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stefania mizaraphotojournalist

El Camino de la Ayahuasca

The origins of the shamanic use of ayahuasca, as well as other hallucinogenic plants, go back hundreds perhaps thousands of years.
One of the myths of Tukano people from Vaupes region in Colombia says that the first people came from the sky in a serpent canoe and Father Sun promised them a magical drink that would connect them with the radiant powers of the heavens. While the men were trying to make this drink, the first woman went into the forest to give birth. She came back with a boy radiating golden light, whose body was rubbed with leaves. This luminous boy-child was the vine.” Says Ralph Metzner in the Sacred Vine of Spirits: Ayahuasca.
In the second half of the 20th century an increasing number of students in anthropology and ethno botany were inspired to explore the roots of humankind’s involvement in shamanism.
In the ’50s and 60’s this cross-cultural research occurred simultaneously with the discovery of psychedelic drugs, whose generalized use ended up with their banishment.

This fashion of hallucinogenic plants is coming back nowadays combined with the idea of ceremonial procedure. The traditional shamanic ceremonial form involving hallucinogenic plants is a loosely structured experience in which a group of people comes together with respectful, spiritual attitude to share a profound inner journey of healing and transformation facilitated by these powerful catalysts.
A “journey” is the perfect metaphor in shamanistic societies for what psychologists call an “altered state of consciousness”.
The derivation of hallucination is from the Latin “alucinar” meaning wonder of the mind.
In the last decade, as hundreds of Westerners have participated in shamanic practices (involving ayahuasca- as well as other medicines and non-drug practices) the world is witnessing the development of authentic folk religious movements that incorporate these entheogenic or hallucinogenic plant extracts as sacraments-developing original forms of religious ceremony.
From the North American peyote church, the African Bwiti cult using Iboga and the Brazilian church using ayahuasca, substances are profoundly affecting the transformation of individuals and are feeling like a stronger cultural transformation is coming.

The fact that Westerners are discovering and appreciating these substances make the local populations to come back in their own traditions, says Karen, who owns an artifact shop in the small town of Pissak, near touristic Cusco.
“Now that the locals see that foreigners come and make money of traditional shipipo medicine, they get interested in remembering their traditions.”
“I am teaching my sons to be ‘maestros’ says Don Miguel in Pucalpa. “it is also their tradition and I don’t want them to lose it. My eldest son is already a healer”.
In our villages the healer, “the maestro” is drinking the ayahuasca and sees your sicknesses and gives you the medicine you need. The medicine is the ayahuasca that is purging the body, but there are all kinds of plants that can help you with everything that is going wrong. Generally when someone is not feeling good he goes on ‘dieta’: starting from 10, 15 days, until 3 months time the patient eats only yuka, potato and white rice, drinks only water and takes the plants that the maestro gives him. The plants will give him the powers he need for a long time after the dieta…

Bianka, Youili, Johansen, Mauritz, Arnaud, Jules, Camille, Michaela, and many others fly to Peru to heal on ayahuasca. Some come and even settle down around the Sacred Valley like Dan, who left his work and life in the States and now lives in Pisak. Others in the Amazon in communities in the jungle come and go spending half of the year in their countries in Europe, half of the time in the Amazon.
All of them want to ‘heal” and live close to the nature. All of them are attracted by shamanic practices, ayahuasca been the “medicina”, the link with Patcha Mama, the mother Earth.

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