You are invited to journey to Mayantuyacu, located deep in the heart of the Amazon jungle alongside the sacred boiling river Shanay-timpishka, for a 12-day Ayahuasca & Plant Medicine Retreat. Mayantuyacu is a center dedicated to the study of sacred plants and the preservation of indigenous knowledge and is the home of the Asháninkan curandero, Maestro Juan Flores. This trip will be guided by Robert Tindall (author of The Jaguar That Roams the Mind and Sacred Soil: Biochar and the Regeneration of the Earth).
To enter the rainforest and engage in the practice of plant-based shamanism is to embark upon an ancient and time-tested approach to the healing of many modern diseases of body, soul, mind, and spirit. It is deep, committed work that can bring about radical transformation or lay important foundations in one’s own healing process. I have been an apprentice of Juan Flores for around 15 years and have documented a number of radical healings that the Maestro has done in the course of his work, including of an inoperable brain tumor. Yet, it’s the deep work that matters at Mayantuyacu. The opportunity to realize the words of Jesus from the Gospel of Thomas:
“If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.”
A collaboration between a clean technology scientist, an anthropologist working among native communities in the high Amazon, and a budding novelist and student of mythos (guess which one I am!), Sacred Soil takes a multidisciplinary approach to the phenomenon of biochar soils — an elixir for the Earth that can contribute significantly to the restoration of the planet to pre-Industrial levels of atmospheric carbon by 2050, as well as helping us “go native” to our planet again!
U.C. Davis anthropologist Stefano Varese calls it a “jewel…a breath of pure utopian air” and Daniel Pinchbeck calls it “A visionary manifesto and a pragmatic, solutions-oriented approach to how we can heal our connection with the Earth;”
Ian Baker, in his Introduction, states, “The highly qualified authors of Sacred Soil show us a way forward toward restoring our garden planet, shifting the Earth’s carbon balance from the oceans and the sky to the soil and living vegetation, where it can nourish our hearts, blood, and bones and ensure our collective thriving. It is up to all of us to act on this knowledge.”
I pray this work not only makes an empowering and enduring contribution to the revisioning and retooling of our planetary relations with all species that so many of us are working so hard to achieve, but that it is also nourishing for the heart and imagination of its readers.
Perhaps the finest review I received for Sacred Soil came from my Dad in the Native American Church, Bob Boyll, who told me after reading an advance copy that it gave him hope for the future. I know my prayers for my daughter Maitreya’s generation are woven into this book. Please, buy it and spread the news!
“My take is “salvation” or “obtaining liberation,” in the Western sense, is clearly an import into Amazonian culture. Their concern is in how to walk the way of life and death, how to understand their world in greater depth. Juan Flores instructed us, “ayahuasca teaches you how to die and be reborn.” It’s important to bear in mind that for traditional people, this world and the next world interpenetrate, and as Juan put it, “Death is a door you pass through, nothing else.”
Read Robert’s interview with Ivar Verploegh of the website A General Introduction to Ayahuasca here, for an exploration of the interface between the practices of Amazonian vegetalismo and modern Western society in search of itself.
As well, a second interview with DoseNation’s is available here, which is worth checking out for the balance of grudging respect and skepticism brought by James Kent to the interview!
Finally, listen to a rocking interview, The Jaguar and the Pilgrim, with KMO, whose C-realm podcasts are gems of intelligent, humorous inquiry, here.
Our society is well aware of the addictive siren song of drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and chemically-degraded tobacco, all derived from originally sacred, healing plants. Yet little is known of the power of psychoactive plants to heal addiction, especially as mediated by shamanic song. We would like to share with you how one Westerner, a French doctor named Jacques Mabit who trained in the Amazonian tradition of vegetalismo, uses icaros, songs that embody and transmit the healing power of plants, to guide his patients into realms of healing and self exploration.