So, the snowball is rolling, it seems. Ayahuasca in Ecuador is kicking off (although it was most likely where it all began) with a Natural Medicine Gathering, in Tena, April 11-15, 2017. That’s Easter, so a good chance to get away for some sunshine and medicine. Ayahuasca ceremonies with groups of shamans in sacred places, all organised collectively by an association of traditional, Ecuadorian healers called CYRAE. Should be good! More info here:
A video, embedded below, is circulating the ayahuasca surfers’ realm. It shows, whether true or not, a jaguar feeding on the ayahuasca vine. The jaguar is a very centrally important figure in the cosmovision of many Amazonian ayahuasca cultures, the observations of which continue to spawn many speculations about the various practices and myths around the jaguar (and ayahuasca).
A very early observation states that:
“Ingestion of Ayahuasca usually induces nausea, dizziness, vomiting, and leads to either an euphoric or an aggressive state. Frequently the Indian sees overpowering attacks of huge snakes or jaguars. These animals often humiliate him because he is a mere man. The repetitiveness with which snakes and jaguars occur in Ayahuasca visions has intrigues psychologists. It is understandable that these animals play such a role, since they are the only beings respected and feared by the Indians of the tropical forest; because of their power and stealth, they have assumed a place of primacy in aboriginal religious beliefs.
In many tribes, the shaman becomes a feline during the intoxication, exercising his powers as a cat. Yekwana medicine men mimic the roars of jaguars. Tukano Ayahuasca-takers may experience nightmares of jaguar jaws swallowing them or huge snakes approaching and coiling around their bodies … shamans of the Conibo-Shipibo tribe acquire great snakes as personal possessions to defend themselves in supernatural battles against other powerful shamans.
The drug may be the shaman’s tool to diagnose illness or to ward off impending disaster, to guess the wiles of an enemy, to prophesy the future. But it is more than the shaman’s tool. It enters into almost all aspects of the life of the people who use it, to an extent equalled by hardly any other hallucinogen. Partakers, shamans or not, see all the gods, the first human beings, and animals, and come to understand the establishment of their social order.”
Did the shamans learn from the jaguars to use the plant? Is there a cosmic connection, therefore, through the ayahuasca between the jaguar and people that live with the cats and the ayahuasca plant?
“Ayahuasca is going global“, said a prominent psychedelic researcher recently, and it is also going mainstream as part of journeying across the planet. In the Californian TV series “Weeds” the leading act, Marie-Louise Parker’s character, Nancy Botwin, drinks ayahuasca under rather suspect circumstances with the leader of a drug-, guns- and human- trafficking Mexican mafia, who is also the mayor of Tijuana for added comic value. The ceremony is led by a young shaman who is told by the spirit of the medicinal brew not to give it to Nancy; she is not ready for it, so to speak, but he uses the words “I should not give it to her” and the gangster boss says “that’s alright, I’ll give it to her then”. Not off to a good start, but then again what do those shamans know about what a mobster’s girlfriend needs?
Watch the ayahuasca sequence here:
There are various issues at play here. Firstly, the most obvious one of the slightly forced drinking where the strong male insists that the little girl drinks despite warnings by the learned practitioner. That, however, is not so bad, – perhaps he knew better..
About a month ago the global indigenous peoples’ struggle reached a milestone.
Here are some comments and resources collected and followed by a brief reflection.
First from Resistance Studies:
“The United Nations have overwhelmingly approved the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: after over a decade of negotiations, and a year of Canada trying to stall the final vote on it in the General Assembly” says Nicole Scabus, the International Advisor of the Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade.
Tonight there was a special energy in the air – something tranquil, quiet as the night it enveloped the movements of those awake and the dreams of those asleep. It had been raining – finally. The rainy season arrived for a day and a half, it rained.
The forest is dying of thirst, it cannot breathe; but tonight it lived for a moment. The rain had come and the rain forest sighed in relief – a deep breath and the half moon lit the night.
“We retire into our tents and into our dreams“, tomorrow we enter the future of our lives, so we better be ready!
It had been two long days, coming down from the Cordillera Blanca from Huaraz via La Union and Huanuco at the door step to the Peruvian Amazon. As far as the mines, some hours before La Union, there had been decent roads, of course for the trucks carrying away the sub-terranean resources to the Canadian bottom line. The ugly appearance of mining facilities and the steady stream of full-sized lorries carrying ton after ton tears your heart apart, -like the mines tear the heart out of the mountains. The Cordillera Blanca is an outstandingly beautiful area – never quite seen anything like it.
“In 1966, the Alpamayo mountain was declared “the most beautiful mountain in the world” by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization“.
The (swim in the) Chinancocha lake speaks for itself:
But the mining business is growing and the mountains shrinking, and the water quality around the mines – down the rivers far away – becoming an ever more dismal health threat:
Drank ayahuasca tonight, for the fourth time. One thought worth reporting might be explained by way of the great fiction of Carlos Castaneda and his concept of “assemblage point”. Anyone is free to think what they like about his work, but like flies to shit the figures speak for themselves: it is popular. For me the books were instrumental, formative, eye-opening in my early 20s – great metaphors and possibilities for thought patterns, well wrapped in humourous prose in words attributed to Don Juan.
So what did he say? Well…. get off your flippin’ tits, init? Almost.
On reading the previous entry on Ayahuasca a good friend speculated on the plant spirit’s helpfulness in the context of creativity – the big question: what to do next?
This is a kind of reply.
The big questions about taking steps, and about moving through time and space as a creative being, can indeed be reflected on, for want of a better term for the kind of clarity that the plant spirits induces, with Ayahuasca.