Syncretic Folk Religious Ceremonies Involving Ayahuasca

The distinction I have drawn between entheogen-based shamanic rituals and folk religious ceremonies involving plant entheogens is in some ways arbitrary. There is a continuum of ritual forms and practices. The emphasis in shamanic practices is healing and divination, and they are usually conducted in small groups of about a dozen participants, or sometimes just with one or two afflicted individuals and shaman apprentices. The folk religious ceremonies, such as those of the Native American...

Ayahuasca Shamanism In The Amazon

The origins of the shamanic use of ayahuasca, as well as other hallucinogenic plants, go back hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years. One cannot really be sure, since we are dealing with cultures that did not keep written records. The anthropologist Geraldo Reichel-Dolmatoff, who spent a lifetime among the indigenous people of Columbia, Peru, and Bolivia, recorded several stories in which the discovery of yage or ayahuasca is bound up with the origin myth of the people. The Tukano people of the...

Tle plant Spirits Help Me to Heal Myaelf and Others

This is the story of a pharmacist in her forties, undergoing a physical and psychic healing crisis, or spiritual emergency, who through her experiences with ayahuasca, learned to communicate with the spirits of all kinds of plants in her everyday environment. As a result she became an herbalist-educator, undergoing a series of ayahuasca initiations in the Amazon, in which she learned to work with the spirit doctors, like the traditional ayahuasqueros. My purpose for this first ayahuasca session...

The Animistic Revival And The Transformation Of Society

Having presented some of the fundamental features of the animistic, indigenous worldview that is associated with the revival of interest in shamanic practices, including the use of hallucinogens or entheogens, I now want to address the question of what this may mean in the context of the present world situation. What does it mean that people in large numbers are now returning to these ancient traditions of spiritual and healing practice in our world of multinational industrial corporations, of...

Deatf and Rebirtl in Santo Daime

This is an account by a Brazilian copywriter in her thirties of a powerful experience in the context of a Santo Daime ritual. A woman with a multifaceted religious background, she experienced the sacred marriage of Jesus and Mary, the masks and illusions of personality entanglements, her sacrifice by fire, and release into cosmic consciousness. This experience took place in my hometown of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, at a Santo Daime healing center. We were a group of four people taking the daime...

Of Visions

Ayahuasca is an hallucinogenic Amazonian plant concoction that has been used by native Indian and mestizo shamans in Peru, Colombia, and Ecuador for healing and divination for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years. It is known by various names in the different tribes, including caapi, natema, mihi, and yage. The name ayahuasca is from Quechua, a South American Indian language huasca means vine or liana and aya means souls or dead people or spirits. Thus vine of the dead, vine of the souls, or...

Hybrid Shamanic Psychotherapeutic Rituals

In the past dozen years or so I have been a participant and observer in over one hundred circle rituals, in both Europe and North America, involving several hundred individuals, many of them repeat participants. Plant entheogens used in these circle rituals have included psilo-cybe mushrooms, ayahuasca, San Pedro cactus, iboga, and others. My interest has focused on the nature of the psychospiritual transformation undergone by participants in such circle rituals (Metzner 1998). In these hybrid...

Reflections Two Years Later

My immediate sense of this experience was not especially positive. I felt confused about the meaning and relevance of many of the things I had seen. I had a feeling of betrayal in terms of the spirit realm and doubted its authenticity. Later, when I had time to integrate my experience more, I realized that I have had a long distrust of the Spirit, and that the suspicion of the Spirit being a false thing was an old familiar theme dating back to not trusting the security and connection of my...

Medical And Psychological Applications Of Ayahuasca

In the context of Amazonian traditional healing practice, the drinking of ayahuasca is something like a master cure for all illness. Not that the medicine itself is a panacea, but that it functions as a guide or teacher for the human healer, pointing him or her to other herbs that might be needed, allowing him to beat back sorcerous attacks or extract poisonous infections or infestations. These kinds of practices presume a completely different understanding of illness and medicine than what we...

Neuropsychiatry Research With Ayahuasca

Scientific and medical interest in ayahuasca long predated recent activities in the field. During the 1920s and 1930s, European and American pharmacologists and physicians began to pay attention to the exotic plant drug concoction from the tropical rain forests of South America. Working with specimens of Banisteriopsis bark, believed at that time to be the sole constituent of the legendary jungle drink, the renowned German research psychopharmacologist, Louis Lewin, in his final project before...

Shamanic Entheogenic Cosmology

If we inquire into the basic model of reality or cosmology that is revealed and implied by the visions and experiences of Westerners with ayahuasca, we find that it is similar to that shared by indigenous shamanistic cultures worldwide. Particularly those individuals who have continued to use ayahuasca or other plant entheogens in a more or less systematic manner for self-healing, consciousness exploration, and spiritual practice have developed often implicitly a worldview radically different...

Serotonin As A Neurotransmitter And Psychoactive Agent

Tryptophan Dmt Serotonin

The neurotransmitter serotonin, chemically known as 5-hydroxytryp-tamine, or 5-HT, is produced throughout the brain and gastrointestinal tract and seems to be responsible for higher functions of behavior, such as planning and other time-related events. It is produced in the body from L-tryptophan, an essential dietary amino acid Figure 3, page 99 . In addition to serving as a neurotransmitter, serotonin is also the metabolic precursor of melatonin, which the human body makes during the night...