Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Ayahuasca--Part of the Jungle, Not Apart from the Jungle

Someone on a forum to which I occasionally post recently asked where they ought to go to drink ayahuasca for the first time. And in the message he/she was clear that he didn't want to visit markets or such, but to basically stick to ayahuasca. Well, I thought the person was a little presumptuous so I responded. This is what I wrote:

Hello: There are lots of good places to go, but let me suggest that if you skip a trip to the market, or a dozen other places, you won't have the context in which to drink. Ayahuasca is part of the Jungle, not apart from the jungle. It's just one of a million things that people who live in the jungle do, like hunting, planting fields, making their dugout canoes, swimming, fishing, cooking or going to the market. So please reconsider your preconceptions. If you want it as apart from the jungle, then go to a camp and drink the day you get off an airplane. If you want to experience it like people from the jungle experience it, then imagine it's just something done in the course of a life lived to the fullest, which includes kids playing during ceremony, neighbors showing up while brewing--a very very social time, typically, in my experience--a wife or husband telling the curandero he's singing too loudly in the middle of the ceremony; the neighbors listening to the radio of a soccer game in the background of a ceremony; heading to market the day before ceremony because someone forgot to buy enough mapachos or agua florida or having to deal with a baby who needs a toothache remedy in the middle of ceremony.
All of this is what makes the medicine--as a part of the jungle, not apart from the jungle--special. If you miss that in favor of a controlled environment, you will be drinking like a lot of Westerners drink, not like Peruvians drink.

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