- Our Camping trips with Ayahuasca Experience are designed to introduce
the participants to traditional Amazon medicinal practices. We offer
three sessions of Ayahuasca during the six day river expedition.
- The principal medicinal plant used by shamans (curanderos) in the
Amazon is called yage, or yaje, in Colombia and Ayahuasca in Equador
and Peru (Quechua "vine of the dead, vine of the souls," aya
means in Quechua "spirit" or "soul" while huasca
means "vine," "rope"). The mixture is prepared from
segments of the ayahuasca vine Banisteriopsis caapi. Sections
of vine are boiled with leaves from chacruna a small jungle bush (Psycotria
viridis). This mixture has been used for thousands of years to enter
the sacred supernatural world, to heal, divine, and worship. Traditional
healing by curanderos using psychotropic plants remains today an accepted
practice in indigenous and mestizo communities of the Peruvian Amazon.
Psychotropic plants are known as "plant teachers" and contact
with the spirits of the plants by ingesting them is considered "the
path to knowledge". An apprentice curandero will undergo extended
dieting combined with Ayahuasca ceremonies during which the visions
experienced after consuming the mixture teach him his methodology.
- The first written record of the practices associated with Ayahuasca
was set down in the middle of the nineteenth century by Richard Spruce
(Notes of a Botanist on the Amazon and Andes), who was one of the British
biologists of the 19th century who made the journey into the Amazon.
Spruce spent 2 years living and collecting in Tarapoto and become one
of botany's greatest collectors. In 1851, while exploring the upper
Rio Negro of the Brazilian Amazon, he observed the use of Ayahuasca.
He came upon it twice in Peru in 1853. In his book he described its
sources, its preparation and its effects upon himself.
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Ayahuasca is properly
consumed in a ceremony under the guidance of a Shaman who uses tobacco
smoke, prayer songs known as Icaros and the scent of agua
florida to call the spirits to guide in healing. In traditional
medicine of the Amazon purging (vomiting and temporary diarrhea may
occur as the system is cleansed) is considered a beneficial aspect of
the cleansing process and Ayahuasca is often referred to as the "purga"
or purge. These effects are transient and experienced by many, but not
all people sharing the Ayahuasca. The shaman guides and protects the
participants from harmful energies and summons the healing spirits to
aid each participant in their personal quest. The icaros are used in
achieving the trance state enabling communion with the Spirit World
and facilitating the healing. The experience may reveal remarkable visions,
some beautiful, others frightening, often producing a life-changing
experience. Not everyone receives visions the first time they participate
in an Ayahuasca ceremony, more than one session is sometimes needed
to realize this experience. Personal preparation with adherence to dietary
requirements and a positive attitude are critical for the best results.
Participants in Ayahuasca ceremonies are reminded that consumption of
some plant medicines may bear health risks or produce unpleasant side
effects, and may require dietary preparation. If there is a possibility
you might partake of Ayahuasca, consult your physician about consumption
of a temporary monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI), especially if you
are taking prescription medication or are subject to hypertensive crisis,
high blood pressure or other significant health problems. This is especially
important if you are taking Prozac or other antidepressants affecting
serotonin levels. You are solely responsible for all appropriate health
precautions. Each individual is free to participate in whatever manner
they choose and assume risks and liability.
For more information
here are some suggestions for further reading.
Luna, Luis Eduardo.
1984. The Concept of Plants as Teachers Among Four Mestizo Shamans
of Iquitos, Northeast Peru. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 11135-56.
Luna, Luis Eduardo,
Pablo Amaringo (Conributor) 1991. Ayahuasca Visions: The Religious
Iconography of a Peruvian Shaman North Atlantic Books.
John M. Perkins.
The World Is As You Dream It : Shamanic Teachings from the Amazon and
Andes Inner Traditions Intl. Ltd., 1994.
James L. Castner,
Stephen L. Timme, James A. Duke. A Field Guide to Medicinal and Useful
Plants of the Upper Amazon Feline Pr; 1998.
Richard Evans Schultes
and Albert Hofmann. Plants of the Gods : Their Sacred, Healing and
Hallucinogenic Powers Inner Traditions Intl. Ltd., 1992.
- Cordova-Rice Lamb,
F. Bruce Lamb, Manuel Cordova-Rios Wizard of the Upper Amazon : The
Story of Manuel Cordova-Rios North Atlantic Books, 1986