Gardens” of South Texas: a conservation crisis?”. Anderson theorized that the greatest threat to peyote was not the peyoteros who are registered with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and legally permitted to collect peyote to supply the Native American Church. In general, peyoteros are considered to be good conservationists, harvesting sustainably with the knowledge that their livelihood depends on stable populations of the plant. 

Rather, Anderson identified the two most serious threats to peyote as “root-plowing [for agricultural purposes] and the locking up of ranches to the peyoteros” with most land being privately owned. Thus, a tension exists between land-owners and peyoteros who have to take out costly leases to harvest the peyote enclosed in private land. What’s more, is that it has become more and more difficult for distributors to gain the legal approval they need to collect peyote to sell to the Native American Church. A 2018 article by Daniel Oberhaus, stated that there are currently “only four peyoteros who are registered with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and legally able to collect peyote.”

Beyond this, the number of people consuming peyote globally exceeds the plants’ ability to regenerate. Since the 1960s, New Age psychedelic tourists have been drawn to the plains of Northern Mexico seeking visionary experience. This trend has also been amplified by the fanfare surrounding today’s psychedelic renaissance, with a renewed interest in the therapeutic potentials of visionary plants. This psychedelic tourism has inevitably has impacted the availability of peyote for the Huichol.

Peyote is a fragile species liable to become endangered. The plant itself is extremely slow-growing, taking many years to reach maturity, and people are harvesting it in a very negligent way. When harvesting is done sustainably, the top of the root hardens but the plant does not die and is able to produce more peyote in the future. If poor harvesting techniques are used, the entire plant dies. 

To learn more about how to harvest peyote sustainably, check out this video uploaded by anthropologist, Bia Labate, interviewing Dr. Martin Terry from the Cactus Conservation Institute


More about Jerry Patchen

Jerry Patchen contributing author to the Ethnopharmacologic Search of Psychoactive Drugs -- PeyoteJerry D. Patchen, contributing author to Ethnopharmacologic Search for Psychoactive Drugs, is a Texas Attorney with four decades of experience litigating civil and criminal cases. Patchen’s work includes forty years of pro bono representation of the Native American Church (NAC) on behalf of American Indians to secure and protect their rights to religious freedom. Serving as an Officer in the NAC, he represented individuals charged in various states with possession of Peyote, winning every case. He also represented the Peyote dealers in Texas, who are licensed by the Texas DPS and DEA to dispense Peyote to Indians. Throughout his representation of the NAC Jerry, his wife, Linda, and their three children participated in Peyote meetings with Native American elders for decades.


Ethnopharmacologic Search for Psychoactive Drugs: 50 Years of Research (1967-2017)

Ethnopharmacologic Search for Psychoactive Drugs Box SetCertain plants have long been known to contain healing properties and used to treat everything from depression and addiction, to aiding in on one’s own spiritual well-being for hundreds of years. Can Western medicine find new cures for human ailments by tapping into indigenous plant wisdom? And why the particular interest in the plants with psychoactive properties? These two conference volume proceedings provide an abundance of answers.

The milestone publication, Ethnopharmacologic Search for Psychoactive Drugs, emerged as the brainchild of Dennis McKenna. McKenna, having attained a copy of the original publication from the 1967 conference, found himself inspired to shape his career in light of the book, delving into a lifelong investigation of the pharmacology of traditional medicinal plants.

Buy Ethnopharmacologic Search for Psychoactive Drugs

Reflections on 2019 World Ayahuasca Conference

Reflections on 2019 World Ayahuasca Conference


Reflections of the 2019 World Ayahuasca Conference

This was the third World Ayahuasca Conference held in Girona, Spain last June, which brought together 1400 people from a wide range of cultural backgrounds, disciplines, and traditions. Three days of fascinating, moving presentations, invocations, conversations, and declarations towards a common vision of a sustainable future for plants, people and the planet.

The gathering was organized by the International Center for Ethnobotanical Education Research and Service (ICEERS) a small group of highly intelligent and dedicated individuals based in Barcelona who I cannot say enough good things about. Founder and director, Benjamin De Loenen, and his colleagues have vision and commitment. Since 2008, they have been working to change society’s relationship with psychoactive plants. Their work ranges from research, advocacy, legal defense fund, and community building. They are having an impact.

Synergetic Press had a booth along with many wonderful organizations and showcased several of our authors who participated in the event including Allan Badiner, Wade Davis, Dennis McKenna, John Allen, Luis Eduardo Luna, and Sir Ghillean Prance

European Debut of ESPD50 

The Ethnopharmacologic Search for Psychoactive Drugs (ESPD50) book collaboration was featured in the program where Dennis McKenna shared the history how the publication came to be and we had all four editors present for a book signing with Luis Eduardo Luna, one of the contributors, as well. Read more about the vision behind ESPD50.  

Visit to the Reseach Ship Heraclitus

Group visit to the research ship Heraclitus in Roses, Spain. Photo by Thirty Vakil.

We exhibited together with our ecological affiliate the Institute of Ecotechnics to introduce the research vessel Heraclitus currently being rebuilt nearby in Roses, Spain. The Heraclitus is dedicated to studying our oceans and rivers. Wade, Dennis, and Ghillean had all been on that ship in the early eighties when it was on an ethnobotanical expedition up the Amazon River. A busload of participants came along for a day trip to see the legendary vessel in drydock. The ship plans to return to the Amazon in a few years. We would like to thank the crew of the Heraclitus for their help setting up and manning our booth during the conference.

 

Amazonian explorers Sir Ghillean Prance, Wade Davis, Dennis McKenna with Heraclitus founders and directors John Allen, Robert Hahn, Christine Handte and Claus Tober.

Find out how you can donate and support the reconstruction of the RV Heraclitus.

Ayahuasca & Healing Our Society Through Plant Wisdom

Alchimia Soldaría interview Dennis McKenna about his research and personal perspective on the plant medicine ayahuasca, and how symbiosis with it could heal our relationship with the Earth.

Declaration by the Indigenous peoples of the Amazon basin

This conference aspired to form new understandings, new friendships, and new commitments. I left the conference with the unmistakable sense that many movements are gathering, stepping up to the front lines of action. And what is the action? The Indigenous peoples and nations of the Amazon basin who attended the closing ceremony called for the creation of a global alliance of all movements and peoples to stop climate change and to protect the rights of Mother Earth and all living beings. Read their full Declaration Here.

 

Technical Reports by PsychēPlants

PsychēPlants is an information hub and e-health platform created by ICEERS for people interested in traditionally used psychoactive plants and fungi, those who use them, and health care professionals.

PsychēPlants has generated a series of technical reports including anthropological, botanical, chemical and risk reduction information on traditionally used psychoactive plants, fungi, and venoms. These reports are all open source and available for free online.

View and download the reports here. 

 

More About ICEERS

International Centre for Ethnobotanical Education, Research and Service (ICEERS)  is a non-profit organization committed to integrating traditional medicinal plants such as ayahuasca, and iboga as therapeutic tools in contemporary society. Further, dedicated to preserving the integrity and traditions of indigenous cultures that have been using such plants medicinally for time immemorial, aiming to safeguard and harness ethnobotanical knowledge in response to the urgent need for better tools for personal and social development.

 

Stay tuned with their latest developments and events

@NGO_ICEERS or ICEERS on FB

The Life & Legacy of Richard Evans Schultes

The Life & Legacy of Richard Evans Schultes

Richard Evans Schultes; The Father of Contemporary Ethnobotany

Richard Evans Schultes is one of the most important plant explorers known to the 20th century. Initially a medical student at Harvard, he later went on to do a course in economic botany, finding himself completely enthralled by the subject, and changing his degree entirely.

In December 1941, Schultes embarked upon a quest in the Amazon rainforest to study how indigenous peoples utilized plants in medicinal, ritual and everyday contexts. He is often referred to as the ‘father of contemporary ethnobotany’ because of the well-known extensive field studies that he carried out in South America, particularly in the northwest Amazon. Schultes spent over a decade engaged in continual fieldwork, collecting over 24,000 species of plants, 300 of which were previously unknown to science.

Schultes was one of the first Westerners who lived amongst the isolated tribes of the northwest Amazon, and the first scientist to explore certain areas in that region which have not been researched since. The notes and photographs that he took during his research remain some of the only existing documentation on indigenous cultures in regions of the Amazon which are currently facing external threats to their existence.

Our Rainforests Under Threat

Richard Evan Schultes in the Amazon (1940) (via Harvard University Herbaria & Libraries/Wikimedia)

According to the World Wildlife Fund, in the Amazon “around 17% of the forest has been lost in the last 50 years, mostly due to forest conversion for cattle ranching.” Rainforests cover less than 3% of the Earth’s surface, with the Amazon rainforest being the world’s largest. It is sometimes referred to as the ‘lungs of the Earth’ because it is thought that more than 20% of the world’s oxygen is produced there. Further, the Amazon is one of the most biodiverse regions of the world, and estimated to be home of 390 billion trees, among them 16,000 different species, and is the tribal home of 1 million indigenous people.

With the days of the rubber boom long gone, new trajectories of economic exploit now threaten the Amazon rainforest. Brazil’s president, the recently elected Jair Bolsonaro has vowed to develop Brazil’s powerful agribusiness sector, aiming to open up and allocate more rainforest to the production of beef and soya in order to meet sustained international demands. Further, Bolsonaro stated that he wanted to dissolve the Environmental Ministry, planning to merge it with the Agriculture industry, favoring the interests of those who have stakes in converting forest into farmland. During last year’s election campaign, Bolsonaro vowed to end demarcation of new indigenous lands in order to free up mining and commercial farming on indigenous reserves.

Recently, Bolsonaro made a tweet stating:

“More than 15% of the national territory is demarcated as indigenous land and Quilombolas. Fewer than 1 million people live in these isolated places of real Brazil, exploited and manipulated by NGOs. We will together integrate these citizens and value all Brazilians.”

The Preservation of Knowledge

Due to economic exploit, the ways of life of indigenous groups are on the verge of being lost, alongside many species, plants, and trees, having tragic implications for our planet as a whole. Thus, it is important in today’s quickly changing world to make efforts to preserve and deepen our knowledge about such biologically and culturally rich areas of our planet. More than preserving knowledge, we need to make collective efforts to protect the peoples that steward it.

In line with this goal, the non-profit Amazon Conservation Team (ACT) who are committed to working alongside indigenous peoples in the Amazon basin in order to help them protect their bio-cultural heritage launched an interactive educational map, the Amazonian Travels of Richard Evans Schultes. This fully interactive map enables you to dig deeper and retrace Schultes’ illuminating adventures into ritual, medicinal plants, and indigenous cultures.

The Amazonian Travels of Richard Evans Schultes

Former student of Schultes’ and founder and President of ACT, Mark Plotkin, and cartographer Brian Hettler gave a talk at the Harvard Museum of Natural History about their newly developed interactive map Amazonian Travels of Richard Evans Schultes. Through this fully immersive map journal, you can navigate Schultes’ extraordinary adventures, retracing the landscapes and cultures that Schultes explored in his first 14 years of research (1939-1953).

The Amazonian Travels of Richard Evans Schultes (screenshot by the author for Synergetic Press)

The launch of the map serves as a tribute to the life and work of Schultes, charting the magical history, cultures, and biodiversity that he uncovered on his travels in Latin America through the lens of his field notes, ethnobotanical research, and beautiful photography.

“In an era of climate change and rapid acculturation, it is urgently important that we improve how we communicate science and research, in order to engage new audiences and inspire people to pursue careers in these fields.” ㄧBrian Hettler, Senior Manager of ACT

Explore the travels of Schultes


Amazon Conservation Team

Amazon Conservation Team (ACT) is a non-profit founded by Dr. Mark J. Plotkin and Liliana Madrigal in the mid-1990s. From its beginning, ACT veered from the well-worn paths of the conservation community, enlisting the support of indigenous communities that live in the forests in order to achieve conservation results that were as impressive as they were sustainable. Today ACT partners with 55 indigenous tribes and other local communities to map-manage, protect, and bio-culturally conserve of 80 million acres of ancestral land.

 

Keep up to date with the ACT’s latest developments in conservation @AmazonTeamOrg and find out how you can help support their efforts through amazonteam.org


Books by Richard Evans Schultes 

Vine of The Soul: Medicine Men, Their Plants, and Rituals in the Colombian Amazonia

Vine of the Soul is an exceptional photographic essay accompanied by detailed descriptions of the Amazon Indians’ use of medicinal and other sacred plant substances. Over 160 documentary photos, some of the most significant ever taken on the subject, bring the reader along a journey in which healing with plants is the norm, and ritual and magic play an essential role in everyday life. Richard Evans Schultes, former Director of the Botanical Museum of Harvard University, led an extraordinary life that bridged the worlds of academia and tribal cultures.

 

Ethnopharmacologic Search for Psychoactive Drugs: 50 Years of Research (1967-2017)

A defining scholarly publication on the past and current state of research with psychotropic plant substances for medicinal, therapeutic, and spiritual uses. 

Ethnopharmacologic Search for Psychoactive Drugs features a prominent essay by Mark Plotkin, Brian Hettler & Wade Davis named, “Viva Schultes – A Retrospective”, highlighting the important work that Schultes’ pursued throughout his life and illuminating the legacy he left behind.

 

2019 World Ayahuasca Conference

2019 World Ayahuasca Conference

2019 World Ayahuasca Conference

May 31 – June 2 | Girona, Spain

Hosted by the International Center for Ethnobotanical Education, Research and Service (ICEERS)

Save 10% by using discount code SYNERGETICPRESS10

 Looking Forward to Seeing You at AYA2019!

Synergetic Press is excited to announce our participation in the 2019 World Ayahuasca Conference being held this spring in Girona, Spain, May 31st-June 2nd, for the European debut of our seminal publication, Ethnopharmacologic Search for Psychoactive Drugs (ESPD).  Among the many distinguished speakers at the conference will be the four editors of ESPD:  famed ethnopharmacologist Dennis McKenna, internationally known botanist Sir Ghillean Prance, filmmaker/anthropologist Wade Davis, and the founder and Executive Director of ICEERS, Benjamin De Loenen. Several other contributors to the book including shaman/anthropologist Luis Eduardo Luna and medical psychology researcher Ede Frecska, MD, will be giving presentations at the conference. Other Synergetic Press authors will be found at the conference including Allan Badiner (Zig Zag Zen) who will be speaking, and John Allen (Me and the Biospheres) attending. It promises to be a truly stellar event. – read more on our blog. 

The AYA2019 Conference is being hosted by the International Centre for Ethnobotanical Education, Research and Service (ICEERS). ICEERS is a non-profit organization committed to integrating traditional medicinal plants such as ayahuasca, and iboga as therapeutic tools in contemporary society. Further, dedicated to preserving the integrity and traditions of indigenous cultures that have been using such plants medicinally for time immemorial, aiming to safeguard and harness ethnobotanical knowledge in response to the urgent need for better tools for personal and social development.

More than a Conference…

The 3rd World Ayahuasca Conference 2019 will be the largest gathering on the subject of ayahuasca ever held, bringing together a diverse community and a multiplicity of voices to share knowledge about this invaluable plant medicine and how we can use it in order to shape a better future for our planet.

The conference aims to explore the use of ayahuasca in a wide variety of contexts, and its ability to not only affect individuals in a transformative way, but whole communities, societies, and moreover our planetary landscape. The transformative and healing potentialities of this sacred plant must not be overlooked, with AYA2019 aiming to unite academics, practitioners, and communities around a shared vision – creating a sustainable, ecologically aligned paradigm for our species.

The conference is scheduled to span over three-days with additional events such as workshops, open-discussions, art, music and much more. Participants will have the opportunity to connect with one another, engage in dialogue, listen to inspirational talks, and enjoy art, food, film, and good music together.

Use code SYNERGETICPRESS10 for 10% off your tickets!  Buy Your Tickets Here

Speaker Line-Up

Dennis McKenna PhD

Dennis McKenna’s professional and personal interests are focused on the interdisciplinary study of ethnopharmacology and plant hallucinogens. He received his doctorate in 1984 from the University of British Columbia, where his doctoral research focused on ethnopharmacological investigations of the botany, chemistry, and pharmacology of ayahuasca and oo-koo-he, two orally-active tryptamine-based hallucinogens used by indigenous peoples in the Northwest Amazon. He is the Editor-in-Chief of the Ethnopharmacologic Search for Psychoactive Drugs.

Wade Davis PhD

Wade Davis is a writer, photographer, and filmmaker whose work has taken him from the Amazon to Tibet, Africa to Australia, Polynesia to the Arctic. Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society from 1999 to 2013, he is currently Professor of Anthropology and the BC Leadership Chair in Cultures and Ecosystems at Risk at the University of British Columbia. Author of 22 books, including One River, The Wayfinders, and Into the Silence, winner of the 2012 Samuel Johnson prize, the top nonfiction prize in the English language, he holds degrees in anthropology and biology and received his Ph.D. in ethnobotany, all from Harvard University.

Luis Eduardo Luna PhD

Luis Eduardo Luna has a B.A. from Universidad Complutense de Madrid (1972), an interdisciplinary M.A. from Oslo University (1980), a Ph.D. from the Department of Comparative Religion Stockholm University (1989), and an honorary doctoral degree from St. Lawrence, Canton, New York (2002).  Dr. Luna is since 1989 a Fellow of the London Linnaean Society. He was an Assistant Professor in Anthropology (1994-1998) at the Department of Anthropology of Santa Catarina Federal University (UFSC) in Florianópolis, Brazil. He is co-editor with Steven White of Ayahuasca Reader: Encounters with the Amazon’s Sacred Vine. He is the Director of the Research Center for the Study of Psychointegrator Plants, Visionary Art and Consciousness, Florianópolis, Brazil.

And many more! Check out the full speaker-line up here.

Interested in learning more? All of the talks from the 2016 World Ayahuasca Conference in Rio Branco, Brazil are open-source and available to watch for free through this link. 

White Gold: the Diary of a Rubber Cutter in the Amazon 1896-1906

White Gold: the Diary of a Rubber Cutter in the Amazon 1896-1906

White Gold

White Gold is the diary of an American named John C. Yungjohann, recounting his journey through the Brazilian Amazon and the toilsome ten years of his life spent working as a rubber cutter there. The book is of major relevance today due to the economic and ecological developmental paths that we have begun to take on a societal level.

Within his diary, Yungjohann writes in detail about the flora and fauna particular to the Amazon at that time as well as his encounters with the various groups tribal Indians in that region. In particular, Jungjohann became increasingly close with the Yanomami Indians of which he relates their customs and traditions.

The Amazon Under Threat

With the days of the rubber boom long gone, new trajectories of economic exploit now threaten the Amazon. Brazil’s new president, the recently elected Jair Bolsonaro has vowed to develop Brazil’s powerful agribusiness sector, aiming to open up and allocate more rainforest to the production of beef and soya in order to meet sustained international demands. Further, Bolsonaro stated that he wanted to dissolve the Environmental Ministry, planning to merge it with the Agriculture industry, instead favoring the interests of those who have stakes in converting forest into farmland.

The Amazonian rainforest is the world’s largest rainforest, sometimes referred to as the ‘lungs of the Earth’ because it is thought that more than 20% of the world’s oxygen is produced there. Moreover, the Amazon is one of the world’s most biodiverse regions and is estimated to be home of 390 billion trees, among them 16,000 different species, let alone being the tribal home of 1 million indigenous Indians.

The Preservation of Knowledge

Due to economic exploit, the ways of life of indigenous groups are on the verge of being lost, alongside many species, plants, and trees, having implications for the planet as a whole. Thus, it is important in today’s quickly changing world to make efforts to preserve and deepen our knowledge about such biologically, culturally and economically rich areas of our planet. More than preserving knowledge, we need to make collective efforts to preserve its very existence.

About the Editor, Sir Ghillean T. Prance


Sir Ghillean Prance FRS PPLS has conducted 39 expeditions to study the Amazon’s flora. He is a former Director of Kew Royal Botanic Gardens in London, author of 24 books, monographs and extensive papers on the taxonomy of tropical plants, ethnobotany, and conservation. He was involved with the development of the rainforest biomes at the Biosphere 2 project and at the Eden Project. Most recently, he worked as co-editor of the landmark academic volume, Ethnopharmacologic Search for Psychoactive Drugs: 50 Years of Research.

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

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