A conversation with a kindred spirit, Josh Schrei, about the visionary, animistic worldview that informs Tolkien and Homer, and that was the normative worldview for humanity for many millennia. Lots of connecting threads here. And a beautiful discussion on cave art and sacred song. Enjoy!
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.”
That’s the ceremonial work! Yet, the joy of these pilgrimages is in the community and the nature cradling Mayantuyacu. It’s an opportunity to enter that state which anthropologist Viktor Turner called liminality, where our hardened, habitual ways of being begin to fall away and we enter communion with one another and the cosmos in a sacred place. It’s good! Continue reading “Journey to the Heart: 12-Day Amazon Plant Medicine Retreat at Mayantuyacu Dec. 28th to Jan. 9th 2019-2020”
Yoga teacher, musician and artist Brian James, who has been exploring the intersection of music, yoga and shamanism for over 20 years recently spoke with Robert, In this conversation we talk about our explorations of indigenous healing traditions of North and South America, including work with ayahuasca and peyote, and get into a discussion about mythology and the hero’s journey.
My first visit to Takiwasi, the center for the treatment of addiction that utilizes the methods of Amazonian shamanism along with Western psychotherapy, and its host town, Tarapoto, was many years ago, in a quieter age.
My partner at the time, a therapist, had arrived long before me, and developed a strong affinity with the work of the center – its compassionate approach to treating addicts, its commitment to the study of the native, traditional medicine of the rainforest, and the unique character of its founders, the doctors Jacques Mabit and Rosa Giove. When I had joined her there, she was working as a therapist in the ample, tree shaded grounds of the center, doing her dissertation research, and soaking up the accumulated knowledge of traditional plant medicines and shamanic techniques utilized at Takiwasi to heal. Continue reading “Shamanic Archaeology at Chavín de Huántar”
Not long ago, while hobnobbing one morning at my 5 year old daughter’s school, I overheard a couple of parents talking about their experiences with different ayahuasqueros and how difficult it was to find anyone reliable in the Bay Area these days. Continue reading “Integration of Ayahuasca Experiences”
The winding path that led to this essay, just published in Arion: A Journal of Humanities and the Classics, began with the traditional lore of an Ashaninkan shaman working in the Peruvian Amazon. It may be the first significant discussion of Homer’s Odyssey in the light of contemporary knowledge of sacred plant medicines, indigenous ways of knowledge, and shamanic practices to appear in decades.
Towards the end of our year long investigation into the healing practices of the vegetalistas, as the indigenous and mestizo practitioners of rainforest medicine are known, we engaged in a plant dieta under the direction of one of the informants in Susana’s dissertation research, the curandero Juan Flores. One day, Flores tramped back to visit us during our solitary fast, and there the conversation turned to the mythic—and quite real according to him—beings that inhabit the Amazonian waterways. As Flores described the behavior of these sirenas, Robert was struck by the intriguing parallels between their seductive behavior and that of the Sirens described by Homer. Flores had never heard of the Odyssey, yet when given the story of Odysseus’ ordeal in the orbit of their rapturous song, Flores nodded his head and said grimly, “That’s them, alright.”
It was then we began to suspect that the indigenous experience of the natural world, which has a marked universality among native peoples, might have an underlying, shaping influence upon Homer’s narrative.
Along with familiarizing us with the cosmovision of the Amazonian peoples, our fieldwork also introduced us to the practice of shamanic journeying, which among Amazonian peoples, who live in an environment of extraordinary biodiversity, is often conducted in ceremonies utilizing ayahuasca, a psychoactive plant medicine whose name translates from Quechua as “vine of the spirits” or “vine of the dead.”
There we were also struck by certain parallels between Odysseus’ visionary descent into Hades and ethnographies of traditional shamanic practices among indigenous peoples worldwide, especially when supplemented by cognitive archaeologist David Lewis-Williams’ theory of the intensified trajectory of consciousness. These parallels are suggestive of a deeper morphological relationship between Homer’s narrative and the traditions of vision quest among the ancient, indigenous Mediterranean peoples (whose material culture is preserved in the Paleolithic cave sanctuaries), than is generally recognized. By viewing, as our main objective, just one episode in the Odyssey, the hero’s visionary journey in Hades, from an ethnographic perspective, this essay hopes to open up more inquiry into the indigenous, and shamanic, background of the epic poem.
To read the entire article, please enter here: The Intensified Trajectory of Consciousness in Odysseus’ Vision in Hades
Awareness of the remarkable efficacy of psychoactive plant medicines to heal addiction is growing. These presentations by Robert Tindall and Susana Bustos, sponsored by City Lights Books, were inspired in part by the authors’ work at Takiwasi, a center for the treatment of addiction in Tarapoto, Peru which utilizes the traditional medicine of the rainforest, including ayahuasca, with a high degree of success.
These videos interweave two perspectives on the spiritual nature of addiction: An exploration of addiction versus shamanic initiation in the light of ancient Western texts, and a report on research into the shamanic treatments of addiction just conducted at Takiwasi, focusing especially on the lesser known vegetalista practice of the plant diet.
Part One is Robert’s talk on addiction versus initiation in the light of the ancient Greek and Celtic traditions.
Part Two is Susana’s talk on the vegetalista practice of plant dieta and its unique efficacy in the treatment of addiction.
With gratitude to Emerald Tablet, upon whose premises these talks were given on December 19th, 2013; to Vincent Tamer who captured them on video; and to Peter Maravelis at City Lights Books.
“There are an increasing number of psychospiritual drug narratives that centre around ayahuasca and the Amazon, and while they all retain a great number of similar threads, Robert Tindall’s The Jaguar the Roams the Mind stands out from the crowd… For the scholar of pharmacography this is an excellent example of ayahuasca literature and, for the general reader, it is an illustrative and engaging story that probes both mind and culture.”
Rob Dickson’s beautifully crafted review of The Jaguar that Roams the Mind just out on Psychedelic Press UK!
Just in case the review piques your interest, the book is available here.
Traditional people, and I think the people of the Paleolithic had, very probably, two concepts that change our vision of the world. The concept of fluidity and the concept of permeability,
French Prehistorian Jean Clottes, interviewed in Werner Herzog’s recent exquisite film, “Cave of Forgotten Dreams.” continues describing the creators of the art of Chauvet Cave, whose works dates from 32,000 B.C.E., thus:
Fluidity means the categories that we have, man, woman, horse, tree, etc., can shift. A tree may speak. A man can get transformed into an animal and the other way around, given certain circumstances. The concept of permeability is that there are no barriers, so to speak, between the world where we are and the world of spirits. A shaman, for example, can send his or her spirit to the world of the supernatural or can receive the visit of supernatural spirits. When you put those two concepts together, you realize how different life must have been for those people from the way we live now. Continue reading “On Paleolithic Dreamtime”